When my mother was taken to the emergency room on Wednesday afternoon, her only concern was to be home by Friday. She was determined to attend her granddaughter’s graduation. Fortunately, she was able to go home on Thursday and made it to the graduation with a day to spare. Unfortunately, she couldn’t hear a thing.
My father and mother both live with hearing loss. My niece was among the first to receive her diploma because she graduated with honors. As soon as the ceremony began, I was instantly disappointed. I was disappointed because I realized that if I couldn’t understand the words because of the echo, reverberation, and distance, then I knew my parents couldn’t understand a word.
My father and mother both live with severe hearing loss, as mine is only mild; yet feels pretty severe and affects my daily life. My parents both have wonderful hearing aids which generally help in small settings, but they still struggle in large spaces like churches, theaters, and stadiums. We were even seated on the front row of the physically disabled section which was on the football field instead of in the stands. I knew the venue did not have a hearing loop, but instead they had a type of hearing assistive technology which required headsets. Headsets are usually not an option for many people with hearing aids or Cochlear implants.
My parents couldn’t understand the blessing or the multiple valedictorian speeches. My dad is sadly used to mumbled graduation ceremonies, but my mom struggled and strained to listen. My niece was the 7th child to graduate. As soon as she crossed the stage, my mother said, “Did she already go? Did they call her name?” My heart sunk because she had worked extra hard to put on a brave face so that she could leave the hospital to make it to her granddaughter’s gradual did not get to hear the most special part of a graduation for a family member. It wasn’t fair that my parents then had to listen to the mumble of 347 other children’s names and the farewell from the commencement speaker. They did not have the feeling of pride that everyone else got to feel.
School administrators need to understand that the graduate’s brief moment in the sun means a lot to family members. Grandparents, parents, and friends of the graduates who live and suffer with hearing loss deserve an easy fix called a hearing loop.
A hearing loop also known as an audio induction loop system, creates a magnetic field which cooperates with hearing aids to eliminate distance from the microphone, as well as background noise and echo. In other words, the hearing aid or hearing device becomes a personal loudspeaker. My mother said that a hearing loop “feels like a private conversation between me and the speaker.”
The ADA requires public spaces to offer hearing assistance in spaces where hearing is integral to the use of that space. What does this mean? It means that if you have a large area and you expect people to hear what you want to say through a sound system, then you must have one of three ADA compliant systems for hearing accessibility. Hearing loops are
We wouldn’t think twice about wheelchair access because we understand it and we can see it. Hearing loss is an invisible disability which affects more people then heart disease or diabetes. Hearing Loops Help.