As a social media community manager, I get to talk to a lot of people about their hearing loss. It’s been amazing to hear people’s stories – whether it’s a mom sharing an Instagram video from the first time her child’s hearing aids turned on, or a post about how new technologies are allowing a hearing aid wearer to enjoy sounds in situations they never before thought possible.
While most of my interactions have been virtual, the raw emotions are still there. I still feel a closeness with anyone whom I can answer a question for or connect them with our community of people facing similar hearing situations.
A few weeks ago, however, I had the opportunity to go offline and connect with a Phonak user in person, during filming for the new Phonak Virto V custom hearing aid testimonial video.
When I first met Josef, I was immediately warmed by his presence. His friendly demeanor and grandfatherly characteristics makes him someone you could sit down with for hours and listen to the stories he could share from his 81 years of life.
Continue reading “Listening to Josef: A hearing aid wearer we can all relate with”
Wearing hearing aids is as natural to me as wearing clothes. I was born hearing impaired and as far as I can remember I always had hearing aids; they were just an extension of my body. In my early kindergarten years it was a box I had to carry on my chest. Ear plugs were connected to it with long cables. In hot weather, this box became quite uncomfortable to wear. Surprisingly the amount of sweat pooling underneath it never caused it to short-circuit. Fortunately, as soon as I hit elementary school age, I was given behind-the-ear hearing aids. Those were a huge improvement and I have been wearing those types of hearing aids up until a few months ago.
My hearing loss has sadly been deteriorating over the years, up to a point where it was getting really hard to get the most out of a hearing aid. I had heard about cochlear implants earlier on, but back then I found them to be a rough technical solution. Like all technological inventions, however, cochlear implant technology is being continuously refined as time goes by.
As any technology has its limits, choosing to get a cochlear implant remained a hard decision. I have a good friend who got an implant a year ago and is showing remarkable performance, but that does not mean the same will occur with me or with anyone else.
The benefits of a cochlear implant vary greatly per person. It depends on your hearing history, your age, your language capabilities, your own personal investment, your social environment, and so forth. People who have lost hearing suddenly will profit more from a cochlear implant compared to those who were born with hearing difficulties. Deaf children with an implant will do better than deaf adults who just had a cochlear implant. If you are in an environment where sign language is the dominating communication tool, having a cochlear implant might provide some way to discern sounds, but will probably not improve oral communication. Continue reading “From A Hearing Aid To A Cochlear Implant”
Everyone with a hearing challenge has a phone story.
I knew from my very first hearing aid that the phone was going to be a problem. The technology at the time included a phone program that worked if I was in the right location with my head cocked at a 27 degree angle facing east during the new moon. Static was a persistent by-product.
Today, I am one of the growing numbers of people using a cell phone almost exclusively. I also have an adapted and amplified phone with a visual display connected to the Wi-Fi in my home that I have yet to customize to my preferences as I am skeptical about the Wi-Fi reception for reasons I’ll outline later. Continue reading “More Phone Etiquette for the Hearing Challenged and Those that Call Them”
For much of the past 37 years in which I’ve been, let’s say, “engaged in hearing loss,” I’ve played the good soldier. I reject labels like “suffering from,” and try to limit my whining unless it’s absolutely necessary.
I get my hearing aids, have the appropriate adjustments made, employ compensatory techniques and body positioning strategies, and bluff my way through thousands of interactions. By necessity I curtailed listening to and making music and attending concerts, shows and events, stayed home a lot, endured the requisite stress, embarrassment and isolation, and came to look upon my hearing loss as a kind of badge of courage.
And in all that time, I have done my part to be a good listener, too, because, well, that’s what we do, isn’t it? It’s up to those of us engaged in hearing loss to try and fit into the hearing world, right?
Then, a while ago, it hit me.
Continue reading “Talk To Me: Getting Along”
A complaint I’ve heard a few times lately in the hearing loss support groups I hang out in is that “full-hearing” people resist making the effort to talk to us in such a way that we can understand them. Or they do sometimes, but then forget. I feel a lot of frustration around this for some people, sometimes translated into judgements about the other “not caring” or “not paying attention” or “being offended”.
This reminds me a little, in a “through the looking-glass” way, of how we “less-hearing” people are sometimes accused of “not paying attention”, “not making an effort”, or “being distracted”.
Continue reading “How I “Get” People to Talk to me so I Can Understand Them”