1. What was the moment when you realized that you had a hearing loss? What did you do about it?
I was 32 years old. I first wondered if I had a hearing loss when I couldn’t hear the television shows my three young children watched. My father and grandfather had hereditary otosclerosis / otospongiosis that began in their early 30s, so I knew it could happen to me too. I remember going outside and dropping a dime on the sidewalk to see if I could hear it hit the pavement. I couldn’t hear it – and that’s when I knew. I scheduled a hearing test, discovered I had a 25 to 35 decibel loss, and I purchased my first hearing aids right away.
2. How has your hearing loss affected your life?
I have felt isolated at times. Communication takes more work. And I’ve discovered that it’s easy to be dismissed when you frequently appear to not understand simple information or casual interactions. For that reason, I have been careful to choose work situations where my skills are less likely to be questioned. I have often been self-employed. And I have chosen work that is more visual than verbal: software designer, graphic designer, writer and researcher.
3. What current issue related to hearing loss would you like to see addressed more? Why?
I dream of seeing the ADA enforced for every person, in every situation. Very few laws are disregarded as often as the ADA!
4. What would you like to tell the younger generation?
I would say, “For most people, some kind of disability will occur at some point in life. So, if you don’t have a disability now, consider yourself temporarily able-bodied.” I don’t say this to be negative; I say it because embracing the truth of this can help bridge the gaps. When people see the truth, that people with disabilities are not all that different from them, and that we’re all in this together, they are more likely to do their part to help overcome the barriers that hearing loss, or any disability, creates.
5. What technologies are the most useful to you? How?
Up-to-date digital hearing aids.
Captioning for movies, computer video, phone, and meetings.
Email and Facebook for catching up with people.
Volume control — for the phone and alarm clock especially.
Good-quality headphones for watching movies at home (much better for me than speakers)
Soon: auditory training for auditory processing deficits.
6. I am a member of HLAA because...
- We have so much collective information, experience, and understanding when it comes to hearing loss. Our HLAA groups are a great place to be when you’re facing a hearing loss dilemma. And a great place to put your experience to use too.
- Technologies are changing rapidly. We are able to pass along information about what works, and what doesn’t.
- I’m at a point in life where getting a paycheck isn’t enough. I want to use my skills to do something that matters. Volunteering with HLAA is one way I can do that.