diverse identities exist within the hearing loss community
One of the really troublesome issues facing hard of hearing, late deafened, and oral deaf persons is establishing
their identity. Persons with hearing loss often feel that they are no aren't
really connected to either the hearing world or the deaf world. Their isolation
from the hearing world is generally due to their hearing loss, and their
isolation from the deaf world is generally due to not being part of the Deaf
Culture and it's heavy reliance on sign language.
The Awakening OHL Community - a real-time study of
the efforts of members of the oral
hearing loss (OHL) community to acquire services and support appropriate to
Coping with hearing loss is a lot more than just
getting hearing aids.
Here are some real-life stories of people with
hearing loss and how it affects their lives.
Baby Boomers! They've impacted every aspect
of American life for the last fifty years. And now they're taking on
Denial is more than the name of a river in Egypt! It's a common
response to hearing loss, and one that can be perplexing to family
members and friends. Why are people with hearing
loss so likely to be in denial, and what can you do about it?
Who's Who provides a set of
admittedly imperfect definitions of the groups of persons with hearing loss.
Examples provides current and historical
real world examples of identity confusion.
May 2013 - Untreated hearing loss has a negative impact on
December 2012 - I. King Jordan Proves That 'Deaf People Can Do
December 2012 -
People under 65 fastest growing group with
July 2012 -
Hearing loss an 'invisible,' and widely
May 2012 - Old or Young, We're All Hearing Better
May 2012 - No hearing treatment despite hearing
April 2012 - Competition to Increase Public
Awareness and Action for Hearing Loss
March 2012 -
Public's denial driving frustrations of the deaf
March 2012 -
Hearing-impaired people need friends and some
December 2011 - The chicken and the egg: Cognitive decline and hearing loss
December 2011 -
Study Shows Hearing Aids Improve Quality
November 2011 - One in five Americans has
September 2011 -
Gallaudet University adjusts to a culture that
includes more hearing students
July 2011 - The Poetry of Elena Kras
July 2011 -
Among Twists in Budget Woes, Tensions Over
Teaching the Deaf
June 2011 -
HLAA Convention Keynote Address: The Rest of the Artinian Story
May 2011 -
AAMHL Plans Music Event to Coincide with HLAA
April 2011 - Hearing loss in teen girls on the
April 2011 - Oticon Focus on People Awards Seeks
March 2011 - People with Untreated Hearing Loss Earn
March 2011 - Hearing Loss Rate in Older Adults Climbs
to More than 60 Percent in National Survey
March 2011 -
New Study Reports 2 out of 3 Americans
Over Age 70 Have Hearing Loss
March 2011 - BHI Highlights Connection between
Diabetes and Hearing Loss
March 2011 - People with Chronic Kidney Disease
Should Have Their Hearing Checked
February 2011 -
Hearing Impairment Common, Perhaps Preventable, for
February 2011 -
EuroTrak I: A Consumer Survey About Hearing
Aids in Germany, France, and the UK
February 2011 -
1 in 9 people aged 45-54 is hearing impaired
December 2010 - American Adults Hear Better Than
They Did 40 Years Ago
July 2010 - Survey Explores American Attitudes
about Hearing Loss
May 2010 - The "Stigma" of Hearing Loss and
January 2010 - 17 Misconceptions about People with
January 2010 - Number of Americans with Hearing Loss
April 2009 - AG Bell
April 2009 - Audism Free America: Outcomes of the
Historic Meeting and Rally at the AG Bell Association Headquarters
March 2009 - Ten Misconceptions about People with
March 2009 - Is There a Hard of Hearing Culture?
Oct 2008 - Does Hearing Loss Affect or Change
Aug 2008 - Hearing Loss May Be More Widespread
May 2008 - People with Hearing Loss Miss Sounds
of Friends and Family
May 2008 - What Sound do People with Hearing
Loss Miss Most?
