U.S. Department of Labor approves “Apprenticeship Standards for Hearing Aid Specialists.” What does this mean in Florida?

The Board of the FLAA is carefully monitoring the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to approve “Apprenticeship Standards for Hearing Aid Specialists.” In a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Labor by the Academy of Doctor’s of Audiology (ADA), the Department of Labor was asked to rescind approval of the Standards because “the [Apprenticeship] Standards go far beyond the typical scope of practice of a Hearing Aid Specialist (HAS)…as defined by state law.” Despite the expansion in the specialist’s scope of practice, the apprenticeship program does not include new didactic education requirements and apprentices must be trained by currently licensed dispensers. The revised scope of practice in the Apprenticeship Standards includes but is not limited to:

  • Cerumen management;
  • Administer and interpret tests of middle ear function;
  • Determine candidacy for cochlear implant evaluations or other clinical, rehabilitative, or medical interventions;
  • Provide aural rehabilitative services;
  • Provide tinnitus management.

According to Florida Statutes, Chapter 484.0445 and the Florida Administrative Code 64B6-8.003, “Minimum Training Requirements, and Training Programs,” training for dispensers in Florida “should be a minimum of 6 months in length with a board-approved home study course.”

Florida code 64B6-8.002 further defines the “Qualifications for … Sponsors” of trainees (sic Apprentices), requiring that the “prospective sponsor must have possessed an active [hearing aid] license and have been actively practicing for at least two (2) consecutive years immediately prior to sponsorship, and must be Board certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (NBCHIS).” Audiologists are not eligible to train dispensers unless they are licensed as dispensers in Florida.

If these Apprenticeship Standards are adopted in Florida, the only individuals who could train future dispensers are currently licensed dispensers, many of whom have never been licensed or academically trained to provide many of the services proposed in the new Standards.

Your Board is carefully monitoring these activities and will provide information to the Florida Department of Health on the adoption of this program in the State of Florida. We value your insights and opinions.

Please send your thoughts and comments to:
Rachel M. Brooke, MBA, CAE, CMP
Executive Director
Florida Academy of Audiology
PO Box 8685
Delray Beach, Florida 33482