Shari Eberts is the founder of the popular blog Living with Hearing Loss. She has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story through the blog, she will help others to live more comfortably with their own hearing issues. In addition, Eberts serves on the Board of Directors of Hearing Loss Association of America Now she, along with Holly Cohen and Roxana Rotundo, can add executive film producer to her credits.
We Hear You is an award-winning documentary that she produced that shines a light on the hearing loss experience. Created during the pandemic, the film strives to build awareness, community and a more inclusive world for all. Watch the trailer here.
I recently reached out to Eberts to ask her more about the documentary.
How did the idea for “We Hear You” develop?
Eberts: When the pandemic hit, people with hearing loss felt increasingly isolated. We wanted to keep the community connected and came up with the idea of hosting virtual meetings for people with hearing loss. Roxana, Holly and I hosted them together. The first meeting was a bit of a test, as we all learned to use Zoom, but by popular demand, we held a second. And a third, and many more. They were well-attended, regularly attracting 500+ people. Given her business expertise in filmmaking and content distribution, Roxana saw the potential to turn the meetings into something more—a documentary that would share some of the incredible stories we had heard during the virtual meetings and help raise broader awareness about hearing loss in the mainstream. She asked Holly and I to join her in this new venture, and We Hear You was born.
What is something you learned about hearing loss while participating in the film that you didn’t know before?
I learned that while each person’s hearing loss is unique, it is also universal. We all share similar struggles to be understood and to communicate, to feel included and loved. We all battle stigma and feelings of doubt, and sometimes even guilt when we ask others to accommodate our needs. But together we are a strong community. When we share our experiences and the tips and tricks we use to live well with hearing loss with one another, we are also powerful.
What is the best advice you could give someone who lives with or loves someone with hearing loss?
When you love someone with hearing loss, the best thing you can do for them is to make communication easy. Use conversation best practices like facing the person and getting their attention first. Don’t speak to them from another room or with your mouth covered. Do this consistently and before you are asked or reminded. Voluntary compliance is a true sign of caring.
What part did your family play in the telling of your hearing loss story?
Family is a critical part of anyone’s hearing loss story. My hearing loss journey began before I even experienced it myself, watching my father struggle with stigma about his own hearing issues. In We Hear You, I talk about the ways stigma negatively impacted his life and for many years, mine. But when I saw my children watching me react with the same negative behavior patterns, I knew I had to do things differently. I had to accept my hearing loss. And I did. Today, my husband and children are incredibly supportive of my hearing loss. I am grateful everyday for their love and support.
Anything else that you would like to mention about the film, including how to view it?
Since we launched the We Hear You trailer, people have been asking us when they can watch the full documentary. The time is now! Thank you to Hearing Loss Association of America for hosting this exciting event as well as a Talkback with the producers moderated by Gael Hannan on September 23rd at 7pm ET. Watch the film before 9/23 at this link using the password HLAA2021: https://player.vimeo.com/video/584546807. Register here to attend the Talkback with the producers.IMPORTANT: Please view the film before the Talkback. It will not be shown at the Zoom Event.
To learn more about We Hear You, visit www.we-hearyou.com.