Access HEARS launches Health Equity Initiative to enable broader access to hearing care in Baltimore

November, 2020 – Access HEARS, Inc., a social enterprise focused on connecting individuals with hearing loss to the solutions they need to age well, has launched the Health Equity Initiative to reach individuals and communities who often go unserved by hearing care. Hearing loss affects nearly two-thirds of adults 70 years and older in the United States, of which 23 million go untreated. While many barriers to traditional hearing care exist, including cost, mobility, and health literacy, disparities also exist based on socioeconomic status and race.

In September 2020, Access HEARS launched the Health Equity Initiative, an effort to provide subsidized over-the-counter listening devices to two hundred low-income Black older adults in Baltimore City. In partnership with Z-HAP, a local non-profit focused on healthy aging for older adults, the Health Equity Initiative engages local communities through hearing care education, and utilizes Z-HAP’s strong connections to communities across Baltimore. While the program primarily addresses disparities in hearing care, its purpose stems from a mission to champion social justice and health equity, and to empower older adults in the Black community with the tools they need to remain engaged and active in their communities.

“Social justice and health equity have always been a core part of Access HEARS and our mission to serve the most vulnerable,” said Josiah Yiu, Chief Operating Officer at Access HEARS. “We believe that the Health Equity Initiative is a small but important part of Baltimore’s efforts to further health equity for the Black community, and are grateful for organizations like Z-HAP who have paved the way for that possibility.”

Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award

In support of these efforts, Access HEARS finished as runner-up for the 2020 Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award through the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute. The award, established in honor of Johns Hopkins cancer patient Henrietta Lacks, honors outstanding community-university partnerships in Baltimore City each year. All proceeds from the award will be used to subsidize over-the-counter hearing devices for low-income Black older adults in Baltimore.

“We are honored to have been chosen as runner up for this year’s Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award,” stated Khoi Le, Executive Director of Access HEARS. “We would like to thank the Urban Health Institute for their dedication to Baltimore City, and for their support of our mission to further hearing care equity. Without the generosity from such like-minded organizations, we would not be able to continue serving older adults with hearing loss in Baltimore and beyond.”

About Us

Access HEARS, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to connect individuals with hearing loss to the solutions they need to age well. Founded by leading hearing experts and entrepreneurs at the Johns Hopkins University, the social enterprise employs an evidence-based program to deliver services directly to the community. Access HEARS offers its clients a low-cost, in-person or virtual service delivery, teaching them how to use high-quality listening devices while providing them with ongoing support to ensure their success. For more information, please contact us at (41) 929-0394 or email info@accesshears.com.

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About Access HEARS

Founded in 2014 by Drs. Carrie Nieman, Frank Lin, and Kunal Parikh, Access HEARS began with support from Johns Hopkins’ Social Innovation Lab, and drew inspiration from Dr. Nieman’s own research among older adult populations in Baltimore.

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