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Communication Access Hard of Hearing Hearing Aids Hearing Loss Hearing Technology Lipreading Personal advocacy Sensory Loss

Hearing Tests: Mixed Emotions

By Chelle Wyatt

In 30 plus years of wearing aids, I’ve never had hearing aids longer than 6 years until now. My current pair of aids are over 8 years old so this is a milestone. They might go 10 years with effort. There are minor glitches such as static on the right side until I wiggle the wire to my ear mold. They also don’t sync together, that means I have to change programs on both sides instead of one. Nothing huge but I’ve decided It’s time for new technology with more connectivity.

This involved getting a new hearing test. My last hearing test was over four years ago. I suspect there’s been some change but nothing huge. Hearing loss can be sneaky, dropping slowly therefore easily dismissed. It’s been about 15 years since I’ve had a significant drop in hearing and this too is another personal record. 

New Hearing Aids

Overall, I’m excited for the opportunity to get new hearing aids.  It’s a new adventure with new technology. I’m going to love being able to tweak programs in the app more to my liking. (I’m a bit of a control freak.) My new audiologist is hard of hearing himself. I’ve heard good things about him through my local HoH friends so he comes with recommendations.

He waved me into his office for a chat before the test. Because he’s hard of hearing, he’s good about facing me while talking. I didn’t wear my hearing aids going in, what for? They are going to come out for the hearing test anyway. I let him know. He goes on with questions about my history with hearing loss. There’s a small moment of panic as I get used to his voice and how he talks. I remind myself to wait for it, a technique we teach in our Lipreading Concept class. I catch on and it gets easier.

He asks about my last hearing test 4 ½ years ago. I forward my last audiogram to his email. He looks at it and looks back at me, “I’m really surprised you are doing so well without hearing aids” I tell him, “It’s because I’ve learned to advocate for myself and I teach lipreading classes.” 

Lipreading & Self Advocacy

Hearing loss doesn’t get better, but I “hear” better than I have in years. What gives? It was me and my ability to create healthy communication boundaries using the 3 Golden Rules. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, no hearing devices…these 3 rules have to be applied for successful communication:

Hearing aids are a great tool. I’ll never be without hearing aids as long as they help me. However, hearing aids alone haven’t gotten me where I am. It’s also taken the tribe, accommodations and being proactive. 

the Hearing Test

He uses a soundproof booth, something my last audiologist didn’t do. It feels odd getting back into one. Funny thing is, I’ve been in this very booth before. My first audiologist in Utah had this office. He retired and this new AuD bought the business. Once hooked up, he starts with the beeps. I wait…and wait. I’m picking through what is tinnitus and what are real tones. Sometimes my tinnitus mimics the beeps.

Next came the word discrimination test. It’s a computer voice, no lipreading is possible. Cowboy. Hotdog. I repeat what I hear. Those words are expected from years of previous hearing tests. Then it goes into one syllable words which are harder. Because he’s hard of hearing, he has to stop the computer voice and ask me to spell what I heard. I can tell I heard wrong because I see the corner of his eyes crinkle up into a smile above his monitor. 

Hearing in Noise Test

All these years, I’ve never had a “hearing in noise” test, abreviated as HINT. It starts with multiple people talking and at some point I’m supposed to pull in a voice that sounds closest to me and repeat what I hear. Out of 3 examples, I’m only able to figure out some words on the first test. The next two tests I couldn’t pull a word from. It blew my mind. I suck at hearing without my eyes. 

Classis ski clope loss, going rom upper left corner to the lower right corner.  The red line is just below the blue line.
You can see all the sounds of speech I miss in the upper mid to right “speech bananag” in dark blue.

After the tests are all done we go over my results. In the past, my ears have stayed about equal, the red and blue lines (for right ear and left ear) mingled and crossed as they plunge down to the profound in a classic ski slope hearing loss. This time, my left ear has only dropped a tiny bit in a few frequencies. My right ear, however, has taken its leave of the blue line. Its line now stands alone below the blue line. My word discrimination is 64% in the left ear and 40% in the right ear, with the appropriate level of amplification. “It’s a small drop in hearing.”

The 20% drop of word discrimination in one ear doesn’t hit me all at once. It’s only a little loss. True enough, I’ve had bigger drops in the past. Count myself lucky??? Plus, I have already  been dealing with the hearing loss without knowing it for probably the last six months. As I sit in the office, a few pieces of the puzzle slide together with recent incidents. 

