Buying a New Hearing Aid (Yay! and 'Yawn')

It has been at least six years since I bought a new hearing aid. I bought it based on a recommendation from an audiologist in New York City, while I was living there. I did not shop around or care to really learn more about the hearing aid I planned to buy, which was really expensive at the time. I did not even check to see if my insurance company would cover it. I was that clueless about buying a hearing aid. I simply went to one audiologist and bought it after he recommended it. It was easy. I think I was just not aware of the benefits of shopping around for a hearing aid, looking at reviews and recommendations from others, seeing if a less expensive version was available. I suppose I was lazy and just did not want to put in the work.

Luckily, the hearing aid worked out for me. I had the money at the time and the hearing aid worked great for me and still does today.

But, now with new technology and advances in hearing aids, I wonder if my old hearing aid is really all that great. It seems to work well for me now, but could it be better?

This was one of the reasons why I recently saw an audiologist; a new one. Someone recommended me to go to this center and get my hearing evaluated there. 

The evaluation part was okay. My hearing is almost the same (slightly worse in some areas), compared to my previous audiograms from other audiologists. I did really well with the speech discrimination portion (92%). During this part, the evaluator covered her mouth and said different words. The two words I missed were "thought" and "pick". When she said the word "thought", it sounded like she said "fart". I tried not to laugh and I said "start" instead. When she repeated the words without covering her mouth I got them immediately. I am an excellent lip reader, according to her. It's interesting how the scores for this part varies with different audiologists I have seen. I think how I will perform depends on some factors. Some audiologists are easier to understand than other and sometimes how I am feeling impacts how I hear speech.

When it came to her recommendations for hearing aids and technological devices I could utilize to help with my high frequency hearing loss, I was ready to go home. The thought of trying a new hearing aid tires me. I don't know why. I want to take my time with this I suppose. However, I was really excited to find out that my insurance company will cover a lot of the cost! That will be very helpful.

Of course the audiologist recommended a cochlear implant for my left ear (which is pretty much profoundly deaf). I said no. I am not ready to even think about going through the process of getting an implant right now. I have been doing pretty well not being able to hear with my left ear for 31 years. We talked about two hearing aids she recommended, which I am sure she feels obligated to push. I have heard about the hearing aids before and heard from users who recommend them, so it is a possibility that I'll try them.

There was only one thing she said that bothered me. When she talked about other patients who were unwilling to be implanted or to try some auditory training once they were implanted, she said, "I guess some people just don't want to hear." While it is true that there are many deaf people who prefer not to hear, I don't think this is true for people who are actively seeking information about cochlear implants or who are already implanted. I don't think anyone can understand what it must be like to be deaf or hard of hearing and go through a process like this. It is an overwhelming and personal experience that will take some a while to accept and deal with. It's not that I don't want to hear out of my left ear. I would LOVE to! That would be the greatest thing. I just don't want to deal with surgery, another device, extra batteries, and the training and adjustment that goes along with it. But, if I can just take a pill or a shot without any serious side effects, to restore hearing, I would do it in a heart beat.

A new hearing aid it is. 

Any suggestions?

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What if There is a Cure For Deafness?

I am excited and fascinated by the news of stem cell research approved by FDA in relation to treating hearing loss. I can't wait to find out what they learn.

In light of the news, I have been asked by more and more people, "What if deafness was cured tomorrow? What would you do? Would you be upset about not working in deaf education?" I usually laugh and tell them, "I would not be upset. I would be excited for those who benefit from getting their hearing restored. But, in reality, not everyone will benefit from this procedure or will want to. There will still be deaf or hard of hearing students to work with. There will still be people with cochlear implants. Even if everyone magically becomes hearing overnight and there are no deaf people, there will still be people with communication issues who could benefit from accommodations and services which I can help provide. I would just have to change my job title I suppose."

I think it would be incredibly selfish of me to be upset by the idea of a cure for deafness, because I will no longer be a teacher of the deaf. I would be thrilled if my students and their families no longer have to deal with communication issues, accommodations, special education, IEPs, small group, inclusion, speech therapy, hearing aids, cochlear implants, constantly being left out of most everyday spoken conversations, etc.

When people talk to me about cures for deafness and how it will happen any day now, I imagine truckloads of deaf and hard of hearing people lining up to receive their magical ear drops and suddenly have the ability to typically hear.

I don't think it will be this easy, as least not so soon.

Nevertheless, I can't wait to hear what they learn. How exciting!