April 2008 - Have hearing loss? Group offers help with daily living
April 2008 - Absenteeism Higher
Among Hearing Impaired People
March 2008 - Better Hearing Institute Publishes
Legal Rights Guide for Individuals with Hearing Loss
January 2008 -
Untreated Hearing Loss Impacting
October 2007 - Hearing-impaired comedian
October 2007 - Here's Denise Portis'
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place"
June 2007 -
Playing in a Festival Orchestra
2007 - New Findings Uncover Disparity in Attitudes
About Hearing Loss
May 2007 - Deaf
pianist imagines sound
May 2007 - Hearing
Loss Negatively Affects Relationships
2007 - I Can Hear You Now
2007 - Silence in a Hearing World
2007 - Documentary chronicles 200 years of deaf life
2007 - People Who "Get It"
2007 - Pros and Cons of Sign Language
2007 - Deaf children without barriers
2006 - The Night Before HOH Christmas - an adaptation
of the traditional poem.
October 2006 - Here's
our report on Dr. Sanjay Gulati's Keynote Speech entitled
"Re-inventing Deafness" at ALDAcon 2006.
2006 - To
Which World Do You Belong?
2006 - From ALDAcon 2006
- Dr. Lucy Miller's Poignant Story - Where Do I Fit In?
2006 - ALDAcon 2006
Presentation - Coaching and Late Onset Hearing Loss - A Partnership that
September 2006 - Have you used some of these
negative hearing loss coping strategies?
August 2006 - Treat hearing loss like any other
August 2006 - Here are some interesting quotes
about hearing loss from famous Americans.
August 2006 - Scots Reluctant to Wear Hearing Aids
July 2006 - Why People Delay Dealing
with Hearing Loss
July 2006 - Have you ever wondered what life is like for kids
raised by parents with hearing loss? Here with
one parent's reflections on the topic is Denise Portis.
June 2006 - Non-Hispanic blacks have best hearing in
US, new study shows
May 2006 - Can You
Repeat the Question?
April 2006 -
For the first time in history (as far as we know) a
deaf student is elected president of a university student body comprised
primarily of hearing folks!
- Connie Briscoe's Hearing Loss Story
December 2005 - Ever wonder what it might be
like to be a wait person with hearing loss? Here's Erin Geld's
compelling story about her experiences.
May 2005 - At the 2005 Western Symposium on Deafness (WSD)
Dr. John Schroedel and Dr. Douglas Watson of the University of Arkansas
presented an excellent workshop entitled "Patterns
in the Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation of Hard of Hearing
May 2005 - Another
interesting WSD workshop by Drs. Schroedel and Watson examined hard of
hearing college students.
- Just who comprises the hearing loss community? Here's an article with
some of the demographics related to hearing loss.
October 2000 - You've probably seen
the terms "disability", "handicap", and
"impairment" used in almost interchangeable ways. In fact,
they really have rather specific meanings. Here's
an article I wrote and some interesting reader responses.
More on this and
After losing his hearing due to a motorcycle
accident when he was 21, I. King Jordan spent a lot of time denying the
fact he was deaf. He says he considered himself "a hearing person who
couldn't hear for a long time." Now Jordan, who became the first deaf
president of Gallaudet University in 1988, has become a champion for what
deaf people can accomplish. As he told a reporter when he was named
president, "Deaf people can do anything-but hear." Next March marks the
25th anniversary of the weeklong student-led protests at Gallaudet
University that ushered Jordan into the school's presidency. The protests
began when Gallaudet's board of trustees named a hearing person as
president, but students and faculty felt it was time for a deaf president
to lead the school instead. The protests, which became known as the Deaf
President Now movement, ended with King's appointment. After 18 years as
Gallaudet's president, Jordan stepped down in 2006, but he maintains close
ties to the deaf community and remains an advocate for the disabled.
If you think only senior citizens need hearing
aids, you're wrong: The fastest-growing group of people with hearing loss
is under 65. At 51, Kent Reinking never planned to need hearing aids. But
decades of exposure to noisy farm equipment permanently damaged his
hearing. "I didn't think it was that bad, but the rest of my family --
they were the ones that informed me I needed to get something accomplished
so that I could hear what was going on," he said. The Oelwein man's
audiologist at Hearing Unlimited in Waterloo's Covenant Medical Center
says more young people are experiencing hearing loss. "People avoid it for
a very long time. Most people wait eight years before they do something
about their hearing loss," said Dr. Seema Arab. "A majority of people that
have hearing loss are actually under 65." Arab says the effectiveness of
hearing aids depends on a lot more than simply buying a pair.
