"Hear" Today, Dog Tomorrow: Service Dogs Are Sound Companions For The Hearing Impaired

Full or partial deafness, whether sudden or gradual, can be a frightening diagnosis. You never really notice how much you rely on your sense of hearing until it is diminished or lost. Hearing loss can interfere with your daily life in profound ways, and learning how to cope with this condition can be challenging.

A hearing assistance dog can relieve much of the anxiety, depression, and loss of day to day functionality associated with hearing loss. Not just anyone qualifies for a hearing assistance service dog, however. Here is a look at what a hearing assistance dog really does, and what your doctor can do to help you apply for a pair of canine ears.

What is a Hearing Assistance Service Dog?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, a business cannot prohibit people with disabilities from bringing service animals into public areas of the business premises. The ADA is very specific about a protected service animal's qualifications. To qualify as a protected service animal, a dog must be specifically trained to perform tasks directly related to the handler's disability.

For a hearing assistance dog to qualify for protection under the ADA, the dog must perform tasks that compensate for the handler's hearing loss. Common tasks that a hearing assistance dog will perform include alerting to the sounds of fire alarms, baby cries, alarm clocks, doorbells, and even the handler's name.

How Your Doctor Can Help You Apply for a Hearing Assistance Service Dog

If you are having problems coping with your hearing loss, discuss your concerns with your doctor, audiologist, or otologist. Express your desire to apply for a trained hearing assistance dog; your doctor is probably familiar with some local, reputable service dog organizations. Furthermore, your doctor can help you with your hearing assistance dog application to maximize your chances of approval.

One of the ways that service dog organizations screen applicants is by evaluating each applicant's official audiogram. An audiogram is a chart that displays your ability to hear high and low pitches, and soft and loud noises. Your health care professional most likely gave you this test as a means of diagnosing your hearing loss, and can provide a copy of these results for you to submit to the service dog organization's screening committee. The screening committee will use the audiogram to determine if you qualify for a hearing assistance dog and, if approved, set you up with a service dog that can provide tasks specific to your needs.

For more information about hearing loss and what your options are, contact a company such as Hearing Professionals.