Gael Hannan on New Year Resolutions
A New Year of Hearing Health
By Gael Hannan, Hearing Health Matters 1/1/2013
Are you tired of reading other people’s resolutions for the coming year? Personally, I’m saturated with the chest-thumping declarations, no matter how brilliantly written, that have been popping up everywhere – in the newspaper, on Facebook and LinkedIn and other social media. I just can’t do any more new year’s resolutions, including mine.
So I’ve decided to scrap my original plan for this first blog of 2013. I was planning to review my success, if any, in honoring last year’s hearing health commitments to myself, and maybe declare a few more for this year.
…aw, what the heck…
What’s one more kick at the can of New Year’s resolutions? I’m gonna go with my first idea. (Perhaps I should declare my first resolution of 2013 as ”Be More Decisive,” but I need to think about that more, maybe.)
Looking at last year’s list, I’m pleased at the vast improvement on my usual stuff – to be a nicer person, to reduce my body fat by 5%, to play with the cats more. However, while giving myself an A for honorable resolutions, I self-scored lower at actually achieving them.
Resolution #1: Don’t Bore People by Talking About Hearing Loss (All The Time)
How Did I Do? Not very well, I’m afraid. Over the past 15 years, hearing loss has morphed from a personal health issue into a passion; I can talk about hearing loss until the cows come home – and then all through the night until the morning milking. The subject is endlessly fascinating to me because it’s about people and communication. But as I said last year, I suspect that if you gave my nearest and dearest money to ‘fess up, they might tell you, “She just goes on and on and ON about hearing loss! It’s always speak up here, face me there, put on the captioning this, and I can’t hear through walls that!
2013 Update: I will continue to talk about hearing loss with anyone who is interested.
Resolution #2: I Won’t View Every Hearing Aid User As A Recruit To The Hearing Loss Cause
How Did I Do? Really well! Not every hearing aid user wants to be a member of the ‘club,’ the greater community of people with hearing loss, and I respect that. However, if a juicy opportunity presents itself, I will take it. A notable 2012 failure: My son’s history teacher is a bilateral hearing aid user and he speaks very softly – a decibel or two above whispering. In a parent-teacher interview, I asked if perhaps his hearing aids made his own voice sound too loud. He replied that no, he spoke that way to force his students to move forward in their seats and listen more attentively. (Note: this strategy did not work with my son.)
2013 Update: I will take every opportunity to engage people with hearing loss (except maybe those who have authority over my child’s grades.)
Resolution #3: I Will Be Less Confrontational About Having My Communication Needs Met.
How Did I Do? The results were mixed, to be honest, and they depended on my mood of the moment. If I was grumpy and the accommodation request involved people who should know better, I was perhaps a little shrewish. But if the situation involved people who had, up to this point in their lives, been blissfully unaware of the needs of people with hearing loss, I could be pleasantly patient. On a speaking visit to a HLAA Chapter this past fall, I checked into a hotel that proudly assigned me their “ADA accessible room.” If I were blind or a wheelchair user, the room would have been wonderful, but it fell short for a person with hearing loss. I appreciated the easy-to access captioning on the large screen TV, but the telephone was not accessible. I discussed this nicely with the front desk manager, who promptly changed the phone.
2013 Update: I will be less grumpy, more win-win.
Resolution #4: I Will Learn More About Hearing Assistive Technology.
How Did I Do? In my own defense, technical stuff is just not my ‘core’ competency. It’s not a competency at all. How voices come over the radio is still a mystery to me, and I don’t even try to understand how my lovely new iPad works. I just accept it all as magic that other people have made possible. What works well for me is to do my research and then rely on the expertise of others who have earned my trust – from colleagues with hearing loss to my hearing healthcare professionals.
My spectacular technical highlight in 2012: For the first time, even though I’d had them for over a year, I used my hearing aid telecoils in a lecture and was thrilled at having the hearing the speaker’s voice come directly into my hearing aids! Let’s loop the world!
2013 Update: I will continue to believe in magic.
Moving from one year to the next, the enduring resolution remains unchanged – to maintain the path of advocacy, both public and personal. Hearing loss is on the rise and, as advocates around the world, we must continue and increase our efforts to raise awareness of hearing loss and the strategies that break down communication barriers.
Let’s make 2013 a year of continued progress – because hearing health matters.
Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030; www.nvrc.org; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.