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.

@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 agree with you that hearing loss is invisible. It's invisible in so many ways and on so many levels, isn't it. Thank you for sharing your story here. It seems like the people around you are/were willing to be supportive to you and I think that's great. I do let people know that I don't hear well; however, for me, it doesn't help to give out guidelines ahead of time for how people can best interact with me and my hearing loss. I know that people tend to ask for this; it just isn't helpful for me. (It isn't always helpful to stand on my R side each and every moment and in every situation, for example, and there’s a bit of wasted time while they suddenly maneuver themselves about followed by however I choose to respond to those movements.) The explanations are just too long. I will, however, instruct them in the moment as to what they might possibly could do in order to help me out right then and there.

Often, there seemed to be literally nothing that could be done to help my situation, and because of this perception, I developed beliefs around what I could do and couldn't do, career-wise, that were extremely limiting. I'm learning to shake that belief system up a little bit now: hence, my quest to find stories of other people with hearing loss successfully advancing in their careers. Again, thanks for your story and I wish you all the best.

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@faithwalker007

My husband is deaf in his left ear and it’s so frustrating for him when people who KNOW it talk to him on his left side. He always makes an exaggerated move to turn to his right and offer his right ear (which he is hard of hearing in) to whomever is talking. That is, IF he cares to hear the convo in the first place—he can be a “man.” Lol
All I can say is to continue to tell people, vocalize your condition, and socialize with those people who respect it. The public will not know but they will IF you inform them.
It is not easy and will never get easier.
I step in and repeat phrases of missed conversation IF my husband wishes it.
If any one who has the same issue has someone who can do this for them, it can help but it also can be just as frustrating as my husband has relayed to me. What it will do though is bring others attention to the issue or remind them but not to be a controlling factor for the person who can’t hear well.

Just what we’ve learned over the years. Take it with a grain of salt. Different things for different people.

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Thank you! Lately, I’ve been interested in learning out about assistive options that might be available to me now, and even that I might have had available in my work environment when I was younger and really struggling with this. Similar to how it is for your husband, people are aware of my hearing loss. However, in group social situations, just talking on my “good side” isn’t at all helpful for me in the grand scheme of things. Was having people talk on his right side sufficient for him to be successful and advance in his career? If not then did he make use of any other assistive options and did he find those to be helpful? I’m interested in learning about how people with hearing loss have managed to be successful in their careers, including in advancement. Not that I doubt that this can be the case for people with hearing loss; I’m more looking for these stories so that I can then use them as a source of hope for me as I move through the Vocational Rehabilitative Services process.

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@jaema

Thank you! Lately, I’ve been interested in learning out about assistive options that might be available to me now, and even that I might have had available in my work environment when I was younger and really struggling with this. Similar to how it is for your husband, people are aware of my hearing loss. However, in group social situations, just talking on my “good side” isn’t at all helpful for me in the grand scheme of things. Was having people talk on his right side sufficient for him to be successful and advance in his career? If not then did he make use of any other assistive options and did he find those to be helpful? I’m interested in learning about how people with hearing loss have managed to be successful in their careers, including in advancement. Not that I doubt that this can be the case for people with hearing loss; I’m more looking for these stories so that I can then use them as a source of hope for me as I move through the Vocational Rehabilitative Services process.

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Don't make it harder work on enhancing whatever lip reading you might know the practical way. My work with two non-profits is resulting in a soon to be released Practical Lip Reading 101. Watch for it, it will be offered to help people.

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@jaema

Thank you! Lately, I’ve been interested in learning out about assistive options that might be available to me now, and even that I might have had available in my work environment when I was younger and really struggling with this. Similar to how it is for your husband, people are aware of my hearing loss. However, in group social situations, just talking on my “good side” isn’t at all helpful for me in the grand scheme of things. Was having people talk on his right side sufficient for him to be successful and advance in his career? If not then did he make use of any other assistive options and did he find those to be helpful? I’m interested in learning about how people with hearing loss have managed to be successful in their careers, including in advancement. Not that I doubt that this can be the case for people with hearing loss; I’m more looking for these stories so that I can then use them as a source of hope for me as I move through the Vocational Rehabilitative Services process.

