People with hearing loss who have been successful in their careers

Posted by jaema @jaema, Dec 27, 2020

Hi -is there someone I can talk to, or read about, who's been successful in their career? I've struggled with hearing loss, and its effects, for 30+ years and because of these experiences, I've come to believe that I would not be able to navigate an employment setting in a way that would be satisfactory to any employer. I also have come to believe that advancement in any career is next to impossible for me to achieve. I've been significantly under-employed my entire life. I'm now receiving vocational rehabilitation services and I'm wondering if I've sold myself short all of these years. I think that if I were to conduct a little research into how other people have managed well in their careers, without being able to hear clearly the people around them, then I might believe that this could be possible for me, too.

@jaema Hi! Too bad you aren't in NY where a staff member not only has hearing loss, but is a member of HLAA. Could your audiologist be of any help with resources? You aren't near any Center that deals with hearing loss? You do have a big workload, what with coping with people on the job and then having to do all the research. Do you know about Katherine Bouton's latest book (her 2nd one) on hearing loss? She has a wealth of information and presents it in a relaxed, almost entertaining way – very clear-cut.

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@jaema

Do you find that your brain is working overtime just to navigate the very basics of a complex social situation, such as those at a workplace setting? You wrote that you missed a lot of what was said at work and I resonated with your experiences. I took care of myself physically, mentally, and socially on my own time to help mitigate the after-effects of the stress I accumulated throughout the day but this in and of itself was exhausting. Missing so much of the information that was said around me, and having to play make-up/catch-up all day every day, left me being exhausted at the end of the day. I just couldn't see my way through to advancement in any career. I was also wrestling with cognitive distortions and errors about my situation at the time, resulted in feelings of hopelessness and a significant lack of support, and I see that now. Vocational Rehabilitative Services is nice, and I'm grateful to have qualified for these services, but I'm finding myself having to teach them about some common experiences of a person with hearing loss and it has been up to me to find resources for myself. I am grateful for the support while I do this, however.

Anyway, thanks so much for sharing and I appreciate the dialogue.

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Hi, @jaema For sure! I really agree with 'your brain is working overtime…" and it is truly exhausting. My most challenging experience was going to school in France where I heard non-stop French. I am an anglophone.

Meditation helped tremendously. A yogi taught me to meditate the summer before I went to France. Lunch break was for 2 hours. – Siesta time. So, daily, after eating lunch at school, I went home and did 20 minutes of meditation and then had the energy to keep going for the rest of the day. Even now, when I am in stressful hearing situations and too much information is coming my way, a 20 minute meditation break gives me the strength and energy to keep on going.

@julie04 My earliest aid was a 3" x 3 " or there about box strapped on my chest with a long wire going to my right ear. Really fashionable as an 7 year old with a humongous box sticking out of your dress. Thank heavens audio technology has improved light years now! I am glad a CI has been working for you with your Widex aids.

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@jaema

Do you find that your brain is working overtime just to navigate the very basics of a complex social situation, such as those at a workplace setting? You wrote that you missed a lot of what was said at work and I resonated with your experiences. I took care of myself physically, mentally, and socially on my own time to help mitigate the after-effects of the stress I accumulated throughout the day but this in and of itself was exhausting. Missing so much of the information that was said around me, and having to play make-up/catch-up all day every day, left me being exhausted at the end of the day. I just couldn't see my way through to advancement in any career. I was also wrestling with cognitive distortions and errors about my situation at the time, resulted in feelings of hopelessness and a significant lack of support, and I see that now. Vocational Rehabilitative Services is nice, and I'm grateful to have qualified for these services, but I'm finding myself having to teach them about some common experiences of a person with hearing loss and it has been up to me to find resources for myself. I am grateful for the support while I do this, however.

Anyway, thanks so much for sharing and I appreciate the dialogue.

