From: Hackensack, NJ
“I first started losing my hearing in my late teens,” said Arlene. “I was always proactive in addressing my hearing loss. I got my first hearing aid at 23, and for the next 25 years, (I) gradually lost my hearing until I was at a profound level…I was always looking for assistive devices and strategies. I always felt that if I was going to lose my hearing, then something good should come of it. So not only did I seek to optimize my own hearing, I also advocated for access for people with hearing loss, which benefited me as well.”
“My hearing aids were essentially my access to assistive listening devices. I used FM systems for classroom situations and meetings, and infrared systems for theater and large auditoriums. When my hearing was no longer good enough to function even with these devices, I advocated for and used captioning—either real time for live events or other captioning methods for movies and live theater. It was when I could no longer benefit from hearing aids that I opted for cochlear implants, and that allowed me to continue to advocate for needed accommodations for others and myself.”
Arlene was affected so profoundly by her cochlear implants that she was inspired to write two books about her personal experiences: HEAR AGAIN—Back to Life with a Cochlear Implant and LISTENING CLOSELY: A Journey to Bilateral Hearing.
By sharing her story, Arlene said her goal was to, “educate and encourage others to pursue this technology that would enable them to communicate better in all life activities. As quoted in my second book, ‘if the world doesn’t provide you with what you need, then you change the world.’”
“Once you see others with hearing loss proactively using hearing devices, assistive equipment, and strategies, it becomes easier to realize that it all counts and does make a difference…you are not alone. I became actively involved in advocacy for people with hearing loss, including successfully co-founding organizations (the HLAA-NJ state association and the advocacy committee of the Center for Hearing and Communication). I innovated captioning for live theater performances that has now spread throughout the US, UK and Australia. My advocacy has resulted in increased access in all public places, at national, state, and local levels. (As a HearStrong Champion, I am enabled to continue) my goals of educating and inspiring others to triumph over the challenges of hearing loss—and that one person can make a difference.”
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