Don’t Take Your Hearing Loss Journey Alone

My latest post for FindHearing.com talks about the importance of finding hearing loss peers. Thank you to all my readers for making this site a vibrant source of support and learning for people with hearing loss. See an excerpt of the piece below.

The Importance of Hearing Loss Peers

Like most people, I started my hearing loss journey alone. My father had hearing loss, but he never discussed it, instead living his adult life suffering with denial and stigma. He eventually isolated himself from his family and friends, leading a lonely life. When I first noticed my hearing loss in graduate school, I was terrified, assuming I was doomed to a life of solitude as well.

For many years, I followed in my father’s footsteps, hiding my hearing loss from all but my closest friends, but once I had children, this all changed. Since my hearing loss is genetic, I worried that I may have passed it onto them. I didn’t want them to see me feeling embarrassed by my hearing loss or disrupting my life to hide it. I needed to set a better example of how to thrive despite hearing loss.

To educate myself, I began volunteering at a local hearing loss non-profit organization. This helped me to meet other people with hearing loss and discover they were leading vibrant and fulfilling lives. They engaged in meaningful work and had active social calendars. I began to feel less alone and less afraid.

How To Find A Hearing Loss Support Group

Many hearing loss support groups exist — both actual and virtual. Hearing Loss Association of America runs the largest group in the United States, operating more than 100 local chapters and holding an annual convention each year.

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Finding Comfort with the Discomfort of Hearing Loss

One of the reasons hearing loss is so frustrating is because we cannot control it. When entering a new situation, we don’t know what listening challenges we will meet. We can’t figure out in advance if an important speaker will be a mumbler or worse yet a mumbler with a voice in your hardest to hear frequencies. We have little authority over our hearing loss, but what we can control is how we react to it and what steps we take to counteract it. We take back the power when we learn to find comfort with discomfort.

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Interesting Reads: Ephphatha By Dr. Thomas Caulfield

I enjoy reading inspiring stories about people with hearing loss, especially tales like the one in Ephphatha, a new book by Dr. Thomas Caulfield. The book shares the courageous journey of his son Christopher, born profoundly deaf, and his struggles to combat and overcome this disability through much of his young life. There were many ups and downs, but through hard work, cochlear implant (CI) technology, perseverance and tremendous familial support, Christopher matures into an intelligent, kind, and purposeful man. It is uplifting to go on this adventure with him.

Today, Christopher Caulfield is a tremendous advocate for the disability community, including people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Regular readers of this blog might remember him as one of the Cornell Tech students working on captioning glasses that I discuss in a prior post. This summer, Christopher will be joining Microsoft as a Program Manager within the Cloud and Artificial Intelligence group. Over time, he hopes to get involved in Microsoft’s accessibility initiatives for people with hearing loss.

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It’s Time To Silence All This Unwanted Noise

The banging is excruciating. So are the jack hammering and the sawing and the beeps from the trucks backing up. And it is all outside my door. Living in New York City has many advantages, but one significant downside is the noise. Not only are cars and buses rushing by on the streets at all hours, construction is happening almost everywhere. This month it came to my street, and it is expected to last for quite some time.

Leaving my apartment building now takes some extra navigating — do I take the long way around the block to avoid the noise or do I plug my ears and make a run for it. Neither choice is ideal. Even when I am inside I can hear the ongoing work. Thank goodness I have my noise-cancelling headphones at the ready if the cacophony becomes too much.

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Hearing Loss Sometimes Requires a Belt and Suspenders Approach

Yesterday was a belt and suspenders type of day with my hearing loss. I was headed to the critically acclaimed production of The Ferryman on Broadway. I love theater and often attend open captioned performances sponsored by TDF, but sometimes no such performances are available. Lucky for me other accessibility options are increasingly common on Broadway, including infrared headsets, the GalaPro closed captioning app, and sometimes even a hearing loop.

For those not familiar with the term, belt and suspenders is an adjective defined by Merriam-Webster as “involving or employing multiple methods or procedures to achieve a desired result especially out of caution or fear of failure.” In other words, it means having more than one method to make sure your pants stay up, or in my case, more than one method of hearing technology.

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