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What you refer to is 'auditory fatigue'. Of course we spend an incredible amount of energy working to hear and decipher what is being said. Background noise is a monster for all of us. It's very easy to just turn out sometimes….which gives people the impression that we aren't paying attention, don't care, or don't 'get it'. I highly recommend learning and practicing basic stress management techniques. Something as simple as rhythmic breathing can help.

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@lucyg

Hi, @jaema For sure! I really agree with 'your brain is working overtime…" and it is truly exhausting. My most challenging experience was going to school in France where I heard non-stop French. I am an anglophone.

Meditation helped tremendously. A yogi taught me to meditate the summer before I went to France. Lunch break was for 2 hours. – Siesta time. So, daily, after eating lunch at school, I went home and did 20 minutes of meditation and then had the energy to keep going for the rest of the day. Even now, when I am in stressful hearing situations and too much information is coming my way, a 20 minute meditation break gives me the strength and energy to keep on going.

@julie04 My earliest aid was a 3" x 3 " or there about box strapped on my chest with a long wire going to my right ear. Really fashionable as an 7 year old with a humongous box sticking out of your dress. Thank heavens audio technology has improved light years now! I am glad a CI has been working for you with your Widex aids.

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I wasn't diagnosed with HL until I was a college student; early 20s. That was in 1962. I missed the 'big box' devices and also shunned the ones I ended up getting. I put off getting them for nearly a decade.

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I get it. In those 10 years devices did get a bit better. Being a kid in '62 I did as my parents asked 🙂 Behind the ear aids,tho huge were a fantastic update! Sorry about that decade where you put off getting them. It is a psychological struggle to accept all this.

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@julieo4

I allowed my progressive hearing loss to cut my teaching career short when I was in my mid-30s. I loved teaching health and physical education, but felt I was being unfair to my students. I had no access to assistive technology then. I was fortunate to be able to become a stay at home mom as my spouse made enough income for us to get by. That was in mid 70s and early 80s when there was no focus on technology other than hearing aids. I discovered, and became involved in the organization that was to become HLAA in 1983. Along with others, I watched the development of assistive technology, including cochlear implants. People with hearing loss/partial deafness, were suddenly recognized as a unique population that needed support and assistance. We were 'in betweeners'; not deaf and not hearing; a totally separate disability group with different needs. Products that could bring clear sound directly to hearing aids started to develop, and become available. I realized, that with technology that went beyond my hearing aids, I could do many things I had thought impossible. I returned to school for a master's degree in human services/counseling. Without that technology, that further education would not have been possible. It also provided me with an opportunity to educate a lot of classmates and professors about the unique needs of hard of hearing people.

In the early 2000s I returned to work full time, and enjoyed another decade of employment. As luck would have it, I was hired for a part time teaching position in a private school that was losing enrollment. After a year there full time, I was hired by an agency that worked with poverty level wage earners who were seeking education that would raise their income and get them out of poverty. I thoroughly enjoyed both jobs. Had I had the opportunity to get the advanced education earlier, I might have geared my ambitions towards management within an agency. However, this all happened when I was in my late 50s, so I was satisfied being a case manager within. Timing is everything.

You are living in times when technology is available, and is also mandated by the American's with Disabilities Act. Communication access is as valid and important as mobility access. You have to know what is available, and self advocate for its availability. Partial deafness is still grossly misunderstood. People tend to think that all people with hearing loss use and need manual communication. This is not true. The large majority of people with hearing loss need technology. Sadly, too many don't know it exists, and even worse, too many won't use it because it's visible.

If we are ashamed of our hearing loss, we broadcast to others that we are lesser people.We should know better. Learn what is available to you. Know what works for you. Educate about it. Advocate for it. You'll be glad you did. I wish you the best. I encourage you to join HLAA. This very special consumer based organization is a great place to learn what is available. http://www.hearingloss.org Vocational Rehabilitation should also be of help. (If they have a hard of hearing specialist/counselor within the agency. Some don't.

