All communities should approach communication with inclusivity and patience. Sharing our stories and our experiences is also just as important. The more we share, the more understanding we will have of each other.
Living With Hearing Loss
Sara’s hearing loss was not detected until she was five years old. Her parent’s had her tested by an audiologist after Sara failed her school hearing test. They discovered Sara was born with congenital sensorineural hearing loss.
Sara first tried hearing aids when she was a freshman in high school. However, she did not wear them for long because she was resentful of having to wear “corrective” devices. To fulfill university requirements, Sara interned as a law clerk and experienced difficulties with her duties because of her hearing loss. Even though she had grown accustomed to reading lips, Sara was missing key pieces of information in the court. After this Sara consulted with an audiologist and found a pair of hearing aids that were tailored to her degree of hearing loss.
“In school, I had hard time socializing and trying to fit in. Life was very challenging, at times, frustrating, and most often, a lot of work!”
The Importance of Hearing Better
“My hearing aids have drastically affected my daily life and my ability to navigate the hearing world. As a result of these improvements, through these social connections and better understanding of conversations, my life is richer and more fulfilling.”
Hearing aids allow Sara to understand speech in various environments. She had been actively involved in meetings with the State Department where she had worked and hearing aids helped her navigate high level meetings. Currently, as a doctorate student her hearing aids help her to better hear the professor and class lectures. Sara has also served in the Peace Corps, and when she was in Burkina Faso, one of her hearing aids broke. Sara reflects, “During this interim as it was getting repaired, I struggled daily with trying to hear soft-spoken shy African women and was reminded of how difficult my life had been without hearing aids.” Hearing aids have helped Sara experience life and to travel to exciting places, helping others.
Why Sara is a HearStrong Champion
Sara is a HearStrong Champion because she advocates for herself, and when she speaks up for herself she is also paving the way for others who have hearing loss. Sara wants the “hearing” world to understand more about what it means to have hearing loss and to create awareness of how to successfully communicate in a variety of environments. Sara would like wide spread accommodations for people with hearing loss in public settings, so everyone can be included regardless of their hearing ability.
Sara has been extremely active in her involvement with the community and has helped advocate for inclusivity. Sara has participated as a community facilitator with the Newark Police Department, she has drafted legislation and led the advocacy efforts for local legislation mandating open captioning in movie theaters, and she has lobbied on the Hill for legislative healthcare reform for sick and injured Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
“Addressing hearing loss is vital to an individual’s quality of life. Isolation and self-ostracism result from hearing loss and are not healthy options. There are many different ways to address loss with certain technologies and tools currently available.”