Volume 37 Issue # 2 Spring
Association of Late Deafened Adults
SPRING 2021 Newsletter
Volume 37 Issue 2
In His Own Words…
Spring is in the air, and with the monstrous effort to vaccinate the majority of Americans against COVID, things are looking brighter!
In March 2021, the ALDA Board voted to continue plans for an “in-person ALDAcon”. We hope the majority of the population will be vaccinated and protected against COVID. We will continue to monitor the situation just in case anything changes. We will keep our members informed of any CDC guidelines that are changed, but we hope things continue to improve. I, for one, look forward to my much-needed ALDA hugs!
As of this writing, any non-essential crossing of the U.S./Canada border is still prohibited. We hope that will change in the near future. Again, we will keep you updated since I know many of us who plan to attend ALDAcon will also want to cross the Canada border to view Niagara Falls and visit our neighbor to the North (BRING YOUR PASSPORT!).
ALDA continues its membership in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN). According to the DHHCAN website, “DHHCAN, established in 1993, serves as the national coalition of organizations representing the interests of deaf and/or hard of hearing citizens in public policy and legislative issues relating to rights, quality of life, equal access, and self-representation.“
ALDA has reinstated the Bylaws and Policy Committee to discuss additions or changes to any existing Policies or ByLaws. We also have several other committees, and if you would like to volunteer, please use the form available at www.alda.org/contact/
We have also revamped the ALDA website front page to be easier to use and more streamlined. Thanks to the Communications Committee for that!
That’s all for this time. My door is always open so feel free to contact me with suggestions or comments. Send e-mail to President@alda.org.
See you in the next issue!
Thank you for your support!
Contact us to get involved or share ideas:
ALDA 2021 Board of Directors
President: Ken Arcia
Past President: Rick Brown
Vice President: Carrie Levin
Secretary: Tina Childress
Treasurer: Matt Ferrara
Region 1: Laura Sinclair
Region 2: Diane McDonagh
Region 3: Larry Kavanaugh
Region 4: David Baldridge
John Waldo, Esq
Washington State case update
For the past two newsletters, I’ve been reporting on two cases in Washington State claiming that the almost universal exclusion for hearing aids in health-insurance policies. These policies violate the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, by discriminating against people with disabilities.
Kaiser and Regence, the defendant insurance companies, have both filed motions to toss the cases out, claiming that the law does not require them to offer any specific benefits, just equal access to the benefits they do currently offer. Those motions are in front of the judges, and we don’t expect an answer until late spring or early summer.
Our argument is simple. Hearing aids meet the definition of durable medical equipment, which is medically prescribed equipment used at home. Health insurance covers most durable medical equipment like wheelchairs. So the question which the insurance companies have not answered is “why are hearing aids different”?
As best I can tell, health insurers don’t cover hearing aids because Medicare doesn’t do so. Why not? An online search discloses some interesting rationales but none that make any sense.
The first rationale is that when Medicare was passed in 1965, the belief was that hearing aids, like eyeglasses, were inexpensive and would be used by many people. The reality is quite the opposite. The latest estimates are that the average cost of a single hearing aid is roughly $2,400, which is far from cheap. Moreover, we know that there is an enormous gap between the number of people with hearing loss and the number that actually get hearing aids.
The second rationale appears to be that Medicare coverage requires a valid balancing of cost vs. benefits, and supposedly, no one has come up with a good way to quantify the benefits of hearing aids. This again seems bizarre given all of the recent research on the correlation between hearing loss and depression, social isolation and dementia. Moreover, Medicare does cover cochlear implants, and if the benefits of better hearing through CIs can be assessed, why not the benefits
of better treatment through hearing aids?
A third and somewhat cynical explanation is that decisions on what to cover and what not to cover are made by advisory panels comprised largely of medical doctors. Because hearing aids can and often are prescribed and fitted without the involvement of anyone with an M.D. attached to their name, this explanation suggests that hearing-aid users don’t have the same political clout as CI users.
What I think the resistance among health insurers really comes down to is a fear of the unknown. Since almost no private insurers cover hearing aids, nobody knows how much doing so would really cost. And nobody wants to be the “test case” to find out, particularly if none of their competitors are providing coverage.