It is a loss.

He lets me try a pair of hearing aids in the office to see what I think. I wasn’t sure so we made another appointment to try other brands. As I leave, I feel the excitement of new hearing aids. It takes a day or two for me to mull over the 20% loss of word discimination in the right. A little grief starts to settle in.

To be continued.

Even though it’s “only a little loss”, it has ramifications. I feel the loss and it shows in my day to day life. I’ll explore that in another blog soon.

Past posts that might interest you…

Did you like this blog? Read more about our Lipreading classes. These classes have made a difference in my day to day communication. We shared Vulnerability with hearing loss in this blog/podcast.

Buy Us a Coffee

An easy way to support us and help us raise funds until we get our feet beneath us. (We’re getting there, thank you to our supporters!) We keep as much of content free as we can. We want everyone to access to communication. If you liked what we wrote, Buy Us a Coffee. We have new information here and new features.

Categories
Communication Access Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Hearing Technology

Gifts for the Hard of Hearing

Gifts of inclusion go straight to the heart. There’s a variety of ways you can support your Hard of Hearing (HoH) loved one, many of which do not cost money. There are some that cost money and also find a special place in the heart. Following are some gift ideas for those in your family with hearing loss.

*Note: We don’t have business agreements with the following companies. We have experience with their products, or have heard good things from others.

Julia: What better gift to give your HoH than the gift of better communication. Join our Lipreading Concept Class. This is a great class you can take together for only $50. This class helps you understand how your HoH hears…and why he/she doesn’t at times. Are your outings now limited because of hearing loss? If you wonder why those really expensive hearing aids don’t work, as you thought they would, then this class is for YOU! Learn how the three golden rules apply to everyday lipreading and how you can have better control of the collateral damage that comes with hearing loss.

Gifts from the Heart

As a hearing partner, a good gift for Hard of Hearing people come from the heart. I recommend getting involved with their hearing loss journey. 

  • Attend local support group meetings. 
  • Attend our workshops. Listen to our podcasts. 
  • Go to the next audiology appointment with them. Together, hold your favorite TV station accountable for quality captions, together. 

If you are already season ticket holders for local theater, send an email and ask about open caption performances. Quality captions are for everybody. You can find more about live theater captioning from these blog posts:

  1. Salt Lake Acting Company – They tell us how they applied for grants for accessibility. You can suggest this podcast to your local theater.
  2. Open Captioned Live Theater – We talked with Vicki Turner who does a lot of open captioning for theaters in different parts of the country.

Download an ASR (automatic speech recognition) app, also called transcription. There’s a variety to choose from these days and most have free trials. Then, start using it together. Introduce the app to others, like friends and family. 

Help your HoH get a caption app for the phone calls too. InnoCaption has different options for smartphone use. (We did a podcast with them too.) Check into it. Try it. You might like it.

Chelle & Julia making plans for 2023
A Living Room Loop

Chelle: Several years ago, my husband bought me a living room hearing loop and added it to the TV. Hearing aids need a telecoil for a hearing loop, make sure you have a dedicated telecoil program in the hearing aids.  Once the loop is connected, walk into the hearing loop and turn on the telecoil program. It offers great sound going through my hearing aids which are programmed specifically for my hearing loss. 

We have the Oval Window Microloop III ($200).  My husband liked this because it was made in America. Test your intended loop area before buying by walking around in the telecoil program. If there’s a hum, there may be magnetic interference in your house. A light hum might be ignored depending on the person. If it’s loud, this may not be a good option. 

Wi-Fi based Listen Everywhere

We did a podcast with Listen Technologies about their new wi-fi based system, Listen Everywhere. This is a public option rather than a private option but it can work at home too. I have one hooked up to my TV. I do not currently have a Bluetooth option with my hearing aids (they are 8 years old) so I use a neckloop in conjunction with my smartphone/tablet. (I’m still using my telecoil program.) This listening system makes me want to get new hearing aids with Bluetooth. 

This requires wi-fi, a smartphone or tablet, and the Listen Everywhere app. This is a pricey system at around $1,000. Again, this is more of a public option meaning many people can use it at the same time. My kids used it with earbuds and were happy with the sound. I’m looking forward to this system being available in public spaces. The cool thing about this system is I can wander all over the house and still receive sound. 

Is tinnitus an issue?

