Early this summer I was hired to be a hard of hearing assistant through the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing here in Salt Lake City. The Sanderson Center was able to get a grant to hire 18 of us who live throughout the state for part time outreach to help other people who are hard of hearing. Training didn’t start until August 15th and 16th but we did get a few teachers manuals in the mail to read as homework in meantime. I’ve taken the classes already on my own previously but it was good to read it all again and make my own notes. I couldn’t wait to start in my new role.
August 15th finally rolled around and I walked into the center for training eager to see who else I would be working with. After we sat down, introductions were made as we each talked about our self and how hearing loss affected our lives. Not all of us had hearing loss, some were there because hearing loss affected a loved one or because they came across others in their life with hearing loss. Some of us wore hearing aids, some wore cochlear implants and others signed. Regardless, we bonded in that first half hour telling our personal stories.
CART was available all through the training (thank you Julia, we love you!) and we went over some of the curriculum and had a few bonus speakers as well. Kristin Rector of Listen Tech came in to talk about loop systems and how they work. She announced a Loop Utah initiative is underway. (Stay tuned, more information coming since I will be involved with that one too.) Marilyn Call, director of the Sanderson Center, gave an excellent talk on grief and hearing loss, how much we need the room to grieve that loss properly to be able to move on. Robin Traveller, the hard of hearing specialist, presented body language and how important it is to the D/deaf and hard of hearing people.
We started putting together a kit with more teaching manuals, catalogs, and a few video shorts including Gael Hannan‘s Unheard Voices (I was lucky enough to see her present a workshop called Ear Rage! in Virginia at the SayWhatClub‘s convention). We all are receiving three assistive listening devices to take with us to classes; the Mino, the PockeTalker and the Duett. (*I only picked Harris Communications because they give a better description of the products. Other places also sell these items such as Amazon.) That ended Thursday’s training.
Friday morning Peggy Thomson, the Southern Utah hard of hearing specialist, started with a “Noisy Planet” presentation she gives to classrooms around the Saint George area. Did you know every day sounds like a blowdryer is 80-90 decibels? Your car window down on the freeway 90 decibels or more? A gas engine mower is 105 decibels and a siren 120? Anything 85 decibels and above can damage hearing.
Later, Kathy Evans told us how she adapted the Living With Hearing Loss class to suit families with children who have hearing loss. Then CaptionCall and Relay Utah both spoke about their services and how we can help sign other hard of hearing people up to receive captioned phones. Then we got more books and goodies to put in our kits. We are armed with all kinds of things to help people now. Then we scattered out across the state once again to go home. We started out strangers but we became a team starting a FaceBook group that weekend so we can keep in touch and share ideas.
I love being around other hard of hearing people. I love the idea of helping others who are new or lost with hearing loss because I remember my own search almost 20 years ago for any kind of help. If it hadn’t been for the SayWhatClub, who made an online community (thank goodness for the internet), I don’t know if I ever would have learned to cope properly with it all. With today’s technology, things are even better than before with so many more options. I so admire the Sanderson Center for their effort in outreach and there’s so many dedicated individuals to the cause who work and volunteer there. Wow, what an honor to be included.
My new co-workers.