Being a Woman With Hearing Loss on IWD

Today is March 8th – International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s also my birthday and it doesn’t matter how old I am. OK I’ll tell you – I’m 68.

A 68-year-old woman with profound hearing loss: there are some who might consider such a person as to be elderly and disabled. And there was a time in my distant past when I probably would have thought the same thing.

Except now that I’m here – 68 years old, living with a condition that deeply affects many areas of my life – I realize that I’m more vital and capable and full of hope than at any previous point in my life. I live in hope that in spite of the pandemic and the horrors playing out in Ukraine, we can keep moving forward to better lives, better health, a better world.

As a woman in Canada, I enjoy rights and privileges that my grandmother Lovette, as a young woman in 1922, had just started to glimpse as possible for women. But if she had been living with a severe hearing loss such as mine, things would have been very different for her. There was almost no hearing technology. Her intelligence might have been extremely under-recognized and she would not have had the same education. She would never have become the teacher and preacher  she did in her 30s.

But then again, maybe she would have. Lovette fought for what she believed in and I like to think that deafness would not have stopped her. She died when I was 12 but she has always been one of my heroes.

Today, on International Women’s Day, I am thinking of the women in hearing loss who are also my heroes. Their names may not ring bells with you, but I’m telling you who they are anyway, starting with the amazing Rowena Fothergill who fitted me with my first hearing aid. She told me to “go out there and hear!” (A little more information would have been helpful, but she told me what she knew.)  

Decades later, when I finally reached out for hearing help from other people with hearing loss, the women of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association raised me up and supported me: Joan Miller, Cindy Gordon, Lynn Wheadon, and my muse, the incomparable Myrtle Barrett. My fierce writing partner and friend, Shari Eberts, and our circle of Victorious women.

The women hearing care professionals I have worked, my friends, continue to take my breath away with their passion for hearing health: Joanne Deluzio, Anne Follows, Anne Griffin, Regitze Willemoes, Juliette Sterkens…and so many more.

Today, partly because of all these women, I’m proud to stand up as a woman with hearing loss.

Tomorrow is National Get Over It Day (I’m not kidding) and IWD will be yesterday. But I will still have hearing loss and I will keep writing about it, advocating for understanding and access for other women like me. And there are thousands of women doing the same thing.

Happy International Women’s Day!

About Gael Hannan

The Better HearingConsumer addresses the personal experience of living with hearing loss. Editor Gael Hannan and her occasional guest bloggers explore every corner of the hearing loss life with humor and poignancy. Comment Policy   Gael Hannan, Editor Gael Hannan is an author, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog at the Better Hearing Consumer, which has a passionate international following,Gael has written two acclaimed books, “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”and “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”, written with Shari Eberts. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work that advocates for individuals to become more knowledgeable and successful at dealing with their hearing loss and a more inclusive society for them to live in. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, Canada. Books and other media Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. Written with Shari Eberts and available anywhere books are sold. The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss. Available through online bookstores. Unheard Voices, DVD, vignettes from the hearing loss life. Contact Gael Hannan to order.


  1. Wow, Regitze….every Dane should have you as their hearing care professional! Thank you for that fabulous time in Copenhagen.

  2. You are a strong woman. Hearing loss is a challenge. I’m also struggling with hearing loss. Hearing aids help and but I miss natural hearing.

    1. I understand, Pat. For extra support and information, please check out my books on Amazon. Good luck!

  3. I am also Gail although spelled differently and my 78th birthday was March 6 so close to yours. I was born with profound hearing loss but graduated college and had a career in retail for 30 years. My first hearing aid was a big box worn on my chest with straps! Really good way to stand out as different from the other kids! Happy to have invisible behind the ear aids now.
    The pandemic has been hard as wearing masks has caused problems as I need to lipread. It will be wonderful to finally get back to normal. A sense of humor has gotten me through many days and I can always count on you to cheer me up! Thank you for sharing your life with me!

  4. Oh my Gael – your blog made me cry. You are so right! By standing up together we ARE making this world a better place for people with hearing loss (and for their spouses, and their significant others and their family members and friends as well.) Thank you for all you do. Keep it up – I cannot wait to read your new book and, of course, SEE you at HLAA2022!

    1. Dry your tears, woman! Seriously, it’s an honour to work with you. Also, to drink wine with you.

  5. Amen. A beacon of light for those of us who travel the same path

    Keep on shining that light

    Keep on keeping’ on!

  6. Oh, Gael. You are MY hero. One of the important reasons why I jump out of my bed and run into my hearing clinic every morning.
    You came all the way to Scandinavia to share your knowledge, experience, hope, sorrow, tips, and devine humor with us and empowered us all. I will be forever grateful for that!

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