If we could prevail in the Washington cases, then health insurers as a group would have to jump in at the same time. Moreover, it is possible that hearing-aid coverage by private insurers could prompt a re-examination of the rationales behind Medicare’s exclusion. This could mean a whole lot of us would hear better.
Aside from the Washington cases, the other issue I’ve been keeping an eye on is the problem all of us confront by the widespread use of cloth masks, which prevent us from speech-reading and can make it much more difficult for us to understand what is being said. That can really interfere with our ability to go about our lives – I can fake it through “paper or plastic” at the supermarket check-stand, but anything requiring more than a yes-no answer to a routine question gets really difficult.
A recent case from California dealt with that issue. A deaf woman sued Nike, arguing that she couldn’t shop at one of Nike’s retail stores because she couldn’t understand the masked sales personnel. That case was settled with Nike agreeing to obtain clear masks with transparent face panels that could be used when a customer so requests.
This seems to be a reasonable resolution, and could be duplicated in a lot of other contexts, particularly the critical problems of hospital and health-care. Legally, the argument is impeccable – most businesses and government agencies must provide “effective communication” to those of us with hearing loss, and if speech-reading is no longer available, some substitute must be found and employed. Businesses could use alternatives like white boards or exchanging notes, but those are so time-consuming that you’d think businesses would find transparent masks an inviting option.
The real obstacles are not legal or conceptual, but are logistical, and there are two significant logistical questions.
The first question is whether masking will be with us for long enough to make it worth the bother either for us to press the issue or for the businesses to adopt this solution. I had originally thought the answer to this was probably no, but I’m rethinking that for a couple of reasons. My ENT, the last doctor I’ve talked to, said he plans to wear a mask for a good long time. Even after herd immunity has been reached, I suspect many medical personnel will do as well because they are likely to be exposed to those people, hopefully few, who get COVID or variant despite being vaccinated.
The second factor I find persuasive is the astonishing decrease in seasonal flu cases this past winter, a decrease attributed to the Covid precautions of masks, social distancing and hand-washing. While seasonal flu is nowhere near as serious as Covid, it’s still uncomfortable enough to incentivize widespread mask-wearing.
The other question is which masks to get, and how available are they. Opinions on this seem to vary – medical personnel will likely emphasize the degree of protection afforded by the various clear masks, while we might prioritize visibility. And while clear mask production has ramped up, the needs just in health care are enormous – the Texas Medical Center here in Houston has over 100,000 employees, the majority of whom interact with the public in at least some capacity.
Go beyond health care and into retail and service establishments and we can see that we are talking about literally millions of establishments and tens of millions of potential mask users.
So how can we begin to untangle this knot, when it is not possible to negotiate with every business and government agency all across the country? I know this sounds like lawyer talk, but I think this is a situation where a precedent-setting lawsuit might be the best answer. We’ve learned in a number of contexts that a legal precedent establishing requirements on every business of a certain type creates a need for creative and economical solutions – in other words, demand brings about supply.
Let’s pay serious attention to this problem. How does mask-wearing interfere with your lives? Are the masks going away? This may be an area where we can harness our collective life experiences to make a meaningful difference for all of us. If we are indeed able to gather in person in Niagara Falls in October, and if masks are still with us, let’s have some serious conversations about this.
Nurse On Call
Anne Marie Killilea,
MSN, RN, EdDc
Ask the Nurse — Courage: Discovering
It & Cultivating It In Our Daily Lives
By Anne Marie Killilea, MSN, RN, EdDc
Spring is here! While some of us are bravely raising our heads up from the dreary winter, some are also being cautious and are staying inside. Our lives have changed, and we are not the same as before. For some during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have developed a fear of going outside (FOGO) and others have developed a fear of being left out (FOBLO). These are new fears which have been identified and diagnosed over the last year in response to the pandemic. Of course, we are frightened!
There has been hope in this grey area; three vaccines which have been developed to curtail the spread of this terrible disease. The three different COVID-19 vaccines have rolled out in unprecedented speed to help curb the high numbers of people falling victim to the virus. The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical companies have created vaccines which have been determined to help patients.