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I worked with a hearing consultant recently and I think the main take-away for me was that there is technology available, the specifics of which will be relatively unknown until I actually have need for accommodations in a workplace setting. I don't think that embarrassment is the issue for me here, it’s how helpful the technology really is in addressing the problem that’s the issue for me. Does it reduce the communication barrier or does it simply throw up a different one? However, I now know that technology is available, and I have a right to ask for it. I wasn't amenable to this idea for years, unfortunately.

So, I still don't know what works for me yet, but I do know what doesn't work for me: hearing aids. Speech recognition is a challenge with how much these hearing aids manage the sound that’s coming in. I have mostly conductive hearing loss and my cochlear is in pretty good shape. The amount of interference that these hearing aids create is super unhelpful for me.

However, I suspect that I will be asked repeatedly to use them as I continue on my VRS journey. I do resent this; however, if I'm not willing to wear hearing aids then maybe I shouldn’t expect any further help, I don’t know. This would be far from perfect but nothing’s perfect, I guess. Regular headsets have worked like a dream for me with Zoom calls this year so maybe there’s more to pursue there. I’ve learned a lot so far.

Oh, and I was already planning to join HLAA! It’s been on my task list for a while now so I will take this reminder as a motivation to get this done tonight. Thank you!

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@jaema What kind of headphones worked so well for you … ? Have you told your ear doctor how well they work.? There are a lot of different ways that headphones work but essentially they amplify a modulated electric signal to sound. You say that your cochlear is in good shape,… What have doctors and test shown that is NOT in good shape ?…. Ear Drum? Middle Ear (little bones)?

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@joyces

Reply to Jaema: Tony's right. You need to let people know that you don't hear normally. Most will forget much of the time and talk facing away from you or, worse, behind you, but, when you obviously don't hear, they'll remember and come around to talk face to face. Recently, two of the women who volunteer with me had a nice conversation behind me (we were all working, unpacking totes of bread to stuff into freezers). Since I wasn't participating in the conversation I didn't know was happening, one of them realized that, moved closer, and said, "Shoot, Joyce doesn't even know we're talking" and they both came around to apologize. Everyone has learned to really shout if they come into the pantry and I'm back in the freezer room (my car outside is a huge clue).

During the four years long ago when I had crises several times each week where I was forced to lie still and vomit for hours, I was a crew leader for a fisheries data collection project. I started every time by letting them know what to do if I started into a crisis, and that took a lot of the pressure off me. I only started to have a crisis once while out on the river. I sat down on a big boulder, closed my eyes (visuals make things far worse), and concentrated on listening to all the birds sing…and the crisis failed to develop. I like to believe that being outdoors with a host of birds nearby, plus having let everyone know what might happen and what they should do, made it possible for me to skip that crisis almost completely. I failed to warn one of my clients, started to be sick during a meeting, raced out to my car, where I had barf bags, a blanket…all the comforts of home. That led to everyone spending the next few hours worrying about what they should do. I was very lucky that some helpful person didn't call the paramedics!

Hearing loss is invisible. Sure, some people will think it's a bother to deal with speaking so that you can understand, but most will make a real effort to help you. No one will think you're stupid if they know why you don't track conversations well. Many will go out of their way to face you, speak clearly. I think many of us remember the old phrase "deaf and dumb" and fear that everyone will associate HOH with stupidity, but stating the problem clearly and telling people how they can make it possible for you to hear will put that one to rest pretty quickly. Be proactive!

When I first lost all hearing in one ear due to inner ear disease, I was forced to quit being active as an amateur musician. I not only had loss, but recruitment, so playing in an ensemble or orchestra was downright painful, and I knew that I was often not in tune with the group. Because creative people need an outlet, I turned to learning to knit intricate Aran patterns and spending more time painting. There are some things that may be better set aside if they're all uphill battle and very little satisfaction–but they're few and far between. I've read recently about musicians who got CIs and are still playing; technology has really advanced during the past 40 years, and I envy them.

