Home >

Hearing Loss

These lists are provided for informational purposes only. We do not endorse any particular device, vendor, or manufacturer. Please send updates, suggestions or information about other resources to [email protected].

Tips on Buying Hearing Aids

Hearing Aid Funding Resources

Additional Hearing Resources

Tips on buying a hearing aid that will work for you!


Hearing loss can be caused by many different conditions. It is important to have your ears checked for wax in the canals, fluid in the middle ear or more serious conditions. The most common cause of progressive hearing loss is sensor neural hearing loss, or nerve deafness. A hearing aid will not cure hearing loss, but it can help you hear better. An exam will usually be covered by your insurance and can be performed by an Ear Nose & Throat Physician (otolaryngologist) or an audiologist. Audiologists are highly educated and highly trained health care professionals qualified to do a thorough evaluation of your hearing. Audiologists are also experts with other types of assistive listening devices (ALDs) including individual and group listening systems, telecommunication devices and personal alerting equipment. Some audiologists work for companies that dispense hearing aids. To find a licensed audiologist in your community, visit the American Academy of Audiology’s directory at https://memberportal.audiology.org/Directories/Find-an-Audiologist.


The term dispenser applies to ear specialists, audiologists, and hearing aid specialists who fit and sell hearing aids. They should spend time helping you find the right hearing aid, and they will schedule several visits to work with you on adjustments and teaching you how to use and maintain your hearing aid. They should be able to provide warranty or out-of-warranty service for the life of the aid.

Here are some points to clarify:

  • What program(s) do they have in place to teach you how to use the aid and communicate most effectively?
  • Do they give at least a 30-day trial period? This will give you time to “test drive” the aid, just as you would when buying a new car.
  • Which fees are nonrefundable, should you need to return the aid? Typically, costs for testing, custom-fit parts, and/or ear molds are nonrefundable.
  • Does the dispenser provide repair services? Is a loaner available should your aid need repair?
  • Do they offer different types and makes of hearing aids, such as behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, and in-the-canal styles?

Finally, don’t be pressured into purchasing an aid. Seek a second opinion if you want more information or want to compare prices.


There is no “best” hearing aid. The selection of a hearing aid depends on your degree of hearing loss, listening needs, dexterity, financial situation and personal life circumstances, including the environment in which the hearing aid will be used. Ask about various options available in the hearing aid, such as a Telecoil. For a small, additional cost, the Telecoil enhances telephone use and allows you to use assistive listening systems in theaters, meetings, etc.

Hearing aids vary greatly in cost; a conventional hearing aid may cost $400, while digital hearing aids can cost up to $4500 each. Some dispensers bill separately for the hearing aids and testing and other services. However, most quote one price that includes many services as well as the aids. Until you know which aid you will need and what you’re being quoted on, you won’t be able to know the complete price.

When you purchase your hearing aid, be sure to get a purchase agreement or contract containing all terms of the transaction in writing. Is there a written warranty? Is the warranty honored by the manufacturer, the dispenser, or both?

When making your selection, remember: Do not rush into buying a hearing aid. Spend time researching this major purchase, just as you would a car.

  • Most hearing aids are programmed, so the skill of your provider is an essential factor in determining your satisfaction. Ask which speech processing strategy is best for you, rather than which hearing aid is best.
  • Programmable aids can be customized to fit your needs and there are a wide range of features to consider, such as directional microphones, telecoil, direct audio input and remote control.
  • Know your rights about a trial period as you adjust to an aid.
  • Ask the audiologist about the possibility of trying one hearing aid for a while and then trying another one out for a while to compare.
  • Bring appropriate expectations: hearing aids may help you cope more effectively in communication, but they will not restore normal hearing.
  • Be aware that hearing aids do not work well in all situations.
  • Assistive listening devices, such as FM, infrared and loop systems, used in conjunction with hearing aids, improve hearing aid effectiveness in difficult listening situations, such as noisy restaurants.
  • Purchasing a hearing aid by mail or telephone is not recommended as it will be hard to find the right hearing aid for your needs.

