Gael Hannan is a writer, actor and public speaker who grew up with a progressive hearing loss that is now severe-to-profound. We were lucky enough to have her speak at our Healthy Hearing Expo earlier this month.
We're happy to share her recent article below, about her visit to our expo:
Last week, I did a presentation at a hearing health fair in Victoria, BC.
The popular event by Broadmead Hearing has been running for nine years. Free of charge, people can talk to manufacturers of hearing aids and assistive technology, as well as organizations that offer other hearing-related services such as counseling, job support, speechreading, etc. Throughout the morning, there were half-hour presentations on issues such as tinnitus, what’s new in technology, the impact of hearing loss on our lives, and my offering, something along the lines of you’re-not-the-only-one-going-through-this-OK?
There was no free lunch or prizes such as a set of upscale hearing aids a trip for two to Paris, yet hundreds of people came and went through the day.
What was free was exactly what the participants wanted and needed: information – good, firsthand information from them that knows such hearing professionals and the companies that make the technology we depend on.
Most important, in my opinion, was the opportunity to hobnob and chat with other people who have hearing loss. As I walked around openly staring at people, it was clear that many of them had brought someone along for moral support. Or maybe a last-ditch, desperate attempt by a spouse to convince his or her partner to please, please, please do something about your hearing. Or I’m leaving you.
There were also senior lady friends dressed up for tea at the Empress after they took spin around the hearing aid booths. This sort of outing is becoming more common these days, I’m guessing. “Yo, Cynthia, fancy a look at the latest hearing aids and then go for a beer?”
But it was clear that complete strangers were also sharing information. I saw and (partly heard) an interaction between two men talking to a hearing aid representative over a display of the company’s hearing aids. What follows is my best shot at what I heard. OK, I added a bit of stuff and I have also protected the name of the hearing aid in question.
Mr. X (to the manufacturer rep behind the table): I wear one of those.
Rep: Do you? That’s great. Which one?
Mr. X: Um, I forget…this one. (He pulls it out of his ear.)
Rep: Oh yes, our PowerEar2 model. Do you like it?
Man: Not really, no.
Rep: I’m sorry to hear that. What’s the problem?
Man: Well it was expensive, but it just doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to.
Mr. Y (who’s been listening in): You don’t like it, eh? The woman who lives down the hall has the same one but she’s always grumbling about it, and now you say it doesn’t work very well….
Rep: Let me see it. (He calls an audiologist over to look.)
Audiologist: Oh hi, Mr. X! Oh…when was the last time you changed the wax guard?
Man: You changed it for me the last time I saw you.
Audiologist: But Mr. X – I haven’t seen you in months!
Mr. X: I have to change them that often?
Mr. Y: You have to change it often? Change what? Is it difficult?
Rep produces fresh wax guards and the Audiologist demonstrates to Mr. X and Mr. Y how to change the guard. Mr. X puts the hearing aid back in.
Mr. X: Oh goodness, that’s much better. Like new
Mr. Y (to Rep): How much dos this cost…….
And there you have it, an almost accurate reconstruction of a positive interaction between consumers and professionals. Hearing health fairs, lectures on hearing loss, speechreading courses, conferences – all of these put people in the company of others who have valuable experience to share. Don’t be lost on your own, get found in a crowd.