May 1 marks the start of Better Hearing and Speech Month, a month dedicated to educating consumers about the need to assure that their hearing is healthy. This year, Oro Valley and Tanque Verde Audiology is joining with the Better Hearing Institute to educate Americans on how hearing health affects job security, performance and employment opportunities.

Oro Valley and Tanque Verde Audiology is encouraging people of all ages who are either seeking employment or who want to protect their jobs to make sure that unaddressed hearing loss doesn't pose a barrier to employment success. BHI is offering an online hearing test (www.hearingcheck.org) where people can quickly and confidentially assess if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.

"Never before has good hearing been so important," says Dr. Judy Huch, audiologist in Tucson. "Hearing your best can be a smart job security strategy in a tough job market. How an employee is perceived by employers is affected by how he or she hears. Job candidates need to sound sharp during an interview. And employees who aren't sure what an employer is asking can't answer their best."

When people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they improve their job performance, increase their earning potential, enhance their communication skills, improve their professional and interpersonal relationships, stave off depression, and better their quality of life, a release said.

According to a BHI national study, untreated hearing loss negatively affects household income, on average, up to $23,000 per year depending on the degree of hearing loss. The use of hearing aids mitigates those negative effects by about 50 percent.

"Treating hearing loss early is no longer an option," said Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D, executive director of BHI. "It is a career imperative."

Huch is owner and audiologist at the two offices Oro Valley Audiology (825-4770) and Tanque Verde Audiology (751-3901). The office's Web site is http://HearInTucson.com">HearInTucson.com

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