The Hearing and Speech Clinic and the Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA) of Rockville, Md., have helped more than 150 Holocaust survivors, providing free hearing tests and hearing aid fitting services since 2015. Many patients share family photos and important memories with Assistant Clinical Professor Lisa Rickard and her clinical audiology doctoral students, often with the help of case managers or relatives who can interpret Russian.

Today, the clinic gets most hearing aids from a company called Oticon, and JSSA provides transportation services to UMD for interested survivors, a pandemic-driven shift that occurred when the clinic reopened sooner than JSSA offices. The clinic also now accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield (state and federal), United Healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans, allowing it to conduct its own hearing tests for the community.

“This is just one more opportunity for our students to get the clinical training they need—to learn how to modify test procedures due to a language difference or memory or cognitive issues—but also a special opportunity for students to interact with a very unique population,” Rickard said.


This feature originally appeared on the BSOS Annual Update 2022-23. Photo of clinical audiology doctoral student Anhelina Bilokon Au.D. ’24 (right) working with Larisa Tulchinsky at UMD's HESP Clinic is provided by the HESP Clinic.

HESP Clinic Partnership Provides Hearing Aids to 150 Holocaust Survivors