Communications, Video and Technology Accessibility Act

CVTA iconOn July 25, 2023, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA-16) reintroduced the Communications, Video and Technology Accessibility Act (CVTA) bill in Congress, to update digital accessibility for current technologies. HLAA advocated and fully supports this important modernization of the original 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which was signed into law in 2010.

Your help is needed to pass this critical legislation. Urge your representatives to support CVTA today!

Visit our CVTA Action Guide

We are calling on our HLAA leaders, members, families, friends and the entire hearing loss community to encourage members of Congress to co-sponsor and support the passage of CVTA. This may sound familiar, since we first notified our leaders about the CVTA Act in late 2022. And now is the time to move this bill forward!

Our advocacy Action Guide includes a downloadable letter template. After sending yours, please help us get this message out by sharing widely to your email and social media networks, letting them know that CVTA will enhance communications, video and technology accessibility for all individuals with disabilities, including hearing loss.

Tell your Congressmembers that people with hearing loss should not be left behind when it comes to taking full advantage of today’s technology. We need this bill passed!

Best regards and in gratitude,

Lise Hamlin
Director of Public Policy
Hearing Loss Association of America

BIG News! OTC Hearing Aids coming this fall

HLAA Makes News as Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Move Closer to Store Shelves

On Tuesday, August 16, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the final rule for hearing aids sold directly to consumers, without a prescription. This will open the market to a new class of devices for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Executive Director Barbara Kelley is featured on many top media outlets as the news breaks. She talks about why HLAA supports this additional pathway to hearing health care.

While these devices aren’t for everyone, it’s an exciting step to help some treat hearing loss sooner.

HLAA Press Release (will open new page)

Know Your Rights to Access! Legal Advocacy Presentation (Virtual) Jan. 22nd 4-6pm

HLAA- Boston’s January 22nd presentation will feature Dr. LeWana Clark from the Disability Law Center whose mission is “To provide legal advocacy on disability issues that promote the fundamental rights of all people with disabilities to participate fully and equally in the social and economic life of Massachusetts.”
LeWana will tell us a little about the organization and what she does there.  She’d like to get questions and feedback, and ideas on how they can be of help.
And, if time allows, our own Carol Agate will talk about problems she has run into with advocacy, including early voting, jury discrimination, CART, and requests for ALDs at events.
Link to be sent to mailing list members closer to the date.  Newcomers – please email

Medicare Coverage for Hearing Aids – Write to your Senator

News from HLAA National Office…

HLAA is thrilled to announce that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act of 2021 (H.R. 5376) on November 19, 2021. The Build Back Better Act of 2021 includes the expansion of Medicare to cover hearing aids and services.

HLAA has spent years supporting the idea of Medicare coverage of hearing aids and hearing health services. This year, HLAA spent our time since the spring in talks with members of Congress and key committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate, encouraging them to vote YES! to expand Medicare to include hearing aids and services. That would mean for the first time, seniors who rely on Medicare to pay their medical bills would also be able to turn to Medicare to cover the cost of hearing aids and related services. We are happy to report that the U.S. House of Representatives listened!

Proposed Coverage

The provisions for hearing aid and hearing health care coverage include:

This legislation also contains certain limitations, such as covering hearing aids – one per ear – not more than once during a 5-year period, only for hearing aids that are not over-the-counter hearing aids, for people with moderately severe, severe, or profound hearing loss. These hearing aids can be furnished by a written order of a physician, an audiologist or a hearing aid specialist.

What Can You Do?

The Build Back Better Act does not become law until both Houses come to agreement on the final language. Write to your U.S. Senators to urge them to include Medicare coverage of hearing aids and hearing health care services with a bill that mirrors the one passed by the House.  There is still time to push this to the finish line! We can get this done!

Drawn from article on HLAA national website:

U.S. House of Representatives Expands Medicare to Cover Hearing Aids



Zoom Makes ASR Captioning Free for People with Hearing Loss

Good News! Thanks to a campaign spearheaded by HLAA’s  Shari Eberts, Zoom has agreed to provide captions on free accounts.  [Below is from Shari’s blog, “Living With Hearing Loss” From ]

Success! Zoom has heard our community’s voice!

Zoom just announced it will provide its high-quality ASR captions (Live Transcript) FREE for people with hearing loss, as well as other groups who require this feature for accessibility reasons. Click here to request access. This feature will be rolled out to all free accounts by Fall 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have been asking Zoom to do just this. We explained that captions are our ramps and that we should not be forced to pay for the accessibility feature that we need to communicate well on Zoom. They have heeded our call.

Advocacy works!

Thank you to NPR (NPR interview) and the Washington Post (op-ed) for helping to highlight this issue. Our petition Provide Free Captions for People with Hearing Loss on Video Conferencing Platforms garnered 80,000 signatures. I am so proud of the way our hearing loss community has come together to advocate for our needs.