If you lose a leg, insurance will likely cover the
cost of your prosthesis. If you lose your arm, it's the same. Even if you
lose your ability to perform sexually, more than likely your Viagra is
covered. But if you start to lose your hearing, far too often you are on
your own. If hearing loss were officially considered a disability, it
would rank as the largest disability class in the country. Some 37 million
people suffer from hearing loss, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, and that number will only grow as the population
ages. Yet most private medical insurance doesn't cover the cost of hearing
aids. While the Department of Veterans Affairs often pays for them, in
most cases Medicare, which covers many more people, does not.
While more than 90 percent of deaf children are
born to hearing parents, deafness itself is not widespread, which is why
many hearing people have never even met a deaf person before. Isn't it
safe to assume many of these parents never have, either? If that's true,
what immediate reason would they have to distrust the signing deaf
community? It's not as if these parents find out their child is deaf, go
on the Internet, discover a deaf community sharply divided between
supporters of oralism and manualism, panic, and somehow decide they'll
embrace the oral camp while never trusting any single living American Sign
Language user ever again. What's much more likely is that these parents
come to suspect deafness and go to an audiologist. So how is it possible
the distrust runs deep on both sides at this point? The deaf community
hasn't even entered the picture yet!
Imagine yourself in a country where nobody speaks
your language. It becomes a necessity to rely on your other senses and
hone your powers of observation. You welcome the times when you can "fill
in the blanks" and get the gist of a conversation. Each situation is
stressful: Will you be a participant or an observer? This is the life of a
hearing-impaired person. We are not deaf, and, therefore, most of us do
not read lips, sign or wear hearing devices 100% of the time. We try to
preserve whatever hearing we have left. We walk softly on the fine line
between the hearing and deaf communities.
Duane Davis, a volunteer for the Hearing Loss
Association of Oregon, is afraid he may turn out to be a living example of
the latest research correlating hearing loss with brain atrophy. Although
that investigation at the University of Pennsylvania linked hearing loss
late in life with cognitive decline,.Davis said he needs no scientific
proof that mental processes can feel pulverized by a hearing problem, even
when his own brain seems to be working just fine. "There you are, in a
conversation, and you hear something like 'squeeze me' instead of 'excuse
me,' and you are trying to figure it all out," said Davis, who
periodically interrupted his own speech to inquire if he "sounds OK." "You
have to process the mumbling," he said. "You are slow to respond. I am
actually doing more thinking to overcome my loss of hearing doing all
that, but then you get to thinking maybe you should just avoid
conversation." And when you do that, he said, things can really go
downhill. "Stop having conversations, and you stop seeing people."
The quiet campus of Gallaudet University in
Northeast Washington was always a place where students could speak the
unspoken language of deaf America and be understood. That is no longer so
true. For the first time in living memory, significant numbers of freshmen
at the nation's premiere university for the deaf and hard of hearing
arrive lacking proficiency in American Sign Language and experience with
deaf culture. Rising numbers of Gallaudet students are products of a
hearing world. The share of undergraduates who come from mainstream public
schools rather than residential schools for the deaf has grown from 33
percent to 44 percent in four years. The number of students with cochlear
implants, which stimulate the auditory nerve to create a sense of sound,
has doubled to 102 since 2005.
Politicians have seen plenty of demonstrators
outside the Statehouse here. But the crowd that gathered last month was a
bit different from the usual shouting protesters. Scores of deaf and
hard-of-hearing children and their families assembled to complain in
American Sign Language. Parents also have confronted new board members of
the state's school for the deaf in pointed, awkward exchanges. And more
objections are expected when the board convenes next month for what had,
until now, been ordinary meetings on routine school matters. At the root
of the tension is a debate that stretches well beyond Indiana: Will sign
language and the nation's separate schools for the deaf be abandoned as
more of the deaf turn to communicating, with help from fast-evolving
technology, through amplified sounds and speech?
The Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing
Loss (AAMHL) will host a handbell workshop and 10th anniversary
celebration on Sat Jun 18, 2011, from 10 am - 3 pm EDT. The event will be
located within walking distance of the HLAA Convention. These folks prove
that you don't have to give up music just because you have hearing loss!
A new study published in the Journals of
Gerontology reported that hearing loss is prevalent in about two thirds of
adults age 70 and older. Hearing instrument use was reported at
approximately 40% in those with moderate hearing loss and only 3% for
those with mild hearing loss. The study analyzed data from the National
Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, examined audiometry results,
and obtained demographic and potential epidemiological factors (i.e. noise
exposure) via interviews from 717 older adults. The researchers, from
Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and the National Institute on
Aging, defined hearing loss in this study as a speech frequency Pure Tone
Average (PTA) of greater than 25 dB in the better ear.
