How To Prepare for an Emergency When You Have Hearing Loss

September is emergency preparedness month making my most recent NYC Chapter HLAA meeting very timely. It was all about emergency preparedness with a special emphasis on tips for people with hearing loss. I thought the information was so useful, I wanted to share it with my readers.

The session brought me back to the horrible days after 9/11. My husband and I were separated and cell phone traffic was jammed. We did not have a plan for how to be in touch should an emergency happen. We were lucky that we were both safe and were able to independently make our way home to reunite there.

After that experience, we always tried to have a plan for how to communicate and where to go in an emergency. Now that we have children, this plan is even more critical. Interestingly, we never made contingencies in the plan for my hearing loss. From what I learned in the preparedness talk, we need to add some.

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Hearing Loss and Highway To Hell

We are sitting outside enjoying a late dinner, far removed from the central square in Bruges, Belgium, where the town’s Independence Day celebration has already begun. The setting is beautiful and timeless, but the band at the party is belting out music at an alarming decibel level. We can hear the noise, but can’t tell what song it is, until something clicks in my brain. It is Highway to Hell by AC/DC. As soon as I mentioned this to my husband, he could hear it too. His brain began filling in the blanks that his ears alone could not process.

We found it funny that I (the one with the hearing loss) would be the one to figure out the song, but then we thought about it. I am used to finding patterns in sounds and making sense out of noise. That is what I do everyday as I work to hear.

Why this particular song was played at an Independence Day celebration in Belgium remains a mystery.

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Why Hearing Loss Advocacy Is So Important

Advocacy is defined by Merriam-Webster as the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. Dictionary.com defines it as the act of pleading for, supporting or recommending, but my favorite definition is by Wiktionary which says that advocacy is the practice of supporting someone to make their voice heard. What is more important than having one’s voice heard? 

Advocacy raises awareness, it breaks down barriers, crushes stigma and helps further the cause, any cause. And it works. That’s why I will Walk4Hearing again this year. The theme is Communication Access — one of my favorite advocacy initiatives.

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HLAA’s NYC Walk4Hearing in 2015

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Listen Up Teens — While You Still Can

Are you looking for a way to talk to your teens about hearing loss? You should be. One in five teens now suffers from hearing loss, most of which is noise-induced, which is 100% preventable. It is hard to get through to teens who often feel physically invincible and more concerned with peer pressure than parental guidance. Yet, they need to understand the serious risks. Hearing damage is irreversible. There is no cure.

Here’s a letter I used with my children. Feel free to share it with your own.

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Am I a Bold Digital Health Influencer?

I am proud to be nominated in The Boldest Digital Health Influencers Award contest in the patient advocate category for my hearing loss writing and advocacy! Voting ends September 2nd. If you have a moment and are so inclined, please click here and send a vote my way. Thank you!

Vote here.

Excerpts From My Nomination

Shari Eberts founded LivingWithHearingLoss.com as an outlet for her personal struggles accepting and living with her genetic adult-onset hearing loss. Growing up in a family where hearing loss was considered shameful, she learned to hide her own, until she had children. To set the right example for them, she needed to accept her own hearing loss, and begin to advocate for herself within the family group and externally at restaurants, theaters and with her healthcare providers. So she did. Soon after, she joined the boards of two leading hearing loss related non-profits, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and Hearing Health Foundation (HHF).

In 2015, Shari expanded LivingWithHearingLoss.com to build a true online community for others coping with hearing loss. Since its inception less than 2 years ago, the site has been visited more than 100,000 times by people living in 140 different countries. She currently has more than 6000 followers across her social media platforms. Her writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, on BlogHer and has appeared in print in The Hearing Journal, ENT & Audiology News and elsewhere.

Hearing loss is an invisible disability, and one fraught with shame and stigma. Shari’s bold, yet relatable approach to sharing her hearing loss journey has inspired others to live more comfortably with their own hearing loss. She has helped others to overcome the stigma they feel and to advocate for better hearing health care outcomes for themselves and their afflicted family members. For this inspiring work, she deserves to be recognized with a Boldest Health Influencer award in the Patient Advocate category.

Awards Information (provided by the organizers)

Remedy Health Media with New York City Health Business Leaders (NYCHBL) are recognizing the Best of the Best in the digital health field with this exclusive award! NYCHBL’s mission is to bring together leaders and innovators in healthcare. This prestigious award will showcase your colleagues’ hard work, achievements, and talents.

We are looking to recognize healthcare industry influencers in these areas:

Patient Advocate: Patients who have gone above and beyond to share their personal story, network and speak out to support other patients to influence better health outcomes

Agency Guru: People from healthcare ad agencies who have made a difference by achieving the highest level of excellence in their workplace and inspired others on their team and/or agency.

Brand Marketer: Individuals from brands (pharma, specialty, medical device, etc.) who have been innovative and strategic in achieving great marketing success for healthcare.

Voting deadline is September 2. The top nominees in each category with the most votes will then become finalists. All finalists will be reviewed and judged by a panel from Remedy and NYCHBL to determine the winners. Vote here

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