Audiology Advocacy: Ohio State Joins Northeast Ohio AuD Consortium Students on Capitol Hill
A group of driven, passionate, and determined students from the Ohio State University (OSU) were back at it again, traveling to Washington, DC for the fifth time. Audiology graduate students shared one common goal which was to advocate for national policies on hearing health care and educate legislative representatives on the profession of audiology.
On Friday, March 3, 19 students from the OSU Chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of audiology issues. Students from OSU joined 12 students from the Northeast Ohio AuD Consortium (NOAC) to make up the largest presence of audiology graduate students representing SAA on Capitol Hill in one day thus far. This group of students included those with previous experience speaking with legislators and first-timers looking to become more involved. The students from OSU and NOAC have recognized the importance of advocacy early on in their careers and are looking to serve as advocates for critical audiology issues. Students were accompanied by members of the American Academy of audiology’s government relations department including, Kate Thomas, Adam Finkel, Becky West, Kitty Werner, and Academy consultant Carrie Kovar.
This trip marked the fifth consecutive year that students from OSU have funded, planned, and accomplished an advocacy trip to DC. The trip is funded through student fundraisers and generous donations from Ohio State’s Department of Speech and Hearing.
Front Row (left to right): Erica Huston, Gia Santivasi, Leah Benedict, Ali Nutter, Nicole Greenwalt, Tracey Hoeppner, Jessie Lewis. Second Row (left to right): Angela Mesina, Kelly Epperson, McKenna Reeher, Emily Hehl, Olivia Lewis, Riley DeBacker, Erica Hoogerland, Donna Green, Chelsea Mason, Jillian Chapman, Rachel Cobb, Emily Stevens.
This year’s trip to Capitol Hill differed from previous years in that students were going on World Hearing Day. World Hearing Day aims to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day 2017 was “Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment.” Students presented legislative representatives with information on the economic impact of hearing loss, including how unaddressed hearing loss has an impact on those affected and poses a high cost for the economy. They also discussed cost-effective interventions to address hearing loss.
In addition to discussing World Hearing Day, Students also advocated for the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act (S. 48) and the reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act (pending introduction at the time of the Hill day). The Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act would provide a tax credit of $500 towards the purchase of a hearing aid, available every five years, and the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act would reauthorize EHDI programs over the next five years and make several key improvements to current programs.
Angela Koenig, a third-year audiology graduate student, stated: "One of the largest accomplishments of our SAA Advocacy trip to DC was having a greater understanding of the issues that will be impacting our field. Throughout our preparation for the trip, we learned about pieces of legislation that were introduced last year as well as what to look out for in the future. One of the best parts of this trip was seeing how much more confidence my fellow classmates gained as we went through our meetings. I am proud to be a part of a group that spoke with such poise and passion for the well-being of our patients and the field audiology.”
Donna Green, a first-year audiology graduate student, stated: “I enjoyed getting to share my field with different congressmen. I felt like I was making a positive impact. Getting to meet with other audiology students gave me a great perspective on the different views and styles of the field. I am so glad that I was able to expand my horizons.”
Jillian Chapman, a first-year audiology graduate student, stated: “Advocacy is something that I’m very passionate about, and this was such a wonderful opportunity to represent the profession of audiology. It was great to feel like my voice was being heard by my representatives
Nicole Greenwalt, a first-year audiology graduate student, stated: “Advocating on Capitol Hill was such a motivating experience! It is important that students, as future clinicians, embrace the responsibility of working with and educating our legislators on the issues impacting the profession of Audiology. We must continue to foster these relationships to ensure our field and the patients we serve remain well-represented in Washington.”
Tracy Hoeppner, a third-year audiology graduate student, stated: “My second trip to Capitol Hill was an amazing experience! I felt empowered talking about a field I am passionate about to legislators who value opinions from their constituents. It’s so exciting to be on the forefront of audiology standing alongside other audiology students who feel the same as me. I hope to continue this tradition for years to come, especially when I’m a practicing audiologist. I’m so thankful for the experience and recommend it to every audiology student!”
The students at OSU and NOAC recognize that advocacy is an important component of the field of audiology. Throughout the course of the five years that OSU students have embarked on an advocacy trip to Capitol Hill, they have developed relationships with key congressional offices. Students aim to promote a better understanding among elected officials of the importance of audiology in the delivery of high-quality hearing and balance care to patients. These students want to ensure that the profession of audiology remains well-represented on Capitol Hill, and OSU students are already planning their sixth trip for next year.