Sunday after next (September 25) is New York City’s Walk4Hearing. This is a fundraising* event but, more important, it’s also a way to stand up for people with hearing loss. We expect hundreds of participants of all ages, who represent the millions of Americans of all ages with hearing loss. Other Walks will take place during the year across the country.
This year’s Walk, in the words of HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley, is a Call to Action for Communication Access. “Ask for something you need to help you with your hearing loss. If you tweet, post it on Twitter@Walk4Hearing using #CommAccess.”
Here are some suggestions:
- At the movies, ask for the captioning devices now mandated at all chain theaters. Ask the manager to help you set it up and to make sure it’s captioning the right movie. Take a picture of yourself with the device and tweet it!
- At the theater or at a lecture, ask the manager or the concierge desk what kind of assistive listening devices they have. And then use them. Some also have captioning devices. And check out TDF-TAP’s special open-captioned performances.
- At meetings, classes, or on the phone, speak up if you’re struggling. There are some easy fixes, especially if you wear hearing aids with telecoils. All you have to do is ask for them. In my experience, you may be surprised by the quick and positive response you’ll get.
- At a store, ask store clerks or cashiers to speak clearly, or to write down the price or other information. If it’s a store you use frequently, especially a chain, ask them to install the kind of cash registers that show you what you owe. You can also ask them to install a portable loop system at the information desk, the register and/or the pharmacy counter.
- At a place of worship, ask about installing an assistive listening system. Go armed with this information from the Hearing Loss Association of America.
- At an exercise class, ask the teacher to wear the transmitter for a personal FM system. Your audiologist can suggest the best system for you.
If you’re still wondering why you should speak up, I encourage you to read my colleague Shari Ebert’s blog post “Why Hearing Loss Advocacy is So Important.”
Many of us have had different kinds of successful experiences asking for accommodations. Please share yours in the comments section below.
*If you would like to make a donation to the WALK, to help support HLAA’s many important advocacy and educational initiatives, support our advocacy by joining or contributing to the Walk4Hearing. If you’d like to support the Walk in my name (I have not yet met my fundraising goal!) click on my name and then move your curser to the right and click on Donate. Better yet, come walk with us.
Katherine Bouton is the author of “Living Better With Hearing Loss: A Guide to Health, Happiness, Love, Sex, Work, Friends … and Hearing Aids,” and a memoir, “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I — and 50 Million Other Americans — Can’t Hear You”. Both available on Amazon.com.