Even with all the reports, side effects have varied depending upon the type of vaccine administered. Some people have suffered with severe side effects which are currently putting a halt to the production of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Statistics demonstrate that the Pfizer vaccine produces the least amount of side effects. The Moderna vaccine has proven to have a varied amount of side effects, which has caused problems for this nurse.
I experienced significant side effects 36 hours after the first Moderna vaccine and 72 hours after the second. I eventually recovered from the side effects with bed rest and plenty of fluids. While being on bed rest, I was able to reflect and think of all the things I wanted to do when the pandemic crisis is over. I want to make my chocolate chip cookies for every kid on the block. I want to crochet more baby blankets for the new little ones coming into our world. I want to call all the friends I left behind and ask them how they are. I want to hug everyone I know. Most of all, I want to get rid of every mask I own…. but not right now. I must be careful; we all do.
I learned many things from being ill, and I read a lot about mental health self-care. We have a responsibility to think about how we want our world to be once we rise together above this pandemic. Do we want to be courageous or fearful of our world? Do we want to create the same health conditions as before or change the way we live to see our children mature? I choose to be courageous.
To be courageous, a few things can be done differently:
1. Be kinder: Check up on a friend or a neighbor and see if you can toss in a few things for them at the grocery store. Make cookies or something special for that youngster who is not in school. See if you can pull a few weeds along your edge of property to help your neighbor. Be thankful to those who do the littlest thing. Care for one another!
2. Speak clearly: Being a late-deafened adult can sometimes make communication difficult. But now wearing masks all the time affects how people speak and others hear. Many people who thought they heard simply fine are realizing they have a hearing problem. Speak slowly and more clearly, do not rush a good story!
3. Journal: Write down the good thing that happened to you each day. Include the good thing you DID to make yourself smile and feel better. This does not have to happen each day but try to get in the habit of being grateful for the little things that happen in life.
4. Turn off the news! Sometimes we are overburdened with news 24/7. We need to set a time limit on this. Too much sad news can affect the happiest person.
On a much broader level, we can consider changing some of the ways we have affected our world. Within a month of New England being in lockdown when driving was at a minimum, there was an aerial picture of the Boston area of the atmosphere comparing it from May 2020 to January 2020. From the May 2020 picture, the hazard gas levels were minimal, and Boston had clean air!
Maybe keeping the workforce working from home is a good idea. We can consider changing the way our air filtration works in offices, schools, and hospitals. We can’t continue to place 30 children in a classroom and expect teachers and the children to be healthy and safe. We can’t expect employees to work over their hours or come in sick and do a full day’s job. We can’t continue to pollute waterways because it’s cheaper to do. The list is much longer. We must be courageous to adapt to our changing world. It will not be easy.
Being courageous is not always done with recognition. My 94-year-old neighbor opted to have his Pfizer vaccination. My husband helped him register for this vaccine through the computer. We drove to Fenway to get his vaccine. He refused to use a wheelchair but stood in line to wait for his turn. He stepped up and was greeted by a nurse who quickly led him to one of the vaccine stations. There he was checked and received his first vaccine. He was proud to help. When I talked to him later, he told me that while he is mostly housebound, he wanted to make a difference for those who would meet him. He said he is 94, a veteran, has lived a good life, and now was his time to
think of others. That is courage.
In sum, I am not trying to convince others to get the vaccination. It is a personal decision. The message here is to try and develop the courage to do the right thing for yourself and for others. We will get through this pandemic stronger and more resilient than before, but only if we have the courage to change.
Be safe! Be healthy! ALDA cares about you!
MATT’S MONEY MATTERS
By Matt Ferrara
It is now Spring, baseball has started, students are back in the classrooms and most importantly, many of us have been vaccinated or will be in the near future. ALDAcon planning is progressing. We are looking forward to the Niagara Falls Con this October. Hopefully, we can have our usual fantastic Con and many of you will be able to attend.
This report reflects the first quarter end (March 31, 2021). Our total fund in the bank accounts increased by $17,000 during this past quarter. This was due to generous donations, ALDACon Registrations as well as continuing membership renewals.
