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Hearing aid donations sought for assistance and reuse program

Program has distributed aids to more than 100 Kentuckians

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 14, 2015) — The Kentucky Assistive Technology Service (KATS) Network is accepting donations of hearing aids of any age or condition to help fund its Statewide Hearing Aid Assistance and Reuse Program (SHARP).

Hearing aids can be donated by calling the KATS Network at 1-800-327-5287 to request a pre-paid container or by delivering donations to participating collection centers. A receipt of donation can be made available upon request for tax purposes.

Donated hearing aids will be sent to the Starkey All-Make Repair program to be evaluated and either reconditioned to like-new condition (including a one year warranty) or used for parts.

“SHARP receives a cash credit for hearing aids that it collects and sends into the Starkey All Make program. This credit is used to assist individuals to acquire reconditioned hearing aids and to repair existing hearing aids,” said Jimmy Brown, program coordinator for the KATS Network.

Reconditioned hearing aids are available to individuals in need through participating hearing health professionals (HHPs). Hearing aid repairs are also provided through the same network of HHPs. Recipients are responsible for covering the cost of audiologist fees such as exams, fittings and follow-up visits.

Since SHARP began collecting hearing aids in October 2014, 368 have been donated to the program. Since the program began distributing the aids in March, 104 Kentuckians have received hearing aid assistance through the SHARP program with refurbished hearing aids, repairs to their existing hearing aids and other services leading to overall costs savings of an estimated $639,000.

“There’s no way to gauge the importance of being able to communicate with those around you and simply put, these devices are not affordable to everyone,” Brown said. “Our goal is to make these devices more accessible to Kentuckians who otherwise may not have the resources necessary to obtain them.”

Medicare and most health insurance plans to do not cover hearing aids. The average cost of one new hearing aid is about $3,500, said Brown.

“As of 2013, the number of Kentuckians who were deaf or hard of hearing was more than 694,000 or about 15 percent of the population,” Brown said. “Not all of those people would need a hearing aid, but a large percentage would.”

Kentuckians who need assistance getting hearing aids can contact SHARP for more information about the program at 1-800-327-5287 or email [email protected].