New Jersey Hearing Aid Project Launches

New Jersey Hearing Aid Project Launches

New collaborative program provides hearing devices for low income individuals.

The New Jersey Hearing Aid Project provides eligible low income individuals throughout the state access to hearing assistive devices and the hearing services they desperately need.

In January of this year the New Jersey Hearing Aid Project (NJHAP) accepted its first applications after a year of planning and coordination by the three partner organizations involved in establishing this unique public assistance program.

NJHAP is a coordinated effort of three independent public organizations: New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Montclair State University, and Hearing Charities of America. Together they establish the backbone for a network of organizations and individuals interested in providing hearing assistive devices for low income individuals.

More than a year ago the partner organizations began discussions that would eventually lead to the commencement of this innovative program. Recognizing that the need for hearing assistive devices by low income individuals was too great for any one organization, the network was developed to generate the resources and outcomes necessary to improve hearing health of many New Jersey Residents.

It was a big undertaking but necessary to meet a growing need.

The New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will be the organization responsible for processing applications and determining need, while the faculty and audiology school students at Montclair State University are coordinating hearing screening and managing the hearing aid bank of donated instruments.

Hearing Charities of America and its parent organization Sertoma are responsible for building public awareness and generating public support for the NJHAP, including financial and in-kind support from various sources.

Additional public and private support will be critical to grow the NJHAP beyond the initial resource commitments of the three founding organizations. While the infrastructure of the program has been successfully created, the hearing aids and clinical services needed to support the program are an ongoing need and will develop as demand for services increases.

“A huge factor in determining the success of the program is based on the assistance we receive from audiologists around the state,” said Janet Koehnke, Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders of Montclair State University. “So far we are delighted by the response we’ve received as audiologists step up to provide hearing health screenings in support of the program.”

Early indications show tremendous acceptance and appreciation by recipients of the services provided by NJHAP. “We are not only delighted by the interest we have received by consumers with hearing loss, but by so many people seeking to donate used hearing aids,” related David Alexander, Director of the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Hearing Charities of America, through their parent organization Sertoma, is providing the resources to build awareness and community support. Some of the first responses of support have come from area colleges and universities. “It is exciting to receive such a positive response from those that will clearly be future leaders in our communities,” said Steven Murphy, Executive Director of Hearing Charities of America.

A major portion of the NJHAP includes fundraising efforts through CELEBRATE SOUND – Don’t Walk in Silence® events, a benefit developed to help generate broad based awareness and support for project outcomes. Colleges and universities involved are also supporting the hearing aid collection and recycling programs in numerous ways, added Murphy.

In the future we expect additional sponsoring organizations to include hearing health technology companies and many from the broader audiology and hearing health communities. Many have also expressed interested in supporting a similar model in other states.

“Resources from the professional audiology community as well as financial support going forward will be our greatest challenge,” said Murphy. “We know there are plenty of providers wanting to lend a hand. It just takes time to reach everyone with interest in the program.”

The unmet need for hearing assistive devices spans all age groups but is critical among the senior community. The NJHAP initial focus on project services will be geared toward meeting that need. Pediatric and family services will expand as resources increase with the hopes of providing hearing assistive devices and audiology care for all in need.

The New Jersey Hearing Aid Project is a unique model and one-of-a-kind collaboration. Without question, it is the first of its kind to specifically address the needs of hearing health state-wide. The partnership of three dynamic organizations came off without a hitch and now all three are doing their part to help the program achieve scale. With so many in need, there is no time to delay in getting the word out – to those who need services and those who can support the initiative.


Who Qualifies for Services?

Qualifications, applications and the approval process for The Hearing Aid Project are managed by the New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Eligibility criteria includes: Resident of New Jersey, 65 years of age or older, income of less than $26,130 if single, $32,037 if married.

Who are the New Jersey Hearing Aid Project Partners?

The New Jersey Hearing Aid Project is a combined effort of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Montclair State University and Hearing Charities of America. The New Jersey Hearing Aid Project is an effort to provide eligible low income individuals access to needed hearing assistance devices and related services that otherwise are not available due to cost.

About The New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NJ DDHH) is pleased to partner with Sertoma and Montclair State University for the purpose of providing reconditioned hearing aids to those in need with low income.

Although there are several programs that offer limited assistance, the vast majority of people who need hearing aids do not have them due to the high cost. The division receives thousands of inquiries for information, but one of the most common requests are from those seeking hearing aid assistance. Very few insurance companies provide coverage. Many people with hearing loss are over 65 and Medicare also does not provide coverage. Consequently, it is anticipated that this program will help bridge the gap. The division’s participation in the project includes establishing eligibility guidelines and determining which applicants will be approved to obtain the hearing aid. More Information

About Montclair State University

Montclair State University is home to the only audiology doctoral program in the State of New Jersey. The University is please to collaborate with Sertoma and the NJ DDHH in the New Jersey Hearing Aid Project. Our clinical staff and graduate students will evaluate donated hearing aids and house reconditioned aids for distribution to participating audiologists across New Jersey. The MSU Center for Audiology will also dispense hearing aids to individuals who qualify through the NJ DDHH application process. More Information

About Hearing Charities of America

The purpose of Hearing Charities of America is to support those impacted by speech and hearing disorders by expanding awareness, volunteerism, and philanthropy in the communities Hearing Charities serves. Hearing Charities provides resources for hearing professionals, manufacturers and individuals with hearing issues. They accomplish this through three related activities: awareness programs, scholarships and Adopt-An-Agency. These activities support Hearing Charities’ mission of commitment to communication in every community. Sertoma is the founding partner of Hearing Charities of America. More Information

About Sertoma, Inc.

Composed of more than 500 clubs across the country, this civic service organization’s primary goal is to reach those affected by hearing loss and communicative disorders. Sertoma’s members do this through educational programs such as Sertoma SAFEEars!©, scholarships, and the Adopt-An-Agency program. Sertoma is the founding partner of Hearing Charities of America. More Information

How Can I Get Involved in the Program?

Hearing health professionals, manufacturers, institutions and individuals can all help support New Jersey Hearing Aid Project. From simply donating a hearing aid to providing resources on a larger scale – everyone can help improve hearing health in our state.

For more information, photos & quotes:
Steven Murphy
Sertoma/Hearing Charities of America