SULPHUR, Okla. – The Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma has awarded a generous grant to purchase 776 hearing aids through the statewide Senior Citizens Hearing Aid Program operated by the Oklahoma School for the Deaf.
As a result, 572 low-income seniors with significant hearing losses will be immediately transferred from waiting lists and receive their hearing aids.
In addition, the grant will fund hearing aids for the next 204 senior citizens who apply for help through the program.
“We are normally only able to serve 150 senior citizens with the amount of funding the Oklahoma School for the Deaf receives every year,” said Traci Prince, OSD director of student support services, who administers the hearing aid program. “Some people have been waiting since 2016 and would have had to wait another 3 years to be served.”
The program is funded by a small fee on telephone service for those who have conventional metal wire or optical fiber telephone connections, known as land lines. Use has declined in recent years because many people have switched to mobile cellular phones, which are not subject to the fee in Oklahoma.
“It is heartbreaking to hear stories about senior citizens who can't interact at family gatherings, miss phone calls or appointments and are cut off from life by their hearing losses…” OSD Superintendent Larry Hawkins said. “Because of the Masonic Charity Foundation’s generosity, our waiting list will be completely caught up for the first time since 2009. We will have additional funds, and we can start serving new applicants quickly.”
John Logan, executive director of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, worked closely with Sarah Jameson, OSD Specialist on Deafness, to complete the grant application.
To qualify for the Senior Citizens Hearing Aid Program, Oklahoma residents must be 60 years of age, with limited income and a 35-decibel hearing loss in their better ears.
The program pays for an audiology examination, ear mold impression, hearing aid fitting and one non-digital hearing aid per person due to limited funding and the need to serve as many seniors as possible.
Individuals may reapply to be considered for a second hearing aid.
OSD is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
For more information about the program, phone 866-309-1717, video phone 405-294-3977 or visit http://www.osd.k12.ok.us/edp/senior_hearing_aid.pdf.