Unfortunately, because of concerns about Covid-19, this year’s “Walk” will be an online event on October 4 at 10:00, with sign-on starting at 9:45. By joining our Walk New York! Team for the Walk4Hearing, you will help support the Hearing Loss Association of America and its New York City chapter. HLAA is a national leader in advocating for public policy, public awareness, and access for those with hearing loss.
Why I Walk
In New York City, we are required to wear face coverings in public and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). For many of us, our work must be completed remotely. With these vital public health measures emerge new challenges for people with hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America has been in the forefront of advocacy efforts to help us face these challenges. HLAA also played an important role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 30th anniversary of which we celebrate this summer.
Face masks make verbal communication nearly impossible for me. Because I ordinarily rely in part on speechreading, I struggle more to understand speech when people’s mouths are hidden behind masks, which sharply decrease the volume of spoken words. Masks are among the many reasons I hope I do not need to go to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the virus itself or otherwise. Given that patients are not permitted to bring anyone with them to the hospital, I know that communication with doctors would be very problematic. Transparent masks are an obvious solution, but their availability remains extremely limited. I hope that in the near future production will increase. HLAA’s advocacy at one hospital on the use of captioned devices, clear masks, and on hearing loops was well-received. I hope it will lead to more accessible communication for people with hearing loss.
Many of us have been actively engaged in video teleconferencing, using tools such as Google Meet and Zoom. The captions on Google Meet are extraordinarily helpful to me. When Zoom isn’t captioned, I am helped immensely by placing my iPhone next to my computer and using the Otter app to transcribe the speech to text. It is through HLAA that I learned about Google Meet and Otter. HLAA has also been involved in petitioning and advocating for captioned platforms. I hope that Zoom will soon join the party with a free captioned platform.
With the help of the NYC chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America, I have learned many things that have helped me live a full life despite my hearing loss. This fall our monthly meetings are all online. We will hear speakers discuss the ADA, inheritance of hearing loss, and research on aging, noise and hearing loss. In addition, in honor of Beethoven’s 250 birthday, we will have a special presentation/performance by an outstanding professional musician, Betty Hauck, who lost her career as her hearing deteriorated. Those of you who are interested will be able to view these presentations.
Hearing loss touches the lives of many people in many ways. Family members with normal hearing, friends and work colleagues are all affected, and can all benefit from the activities of HLAA. I participate in the Walk4Hearing because I want everyone to know that hearing loss does not have to prevent you from enjoying life to its fullest, and that there is a community ready to help.
I am honored to now be president of the HLAA-NYC chapter. Please consider donating to my personal Walk4Hearing page and joining us online on October 4 to learn more about HLAA. If you are unable to be there with us, please consider joining our team and making a donation. It is very easy, simply click here.
Joining the Walk NewYork! Team will help support the activities of our chapter as well as those of the national organization.
For more information about HLAA, please visit hearinglossnyc.org.