July, 2020 – Access HEARS, Inc., a social enterprise focused on connecting individuals with hearing loss to the technology they need to age well, announced the start of a multi-year, $900,000 grant program in partnership with the Hearing and Speech Agency and the Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Aging, funded by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. The program, named the Hearing Healthcare Collaborative, will focus on serving older adults in Baltimore with age-related hearing loss and is charged with reaching 1,600 clients over the course of two years. More importantly, this first-in-kind public-private partnership aims to test a potentially scalable model of integrating hearing health into routine aging services.

“Our continued partnership with the Weinberg Foundation is a testament to the strength of the Access HEARS program and our shared mission to serve Baltimore’s most vulnerable,” said Carrie Nieman, co-founder and Board member at Access HEARS. “We are also thrilled to be working with HASA. Their leadership and experience in the hearing space will be crucial to the success of this program.”

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In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Access HEARS has successfully completed a small pilot program to continue developing its new virtual service delivery model. With the ongoing pandemic, this model was designed to continue serving older adults with hearing loss while keeping them safe at home. Clients are taught how to use high-quality, over-the-counter listening devices over the phone or via video call, and are offered personalized consultation and continued support by an Access HEARS representative. The virtual model is identical to Access HEARS’ evidence-based, in-person intervention, developed at Johns Hopkins by leading hearing care experts. The intervention has been shown to significantly improve levels of hearing and social support among clients, as demonstrated through a collaboration with the Maryland Department of Aging, a program that served over 500 low-income older adults in Western Maryland in 2019.

“As a social enterprise that emerged from the Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins, we understand the value of being a lean and adaptable startup in such uncertain times,” said Kunal Parikh, President of Access HEARS and serial entrepreneur. “We have confidence that our virtual service delivery model will enable us to continue serving the older adult population, while allowing us to continue scaling as we approach our goal of becoming a self-sustainable organization.”

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 (410) 929-0394 or email josiah@accesshears.com.

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