DEAR ABBY: Many thanks to you, and to Wanda Foster, for promoting closed-captioning to assist hearing-impaired and normal-hearing people while watching television. Many rental videos are also closed-captioned, which has tremendously enhanced my ability to enjoy the top hits.
You referred readers who have difficulty hearing to a physician for a hearing examination. However, please clarify that it is the AUDIOLOGIST who tests for hearing loss, NOT a physician. The audiologist determines whether or not a hearing loss exists, in which part of the ear the damage is located, and whether or not the person is a candidate for a hearing aid. The audiologist selects and fits appropriate hearing aids (and other amplification devices) and assists hearing-impaired individuals and family members to overcome communication breakdowns that occur as a result of hearing loss.
Audiologists are autonomous professionals, have a master's or doctorate degree, have been certified by a national organization, and in most states are licensed to provide audiological and/or hearing aid services to the public.
It may be true that many insurance companies first require a referral from a physician before covering the expense of audiological services, but consumers should be aware that it is the expertise of the audiologist that will gain them hearing help. -- AUDIOLOGIST WITH HEARING LOSS, MESA, ARIZ.
DEAR AUDIOLOGIST: I hear you loud and clear! Thank you for an important message.
P.S. For those who wrote because you are unsure of what closed-captioning is, it appears as dialogue across the bottom of the TV screen, allowing viewers to read what is being said. TV sets manufactured after 1993 have built-in decoders, so if your TV is pre-1993, you may need to purchase a decoder at your local electronics store.
VITAC (Vital Access through Captioning), one of several companies providing closed captioning services, recently sent me some interesting figures: In addition to individuals with hearing impairment, closed-captioning appeals to 45 million people learning English as a second language, 33 million elementary school children learning to read, and 27 million adults trying to improve their literacy.