Once I start talking about tinnitus, my own comes to the forefront. Tinnitus can wreck sleep and ruin quiet environments. Here’s a few ideas for tinnitus:

  • SleepStream2: This app has all kinds of environmental sounds to choose from, the water section is my favorite though I like the rain too. You can add background music and control the volume of each sound feature. The app is free, there are in-app purchases.
  • I have heard good things about the ReSound Tinnitus Relief app. It’s a free download with add ons so you can give that a try. (I have not tried this yet myself. If you have, tell us your thoughs.)

Tinnitus can disrupt our lives suddenly and horribly. It can cause depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts for some. Because many veterans were coming home with tinnitus, the Veterans Affairs created a workbook to help people habituate tinnitus, How to Manage Your Tinnitus: A Step-by-Step Workbook.  I understand the book is free to veterans. It is available in PDF format for free on their website (it’s a big file). I see it’s for sale on eBay and other places for $30 – $80. The workbook has 2 cds that come with it. 

When I worked for the Utah Hard of Hearing Program, I gave tinnitus presentations once a year. We researched tinnitus solutions for those who have no hearing also. If you want to contact me, I’ll be happy to talk more about tinnitus with you. 

Conclusion: Hearing loss is a communication disorder. When we can’t hear, we lose communication. Give the gift of hearing and support when possible. 

View the companion podcast here.

If you liked this blog, check out: 

National Small Business Day

It’s National Small Business Day November 26th. Give the Gift of better communication. We have a two for one special going on our Lipreading Concepts class and our new Lip Shapes LIVE! class. Take the class and bring a family member with you to help them better understand Hard of Hearing Communication needs. Registration opens soon. 

If you like our content, Buy Us a Cup of Coffee! This helps us to keep content free for those in need. 

Categories
Accessibility CART (live captioning) Communication Access Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Public Advocacy Speech to Text Captions

Quality Captions

With the Global Alliance of Speech to Text Quality Caption Task Force

Our guests today are:

  • Sebrina Crosby, CRC. Sebrina is a Realtime CART Captioner and owner of Access Captioning, LLC
  • Kimberly Shea, NCSP, CRC. Kimberley is a realtime broadcast/CART captioner and she is the President of Breaking Barriers Captioning Services, LLC.

Serbina and Kimberly volunteer with Global Alliance Speech to Text with the Quality Caption Task Force

Captions are our access to television. Without captions, we have to make up our own stories with what we see. We did a podcast with Liza Sylvestre early this year, an artist who uses her hearing loss in her art. Her project “Captioned” is a good example of what we do without captions. Captions are our language. Quality captions matter. Don’t make us guess, especially when the information is important.  

Kimberly and Serbrina are especially busy lately with captioning so we are appreciative of the time they spent with us. In our current podcast, they talk to us about quality captions and their upcoming project which will improve captions…and they need our help.

Captions Matter

Chelle: This is how bad  my hearing is – I’ll be watching a movie and reading the captions as usual. My husband will come in and ask me why I’m watching a movie in a foreign language. I had no idea they were speaking a foreign language. To me, all dialog on the TV comes across garbled. I cannot watch TV without captions.

Captions are our access to communication.

My husband likes to watch the news. I read the captions. When the news goes live on certain channels, there’s no captions which completely leaves me out. I get up and leave the room, it’s not inclusive. Sometimes, the captions are so far behind during certain live shows, I can’t  get the full transcript before commercials come up and I lose the last little bit. This is when I use my wifi based assistive listening system from my good friends at Listen Tech. When the show is live, they generally face the camera so I can use lipreading too. The captions become backup.

Captions Sometimes Lag Far Behind

During our October Talk About It Tuesday monthly chat, someone else brought up television captions and the lag. This can be a technology issue, Julia explained. Sometimes it’s captioning going through different kinds of technology before it’s presented on the TV. It can be the cable box. There’s no real criteria for consistency between TV stations and our televisions. For no captions, someone at the TV station probably forgot to flip a switch. 

Saturday Night Live captions lag far behind. It’s frustrating.

We can make a difference

Serbrina tells us during the podcast, we can make a difference in our own cities by staying on top of our local TV stations. There are pockets of stations in the USA who do a good job with captions, even though they aren’t in the top 25. (The top 25 have to have live captioners.) It’s because the Hard of Hearing and Deaf community members are actively contacting the stations about caption issues. 

Last weekend, I had a friend approach me about a recent Utah governor’s address on TV not being captioned. She and her husband have started to use captions more often.  She said they had an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter but there were no captions. Why, she wanted to know. The Deaf community have been more firm with their communication needs than we have. We can learn from them.

