Tyler Smeltekop, RCPD Assistant Director of Assistive Technology Innovation, recently testified at a State of Michigan House of Representatives hearing on two Bills regarding children’s hearing health in Michigan.
Michigan House Bill 4944 and 4963 are part of a legislative initiative that highlights the necessity for children to receive early access to hearing devices and accommodations and providing more comprehensive healthcare coverage for hearing loss. These two Bills were introduced by The Michigan Coalition for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind People and have quickly garnered support by many, including RCPD’s own Tyler Smeltekop, saying, “In Michigan, there has long been a gap for our children to have financial access to sufficiently-accommodating high-quality digital hearing aids. Our children must be able to have access to hearing aids that are appropriate for their level of hearing loss, to best ensure their future success as proud Michiganders.” House Bill 4944 would require hearing aid coverage for children through 18 years old. House Bill 4963 would require hearing related services and devices for children which include ear molds, remote microphone, speech and language pathology and audiology services.
There are approximately 400 children born in Michigan every year who either have hearing impairments or will acquire one by school age. With early intervention, a majority of children with hearing impairments would be able to reach speech and language milestones as their hearing-abled peers by the age of five. At the hearing, Tyler testified that MSU RCPD “see incoming freshmen with hearing loss that have no audiological devices or assistive technology, having been stripped of the school district-loaned equipment they became familiar with and relied on for over a decade. I cannot emphasize enough to you the massive impact that this has on our students during a critical time of adjustment and independence, a time when they should be thrilled to begin the next chapter of their lives.”
Living as a Deaf man himself, Tyler, is passionate about advocating for the children of Michigan who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing saying in his testimony, “Our deaf and hard-of-hearing children are part of Michigan’s future, and your support of House Bills 4944 and 4963 will help ensure the greatest possible chance they can achieve their goals, make their families proud, and show the next generations of children with hearing loss that their contributions are valued and they matter.”
To listen to Tyler’s testimony, click here;