Supporting people with hearing loss and their friends, families and coworkers lies at the heart of the HLAA mission. HLAA State organizations and Chapters provide assistance and resources in their communities when they do outreach and community service projects. They also help to eradicate the stigma associated with hearing loss and raise public awareness about the need for prevention and treatment. In the process, they attract new people to the chapters and rekindle existing chapter members’ enthusiasm.
Examples of outreach projects HLAA affiliates might consider doing could be educational forums or classes for employees of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALF’s), fire departments, emergency care providers, police forces, recreation and entertainment facilities, businesses, etc. Outreach might also take the form of presentations to students of all ages, teachers, scout troops, service club members, houses of worship, etc. HLAA organizations might organize a seminar or expo for veterans or for the community as a whole.
The Outreach/Community Service tab of the HLAA Leaders Support page has an extensive list of outreach/community service projects your group might consider. It is by no means exhaustive. You are more than welcome to come up with your own ideas. It also lists helpful planning tips to get you started. Click here for more information about planning projects and making outreach a part of your chapter leadership structure
Outreach Project Ideas
1. Participate in area health fairs, farmers markets and awareness events. (See the Publicity page for more information. Publicity Materials to display and distribute are available free from the national office, through the HLAA website www.hearingloss.org or by calling 301.657.2248. HLAA asks that the organization reimburse HLAA for the shipping cost.)
2. Help educate people about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by introducing the need for assistive listening systems in the community.
3. Work with professionals and fraternal organizations (Lions Clubs, Sertoma, etc.) to provide free hearing screenings.
4. Sponsor a class in speech reading, Cued Speech, assertiveness training or coping/communication strategies, aimed at helping people with hearing loss.
5. Plan a party or special event for children with hearing loss.
6. Start a support group for teens. Include plenty of fun events and socializing. (HLAA’s Hartford Chapter in Connecticut does this well.)
7. Fund an assistive listening device for a school, nursing home, etc.
8. Conduct workshops on assistive listening devices.
9. Visit libraries to acquaint them with HLAA. Set up a library display. Encourage library membership in HLAA. (The Diablo Valley Chapter in California does this well.)
10. Conduct "mini-meetings" for people in senior centers and retirement residences that can’t travel to chapter meetings. Take a hearing loop and all the assistive listening devices you can collect for a hands-on demonstration.
11. Visit long-term care facilities and nursing homes as a friend to patients with hearing loss. Acquaint yourself with the staff and help them evaluate the patients’ hearing problems and related needs. Offer to put on an in-service workshop for the staff.
12. Each year, November 29 is HLAA Founder's Day when we remember Founder Rocky Stone and the beginning of the organization. Plan activities during November that commemorate Rocky and draw the community’s attention to the needs of people with hearing loss.
13. May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Plan a project for May that will bring attention to the issues of hearing loss. Ask your governor/mayor to issue a proclamation and seek publicity in newspapers and on the Internet, radio and TV. Place attractive displays in libraries. Initiate and participate in a hearing health fair with service providers. This is a good time to go into public schools with lessons on hearing loss and/or noise awareness. (Our Southwest Connecticut Chapter has conducted such a program.)
14. Visit local restaurants and assess the noise levels within them. Work with a local newspaper or dining guide to report the results. Here’s how.
15. Hold a half-day workshop. Meet in a free, public meeting space and solicit a catered lunch from a nearby restaurant (even a chain restaurant). Here are some possible themes.
16. An employment workshop geared to employers and employees
17. An awareness and coping skills workshop geared to consumers or parents of children with hearing loss
18. Coping with hearing loss (show the HLAA DVD Learn About Hearing Loss, invite a speaker to talk about the emotional and social effects of hearing loss, and/or have a member panel where each person discusses how they have learned successful coping strategies)
19. Explore facilities in your area: Are amplified phones available in public places, large stores, hotels, and hospitals? Do public utilities, emergency services, and other critical locations have written procedures for contacting people with hearing loss? Is hearing accessibility well publicized with the correct signage?
20. Develop a resource directory of places with assistive listening systems.
21. Audit state resource directories to make sure that they list HLAA headquarters and the HLAA State organization and Chapter(s) there.
22. Does your state have a newborn screening program? Are existing laws for people with hearing loss being implemented? Serve on state or local commissions, councils, and regulatory and advisory boards as a representative. Let them know your interest in participating,
23. Encourage movie theaters to show captioned movies. Send letters of support and thanks for captioning to national television networks, advertisers, and the companies who sponsor captioning.
24. Initiate "55 Alive" driver training or CPR classes for people with hearing loss.
25. Adopt a school. Initiate a scholarship program for students with hearing loss.
26. Give HLAA membership as gifts where they will be appreciated and useful. (The state organization or chapter pays for the membership.)
27. Request HLAA membership brochures, place the organization’s information on the back and distribute them to professionals and organizations in the community that have an interest in hearing loss. HLAA offers special member benefits to hearing health professionals.
I am here for you if you want to brainstorm ideas. As always, thank you for sharing your time and talents with HLAA. You are appreciated so much!
Valerie Stafford-MallisDirector of Chapter Development