Meet our hearing loss community members. Why? Because they provide valuable resources and inspire us. Spreading hearing loss awareness is going to take a lot of us working together and as individuals. Connections in the community provide more resources and ways to get the word out.
Today we introduce you to Humelan Hearing. We asked Gil Kaminski to tell us more about Humelan.
Tell us about Humelan. How did you came up with the name?
Humelan Hearing is a public benefit corporation dedicated to building a range of solutions to cater to people with diverse hearing levels. We are a mother-daughter team, deeply familiar with the realities of hearing loss. My mother, Prof. Michal Luntz, is a bilateral cochlear implant user, a cochlear implant surgeon, and a hearing researcher. She entered these fields, not knowing she would one day need hearing aids and cochlear implants herself. I always felt there was a touch of destiny in that.
We started from a long-time passion of ours – making medical knowledge accessible and easy to understand, as well as fostering communities. Both our knowledge hub and communities can be found at Humelan. Marne Sullivan’s ‘Hear & Out’ is one of my favorite communities. It’s rewarding to see our members open communities and support each other. We are also working on several technology-enabled tools to make life with hearing loss easier to navigate. If you have expertise in product development, UX, AI, or programming and are passionate about addressing hearing loss, we’d love to hear from you.
When we started Humelan, one of the first things we thought about was the name. We aimed for a name that would represent our commitment to a person-centered approach and be more easily heard by those with hearing loss. We sought the expertise of Prof. Tova Most, an educational audiologist specializing in spoken language perception and production. She guided us on which sounds to avoid, like “f”, “s”, and which to favor, as they’re generally easier to hear, such as “m” and “n”. In wanting to emphasize our commitment to placing the person at the center, we sought a name that evoked the idea of a ‘person’, or ‘human’. This thought process led us to the creation of ‘Humelan’.
What’s your personal connection to hearing loss?
My personal journey with hearing loss began when I was a child. As I was growing up, my mother was growing deaf. She always had hearing aids lying around in her room, but they weren’t really helpful. It wasn’t until I was about 12 that she began to use them more frequently. Her hearing continued to deteriorate, she moved to bigger hearing aids, started to use the FM receiver, and around twenty years ago, she received her first cochlear implant. For many years, I didn’t know what prompted her to start using the hearing aids and what enabled her to benefit from them. Recently, when we started to work on Humelan together, I met the audiologist who had the right conversations and provided the right support to my mother. I feel very grateful to her. For me, hearing aids and cochlear implants have always been a part of life.
What is Humelan Hearing’s goal?
Our purpose is to provide people with the information and tools they need to navigate life with hearing loss while also working to make our environment more accessible and inclusive. I think about everything we do in three primary pillars: providing readable and reliable information, fostering supportive communities, and collaborating to create meaningful impact.
What kind of future do you envision for people with hearing loss and how can people help?
Understanding that hearing loss affects us all, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. So, when I envision a future, it’s a future we all need. I’ll summarize my thoughts into four key areas: First, I see a future with better communication accessibility, accommodating different hearing levels and communication preferences. Second, the financial burden of hearing loss is substantial and extends beyond just hearing technology. I would like to see more comprehensive coverage and support in this area. Third, I am passionate about promoting greater awareness of hearing loss and hearing health. This encompasses routine hearing screenings for adults, as well as broadening educational efforts on preventing hearing loss. Additionally, I believe in the importance of everyone understanding how they can assist those with hearing loss.
Action is needed.
Actions as simple as modifying our communication methods, practicing patience and kindness, and ensuring the accessibility of public spaces can make a significant difference. Last, I strongly believe in the power of person-centered care across healthcare, especially in hearing health, which impacts every aspect of a person’s life. It’s a person’s communication lifeline. Our approach at Humelan is grounded in person-centered care (PCC) – putting the person with hearing loss at the center and in the driver’s seat, respecting individual preferences and values, prioritizing shared decision-making, and inviting friends and family into the process. I hope to see a continued shift across hearing health to a person-centered approach.