According to a new study in the Archives of
Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, cardiovascular disease risk factors
may be important correlates of age-related auditory dysfunction. However,
if hearing impairment is detected early, it may be a preventable chronic
disease. Several factors may be associated with hearing impairment in
middle-aged adults, including cardiovascular disease risks, being male,
and having a noisy job, according to the study, to be published in the May
2011 issue. In background information in the article, the authors estimate
that at least 29 million Americans have a hearing impairment.
"Population-based epidemiological prevalence estimates range from 20.6%t
in adults aged 48 to 59 years to 90% in adults older than 80 years," the
author report. "The severity of this condition has been shown to be
associated with a poorer quality of life, communication difficulties,
impaired activities of daily living, dementia, and cognitive dysfunction."
In 2009, the European Hearing Instrument
Manufacturers Association (EHIMA aisbl) initiated a comprehensive study on
hearing impairment, as well as the prevalence and use of hearing aids, in
three of Europe's largest countries: Germany, France, and the UK. The
study, called EuroTrak, was designed and carried out by the
Switzerland-based market research company Anovum, and is based (where
practical) on the consumer questionnaires found in the North American
MarkeTrak studies -more than 20 years of data that can be accessed from
the Better Hearing Institute (www.betterhearing.org). The findings in the
following article show many correlations between EuroTrak and MarkeTrak
data. Nevertheless, demographic differences and divergent health care
systems appear to impact hearing loss awareness, ownership of hearing aids
(adoption), and other factors related to hearing aid use, including
A new survey of mostly middle-aged adults reveals
that among people aged 45 to 54, one in nine shows signs of hearing
impairment. The researchers tested hearing in more than 2,800 adults
between the ages of 21 to 84. Over that large range, one in seven had lost
some degree of hearing, and as expected, the rate of hearing loss
increased with age. Almost all of those older than 80 - about 90 percent -
had lost some hearing, but the rate had already reached one in nine among
adults 45 to 54 years old, the largest age group in the population.
which world do you belong, the hearing of the deaf? When asked this
question I would have to say, "Neither. I'm between two worlds. I'm
hard of hearing." And although my primary means of communication is
oral, I don't identify with the hearing world. Alternately although I
have a severe hearing loss and use assistive listening devices such as a
hearing aid, my residual hearing leaves me feeling I don't belong in the
deaf community, either. So I'm left as the lyrics to a favorite song of
mine say to ponder, "Where do I belong?"
enough, I have 'heard' the answer, not in some lecture or after reading
some book on hearing loss. Nor was it a one-time happening where a tiny
light bulb went on in my head, revealing in full color and sound where
indeed I DID and DO belong. It HAS and WILL continue to be a process of
self-discovery for me.
what does all this mean for my everyday challenges to find answers and
have my unique needs met? Perhaps the best personal experience I can
share was during a discussion on hearing loss during my graduate degree
studies working towards my Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.
Many hearing loss related issues were spoken about, but some, like being
deaf and being hard of hearing, were grouped together as if their needs
were the same. I took advantage of this opportunity to educate others
about my unique world. And though I still sometimes feel between two
worlds and I seem to always have to educate somebody else, in my world
is where I belong.
seems that almost a third of Scots are reluctant to wear hearing aids,
because they think it would make them seem old or disabled. I've never
seen numbers reported for the US, but I bet they're at least as high!
Here's the press release from Hear-it Press
Fear of being
labelled old or disabled makes the Scots reluctant to seek treatment for
a survey on hearing loss in Scotland, around 29% of Scots think hearing
aids would make them look old. More importantly, almost a third of Scots
believe hearing aids would make them look disabled and would not wear a
hearing aid even if they needed one.
survey highlights the stigma surrounding hearing loss and the use of
hearing aids. Although most hearing problems can easily be helped, people
are often unaware that they have a problem, or they are in denial about
estimated that 4 million people in the UK could benefit from a hearing
aid. Hearing aids can help a person with a hearing loss at any age and are
more effective if fitted early.
Research UK has launched a campaign to encourage people to admit the
problem and seek early help. The campaign aims to help people recognise
the early signs of hearing loss and what they can do about it.