Cute senior old woman making a heart shape with her hands and fingers after gifting her old hearing aids

What You Can Do with Your Old Hearing Aids

What can you do with your old hearing aids? This is a common question asked by hearing aid users who purchase a new device, or by people who have come across relatives’ unused aids. If you’re a hearing aid user keeping one hearing aid as a spare is a good idea in case yours needs repairs or you are left without one for some reason. If you have an unwanted hearing aid, consider donating it to one of the many initiatives that accept donated aids for a good cause, or consider donating it to a loved one.

Can you donate old hearing aids?

You can donate old, new, working, or broken hearing aids, depending on the initiative. Hearing aids that sit behind the ear and deliver sound into the ear with a wire (called RIC or ‘receiver-in-the-canal’ hearing aids) or tube (called BTE or ‘behind-the-ear hearing aids) are the simplest to repurpose.

Hearing aids that are custom-made to fit into the ear canal (called ITE or ‘in-the-ear’ hearing aids) can be used one way or another. Sometimes the electronics may be put into a new shell custom-made for the intended recipient. Many times providers of donated devices send ITE hearing aids and ones that are old or broken, to a manufacturer who issues credit to them for the useful parts of the devices, which they then put to good use.

Give it to a loved one in need

If you have a friend or family member that needs a hearing aid but can’t afford one, consider giving it to them. Bear in mind that different hearing aids are suitable for different degrees of hearing loss and that each aid is specifically programmed for the original user’s hearing loss. The intended recipient would need to visit a hearing care professional and have a hearing test done to determine if the device is suitable and, if so, have it programmed according to his/her hearing results.

Where can you donate these hearing aids?

Many organizations and initiatives can benefit from your unwanted hearing aid. They aim to help those in their communities who need hearing aids but do not meet the low-income criteria for medical aid and can’t afford to purchase hearing aids privately. Initiatives are also often aimed at helping those in need in developing countries through humanitarian missions. When dropping your hearing aid off at collection points or mailing them, make sure your device is packaged in a well-padded container to ensure no damages occur during transportation. Here is a list of worthy organizations and initiatives.

Local Lions Club

  • Who are they? The Lions Club International is an organization of community service clubs. Clubs in many states have established foundations that assist those with hearing needs who cannot afford hearing aids.
  • What do they do with the donation? It depends on the club. According to Lions Club International, Lions collect and send donated hearing aids to regional Lions Hearing Aid Recycling Centres. The centers will repair and refurbish the devices and may handle donated them in three ways: Donated devices may be fitted to members of the community by hearing care professionals that have partnered with the Lions. They may otherwise be supplied to teams of hearing care professionals or volunteers who provide them to needy people in developing nations on health care missions. Donated devices may also be sent to a hearing aid manufacturer who issues credit to the Lions for all useful parts. The Lions then use the credit value towards purchasing new hearing aids for community members who cannot otherwise afford them.
  • Where do you donate to them? Place the device in a Lions hearing aid collection container found at various community locations. Contact your local club to find out where your nearest collection container is. It can be sent directly to the following clubs: Arizona Lion’s Vision & Hearing Foundation, Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, Envision (originally known as the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation), Lions Clubs of Iowa, and Ear of the Lion Foundation of California & NEVADA. Tax deductions are only permitted if given to Lions Hearing Aid Recycling Program Centre, not through Lions Club International themselves.

Hearing Aid Project by Hearing Charities of America/ Sertoma

  • Who are they? The Hearing Aid Project is a non-profit initiative by Hearing Charities of America, which was founded in partnership with Sertoma, an organization of service clubs. The project provides support to those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • What do they do with donated hearing aids? The project either refurbishes donated hearing aids or sends them to a manufacturer who issues credit to them for useful parts. They distribute refurbished hearing aids to those who could not otherwise afford them.
  • How do you donate to them? They accept any hearing aid that is not being used regardless of its age or brand. Individuals and organizations, such as the Hearing Health Foundation, have set up collection centers across the country for the Hearing Aid Project. Sertoma Clubs have established the following collection centers: Marion County, Honolulu, Kansas City, Bradenton, Port Arthur, Fair City, Minnehaha, Joplin, and Winston-Salem. To find your nearest collection center, complete the online donation form. All hearing aid donations are tax-deductible.

Local universities or colleges with audiology or hearing aid specialist programs

  • What do they do with donated hearing aids? Many institutions provide donated hearing aids to people in financial need in their local communities or other communities through outreach programs. This also serves the educational needs of students.
  • How do you donate to them? Contact your local university or college to find out if they have audiology or hearing aid specialist programs and, if so, how you can go about making a hearing aid donation to them.

Your local School for the Deaf

  • Who are they? Schools for the Deaf educate profoundly deaf and hearing-impaired children. Some students can benefit from hearing aids. St Rita School for the Deaf is an example of a school located in Cincinnati that makes good use of hearing aid donations.
  • What do they do with donated hearing aids? At St Rita School for the Deaf donated hearing aids are provided to needy students or, in the case of older devices, sent to a manufacturer who issues credit to them for useful parts. They use the credit for supplies, repairs, and other purchases.
  • How do you donate to them? Contact your local school for the deaf to find out how you can go about making a hearing aid donation to them. If you would like to donate to St Rita School for the Deaf, they accept any style of hearing aid in any condition. Mail your hearing aid directly to St Rita School for the Deaf.

Hearing the Call

  • Who are they? Hearing the Call is a non-profit organization that aims to provide hope and care to people with hearing loss locally and around the world. Many audiology service providers have created their own non-profit organizations with support from Hearing the Call. These partners provide quality and affordable hearing healthcare to underserved residents in their communities. Hearing aid donation programs form part of their initiatives.
  • The partners may refurbish donated devices and fit people locally or on global mission trips, or use them for repairs or credit, often towards purchasing better technology. Donations are tax-deductible.

Olive Osmond Hearing Fund

  • Who are they? The Olive Osmond Hearing Fund is a non-profit organization that raises funds and awareness to support the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • What do they do with donated hearing aids? They refurbish donated devices and provide them to those who cannot afford hearing aids otherwise.
  • How do you donate to them? Complete the Aid Donation Form and send your hearing aid directly to the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund. Donations are tax-deductible.

Hear For A Purpose Hearing Foundation

  • Who are they? Hear For A Purpose is a non-profit organization that aims to improve hearing healthcare in the Dominican Republic.
  • What do they do with donated hearing aids? They clean, check and, if necessary, recondition the devices to distribute to people with hearing loss in the Dominican Republic on their annual humanitarian missions.
  • How do you donate to them? Hear For A Purpose accepts any brand or age RIC and BTE hearing aids. Mail your hearing aid directly to Hear For A Purpose. Donations are tax-deductible.

Medicos en Accion

  • Who are they? Medicos en Accion is a non-profit organization that provides medical and surgical care to people with limited access to care in developing countries.
  • What do they do with donated hearing aids? They clean and check all devices before fitting them to people in need on missions, for example, in Guatemala.
  • How do you donate to them? They accept all functioning ITE and BTE hearing aids. Donations can be sent to Nancy Levesque, Medicos en Accion, 27 Chemin Fleury, Chealse, QC, J9B 1N8, Canada.

There are over 40 initiatives listed above, among many others. The saying “one’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure” rings true; your unwanted hearing aids can be are used in various ways to change the lives of thousands of hearing-impaired people in your community or on other corners of the globe.

Blog article writer and hearing expert, Tarryn Sparg

Written byTarryn Sparg

Masters in Audiology

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