I Won’t Let My Hearing Loss Hold Me Back

Sometimes in life, you need to take a risk — go outside your normal day-to-day routine for a chance to enrich your life, learn something new, or push yourself to develop new skills. For me, that time is now. I am embarking on a 4-week yoga teacher training in Fiji. It is something I have always wanted to do and the timing is perfect with my children at summer camp. Maybe one day I will teach yoga classes for people with hearing loss.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

I am excited, but also scared. Yoga teacher trainings are not for the weary. They typically include at least 200 hours of instruction and practice. On my program, this averages out to about 9 hours daily. How will I manage the hearing loss exhaustion?

My worries are many:

  • Will I be able to fully hear the instructors?
  • Will my typical hearing loss work-arounds apply in this unique environment?
  • Will I be able to absorb the new information, most of which will be presented orally, while battling listening fatigue?
  • How will I keep up with my likely-to-be much younger fellow students?
  • How will I cope with being so far away from my support network?

These are real concerns, but ones I have tried to assuage through preparation. Well, except for the age issue — not much I can do about that.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” That is what I keep telling myself. Here are the steps I have taken thus far:

1. I self-identified well in advance. Before signing up, I told the instructors about my hearing loss and discussed my concerns. They assured me that they have had people with hearing loss in their trainings before with no issue. I will also let all the participants know about my hearing loss right at the start, so they are prepared for the likely mis-hearings in our future.

2. I tested the voices. I spoke to the primary teacher on the phone to see if her voice was easy for me to hear. Thankfully, it was. And she is not a mumbler!

3. I reviewed the material in advance. I did some pre-reading to familiarize myself with the terms and concepts that will be covered. This way, it won’t be the first time I am “hearing” some of these new words.

4. I planned for hearing aid malfunction. I am bringing back-up hearing aids. I have also loaded several speech-to-text apps onto my phone in case I need additional assistance. I don’t use a Roger pen or other FM-type device, but if I did, I would have brought those too, including extra batteries and chargers!

5. I took care of my health. I practice yoga almost everyday, but I have made a special effort to eat well and get plenty of rest in the weeks heading into the training. Bringing a strong body to bear will be a good head start.

6. I set up a mobile support system. My family and I have figured out ways we can stay in touch while we are far apart including WhatsApp calling and texting, which is free over Wi-Fi. It won’t be the same as being in the same room, but it is something.

As I write this, I am well on my way. I have scheduled posts for the time I am gone, but please forgive me if it takes a little extra time for me to reply to comments for the next few weeks. Wish me luck!

Readers, do you let your hearing loss keep you from taking on a new challenge?

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40 thoughts on “I Won’t Let My Hearing Loss Hold Me Back

  1. Wow, Shari…I think you are a shining star…so inspiring.

    You seem to have prepared in every way possible.

    But, yes, you will experience auditory fatigue.

    I think that you ought to also allow time for jet lag, upon arrival….perhaps you should arrive a few days prior to when everyone else arrives.

    Drink plenty of water.

    I realize that you have notified your instructors about your hearing loss, but, it’s very easy for them to forget that you are HOH, because it’s an invisible disability.
    I wear a button that identifies me and which is a constant reminder, for anyone who interacts with me. If the notice is staring at them, in their face, they are more apt to remember that I am HOH…that I need them to look at me, when speaking to me and that i need them to speak slowly and clearly (perhaps, even…at times, to over-articulate each word…especially if they are using terminology ….like pose names…with which i’m not familiar.

  2. P.S. I don’t practice bikram, but if you end up teaching another form of yoga, I would love to take a class with you!!

  3. Very Best of Luck!
    I can never get over how relevant your posts are to my own hearing loss ‘journey’. I have just taken on the role of director for a project at my workplace. This is something I have wanted for years. I now have the Roger equipment funded by the UK’s ‘Access to Work’ government grant system, so it was free to me. It’s amazing, especially the table top mic- I honestly feel like anything is possible now. As long as I remember my batteries! There is no way I could have done this job as confidently without it (although I probably would have still applied).
    Do you find your hearing aids let you down often? I have never thought to worry about it because it’s never happened but maybe so should make sure I have backup too.

    • Congratulations to you! Well done! My hearing aids have failed me a few times, although most of the time they are great. Even so, I like to be prepared, especially when I am out of town. Thanks for your comment.

    • Tell me more about ‘Access to Work funding’….I have seen the expensive Roger ‘pen’ but I opted for a personal listener ‘MiniTech Pro’ for around £100 from Deafness Support Network.
      It’s hearing loop facility is excellent for across table conversations.

      I really appreciate the NHS, other benefits and great charities we have here in the UK.

  4. You. Are. Courageous. I am going to get there one day. I am so very insecure about telling people about my hearing loss. I am in awe of how you put it out there. I am so impressed by you.

