Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 15. Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians
5/10/2021

Chapter 15. Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians.

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 54.1-1500. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Audiologist" means the same as that term is defined in § 54.1-2600.

"Board" means the Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians.

"Hearing aid" means any wearable instrument or device designed or offered to aid or compensate for impaired human hearing and any parts, attachments, or accessories, including earmolds, but excluding batteries and cords.

"Licensed hearing aid specialist" means any person who is the holder of a hearing aid specialist license issued by the Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians.

"Licensed optician" means any person who is the holder of an optician license issued by the Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians.

"Licensed optometrist" means any person authorized by Virginia law to practice optometry.

"Licensed physician" means any person licensed by the Board of Medicine to practice medicine and surgery.

"Optician" means any person not exempted by § 54.1-1506 who prepares or dispenses eyeglasses, spectacles, lenses, or related appurtenances, for the intended wearers or users, on prescriptions from licensed physicians or licensed optometrists, or as duplications or reproductions of previously prepared eyeglasses, spectacles, lenses, or related appurtenances; or who, in accordance with such prescriptions, duplications or reproductions, measures, adapts, fits, and adjusts eyeglasses, spectacles, lenses, or appurtenances, to the human face.

"Practice of audiology" means the same as that term is defined in § 54.1-2600.

"Practice of fitting or dealing in hearing aids" means (i) the measurement of human hearing by means of an audiometer or by any other means solely for the purpose of making selections, adaptations or sale of hearing aids, (ii) the sale of hearing aids, or (iii) the making of impressions for earmolds. A practitioner, at the request of a physician or a member of a related profession, may make audiograms for the professional's use in consultation with the hard-of-hearing.

"Sell" or "sale" means any transfer of title or of the right to use by lease, bailment, or any other contract, excluding wholesale transactions with distributors or practitioners.

"Temporary permit" means a permit issued while an applicant is in training to become a licensed hearing aid specialist.

1970, c. 571, § 54-524.110; 1988, c. 765; 2005, c. 599; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2018, c. 458.

§ 54.1-1500.1. Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians; qualifications and terms of members; officers.

A. The Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians shall consist of 15 members, as follows: four licensed hearing aid specialists, of which at least one shall be licensed as an audiologist by the Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, six licensed opticians, one otolaryngologist, one ophthalmologist, and three citizen members.

B. One of the citizen members shall be a hearing aid user or a person who has a family member who is or has been a hearing aid user. Each hearing aid specialist and the otolaryngologist shall have at least five years of experience in their respective fields immediately prior to appointment. Each of the opticians shall have at least five years of experience prior to appointment and the ophthalmologist shall have practiced ophthalmology for at least five years prior to appointment.

C. The terms of Board members shall be four years.

D. The Board shall elect a chairman and vice-chairman from its membership.

2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-1500.2. Nominations for Board appointments.

A. The appointment of the otolaryngologist member may be made from a list of at least three names submitted to the Governor by the Medical Society of Virginia. The appointment of one of the hearing aid specialist members may be made from a list of at least three names submitted to the Governor by the Speech-Language Hearing Association of Virginia. The appointment of the remaining hearing aid specialist members may be made from a list of at least three names for each vacancy submitted to the Governor by the Virginia Society of Hearing Aid Specialists. Nominations for appointments to regular terms shall be submitted to the Governor on or before June 1 of each year. The Governor may notify the Society or Association, respectively, of any vacancy other than by expiration, and like nominations may be made for the filling of the vacancy. In no case shall the Governor be bound to make any appointment from among the nominees.

B. The appointment of the licensed optician members may be made from a list of at least three names for each vacancy submitted to the Governor by the Opticians Association of Virginia for each appointee who is an optician, and by the Medical Society of Virginia for each appointee who is a physician. Nominations for appointments to regular terms shall be submitted to the Governor on or before June 1 of each year. The Governor may notify the Society or Association, respectively, of any vacancy other than by expiration and like nominations may be made for the filling of the vacancy. In no case shall the Governor be bound to make any appointment from among the nominees.

2012, cc. 803, 835.

Article 2. Hearing Aids and Hearing Aid Specialists.

§ 54.1-1501. Exemptions; sale of hearing aids by corporations, etc., measuring hearing.

A. Physicians licensed to practice in Virginia and certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology or eligible for such certification shall not be required to pass an examination as a prerequisite to obtaining a license under this chapter.

B. Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a corporation, partnership, trust, association or other like organization maintaining an established business address from engaging in the business of selling or offering for sale hearing aids at retail without a license, provided that it employs only licensed practitioners in the direct sale and fitting of such products.

C. Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit any person who does not sell hearing aids or accessories or who is not employed by an organization which sells hearing aids or accessories from engaging in the practice of measuring human hearing for the purpose of selection of hearing aids.

