My First HLAA Convention: A New Community for Me

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?

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11 thoughts on “My First HLAA Convention: A New Community for Me

  1. It would be great to attend such a gathering and get information from people who were not trying to sell something. But, then, that may be part of the program as well. I look forward to your post convention comments. JH

  2. Hi Shari,

    I am going to miss this year’s convention, otherwise I would definitely want to connect with you there. I went my first time with friends. Last year I went all on my own and met the most amazing people.

    You are going to have a great time and I look forward to reading your convention posts. If you would like to read about my experiences from last year’s convention, you can find them at this link: (Scroll down a bit)

    All the best,

  3. Hi Shari I love reading your posts and it will be great to see how you get on. Just been on a discussion thread about how it feels to be HoH and participate in work groups or breakput groups and how some of us hate that in a work environment but its a bit more enjoyable and you can be more assertive or communicate your needs better at something you choose to go to. Good luck. Finally I discovered other people with hearing loss last year and it was great. I have had many hearing friends of course but I can relax in a different way with HoH people and its great. I wish I had done this years ago but I guess I wasn’t ready as I never thought about it However one of my ‘ old’ group of friends who suddenly had a very severe hearing loss made me chuckle. I invited her to a link up session thinking she might enjoy meeting other deaf people but she said ‘ oh no will there be other deaf people there ? ‘ yes ! ‘ oh I find them such hard work to talk to , they never hear what you say ‘ . lol.

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