This is about how to get free hearing aids.
If you have questions about other resources or this, you can contact me in my “You Ask, I Answer,” series or join my Patreon to ask questions in my monthly open-house.
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“I need a hearing aid but I can’t afford it”
If I had a dime every time I’ve heard that said, I’d be the proverbial rich woman.
This is the thing: hearing aids are highly useful to those of us with hearing loss, and they are crucial for those of us with hearing loss who don’t know ASL or signed language.
But it’s also true that hearing aids are ridiculously expensive.
Hearing aids are not fully covered by most insurance. You would think that they are some kind of luxury item – nice, but ultimately unnecessary – from the amount the cost and the difficulty in accessing affordable aids.
Hearing, in and of itself, is becoming a luxury.
From a personal perspective, I have been wearing hearing aids since I was 11 years old. They have often caused great financial strain in my family, and have never been easy to afford.
When I hit rock bottom, financially, and needed new hearing aids, I applied to the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Since I needed hearing aids in order to find and keep a job, they gave them to me. Yes, this was through a program, but it did teach me that it is entirely possible to get free hearing aids in the United States: you just need to know where to look.
I am now 46 years old, my most recent pair of hearing aids is from Costco (- my post on whether you should get hearing aids from Costco is linked here).
For those of you who are walking where I once did, desperate for a hearing aid but really strapped in affording them, this post is for you.
First, here’s a run-down of my own hearing aids:
How to Get Free Hearing Aids
Please click the links below to go directly to the sites to apply for the free hearing aids.
Better Hearing Institute
Better Hearing Institute has a listing of over 55 different private programs that provide loans or grants to people who need hearing aids.
They spin out the mighty and comprehensive pdf-with-links, “Your Guide to Financial Assistance for Hearing Aids“ (and trust me, that’s a link you want to bookmark!)
Most of their resources are for people who have low incomes.
Link to the site: www.visionandhearing.net
AUDIENT (Alliance for Accessible Hearing)
They help people whose income is above the government’s established poverty-levels but who still find it difficult to afford quality hearing aids.
In other words, you don’t have to be low-income for this one; you just need to have a hard time paying for those ridiculously expensive hearing aids!
Link to the site: www.audientalliance.org
Hear Now Programs
This is a Starkey-funded program that provides used and recycled hearing aids to people with low-incomes.
Link to the site: https://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/hear-now
Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
This is an employment program for people across the disability spectrum. Each state has it’s unique Department – sometimes it’s called “DOR” and sometimes it’s “DVR” or “DR”, but they are fundamentally the same.
If you are not currently working, or if you want to re-train yourself or follow a different career trajectory, and you need hearing aids to make that happen, look into Voc. Rehab.
Here’s a link to American Stroke Association’s comprehensive list of the contact pieces for every state’s respective Dept. of Rehab office: State Vocational Rehab Agencies
Make Them Yourself!
Just checking to see if you are still reading!
Not really though. There really is a link to make them: Electronics Project: Super Hearing Aid
Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project
This is only through local Lion’s clubs, so contact your local Lion’s Club and ask, apply.
The link is here: www.lionsclub.org
Some Medicare Advantage Plans cover part of the cost of hearing aids – they are not free, but they are significantly less.
To find out of your plan covers this, call your regional agency on aging, and talk with one of their CHOICES counselors.
Alternatively, read your plan very closely.
The link: Medicare Advantage
Rotary, like Lions, has programs that help pay for things like hearing aids. Also like Lions, this happens at the local level, so check out your local Rotary Club.
The link for Rotary International: www.rotary.org
These guys do just about everything, and helping out with hear-ware is in there too.
The link for Easter Seals Hard of Hearing and Deaf Services: https://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/hard-of-hearing-deaf-services.html
Help America Hear
Help America Hear (formerly The Foundation for Sight and Sound) provides free hearing aids to people with limited financial resources. They also provide educational scholarships for those of us with hearing loss, which is pretty cool. Apply for both through their website.
The link for Help America Hear: https://helpamericahear.org
Military Audiology Association RACHAP/RHAPP
I’m not sure how great this one is, and I hesitated to add it because it seems like they just give you a discount on hearing aids, not actually free hearing aids. Still, if you are with the military, it’s good to know about these programs, and to ask around and see if there is something that covers the total cost.