Follow Up

We need to follow up with the TV stations who are not providing captions. Each station has a caption assistance page (it’s the law to have captions). I keep my most watched local TV station’s “caption assistance” pages on my phone. We can call them, email them or fill out their contact page. I’ve let stations know what the problem is and I’ve also complimented another station on providing great captions. When it’s a glaring problem, I get on my local HLAA email list and tell others to tune in and write to the TV station too. I told her next time she sees something like that, let me know and I’ll spread the word. Sebrina is right, the more of us who do this, the better captioning we get. 

Hearing Parnters Can Help

Julia: Quality captions help everyone. If you’re a hearing partner, odds are the captions are on all the time. I know at our house they are. My guess is that you are using the captions more than you realize. I do. When they are poor quality, whether the program is live or pre-recorded, it’s distracting and it drives me nuts!

But, as a hearing partner you just have to put up with it, right? Wrong.

I encourage everyone (HoHs, hearing partners, ANYONE who uses TV captioning) at home, in a bar or restaurant, at work…ANYONE who may want to use or needs to use captions at a future date, (come on now hearing loss can happen to anyone) to get involved. When local stations hear from their local viewers they take note. 

During a local news broadcast you might even see an advertisement about a local store who is credited for sponsoring the closed captions. Drop by that local store and let them know captions matter and let them know if it’s quality captions that they are sponsoring. 

Change happens when we speak up together. 

Call to Action!

Kimberly Shea: “The first place we need to start is making a record. We will gather video data and samples from all over the country. The Task Force will evaluate each video against a metric system that is designed for captioning. This will address the quality, and the usability of captions for consumers. This has never been done before.”

Global Alliance will have a call to action soon and you will see Hearing Loss LIVE! sharing it. 

The more of us with hearing loss helping, the better captioning will get. 

Join Global Alliance Speech to Text. Together we make a difference.

Did you like this blog? Check out the podcast we did with Jen Schuck of Global Alliance earlier this past spring.   

Join our twice a month newsletter by registering on our events page. (Scroll down a bit.)

Help us spread the word! Please share with us on social media. We are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit. Share our blogs, podcasts with friends and family so they too understand hearing loss better. (Our podcasts are available on  many podcast platforms. Search Hearing Loss Live.)

We have been bootstrapping it, starting Hearing Loss LIVE! from scratch. We keep many of our services free to those in need. Our paid services are building and we will be offering more classes soon. Until we are completely on our feet, you can support us at Buy Me a Coffee and by joining Patreon

Categories
Accessibility Advocacy Captioning CART (live captioning) Communication Access Connections Education Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Self Advocacy

Happy Anniversary!

Chelle: This is our 40th podcast! It’s been fun making them and seeing where they go. We’ve highlighted hearing loss and its related issues and strategies; spotlighted community members for inspiration, and will continue to do so.

I love the connections we’ve made. 

This Past Year

  • We hosted a free, monthly event called Talk About It Tuesday (TAIT) with human generated captions (CART) so everyone can participate.
  • We’ve met some good people through TAIT and got to meet one attendee in person thanks to our travels to and from the SayWhatClub convention.
  • We offered a free workshop before the holidays to help people Conquer Their Next Family Gathering.
  • We’ve also had free workshops on Family and Self Advocacy for May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month.
  • We tested sensitivity training for a business to clear up misconceptions about the Hard of Hearing. It was well received.
  • We’ve given free presentations for hearing loss support groups on how to request CART and self advocacy.
  • All our podcasts are free and accessible with captions, that’s a lot of work thanks to Julia. She makes sure all we do is accessible with captions. We want to lead the way with captions. 

Lipreading Concepts Class

We started the Lipreading Concepts classes this year (new classes starting next week) which has already helped several people be more proactive with their communication. This is the only thing we charge for so far. It is a minimal charge, $50 for 8 one-hour classes. Soon we’ll have a Patreon channel going with extras from our podcasts.

Next Year

Over the next year, I look forward to narrowing our focus down to self advocacy at a grassroots level. Teaching people how to communicate, how to get the accommodations they need. Reaching the Hard of Hearing as a whole to let them know there are a lot of accommodations available, and more of us need to request them so our communication needs are better known. 

