Hearing Industries Association (HIA) Chairman Michael Jones(l) and IHS President Scott Austin open the convention hall to attendees.

Members of the International Hearing Society (IHS) rallied to hold the organization’s 50th Annual Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago during November, despite the necessity for the convention to be postponed for 2 months due to the events of September 11 (the original convention was scheduled to begin on September 12). The IHS Convention drew an estimated 1,000 participants and approximately 70 exhibitors. By coincidence, the Phonak International Pediatric Conference was also held in the same hotel, and the 300+ participants of that event were also welcomed into the IHS exhibit hall (a report on the Pediatric Conference will appear in next month’s HR).

f05b.jpg (7888 bytes)Former IHS Presidents Ray Rich (l) and John Kenwood (r) join long-time hearing health care educator and dispensing professional Joel Mynders on a tour of the exhibits.

IHS President Scott Austin provided an overview of the Society’s activities, and reported that membership had grown by 440 people—more than 10%. Referring to the tragic events of September 11, as well as postponement of the convention, Austin said that, “like our country, [IHS members] are survivors and thrivers, and together we will not only survive but continue to thrive for the next 50 years.”

AAO-HNS President K.J. Lee, MD, presented the keynote address in which he asked that all hearing care professionals join together to advocate better hearing health care. He was honored with a plaque by IHS President Scott Austin for his dedication to the hearing care field.

Karen Seelander, IHS government relations representative with the law firm McDermott, Will & Emery, offered a synopsis of recent hearing-related events in Washington, DC. She says that the revision of the Hearing Aid Rule, which is currently believed to advocate turning over the regulation of dispensing activities to individual states, remains in regulatory review. The revised rule is viewed by IHS to impede access to hearing health care for the masses by potentially requiring comprehensive hearing assessments (as defined by each state), possibly confering “gatekeeper status” to audiologists without any evidence for doing so. Seelander also detailed the change of hearing instrument specialists in the government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Manual to now fall under the heading “Health Practitioners and Technical Occupations;” the actions of 14 state attorneys general in actions against PCC Direct (distributors of Crystal Ear); the Better Hearing Institute’s Physician Referral Program; and the possibility of hearing instrument specialists being added to the Medical Aural Rehabilitation and Hearing Aid Coverage Act (see November 2001 HR, page 41).

IHS Award Recipients

Accepting the The Hearing Review Professional Leadership Award for the late Floyd Willoughby and his family, Scott Austin pointed out the contributions that Willoughby made to his own professional development and many others in the hearing care field. Marjorie Skafte, former editorial director of HR and a continual champion of hearing education programs, was also presented the Hearing Review Professional Leadership Award.

Jerome Goldstein, MD, former executive director of AAO-HNS, was presented with the IHS Empowerment Award for his years of service to the field of hearing health care.

Diane Bernath was presented with the Joel S. Wernick Award for Dispenser Education by Jerry Laux of The Hearing Journal. Bernath, who served as governor of IHS and currently is chair of the International Institute of Hearing Instruments Studies, has been a leading advocate of continuing education for the field.

Karen Seelander accepted the James P. Lovell Advocacy Award on behalf of Timothy J. Waters who has served as IHS counsel and has been “IHS’s guardian angel” since 1974, according to IHS Executive Director Robin Clowers.

Next Year
The IHS 2002 Annual Convention will be held in Reno, Nev, on September 11-15. For more information, contact IHS: (734) 522-7200; www.ihsinfo.org.