Category Archives: Community

Ally’s Act Introduced in the Senate

We are excited to share good news about the progress of Ally’s Act provided courtesy of Melissa Tumblin. Melissa is a longtime Oticon Medical Ambassador and the founder and executive director of Ear Community, a nonprofit organization that helps children and adults born with Microtia and Aural Atresia. Melissa’s daughter, Ally Tumblin (for whom the Act is named) has Microtia and Atresia and wears a Ponto bone anchored hearing device.

Insurance coverage for bone anchored hearing devices and more

Ally’s Act (H.R. 5485) is a bipartisan national level bill that would ensure private insurance companies provide coverage for osseointegrated hearing devices (OIDs), including bone anchored hearing systems and cochlear implants. The Act, if it becomes law, will help ensure that private insurance providers cover these costs, including the hearing devices and their accessories, surgery and medical exams.

Currently, only about half of the states in the U.S. currently have legislation in place to cover hearing aids, and OIDs are not always included. Ally’s Act, as a federal bill, would require that children and adults needing bone anchored hearing devices or cochlear implants received coverage in every state through private insurers listed under the Affordable Health Care Act.

Ally’s Act has been endorsed by numerous high-profile hearing industry institutions, including the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the American Academy of Audiology, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and most recently the Hearing Industries Association.

Ally’s Act introduced into Congress

Ally Tumblin wrote to Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO) in May of 2019 for Better Hearing and Speech Month and asked him to help her advocate to hear better. He responded to Ally in September of that year and acted soon after. Along with the co-chairs of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, Congressmen David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), Ally’s Act was introduced to the House Committee for Energy and Commerce with bipartisan support in December of 2019.

Companion bill mandating hearing device insurance coverage introduced to Senate

In promising news, the companion bill to Ally’s Act was introduced to the Senate on September 8, 2020. This bipartisan bill (S. 4532) was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.VA).

In response, Rep. Neguse issued the following public statement, “I am proud that Senator Warren and Senator Capito introduced the Senate companion to Ally’s Act. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation is critical for people like Ally Tumblin, who require osseointegrated-integrated hearing devices (OIDs), including bone anchored hearing aids and cochlear implants.

“It is a testament to Ally, her family and her advocates that this is now a nationally recognized need that will benefit so many Americans. We look forward to Ally’s Act passing both Chambers of Congress and ultimately being signed into law,” Rep. Neguse concluded.

Senator Warren issued the following statement regarding her support for Ally’s Act: “Far too many Americans are left behind due to hearing loss and cannot access the devices they need because their insurance will not cover it, leaving many adults and children in the US without a solution to restore their hearing. Our bipartisan bill is a simple fix that increases access to these specialized hearing devices and gives Americans across the country a chance to be a part of every conversation.”

Senator Capito agreed, adding, “Many of us take for granted the gift of hearing and how often we rely on our senses to effectively communicate with one another. It is important that we take the necessary steps to improve our health insurance systems and ensure these critical devices are readily available for those who need them. OIDs are even more crucial for individuals born with hearing deficiencies, as the first five years of life are important for speech and language development. I’m proud to introduce Ally’s Act, which will help establish better access to these critical hearing devices for those that need them.”

How you can support Ally’s Act becoming law

As Ally’s Act continues to advance through both the House and Senate, you can help by writing to your local congressional representatives and senators.

“Ask them to support H.R. 5485 and S. 4532 and tell them why this bill is important to you or your child or a loved one who requires the use of a bone anchored hearing aid or cochlear implant,” Melissa Tumblin advises.

For more information and to learn more about how you can help support Ally’s Act, please visit:  https://earcommunity.org/about/allys-act-h-r-5485/.

Ready to take the next step in your hearing journey? Click here to find a clinic near you!

Face Mask Alternatives for People without Ears

For many of us, the most challenging part of the CDC’s latest recommendation that everyone should wear a face mask* when going out during the Covid-19 epidemic is finding (or making) masks. However, for people with microtia or anotia, this is compounded by the difficulty of wearing a traditional mask with small or no external ear(s). Fortunately, there are ways around the challenge presented by traditional masks with loops for around the ears.

