SOUND OFF with…
HLA Ventura County Chapter Member, reader/writer, deaf and hard of hearing researcher, and jewelry maker.
1. What was the moment when you realized that you had a hearing loss? What did you do about it?
I was given a boxy hearing aid that had two long wires dangling out of it. The two wires each had an earmold attached at the end. That was when I was about age two. I realized then I was “different”, but accepted it. I was too busy and active in our community to worry about my severe-to-profound hearing loss. I just did the best I could then. The wonderful thing was seeing hearing loss technology improving constantly as I got older. What a great day it was when we started getting TV captioning.
2. How has your hearing loss affected your life?
I compensated for it by being an avid reader all my life. I read everything, even cereal boxes and junk mail. And lots of books. To this day, printed English is still my first language.
3. What current issue related to hearing loss would you like to see addressed more? Why?
My biggest concern is the high cost of hearing aids. I get so many complaints about it. Only 20% of those who need hearing aids are actually using them. I hope to work in this field as a consumer advocate. I want people not to look at them as something that’s negative in image. It’s actually something positive to utilize. I want to get the hearing aid industry and dealers to lower their prices. I’m now hearing reports about self-programmable hearing aids. That’s an interesting twist. That could be a viable solution, since supposedly they are cheaper than getting them through traditional channels.
4. What would you like to tell the younger generation?
Please, get your education using auxiliary aids where ever available. By that I mean using CART, CIs, notetakers, ASL, small classes, extra tutoring. Don’t be prideful and think you can wing it without hearing loss support. Make sure your eyesight is checked frequently. You need good vision to get better education. As a professionally trained counselor, I urge young people to choose wisely, training for a profession that accommodates their hearing loss. I can’t stress this enough.
5. What technologies are the most useful to you? How?
I use the Internet extensively. It gives me so much useful information. I utilize my hearing aid 100% when I’m awake. I have captioned phones to help me converse with hearing people better. I use email a lot to communicate with everyone globally. And I refuse to watch TV, movies or videos that aren’t captioned. I also have a mobile phone that has internet and email capabilities.
6. I am a member of HLAA because…
It offers me (and my husband) a chance to socialize with other HLAA members. HLAA is like being in a family that really understands me well. The organization also gives me a chance to advocate for others, and to learn the latest hearing loss news and technologies. I particularly like the national conventions.