On a national and global level, organizations are working in different ways to change the way the general public perceives hearing loss. At local community levels, other organizations are building a foundation from which great changes can be made. There are hundreds of these localized movements occurring, but here are snapshots of just some of the efforts made by organizations in 2013 and plans for 2014.
Hearing Loss Association of America – Local Chapters
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is a national organization that provides assistance and resources to people with hearing loss and their family members. One of HLAA’s main goals is to promote public awareness and education in order to change the way hearing loss is generally perceived. HLAA local chapters are established across the country and work on a community level to raise awareness and support.
In 2013, this chapter celebrated its 30th anniversary by unveiling the successful installation of a hearing loop system at the Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, NY. A performance was given by Musicians of Ma’alwyck, who performed music by Grammy award-winning composer Richard Einhorn. In June, Einhorn will also be the keynote speaker at HLAA’s national convention. In 2014, the Albany chapter will continue its work with a program for parents of children with hearing loss.
The Eastern CT chapter is only a year and a half old, but it’s achieved a great deal in that time frame. Meetings are conducted at the Phillips Communication Sciences building at the University of Connecticut, which provides a convenient way for doctoral audiology students to attend if they wish. Last year, chapter achievements included:
- A presentation on hearing loops at the Northeast Cochlear Implant Convention in Boston in July
- Other presentations at two VA hospitals in Connecticut
- Participation in health and wellness fairs
- Participation in Walk4Hearing
In 2014, more presentations at VA facilities are planned for about once every three months. These will focus on basic communication strategies and tips for veterans with hearing loss as well as information on assistive listening devices. There are also presentations scheduled for senior centers and living facilities for information on the signs of hearing loss and the first steps to take. In June, the Eastern CT chapter will have an informational booth at the CT Academy of Audiology’s spring conference. Lastly, UConn has offered to fund a project to install an induction loop in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre on campus.
The Hear Here chapter raised over $90,000 for Walk4Hearing through a kickoff event at the Old State House that started with Governor Dannel Malloy speaking of his personal challenges with dyslexia. Also at the event, the National Theatre of the Deaf performed a shortened version of “Journeys of Identity.” The chapter was able to award three college scholarships to high school students.
In April, Hear Here will have Justin Osmond as a guest speaker to share his story of success as an adult with hearing loss.
This chapter will have some guest speakers in 2014 to help with education and awareness. Warren Brown is teaching about hearing loops to the group in March. The Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America, Anna Gilmore Hall, will be visiting in April to discuss the national goals of the organization.
In addition to raising nearly $4,000 for the 2013 Walk4Hearing, the Capital Region chapter of PA had an informational booth at the 2013 and 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Shows. At the 2013 show, common questions surrounding hearing loss and hearing aids were asked by people, including the following:
- Why are hearing aids expensive, and how can I be sure I get the right hearing aid for my money?
- How do I find an audiologist?
At the end of the year, they plan to have an informational booth at the PA Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Expo. In April, Steve Schultz, the chapter’s president, will speak at the monthly meeting of the local Kiwanis Club. Mr. Schultz has also been selected to receive the 2014 Spirit of HLAA Award at the HLAA national convention in June.
Last year, the Montgomery County chapter had a hearing loop installed in the library’s community meeting room, which has greatly helped members to clearly hear speakers during meetings. They are also incorporating CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) into meetings, which is like real-time closed captioning. As someone is speaking, the dialogue caption is projected onto a screen that meeting attendees can read.
In 2014, the chapter is continuing efforts to get an induction loop installed in pertinent areas at the Philadelphia International Airport. The goal is to help people with hearing loss better hear what is being said on the public address (PA) systems.
The Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) is a non-profit organization that provides hearing healthcare services to people of all ages through their New York City and Fort Lauderdale, FL, offices. They provide educational, clinical, and counseling services to people with hearing loss or hearing challenges.
In 2013, CHC accomplished a number of things, including the following:
- The Center for Hearing and Aging was officially launched. Its main purpose is to grow upon research and education regarding the link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive issues in the elderly.
- The mobile audiology unit provided free hearing screenings for almost 3,000 children and adults.
- In New York City, over 700 senior citizens in community centers were provided with hearing screenings and evaluations. They were also in attendance for workshops on hearing healthcare education.
- CHC audiologists were able to perform over 10,000 visits and dispense nearly 1,000 hearing aids.
- The Auditory Processing Center had over 1,180 client visits in FY 2013, more than double the number from FY 2012.
In 2014, CHC will be launching a new social media platform called SoundGram to help people approach the subject of hearing loss with friends and family in a friendly and innovative way.
Through their efforts, these organizations continue to build a foundation from which a greater understanding and acceptance of hearing healthcare issues can be attained. EarQ’s HearStrong Foundation is also dedicated to empowering people to take control of their hearing health. Through HearStrong Ambassadors and HearStrong Champions, the foundation’s goal is to provide education and awareness to shatter the stigmas surrounding hearing loss. To sign up for the HearStrong newsletter or to nominate a Champion, visit www.hearstrong.org.
Last Updated: March 13, 2014