Audiology students travel to state capitol to advocate for changes to hearing-care legislation

On March 1, Doctor of Audiology students from the Lamar University Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences traveled to the state capitol in Austin for Audiology Advocacy Day coordinated by the Texas Academy of Audiology. The group met and spoke with 20 state senators, representatives and Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan regarding hearing-care legislation reform.

Accompanied by Jo Mayo Endowed Assistant Professor of Audiology Dr. Anna Jilla, the Lamar University audiology students who traveled to take part were Desiree Cooper, Lindsey Sanford, Kaleigh Scott, Kelsey Spencer and Valerie Valdez.

Currently, there are a number of proposed bills concerning audiology in the Texas Legislature. Specific bills that were discussed between the students and the legislature include increased access to hearing aids to adults and children under private-insurance plans, a streamlined consenting process in order to follow up on infants with hearing loss and for the state of Texas to join the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact that will allow for more people outside of the state to seek care in Texas.

“It was cool to go and participate in government,” said Kelsey Spencer, doctor of audiology student. “I was scared, but with Dr. Jilla’s guidance I was able to dip my toe in there.”

audiology-austin-2023.jpgJilla and her students had the opportunity to meet with a number of representatives for the Southeast Texas region, and that helped them feel at home four-hours away.

“We had great meeting with them, and we could really feel the love even though we were away from home and Beaumont,” said Jilla. “We could feel the love from our representatives here being their constituents. We had great visits there and discussed a variety of different issues.”

For Jilla, being able to advocate in front of government officials alongside her students is one of the things that found most fulfilling as an educator.

It means so much to the population of audiologists in Texas and every single infant, child and adult with hearing loss in the state,” she said. “Oftentimes, we think that somebody else will show up to advocate for needs, and oftentimes that’s not the case. To promote this level of civic engagement among the next generation of audiologsts, there’s not another experience like that and I’m so incredibly proud of them.”

As the Texas Legislature continues to discuss and debate the issues currently in front of them, Jilla and the audiology students will continue to make their voice heard for change in hearing care for all in the state of Texas.

“Your voice matters,” said Jilla. “You may be scared to go and talk with the legislator or to send an email or letter for some issue that you deeply care about, but your voice matters. It makes a difference, and that is the beautiful part about civic engagement. The way that our society works is that you can take that extra time to go and talk to people to try to influence positive change in your community.”

As Dr. Jilla and her students continue to educate, they continue to make good impressions and positive change in the state.

To learn more about the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, visit