The Balance Sheet for the ALDA Bank accounts as of the end of, the Quarter, March 31, 2021:
ALDA Operating Expenses: $84,556
ALDAcon 2021 Account: $19,489
ALDAcon 2022 Account: $ (2758)
ALDAcon 2023 Account: $ ( 680)
Scholarship Funds: $28,878
As of March 31, 2021, the total cash in the ALDA Bank accounts is $129,485
The IRS 990 Report for 2020, IRS 1099 and 1098 forms and the State of Illinois Secretary Forms for 2020 were completed and filed on time.
We now have three members along with me on the Finance Committee. We are exploring various fundraising programs. If you are interested in serving on the Finance Committee or have any suggestions for fundraising campaigns, please contact me.
And, as a reminder, ALDA, Inc. is a non-profit corporation, and any donations may be tax-deductible. Also, some employers do have matching donations plans. If you have any questions regarding donations, please contact me at Treasurer@ALDA.org.
Communications Committee report
Communications Committee Summary – April 2021
By Jim Laffer Social Media Chair
ALDA is in the process of officially recognizing the Communications Committee (formerly the Social Media Committee) due to an expanded mandate. Social media is just one aspect of what we on the Communications Committee do. Other aspects under the committee’s purview include e-blast outreach, the ALDA News newsletter, and the website. The Bylaws committee is currently studying ALDA communications as part of their efforts to update the Bylaws and a proposal is in the works to make the communications committee a standing committee so it will continue into the future as a regular part of ALDA.
This is a big change for the organization and one we on the Communications committee fully endorse. Unified messaging is so important to an organization so it can grow and stay relevant. The current committee has only been around for 2 and a half years, and the first year was stunted by several factors outside of ALDA’s control. However, in the last 8 months the committee has started to have a bigger impact and the changes and growth are just beginning.
The major initiative this quarter included updating the ALDA website homepage. That update added many new features allowing for a more dynamic and user oriented experience. One new feature allows us to post articles quickly with no need to get our webmaster involved. That will lead to a lot more timely content on the website. This has already been happening in April with new posts on the status of a lawsuit to force insurers to cover hearing aids and complimenting the Sound of Metal movie for garnering several Award nominations. These posts can then be shared on social media and push more hits to the website which can have long term impacts on sponsorship and advertising revenue.
There are many more changes planned over the course of the next several months to improve organization and ensure the information presented is current and relevant to people who visit the site looking for information. Please take a look at the initial changes here. We’re open to feedback from our community.
The Board has approved a small advertising budget for the purpose of boosting awareness of ALDA generally and ALDAcon in particular. The budget will be used for some small targeted ad buys which will help improve outreach to late deafened adults and also to increase attendance at ALDAcon. You may see some of these boosted posts in your newsfeed.
Over time, we will refine our target audience to spread the word even further. We’re excited about our broadened community and looking forward to a great time at ALDAcon.
Social media continues to be a strong focus for the Communications Committee with continued efforts to stay active and provide timely, interesting information. Those efforts continue to pay off with increased hits and other interactions. Social media takes time, energy, and focus to have an impact. Step by step and bit by bit we will increase our footprint and ALDA’s visibility. Things are on the rise and we will continue to utilize this vital part of any communications strategy.
In addition to the advertising initiative and continuing changes to the website we will be working on possibly remaking the newsletter into something more modern and shareable. It’s important for this vital part of ALDA’s quarterly outreach to have a bigger impact, and there are ways to keep it both a unique experience for current members and to better use the articles to spike interest in learning more about ALDA and hopefully becoming a member.
The Communications Committee will also focus on facilitating communication within the organization to better serve our community. The more effectively we work together, the better we can achieve the goals of the organization.
As always we welcome your feedback. If you have any questions, suggestions or are interested in volunteering with the Communications Committee my door is always open. Feel free to send me an email at email@example.com.
Meandering through a Hearing World
Testing New Hearing Aids: Oticon More
By Linda Bilodeau
I’m always interested when new hearing aids or peripheral devices become available. I work closely with my audiologist, and I see him at least four times a year. I have a hearing test annually to ensure that my hearing is stable. In between my regular visits, my audiologist sends me notifications when new hearing products become available. I also keep track of what is being released by the major hearing aid manufacturers: Starkey, Widex, Resound, Oticon, Signia (formerly Siemens) and Phonak by regularly visiting their websites.
