From: Mason City, IA
Throughout her life, Laurie has had a number of role models; her first being her grandmother who was affected by hearing loss as a child. Others include Marlee Matlin, an actress with hearing loss who entered Hollywood during Laurie’s teenage years, and Anindya "Bapin" Bhattacharyya, the coordinator of the national outreach adaptive technology training program for the Helen Keller Nation Center. He is deaf blind, and became an important connection for Laurie when she came to the center seeking assistive technology.
"I found out I am losing my vision to Retinitis Pigmentosa about 3 years ago," says Laurie. "I met Bapin as my assessor for the iCanConnect program. This program helps people with low vision and hearing loss use technology to keep them connected with family and friends through email, messaging programs, FaceTime, etc. I wasn't sure what my future goals were going to be since I decided to stop working as a graphic designer, and Bapin offered me a job! He gave me direction and goals to set for myself."
Laurie has accomplished many things with her hearing aids. Not only do they help her connect with her wife and family, but they have also allowed her to excel academically and professionally. She was mainstreamed from pre-school to high school, completed college twice, and graduated from business school. She worked as a graphic designer for nearly 20 years before accepting a position as a telecommunications trainer at the Helen Keller National Center, and also works as a dietary aid for Homestead Assisted Living in Mason City, Iowa.
Laurie is a HearStrong Champion because of her success, advocacy, and determination. She knows what it is like to struggle with hearing loss, and she has advice for others who are facing similar battles. She says, "I want people to know they are not alone and they are not the only ones who have self-doubt about their abilities to function with a hearing loss. I have felt alone many times, but with family, friends, and role models, you don't feel so alone."
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