After you buy your hearing aids:

  • Use them right away and go back to the dealer if they do not work as well as anticipated.
  • Ask the vendor for advice on adjusting to your hearing aids and how you can learn to use them most effectively (sometimes called aural rehabilitation).
  • Be aware that it may take a while for the brain to adjust to a hearing aid, so you can’t always determine right away if you will like it.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines for maintenance & battery replacement.
  • Before your manufacturer’s warranty runs out, arrange for coverage for loss or damage through your homeowners or renters policy or through insurers who specialize in hearing aids. For example:


Under Washington State law, when you purchase hearing aids, you have the right to return them for reasonable cause. You must act within 30 days (known as the rescission period).

Reasonable cause includes:

  • Material misstatements regarding the hearing aids(s) or fitting services which the purchaser relied on or when buying the hearing aids.
  • Failure to provide the hearing aid(s) and fitting and dispensing services specified in the purchase agreements.
  • Diagnosis of a medical condition unknown to the purchaser at the time of purchase, which precludes the purchaser from using the hearing aids.
  • Failure to remedy a defect in the hearing aids within a reasonable period of time.
  • Failure to follow acceptable industry practices or standards of conduct.

Reasonable cause does not include cosmetic concerns or a mere change of mind.

To rescind:

  •  Notify the seller in writing that you are rescinding the agreement for reasonable cause pursuant to RCW 18.35.185(1). Deliver the written notice to the seller at the seller’s business address or send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the seller’s business address. The hearing aids must be returned, in original condition, except for normal wear and tear to the seller. You must do this by midnight of the thirtieth day after delivery of the hearing aids.
  • The seller must refund all deposits, including any down payment minus either $150 or fifteen percent of the total purchase price, whichever is less. The seller also may deduct any costs incurred in making traded-in goods ready for resale.
  • Extension of Rescission Period: If you notify the seller within 30 days that your hearing aid has a problem that constitutes reasonable cause to rescind the agreement or that prevents you from evaluating it, the seller must extend the rescission period. The rescission period stops running on the date you notify the seller of the problem and starts running again on the date the seller notifies you that your hearing aid is ready for redelivery. You and the seller may agree to a rescission period longer than thirty days. Whenever the rescission period is extended, the seller must provide you written notice of the last date upon which you may demand a refund and return of traded goods.


Northwest Access Fund

Northwest Access Fund provides low-interest loans for hearing aids and other assistive technology for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Hearing Speech & Deaf Center (HSDC)

HSDC’s Access Sound Program provides low cost, refurbished hearing aids to individuals in need throughout the Puget Sound region. Contact your nearest HSDC office for more information.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation – Hear Now

The Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Hear Now program provides Starkey hearing aids for low-income individuals. There is a processing  fee of $125 per hearing aid. NW Access Fund Loans and IDAs can be used to cover the application fee.

  • Phone: 1-800-328-8602

Northwest Lions Foundation

Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation

The Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation provides eyeglasses and hearing aids to state residents who do not have insurance and whose income falls at or below 200% of the federal poverty line.

Sertoma International

Sertoma International works with nonprofit organizations, hospitals, and school systems to fund hearing aids and other assistive technology for hearing loss. Contact your local chapter for more information.

Labor & Industries – Washington

If you experience a hearing loss due to workplace injury, such as exposure to noise, while working for a Washington employer, you may qualify for hearing aids & monetary compensation. L&I will also service and provide batteries for hearing aids they purchased. To learn more, visit this link or call the department at: 1-800-833-6388.

University of Washington Hearing Aid Assistance Program

The University of Washington Hearing Aid Assistance Program provides refurbished hearing aids to those in financial need who have current Medicaid status.

Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA)

Children identified by their school with a hearing problem may qualify for assistive technology for free, if their Individualize Education Program (IEP) states that they are in need of hearing aids. Contact your school for more information.