When hearing aid manufacturers release new aids or peripherals, they usually allow patients a trial period of two or three weeks. My audiologist participates in such programs. Through the years, I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to try new aids or peripherals without having to commit to buying the product. Most audiologists will allow a 30-day trial period for hearing aids, as this is the law in many states. However, when participating in these types of trials, you have to pay for the aids or peripheral device and then wait for a refund should you choose not to go through with a purchase. I appreciate that my audiologist gives me the option of not having to pay while I’m trying out new hearing aids.
My adventure in testing the new Oticon More aids began in mid-January 2021 when I came across an advertisement for this product on Oticon’s webpages. I was not seeking new aids since I have a pair of Oticon S, the company’s first generation of aids with artificial intelligence. Though I have my list of pluses and minuses, I am happy with the sound features of Oticon S.
These aids are advertised to increase one’s ability to hear by 30% and to increase speech understanding by 15%. Oticon More utilizes artificial intelligence in a new way that is built into the aids through a deep neural network (DNN). In a quiet or noisy environment, the DNN scans the environment for sound and extracts sound elements. The circuitry pulls the sounds together so that they make sense to the wearer based on their specific type of hearing loss. Additionally, the sound is balanced for a natural hearing experience.
I was due for my annual hearing test in March, so I contacted my audiologist and asked about Oticon More. I was told there’d be a pair of the Mores waiting for me should I want to try them out. At the end of March, I went in for my bi-annual hearing exam. After discovering that the results of my hearing test and word recognition scores showed that my hearing was stable, my audiologist adjusted the More hearing aids according to my audiogram.
Because I have profound sensorineural hearing loss, I’ve always struggled with women’s voices whether in person or on the phone. During the first few days of my trial, I noticed an improvement in sound quality, particularly with women’s voices. I feel that I do have better speech understanding.
In noise, I still need my mini mic, but the background noise of a restaurant or other public venue is much easier to take. While wearing the More, I don’t struggle with background noise as much as I used to. To me, the sound coming through my mini mic seems more natural.
After the first week of my trial, I returned to my audiologist for an adjustment. Now, 4 days past that adjustment, I’m sold. I plan to purchase these aids.
We all face the tough decision of when to upgrade our hearing equipment. In doing so, you should consider why you are seeking something new. Ask yourself these questions:
Has your hearing changed? Has your lifestyle changed? Has technology changed? What are you looking for that you don’t currently have?
Usually, I upgrade my aids every three or four years. When making a decision to upgrade, I keep in mind that hearing governs how well I live my life. I value my relationships and want to participate in life. For me, the cost of upgrading is but one factor.
It is always best to meander through the hearing world with the best possible aids, implants, and peripheral devices. Build a list of hearing wants, needs, and desires. Work with your audiologist to find the best hearing solutions possible. Ultimately, we can achieve our hearing goals with a little research, thought, and consideration.
One of Us
This issue’s interview is
This issue’s interview is with Corin Goodwin, a valued member of the ALDA Communications (formerly Social Media) Committee. Corin grew up in Manhattan, with a short stint in Westchester county in New York. She attended Hunter College High School and then New York University. Corin got her Bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University in Urban Studies and did her graduate work in public policy and economics at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Corin currently resides in Renton, Washington with her husband, her children, two cats, and a service dog in training.
When she was very young, Corin had frequent, severe, long lasting ear infections that impacted her auditory processing. She spent decades being told there was nothing wrong with her ears and that it was all in her head. In her mid 30’s, her hearing started to decline greatly, but it was still difficult for her to get a diagnosis. By the time Corin was in her late 40’s, she found a specialist at the University of Washington Medical Center and was finally able to get a formal diagnosis. It turned out that Corin has Meniere’s Disease, the same vestibular condition her father and grandfather had as well. Corin has gradual hearing loss, and also experiences bouts of vertigo. Her service dog both hears for her and catches her when she starts to fall.
Corin is married to Robert Bachmann. He works at the VA, helping other disabled veterans to get the benefits they have earned. They’ve been married for over 13 years. Corin started out in public policy working at the White House’s Office of Science & Technology, and later worked in the tech world. Corin also founded a nonprofit for families of children with learning disabilities. She and her team built an organization that served families, professionals, and educators around the world, reaching over a million individuals each month.