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I have a question about hearing loss. At what point does a person qualify for CI?

I did volunteer at a local organization giving food away. The volunteers were super nice. However, where we stood around large tables, doing our jobs, I wasn't close enough to hear them. I told everyone I wore hearing aids but couldn't hear well. People forget and just go about talking to each other. They may say a few sentences louder but then forget, I couldn't hear them. This is so very frustrating. I volunteered because I wanted to do something to help but also because even though I have a husband. I quit volunteering because I can't hear the people. My husband doesn't like the fact he has to talk loudly to me. He talks to me from a room which is the room which is five rooms away. I tell him I can't hear him–then he gets upset. He has a very hard time dealing with it. Well, I have had hearing loss which started when my first husband came home at 3:00 am and ripped me out of a sound sleep and hit me over and over, breaking my ear drum. That is another story. He got married seven times and abused every wife! My daughter told me I answered people with statements which weren't even related to the question. I wondered why they looked at me very puzzled. I couldn't even hear my baby cry when I got remarried and had a baby. My little boy used to come to me and say: "Mommy, your baby is crying." I got another place for my baby to sleep or whatever near the kitchen where I could see her and hear her in the day time.

I don't like to go anywhere anymore. I can't hear what people are saying. After I receive the vaccinations against COVID, I am going to get fitted for blue tooth hearing aids. I am very anxious!

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@woogie My Starkey HA have a remote Mic on a lanyard or with a clip that you can give to your partner.. husband .. to wear.. the remote mic is Bluetooth.. and has to be charged.. but it works great.. he can hang that around his neck and talk to you from anywhere in the house usually…. It works with your Smart Cell Phone.. so you have to have that as well..

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@woogie

I have a question about hearing loss. At what point does a person qualify for CI?

I did volunteer at a local organization giving food away. The volunteers were super nice. However, where we stood around large tables, doing our jobs, I wasn't close enough to hear them. I told everyone I wore hearing aids but couldn't hear well. People forget and just go about talking to each other. They may say a few sentences louder but then forget, I couldn't hear them. This is so very frustrating. I volunteered because I wanted to do something to help but also because even though I have a husband. I quit volunteering because I can't hear the people. My husband doesn't like the fact he has to talk loudly to me. He talks to me from a room which is the room which is five rooms away. I tell him I can't hear him–then he gets upset. He has a very hard time dealing with it. Well, I have had hearing loss which started when my first husband came home at 3:00 am and ripped me out of a sound sleep and hit me over and over, breaking my ear drum. That is another story. He got married seven times and abused every wife! My daughter told me I answered people with statements which weren't even related to the question. I wondered why they looked at me very puzzled. I couldn't even hear my baby cry when I got remarried and had a baby. My little boy used to come to me and say: "Mommy, your baby is crying." I got another place for my baby to sleep or whatever near the kitchen where I could see her and hear her in the day time.

I don't like to go anywhere anymore. I can't hear what people are saying. After I receive the vaccinations against COVID, I am going to get fitted for blue tooth hearing aids. I am very anxious!

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I was tested for a CI in the ear that hasn't heard anything useful for nearly 40 years last winter. The threshold is that if you can't understand 50% of what is said in the sound booth (without background conversation/noise), you qualify. The percentage is the total that you hear (or don't) with both ears. At that time, I couldn't tell if the car's engine was running without looking at the gauges, had to feel the side of the dishwasher or washer to see if they were running, relied on the light in the microwave to see if it was still "cooking." Fortunately, I regained the crummy level of hearing I have in my "good" ear once I got on a good program of hormone replacement. I had lost useful hearing in that ear in an instant a year earlier when Meniere's Disease went bilateral (affected both ears instead of the one it had affected for nearly 40 years). Although I didn't hear well before the monster struck a second time, I was thrilled to hear again. The first time I heard birds was soooo exciting! Now, with my aid in my "good" ear, I can hear well enough to get by, even with the new complication of masks that keep me from "reading" what people are saying. Even without captions, Zoom is a big improvement over a simple phone call, as you can see what the other person is saying. Some voices, over the phone, are virtually hopeless for me. If the call is important, like scheduling a medical appt., I make my husband pick up another phone and listen in to confirm what's being said. Some voices are much less difficult; I think it depends upon overtones. My daughter, who had normal hearing, does Zoom meetings all day every day and reports that they are far more stressful than the back-to-back in person meetings she did every day prior to Covid. I think that electronics (phones, computer audio, even TV) strip out or alter some of the overtones–but that's just one idea!