The Funding Question

This question popped up more than a few times this last year, why are we an LLC instead of a nonprofit? Because we want to do it our way. We didn’t want a board telling us what to do. We also didn’t want to be boxed in by bylaws so we went the LLC way. Even in nonprofits there are membership fees, convention fees, fundraisers. We could have gone the nonprofit route, we have years of experience with nonprofits between us. We could have paid ourselves that way too. Being an LLC is going against the current grain but it isn’t all that different. 

We’ve bootstrapped the whole way through. We recently started some crowdfunding and some of you have already helped. Thank you! We want to go another year; then, another sharing what we have learned on our journeys so you don’t have to wait as long as we did to be more successful with hearing loss.

Happy Birthday to Us!

Michele: Can you believe it’s been a year?! Yes and no. Time is a great contradiction, passing slowly and at top speed all at once.

This past year has confirmed to us how hungry Hard of Hearing (HoH) people are for information that will help them live fully with hearing loss. We’ve helped people learn to be better self advocates and to find their confidence to speak up for themselves and their needs.

More work needed for HoH Accommodations

Speaking of needs, many have no idea what they need or what is available to them in the way of accommodation. Helping people with hearing loss define their needs has been a big part of what Chelle, Julia and I have focused on since last September.

At its heart, hearing loss is a communication barrier. Communication access, and the accommodations that provide it effectively, has been another big focus of ours. If the HoH want businesses and organizations that serve us to include us, the best way to educate them is to advocate and ask for what we need. I’ve been working hard on that in my own community in hospital and medical settings. I’ll be giving presentations on hospital communication access later this year.

Equal Access to CART

CART has been a big focus of Hearing Loss LIVE!, and that’s no surprise, as Julia is a captioner. With a profound hearing loss, and being a lifelong lipreader, CART is the most effective communication access accommodation for me and many others. We are working to help start a movement that will grow the CART industry—there is a shortage of CART providers—and to spread awareness among the HoH community, those who organize live events, and businesses. Many have no clue about how to request it or how to go about providing it for those of us who do not communicate via sign language. Quality, on-site, speech-to-text services should be available all across the country, not just in larger cities. We will continue to focus there, because over 95% of people with hearing loss use spoken language to communicate. Communication access keeps us connected! IT IS EVERYTHING!

“If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest” ― Daniel Webster

We are Going to Dig In

Julia: I am hoping this is one of many anniversaries to come. There is still so much work ahead of us and I’m ready to dig in and get more folks in the KNOW!

Whether you’re new to hearing loss or an old pro—or maybe you are still in denial—there is something here for you, your family, your friends and your place of business. In fact, I think everyone should get in the KNOW! Before they need to know. I cannot stress enough how this has improved everything about my journey as a hearing partner.

Our goal will always be to give back to our HoH community and their hearing partners as much as possible but we need your help.

We have many ways you can help us:

Patreon: Get a look at some of our unseen videos. There are hours and hours of hilarious outtakes, serious discussion about hearing loss, thoughts about podcasting and more. Monthly content starts at $3 a month. That’s only $36 dollars a year.

Buy me a Coffee: Buy one or all of us a coffee! Like a specific blog or podcast? Want us to take on a subject? Let us know. 

Join our Lipreading Concept Class: It’s only $50 dollars for eight weeks! This class is taught by Chelle, Michele and Julia. All three have years of experience with what lipreading is and what it is not. We believe the best way to take this class is online/in person, because there is always time to talk about current real life experiences, strategies and hearing loss. This class is built for hearing friends and family, too. Encourage them to get in the KNOW! about how lipreading and communication go hand in hand. Space is still available in all four of our classes starting September 7th. 

Lipreading Concepts Class in Video

We also have a recorded version of our Lipreading Concepts class.This is for those who aren’t quite ready for group settings. Also, this is a great gift to share with a hearing friend or family member to help them learn more about hearing loss and lipreading. 

Subscribe to our E-news: Our E Newsletter comes out twice a month. It’s chock-full of information and fun facts. It contains Zoom links for our events like Talk about it Tuesday. We share our newsletter list with no one.

Share a testimonial with us: Let us KNOW what Hearing Loss LIVE! means to you. Subscribe to all our content. And above all else: Share, Share Share. Share with your friends, your family, your support groups, your doctors, your coworkers and your employer. 

Let’s get everyone in the KNOW!

If you enjoy our content and find it helpful, please consider donating so that we can reach more people with hearing loss to help them help themselves.

