Biden passes law making disability aids cheaper


(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden recently enacted a law making hearing aids and other disability aids more affordable.

Sophia Cross, The Carroll News

Editor’s Note: Sophia Cross is the President of John Carroll University’s Student Accessibility Services. The Carroll News retained complete editorial control at each stage of writing and editing.

I think that Biden’s new policy on providing over-the-counter hearing aids is great! It will help many individuals who are losing their hearing, especially older adults who are on fixed incomes, to better afford a device that can manage their mild to moderate hearing loss. 

However, this may be the equivalent to buying reading glasses from Walmart when one doesn’t need to see a medical professional or seek help from an optometrist because they need only to have small print magnified while reading and their eye-sight issues are not significant. Individuals, such as myself, who have significant hearing loss due to an illness or disability,  or were born hard-of-hearing or Deaf, need hearing aids that can be calibrated by an audiologist to fit their specific needs, a medical necessity that is not as accessible as OTC resources. 

Therefore, while this policy is very beneficial, and perhaps life-changing, it will not help as many individuals as one may think. There are many accessibility concerns that exist today, especially for college-aged students. 

Student Accessibility Services at John Carroll provides accommodations and advocates for students with various diagnosable disabilities. Students who may seek support from SAS include but are not limited to, those who are hearing or visually impaired, those who have ADHD, are on the Autism Spectrum, have anxiety/depression or any other psychological disability and those who have dyslexia, dyscalculia or any other learning disability.  Some accommodations provided include extended time on tests, the ability to audio record lectures, quiet test taking, closed captions on class videos, and other accessibility resources necessary for their disability. SAS is committed to providing all students with an equal opportunity to succeed in their college education, participate in on-campus living and student life and perform at their fullest potential.

While SAS and the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are committed to making Carroll a more accessible campus for everyone, as the president of Streak Accessibility Club, I feel there is much work to be done on awareness of these needs and professors’ compliance with accommodations.

 For example, other students that I know and I have experienced adversity from some professors or other students. This issue is especially prevalent in ensuring videos have closed captions. Unfortunately, many times professors fail to show videos with closed captions or forget until the student who needs them raises their hand and outs themself and their disability in front of the whole class in order to get their basic needs met. I believe that professors should be required to only show videos with closed captions, just one of many accommodations needed for students with hearing impairments and, different disabilities or neurodiversity to be able to not only have the audio augmented but for them to be able to follow along and comprehend the subject material as well as any other student. 

There is a student organization on campus that serves as a community and advocacy group for students with disabilities, neurodiversity, and mental health challenges. Students interested can check out Streak Accessibility Club every other Thursday at 6:30 pm or contact Sophie Cross at [email protected] or 440-228-8429 for more information.