Making your own face masks for Covid-19 use

As mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges for everyone is figuring out how to follow the latest guidelines on covering your mouth and nose when having to go out for groceries or other necessities during the coronavirus outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have posted helpful DIY guidelines for making and using cloth face coverings on their website. These can be further adapted to fit people without ears using the suggestions below.

Add strings to face masks

If you are making your own face mask, instead of using traditional ear loops you can attach tie-able strings at the top and on the bottom corners. These can be comfortably tied around the head to fit without requiring ears or getting in the way of your bone anchored hearing device.

Attach buttons to a headband

If you happen to have a traditional medical mask — especially if you’re a healthcare worker — then altering a scarf, bandanna, or other adaptable headband to add buttons on either side of your head is a good workaround. You can then put the loops around the buttons in place of ears.

 

 

 

 

Use a paperclip

This is a clever and simple trick: take a paperclip, slide it around each ear loop on the mask to connect them in back, then put the mask on over your head and adjust comfortably.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any other DIY suggestions for making face masks wearable without ears? Please share in the comments!

We’d like to thank our friend Melissa Tumblin and Ear Community for allowing us to share these helpful tips and photo examples.

*Masks featured in this post are not N95-rated or surgical grade.

Have You Heard of Oticon Medical Friends?

Spread the word!

Right after Thanksgiving last year, Oticon Medical formally launched a new community for Ponto wearers and caregivers to Ponto wearers in the United States, Oticon Medical Friends. Our goal was to create a safe, private space for wearers and caregivers to share their experiences with their Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, ask each other for advice and tips, and learn from one another’s experiences with hearing loss and treatment. Additionally, the community provides more direct access to Oticon Medical employees for assistance with questions related to technology, insurance, and best practices as well as the opportunity to share ideas for product and service advancements.

Features designed to empower Ponto users and caregivers

Oticon Medical Friends provides helpful features for new and experienced Ponto wearers and caregivers, including:

  • Easily viewable information on your Ponto device(s), including warranty information. This information is stored securely in your Profile, so only you can see it.
  • Groups dedicated to different subjects relevant to you. You can easily browse and find the groups that reflect your everyday interests and experiences.
  • A resource library with downloadable material to make life even easier with your device. All materials are made exclusively for Oticon Medical Friends members.
  • Direct messaging. Talk directly and privately with other Oticon Medical Friends community members as well as Oticon Medical employees.
  • A first look at new products and accessories. Find out first what we are working on and offer suggestions for what you’d like us to develop.
  • Coming soon: Exclusive offers and contests for members.

Groups and more in Oticon Medical Friends

Within the community are different groups designed for new wearers, experienced Ponto users, and caregivers. We encourage you to join as many as you’d like! The following are your current options:

  • Daily Life
  • New Ponto Users
  • Active Living
  • Experienced Ponto Users
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Kids with Ponto
  • Music
  • Coming soon: Advocacy
  • US Insurance

We also have a growing Library of content to help maximize your experience and enjoyment of life with a Ponto BAHS and an area where we encourage you to make Suggestions, which we will  use to continue expanding and developing Oticon Medical Friends. We are just getting started, so the sooner you join, the more influence you can have on making this community the best resource it can be!

How do I join Oticon Medical Friends?

If you are currently using a Ponto or you are a parent or caregiver of a Ponto wearer, Oticon Medical Friends is for you! To join, simply click this link to Oticon Medical Friends, and when directed enter the serial number for your or your loved one’s device. Whether you are a new member of the Oticon Medical extended family or a seasoned advocate, Oticon Medical Friends is the place for you.

 

Demant: One corporation. Many companies. One Mission.

As you may or may not know, Oticon Medical is part of a much larger global organization: the Demant Group. Beyond bone anchored hearing systems, Demant as a whole provides end-to-end hearing healthcare, from diagnostic equipment – used to identify hearing loss in the first place – to a host of treatment and supportive technology.