Podcast Link

Watch our companion podcast on YouTube channel. Our podcasts available in audio format on BuzzSprout with a transcript. You can also find us on Spotify, iHeartRadio and other platforms.

Check out our first 3 podcasts & blogs:

  1. Introducing Hearing Loss LIVE!
  2. Finding Your Tribe
  3. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Categories
Assistive Listening Device CART (live captioning) Cochlear Implants Communication Access Connections Hard of Hearing Hearing Loops & Telecoils Hearing Loss Personal advocacy Public Advocacy Self Advocacy Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Hearing Loss LIVE! Attends the SayWhatClub Convention

Let me give you a taste of a hearing loss convention. Julia and I went to the SayWhatClub (SWC) convention August 10th-13th in Nashville, Tennessee. We believe everyone should go to at least one hearing loss convention. You get to experience Hard of Hearing culture. What does that mean? 

Hard of Hearing Accommodations

You have the accommodation you need to understand everything that is said. They put in temporary hearing loops for those with telecoils in their hearing aids. (*Ask your audiologist to turn on the telecoil program before you go. Make sure it’s a dedicated telecoil program. About 70% of hearing aids have a telecoil.)  If you don’t have telecoils, it’s okay because there’s also a human providing live captioning as we go. (Called CART, Communication Access Real-time Translation.) Our human providing captions was Julia, who also sponsored some time through her CART business.

I helped to lay the hearing loop.

At conventions, you make connections with people. People who are more experienced and can answer all kinds of questions. If they don’t know, they know someone who can. Because most of the attendees are Hard of Hearing, we know how to talk to each other and people are patient with repeats. Knowing what it feels like being left out, they are usually careful to make sure everyone is included. 

Day 1

Conventions start with a welcome party. This is where you find old friends and make new friends. The SayWhatClub has a theme at their welcome party, this year they told everyone to wear a music t-shirt.  Somehow I missed the memo. Thankfully another attendee brought extra t-shirts and let me borrow one for the evening. 

I had a lot of fun with that shirt!

When the welcome party ends, we spread out to either the hotel bar or take on the city. Come on, we’re in Nashville so let’s explore! We found Printers Alley and a bar with a live band. It was loud but the group I was with knew some form of sign language and we lipread too so we got by. We all help each other with signs as needed. 

Day 2

We started the workshops. At the SWC con, give the first workshop to sponsors. Each sponsor had about 10 minutes to speak. Vendors help fund the conventions we love. They bring us knowledge and technology. Some are Hard of Hearing themselves. Here’s the sponsors this year:

  • T-Mobile Accessibility & Wireless who sponsored the welcome party. InnoCaption who sponsored the hearing loop.
  • InnoCaption has sponsored many SWC cons, they are a regular.
  • We have also had Mitchell Levy of Hamilton CapTel sponsoring and attending SWC cons for many years.
  • Advanced Bionics came and talked to use about their cochlear implants and the Roger Technology.
  • CaptionCall is another sponsor.
  • Yours truly was sponsor as well, Hearing Loss LIVE! and we talked about our Lipreading Concepts classes coming up. Vanderbilt University Brain Development Lab – They are studying how D/HoH children learn. Here is their project.
  • We also had Listen Technologies as a silver sponsor and Cochlear though neither could  show. Thank you vendors for helping make this convention possible!

Hearing Loss and Mental Health

The next workshop was Robin Nobling with NAMI of Davidson County. Her talk was  titled: Got Stuff? “Not a single person gets through life without a period of anxiety, depression, fear, grief, anger.” Those of us with hearing go through all those emotions well. She encouraged us to unpack our ‘stuff’ and move toward acceptance. What I got from it was that we should talk about it and connect with peers. 

Our last workshop of the day was with Cynthia Moynihan, a hearing loss advocate for 30 years who gave us Hearing Loss Empower Hour.  She shared some of her challenges from over the years with us. “Why me,” she used to ask. “Because I have the opportunity to learn and give back.” She finds a word to focus on each year, this year’s word is “opportunity”.  She’s found plenty of opportunity. She warned us against fitting into a mold, accept and embrace our uniqueness. 

The SayWhatClub also has daily, accommodated activities. That night we all met at the Wildhorse Saloon to learn line dancing with captions and sign language! Captions thanks to Julia and the ASL interpreter was provided by Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Are you tired yet? I was but it’s worth it.  I love hanging out with my tribe. 

