June 26, 2011

Phone Interviews: What Do You Do?

You have been asked to conduct a phone interview about an available position with a company you would love to work for! But. . . you have a hearing loss and you are nervous and unsure about how you will perform over the phone.

What do you do? How do you handle this?

Of course it depends on your type of hearing loss, your personality, and how you typically communicate with others using the phone.

In the past, I will let the person doing the phone interview know that I have a hearing loss. I have been lucky to have people understand and ask if there is anything they can do to help (if there is no way we can do an interview in person or via webcam). I thought the phone interviews I did went well. There were a few times I had to ask the interviewers to repeat themselves, which was not an issue, because they understood that I have a problem with hearing.

But, I think now with the neck loop and phone captioning system, it should be a lot easier to deal with phone interviews, but I will still tell the person on the phone that I have a hearing loss. I think letting others know is very important. And if they don't understand and are unwilling to accommodate you, then you probably would not want to work for them anyway.


June 22, 2011

Waiting for the Elevator Makes Me Anxious

Photograph from Flickr, by Jeff Tabaco

While some people may have anxiety about being trapped on an elevator, sometimes I have anxiety about waiting for an elevator by myself.

I noticed, while at the HLAA Convention in DC, that I have this anxiety. I never really noticed it before. It has been a while since I was required to take the elevator several times a day, as I went back and forth to my room and the events being held at the hotel.

When there are several elevators, on both sides of the foyer (like in the picture above), it is hard for me to know which one will open if I can't see all of them, because I have trouble hearing the high pitch 'ding.' Sometimes I can hear it, but I worry that I will not hear it and will miss the elevator. I know I can't hear the doors opening, unless I was concentrating super hard. Listening for the little 'ding' sound and perhaps the door opening is stressful. Me constantly looking around at the elevators, looking for the light to come on and to see which one will open is annoying.

What I usually end up doing is wait at the end of the hall of elevators, so that I am able to see all of them. This way I don't have to look around for the light and doors opening.

Anyone else feel the same? Or is it just me?


*By the way, I will be writing about my experiences at the HLAA Convention when I get back home from visiting my family in Virginia. I still have not fully recovered from all of the excitement. You can read about my experiences at the HLAA Convention blog.

June 13, 2011

Language Issue Not Cognitive

Sometimes I will have to explain to some people that being deaf or hard of hearing is not a cognitive issue, that is of course if the deaf or hard of hearing person understands language and has access to fluent and consistent language like everyone else. I don't necessarily think that deaf and hard of hearing people think or learn differently from everyone else. If they are taught in a language that they understand and have equal and full access to, learning should not be a problem. I don't think many deaf and hard of hearing children struggle with reading because of cognitive problems, but because of lack of exposure to sounds and perhaps language (if spoken language is clearly not working or a visual system or sign language is not used with them or used inconsistently). Think about it, how is the average profoundly deaf child supposed to learn language, if their family and teachers are unable to effectively communicate with this child? Then how is a child suppose to learn and do well in school with little understanding of language?

Some of the deaf and hard of hearing students I work with struggle in academics. Some have learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities, some lack motivation, and some have difficult personal lives, making it hard for them to do well in school. Plenty of their hearing peers struggle with academics for a variety of reasons as well. From what I have seen and experienced, the deaf and hard of hearing students usually struggle more than their typically hearing peers due to accommodation issues and lack of understanding from their teachers.

For the deaf and hard of hearing students who are bright, highly motivated, have not been diagnosed as having a learning disorder, or come from stable families, it seems as if the lack of exposure to consistent natural language, during their early years (0-5 years or older), plays a big role in how they do in school or in learning certain academic subjects.

If you do not have the luxury of consistently and naturally picking up ongoing conversations around you from day one, you are going to struggle with learning language later in life. Language is important. If you do not understand language or do not have strong language skills, taking in new information and understanding what is being said or read is going to be a task. For example, if you do not know the names for each season (fall, winter, spring, and summer) and the meaning of each, you will have a difficult time answering reading comprehension questions from a reading passage about the four seasons. If you do not understand how past tense works in the English language, you will have a hard time writing a short essay in English about what you did during summer or what you did last night. If you do not know how past tense works in American Sign Language, you are going to have a hard time understanding someone explaining to you what they did last week in ASL.

Language is important.


June 12, 2011

Check Out Incredible Short Film "My Song"

I just watched My Song by C & B Films for BSLBT, directed by William Mager and written by Charlie Swinbourne. Big thanks to bloggers Amy Cohen Efron and Tina for sharing this film on their blogs. 

It is a coming of age story touching on identity issues, which most deaf and hard of hearing people can relate to, including myself. I absolutely loved it. It is a well made film. Absolutely brilliant. The acting was excellent, it was not maudlin, and it did a great job depicting a person trying to find her place as a deaf person new to sign language. It even brought some tears to my eyes. 

I encourage you to check it out. It is just under 25 minutes long.

(via billster 1977)


June 2, 2011

Is There a Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

Someone sent me a link to an article from Johns Hopkins Medicine discussing the possibility of hearing loss being linked to dementia. For some reason, it seems as if seniors with hearing loss are more likely to suffer from dementia. The article states that no one is for sure whether hearing loss is associated with dementia or if hearing loss somehow causes dementia.

But, if there is a link between the two it could possibly be because of two reasons. One, those who develop hearing loss as they get older tend to be more socially isolated and less active. Two, perhaps "the strain of decoding sounds over the years may overwhelm the brains of people with hearing loss, leaving them more vulnerable to dementia" (2nd paragraph of article), which I find interesting.

If they do find that hearing loss is associated with dementia, it seems as if it would be for those who later developed hearing loss as they hit their senior years. I think that those who have always had hearing loss (from birth, from earlier years) would be less likely to develop dementia, being that their brain is accustomed to the way it hears and process sounds, and because they are accustomed to having a hearing loss, by the time they are seniors it should not interfere with how they have always socially interacted with others and lead their lives.

I would think that if there is a connection between the two, there would be more people willing to wear hearing aids or utilize hearing technology to combat symptoms of dementia. Appropriate hearing aids should help seniors continue to be active and social and to try to carry on with their lives as usual. In addition, I think they should be offered free counseling and guidance from hearing loss experts and be encouraged to join hearing loss support groups and organizations such as HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America).

By the way, I heard that seniors are often misdiagnosed as having dementia due to undiagnosed hearing loss. Apparently, many of the symptoms of developing a hearing loss are similar to symptoms of dementia (confusion, change of personality, disorientation, inattention, etc.).


Link to article: