By Kristen Taufer
Many Utahns can”t afford hearing aids, so the Utah Department of Health is asking people to give the gift of hearing this Christmas season.
They are asking people to donate used hearing aids to their Hearing Aid Recycling Program.
“There are many useable hearing aids which are not being worn,” said Katie Denter, community technician with the UDOH”s Hearing, Speech and Vision Services.
The donated hearing aids will be given to hearing-impaired children under 18 years of age according to their need, Denter said.
Three out of every 1,000 babies in the country are affected by hearing loss, said Susan G. Friedman, professor of psychology at Utah State University.
Last year the Hearing Aid Recycling Program helped to fit about 30 kids with hearing aids, Denter said.
Denter said they are doing fairly well with donations this year but they need small hearing aids for children under age 5.
Hearing aids are very important to the children who are deaf, said Cheryl Baker, consultant at the Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind.
“Without a hearing aid, a child doesn”t have access to the world and they can”t relate to other people in their environment,” Baker said.
In the country only 65 percent of babies are screened for hearing loss, but in Utah 98.7 percent of babies are tested, Friedman said.
This high rate is due to Utah”s “commitment to their children,” Friedman said.
Hearing aids that are donated will be tested and repaired if necessary and then will be fit to the hearing impaired child, Denter said.
Donated hearing aids may be considered a charitable contribution for federal tax purposes, Denter said.
Anyone interested in donating used hearing aids can call Katie Denter at (801) 584-8218 or the Baby-Your-Baby Hotline at 1-800-826-9662 then ask for the Hearing, Speech and Vision Services.