My Whirlwind Day of Sign Language, Storytelling…and Dead Hearing Aid Batteries

Storytime with Sign Language at the KC Ability Expo 2012

I took part this past weekend in the KC Ability Expo, an event in my area that promotes understanding of differently abled individuals and support organizations. The annual fest features info booths, artists, wheelchair dancers, a Deaf choir, and other entertainment. As a second-year Expo volunteer, I split duties between helping with a Hearing Loss Association of America chapter booth as well as leading children’s sign language storytime in morning and afternoon sessions. (That’s the afternoon session pictured.) Plus, I hired someone to help me chase after with my three kids…so it was a super busy day.

That’s the Redeemer Lutheran Deaf Choir performing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in sign language.


Say hi to Jordan, one of the Expo’s many teen helpers. Thumbs up for advocacy!


Aimee, my friend with hearing loss, sold custom-made doll apparel at her Expo artist booth.

Uh-Oh, My Ears Are Dead
The next time I run out the door to volunteer at an Expo, I need to not be in such a hurry. Thirty minutes into the event, I stood in a crowd of people, watching the Deaf Choir perform. Suddenly, my hearing aids began talking to me in a loud voice.

“BEEP! BEEP!” my ear devices chanted.

I dug through my purse to locate the size 312 hearing aid batteries I thought I had packed. No such luck.

“BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!”

A few minutes later, I walked to my first storytime and sign language class. The robotic message from my dying hearing aid batteries continued.

What could I do—leave the Expo to locate the nearest Walgreens selling batteries? Pretend that my ears weren’t ringing their sirens that only I could hear?

Like a good storyteller, the show must go on, and I led storytime while one hearing aid continued beeping and the other aid died. Its battery had run out of juice.

While the kids learned the signs for apple, cute, and hungry for our story, I imagined that my one beeping ear was a false fire alarm of which only I was aware. How does one sign the words “Storytime Leader Suffers Hallucinations from Dying Hearing Aids”?

Several minutes later, that shrill beep finally quieted. Then I was left with the silent awareness that I would have to do a better job at next year’s Expo of remembering to pack spare Energizers.

Have you ever had a hearing aid battery die on you at the most inopportune time—when you didn’t pack spare batteries? How did you handle those annoying beeps?

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14 thoughts on “My Whirlwind Day of Sign Language, Storytelling…and Dead Hearing Aid Batteries

  1. Yes, I have – although not at the MOST inopportune times. And mine only give me two beeps – one trill of beeps as a warning and one trill of beeps just before it goes dead. I explained my hearing aid just went dead and positioned myself to hear.

  2. I think all of us who are hearing impaired have had this happen. My aids peep twice and I have about 20 minutes then they are dead. I then take them out of my ears as they seem to reduce the very little hearing I have,and hope no one ask me a question etc. If possible I get myself to the nearest place that sells hearing aid batteries….It is a terrible situation to deal with…..

  3. Yes I have…several times!! Too many to count, because I’ve been wearing hearing aids since I was 8, I’m now 21. My grandparents always got after me about not having batteries on me, but as I’ve gotten older and more responsible, I’ve learned to have extra. When a hearing aid would go dead, I would just turn it off, and wait till I got home to change it.

  4. Sometimes that beep*beep drives me crazy. Mine can carry on for 6 hours like that. I complained to my audiologist to see if they could fix it. I could understand 2 warnings but to continue beeping? It’s insane!

  5. You did a great job and I had no idea your hearing aids were going dead. No one in the audience would ever have known. We loved having you do our story time and would love to have you back next year! Chris Baker

    • Chris – You and your volunteer team did an outstanding job with this year’s Expo. Everyone around me seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. I look forward to being part of it next year!

  6. My hearing aid battery died when I was in labor with my daughter four years ago! Luckily I had some in the overnight back and my partner changed it for me.

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