It could be a historic moment for many people having “mild to moderate hearing impairment” as the FDA created a new over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids category.

According to the FDA website, this eliminates the need for a “medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist” before purchasing hearing aids.

Previously, there was quite a bit of red tape for equipment makers and customers to get FDA-approved hearing aids. It’s understandable as any “medical grade” device should be rigorously tested and approved for safety and performance.

That said, consumer electronics seem to have far-outpaced the medical world regarding audio processing, industrial design advances, and affordability. Just look at the progress made in health sensors in wearable technology. Although they might be “medical grade,” new consumer devices fulfill a large spectrum of well-being-related needs.

This change would allow the same thing to happen for hearing aids and help countless users improve everyday interactions.

The audio industry has made tremendous progress in “sound rendering” (the equivalent of graphics rendering but for audio), making it possible to process sound in ways that could greatly help the hearing-impaired.

Hopefully, this will lead to today’s innovations reaching users who need them and allow more research to be done to reach the next level.

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio, via Pexel

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