The Hearing Tech Expo at MTC offers information and resources for those with hearing problems.
Lakewood Ranch resident Richard Williams was a professor at Northwestern University in Illinois in 1998 when he realized his hearing was becoming a problem.
“I couldn’t hear people in the back of the class,” said Williams, a retired city attorney and prosecutor. “I had to run to the back to hear them.”
Williams finally had his hearing tested and then was fitted with his first set of hearing aids. Since that time, Williams has had various hearing devices, most recently getting a middle-ear implant in 2011. He has become an advocate both for himself and for others with hearing loss. That’s why he thinks the upcoming Hearing Tech Expo and Clinic on Feb. 15 is so important.
The eighth annual event, hosted by Hearing Loss Association of America’s Sarasota-Manatee Chapter, is the largest consumer hearing health event in Florida and the only event in the country to offer free, no-obligation hearing aid trials. There will be more than 65 hearing-related exhibitors and speakers all aimed at educating attendees about hearing loss, hearing aid and implant options, assistive listening devices, wireless and wearable accessories and other technologies aimed to improve quality of life for those with hearing loss.
This year’s clinic has been expanded to allow people to try to compare hearing aids for free. There also will be a family zone to serve children with hearing loss and their parents.
“There’s nothing like it in the country,” Williams said. “You can’t buy anything. There aren’t sales people. These are the technical people that help audiologists. You can get your hearing tested for free.”
Friend Kathy Combs, a resident of Riverwalk Ridge, was diagnosed with hearing loss in 1995 while working as a school nurse in western Massachusetts. She conducted vision and hearing screenings on students, and while testing out the equipment one day, she realized was failing the test herself.
She saw an audiologist who did not fit her for hearing aids and began trying to navigate her options. Combs said the event will help people like herself who did not know where to start for information or for people who simply want to learn about the newest advances in hearing technology.
She and Williams agreed it is important to identify hearing loss early.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, and people with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before seeking help.