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@jaema It seems as if I wrote about my career (Marine Officer, Architect, University Professor) within the month. Can you look back for that so I don't have to retype.. I am retired now and am weathering the Pandemic as most have to .. but as I think about the key to do well in this isolation..(I live alone) is that in my career my individual capabilities were usually thought of as very good.. and I worked alone in the creative part of my work.. My sight, voice, and thinking was not impaired at all. So getting in a profession where your individual efforts are easily seen and recognized is helpful. When you have to interact with a lot of others, particularly strangers, that's where the problems arise… Ken

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@jaema

Thank you! Lately, I’ve been interested in learning out about assistive options that might be available to me now, and even that I might have had available in my work environment when I was younger and really struggling with this. Similar to how it is for your husband, people are aware of my hearing loss. However, in group social situations, just talking on my “good side” isn’t at all helpful for me in the grand scheme of things. Was having people talk on his right side sufficient for him to be successful and advance in his career? If not then did he make use of any other assistive options and did he find those to be helpful? I’m interested in learning about how people with hearing loss have managed to be successful in their careers, including in advancement. Not that I doubt that this can be the case for people with hearing loss; I’m more looking for these stories so that I can then use them as a source of hope for me as I move through the Vocational Rehabilitative Services process.

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@jeama Learning about and using assistive devices can be the difference you need. Hearing loss is invisible and people, no matter how much they want to be helpful, forget what it is you need if it boils down to being on one side of you, etc. Assistive devices show. They remind people you need their help. Using a small hand held microphone that broadcasts to your hearing aids can be a huge help. Not just because it transmits sound to the place where you need to hear it, but because people see that you are using something that is working. Vocational Rehabilitative Services should be able to provide the information you need. Other options like speech to text captions can also help a lot. So much depends on when you need it, how you need it, etc. I've heard hard of hearing people who struggle say "I don't like gadgets", well, these are gadgets. Gadgets that require some learning and discipline to use properly. Hearing aid providers should also be well versed in this add on technology, but many are not. Maybe if we all started asking more questions of them, they might be. I hope you get the help you need. It's out there. HLAA has information about assistive technology on their website. HLAA has periodic Zoom meetings that feature technology. Most of those are available on YouTube. http://www.hearingloss.org Take time to explore the website. Some things are hard to find, but they are there.

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@th1

Don't make it harder work on enhancing whatever lip reading you might know the practical way. My work with two non-profits is resulting in a soon to be released Practical Lip Reading 101. Watch for it, it will be offered to help people.

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Hello @th1,

How wonderful that your book on Practical Lip Reading will be published soon. Will it be available through Amazon or another distributor?

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@hopeful33250

Hello @th1,

How wonderful that your book on Practical Lip Reading will be published soon. Will it be available through Amazon or another distributor?

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It is not a book, but rather will be released online as a video or DVD set. I will start offering the lessons on Zoom probably starting in March or sooner. If you want to get on mailing list for full info, send your info to me by private message.

Thank you for your interest and for being your own advocate. We can do so much more for ourselves and others when we find ways to help ourselves.

Cheryl

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@th1

It is not a book, but rather will be released online as a video or DVD set. I will start offering the lessons on Zoom probably starting in March or sooner. If you want to get on mailing list for full info, send your info to me by private message.

Thank you for your interest and for being your own advocate. We can do so much more for ourselves and others when we find ways to help ourselves.

Cheryl

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Speech reading is so important to people with hearing loss; more so than most realize. Our current masked society has awakened many feelings about how much we miss seeing facial expressions when trying to get what we are hearing to make sense. This is true even among those who do not have hearing loss. Good luck with your project.

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@julieo4

Speech reading is so important to people with hearing loss; more so than most realize. Our current masked society has awakened many feelings about how much we miss seeing facial expressions when trying to get what we are hearing to make sense. This is true even among those who do not have hearing loss. Good luck with your project.

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Thank you kindly. The window masks and face shields work better for speech readers.

Cheryl

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@julieo4

Speech reading is so important to people with hearing loss; more so than most realize. Our current masked society has awakened many feelings about how much we miss seeing facial expressions when trying to get what we are hearing to make sense. This is true even among those who do not have hearing loss. Good luck with your project.