The link for Military Audiology Association: http://militaryaudiology.org/rachap-rhapp-locations/
They seem to help more with college (- specifically, undergraduate) scholarships than with hearing aids, but they do have a page with resources on where to apply and get free hearing aids or low-cost hear-ware.
The link for Sertoma’s Hearing Aid Resources page: https://sertoma.org/ways-to-help/hearing-aid-resources/
The HIKE Fund
Free hearing aids for children.
This would be my first stop if I needed free hearing aids for my child.
It looks pretty quick (- 4 months), and they seem to be very streamlined.
Link is here: https://thehikefund.org
Miracle Ear Foundation
The language on their site rubs me wrong, “..the program is designed for people who demonstrate a personal inability to financially provide for their hearing health needs.” WOW! Like we can’t take care of ourselves.
Also, “Do you qualify for the Gift of Sound?” – seriously?!
Anyway, they have funds for free hearing aids, so I guess you might want to check them out too.
Link to their site: https://www.miracle-ear.com/miracle-ear-foundation
Traveler’s Protective Association
These guys have a confusing website.
It seems like they do more with scholarships than with hearing aids, but that applications that I read seemed pretty open-ended. You could apply for a scholarship for a compilot or roger’s pen if you needed one, or for hear-ware or for school.
Link to TPA website: https://www.tpahq.org/scholarshiptrust/apply/
Starkey Hear Now
This looks very straightforward.
The application process for a free hearing aid is clearly outlined with each step being very explicit.
They have a call option (which always makes me scratch my head, because, WE ARE HEARING IMPAIRED, seeking a hearing aid! How are we going to call?!), but at least it’s just an option and you can do it all via downloads and snail mail.
Here’s the link to their site: https://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org
United Health Care Children’s Foundation
This looks like a really good one for parents looking for hearing aids or hear-ware for their kids.
It seems to cover everything – an open application process – and it’s very explicit.
Link to the website: https://www.uhccf.org/apply-for-a-grant/is-my-child-eligible/[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_separator color=”turquoise” style=”shadow” border_width=”6″ el_width=”60″][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
All the Low Cost or Free Hearing Aids
Well, that’s about it.
Those are enough links to get you going, but please check out the guides that I’ve included below.
The guides have even more information on organizations, as well as what to say when applying, other ways to go about securing your hear-ware.
Both guides are free and are downloads.
I’ve also included some outstanding websites below – they won’t help with hearing aids, but they are terrific sources of information.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And!
Hearing Loss Association of America
They have a great website, chock-full of resources, webinars, conferences and information related to hearing loss. They don’t actually give out free hearing aids, but they serve as resource for just about everything that is hearing loss-related. They also provide excellent advice about our rights, how to get hearing aids through IEP’s and so forth.
The link to their website: https://www.hearingloss.org
ALDA: Association of Late Deafened Adults
Similar to Hearing Loss Association of America, ALDA has a very useful website, great to bookmark for resources and information.
The link to their website: https://alda.org/alda-resources/
Download the distraction-free PDF of this post here.
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Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.
I am Deaf are you give for free hearing aid ?
I don’t, but there are a lot of places on this list that do!
The hear now program has a fee for the application per hearing aid ur applying for. It’s not free I tryed in the application it states there’s a fee and they will not wave it. My Dr talked with them with me in the room on soeeker phone.
Wow! Thanks for the info Meriah! I am going to take “advantage” of my Medicare Advantage Plan. The co-pay is $495/ ear for basic ones, $895/ear for high end ones. They would otherwise cost $2600/ear to $5400/ear respectively. You need to go to enrolled providers, and I’ll need to travel 40 miles, but totally worth it!
My current basic ones are the lowest end ones, and they are 8 years old now, during which time I’ve gone from moderate hearing loss, to profound loss- almost completely deaf. I’ve desperately needed new ones, but I’m on disability now, need the highest end ones. $10, 800 isn’t in the budget, but $1800 is!