More than a century of experience in hearing health

For more than 115 years, the Demant Group of hearing and technology companies have helped people with hearing loss enjoy more of what life has to offer: music, the voices of children and grandchildren, and natural sounds like birds singing.

It all started when Demant began importing hearing aids into the Danish town of Odense more than 100 years ago. The import business transitioned over time into production of Demant’s own hearing aids. Even further down the line, Demant expanded into hearing care, diagnostics, hearing implants, audio solutions, and headsets. And the corporation continues adding to its core competencies, with exciting new technological advances and hearing health-related offerings planned for the future.

End-to-end hearing healthcare

Today, Demant is one of the world’s leading – and largest – hearing healthcare companies in the world, offering the broadest selection of treatment for people living with hearing loss. Besides Oticon Medical, the businesses under the Demant umbrella include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Hearing aid brands Oticon, Inc. and Philips HearLink
  • Diagnostic companies Interacoustics and MAICO
  • Assistive sound field system provider Frontrow

The purpose of the entire business and its employees remains the same across the various units: life-changing hearing health.

With that in mind, we encourage you to take a moment to reflect on all the sounds around you and consider how important they are to your daily life. Those without hearing challenges take sound for granted as they carry on with their routines. But almost 500 million people in the world – more than the population of the United States – live with some level of hearing loss. Like all the companies that make up the Demant Group, Oticon Medical is proud to offer the finest hearing technology to everyone who needs it around the globe.

Demant is seeking to highlight the importance of hearing health and keeping sound in your life with the launch of this new corporate video, I am sound. We hope you enjoy it!

Oticon Medical Hosts Annual New Advocates Meeting

Over the weekend of October 11-13, we hosted 40+ attendees — including Ponto wearers and their families — for our annual New Advocates Meeting, which was held at Oticon Medical’s headquarters in Somerset, NJ. A few long-time Ambassadors, including Angela and Sarah Zabel and Kevin Hotaling, also attended in order to share their experiences and provide coaching and inspiration.

Friday night inspiration

We kicked the weekend off with a welcome reception and dinner held at the Bridgewater Marriott where attendees were staying for the weekend. While serving dessert, we conducted a Share Your Story activity during which everyone took a few minutes to introduce themselves and talk about their experiences with hearing loss and journeys to better hearing with Ponto bone anchored hearing systems.

Friday night dinner and story sharing

A busy Saturday schedule

Bright and early Saturday morning, we kicked of a full day of educational panels on topics ranging from Ponto 4: Introduction and Design to New Advances in Bone Anchored Hearing Procedure, all conducted by various Oticon Medical staffers and audiology professionals. Hands-on workshops included how to use Canva to enhance social media posts and how to add visual effects and edit self-made videos. We also introduced Oticon Medical Friends, our exciting new community portal through which wearers will be able to stay in closer contact with our company and one another. Meanwhile, our child wearers and their siblings were kept entertained by Mad Science of West New Jersey and The Lizard Guy and his live animal exhibits.

Mad Science presentation

Saturday night, we took a fun trip together on the Sparkling NYC Skyline Dinner Cruise. Attendees and staff enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner and a couple of loops around New York City before reaching the main attraction — a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty. There was also plenty of time for dancing and fun on-board.

New York skyline by boat

Statue of Liberty

 

Sunday wrap-up

Sunday morning, we held a panel discussion on Technology and Access, which included a lively Q&A about insurance-related topics. Then Melissa Tumblin and her daughter Aly presented key Oticon Medical staff members with Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Awareness Awards in recognition of all they’ve done to improve the lives of people with these conditions. The weekend concluded with a farewell luncheon, and then everyone headed back home with the knowledge and motivation to be the best possible advocates on behalf of those with hearing challenges.

Aly & Melissa with Pres. John Sparacio

We would like to thank all of our attendees and Ambassadors for sharing their stories and further developing a supportive, tightly connected community!

Click to learn more about Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, including Ponto 4, our smallest and first processor with direct wireless streaming and all the benefits of Oticon’s proven Opn™ technology.

