Last weekend I went back in time. Some of you who have read my blog from the beginning may recall that I was once the executive director of an organization called VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children. I left more than 17 years ago but last weekend was transported back to my VOICE days when I attended its annual conference.
It was wonderful to reconnect with so many people – primary professionals, as the children I knew from my days at VOICE are grown up and most are no longer actively involved. What struck me was the dedication of these professionals – Teachers of the Deaf, Auditory-Verbal Therapists and others – devoting their own time on one of the nicest spring weekends so far this year to learn about the latest in listening therapies and technological supports so they could better help their charges back home. One of the participants is actually retired but comes back year after year to share her knowledge and wisdom.
The Audiologist who writes the monthly posts on this blog is a good friend of mine and was coerced into doing this over a few glasses of wine. He loves it, does it totally on his own time and enjoys the fact that he is helping others to understand better what hearing impairment is all about and how it can affect both the person who is deaf and his or her family. One thing I have always found difficult to clearly explain to others is why I may be able to hear the words but not understand them. Glen’s most recent post about how those of us with sensori-neural loss hear distorted sounds was one of the best explanations of this challenge.
The two Hearing Aid Specialists who make sure my hearing aid is in working order and cheered me on when I was getting ready for the cochlear implant are ready to help me at the drop of a hat. I’ve known both of them since they first started their work and they just get better every year.
My cochlear implant Audiologist at Sunnybrook treats every small success with the same enthusiasm as me and shares my dismay when I am not moving forward as quickly as I would like. She reassures me that I am making good progress and instills confidence in my ability to make this work. We are partners on the journey. She is continually searching out supports for me, is always ready to help with every challenge and answers every question. I am never hurried during my time with her.
I wear a hearing aid in one ear but I also have a personal F/M system that helps me in group situations. Imagine my panic late one Friday evening a few years ago when the F/M didn’t work and I had a workshop to lead the next day. Well there is a helpline for Phonak, the company that manufactures both my hearing aid and the F/M. I called and was immediately connected to a live Audiologist who told me exactly what I needed to do and waited until I was satisfied that all was in working order. I had the feeling that if the system failed again she would express a new one overnight.
The point of all this is that I think we are very lucky to have such wonderful professionals working to help those of us who are deaf understand and hear better, whether we are babies, teenagers or adults, wear one hearing aid or have cochlear implants. They are all interested in one goal – making life better for us.
I know there are some professionals around who just pay lip service to this goal. I’ve met some of them over the years. But the majority really do care. So if there isn’t a ‘day’ for hearing care professionals and because May is known as ‘hearing month’, let me proclaim May 9th as my own ‘hear’s to the professional’. Thank you a million times over.