The Aging and Disability Services Division of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services recently began offering free hearing aids and personal sound amplifiers to eligible residents 60-and-over. The distribution of these devices will be conducted by Access HEARS, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect individuals with hearing loss.
Devices will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds for the program come from the Federal American Rescue Act. Residents interested in receiving hearing aids may apply online via the Access HEARS website https://www.accesshears.com/ or by calling 410-929-0394.
Through this program, 400 over-the-counter hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) will be distributed. Eligible individuals must be Montgomery County residents ages 60-and-over with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss and an annual income below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Individuals earning less than $36,450 and couples earning less than $49,300 qualify to participate. Participants must provide proof of age, residence and income.
Over-the-counter hearing aids debuted on the U.S. market in 2022. While hearing aids are now more accessible than ever, significant barriers exist to navigating the market and the devices themselves. The average cost to purchase an over-the-counter device is $220, which can be prohibitive for seniors on fixed or low incomes.
Founded by physicians and leading hearing experts and entrepreneurs at the Johns Hopkins University, Access HEARS delivers services directly to the community, offering its clients a low-cost, in-person or virtual service delivery.
Access HEARS staff also teaches individuals how to use over-the-counter hearing aids with the goal of supporting their healthy aging and continued engagement with family and community. Clients receive ongoing support throughout the first 12 months to ensure their success