Meet Your Friends at Oticon Medical: Part 3

Get to know your friends in the US Customer Service department

Welcome to Part 3 of our new blog series, Meet Your Oticon Medical Friends! In this first set of posts, we’ve asked the members of our US Customer Service Team to tell you a bit about themselves. Get to know the caring people who take your calls, place orders, solve problems, answer your questions, and much more.

In case you missed them, here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2.

Meet Michael

I have worked at Oticon for six years, the last ten months in customer service. I enjoy interacting with customers, getting to know them a little, and being able to help them solve their problems

Service representatives on phone

One of my favorite stories about helping out a caller involved a person who was having a hard time in her daily life. She was a nurse struggling to pair her Ponto processor with the Streamer. She started out the call really upset, so I kept my voice calm and guided her through it. Toward the end of the call, she explained that she’d had a tough day at work, and we started chatting casually because she felt so much better. By staying calm and helping her resolve her issue, I’d made her day better.

After a busy day at work, I like to go home and watch something funny on television. One of my favorite shows is The Goldbergs – also Blackish and Man of the House. As for films, my favorite all-time movie is Top Gun, and I also like Angels and Demons, the sequel to the Da Vinci Code.

I have a pet cat, a Tabby named Mona. She’s only a year old. She lived in the backyard of one of my bother-in-law’s house, and sadly, she was part of a feral cat litter that lost its mother. The kittens were all adopted out, and I took Mona. Now she is extremely spoiled! She likes to jump on me while I’m exercising at home.

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

Meet Your Friends at Oticon Medical: Part 2

Get to know your friends in the US Customer Service department

Welcome to Part 2 of our new blog series, Meet Your Oticon Medical Friends! In this first set of posts, we’ve asked the members of our US Customer Service Team to tell you a bit about themselves. Get to know the caring people who take your calls, place orders, solve problems, answer your questions, and much more.

Meet Donna

I have been with Oticon Medical for four years, and I’ve worked in customer service for most of my career. The part of the job I enjoy most is being able to assist our customers and patients with any questions or concerns they may have. I find it rewarding to help patients with service orders as well.

Before I came to Oticon Medical, I worked for a family-owned import company that manufactured candle gifts and accessories. I was there almost nine years before the company closed. We had a booth at the New York Javits Center for several years, which was a lot of fun!

I also lived in Lynn Haven, Florida for a time, which was maybe five miles to Panama City Beach. It was so beautiful! The sand was so white and it felt like I was walking on flour because it was so soft.

Nowadays, after a busy day at work, I like to unwind by meeting up with friends for dinner or just going home and watching television. My favorite movie is The Sound of Music.

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

Meet your friends at Oticon Medical

Get to know your friends in the US Customer Service department

Welcome to Part 1 of our new blog series, Meet Your Oticon Medical Friends! In this first set of posts, we’ve asked the members of our US Customer Service Team to tell you a bit about themselves. Get to know the caring people who take your calls, place orders, solve problems, answer your questions, and much more.

Meet Beverly

My name is Beverly, and I have worked at Oticon Medical for almost 9 years. I’ve worked in Customer Service and Operations Management since 1984.

Before Oticon Medical, I worked 30 years in the steel industry in the Midwest as a Customer Service Manager. During my early years in this industry it was considered very unusual for a women to be in management. It was a very male-dominated industry back then, dealing directly with the automotive industry (a tough group of customers). It was quite an education.

When I moved back home to New Jersey to be near my family, I decided that my next job would be in an industry that sells a product that benefits people. Oticon Medical was a perfect fit for me. I really enjoy hearing our patients talk about how much our product has changed their lives.  Working in customer service at Oticon Medical is a pleasure. We have a great product and we all work very hard to make sure our patients and customers are happy with our service.

Here is one of my favorite on-the-job stories: I had a mom call on a Friday crying hysterically because her son lost his processor and they were literally leaving for vacation the next day. She was actually having a hard time breathing because she was so upset. Her husband was very angry with her because for some reason he was blaming her. I asked her what time her flight was and then told her we could have his replacement there by 8:00 am on Saturday morning.  He would have to wear it without it being programmed to his settings but it was better than nothing. She asked me how much it would cost and I said, “Nothing,” because it was covered under warranty.  She cried even harder, but happy tears this time.

