OTC's vs HAs
If you’ve seen something that looks like an OTC on the internet or in a store, it is likely a Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP’s). These devices are simply amplifiers for those who are looking for extra volume for activities such as bird watching or hunting.
When OTC’s do become available, they will only be suitable for a small group of listeners, those with mild-to-moderate hearing losses. They will likely be able to be purchased without the help from a hearing healthcare professional. We can think of OTC’s like reading glasses. They are inexpensive and easily available, but are certainly not suitable for all forms of vision problems.
OTC’s differ from hearing aids in the fact that hearing aids are advanced computers that amplify sound in a completely individualized way for the listener. They are designed with signal processing that make use of advanced algorithms to automatically adjust the level of different pitches and sounds. They are classified as a medical device.
Communication improvement is the end goal for the consumer. While OTCs may help some consumers, audiological testing, device recommendation, fitting and routine follow up is necessary for most folks with hearing loss. Typically, there is only one cost when obtaining hearing aids. This is not only for the devices, but it is the cost for a total rehabilitation plan. Hearing is more than what the device on your ears can do. It having someone understand how you hear, your lifestyle requirements and tailoring the device for your environment and listening needs.