Would You Go To A Hearing Loss Convention?

Would you go to a hearing loss convention? For many years, my answer was “No.” I didn’t want to acknowledge my hearing loss, let alone proclaim it to the world by attending a meeting. But last year, I decided to go — it was my first HLAA Convention — and it was incredible. I learned so much about the various advocacy efforts underway through HLAA and elsewhere, got to try out some new hearing loss technology, but most importantly, I was able to connect with others with hearing loss. It was a great source of comfort to me.

This year should be even better since the Convention is being held jointly with the Congress of the IFHOH (International Federation of Hard of Hearing People), which will be a great opportunity to meet people with hearing loss living around the world. At last count, more than 15 countries will be represented.

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Here are a few of the highlights that I am eager to see:

1. Keynote address by the Chair of the Disability Employee Resource Group and Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft, Jenny Lay-Flurrie. She is slated to discuss her job function at Microsoft and the tricks she has learned over the years about how to manage her own disability in the workplace. In 2014 Jenny was recognized by the White House as a Disability Employment Champion of Change.

2. Updates on important government reports from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). These reports could drastically change the way hearing aids are sold, bringing costs down and lowering stigma.

3. Research panel moderated by Dr. Frank Lin discussing recent advances in hearing scientific research and changes in best practices for audiologist care.

4. Exhibit Hall with the latest technology for people with hearing loss. Last year I learned about captioned phones and was able to connect with representatives of other hearing loss advocacy organizations.

5. The Experience Room is new this year and will give attendees the opportunity to try various hearing technologies in a living room type setting. This includes things like speech to text apps, assistive devices for watching TV, and FM systems.

6. Perhaps, most importantly, the fellowship that comes from being with others with hearing loss. I am looking forward to connecting with old and new friends and collaborating with other hearing loss advocates. It is inspiring to see so many people working to improve the environment for people with hearing loss.

Readers, will I see you at Convention?

This year’s Convention is June 23-26, 2016 in Washington DC. Register here by May 31, 2016. On site registration is also welcome. 

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15 thoughts on “Would You Go To A Hearing Loss Convention?

  1. I also am attending the HLAA convention for the first time. What has surprised me is how expensive it is to attend. The costs for the hotel are not that bad – the HLAA discount makes it reasonable for Washington DC. However I think the cost to attend the convention is pretty high. I want my husband to attend with me, and to get the most benefit from the convention, it is over $550 a couple – next level down is over $450 a couple. We are only attending one day, the first day, and that is $150 for both of us to shop in the exhibit hall. We constantly talk about how expensive hearing aids are, but between the cost of the convention and the cost of the hotel and parking and meals, this is a very expensive shopping visit for us. It’s not hard to understand why this convention would not get more support from a hearing impaired person who just spent 5,000 in the past ear for new aides and peripheral devices, and would love to get more education about their disability – but now have to find some more money to pay for the convention. Does anyone know if the convention is tax deductible as a medical expense?

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    • If you have a Flex Spending or Health Savings Account, registration and travel to attend a convention related to a chronic medical condition are allowable expenses:
      “Conference – Amounts paid by an individual for admission and transportation expenses to a medical conference relating to the chronic disease of the individual or individual’s eligible dependent are deductible if the costs are primarily for and essential to the medical care of the chronic disease. The cost of meals and lodging while attending the conference are not deductible as medical expenses. The claim submission must include the diagnosis.”

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  2. On the theme of being part of something big and uniquely hearing loss related, this is from the current edition of the HLAA national HQ newsletter, ‘This Week in Bethesda’:

    “Be a Part of a World Record Hearing Loop Event!

    “During the [Convention’s] Saturday evening Capital Banquet we will attempt to set a world record for ‘Most People Using an Audio Induction Hearing Loop Simultaneously.’ Be sure to attend Convention 2016 with an activated telecoil if you have one.”

    And if you don’t have a T-coil? No “Dog ate my assistive listening device” excuses allowed:

    “Special loop receivers and telecoil-equipped earphones for smartphones will be available for attendees who do not use hearing aids or cochlear implants. Help us set a new world record!”

    All bases covered!

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  3. Hi Shari
    I don’t think we have anything quite like this convention in the UK but if we did I would certainly think about attending. It sounds like an enormous version of a hearing loss support group that I loved (but now no longer happens). What was great about the group was the ability to get together with other people who know JUST what you mean, and with whom you can laugh about the same indignities and confusions. Your experience of gradually changing how you identify yourself as someone with hearing loss really resonates with me, as I have a similar experience of losing my hearing gradually over many years. Thanks for the post.
    Vera (more than a bit deaf dot com)

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  4. It’s been a long time since my last Convention. , Public transportation is no longer an option for me and the locations have been too far for driving from northern New Jersey.

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  5. Thanks IANNELLID for your comment. Costs are real and high for such events, no matter what the focus is. AND, it isn’t necessary to participate at the convention level to participate in the activities and programs of the HLAA. I hope you enjoy the convention and find a way to share your experiences with us.

    I won’t be going to DC, but costs are only part of the issue for me. I do need the experience of attending public meetings that are looped and/or that employ CART for attendees. I look forward to such experiences. In my area such opportunities are rare to non-existant.

    If things go as planned, by then I will be getting used to a cochlear implant and making multiple trips to Boston for follow-up and training. Hearing loss is definitely not for sissies. But one does not have to be SupperWoman or SuperMan to find help and support. Persistence and patience are the coin of the realm.

    Liked by 1 person

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