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What is an Audiologist?
An “Audiologist” is a health professional who conducts evaluations, examinations, and provides (re)habilitation services related to the hearing mechanism and balance system. Audiologists provide hearing aids, assistive-listening devices, and other resources for persons of all ages who have or are suspected of having a hearing or balance disorder. Audiologists must hold at least a master’s degree; however, all audiologists currently entering the field will be required to hold a doctoral degree in audiology. Practicing audiologists are required to pass a national examination, hold a current license in Oklahoma, and complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every two years. For additional information regarding Audiologists, refer to Acts and Rules on the home page: http://www.obespa.state.ok.us.
What is a Hearing Aid Dealer/Fitter?
A Hearing Aid Dealer/Fitter is engaged in the fitting and sales of hearing aids. Hearing Aid Dealers/Fitters conduct minimal testing for the sole purpose of fitting hearing aids and do not perform diagnostic testing to determine the cause of hearing impairment. Hearing Aid Dealers/Fitters must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school education, and pass both a practical and written examination. Dealers must also hold a current dispensing license in the state of Oklahoma and complete 10 hours of continuing education yearly.
What is the difference between a hearing “screening” and a hearing “evaluation”?
A hearing “screening” is a measure used to determine if a hearing problem may exist. If hearing is suspected of being outside of normal limits, a referral to an Audiologist for a diagnostic evaluation should be made. An “evaluation” includes testing that results in detailed diagnostic information regarding the type and degree of hearing loss along with appropriate recommendations and referrals. It is recommended that “at risk” populations such as infants, children and the elderly be screened on a yearly basis.
What does Oklahoma law mandate for consumers under the age of 18?
A hearing evaluation can be performed on any child under the age of 18 by a licensed Audiologist. A Hearing Aid Dealer/Fitter may perform a hearing test for the sole purpose of fitting a hearing aid on a child under the age of 18. Prior to the fitting of a hearing aid, however, a medical evaluation must be performed and a medical clearance form must be signed by a physician (preferably an Otorhinolaryngologist or ENT). Hearing aids must be fitted within 6 months of the hearing evaluation or test. For more information regarding the “under 18” law, go to http://www.ok.gov/health and search: “hearing aid and under 18”.
What are consumer rights with regard to hearing aid purchases?
Both Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dealers/Fitters shall provide a thirty-day trial period on a hearing aid purchase consistent with the following terms: 1). The purchaser has the right to return the hearing aid(s) in the same condition as purchased, with no more than normal wear and tear, within 30 days of the hearing aid purchase. 2). The purchaser is entitled to receive a refund of at least 90% of the purchase price. The remaining amount, no more than 10% of the purchase price or $150 per aid, whichever is less, may be kept by the hearing aid provider as a cancellation fee.
How can I find an Audiologist?
You can contact the state board office at (405) 524-4955 or go to the board’s list of licensed Audiologists by geographic area at: http//www.obespa.state.ok.us.