Day 3 Friday, August 12th

Friday’s first workshop was with Nancy Denning-Martin & Mike Helms of Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. It was titled Advocating for Big Change. For those of us passionate about advocacy, this was informative! Nancy and Mike talked about creating change on the “micro level” which is family, friends and people you meet day to day. There is also the “meso” level of advocating which is things like churches, schools and other groups. Last, there is the “macro” level which affects change on a larger scale; politics, legislation, policy. Samples were given of each category.

The second workshop was:Jourdan Holder AuD, the director of the Cochlear Implant Program at Vanderbilt University. She gave us: Hearing Devices, An Update on Technology, Candidacy and Outcomes. She gave us a lot of information about cochlear implants. They are working on shortening the electrodes to have a better chance at leaving the remaining hearing. This is going through the FDA process of approval. 

Our last workshop was with Peter Hodes, Introduction to Tai Chi: Movement for Health, Balance and Relaxation. He led us through a series of tai chi movements, showing us how to breathe through them. He encouraged people to do what they could and no more. Pain isn’t the answer here. Use a chair or a table as needed. He made us laugh a lot. For many of us, wit was the first time trying tai chi. 

The afternoon activities were a tour of the Grand Ol’ Opry backstage, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and then attending the night’s show at the Grand Ol’ Opry. 

Day 4, Saturday August 13th

Our last day is dedicated to afternoon activities in the downtown area of Nashville. They went to the Country Music Hall of Fame to attend the Songwriters Sessions Bonus and tour the Museum there. 

It’s banquet night! The banquet was sponsored this year by Safe N Clear. Safe N Clear gave away a box of masks with a window, one box to each table. They also provided each guest with a mask to use. 

Keynote Speaker

Our keynote speaker was Meaghan Thomas, a broadcast meteorologist in Nashville who created  The Heart of Hearing Foundation.

Her dad had a hearing loss while she was growing up so hearing loss was no big thing.  Her own hearing loss was undetected for many years because they thought, “she just wants to be like dad.” In a high school physics class, they were working with different frequencies and that’s when her hearing loss came to light. Still she considered it normal and blew it off. It wasn’t until college that hearing loss became hard to blow off. She didn’t know about accommodations so she “scooted by”. In grad school she was more upfront about her hearing loss and they let her record classes. 

As a meteorologist/tv host, she had to get an ear piece. She was fitted for that at a hearing aid place. That was her first real hearing test. Up to that point, her coworkers thought she was unfriendly because she didn’t always answer them. One confronted her about it and that’s when Meaghan let her know she was deaf on one side and had a hearing loss on the other side. That helped clear the air and that coworker became one of her champions. 

Hearing Aids

Along the way she was able to get her parents to buy a hearing aid. That was all they could afford. She was amazed at how much she could hear and what things made noise. However, it was too unbalanced having only one so it got put away. 

Three years later she was told about the state vocational rehabilitation program by a new audiologist. The VR program was willing to pay half of the hearing aids and she wanted them so much she was willing to go in debt to pay the other half. When she went in, they gifted the other half to her because they knew she would go on to do good things. She said she sat there and cried.

Last year she came out about her hearing loss publicly posting a picture of her holding her hearing aids out. The next day she woke up to a thousand comments, receiving encouragement. Many parents of kids wrote in to say it helped their kids know they do whatever they wanted. She appeared on Good Morning America with this story. Shortly thereafter she wrote a children’s book based on the comments. Once she made her money back from the book, 100% of the funds goes to the foundation she created.

The Heart of Hearing 

The Heart of Hearing Foundation was created to help others in need of hearing aids. Right now it helps people within in the Nashville area but she’d like to go nationwide and help many others.  Her main goal is to help the working age people, 20-45, to get hearing aids. These people need hearing aids to keep working. 

“When you finally become okay with who you are, you don’t realize how many people you are going to bless.” A lot of heads here nodding at the convention. Hiding hearing loss is a lot of work. When we become more about about it, and what we need to communicate, the easier it gets. We touch many lives and we can make a positive impact. 

Grow your connections. Attend a hearing loss convention.  

Julia and are looking forward to attending the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA) October 19th-23rd in San Diego, CA. This too is a fun convention with lots of great people and information. ALDA is famous within the Hard of Hearing community for their Karaoke Night. Let’s sing our hearts out because we can’t hear anyway! Just have fun. 

Join our September 6th Talk About It Tuesday at 6:00 PM MST to learn more about either convention.  

Crowdfunding

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