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Stuff People Say to Teachers of the Deaf & HOH

  • "Wow, how sweet of you!"
  • "You teach deaf kids? How noble of you."
  • "You work on their speech and stuff?" 
  • "Oh, like a speech teacher." 
  •  "Must be nice having quiet students." 
  • "Why do deaf people [insert question]?"
  • "Aren't you concerned that sign language will keep the student from talking?" 
  • "Since you work with him on speech, do you have any suggestions on how he can improve his articulation errors?" 
  • "How do you teach deaf students to talk?" 
  • "Can you interpret?" [for something that requires a certified sign language interpreter, like a formal evaluation/interview with a deaf signing student].
  • "This is the speech teacher." 
  • "Do you work on other things beside speech?"  
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Stuff Hearing People Say to Deaf & HOH People

A YouTube video that has gone viral inspired me to write about the ignorant and funny comments some people make to deaf and hard of hearing people. The video I am talking about is by comedian Franchesca Ramsey. She recently uploaded a YouTube video S**t White Girls Say to Black Girls. Apparently, she was inspired by another YouTube video S**t Girls Say. The video is controversial and some people do not find it funny. I thought it was a pretty hilarious and interesting social commentary. I think what makes some people upset about it is that it makes them think and honestly evaluate themselves. Sometimes it can be hard to cast a critical eye on yourself. 

Too bad the video is not captioned! Because I don't want my fellow deaf and hard of hearing readers to be completely left out, I provided some of the dialogue that I am able to understand. If anyone, who can hear everything she said, would like to provide a transcript for the video, please feel free! That would be great. I would provide a full transcript, but it would not be very accurate, being that I'm hard of hearing and all. Sorry.

Partial transcript (some of the dialogue that I could hear):

"Not to be racist, but. . ."

"My grandma hates collards. Wait, is that racist?"

"Why isn't there a White Entertainment Television?" 

"My best friend was black. I mean, she's still black [unintelligible mumbling]".

"Why is this computer acting so ghetto?"

(Pointing to painted black figures) "That one kind of looks like you, right?"  

"Girlfriend!" 

"Hollah!" 

"I think what I like most about them is that they're not stereotypical like black people. You know what I mean?" 

"It's almost like you're not black."  

You get the idea.

Instead of making a video (I got lazy and could not find anyone who wanted to participate), I will write out some of the things I have actually heard people say to deaf and hard of hearing people, including me. For the record, I don't think all people with typical hearing will make these comments. I can understand why some of the following comments were made. However, I can't help but laugh at some of them for being unbelievably silly and rude.

Stuff Hearing People Say to Deaf and Hard of Hearing People:
  • "Wow, I never would have known you are deaf!" 
  • "You don't look deaf."
  • "She was so beautiful, you would have not known she was deaf." 
  • "What's reading braille like?" 
  • "Can you have children?"
  • "You speak so well!" 
  • "You don't sound like a deaf person." 
  • "What? There's no need for captions. Here, I'll turn up the volume, I don't mind." (turns up volume on t.v. really loud, smiles and gives the thumbs up).
  • "Oh, never mind. I'll tell you later."
  • "Turn up your hearing aid!"
  • "Why don't deaf people just get cochlear implants?"
  • "Oh, I love sign language! "A. . . . .B. . . . .C. . ."
  • "Why don't you ever listen to me?" 
  • "I bet you are just pretending to be deaf, huh?"
  •  "What is your problem? You were hearing me fine just a second ago. Are you listening?" 
  • "Oh, he's probably not deaf. Selective hearing, right?" (laughs)
  • "GEEZ! I. . .SAID. . . WHAT. . .DO. . .YOU. . .WANT. . .TO. . .DO?!!!"  
  •  "Doesn't it make you sad that you won't hear your child say, "I love you."?
  •  "Can you read their lips and tell me what they are saying?" 
  • "Oh, how do you sign @#%^, *#$%, %@!*&, and !@@#$%& ? 
  •  "Can you hear me now?" (laughs)
  •  "You don't need an interpreter. We can understand what you are saying."
  • "Oh, you are deaf? Like Helen Keller! Cool!" 
  • "Gosh, you deaf people are so angry and militant!" 
  • (Whispers) "Look! He has a hearing aid, just like you!" (points)
  • "Didn't you hear? Oh- Eer, um. . .so sorry, um." (laughs nervously)
  • "Oh, you're deaf? Sorry." 

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Lipreading Mom/CCAC Internet Captions Campaign

Lipreading Mom collaborated with CCAC and started the Internet Captions Campaign; requesting television networks to provide captions for their online videos.

Details are at http://LipreadingMom.com/lipreading-mom-captions-campaign.

Several network websites have been contacted, and volunteer email letter-writers are needed to keep the initiative going.

They encourage and welcome your involvement!


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