by Grace Avila, Newsletter Editor
Since I graduated from college this past May I have been asking myself, “What’s next?” My summer has largely consisted of refreshing my LinkedIn feed, polishing up my resume, and applying for jobs. Besides looking for a “big girl job,” this summer has also brought about change to my hearing health as well.
A couple of months ago, I was editing an article for the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), where I am the editor for the newsletter. The article was about the Oticon More hearing aid. After doing a quick Google search about this hearing aid, the part that stood out to me was that this particular hearing aid claimed to increase speech understanding by 15%. Intrigued by this finding, I asked my audiologist about purchasing one for my next hearing aid at my next audiogram appointment. I had had the same hearing aid since freshman year of high school, and let’s face it — getting a new one was probably way overdue. My audiologist agreed that it was probably time to get a new hearing aid, and soon I made the decision to get the Oticon More hearing aid.
I hadn’t realized that hearing technology had been advancing so rapidly. When I got my new hearing aid, I swapped out my dome for an ear mold and traded voices and sounds that I could not understand for voice clarity and understanding. In fact, when I found out that my new hearing aid could connect to my phone via Bluetooth, I was ecstatic. I could enjoy music again for the first time in four years. I remember excitedly calling my closest friends on my cell phone right when I got home and hearing them tentatively pick up. Up until that point, I only called if it was an emergency or by accident. After I called my friends, I called my grandma, who I call Granny, and she sounded so excited for me. I hadn’t realized how much I missed hearing the sound of her voice until I was talking to her over the phone. After we hung up, I cried on my bedroom floor.
My new hearing aid has given me the opportunity to experience and enjoy sound again. I’ve been able to hear sounds that I’ve almost forgotten existed: the hum of the AC, my dogs’ paws tapping the floor, pages turning. I’m even grateful for the more annoying sounds too, like the sound of people chewing food.
After I had the chance to re-experience sounds, I also had a moment of self-doubt. Now that I could hear better, was I still hard of hearing? I spent the past couple years learning how to accept my disability, but would getting a new hearing aid that gave me a newfound ability to hear mean that I needed to drop my disability identity? I wrestled internally with this thought in my mind for the next week or so. After a heartfelt conversation with my mom, I came to a new conclusion.
My new hearing aid doesn’t make me less hard of hearing. I thought it did at first, especially because I can hold conversations pretty well now. My new hearing aid helps me to hear, but it doesn’t take away my experiences and identity as a hard of hearing person. I know ASL, I love learning more about disability, and I’ve even learned how to advocate for myself.
In conversations, I sometimes still have to ask people to repeat themselves (which was a moment of familiarity that brought me comfort).
I would not have known about this more advanced hearing aid if I hadn’t read the story about it from one of our own ALDA writers.
Being ALDA’s Newsletter editor has given me the opportunity to learn from different people and hear about their own unique experiences with hearing loss and how they navigate the hearing world. It’s been a great opportunity to feel connected to others when they shared something that I could relate to and learn from others as well. I’ve learned about hearing aid technology, captions on video conference platforms, clear masks, and even advocacy for open captioning in movie theaters.
I love learning about hearing health, news, and experiences, and I love to write. As ALDA’s Newsletter editor, I have the opportunity to do both. I am so grateful for the opportunity to make connections with people in ALDA through email and the chance to be the newsletter editor. I hope all of you have a wonderful rest of your summer and that you and your loved ones are staying safe.