After living with moderate hearing loss for over 30 years, my hearing suddenly deteriorated to a level of profound deafness over a period of a few days. When I returned home from a weeklong stay in the hospital where efforts to reverse my deafness proved unsuccessful, I had no idea how I would begin to live my new life. Living with hearing loss had always been difficult, but profound deafness made me feel as if I’d landed on another planet.
I somehow found my way to an HLAA Manhattan Chapter meeting and the experience was indeed…‘life-changing’. First, because I was welcomed by a caring group of people, who immediately began jumping through hoops to learn about my communication needs and make sure they were met at the meeting. Secondly, it was the first time I’d heard an audiologist (the evening’s presenter) address the fact that hearing loss isn’t something that’s only treated in a medical setting. It encompasses every aspect of our lives, there are great variations in levels and types of hearing loss, and lifestyles and communication needs can widely differ. I was hooked. I knew I’d found the right place and it’s been a four-year whirlwind of learning, personal and professional growth, and positive experience ever since.
I believe HLAA is so effective because it addresses the varied needs of people with hearing loss, at every level. We have a relatively small number of paid staff at the national level that are highly effective in forming partnerships and impacting legislation for access and services. An extensive network of volunteers, benefiting from the training and support of our national office, are also truly effective in carrying out HLAA’s agenda at the local level. A perfect example is our HLAA Walk4Hearing. Supported by our national office staff, and organized and implemented by volunteers in 23 cities across the country, the Walks are one of the best opportunities to create awareness and raise funds for hearing loss.
One of my most valuable memories is the awards ceremony breakfast at my first HLAA Convention. As I sat and listened to the incredible accomplishments of so many HLAA members, I was really stunned at what this organization had inspired other to do. I was also encouraged to know that each and every one of us can accomplish great things, for ourselves, and others, by utilizing the support HLAA offers in moving forward with our lives. Life-changing indeed.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
add paid staff to help support the many new members/volunteers (families, students, hearing health professionals) coming into the organization