By Curtis Alcock This article is a part of the November/December 2018, Volume 30, Number 6, Audiology Today issue. Audiology is the study of one of the most important senses we possess as human beings: a sense that connects us 24/7 to our environment, to other people through a real-time fusion of mind and emotion we call speech, and to the opportunities of life that arise from being in the right place at the right time. Yet, despite all this, society largely seems to consider hearing care irrelevant. It often takes a crisis in a person’s life before someone seeks out an audiologist—if they seek us out at all. Why is society so indifferent toward hearing care? Does it really matter if it is? And, if it does matter, what should we be doing to make hearing care relevant? Society’s Indifference to Hearing Care In this article, I’ll make the case that society’s indifference is a symptom of a much deeper problem, one that goes to the very heart of what we believe hearing care stands for. I’ll argue that audiology historically has adopted a condition-based paradigm and, while this has helped us reach us where we are today as a profession, it is not equipped to take us to the next stage. What audiology needs now is to shift toward a resource-based paradigm. There are about 35.7 million1 individuals in America with an unaddressed reduction in hearing. Of these individuals, 23.4 million surprisingly are between 20 to 69 years old, which means that the majority of individuals making up this unmet need (66.8 percent) would be turned off by our traditional image of the “active retired” (Lee et al, 2011). If we’re looking for reasons for society’s antipathy toward hearing care, it certainly doesn’t help that we’re driving away two-thirds of our target audience through messages and marketing that shout “hearing care is for old people.” More sobering still, even the people we might label as “old people” don’t identify with such messages (Levy and Banaji, 2002). This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!