D. Audiologists licensed to practice in Virginia who have earned a doctoral degree in audiology shall not be required to pass an examination as a prerequisite to obtaining a license under this chapter.

1970, c. 571, §§ 54-524.111, 54-524.112; 1974, c. 534; 1986, c. 279; 1988, c. 765; 1996, c. 741; 2018, c. 458.

§ 54.1-1502. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2012, cc. 803 and 835, cl. 35.

§ 54.1-1504. License required.

No person shall engage in the practice of fitting or dealing in hearing aids or display a sign or in any other way advertise or represent himself as a person who practices the fitting or dealing of hearing aids unless he holds a license as provided in this chapter.

1970, c. 571, § 54-524.111; 1974, c. 534; 1986, c. 279; 1988, c. 765; 2005, c. 599.

§ 54.1-1505. Return of hearing aid by purchaser or lessee.

A. Within thirty days of the date of delivery, any purchaser or lessee of a hearing aid shall be entitled to return the hearing aid for any reason, provided such aid is returned in satisfactory condition. Such purchaser or lessee shall be entitled to a replacement or a refund of all charges paid, less a reasonable charge for medical, audiological, and hearing aid evaluation services provided by the hearing aid specialist.

B. The right of a purchaser or lessee to return a hearing aid and the charges to be imposed upon the return of such hearing aid, as provided in subsection A of this section, shall be explained and given in writing in at least ten-point, bold-faced type to such purchaser or lessee by the hearing aid specialist.

C. The provisions of this section shall be subject to the provisions of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (§ 59.1-196 et seq.).

1990, c. 584.

Article 3. Opticians.

§ 54.1-1506. Exemptions.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:

1. Any licensed physician or licensed optometrist;

2. Any individual, partnership, or corporation engaged in supplying ophthalmic prescriptions and supplies exclusively to licensed physicians, licensed optometrists, licensed opticians, or optical scientists;

3. Any person who does not hold himself out to the public as an "optician," and who works exclusively under the direct supervision and control of a licensed physician or licensed optometrist or licensed optician, and in the same location;

4. The sale of spectacles, eyeglasses, magnifying glasses, goggles, sunglasses, telescopes, or binoculars that are completely preassembled and sold as merchandise; or

5. Any optician who (i) does not regularly practice in Virginia; (ii) holds a current valid license or certificate to practice as an optician in another state, territory, district, or possession of the United States; (iii) volunteers to provide free health care to an underserved area of the Commonwealth under the auspices of a publicly supported all volunteer, nonprofit organization with no paid employees that sponsors the provision of health care to populations of underserved people throughout the world; (iv) files a copy of the license or certificate issued in such other jurisdiction with the Board; (v) notifies the Board, within 15 days prior to the voluntary provision of services of the dates and location of such services; and (vi) acknowledges, in writing, that such licensure exemption shall only be valid, in compliance with the Board's regulations, during the limited period that such free health care is made available through the volunteer, nonprofit organization on the dates and at the location filed with the Board.

1954, c. 237, §§ 54-398.1, 54-398.3; 1974, c. 534; 1988, c. 765, § 54.1-1701; 2002, c. 740; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-1507. Practice of opticians restricted.

No person shall practice or offer to practice as an optician in the Commonwealth unless he holds a license issued under this chapter.

1954, c. 237, § 54-398.3; 1974, c. 534; 1988, c. 765, § 54.1-1704; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-1508. Optical prescriptions, ocular refraction, etc.

Nothing in this chapter shall authorize an optician, or anyone else not otherwise authorized by law, to make, issue, or alter optical prescriptions, or to practice ocular refraction, orthoptics, or visual training, or to fit contact lenses except on the prescription of an ophthalmologist or optometrist and under his direction, or to advertise or offer to do so in any manner.

1954, c. 237, § 54-398.27; 1964, c. 101; 1988, c. 765, § 54.1-1705; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-1509. Permissible practices.

Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivisions 7 and 8 of § 54.1-3204, a licensed optician is authorized to prepare and dispense eyeglasses, spectacles, lenses, or related appurtenances, for the intended wearers or users, on prescriptions from licensed physicians or licensed optometrists; duplicate and reproduce previously prepared eyeglasses, spectacles, lenses, or related appurtenances; and, in accordance with such prescriptions, duplications, or reproductions, measure, adapt, fit, and adjust eyeglasses, spectacles, lenses, or appurtenances to the human face. A licensed optician shall not, however, duplicate a contact lens solely from a previously prepared contact lens.

1990, c. 718, § 54.1-1706; 1993, c. 206; 2009, cc. 353, 761; 2012, cc. 803, 835.