10 – Oversight of Dispensing Professionals

According to the American Academy of Audiology (Academy), “Audiologists are health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders in newborn, children, and adults.”

Audiologists must be licensed by the state. Specific state laws covering audiologists can be found on the websites of ASHA and the Academy. Most audiologists earn an AuD, but some have other doctoral degrees. In addition, they may be certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA), or by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). These certifications are voluntary. Each requires the applicant to pass an examination, and demonstrate knowledge, skills and expertise in the field.

A hearing instrument specialist is a professional certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (NBC-HIS) and licensed or registered in all states. The specialist does an assessment, fits and dispenses hearing aids, and provides instruction in the use and care of hearing aids and related devices. In some states, dispensing audiologists are licensed separately from non-audiologist dispenses.

A list of state licensing boards that cover hearing aid dispensers

All three professional organizations publish and expect their members to adhere to a written code of ethics and have rules in place for complaint procedures that can be found on their websites.

American Academy of Audiology code of ethics and ethical practices committee
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association code of ethics and complaint procedures
International Hearing Society code of ethics and complaint procedures

Apparently IHS accepts complaints only from other members; presumably consumers who bring a complaint to the IHS board might find that the board itself could file a complaint.

Before purchase of a hearing aid, consumers should check the credentials of the dispenser. If the dispenser’s practice, including the sale of hearing aids, does not adhere to state regulations covering the dispenser and any board certifications the dispenser holds, the consumer should contact the state licensing board and/or the state attorney general as well as any other oversight body to file a complaint.

Hearing Loss Association of America Consumer Protection Laws