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Build Your Hearing Loss Social Support Network

Having a support network of friends is crucial for resilience during tough times, as in friends with hearing loss and others within the community. We all have our best buds for support but having friends with hearing loss gives us instant empathy. Having connections in the industry gives us insight and valuable resources. Many parents of kids with hearing loss are fierce advocates and also excellent sources of support. 

 Who is in your support network?

Most of us have friends and family from the hearing world. Making connections with others who have hearing loss takes a little extra effort. How do you find friends with hearing loss? It’s kind of like networking. 

Did we just hear a groan? A lot of us with hearing loss become introverts, if we weren’t already. Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Attend our Let’s Talk Tuesday workshops. We have a live person who captions the meetings so they are accessible. It’s only once a month. We won’t make you turn on your camera or participate against your will. Some people hang out and learn quietly with cameras off. Others participate in sharing experiences and thoughts. It’s a good way to get to know us, and others, with hearing loss learning a few tips and tricks along the way. When you’re comfortable, chat with us or reach out after. Sign up here.
  • Find a local hearing loss group. If you live in, or near, a big city, there may be a local group who meets in person. If you’re not in a big city, many HLAA chapters now meet online or have hybrid meetings (both in person and online). Like above, you can participate, or not, while you learn more. 
  • Take a class geared for hearing loss. We have online lipreading classes often. By the end of the class, we bonded and made new friends. Chelle teaches hearing loss classes in person at our local university through the Osher Lifelong Learning program. She finds the same thing happens there. We have 2 Super Saturdays coming up, the classes condensed into 3 hours. Click the link on the lipreading classes page for the schedule and registration.
Use Social Media

You can connect with others online too. There are a variety of support groups on Facebook, pages on hearing loss in Instagram, Reddit has a great Hard of Hearing Community and more. Follow Hearing Loss LIVE! on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Start a comment on one of our posts and watch people reach out.

Light green vines with roses. A green blob with black font: Benefits of Volunteering: Meeting new people, sense of purpose, improve self confidence, make new connections. It's a safe place to build social skills with hearing loss.

Volunteering for a hearing loss support group will give you more friends with hearing loss. Chelle has volunteered for the SayWhatClub for years and many lifelong friends have come from that time. When working in a committee, you can’t help but make connections. Learn new skills as well. The SayWhatClub is always looking for volunteers and there are many options; the convention committee, social media, blog writing and more.

Attend a Hearing Loss Convention

This is a fabulous way to make lifelong friends with hearing loss. Go big and go to the HLAA convention near Phoenix, AZ next month. This has the largest number of attendees and an exhibit hall. 

The SayWhatClub will be in Springfield, Massachusetts which starts at the end of July. This is smaller, more intimate. Likely you’ll get to know everyone in some form by the end of the convention. 

The Association of Late-Deafened Adults has their convention at Clearwater Beach, FL this year in mid-September. This convention is bigger than the SayWhatClub convention and smaller than the HLAA con. They also use a lot of sign language so if that’s something you’d like to learn more about, check this con out.

All three conventions rotate from east to west and somewhere in between each year. If you can’t make it this year, perhaps one will be closer to you next year. Make it a vacation. You won’t regret it. They all have workshops to learn more about hearing loss and are accessible with the hearing loop, or another sound system, and captions. People are patient and they have big hearts.

Green vines and roses for a background. Green blob holds black font: Your social support network gives you resources, connections and empathy. Picture of 4 outlines of people connected in a circle.
Community Connections

Don’t hesitate to make community connections as well. People who provide services for our community have a wealth of information! They too have big hearts and want us to succeed. Here are a few examples:

  • Julia, as a CART provider, continually helps the Hard of Hearing community with resources and connections. Get to know your CART providers on a personal level.
  • Dr. McBride, audiologist, has been a valuable resource and she’s willing to help anyone. 
  • Is captioning advocacy something you’d like to do more of? Join the Global Alliance Speech-to-Text Captioning initiative. They too are looking for volunteers. Help improve captioning with this great group of people.
A few more ideas…

The more people you know within the community, the more support you have to lean on while dealing with communication situations. Meet others further along on the journey, who have more experience under their belt, or people who have the expertise you need to know more about. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more you know, the more you grow. Get their perspective, borrow their courage until you find your own. Experiment with tools and strategies. There is no one right way so pick what works best for you when you are looking for support for a situation.  One size doesn’t fit all because our hearing losses look different per person for a variety of reasons. 

Set Goals
light green vines and roses. A green blob with black font inside: Goals to expand your social support network: Join a lipreading class with Hearing Loss LIVE! Volunteer with a hearing loss organization. Join a social media support group.

We talk about hearing loss goals. Reaching goals is a way to build confidence and resilience. Create a social support goal this week:

  • Investigate your area for a local support group.
  • Join our Let’s Talk Tuesday on June 4th 6:00 PM Mountain time via Zoom. Find the link on our home page.
  • Research the 3 different hearing loss conventions, then ask questions.
  • Look into volunteering opportunities with a hearing loss organization. They are a safe place for people with hearing loss to learn more and expand.

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