I also volunteer, for a local food program. Last week, after the other two ladies had held a conversation for a couple of minutes behind my back while I didn't even know they were talking, I realized that I do miss lots of things. Most of the people I know (including those two) are usually good about facing me when they speak. In this instance, one of them said, "We were behind Joyce, and she didn't even know we were speaking." There are only four of us who run the program these days due to Covid, and two of them have higher voices with fewer overtones, making them much harder to understand, even face to face.

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@joyces Anyone interested in cochlear implants may want to eventually sign up (free) for this HLAA-NYC Chapter Meeting. I am thinking of you Joyce, because of what you wrote about the standard for qualification. When we get closer to the time of the meeting, I will list it again but know that you can look up this and other HLAA (NYC Chapter) meetings on:https://www.hearinglossnyc.org/ and then click on programs.

What's New in Cochlear Implants? May 4.
Three top New York City cochlear implant surgeons will discuss advances in cochlear implant technology, changing standards for qualification, auditory training after implantation, and assistive devices offered by each of the three FDA-approved manufacturers.

Liked by tonyinmi

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@joyces

I was tested for a CI in the ear that hasn't heard anything useful for nearly 40 years last winter. The threshold is that if you can't understand 50% of what is said in the sound booth (without background conversation/noise), you qualify. The percentage is the total that you hear (or don't) with both ears. At that time, I couldn't tell if the car's engine was running without looking at the gauges, had to feel the side of the dishwasher or washer to see if they were running, relied on the light in the microwave to see if it was still "cooking." Fortunately, I regained the crummy level of hearing I have in my "good" ear once I got on a good program of hormone replacement. I had lost useful hearing in that ear in an instant a year earlier when Meniere's Disease went bilateral (affected both ears instead of the one it had affected for nearly 40 years). Although I didn't hear well before the monster struck a second time, I was thrilled to hear again. The first time I heard birds was soooo exciting! Now, with my aid in my "good" ear, I can hear well enough to get by, even with the new complication of masks that keep me from "reading" what people are saying. Even without captions, Zoom is a big improvement over a simple phone call, as you can see what the other person is saying. Some voices, over the phone, are virtually hopeless for me. If the call is important, like scheduling a medical appt., I make my husband pick up another phone and listen in to confirm what's being said. Some voices are much less difficult; I think it depends upon overtones. My daughter, who had normal hearing, does Zoom meetings all day every day and reports that they are far more stressful than the back-to-back in person meetings she did every day prior to Covid. I think that electronics (phones, computer audio, even TV) strip out or alter some of the overtones–but that's just one idea!

I also volunteer, for a local food program. Last week, after the other two ladies had held a conversation for a couple of minutes behind my back while I didn't even know they were talking, I realized that I do miss lots of things. Most of the people I know (including those two) are usually good about facing me when they speak. In this instance, one of them said, "We were behind Joyce, and she didn't even know we were speaking." There are only four of us who run the program these days due to Covid, and two of them have higher voices with fewer overtones, making them much harder to understand, even face to face.

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@joyces Please forgive if I am repeating myself to you. I think Captel or Caption Call are terrific and much of the time I would definitely prefer them to a Zoom call. You know they are free. Is there some reason you haven't gotten one for yourself?

