What My Hearing Loss Has Taught Me

Big birthdays breed reflection and so it was a few months ago that I realized I have had hearing loss for almost half my life — probably longer since it often takes time for someone to notice their own hearing problems. I’ve been using hearing aids for less time — it took me a while to come out of my hearing loss closet — but I now wear them with pride. I am grateful daily for the help they provide, even if they are far from perfect.

While my hearing loss presents constant challenges, looking back, I realized it has also taught me so much. I share those lessons with you below. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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The Next Best Thing in Speech to Text Apps

I love captions and look for them everywhere I go — even when they are not there. Last week at my daughter’s high school play, my eyes would involuntarily slide to the side looking for the caption screen anytime I missed some of the dialogue. The play was not captioned, but my reflex to look for the text anyway made me laugh.

So when I read about the new Google Live Transcribe app (available only on Android so far) I was eager to try it. I have tested other speech to text apps over the years, but none had really done the trick — the accuracy was typically poor and the timing was stilted. Still, these apps are sometimes better than nothing and usually good for a laugh or two when the captions really miss the mark.

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The Language of Disability: What’s In a Name?

In Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Juliet famously asks, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” She wonders how the name someone has can define them, rather than the characteristics of the person himself. This seems logical enough, a name is just shorthand for describing an actual object or state of being, but when it comes to disability, a name can take on significant meaning.

I recently attended a panel discussion hosted by the Museum, Arts and Culture Access Consortium (MAC), a group whose mission is to promote access and inclusion at cultural institutions in the NY metro area. I have been to a handful of their workshops and always learn something. This session focused on language and disability, and the importance of getting the words right in order to reduce stigma and promote conversation about disability. A very complex issue.

I share my take-aways from the meeting below. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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5 Reasons You Should NOT Ignore Your Hearing Loss

Today I share an excerpt from an article I wrote for Hearing Tracker.

Let’s be honest. It is tempting to ignore your hearing loss. You rationalize the times you don’t hear things, thinking, “If only he would stop mumbling,” or “This restaurant was just too loud.” Those things may be true, but so, too, is your difficulty hearing.

Hearing loss often comes on gradually, making it hard to detect as it is happening. Once treated, people are often amazed at the sounds that they have been missing — birds chirping, water running in the faucet, the refrigerator humming — many of which they have not heard for years.

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How to Handle Hearing Loss in the Workplace

It was my first meeting with the new CEO of a large retail company and he was clearly under the weather. His eyes were watery, he was coughing and his voice was weaker than usual. “I’ll sit across the table from you,” he said, “so I don’t get you sick.” This was a thoughtful gesture, but as I sized up the large conference table now lying between us, I worried I wouldn’t be able to hear him. As he began to answer my first question, my fears were realized — I couldn’t understand a word he said.

I hadn’t yet begun to disclose my hearing loss to people, preferring to fake it when I couldn’t hear, rather than reveal what I still considered my shameful secret. How was I going to handle this critical meeting?

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