PA 12-110—HB 5497

Program Review and Investigations Committee

Public Health Committee

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM REVIEW AND INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE CONCERNING THE REGULATION OF HEARING INSTRUMENT SPECIALISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS

SUMMARY: This act allows a licensed audiologist to fit or sell hearing aids without (1) obtaining additional licensure as a hearing instrument specialist (previously called “hearing aid dealer”) or (2) completing additional educational and training requirements. Existing law already includes the fitting or selling of hearing aids within an audiologist's scope of practice (CGS 20-395a (10)). Audiologists receive training in these functions as part of their doctoral degree education and supervised postgraduate work experience.

For registration periods starting October 1, 2014, the act requires a hearing instrument specialist to complete at least 16 hours of continuing education before the Department of Public Health (DPH) renews his or her biennial license. (A registration period is the two-year period for which the license is renewed. ) The continuing education must be completed within the two years preceding license renewal and include courses offered or approved by the National Board of Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences, American Academy of Audiology, American Speech-Language Hearing Association, or any DPH-approved successor organizations. Prior law did not require continuing education as a condition of licensure renewal.

The act exempts from the continuing education requirements (1) first-time licensure renewal applicants and (2) certain licensees with a medical disability or illness.

The act also requires a hearing instrument specialist seeking licensure reinstatement after his or her license was voided to submit to DPH evidence of successful completion of eight hours of continuing education within the preceding year.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2012

AUDIOLOGIST REQUIREMENTS FOR FITTING AND SELLING HEARING AIDS

The act removes the statutory requirement that an audiologist who fits or sells hearing aids:

1. obtain additional licensure as a hearing instrument specialist;

2. provide DPH with evidence showing satisfactory completion of (a) at least six semester hours of coursework in selecting and fitting hearing aids and (b) 80 hours of supervised clinical experience with children and adults in selecting and fitting hearings aids at a program accredited by the American Speech Language-Hearing Association, or its successor; or

3. pass the hearing instrument specialist written licensure exam.

HEARING INSTRUMENT SPECIALIST CONTINUING EDUCATION

Compliance

The act requires a hearing instrument specialist, when applying for license renewal, to sign a statement attesting that he or she has completed the required 16 hours of continuing education. Each licensee must keep attendance records or completion certificates that show compliance with this requirement for at least three years after the date the continuing education was completed. The licensee must submit the records to DPH for inspection within 45 days after the department requests it.

Waiver

The act allows the DPH commissioner to waive or extend the deadline for completing the continuing education requirement for a licensee who has a medical disability or illness. The licensee must apply to DPH for such a waiver or extension and submit (1) a licensed physician's certification of the disability or illness and (2) any other documentation DPH requires.

Under the act, the commissioner may grant a waiver or extension for up to one registration period. But, she may grant additional waivers or extensions if the illness or disability extends beyond that two-year time period and the licensee reapplies.

BACKGROUND

Hearing Instrument Specialists

A hearing instrument specialist fits and sells hearing aids to individuals in retail establishments. To become licensed, the law requires an applicant to (1) complete a four-year high school course or its equivalent; (2) complete a DPH-approved study course or period in fitting and selling hearing aids; and (3) pass a written, oral, and practical exam (CGS 20-398(a)).

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