Notes on HLAA Morris County January 2014 Meeting

 

Pat Dobbs our Chapter’s President talked about The “Hearing Loss Revolution” which is all about changing how we feel about ourselves.

Pat began her talk about how this was developed by sharing some background about herself: she was born with normal hearing, but began to lose hearing about the age of 20. She received her first hearing aids at age 25. Her hearing declined steadily through the years…. until the age of 60, when she received her first cochlear implant (C.I.) When considering a C.I., Pat described how she was so desperate – her hearing loss so great – that she didn’t need convincing, did not have trouble deciding with the least amount of information! Getting a C.I. was a turning point in beginning to recognize and to accept her loss. After that she was much more open about educating herself about all the resources available, and started to attend conventions, workshops….and join HLA.

In the first decades of hearing loss, particularly as a young adult, Pat described the long and difficult period of denial – hiding hearing aids, and dismissing any “help” such as the participating in SHHH – the old name for the Hearing Loss of Association of America (HLAA). She wasn’t “one of those ‘old’ people; didn’t want to associate with people with hearing loss; didn’t need assistive listening devices (ALDs); didn’t know anything about ADA law requirements, etc. This attitude resulted in many years of “pretending” to hear what wasn’t heard, creating more difficult and frustrating situations. Pat asked us the “nasty question”: “How many of you have pretended to hear?” Pat’s coping methods included becoming a “master of reading facial expressions” and using that to “pretend” to follow a conversation and hear!

This behavior of denial, ignoring one’s loss, and not letting people know your needs created more and more difficult situations …until one particular “outrageous” incident at her job – colorfully described by Pat – where she was yelled at for her hearing loss, got Pat to finally realize how she herself was creating her own problems. Being totally humiliated at work made her finally realize how not recognizing her own loss and  how not taking responsibility didn’t allow for ANY help….and from that experience began the questioning, “WHY be ashamed, why hide the loss, and then the transformative idea that we (those with hearing loss) have to change ourselves first, and therein lies our power.

After self-acceptance we can educate the public with equanimity (that is, with patience and without anger).  But first there is a lot to learn about one’s own loss and how to cope. Pat threw herself into learning all about the many kinds of ADLs, explaining that hearing aids only take care of the area up  to your arm’s length away, and after that ADLs are important supplements. Pat highlighted the new (induction) looping system, and had Dan Berke from Ahrens Hearing Center who set up a portable system for the meeting to say a few words about it…

Pat raised the question: “What does the general public think of people with hearing loss?” and discussed stereotyping, and misconceptions that we with hearing loss have to explain. Most people do not understand that a hearing aid/ C.I .s do not “fix” your hearing 100% — unlike eyeglasses – it is not a “magic wand;” hearing devices do not remove the loss.

The hearing loss population have to cope on a daily basis, to inform and educate people HOW to communicate. There was a lot of sharing about this among the audience. The main point was that you have to be specific, not just letting people know you have a hearing loss, but also tell people specifically what to do so you can communicate better –people just don’t know. This point was reiterated by those in the audience who do not have a hearing loss – they are frustrated, too, when the hearing impaired do not speak up and tell them what the needs are in communicating (and especially when they pretend to hear!) Many interesting examples of this point was shared among the audience.

Pat distributed handouts about the Hearing Loss Revolution ideas and principles. We have to be brutally honest about our loss, accept it without shame. This change in ourselves will make a positive difference in discovering the best communication strategies.

 

Pat ended the talk announcing workshops and classes that she will be holding:

1. Aural Rehabilitation Class
Thursday January 30, 12:30 – 1:45pm
Class Closed to Public
Kean University, Union, NJ

College Credit Course

1. Hearing Loss Empowerment; How to Improve Communication Skills for both people with Hearing Loss and their Communication Partners
Saturday, March 1, 9:30am – 12:30pm
Free
Unitarian Church in Summit, 4 Waldron Avenue, Summit, NJ

Communication between people with a hearing loss and normal hearing person can be challenging. Course gives tips that helps both parties learn to communicate better.

2. Hearing Loss Empowerment Class (Limit of 9 People – Registration Required)
Tuesdays – March 4, 11, 18, & 25
4 sessions – 1/1/2 hours each session
Total Package $100.00
Location: 43 Spring Garden Drive, Madison, NJ

Class is based on the Hearing Loss Revolution and its 9 Principles as well drawing from other disciplines.

3.  Improve the Communication Skills for both person with and without hearing loss
Thursday March 27th from 10:00-11:-00
Free
Morris School District Community School | Great Horizons
Convention Center Morris Plains, 51 Jim Fear Drive, Morris Plains, NJ

Communication between people with a hearing loss and normal hearing person can be challenging. Course gives tips that helps both parties learn to communicate better.

4.  Hearing Loss Association of America National Conference
Thursday – June 26 from 1:30 – 2:45
Registration for Conference Required
Convention Center, Austin, TX

Talk is on the development of the Hearing Loss Revolution and its 9 Principles.

 

 

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