Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dear Abby Needs to Hear from YOU

Dear Abby PhotoDear Abby answered a letter this week from a woman who felt “trapped” by her husband’s hearing loss. The resulting Dear Abby article is titled “Wife of Deaf Husband Seek to Cope in New Surroundings”. 

The question the column raises for all of us every time we see such a posting is how good and complete was the advice? What did Abby miss that the wife and other readers should know and Abby should consider next time she gets a letter like this? What would you like to say to help the wife, her deaf husband, Norm and the millions like them reading this column?  Your comments can make a difference and you can respond with your suggestions on the same page as the article, by clicking on the title above. 

Reaching Out to Others Photo
Please weigh in with your response to Abby and please encourage other family and chapter members to do the same. It is very important every ONE of us seizes highly visible opportunities like this to speak out so the 48 million Americans with hearing loss know there is real education and support available for them. Your personal experience and support may be the only one that resonates and connects with someone to finally do something about their hearing loss.

You can read Anna Gilmore Hall’s response to the wife attached below. You can read my response to Abby which I also posted on my Facebook page.

Dear Trapped;

Your letter reveals an important aspect often misunderstood by many people when thinking about hearing loss.  The fact is, hearing loss not only impacts the person with hearing loss but their family as well.

The good news is that there are solutions that can go a long way toward helping you and Norm live a more satisfying life. For example, in addition to being sure that you are seeing a good audiologist or hearing aid dispenser and that Norm’s hearing aid and CI are properly programed, there may be additional assistive listening devices that will aid in his hearing in the dining room. There are many good products on the market that can be of assistance in these kinds of listening situations that can greatly enhance his listening.  For more information about these kinds of devices, visit the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) web site With proper assistive listening devices that work with your hearing aid or CI many individuals find that instead of living lonely, isolated lives, they can re-engage in social situations like the dining room or eating out in restaurants.  

And, if he has not already tried auditory rehab program, with a speech-language pathologist, he should.

The other good news is that Norm is not alone. If he gets out of his room, Norm will find that there are many in a retirement community who are also experiencing hearing loss.  There are many other tips that you can use in these kinds of situations and a HLAA Chapter in your area is a great resource for learning about them. The Chapters are a great support system for you and your husband. They may also be able to help you with advising  the staff at the retirement community  about ways  that would not only help you and Norm but many of the other residents living there.

Anna Gilmore Hall
Executive Director of HLAA

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Holidays Call for Elf Ears or Communication Strategies

Photo of Elf's Ear and Hat
Many people with hearing loss find the holidays stressful because it is hard to connect with others over all the noise at big family gatherings or parties. As a leader, the best gift you can give your membership is to teach or remind them how to handle these situations especially during the holidays. Now you can either suggest your members write to Santa to ask for a pair of Elf Ears :-),  or better yet, teach them how to use the indispensable tool of communication strategies. 

Communication strategies are the best way to fill in what we missed in a tal when our hearing aids,  implants and even ALDs cannot handle. Hearing aids are great but they are not the final solution for many conversations where clarity is lost and communication strategies can fill those gaps. Communication Strategies also provide the indispensable foundation for all us to use to self-identify and self-advocate for ourselves throughout the year.

One of the best primers for holiday communication strategies is Arlene Romoff's very insightful and popular guide:  Seven Tips To Better Communication during the holidays. It can be found on the HLAA website.

HLAA Boston also created a wonderful "Surviving and Thriving Holiday Tool Kit” this season which they emailed to all the members and friends of their chapter. Their message offered a "tool kit" featuring the transcript of the recent HLAA webinar on the subject along with their best wishes for a wonderful new year.  The photo below is courtesy of HLAA Boston which preceded their holiday message to draw greater attention.

In my view, communication strategies are THE most important skill that chapter leaders can teach your members as well as their spouses and families. I hope you will consider adding some guidance on the topic to your holiday meeting remarks,  your newsletter, Facebook page and perhaps even with a special mailing.

Happy Holidays to all,

HLAA Boston Holiday Swirls Photo

Monday, December 1, 2014

Who are your chapter's Super Heroes?

I am sure every chapter has local heroes who have made a difference for your members and the community. You might think about honoring them during your chapter's HLAA's 35th Anniversary activities! 

Do they deserve national recognition? HLAA Award applications close this Friday, Dec 5. Click here:

Hearing Loss Super Heroes have been getting national attention this year that is helping to build awareness for treatment and fight stigma. Here are the latest:

Blue Ear with hearing aid photo
Marvel Comics has introduced a new comic book series that featrues Blue Ear and Sapheara, two new Super Heroes. Blue Ear wears a super-sized hearing aid and Sapheara dons cochlear implants to enhance their super powers and dispel any indignity in wearing a hearing device.

Marvel Comics Front Cover with new Super Heroes

They are teaming up with Iron Man to clean up crime in New York City. 

Notice Sapheara's sweptback hair does NOT hide her CI. There's no stigma here, just proud to hear. 

Bravo, Marvel Comics! 

To learn more about the new Marvel action series called "Sound Effects", click here.

Derrick Coleman photo and quote
Earlier this year,  Derrick Coleman, a running back with the champion Seattle Seahawks, was introduced in Super Bowl ads wearing his hearing aids proudly as another Hearing Loss Super Hero. If you have not seen this incredible 60 second spot, click here.

We'd love to hear your stories about your chapter heros. Please also consider submitting them to HLAA Spotlight.