In conjunction with International Deaf Awareness Week, I asked the very busy Deaf Girl Amy to write a guest blog post for me. I am impressed with this fellow writer’s story. Why? Because, like me, Deaf Girl Amy has adult-onset haering loss—and she is inspired to help others in the same situation.
After a few days, she sent her story to me with an apology: that she was sorry she didn’t have it to me sooner because she has been taking care of a family member with cancer.
Amy, thank you for taking the time to not only help your beloved family member, who I will keep in my prayers, but to inspire all of us with your story.
-Shanna, a.k.a. Lipreading Mom
Deaf Girl Amy’s Story
I am so honored that Shanna is sharing her blog with me. I absolutely love her “Show Me Your Ears” campaign. Like Shanna, I am an author and “squeaky wheel” trying to help people navigate late on-set hearing loss. I also share the passion of hearing loss awareness. My new print ad slogan for the purpose of acceptance is “Wearing hearing aids is no different than wearing eye glasses.” My objective is to get the mass population to view hearing devices just like they view eye glasses. If you can’t see well, you wear eye glasses…if you can’t hear well you use a hearing device. It’s no big deal.
I believe this will go a long way in encouraging people to achieve acceptance with their hearing loss. I hope it will result in people seeking help for their hearing loss. These items of acceptance and seeking help are crucial in avoiding falling into a dismal abyss of negativity and isolation that accompanies late on-set hearing loss.
Why Accepting Your Hearing Loss Is So Important
I am putting myself out there by saying “Look at me and DON’T make the same mistakes I have.” Losing your hearing is awful enough. It is made significantly worse by poor choices on the individuals’ part and also what behavior we accept from those around us. What I have learned these last 17 years about living with late on-set hearing loss is that your level of acceptance and comfort talking about your hearing loss has a direct impact on those around you and how they make accommodations.
For example, obviously in the beginning I was clueless about how to navigate in unfamiliar surroundings with strangers who assumed I was hearing because I could speak and that is not their fault. It was my job to and I hate this term for some reason but “self advocate.” I only use that phrase because it is widely understood. I prefer the phrase “educate them about your reality.”
“Wearing hearing aids is no different than wearing eye glasses.”
There isn’t a single person who doesn’t have a unique reality that is often times invisible. So it’s my job as a deaf girl to say, “Hey even though I can speak, I am a deaf girl and I need to see your face when you speak with me.” Sharing this statement without malice or attitude goes a long way in communicating with strangers. Heck, I have found that in being open and approachable about my hearing loss, I struggle much less with verbal communication. That isn’t to say, there aren’t certain individuals who need a good slap upside the head for their rudeness. But I tuck those thoughts away and save them for rainy hormonal daydreams. (HA!) But that is a whole other post.
Deaf Girl Amy’s Latest Awareness Projects
Currently, I am in the middle of crowd-funding project. The funds are being raised for two purposes. I am developing a mobile app that will allow people with a hearing loss share how they hear personalized to their hearing loss. In the past I have utilized many different types of examples to get my family to truly understand how I hear. Medically, my diagnosis is severe to profound bi-lateral sensorineural hearing loss. Basically, I am a deaf girl!
With that being said, I hear a ton of white noise, but speech is elusive because I have lost most of my higher ranges, where speech falls. This one aspect is so hard for hearing people to grasp. It is so intrinsic for hearing people to hear they don’t think about it. Whereas people with a hearing loss focus so hard to understand spoken words, it is downright exhausting. So for them to hear for themselves what it’s like to have your “ears” creates an instant level of “oh my goodness, I get it” understanding. This understanding changes the dynamics quickly, regarding how they communicate with you.
The second part is for travel expenses for free hearing loss chats (workshops). I have been invited by many informal clubs and groups to speak and help people, but they don’t have the funds to pay for my travel expenses. I call it Deaf Girl Amy goes on tour. You can find out more here at the indiegogo page.
Thank you again to Shanna (a.k.a. Lipreading Mom) for sharing her blog and being another strong voice in hearing loss awareness.
Deaf Girl Amy—And thank YOU for sharing your story with Lipreading Mom!
Deaf Girl Amy is an internationally recognized expert in overcoming late onset deafness. She is the author of “A Survival Guide for New Deafies!” a book specifically written for people who suffer from late onset hearing loss and for the people who love them. Deaf Girl Amy was a hearing person until the age of twenty seven. She has been living with deafness for over seventeen years. She is in her final semester of graduate school with a concentration in deaf studies and business. Deaf Girl Amy has been featured on national and international websites and in print. She has also penned several guest blogs about hearing loss. She is ready to hit the road to help bring awareness to hearing loss & to help people thrive in a new deafie life. To find out more about Deaf Girl Amy http://DeafGirlAmy.com or view her book trailer on YouTube.
Amy, congratulations on your work and your commitment to sharing your hard-earned wisdom with others. I would just like to comment on your statement that wearing hearing aids is no different than wearing glasses. Unfortunately, hearing aids don’t ‘correct’ hearing the way that glasses correct vision. So many new users of hearing aids are shocked when they still have difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments, or when they still need to speechread to some extent, or when they struggle with the adjustment period. I do agree, however, that we need to de-stigmatize hearing aids and view them in the same positive way as we do glasses – as simply a tool, an ‘aid’ to better health. Keep up the great work!
Gael – Thanks for the excellent point. Hearing aids are a help, not a cure, for hearing loss.
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