Service dog

I need help with a service dog letter. I have a trained hearing dog that I need to take on airline flights and keep with me in travel accommodations. My regular audiologist retired a few years ago and, because I self program my hearing aids now, I’m looking an audiologist to provide a hearing test and then some sort of a letter of certification of need.

You will probably need to speak to the training place where you got the dog and or the person who originally authorized or signed off on the need for one.

The trainer is willing to vouch for the dog. But I need someone who will vouch for my hearing loss. I recognized the value of a trained dog myself, so no one “authorized” getting my dog. I think what airlines request is proof of a recognized disability from a licensed professional.

Generally places which supply service dogs have the same requirement.

If i am understanding correctly, you have a dog that is trained to assist you as a hearing dog. To my mind, even though you are using your dog in the same function, that is not a true “service dog” as the airline understands it. I think they are expecting that your service dog would come from a registered not for profit who would determine your need and authorized you being assigned an animal.

I do not doubt for one second that you have a real need for this, but the airlines etc have really cracked down on service animals since people have begun buying vests for their pets and calling them service animals and in some cases people have been attacked by these untrained pets. I’m sorry that you’re needing to go through this. Would your audiologist be able to write a letter stating that you have severe hearing loss and describe the situations in which a trained dog would help?

It’s very difficult because unless your trainer is somehow certified, this could be just anyone writing a letter saying they have trained your dog as a hearing dog.

You need to have a disability that is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and have an animal that is trained to mitigate that disability in order for you to have the right to take the animal in places of public accommodation. There is no certification process, or authority, to certify a service animal. You are simply required to verify that the animal is a service dog and to describe what the animal does to mitigate your ADA defined disability. No proof is required. Many states now have statutes that criminalize falsely claiming that an animal is a service animal when it is not.

The Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA), on the other hand, has different definitions and you may have to provide proof that the dog is a Service Animal. Unfortunately, there is no standard for that proof. Otherwise, the animal is an Emotional Support Animal and subject to the airline’s ESA own restrictions. Regardless of whether the dog is a Service Animal or an ESA, animals must be under the complete control of the handler. Uncontrolled barking, lunging, biting, defecating animals may be removed despite their status.

My understanding after considerable research is that the airlines need proof that you have a disability rather than proof that the dog is a Service Animal. My trainer can give me a letter to “certify” my dog’s training. I am looking to get a letter that describes my disability (as defined in the ADA) from a licensed professional. The ADA only specifies that you have a hearing disability. It doesn’t specify, as far as I can see, the limits of that disability.

  1. When does someone with a hearing impairment have a disability within the meaning of the ADA?

As a result of changes made by the ADAAA, people who are deaf should easily be found to have a disability within the meaning of the first part of the ADA’s definition of disability because they are substantially limited in the major life activity of hearing.[15] Individuals with a hearing impairment other than deafness will meet the first part of the ADA’s definition of disability if they can show that they are substantially limited in hearing or another major life activity (e.g., the major bodily function of special sense organs).[16] A determination of disability must ignore the positive effects of any mitigating measure that is used. For example, a mitigating measure may include the use of a hearing aid or cochlear implant.[17]

Individuals with a history of a hearing impairment will be covered under the second part of the definition of disability if they have a record of an impairment that substantially limited a major life activity in the past.[18] Although this definition of disability does not apply frequently to individuals with hearing impairments, examples of when it might apply would include situations in which someone’s hearing has been corrected surgically (not including surgery to put in a cochlear implant, a mitigating measure). Finally, an individual is covered under the third (“regarded as”) prong of the definition of disability if an employer takes a prohibited action (for example, refuses to hire or terminates the individual) because of a hearing impairment or because the employer believes the individual has a hearing impairment, other than an impairment that lasts fewer than six months and is minor.

You asked:
Would your audiologist be able to write a letter stating that you have severe hearing loss and describe the situations in which a trained dog would help?

My problem:

I program my own hearing aids that I bought online. I have had hearing aids for 20 years and have programmed them myself for almost as long. I did buy hearing aids from Costco about 8 years ago (which I programmed myself at the Costco store). The audiologist I worked with then has retired and last year I bought Oticon opn’s which I program myself.

I need an audiologist to do exactly what you say “write a letter stating I have a severe hearing loss.” Since I bought online, I don’t have regular audiologist to do this for me.

If you are still a Costco member, you can ask for a copy of you audiogram which would be proof of your severe loss.

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Surely the simplest way to solve this is to pay for a hearing test from an audiologist and have them write in the report part at the bottom of it that you have severe hearing loss. Then you’d have it and not need to worry. That is if you aren’t able to access your old one from Costco.

Costco will do a detailed hearing test for free, even if you don’t have their HAs.

The ambiguities here arise, because the ACAA which regulates air travel access and the ADA which regulates access to public accommodation do not use the same definitions and have different requirements. While it should not be necessary, your best approach for air travel is to get a hearing test that clearly shows your disability, have a veterinary certificate showing the dog has a current rabies vaccination, and be able to describe both your disability and what the dog does to mitigate your disability for you. Carry a copy of the relevant portions of the ACAA with you! Most of all, personnel should be able to tell your pup is trained by its demeanor, behavior, and your control.

These items are not required for your access to places of public accommodation under the ADA.

In Australia service dogs must come from an accredited source in each state or territory, which require proof of the need/referral of the person with a disability. In my experience here those people are provided with a document stating they have a service dog which they show to any organization which needs to see it. You cannot just decide to buy a service dog here so the paperwork comes via the correct process for obtaining the dog.

If all you need is an audiologist to confirm your disability then speak to the service dog supplier and see if they have had referrals from any audiologists and see one of those because they would have experience.

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That’s the perspective I was coming from too, as an Aussie expat. I’m actually rather surprised that there it seems more casual over there in the US.

The most common service dog here is the guide dogs for the blind and they are a charity organization. I guess that is how the industry evolved here and charities will insist on making sure any need is genuine.

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I am confused. You wear hearing aids, so that means you are not totally deaf. So why do you need a “service dog” at all?
I, for one, am glad the airlines are cracking down on the abuse of this “system”.
I know this doesn’t address your question, but I had to get this off my chest as I am a frequent flyer.

One thing I’ve learned here is that just because I wear hearing aids, and someone else also wears hearing aids, doesn’t mean that I know how and what that person hears.


My dog travels with me so that she can be with me at my destination where I am alone. When I take my hearing aids out, I can’t hear the door or alarms. She alerts me. She can also alert me when I travel if some one is trying to get my attention and I don’t hear them, but that is secondary for me.

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Perhaps one day your hearing will deteriorate to the point where you welcome a service dog. A dog might just save your life.

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  1. Just leave your HA in, or
  2. Spend $10 and get a door bell that will trigger flashing light or
  3. same for smoke alarm