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Thanks, and agree.

Cheryl

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@faithwalker007

Before my husband, James became disabled due to his broken down body, he was a successful electrician for years (12 yrs) and then went back to school and received an Associate degree in Secondary Education. He was a successful high school football coach and middle school wrestling coach, elementary school teacher assistant and USA Wrestling official including for Olympic Qualifiers, and detention coordinator.
Being successful as a partially deaf person is possible. It takes work and determination… energy.

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Thank you! Your husband was able to hear and understand what the students and the student athletes were saying?

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@ken82

@jaema Certainly, one can be "successful"… with hearing loss… My left ear is profoundly deaf.. and the right grew progressively worse over the years.. The hearing loss was not limiting the first decade or so … as I would not even admit that it existed… I finish my architectural Bachelor's degree, got a Master's, and a Ph.D. …practiced Architecture for 20 years across the NE quadrant of the US.. then Taught at Universities for another 20… I learned coping skills .. I taught a lot of Lab courses where I was right next to the student.. I would go into the class sitting area to listen to questions.. getting with in 6 feet of the questioning person… then tell them to speak up so the class could hear them … Certainly, my wife accused me of having selective hearing but she encouraged me along the way to get help…. I retired at 63…that was 20 years ago.. I have traveled the world and the US.. I do depend on Closed Captioning a lot.. but then I listen to Audio Books as I drive alone… Enjoy Living…. I was in the Service so the VA now keeps my Hearing Aids working… and up to date… Ken

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I really appreciate reading about this, thank you. If you were using hearing aids while you were finishing your Bachelor's degree (and onward) then would you say that your speech recognition abilities were adequate as well for you during this time?

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@joyces

reply to Faith Walker: There are many times when I cannot even listen to music, due to the recruitment provided by the "Meniere's Monster." Any loud, sharp sound just tears through my head, creates pain. I've replaced playing music with other creative pursuits; my job is graphic design, primarily of books and publications, so that's a pretty satisfying creative outlet. During the years of the initial big problems with this dreadful disease (when I lost hearing/balance in my right ear), I managed a small publishing company. In spite of frequent crises, I never missed a deadline during those four years. When the publisher's kids got old enough, they began to work for the company, always in supervisory roles, so my job ended. I started my own design/marketing business, specializing in the sport fishing industry, and still have clients and work at 78. I just started a huge book project that will probably take around five years to complete; right now, I'm slmply editing all the copy. Photo work and placement will take a long time, as each photo must be in exactly the right spot for it.

Over the decades, I've also sat on many advisory committees for fish and the environment and have managed to overcome the challenge of understanding the conversation, in spite of, first, age-related loss in my "good" left ear, and, more recently, an invasion of the Meniere's monster when I went bilateral. For a year, I was nearly totally deaf, but got on a good program of hormone replacement last May…and the level of hearing I had had in my "good" ear returned within two weeks. Because the hormones also ended much of the recruitment problem, I'm going to try using an aid in my long-useless right ear sometime soon…difficult to get an appt. with Covid. Although I have some slight residual hearing in that ear, it has been considered impossible to aid due to recruitment, just as it was impossible for me to wear the aid in my "good" left ear when it also had recruitment. I have considered a CI for my right ear, but am hesitant to do anything that's not reversible. If an aid works for that ear, I'll be excited to hear more normally for the first time in 40 years!

With all the advances in aids and accessories, plus CIs, there no reason for anyone to not have a normal life, normal job in spite of hearing loss.

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It sounds like you were aware of your needs and blessed with support to address those needs. 😊

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@lucyg

Hi, I have had hearing impairment all my life . L: severely impaired and R: profoundly impaired. As a child my parents got me an aid for my right ear only. At elementary school a Speech and Language specialist came to teach me to read lips. School was a struggle – I believe my speech recognition scores were in the 60-70% range. I persevered and got a BSc in Chemistry and studied French literature for one year at a university in France. I am an amateur musician and we've been trying to keep our band up using SmartMusic – not totally successful for me, but still fun