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response to Barb B: First, we've had so much trouble getting phone service that actually works that I'm afraid to mess with it. We have a multi-phone system that works with our Spectrum service…after months of lines that didn't work, phones that weren't compatible, etc., etc. Also, I wouldn't want to give up having multiple phones; our system might not be compatible with the Captel or Caption Call phone, plus it could easily lead to additional months of agony with the people at Spectrum. It took us over three months and four phone numbers to get service here initially; I can't face that again. Also, it seems that the thing I need to work on now is overall hearing, perhaps trying an aid for my formerly "unaidable" right ear now that recruitment caused by Meniere's is no longer with me. Lots of issues to work through, plus the "fun" of learning entirely new versions of Quark, my page design program (which doesn't even resemble the older version), PhotoShop (again, so different that I can't even do simple things like cropping without finding the proper tutorial and slogging through it), and Dreamweaver, which I haven't even tried yet on the awful monthly rental program for Adobe Creative Suite. At present, I'm also doing both Covid relief and fire relief as a food program volunteer, plus doing data collection in a wild little river two hours away.

Although it was totally impossible for me to use a phone for nearly a year, once I got on a proper hormone replacement program, recruitment went away and hearing in my left ear returned to it's previous level, which needs to be aided. I'm also doing increased vestibular rehab to replace the additional loss of balance function. On top of everything else, my main client has decided that we've lost enough time waiting for Covid to go away, so I'm working on a big book project, currently editing all of the text before diving into retouching and placing photos, writing captions, etc. etc. This project will probably take five more years, so there's no end of work to do. And, yes, if I'd been smart I would have kept this CPU with all its software that did what I needed it to do and bought a new Win 10 system for e-mail. Silly me, I thought it would be a royal pain to constantly need to do actual work on one system and then send the results via flash drive to the Win 10 system connected to the 'net. A bad decision that I regret every day. Too much tech!

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@ken82

@woogie My Starkey HA have a remote Mic on a lanyard or with a clip that you can give to your partner.. husband .. to wear.. the remote mic is Bluetooth.. and has to be charged.. but it works great.. he can hang that around his neck and talk to you from anywhere in the house usually…. It works with your Smart Cell Phone.. so you have to have that as well..

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Thank you for your reply. My husband would never wear something around his neck. I'm afraid it would bother him. He has soo many health issues. I think since he's in his room with the computer and TV, he could place it on the desk. He has no problem hearing a pin drop in a remote room! That's the one thing he's blessed with–wonderful hearing. His mother could hear many conversations going at the same time. In her line of business, it was a definite plus! She and her husband had a funeral home in a small town USA. They knew everyone and were loved by them all.

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HLAA Virtual Meeting: Employment Strategies for People with Hearing Loss
Description
Presented by: HLAA District of Columbia Chapter
Speakers: Lisa Yuan and Ken Cluskey

Finding and maintaining a job with hearing loss can be challenging, and for many, those challenges have likely been magnified during the pandemic. In this program, Ken Cluskey and Lisa Yuan will share experiences and strategies they have developed over 30 years in both the public and private sectors on searching for a job, obtaining employment and achieving success once employed. The program will include tips and resources related to the specific challenges that people with hearing loss may face as they navigate their careers.

Young adults with hearing loss are encouraged to attend. Zina Jawadi, a young adult herself with hearing loss, is a member of the HLAA Board of Directors. She will talk about the HLAA Young Adult Hears Committee and their initiatives that they hope to address for young adults with hearing loss.

Lisa Yuan and Ken Cluskey are recent newlyweds and live in Washington, D.C. Both Lisa and Ken began losing their hearing as young adults. They each wear one cochlear implant and one hearing aid.

Check your time zone. This meeting will take place live at 4 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. MT, and 1 p.m. PT. If you are in a different time zone, please adjust the time so you do not miss the meeting.

Questions? Feel free to email us at webinars@hearingloss.org .
Time

Jan 9, 2021 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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