I’ve found a great app that helps me with one-on-one conversation, a tiny wireless microphone that works in small groups if people are willing to pass it around to use as a “talking stick,” and an app for larger groups that can pick up to 5 people’s cell phone microphones to communicate with the speech to text app. I also have an app for my cell phone that connects to live volunteer transcribers who provide captioning almost in real time, and it works even better than my Captel captioning phone for landline use. I’ll send the info if you are interested.
Thank-you for the tremendous gift you are providing to all of us. I am deaf, have mild Cerebral Palsy, a deformed and useless right hand from botched surgery, chronic neuro Lyme Disease which caused the hearing loss and progressive paralysis, and bipolar disorder, so I know quite a bit about living with disabilities!
Thank you for your comment! I’m wondering what the name of the app is? That sounds pretty awesome – both the app that’s like the talking stick, and the app that’s with the volunteer transcribers? (and VOLUNTEER transcribers?! that’s amazing!)
Thanks again – xo
Yes, Meriah, I’d LOVE to!
The FREE cell phone app that works best one-on-one, is called Live Transcribe, but it only works with Android phones. I believe they are in the process of developing the app also available to iPhones and iPads, but I haven’t checked recently to find out if it’s available yet in Apple apps. The app that’s available for iPhones is called Transcibe Live (not LT), but it’s a different developer and doesn’t work nearly as well.
I’ve tried a LOT of speech-to-text apps, and Live Transcribe blows all the others away! It’s not perfect- I’d say it’s about 85% accurate. And it doesn’t work well with people you are talking with who have very high frequency voices
And there’s a setting that allows you to choose the language of the speaker, and there are a lot of languages you can choose, even dialects! that translate on your screen! It is so sensitive that I always need to check whether my default language is set to English USA or English British (you get two default settings) because if I accidentally hit the British version, the app doesn’t work!
The other limitation is that it only works with phones that have a media sound setting, and some phones don’t have one. I ordered a Samsung phone, and couldn’t figure out why my Motorola phone worked with the app, but the Samsung didn’t. Finally, just by accident, I figured out that the Samsung phone didn’t have a media sound setting, so I had to send it back. The Samsung phone was also more expensive- I love my Motorola Moto G6! You also need to set the media volume setting to maximum- it doesn’t work with DO NOT Disturb, which I sometimes forget to do, scratching my head.
OK, wireless Bluetooth microphone, not very user friendly until you’ve figured out all the steps, but once you have, is fantastic. You can buy it on Amazon for $26! It’s tiny, and you can clip it on your lapel, too!
Bluetooth Headset Wireless Headphones Business Earbud Collar Clip Retractable Sports Earpiece :
Bluetooth to phone and select Q7.
Set media volume in sound settings to max.
In Live Transcribe choose English USA or whatever language the speaker is speaking.
In other settings options select microphone Q7 (rather than device default.)
If you clip it on to your minister’s or public speaker”s lapel, it will work up to 20 feet away! Or you can just use it as a “talking sticK” passing it around in small groups.
The app that can pick up up to 5 other cell phone apps is called Ava. To be honest, I haven’t used it yet because it seems like there’s a huge learning curve to it, although the app developer is available to answer your questions. From what little experience I’ve had, I don’t think it works with Live Transcribe, and the transcription it provides is mediocre. But I think if I spent an hour or so with 2 or 3 other people, I might figure out how to use it with the Live Transcribe app using the Bluetooth microphone.
The phone transcription app for cell phones is available both for Android phones and iPhones, and it’s free! It’s called InnoCaption. It also transcribes voice mail. Innocaption gives you a dedicated cell phone number that works in your area code. It doesn’t do text, but you can use your regular cell phone number to send and receive texts. Innocaption is also available by email to answer your questions, because it’s a little tricky to set up and use at first.
These volunteer transcribers (around the world!) are my heroes. I always give them a 5 star rating at the end of the call!.
You’re probably aware of Captel Caption phones which are available free of charge and delivered and set up for you. You need a landline, and wi-fi Ethernet tethering to the phone, so the router has to be nearby. And there is no option for additional handsets, so it needs to be placed in the most used location.
OK, so Meriah, let me know if you have additional questions.
It’s been a pleasure. Best wishes!
THANK YOU!!! So much!!