Two years ago, when her Meniere’s symptoms were worse and she could no longer be an effective CEO, she retired after 15 years in the role. Since then, Corin does educational consulting and some tutoring of neurodiverse children, teaches a few classes in writing, and in world history, and continues to run a communications and management consulting practice.
She also started law school but given the hearing loss and online conflicts, she’s currently on medical leave and working with law students on a disability rights committee to make a difference for others. By the time you finish reading her interview, I’m sure you will agree that Corin is definitely one of us.
KK: What book or books do you recommend others read?
CG: All the books! I’m a huge reader. I read a lot of history, political science, neuroscience, fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, including the occasional young adult books, because who can’t use a nice fluffy brain break once in a while? I started maintaining a list of books I have read on Goodreads a while back, and I have an Amazon wishlist of books I want to read but will look for at the library before buying.
KK: You simply cannot live without…..
CG: My family, my pets, chocolate, sushi, and books… not necessarily in that order. 😉
KK: Your little known talent is:
CG: It’s not exactly a secret. I practice Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), also known as fighting with longswords. It’s much more difficult on the days my Meniere’s is a problem, but it’s fun and it’s great exercise. My other not-so-well hidden talent is that I have taken in young adults as my children over the years. Society assumes that at 18 or 21 everyone is ready to ride out into the world. but children with difficult backgrounds (in particular) still need guidance. My hubby and I take in strays, feline, canine, and human.
KK: The hardest thing you’ve done is:
CG: That’s a long list. I’d rather not go there.
KK: Your funniest hearing loss moment is:
CG: Family court. I finally got CART services, but the transcriber was used to criminal court. Her auto-predict kept filling in words that would not have amused the judge at all.
KK: When and how did you learn about ALDA?
CG: I learned about ALDA through word of mouth just a few months ago. A number of friends mentioned it, so I signed up and the first thing I received was a notice that they were looking for volunteers. I had a long talk with Cynthia Moynihan, the VP at the time, and we just really hit it off. I have a lot of expertise in communications and social media (which are closely intertwined) and we both saw a need for that kind of addition to ALDA. She put me in touch with Jim Laffer, who chairs the relevant committee, and we have been working closely ever since. We’re a great team.
KK: Do you belong to an ALDA chapter or group?
CG: No, I don’t think there is one in the Seattle area.
KK: Have you ever attended an ALDAcon?
CG: Nope. I don’t go anywhere these days. Pandemic.
KK: In what ways has ALDA enhanced your life?
CG: ALDA has given me a platform from which to speak out for change. ALDA gives me a channel for educating others, and in return I can give ALDA the benefit of my years of experience in running a successful online nonprofit, and in particular, share how to integrate and leverage our platforms such as the website, e-blasts, and social media to create the greatest impact.
KK: Who or what inspires you the most?
CG: I have an overdeveloped sense of truth and justice. Mostly I just want to make a difference, to make the world a better place than I found it.
KK: People would be surprised to learn that you…..
CG: Sleep (in between projects!)
KK: Your biggest pet peeve is:
CG: The misuse of power in any context. Logical fallacies. People who are mean.
KK: Your favorite childhood memory is:
CG: Sitting on the washing machine while my (non bio) mom folded laundry and told me stories of her Caribbean childhood.
KK: Your favorite saying is:
CG: Not my circus, not my monkeys.
KK: The bottom line is:
CG: We could all stand to be a little more understanding of others, a little more compassionate and less judgy. Specific to ALDA, the bottom line is that we as an organization are trying to make the world a better, more inclusive place for people who can’t hear as well as others. Hearing loss isn’t binary. Some people are completely Deaf, others have hearing loss, while others have inconsistent hearing loss. Some people can’t hear noise, others can’t hear and understand what’s being said. What we have in common is that we all count, and we all have value. We shouldn’t allow the hearing world to write us off for their own convenience.
Regional Director Reports
Editor’s note: This was mistakenly left out of the
Winter 2021 issue. Apologies to Laura.
RD1 Quarterly News
by Laura Sinclair January 2021
Whatever your personal climate encompasses just now, the universal “Auld Lang Syne” has never been truer. So “take a cup of kindness” and pray that the person behind you at Starbucks you are “paying it forward” to isn’t treating the whole office. It happens. Smile and move on.
