Congratulations! You have studied and done the work. Now you’re ready to make a difference.
And the hearing loss world is ready for your help because we have some big problems.
The hearing loss epidemic is growing and not enough people are paying attention. The fact is that many people are still embarrassed of their hearing loss. It still takes most people an average of seven years to admit the problem and visit an audiologist. Every third person over the age of 65 who attended your graduation struggled to understand the speeches because of a lack of hearing access, but most likely won’t complain!!
Hearing loss is an invisible disability. That’s where you come in.
First Stop: Hearing Loss Association
I hope that one of your first decisions is to join your local Hearing Loss Association of America. Then get your friends and family to join. And eventually your patients. Before you know it, your local HLAA has a much stronger voice and helps the city become more hearing-friendly and inclusive. We have to start locally to fix this national problem.
Second: Post It
Build your professional social media accounts right away and find your voice. Make sure everyone you love knows what you do for a living and to reach out to you if they or anyone they know is having trouble hearing. Let this not just be your career, let this be your passion.
Third: Make a Plan
Try to choose a goal project for your first year. To get you started here are a few ideas.
• Raise funds for a theater hearing loop.
• Develop a great PowerPoint and offer a free Hearing Loss presentation for local companies.
• Host a “Quiet Dinner Night” at a local restaurant.
• Help teach hearing loss prevention at local elementary and high schools.
• Make an appointment with your state representatives to discuss the importance of hearing access in public spaces.
• Become an “Audiology Adviser” for your HLAA to answer basic questions for members before and after each meeting.
• Develop a national hashtag.
Congratulations again, audiology graduates and good luck! You can help remove the national stigma of hearing loss with your ideas and plans.
In the wise words of Arthur Ashe, I encourage you to “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”