Travelers Protective Association: Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired

The Travelers Protective Association’s Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired helps individuals get the help and resources they need, including hearing devices, specialized treatments, speech classes, note-takers, interpreters, and more. Persons who experience deafness or a hearing deficiency may receive an application for aid here. Completed applications must be submitted to the Trust by the end of each quarter: March 31st, June 30th, September 30th, and December 31st. Selection of recipients and amount of aid awarded is decided upon by the majority of the Trustees, and special consideration is given to individuals with the greatest need.

Help America Hear Program

The Help America Hear Program provides hearing aids for those who have exhausted all other financial resources. Learn more and apply online at https://helpamericahear.org/help-america-hear/.

Hearing Charities of America: National Hearing Aid Program

Hearing Charities of America’s National Hearing Aid Program provides low-income individuals with no health insurance, or health insurance that provides zero coverage for hearing aids, with the hearing aids they need.

AARP Hearing Care Program

The AARP Hearing Care Program offers 20% off certain brands of digital hearing aids for AARP members.

  • Phone: 1-800-203-7048

U.S. Veterans Administration

Veterans with service-related hearing loss may qualify for hearing aids, TTYs, and telephone amplification devices at the V.A. Contact your local V.A. medical facility for more information.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Hearing aids may be available through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation if needed for employment-related purposes and included in your Individual Plan for Employment.

Read more about Washington services here or about Oregon services here.

Private Insurance

Most insurers do not cover hearing aids but will cover a hearing evaluation by a qualified professional – e.g., an audiologist or an ENT. To find out if your insurance covers hearing aids or other hearing devices, review your policy or contact your insurance company. Coverage may be broader for children.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

HSAs are savings accounts where individuals deposit money and can later withdraw it tax-free for eligible medical expenses. HSAs are typically associated with employer-sponsored health plans with high deductibles. HSAs can be used to cover medical and dental services as well as devices not covered by their health plans, including hearing aids, deductibles and copays – as long as the costs are considered deductible by the IRS.


Medicaid covers hearing aids and cochlear implants for individuals 20 years of age and younger. Coverage for those 21 years of age and older has been eliminated. Billing instructions for Washington’s Medicaid, Apple Health, can be found here and more information on benefits and services can be found here. Information on benefits and services of Oregon’s Medicaid, the Oregon Health Plan, can be found here.


Medicare covers hearing evaluations from qualified professionals – audiologists or ear, nose & throat (ENT) doctors. However, Medicare does not cover hearing aids or other assistive devices. It does cover cochlear implants provided that the client meets eligibility requirements. For more information, call a cochlear implant vendor or your audiologist.

PASS Plans

If you are on SSDI or have earned income, you may be able to use a PASS plan to help pay for hearing aids needed for employment or education designed to lead to employment. PASS Plans allow a person with a disability to set aside otherwise countable income and/or resources for a specific period of time in order to achieve a work goal. To learn more about PASS plans, visit this link or consult with a benefits planner.

Tax Deduction

If you itemize deductions, you may able to deduct your out of pocket expenses for hearing evaluations or assistive devices, including hearing aids, as a medical expense. However, you may only deduct the amount by which your total medical expenses for the year exceeded 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. For more information, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses (read more here).


Below is a list of educational, recreational, and cultural enrichment programs that are committed to helping meet community needs and providing opportunities for the hearing impaired. This list is provided for informational purposes only. We do not endorse any particular program or organization. If we have missed anyone, please let us know!

Online Resources

National Organizations

Washington Organizations

Oregon Organizations

Online Resources

TTY Software

You can find free TTY software that allows you to use your computer on a TTY by searching online. A good example is NexTalk, available here.

Hear More

Hear More’s online catalogue includes many assistive devices.

Harris Communications

Harris Communication’s online catalogue includes many assistive devices.

AARP Consumer Guide to Hearing Aids

An excellent and easy-to-read introduction to hearing loss, hearing aids and recommendations for how to select and use hearing aids.

