I will be attending my first HLAA convention next week! I have to admit that attending in years past was not even on my radar screen. I was mostly in denial about my hearing loss and did not want to associate myself with the hearing loss community in that meaningful of a way. But in this past year, my entire perspective has turned on a dime, and I find myself Out of My Hearing Loss Closet and eager to meet and interact with others that share the hearing loss and tinnitus life experience. Strangely, I almost feel like I am coming home.
It has only been in the last year or so that I have met, let alone befriended other people with hearing loss. I’m not sure what I was waiting for! It is almost always a wonderful experience. First of all, we have a lot of common experiences to talk about. Second, we go out of our way to speak clearly so that the other person can hear. Third, many of us are quite passionate hearing loss advocates and it is always interesting to learn about each other’s upcoming activities. I have been able to get involved in some of them too, like the September Walk4Hearing in New York City. So a convention full of people with hearing loss and tinnitus should be a great group of potential friends and colleagues.
But there are also other reasons I am excited about the convention.
Interesting Programming: I haven’t attended a retreat or extended meeting before where the primary topic is hearing loss, so there will be much for me to learn. Along with keynote speeches by leaders in the field like Charles Lazlo, Ph.D., and a Symposium on Employment Issues for People with Hearing Loss featuring representatives from Microsoft, Ernst and Young and Northrop Grumman, there are a series of workshops along four tracks: Advocacy, Assistive & Other Technology, Hearing Aids & Cochlear Implants, and Relationships & Communication. All programming will be communication accessible with the use of hearing loops and CART!
FREE Exhibit Hall: I am excited to check out the latest gadgets and gizmos for those of us with hearing loss and tinnitus at the Exhibit Hall. The leading hearing aid and cochlear implant companies will be there, along with several communication companies and many hearing loss related governmental and non-profit organizations. This is free for the public as well.
Social Events: Social events include a Get Acquainted Party, a special 35th Anniversary Banquet, an Awards Breakfast, and an offsite event to Busch Stadium for the Cardinals vs. Cubs game. There are also many opportunities to learn about HLAA’s activities and to mingle with its Board Members.
Readers, will you be at the HLAA Convention?