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Community Spotlight: University of Minnesota Lions Infant Hearing Device Program

Interview with Program Administrators, Aly Lerman and Danyi Ma

6/26/2020 3:01:42 PM

A child’s drawing of SpongeBob Squarepants, done in pencil on a white background. SpongeBob is sporting a pair of hearing aids roughly where ears might go. Underneath is a child’s handwriting: “Thanks for letting me borrow hearing (smiley face) aides. Sincerely, (name cut off).”

Aly and Danyi were interviewed online by Kaitlyn Mielke. 

Please give us an overview of what the Lions Infant Hearing Loaner Program does. How did the program begin?

According to the 2015 EHDI Annual Report, approximately 250 children were born with hearing loss in the state of Minnesota.The loaner program was established to help ensure that infants and young children (0-18 years) with newly identified hearing loss receive intervention in a timely manner. We provide temporary amplification to give families time to adjust, assess and arrange for permanent hearing devices and/or await medical intervention.

What are the goals of the program?

It is our goal to facilitate the treatment process and act as a resource for children diagnosed with hearing loss. We hope to give everyone equal access to communication through hearing devices as their family takes the time necessary to make difficult decisions regarding their child's hearing loss.

What services does the program provide?

The program provides hearing devices for children that are loaned for a six month period. Extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Our partnership with Unitron provides children earmolds free of charge. The hearing devices are cleaned and serviced by the program administrators, and shipped directly to the audiologist’s office for fitting.

Who are the recipients that benefit from the program?

Anyone aged 0-18 that is diagnosed with hearing loss and needs temporary amplification. There is no financial criteria that needs to be met to qualify for this program.

What types of aids and/or devices are included in the inventory available?

Our inventory includes traditional hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing aids, FM systems and other assistive hearing technologies from reputable manufacturers. We also have an inventory of tamper-proof battery doors, care kits, cases, batteries and other accessories that can be provided upon request.

After using the loaner(s) for a time period, what paths do recipients usually take to continue their hearing journeys?

During the loaner period, the child’s family and audiologist will be working to secure funding and/or decide on an intervention approach. Following their loaner period, children have gone on to purchase hearing aids, have a cochlear implant or bone-anchored hearing device surgery, or have decided to use American Sign Language, or a combination of options as their preferred communication approach.

How is the program funded? (Who provides the loaners?)

The program is funded by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). We receive an annual grant that is used to keep the program running, as well as to cover costs for necessary purchases. In addition to purchasing devices to keep our inventory up-to-date with current technologies and demand, we also reach out to hearing aid manufacturers who generously donate new devices. Donations from audiologists and the general public have been received as well.

How can prospective recipients connect with the program to receiver loaner hearing aids and/or devices?

Recipients should inquire about our program through their audiologist, who we directly work with to provide our services. Audiologists across the state are informed of and have access to the online hearing aid loaner bank system where orders can be placed.

About the Program Administrators:

The current program administrators are Aly Lerman and Danyi Ma, both students in the Doctor of Audiology program at the University of Minnesota. Aly is a fourth year graduate student embarking on her externship at the Kansas City VA. Danyi is a third year graduate student who is interested in working with the adult population.

Contact them at for additional information.

About the Grant Funding:

In 2007, MNCDHH and advocates successfully advocated for funding from the legislature for the Hearing Aid Loaner Bank. The Minnesota Department of Health has signed a contract of $70,000/year with the University of Minnesota to run the Hearing Instrument Loaner Bank. Loans of hearing aids provided to families with babies with hearing loss immediately upon request. Every family who has requested help has received it.

language acquisition


hearing aids

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