Consumer Reports: Hearing Aid Buying Guide

Information on hearing loss, hearing aids, hearing professionals, consumer rights and expectations. Some materials are available only via subscription.

Background Reading:

National Organizations

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell)

AG Bell is an international advocacy and education organization dedicated to ensuring the success of children with hearing loss.

  • Phone: 202-337-5220

American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA)

ASHA is a national professional organization for speech, language and hearing professionals. They provide  accessible information about hearing, hearing loss and hearing loss treatment. You can search for licensed audiologists based on location, user’s age and conditions through their “Find an Audiologist” page.

Better Hearing Institute (BHI)

BHI is a national nonprofit established to educate the public about hearing loss with many excellent research articles and consumer publications on hearing loss, technology, the impact of hearing loss and other hearing related issues. They also operate a call center for inquiries about hearing loss, at 1-800-EAR-WELL.

Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)

HLAA provides consumer advocacy, as well as information and tips on purchasing hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive technology from hearing loss. Check their website for updates and webinars, on topics from how to live with hearing loss to technology innovations.


The international leader in video content, news coverage, social networking and special events for the greater deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Starkey Neighbors in Need

Starkey was founded on the principle of helping others and at the core of our culture is providing a more robust and equitable life experience to those who are hearing impaired.

Help America Hear

The Help America Hear Program provides NEW high-quality hearing aids nationwide to men, women, and children with limited financial resources.

Washington Organizations

Hearing Speech & Deaf Center (HSDC)

HSDC’s Access Sound Program provides low cost, refurbished hearing aids to community members in need. Contact your nearest HSDC office for more information.

Office of Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services

ODHH serves the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, speech disabled and hearing people throughout Washington State. Their Telecommunications Equipment Distribution (TED) Program offers amplified phones, TTYs, captioned phones & other communications devices to individuals with hearing loss for free or at low-cost on a sliding scale.

Washington State Association of the Deaf (WSAD)

This statewide organization’s mission is to promote, protect, and preserve the rights and quality of life of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Washington State. They issue a newsletter and put on an annual conference and other events.

Hearing Loss Association of America – Washington

The Washington State branch of  HLAA provides local resources and events related to hearing loss and assistive technology, with many chapters located throughout the state.

Washington State Deaf-Blind Citizens, Inc.

This statewide organization fellowship encourages and promotes civil rights, educational, economic, and social welfare for deaf-blind individuals.

Washington Relay / Telecommunication Relay Services

Washington Relay is a free service provided through ODHH that allows hearing callers to communicate with text-telephone (TTY) users and vice versa through specially trained relay operators. Anyone wishing to use Washington Relay simply dials 711 to connect with a relay operator. The relay operator will dial the requested number and relay the conversation between the two callers.

Oregon Organizations

Oregon Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services (ODHHS)

ODHHS offers advice and referrals to resources, tools, and information for Oregonians who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.

Hands & Voices of Oregon

Hands & Voices of Oregon supports families and children who are deaf or hard of hearing through direct parent to parent connections, educational advocacy, community development, and support programs.

Oregon Association of the Deaf

The Oregon Association of the Deaf is a statewide organization by and for Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens to promote, protect, and preserve the civil rights and to advocate to enhance the quality of life for each other.

Hearing Loss Association of America – Oregon

The Hearing Loss Association of America – Oregon (HLAA-OR) provides local resources and events related to hearing loss and assistive technology, with many chapters located throughout the state.

Oregon Relay/Telecommunication Relay Services

Oregon Relay offers a number of services for individuals with hearing loss, including TTY, Voice Carry-Over, and TeleBraille for deaf-blind users. Simply dial 711 to connect with a relay operator.


Idaho Organizations


IDVR provides assistance to identify and address rehabilitation technology needs to assure that individuals have the technology needed to be successful in various aspects of working with VR to include while working to obtain or maintain employment.