I’ve thrown my passion into my job, it’s rewarding to help people who are in a tough spot with their hearing loss. Support groups and resources have helped me great deal in the past and now I can give back. I still very much enjoy my job even when I experience setbacks, the challenges. I’ve continued to learn things, that never stops. Working with hearing loss for 40 hours a week has me wanting to set it aside when I get home. Computer use too since I use it so much at work. Now I work at home too!
For the last few months I noticed I have missed writing here. This is my voice and not the states voice, not that there’s much difference. The state and I are pretty much on par with each other for the hearing loss community and I have a couple of good supervisors who are supportive of my efforts. Still, here I’m not on my ‘official’ platform. I’m going to try to shoot for a blog piece twice a month. Today I thought I’d go over some things I’ve learned the past couple of years.
Number 1: I don’t have all the answers, but I have a large network of people to work with. I love my tribe. I’m so happy to have a network of hard of hearing friends to share knowledge with. That’s what counts in the end. Sharing with each other.
Number 2: I used to think there wasn’t as much opportunities for the hard of hearing so I wanted to create more events, more presentations and workshops. I was disappointed at first at few came but the few who came made it worthwhile. (But more on this for number 6.)
Number 3: It’s difficult to bring the hard of hearing together. Why is that? Are most of still stuck mostly in the hearing world? People take so long to seek support. Denial? The tribe has been so important to me and I’ve made some of my best friends within it. They understand me, we understand each other, so I love opportunities to hang out together. Together we can do a lot. If 20% of the population has some sort of hearing loss, why don’t more seek this out too? It’s been a valuable part of my journey.
Number 4: Most hard of hearing people don’t advocate for themselves well. We can tell them how and what to do yet most won’t follow through. “I don’t want to be a bother.” Or “my HR department would never do that and I can’t lose my job”. (These are hard times at the moment.) Basically it’s fear of being different. We are the same, the only difference is we have other communication needs. If you are afraid to ask for accommodations, then it’s best to be upfront about your hearing loss and there’s fear there too. It’s a sort of vicious cycle. We need to learn vulnerability in order grow and gain confidence. (See Brene Brown.) Also, can you imagine if we all stood together? If more of us asked and introduced accommodations, we would pave a road.
Number 5: My sign language skills have improved. People say I’ve improved but it’s a slow journey. I’m not fluent yet but I can get by now. The reason for improvement is the 40 hours a week at work around the Deaf so I have someone to practice with. I also picked up another great hard of hearing friend who signs and she works me too. I compare my sign to my hearing loss, both have holes and I need to fill in gaps as needed with other ways…CART, slow down, lipreading. It all combines fairly well these days. This is a hard accomplishment for those of us who have no one to practice with.
Number 6: There are small blessings from COVID19. I was sent to work from home in mid March and I’ll be working home until the end of summer. Our program started having classes online the first week of April. We also started presentations online (Google Meet with Live Transcribe and CART too) and regular Friday morning social. We have hard of hearing assistants around the state and we were boxed in by counties. When we went online that border disappeared and we were suddenly open all over the state. I invited out of state hard of hearing friends to participate and that opened each class and presentation up to more experiences. I’m slapping my forehead with a great big DUH! Why didn’t we do this before?! I now have more opportunities for more hard of hearing people and have helped people all over the state and then some. I’ve met other hard of hearing specialists from other states. This is the way to go. When things get back to normal (ha ha ha, whatever that may be now), we will continue online classes and combine them with in person events too.
That’s enough for now. It felt good to share again, thank you. I’ll be back.