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.
Make a Resolution for Better Hearing in 2018!
The new year is here and Assist2Hear encourages you to make a resolution for better hearing health. Many of us know that hearing loss affects senior citizens, but it also affects every other age group including teenagers at an alarming level.
Typical signs of hearing loss
One of the most common reactions people have when they develop hearing loss is D-E-N-I-A-L! But denying hearing loss has an impact on others as well as your own well-being. If you recognize these typical signs of hearing loss in yourself or your loved ones, a simple hearing screening might be your answer to hearing better.
- Buzzing/Ringing in ears
- Muffled Hearing
- Failure to respond
- Squinting to Understand
- Head tilting/turning to hear better
- Listening to music/tv at high volume
- Difficulty following conversations/ Lip Reading
If your audiologist suggests hearing aids are in your future- Do not delay! Many people struggle with hearing loss an average of 5-7 years before finally buying hearing aids. Would you spend years with blurry vision instead of buying glasses? The dangers of postponing hearing aids are numerous.
So, consider a few reasons not to delay getting hearing aids:
Reason #1: Did you know that the longer you wait to get hearing aids, the harder it is for your brain to adjust to hearing certain sounds again? Much like glasses and bifocals, the brain must adjust to sound via hearing aids that may not have been heard in some time, such as birds chirping, appliances running, and everyday sounds that may have been unheard in recent years. This can be very frustrating to many new hearing aid wearers and takes time to adjust.
Reason #2: Hearing is a very important sense that contributes to our well-being. Not being able to hear results in many people isolating themselves from family and social interaction, which in turn affects their mental and physical health, as well as safety. Hearing loss can lead to depression, anxiety, confusion and withdrawal in all age groups including teenagers.
Reason #3: While hearing aids are not perfect and do not “cure” hearing loss any more than glasses cure vision loss, they do improve hearing in many settings and open the door to add assistive listening devices to help the hearing aids hear better in other situations like induction hearing loops. A manual t-coil setting in the hearing aid allows the wearer to enjoy sound in hearing loops.
So, what are you waiting for? A hearing assessment is typically free at most audiology offices. Hearing aids can be basic or state of the art, depending on your budget and level of hearing loss. It takes some persistence on your part to make the hearing aids comfortable to wear and get them adjusted correctly. So be patient and work with your audiologist to get it right! You will be glad you did and so will your family and friends!
Are you struggling to hear clearly? Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves because you believe they are mumbling? Is it difficult to hear in a restaurant or riding in a car? Are you struggling to hear the sermon at church or a speaker during a presentation? Many of us are missing out on important parts of a conversation, constantly trying to fill in the blanks. Are you in denial about hearing loss?
Many of us are in a state of denial about our hearing loss and it is very common. Most hearing loss is very gradual so it can go unnoticed for a long time. We miss the clues and deny the facts. We can’t see or feel hearing loss. Yet, hearing is one of our most important senses. It keeps us connected socially – or not. It is important to our employment, yet we are afraid to say anything for fear of retribution or loss of a job. It is important to our safety and well-being to hear sirens, horns or impending danger.
When did eye glasses become ok but not hearing aids? We’ll spend several thousand dollars to have our eyes fixed with a laser, but we are reluctant to spend the same to improve our hearing. The bad part about denial of your hearing loss is that your brain actually forgets the sounds you used to hear and now do not. The longer this goes on, the harder it is for the brain to relearn these sounds when you are finally fit with a hearing aid. Relate this to your brain adjusting to new bi-focals or tri-focals in your glasses or contacts. It can be unnerving and actually painful when sounds are brought back into your life until the brain adjusts. Some people quit using their hearing aids for this reason! Sure, hearing aids are not perfect and do not “cure” hearing loss any more than glasses cure vision loss, but they are a step toward maintaining quality of life.
With the Baby Boomers making up about 1/3 of the hard of hearing population in the US, hearing loss is becoming more common in conversation. Access for the hard of hearing in many private and public venues is becoming an issue. New revised ADA standards effective 3/15/12 clearly mandate that all public venues of any size with a sound system must provide assistive listening devices. Hearing loops are the favored system by many and loops are becoming more common in the US. Grass roots initiatives are gaining ground in many states including Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Florida, New Mexico and Arizona.
Advocacy for hearing access is on the rise after being shoved under the carpet for many years. We at Assist2Hear are trying to do our part in promoting access for the hard of hearing and educating the public and hearing professionals about what is available to help the hard of hearing, most notably induction hearing loops.
Are you ready to acknowledge your hearing loss and do something about it? Please visit your local audiologist for a hearing screening and make sure to bring a friend or family member to check theirs as well!