From OAA President

To Our Valued Members,

I feel very privileged to be serving as your 2018 Ohio Academy of Audiology President and am looking forward to the challenges, changes and excitement of this year. With each new year there is a renewed sense of hope, opportunity and resolution. I’m sure many of you have made various resolutions to provide positive changes to yourselves, your families, communities or your work environments. I’m going to ask you to make a resolution to embrace the change that is happening within our audiology profession, by advocating for audiology and maintaining an opportunistic outlook as we approach new changes within our profession. Change is happening, and I’m challenging everyone to take a deep breath and enter this year with an optimistic attitude. 

We are entering into a new era of audiology, with change being noted recently on January 3, with the Senate passing the Veterans in E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) act of 2017. With this new legislation, veterans will be able to receive telehealth care services from audiologists regardless of where a provider may be located.

Near the end of 2017 the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act (H.R. 1539, S. 652) was signed into law to guarantee that Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs continue to receive funding for the next five years. This is critical to newborn hearing screening and early intervention programs to continue to screen and provide services to infants in a timely manner. This bill also allows the National Institute of Health (NIH) to continue research and development related to early hearing detection and intervention.

Within our own state we have seen change in the form of an Ohio board consolidation with our licensure board merging to become the Ohio Speech and Hearing Professionals Board. As of January 21, 2018, audiologists, speech language pathologists and hearing aid dealers and fitters were combined into one board. In addition, our state will continue to see change in the form of more non-traditional retailers offering hearing health care, as well as over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids being sold within the next three years.

 Ready or not, change is here and I encourage everyone to begin to embrace it and look at change for the potential it has to support our profession in reaching more patients who suffer from hearing loss, educating the public on the benefits of hearing health care, and demonstrating the vast knowledge of an audiologist as the primary health care professional in treating auditory and vestibular disorders.

I am very proud to have worked with dedicated members and volunteers who have given so much of their time this past year to help enrich this organization and create change so that we may better serve our members, and maintain a healthy association. Even though some of our changes may have been small, we noticed significant improvements already. As you know, we made a significant change with our new website, allowing easier communication with members and greater opportunity for the organization. We are looking forward to better communication over the next few months and also hope to be more engaging and personal with our members.

Within our own organization we are changing our traditional Ohio Academy of Audiology Conference (OAC) to a new location, new time, and new theme this year. We are proud to offer, Unconventional Audiology: Discovering Opportunity, October 26-27, 2018, in a new location (Holiday Inn, Strongsville, Ohio) with a new format (single, cohesive track).  This year’s OAC will focus on the theme of change and incorporate useable messages and demonstrate positive ways we can all react to change. Even in the short time I have been in the profession, I am still amazed at all the positive changes I have seen. We have seen changes in hearing aid technology, numerous ways we are able to assist our patients with connectivity, including; blue tooth streaming, devices on the IFTTT platform, smart phone remotes and GPS tracking. We now have the ability to work with a greater number of cochlear implant candidates, more specific vestibular testing including, vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) and video head impulse testing (VHIT), and state mandated early newborn hearing screening and early intervention. Even the way we counsel patients has changed, as more patients are well aware of technology and are taking a greater interest in how their devices can work with smart technology in their life.

Whether we would like to admit it, our profession has already changed significantly in a short amount of time, and for the most part, I would say our change has been positive. This gives hope that although we are in a time of change and slight uncertainty about what the future holds, if we look at our past change, there is strong reason to believe that our future should be anything but positive.

Sincerely,

Gina Stillitano, Au.D.

President, Ohio Academy of Audiology