The Clarity Audiology Community Project is founded in partnership with Hearing the Call, a 501 (c)(3) organization.
“The ability to allow people to live a fuller life through improved hearing has been a very rewarding career choice. However, it is frustrating and heartbreaking when my patients can not afford the hearing healthcare treatment that they need and deserve due to financial constraints. I believe that hearing healthcare and the ability to communicate with friends and family members should be a right and not a privilege.
For that reason, I joined Entheos Audiology Cooperative, which is comprised of a group of audiologists around the country who are dedicated to providing hearing healthcare to those in need both locally and gobally. With my Entheos colleagues, I traveled to Guatemala in November 2017 to fit hearing aids on those in need. One of the things I love the most about the Entheos mission trip structure is that it is designed to be sustainable for the communities we visit- Entheos travels back to each region approximately twice a year to not only provide follow-up care, but also to train individuals in the community to provide hearing healthcare.
After my mission trip to Guatemala, I was inspired to take the next steps to set up a structure in which I can provide sustainable hearing healthcare to those in need in Howard County MD. This is why we are starting the Clarity Audiology Community Project in an effort to fill this gap in our own community to provide hearing testing and hearing aids to those in need.”
- Mary L. Carson, Au.D., F-AAA, F-ADA
Owner, Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions, LLC
Program Director, Clarity Audiology Community Project
1 in 5 Americans suffers from hearing loss to an extent that interferes with communication. That number of people living with hearing loss is more than those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
Hearing loss is linked to a number of negative consequences including:
- Decreased self-esteem
- Social Isolation
- Memory problems
- Cognitive decline
- Risk of falling
- Decreased earnings in the workplace
Unfortunately, hearing loss is an invisible ailment that often goes unrecognized and untreated, and most certainly is underfunded by state and federal programs. Medicare and most commercial insurance do not cover the cost of hearing aids, despite the fact that an estimated $122 billion to $186 billion in lost productivity and tax revenues in the United States is attributed to hearing loss (Rubenstein, John Hopkins University, 2015). Hearing aids typically cost $3000 – $6000 per pair, which makes access to care difficult for low income individuals.
Locally, hearing loss affects over 1.2 million Marylanders or 20.3% and over 567,715 Marylanders are living at or below the poverty line (http://odhh.maryland.gov/featured-story/over-1-2-million-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-marylanders/). We estimate there are over 16, 496 individuals in Howard County alone living under the poverty line (Source: howardcountymd.gov), and those impoverished individuals and further disadvantaged in the workplace if their hearing loss remains untreated. We fill a unique need in Maryland as there is no other non-profit entity in Howard County that provides significantly reduced cost hearing healthcare services to low-income individuals.
OUR MISSION / VISION / GOAL
OUR MISSION is to provide hearing healthcare to individuals in Howard County Maryland and surrounding areas who cannot afford it on their own, while providing them with opportunities to give back to the community through service to others.
OUR VISION is to improve the quality of life of low-income individuals in our community with hearing loss through affordable hearing healthcare, and to create a “circle of giving” whereby the recipient of our services gives back to the community through service and gains a greater purpose while doing so.
OUR GOAL is to fit 24 individuals with hearing aids (48 hearing aids in total) and provide 36 hearing tests over the course of one year.
Give Back Model
We are not a free clinic. We operate on a reduced fee schedule to make hearing healthcare affordable for individuals and families with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level. Individuals who qualify for hearing aids through the program pay just $75 for a brand-new hearing aid with a 3-year warranty. In return, our unique Circle of Giving model gives our patients the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteer hours. Patients who quality for hearing aids through the program will be required to complete 20 community service hours (half of which must be completed before their hearing aid fitting) in order to receive the reduced fee devices. The fitting fees and follow-up care will be included during their 60-day orientation period, and ongoing hearing aid service appointments for adjustments will be provided for just $15 for project recipients. Our hearing aid donation program also collects used hearing aids for use on global mission trips.
Collaborations & Support
We rely on the support of our community through grants, donations, corporate sponsorship and volunteers to make our programs sustainable. The Clarity Audiology Community Project is run in collaboration with Hearing the Call, a national nonprofit entity helping to make hearing healthcare accessible and affordable to all. Hearing the Call was created by the founders of GiveHear in Fort Wayne Indiana, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit hearing center that has been largely successful in implementing this Circle of Giving model.
Mary L. Carson, Au.D.
Emilie Carney, Au.D.