36 million people experience some form of hearing loss in the United States. 22 million people have noise induced hearing loss. 16 million have a constant ringing sound in the ears called tinnitus. Since 2006 over 18,000 walkers have raised over $3.5 million dollars to increase public awareness of hearing and balance and its disorders and to educate the general public about the effects of hearing loss. Known as the Walk4Hearing and sponsored by Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), this year’s 23 walks are planned for cities across the country. By the time the last walk is finished in early November, the Walk4Hearing is anticipated to raise more funds than any previous year for programs and service organizations dedicated to helping those with hearing loss. More importantly, HLAA hopes that through Walk4Hearing the issue of hearing loss will be brought into the national spotlight. According to HLAA, bringing awareness to the issues surrounding hearing, hearing loss and the many diseases and disorders that cause hearing loss is extremely important. Their hope is that improved awareness will ultimately improve early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss as well as decrease the stigma that is often experienced by those who have hearing loss.
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is the nation’s leading advocacy organization for issues relating to hearing loss. HLAA was founded in 1979 by Howard E. “Rocky” Stone, a retired CIA officer who was passionate about the need for prevention and treatment of hearing loss as well as regular hearing screenings throughout life. The Hearing Loss Association of America has made a significant impact on communication access, public policy, research and public awareness regarding hearing loss. There are local chapters in many major cities across the US. The chapters hold regular meetings and recruit members who then become advocates for better hearing in their communities. The Walk4Hearing events are not simply a national campaign organized by Hearing Loss Association of America. Instead, each is chapter-sponsored and much of the planning for the events is done by community members. The Walk4Hearing is a perfect example of how HLAA is community-minded and invested in improving the lives of those with hearing loss.