- Please tell us your name.
- Are you Deaf? Hard of Hearing? Other?
I have a bilateral, moderate to severe hearing loss.
- What mode or modes of communication do you use?
I wear two hearing aids and I use lip reading a lot. When an Auditory Loop is available, I love being able to use the T-coil in my hearing aid to use the Loop system!
- Please tell us about your experience in school. What schools did you attend for elementary school, high school and college? What did you like and dislike about those schools?
Since my dad was in the Military, we moved around frequently when I was a child. This was in the 1960s and 70s. The schools did not provide much assistance other than speech therapy. I had no one to educate me about my needs for accommodations or modifications in the classroom or other situations. It was a very difficult, confusing, and frustrating time for me. I often did not want to go to school. I found it hard to follow along and so I muddled through. As a result, I did not receive a strong educational foundation. A person cannot recall information that was never received due to lack of ability to hear clearly in the classroom.
- Please tell us about your work experiences. What is your current job? What other jobs have you held? What was your favorite job?
I am no longer employed. My last job was working as a Kindergarten teacher and individual tutor at the Omaha Hearing School. Most of my adult life has been spent raising our children and volunteering in the community in various ways. I was fortunate to serve two terms on the Board of the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I was also involved in the local Omaha Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association.
- Please tell us about your hobbies and interests.
I am interested in just about any activity that involves being outdoors. I love to garden, hike, bike, and spend time with my grandchildren.
- Please tell us anything else you would like to share about yourself or your family. For example: Are other members of your family Deaf or Hard of Hearing? Are you married, do you have children?
I have been married to the same man for almost 35 years. We have four children. Three of them have hearing loss in varying degrees. Our only child who does not have a hearing loss has become an ENT doctor. We have two grandchildren so far and one of them has a hearing loss. The hearing loss is genetic and it comes from my mother’s side of the family.
- What advice do you have for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and their families?
For the parents, I want you to know that the earlier the hearing loss is identified the better for your child and your family. The first three years of life are so critical for learning language and communication skills. I recommend getting assistance for your child to hear clearly as early as possible, whether it be hearing aids or a cochlear implant. During the first three years of life, some of the neurological pathways that were present at birth will fade away from lack of use. Including some pathways from the ear to the brain if these pathways are not being stimulated by sounds. By providing listening assistance at an early age, you give your child more options to choose from for their preferred mode of communication later on in life.
For the children with hearing loss, life isn’t “fair.” But I can guarantee you that every person has their personal disadvantages and struggles. Learning to accept your hearing loss is an ongoing, life long process. New challenges will come up in your life that will require you to adjust your attitude and use different skills to participate and be a productive member of your family and society. It helps to have a support system that may include family and friends with no hearing loss and those with hearing loss to provide encouragement, stability and information to remind you to have the courage to advocate for yourself.