Few of us would look back and choose 2020 as the snapshot we wish to remember. It’s not so surreal if we remember to look forward to the constants we can rely on, the natural rhythms we know will come. The ever-hopeful cycle of life energy. A new calendar with a blank slate, and ALDA membership renewals. Resolutions to “meet more often, even if only a few will embrace seeing themselves digitally during “full screen” view on a Zoom / Google Meet / MS Teams / Facetime chat. You are resilient! You can do it! There are no deadlines on learning something new. Just think of the friendships that can grow across the miles.
If you joined the ALDA Annual business meeting in November, they were there! Are you still riding on those good vibes of seeing one another? Thinking of our international ALDA members, this can be tough but we have had folks join at 3:30 AM in their time zone!
We’ve done our share of hibernating with the pandemic precautions. Holidays took on a new look, feel, and communication disasters. My Christmas tree had aphids…What!? It’s a thing. Look it up. But I am leaving the white lights and red skirt on until at least Valentine’s Day. I’m taking each day as it comes. We’ve developed preferences for virtual visiting platforms (better transcription in lieu of better background choices?), appreciated the supply and demand limitations in both transportation and manufacturing of products, and experienced literally a life-saving light at the end of the tunnel with an unprecedented medical breakthrough gained by pushing the boundaries to get a vaccine to the masses in record time! How bad is a bad hair day caught on a webcam when you are with your ALDA family? At least we don’t have to try to understand through a mask. And we are safer.
They say “necessity is the mother of invention”. Communication will come through and will be improved by the need to meet the challenges, like pushing for free captioning for all. The grant money the Seacoast group received is partially in limbo as we are still waiting for the clear masks ordered in October and promised this month. It has been a modern miracle using technology to get the message out using the tools we have to share. Whether it’s having others “shop” out of the back of the car, parking lot encounters, helping folks find hearing aids that flew off while removing a mask, or advocating for lip-reading masks at a business, being part of the solution is so rewarding!
I have fielded an up-tick in questions from the public via the ALDA Contact page. It’s my pleasure to meet these ALDA followers in sharing tips to help others through these challenging times. Some are simple fixes; others can only be sent a virtual “hug” and commiserate in the lagging of awareness and action to overcome our hearing loss obstacles. These “test our meddle” when it is those who are doing the suffering that are also forced to do the thinking “outside the box”.
Feel free to share your tips and to ask your questions! More folks can identify with our hearing challenges than ever. This is our window of opportunity to advocate for change. Make
Slowly but surely, after weeks of toiling in the snow, battling the icy roads, pioneering through power outages, we will watch the snow piles melt and the sand and salt will return to the ground. At least we don’t need to cancel ALDA meetings due to unsafe travels since we know we can always hop on a Facebook discussion or online meeting at some sunny place like ALDA San Jose or ALDA Suncoast. New life will emerge, bursting forth with April’s glorious natural display of blossom fireworks signaling that we made it through yet another hibernation.
Time to switch tools for those that tend our hopes for summer bounty, both in the realm of fresh produce and outdoor play. I guess you could say that each season gives us opportunity for healthy activity, feeding the soul and rejuvenating energy. Despite the blisters and body aches, each can bring, I like our human experience better than a bear’s. What is life without the highest “highs” and the lowest “lows” to make one appreciate the lessons in each?
The fresh new ALDA National Board is rolling up their sleeves for a great year, continuing new initiatives started before them by the preceding Board and our many appreciated volunteers. Our Chapters and Groups are doing what they can despite the distance put upon us. We will come out of this. Now if it would only snow about 6” followed by nice warm-ish (but not too warm to melt it) sunshine so we can meet outside for that snow event and let our inner child out to play. Bring on the lemonade!
So if I can end with one more platitude like we have all been bombarded by folks who seem to have a lot of time on their hands to think them up…this one from an insurance broker in town…”Here’s to 2021! Staying positive and testing negative!” Get your vaccine. Take a walk. Be good to yourself and everyone you meet. We don’t know what shoes they’ve walked in this past year so give everyone a pass, a wave, and a smile with your eyes.