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Good questions. First, I encourage you to understand that while the Deaf population and the hard of hearing population have some overlapping issues, their difference are very significant. "Big D Deaf" identifies the Culturally Deaf population that considers their deafness a 'difference' rather than a disability. They use manual communication almost exclusively. I say 'almost', because some of them have been taught to use some oral speech from childhood, but even then, most prefer not to use speech. American Sign Language is their first language. They loudly claim they do not want to be 'fixed'.

Among the hard of hearing population there area variables that create differences. A lot has to do with the age of onset of the hearing loss. When it happens after the onset of language development it's very different than if the partial deafness is there from birth or early childhood. Language development is a key to communication with both the spoken word and the written word. Data from the National Institutes of Health indicates that there are over 48 million Americans who have hearing loss. Approximately 2 million of that number are culturally Deaf. Yet, because they are visible, due to the manual communication they use, many believe they are the majority.

Hard of hearing people who lose hearing as adults, often spend more energy denying and hiding it than they do finding a way to remedy it, Consequently many do not get the help they need, or they wait years before becoming so frustrated they seek help. Other statistics indicate that 75% of the people who could benefit from hearing aids don't get them. Stigma and denial are among the primary reasons for that, but the high cost of quality hearing aids is a huge barrier.

You ask what technology helps us. All of the populations with hearing loss benefit from visual support. Captions make a huge difference for all of us. Masks worn currently, due to COVID19, create a huge barrier to all of us because we all depend on facial expressions and lip movements to supplement whatever means of communication we use. Cochlear implants have been miraculous for many people who wish to stay in the hearing mainstream. The culturally Deaf population does not like cochlear implants because when successful, they have removed people from the Deaf Culture Community. Hard of hearing people who get cochlear implants consider them miracles. Hearing aids are also miracles for people with degrees of hearing loss that can be helped by them. The advances in hearing aids have been remarkable in the last few decades. Hard of hearing people in the know, know that technologies that connect with those modern hearing aids can keep one in the hearing mainstream. The key word is 'connect'. Not all hearing aids will connect with hearing loops or BlueTooth devices. Both means of connection are extremely important. This writer believes that all quality hearing aids should include both means of connection. That means both telecoils and BlueTooth components.

Caption phones are life saving for many people with hearing loss. They have come a long way in the last two decades. Hearing Loops and other assistive technology in theaters, work places, performing arts centers, meeting rooms, worship centers, libraries, etc. are extremely helpful to the population that wants and needs to hear. ASL interpreters are in demand by the Deaf population. Both are necessary to provide full 'communication access'.

I am a bimodal user of a cochlear implant and a hearing aid, My brain has become accustomed to using both technologies. It is amazing. I love the hand held BT mini mic that relates to both devices. It helps me in noisy settings such as restaurants, social gatherings, etc. I love the telecoils that connect me to room installed technologies and also make it possible for me to connect simply and inexpensively to my laptop, my cell phone, other audio devices, etc. I cannot imagine not having access to all of these technologies.

The key to living well with hearing loss is to know what is available and what will work for YOU. Far to many from the hard of hearing population have been led to believe that nothing can help them. Far from the truth, but one has to be open to talking about it and learning about it. HLAA has been my guide since 1983. The chapter meetings and national conferences provide opportunities to meet other people. UNfortunateluy, COVID 19 is preventing HLAA from holding in person meetings, but there is a lot of information available at the website. And, we will get back to real meetings soon. Meanwhile, Zoom and Google Meets have provided get together options. Just learning I wasn't alone back in 1983 was life changing. HLAA is the tool for learning. http://www.hearingloss.org

Julie O

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Replies to "Good questions. First, I encourage you to understand that while the Deaf population and the hard..."

Julie O…… I really liked this post. You are obviously very experienced at working with hearing loss and have a lot of knowledge. Hoping you can share some advice. Had a visit with my audi this week. Until six weeks ago I had in-ear Oticon hearing aids. I had more hearing loss and they were no longer effective. My audi said that the aids I had could not be made any stronger and I would have to go with a stronger microphone. Set me up with aids that have the ear mold. The mold slides partially into my ear. The left one is fine. The right one will not stay in place in my ear and stops working with any head motion. I have been back in twice. Audiologist tried to modify the aid by shaving it and making it a little smaller. Still did not work. This week she said there is nothing more that can be done for me. Another doctor suggested that I look into a choclear implant but she was not encouraging. Told me it involves months of rehabilitation, hard work and extremely difficult. I have a hearing test next week and then see her again and she will send the report in to see if I might be a candidate for an implant. Meantime I want to look into some of the items mentioned in the posts on this site and don't know where to start. So questions: 1. What are telecoils, how do they work, and do you need a special phone to use them. 2. Is there a computer that does captioning? 3. Is there an answering machine that captions (I can no longer hear my message machine)? 4. Is there anything that connects to the TV to make hearing easier?

I also have a balance and vertigo problem 24/7 and find it very difficult to do research on the computer for information. Also there seem to be many options and it becomes confusing.

If you have time and can answer any of these questions I would really appreciate it. Or if anyone else on this site has any ideas for me please share. Thank you so much. Judy

Watch also for lip reading classes on YouTube co-sponsored by my HLAA Chapter and the Fort Pierce Lions Club. Looking to release by end of February.