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.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss group.

@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.

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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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@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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