My personal experience with hearing loss involves my sister-in-law. She saw an ENT a few years ago because my brother got tired of hearing her say, “What?” Ended up that she needed a hearing aid, which we purchased from Oticon Inc. as part of the employee purchase program.  She loves it and so does my brother!

Louie and Gracie

One of my favorite ways to unwind if I have a particularly stressful or busy day is to take a last-minute ride to the Jersey Shore to have dinner with family. I also enjoy spending time with my two dogs, Louie (a Shih-Tzu/Maltese) and Gracie (a Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier). I’ve had them since they were six weeks old — they are ten now.

I’ve lived in quite a few places in my career, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, and Toronto. Prior to Oticon Medical, I moved around quite a bit as part of my job but I’m happy to finally be home in New Jersey!

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_5

Part 5 of 5

In Part 4 of this series, I provided tips on how to put the “social” in your social media. In this edition, the conclusion, I’ll talk about how to analyze your performance and adjust if you find you’re off-track in reaching your goals.

Analyze and adapt

All social media platforms offer statistics you can use to track the performance of each post you’re making. You’ll want to keep an eye on Engagement in particular – the number of Likes/Shares/Comments on Facebook and LinkedIn, retweets and comments on Twitter, and “regrams” and comments on Instagram. By reviewing and tracking this data you can make informed content strategy decisions based on which items performed well or not. Expect that you’ll have to periodically tweak your topics, balance of post types, post release times, and more over time as audience makeup and preferences change.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your Reach to make sure your audience is even seeing your posts. This is especially true now that Facebook has made it all but impossible to reach your entire (or even the majority of) your Fans/Followers list without paying to boost a post. You might need to strategize and decide which posts you should boost and how much money you can afford to put behind these to reach as many people as possible. Obviously, anything boosted should include a clear call to action in support of your goal.

Nothing succeeds like success

Ultimately, you will know your online strategy is working if you attain that defined and measurable goal you set. Whether it’s an increase in donations or number of event attendees, gaining more advocates for your cause or influencing legislation, skillful utilization of social media can go a long way toward helping advocates like you achieve your goals.

Do you or a loved one need your hearing tested? Find a clinic near you now!

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_4

Part 4 of 5

In Part 3 of this series, I provided suggestions on how to choose the right social media channels to maximize your digital reach. This week, in Part 4, I offer tips on how to put the “social” in your social media.

Sharing is caring

The point of social media is interaction. You want to draw visitors to your content, engage with it (and you), and ideally take an action that supports your established goal. The best way to do this is make sure whatever you share is interesting and relevant to your target audience and includes an engaging visual element (photo, .gif, or video).

Regularity is also key, so make sure you establish a content release schedule you can manage consistently. This rewards audience loyalty to your properties, which in turn allows you compete against all the other social outlets vying for their attention. Examples of good schedules include one post on Facebook or three-five daily tweets on Twitter per day. Remember, you can utilize a content management platform like HootSuite to schedule posts/tweets in advance so that you aren’t overwhelmed by a frequent need to post. Even without one of these platforms, you can schedule ahead on Facebook from the platform itself.

Don’t forget the hashtags

Make sure you learn how to use hashtags on all your platforms – they’re not just for Twitter anymore! “Ride” popular hashtags related to your cause so that more of your potential audience can discover your content. Using single-sided deafness (SSD) as our model cause again, you could include #deaf, #hearingloss, or #hoh regularly with your posts, which makes them show up when someone performs one of these common searches for content. Additionally, if you see a hashtag is trending that relates to your cause (e.g., #WorldHearingDay) you could include it in a post linking SSD to the importance of getting your hearing checked. Just make sure you don’t go crazy with the hashtags – using too many in relation to the amount of content provided in a post has been shown to reduce engagement.

One more post to go in this series! In my next post, I’ll provide an overview on how to analyze the results of your online efforts and tweak them to achieve your goals.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.