I have had many careers – I call myself a cat with 9 lives and I'm on my third cat :). I speak fluent French and some Spanish and Italian. My latest career I implement and train clients in Business Software focusing on companies with Manufacturing. I've been a bench Chemist, run an electronics manufacturing production floor, run Medical Devices production, Logistics, Purchasing., been a Quality Manager in Pharma, run a large warehouse and lately been in IT for many years. Hearing technology has changed my life. I now have 2 Widex hearing aids and my speech recognition is up to 90%. Adding my left ear to the hearing world as an adult, I had recruitment issues at first but got used to that. Hearing thro 2 ears was fabulous. Using an external Mic in a meeting situation is helpful. But usually, I have to let people know that I read lips to understand them and they let me watch them speak as well as hear them. We need to let people know how to help us. Side conversations are really tricky, and unfortunately I miss those frequently. What is particularly useful is getting sound directly to my aids – both phone and laptop as I mostly do remote training now and meetings with clients. Microsoft Teams has closed captions for English only at the moment.

It is possible to do many things, one needs to work with people around you, generally they want to be helpful. Let them know what you need and do use the latest technologies that work best for you. There is a lot of conversation here about captions and neck loops – both essential these days for me. Also, getting a Hearing Aid specialist to adjust the sound to match YOUR hearing needs (not just the theoretical – which is a good baseline) – go back to get them adjusted as best you can. But it is possible to do many things even with our impairment. Good luck and don't give up.

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I appreciate your words of encouragement and I’m certainly trying to be courageous throughout this process, I have a lot of trauma to unpack here, so thank you. 😊 I’m curious about your experiences in France. I tried to learn the French language in college but I wasn’t hearing the teachers nor the students clearly and just reading the material wasn’t sufficient. At that time (and for reasons I won’t get into) I was unaware of the actual effect of my hearing loss on my learning capabilities. I didn’t know that my struggles were hearing loss-related so I didn’t seek help in this way. I am curious though, and perhaps my speech recognition abilities were lower than yours at this point, but I’m wondering: you were able to gain access to information while you were in France, yes? Was this solely through written material somehow or did you have help by this time?
Anyway, I learned something reading your story. I never learned to read lips; however, now I’m thinking that this might be a worthwhile avenue to explore.

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@jaema

I appreciate your words of encouragement and I’m certainly trying to be courageous throughout this process, I have a lot of trauma to unpack here, so thank you. 😊 I’m curious about your experiences in France. I tried to learn the French language in college but I wasn’t hearing the teachers nor the students clearly and just reading the material wasn’t sufficient. At that time (and for reasons I won’t get into) I was unaware of the actual effect of my hearing loss on my learning capabilities. I didn’t know that my struggles were hearing loss-related so I didn’t seek help in this way. I am curious though, and perhaps my speech recognition abilities were lower than yours at this point, but I’m wondering: you were able to gain access to information while you were in France, yes? Was this solely through written material somehow or did you have help by this time?
Anyway, I learned something reading your story. I never learned to read lips; however, now I’m thinking that this might be a worthwhile avenue to explore.

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Hi, sorry to be so slow to reply… just got back home to Canada from Las Vegas. This time in France was very long ago and no facilities existed to help in this environment. I rarely let people know what was going on with regards to my hearing loss at that time. I sat at the front of the class and watched the teacher speak to understand better. University classes were a combination of lectures and reading and writing. I encourage you to learn to read lips – that helps so much for me.

However, in these covid days, people rarely wear see through masks . Whenever I do encounter someone wearing a see through mask, I thank them profusely on our behalf.

My speech recognition has improved over the years – this is directly due to improved hearing technology. My actual hearing loss has only slightly grown worse. I'm now 64. However, now I'm facing cognitive losses – my brain is not functioning as well – as determined my my audiologist based on my years of test results. But I believe the brain can still grow – and we must keep learning new things to stop the inevitable decline. My audiologist has taken up the harp for this purpose! So perhaps French might be a fun thing to do!

Lately I've been doing things in Spanish (Las Vegas …) – watching Netflix in Spanish with Spanish subtitles (House of Flowers) has improved my language skills. Perhaps find a good Netflix show – in French I recommend 'Marseille' with Gerard Depardieu. Just have fun! Good luck.

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