by Laura Sinclair, Regional Director 1
In exciting news, the summer has had more activity through the ALDA Contact page, both domestically and internationally! That means people are becoming more social and desiring better tactics to resume communication with others outside the confines of a computer or phone. While some questions were more technical or occupational in nature, such as how to hear better on the phone with the newer Bluetooth aids, others were from those seeking local support. I have been expanding my own tool box of listening devices in anticipation of resuming in-person meetings by ordering several from Diglo, the company who took over from Harris Communications. In my personal opinion, this is a great place to start searching for tools to help in your own situations. I have found some deals on used equipment sites, as well. Being a bilateral cochlear implant wearer for seven years, I see how my knowledge of the latest advances in hearing aids is becoming harder to keep up.
Connecticut leads with the most inquiries, followed by PA, MA, NY, and VT. In August, I met with a CT contact while I was there visiting family. A teacher going back to the classroom, she was seeking help understanding the children wearing masks, as well as about local support and state agencies. We went over some assistive listening devices she may be able to request and touched on the clear mouth masks. As a rule, these haven’t been universally available but awareness of their usefulness to read lips is gaining a following amongst certain levels of hearing loss. Many interpreters are using them. I would love to see more teachers wearing them for the benefit of all children but the conundrum of sound degradation and condensation make recommendations hard to support. The medical community is sometimes willing to put them on but not for all procedures. It is worth asking for this for two reasons: first, to see if they know what they are, and second, to see if they would be willing to use one. At the very least it may help them realize you need them to slow down, face you, rephrase and speak distinctly.
At the ALDAcon in Niagara Falls last month, I used a table at the exhibit hall to display the various clear mouth masks and accessories that I have run across during the pandemic. The industry is on the right track. The fogging issue is getting better addressed in some brands. The Registration committee was able to add donated samples to attendee totes from a few companies: The ClearMask, the new-to-market STEK Smile Protector, and FaceView. I encourage you to boldly go forth and ask someone to use one for your benefit. Ask for their feedback and then let me know what you think of them! Send me a photo of the user to RD1@ALDA.org ! These companies are eager to support ALDA and in turn we want to give them constructive feedback. This lets manufacturers know we have the need to lipread but that a product they put out needs to be something comfortable and easy to wear. Clearly the pandemic has taught all of us personal tolerances, and we are making gains but there is more work to be done in this endeavor for the future, as well.
Many contacts are hearing of ALDA for the first time which means we are doing something right despite the lack of physical meetings for the most part in the last year. Our social media footprint has grown, which may be a factor. As a group leader, I have done a number of informal gatherings outside for the ALDA Seacoast NH Group. Given NH’s prime outdoor season of summer, we would have been doing outside events anyway, but it sure felt good seeing each other again! Just today I visited my local library where we had the new community room induction looped for telecoil communication. I was meeting with yet another new contact that just found out about ALDA from our state non-profit, Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service (NDHHS) whom I connected with over the summer. We founders of the Seacoast NH Group are very excited to plan future accessible meetings. Build it and they will come!! The hayrides will be over and the snow will fly, but we have more options to meet indoors for support, education, advocacy and fun.
ALDA Boston has resumed in-person meetings with a summer kick-off business meeting/picnic and games event about 40 minutes from the city so more people from the other end of the state could attend more easily. CART was provided and I can attest that corn hole will never be my game! Check out their website for coming news!
The challenge in RD1 since the 2020’s Convention meeting is Region-wide outreach emails. I received very few responses from individual emails to current addresses for members. We want to hear from you! How’s your neck of the woods? Is there something we can do for you?? As gaining input from the members in my states is the first step to setting up virtual meetings which can then grow more groups and chapters, I am wondering if the problem is Spam programs not allowing the RD1@ALDA.org email to go to a Primary mail folder. Please do let me know if you would like to gather virtually, even if you are not connected to a local Chapter or Group. There are new members who want to meet you! We did a breakout photo so we could see who is in each region like we did in 2019. Region 1 had 22 in attendance but only 13 made it in the photo. Make sure to inform ALDA if you have a change of email address. And look to Facebook or Twitter for opportunities to keep in touch with a photo, a question of your own, or a comment that might help someone else.
One of my contacts from NY wants to help those with sudden hearing loss in medical settings. This is a great resource for those in this situation. Newcomers came from PA, MA and two from Nepal! I was able to connect one to an ALDAn living nearby and they had a nice meeting before the Con. I’m sure she will be looking to attend ALDA Boston events now that she has her first convention under her belt. Another seasoned leader wants to start a Group or Chapter in PA. Look for future communication from our Membership Committee and Communication Committee about future opportunities to get more involved.
I was also fortunate to have a mini-reunion with nearly a dozen ALDAns in Pittsburgh early August at the Say What Club convention. I was a Newcomer there but just like with ALDA I was met with open hearts and the common understanding of just how much we have missed the support we get from gathering with those who “get it”. It sure did kick-start my longing to be once more with my ALDA family!
The week at Niagara Falls was exhausting but wonderful: the staff wearing clear mouth masks, the Board Business meeting (yes, we worked hard all day), Welcome reception, Newcomer’s breakfast, exhibit hall, silent auction, workshops, special guest and keynote speakers! There was also a CODA movie night (yeah! Finally got to finish seeing it!), banquet, awards (congrats winners!… our own Joan Marcoux from NH for Fearless Leader, an Oscar to Lisa Harbour), Karaoke (past midnight!? Sweet Caroline), to the longest Sunday brunch goodbyes. King Jordan was also in attendance from Region 1 who always injects inspiration and good will. And yet I didn’t get to meet everyone or remember everything that happened so you’ll just need to come to a convention to see for yourself!
I hope our Region photo has you in it at ALDAcon San Diego 2022!