Read Zoom’s Update on Live Transcription for Free Accounts for more details. The link for early access for people with hearing loss is here.

Thank you Zoom for recognizing the needs of people with hearing loss and for taking steps to make your platform more accessible at no additional cost.

What’s Next?

This update will provide captions for calls that we initiate, but an equally challenging problem for people with hearing loss is the lack of captions on Zoom calls and webinars that we do not host. Currently, it is a convoluted process. You must request that the host turn on Live Transcript. Often this requires that someone in the IT department of the company/school/non-profit enable the Live Transcript setting in the organization’s main Zoom account. In a large company or university, it can be difficult to determine who that might be, even for those within the organization. In my experience, the meeting host often gives up in frustration, leaving us without the captions we need.

I have made Zoom aware of this issue and they are considering enabling Live Transcript to default to ON for all video calls, so the captions are always available to us if we need them. All we would need to do is turn them on from our screen — empowering us to control our accessibility, rather than relying on someone else to provide it. The timing for this is unclear.

There is still much work to do on making all video communications across all platforms, formats and delivery methods more accessible for people with hearing loss. But here, we have taken an important first step. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who raised their voice to advocate for our needs.

Readers, will you sign up for free ASR captions on your Zoom account?


ADA: “Include Architectural Improvements For Those With Hearing Impairments”

reprint of Agate letter to the editor, Boston Globe Magazine, 1/3/21The January 3, 2021 Boston Globe Magazine published a Letter to the Editor by HearAtBoston board member Carol Agate entitled, “ADA Anniversary.”
The letter addresses the ACCESSIBLE Massachusetts Act (H.4425) and reminds readers that hearing loss is a disability that is seldom recognized. It also advocates for architectural improvements for those with hearing impairments.

New England Walk4Hearing Online Celebration-Sunday, October 25, 2020

Let’s stay connected and celebrate our Walk4Hearing community! Join us on Walk Day to show support for people with hearing loss and connect with fellow walkers and new friends. There will be special guests, chances to win prizes, and the opportunity to share stories. After the online celebration, participants are encouraged to walk safely with family or as a team in their neighborhoods.

Bruce Peterson, Honorary Walk Chair
Gael Hannan, hearing loss advocate, writer, and humorist
Joss Kendrick, American Girl’s 2020 Girl of the Year
YOU, the heart of the Walk4Hearing community!

Sunday, October 25, 2020
Sign on begins, 9:45 a.m. ET
Program starts, 10:00 a.m. ET

A link to join the celebration will be provided when go to the URL below.   You will be prompted to  fill in your name, then click on “Submit RSVP”

Then check your email for a message from

Welcome to Our New HLAA Boston Chapter Website!

Betty Hauck wrote:  

“We are so happy and excited to see this project finally come to fruition. It has been wonderful, although not surprising, to hear from so many of you about how delighted you are with the new website. And you have been asking whom to thank.
That is easy – we are so grateful to Phil Temples, our website meister. He was a pleasure to work with, was very responsive to what would work best for our needs, and had lots of helpful suggestions. And among all the great new features, he has made the new website easier to maintain.

There was definitely teamwork involved and thanks go to Boston Chapter Steering Committee members, Sue Schy, Jim O’Donnell, and Betsy Ireland as well as chapter members Margaret Myatt and Barb Cohen.  Sue Schy acted as chapter liaison with Phil, and Margaret Myatt has generously volunteered to maintain the website going forward.  We welcome Margaret who is active in HLAA and is a new member of the Boston Chapter.

We’ve asked Phil to point out some of the special features in the new website that
might not be obvious at first glance and here is his list:

  • User friendly
  • Attractive new theme
  • Consistent formatting
  • New organized menus
  • Front page “story” format
  • Accessibility tools for low-vision users
  • Broken link detection
  • Photo galleries

Thank you, Phil, and everyone! It’s wonderful, especially in these unusual times, to have something like this to celebrate.”

Hearing Loss Tips during COVID19

Nicole Laffan, Au.D., M.S., CCC-A/SLP, Assistant Clinical Professor, Northeastern University | Bouvé College of Health Sciences writes:

I’ve created the attached presentation to help individuals with hearing loss communicate during COVID-19. It contains information about advocating for oneself, phones with captioning, apps to add captioning to smart phone conversations, speech-to-text apps, video conferencing platforms that use captioning, resources for purchasing clear shields and masks, suggestions for wearing masks with hearing aids or cochlear implants, and info on the free aural rehabilitation sessions. I hope you find it helpful. Please feel free to share it with your members.

Hearing Loss Tips during COVID19 by NU
Hearing Loss Tips during COVID19