  5. You are very brave, and taking on the challenge so far from home compounds everything. For me, the challenge I undertook was going to graduate school with a severe hearing loss at age 61. But that was a subway ride from home. The only assistive technology I had at the time were my hearing aids, though I did very quickly get a Zoomlink to amplify classes. The four years were exhilarating, among the best experiences of my life, and the work I have been able to do since has also been gratifying. I wish you similar success and satisfaction.

  6. Shari,

    You continue to inspire me. As a fellow yogi (tho 3 times a week is my passion) I can appreciate the desire to take your practice to the next level. I expect to see you on the convention agenda next year in NOLA teaching a yoga class. Maybe outside on the grass – it certainly should be hot enough in the NOLA that time of year for some ‘hot’ yoga. And don’t worry about the age thing in Fiji, you still look 35 in my book! Have fun and namaste.


  7. Congratulations to you on your adventure! I, with a severe profound hearing loss depending on 2 hearing aids took the same journey in 2016 but in my home state – Fiji sounds like a lot more fun! I was the oldest in the class of about 30. I practiced yoga for a long time before taking teacher training. When I started as a yoga student, it was from a book, Richard Hidleman’s 28 day yoga training course so all instruction was written – yaay! Then, in actual classes the instructor was doing the asanas as she called cues. I never knew what what she said I just followed the visual. When the trend evolved to teachers cueing with very little modeling I was so accustom to yoga it didn’t matter. I would just look around at what the person next to me was doing. I’d often let them know about my hearing loss and that I may be checking them out to keep up. I understand the intent of wanting the student to find their way with the pose in their body instead of trying to look like the instructor but we all learn differently and the visual is exactly what I need. Although I really enjoyed teacher training, I chose the so wrong program!! It was in a renovated old church, sound bouncing everywhere – a deaf/hoh person’s nightmare! I did not know this until the first class. I lived a 2.5 hr drive away taking the class in part bc it was structured in a schedule I could manage and I’d met the one if the instructors and thought her style was pretty good. I had discussed my hearing loss with the her in advance and told my classmates from the get-go about my hearing loss, the techniques of clear speech and that I’d sometimes need to bump them out of a spot if it was the best place for me to hear.
    It was also very hot and that affected my hearing aids so make sure you have your dry aids bag. There were a lot of partner sharing experiences in the training. I would move out of the main space with my partner of the time away from all the other small groups talking to cut down on the background noise. It got to be a joke – “Step in to my office”
    You may have lots of accents to deal with. I wish wish wish I had live transcribe at the time. I’ve had that work well even with accents. It’s so good that you recognize brain fatigue and how your hearing loss can tax you explaining that to whomever. I did not think to do that and looking back recognize it was happening at times for sure. I am sad to say one of the two instructors was in my opinion out of yoga truth in one situation…I was feeling really stressed, dehydrated and nauseous. It was just a bad day. When I asked to leave 4 hours early, she said I could but I would have to pay and would have to make up the missed hours or I wouldn’t get credited for the 200 hour class. So I stuck it out another couple of hours, talked to the other teacher who very compassionately said please go never mentioning anything about making up the last 2 hours. You may want to check their policy about missing time.
    Overall, it was not the yoga itself that was so challenging but understanding the cueing especially because in all my years as a yoga student, I had no idea what instructors were saying and yet I was/am a pretty accomplished yogi. I am glad I did it. I taught for quite awhile but recently moved and haven’t gotten back into it. I do dream of creating a truly accessible yoga class for people with hearing loss. I sign fluently and have attended a few deaf instructed classes which were great and have led a short silent class which seemed to go really well. There was Deaf Yoga group but I haven’t heard anything lately. I know the Yoga Alliance was studying inclusive yoga but I haven’t heard the recommendations. Look forward to hearing more.
    All the best to you Shari! I am SURE you’ll be fine!

    • I love the idea of making yoga more accessible and the teachers have already asked me about it. I hope it will be a new trend. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your encouragement.

  8. I admire your strength of will and strength of purpose. You certainly serve to break down barriers for all with hearing loss. With your preparation in every way, you will do great. Good luck and enjoy!


  9. Hi Shari

    I wish you well on your new venture. I too often have to attend work-related seminars or training courses that often present the same problem, especially if accents are involved.

    Also some of the rooms or offices used for these presentations are not the most suitable as many have hard surfaces that cause echoes or sound to bounce back.

    And if an instructor is addressing even a small group it can often be difficult to follow the instructor’s face to lip read them.

    You are right though a little preparation helps. I too make the seminar or course facilitator aware of my hearing needs to try to mitigate problems.

    In this day and age none of us should be held back because we are deaf or hearing impaired.

    Good luck!


  10. Good luck! Do feedback on the training and how it works out.
    I’m a yoga beginner and the Roger Pen didn’t work for me. I’ve just bought the Roger Select and clip-on mic, I wanted to try both, and see how they work. /Tina

  11. I was born hearing disabled. I am lucky my yoga teacher is my sister so she
    knows what i go through. She goes out of her way to help me as I am blessed. I can vouch
    for the benefits that yoga provides. Thanks!

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