Last month I read an article in the Huffington Post about who was standing up for hearing loss. When I first read it I felt I had been out of the loop as I learned for the first time that Nelson Mandela, Jodi Foster and Malala Yousafzai all have/had hearing loss. My first thought was along the lines of “Why don’t they stand up for others with hearing loss too?” But the article also pointed out how hard the media can be on those who step forward (e.g. the reporting and commentary surround Prince Philip’s hearing loss). Those in the media spotlight must pick their battles and we must await those few who are strong enough to champion the idea that dealing with hearing loss through technology is a pretty awesome thing.
I continued to ponder how to get a blog out of this (a constant thing really) and started to reminisce on those who have taught me that standing up to educate doesn’t take a celebrity. Early on there was a client who had lost hearing and nerve function on one side from an early acoustic tumor surgery. She has always found ways to do everything she wants to do: travel, square dancing, tutoring, and volunteering, among other things. She adopted FM systems 20 years ago to ensure she could hear the square dancing “caller.” She helped me make sure I was familiar with all of the equipment and how the FM could work with all BTE aids that were compatible.
In turn, those technologies were offered to other patients in the practice, but only a few were open to the opportunities. Nowadays, with the introduction of Bluetooth technology, communication in many challenging situations is available and more affordable. Yet few use additional accessories, even if they offer significantly better hearing in noise.
The patient from early on taught me that everyone, especially those with hearing loss, needs to be their own advocate. In her case, she was her own celebrity, a shining star in my eyes.
I would love stories of those who inspired you, whether you work with those who are hearing impaired or who are hearing impaired, who is your celebrity?