Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why Can't I do that?

Every once and a while you meet someone you inspires you to look at your life a little bit differently. Last week I was lucky enough to meet that person at a CHHA-Hamilton meeting. Peter Stelmacovich is a trained audiologist and FM and SoundField Product Manager for Phonak Canada. Peter also wear a cochlear implant in one ear, a hearing aid in the other. Additionally, Peter is an active musician playing bass guitar in a band called Below the Belt. Finally, Peter is the author of a fantastic blog called "Deafened But Not Silenced", which details his life as a hearing impaired person. Listening to Peter speak made me realize that we apply limitations to our lives based on our perceived shortcomings. For me, there are things that I haven't done in years that I used to love to do simply because I think I can't because of my hearing. The biggest thing that I stopped doing because I didn't think I could anymore is playing music. To hear Peter say that he actively plays in a band made me think "why can't I do that?". Perhaps we all need that kick in the butt sometimes in order to really look at our lives and evaluate what we want to achieve, I know that in just an hour, Peter's talk did that for me.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Creating A Fair Online Experience

Recently, I was doing research on a website that provided instructional videos to explain how their service worked. The videos were narrated while instructional diagrams scrolled across the screen along with the voice over. After watching a few of the videos I realized that there are many people who are hard of hearing who would struggle understanding the voice over. What compounded this was that the website completely failed to provide text versions of their service information. It is unfortunate that this company completely missed the boat on making their website accessible to those who are hard of hearing or deaf. It is my hope that one day there will be requirements that will enforce captioning for videos online. Having mandatory captioning not only allows hard of hearing and deaf individuals a fair online experience but it also potentially provides more clients for an online business.

I am very lucky that my hearing loss is not so severe that I miss out on these things. It does however, remind me of all of the individuals I have met with hearing loss who struggle every day to interact with a world that is not designed to help them. Every day we are making progress by continuing to build awareness and advocating for the needs of those who are hard of hearing or deaf.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

I love moving into a new year because it is always a chance to look back on the year that was and reflect on everything that has happened. It's been a couple days into 2012 and I have had a chance to look back on the year that was. I regret allowing a few people to take advantage of me and my kindness. However, it is this same kindness that has benefited me in so many ways; I suppose the important lesson is to learn whom you can trust not to take advantage of your kindness.

I'm proud of my volunteer work. In 2011 I feel I made some great strides in helping the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and my local branch step up to a more professional level. As is true with many groups run by volunteers, they rely on the strength of it's members. I believe I brought a skill set to the group that was drastically lacking. I'm looking forward to 2012 and continuing to use my skill and passion to further elevate the awareness of the group and the professionalism it operates with.

I wish everyone all the best in the new year. It's my hope that I will continue this blog with more regularity.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Question of Culture?

It has been a couple weeks now since Sarah Churman's cochlear implant activation video went viral and there has been a wide spectrum of reactions. For those who have not seen it please click this link.

There are number of individuals in the deaf community who object to these implants on the basis that there is nothing wrong with being deaf and therefore, there is no need for this procedure. I think it's important for the hearing world to understand that the deaf community is a culture. Much like any culture they naturally want to retain their family ties by their common language and thus, they find it difficult to accept something that would take their entire culture into question. In a way, it appears like these procedures are an attack from the hearing majority on the deaf minority. I empathize with their feeling of the importance of community. If it were not for other hard of hearing individuals and the support that I received from them and their community I would probably still feel like a bit of an outsider. However, I do feel that an important factor in a community is respecting and supporting the individuals within it. I don't think that anyone can argue that Sarah is experiencing pure joy with her ability to hear her own voice, the voice of her husband and children all for the first time. It's vitally important to respect the wishes of an individual when it comes to making any large decision because I am sure that there is never any ill-intent towards any group when these decisions are made.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Here we go again

I wish I had a good excuse for not keeping up this blog however, I can't come up with anything better than life just got busy and it was the last thing on my mind. To that extent I figure you are all due for an update.

I'm happy to announce that I've accepted the position of Vice-President with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Hamilton Branch. It is a volunteer position that lasts for a three year term. I'm excited for the challenges that it will present but excited because I can see that there is a change beginning to happen as some new blood is breathing new life into the organization. I've had some time to sit and think about what my goals will be as the new VP for my three year term and this is what I've come up with so far:

1. Attract young people to the group
2. Head up another fundraising effort
3. Overhaul all branding so there is one consistent and uniform look

I'm not too sure how I will reach these goals but I hope it all fall into place soon.

The second important update is that CHHA - Hamilton has officially launched our Dream Home Lottery. After a year of planning and AGCO approval we will be opening the house on October 13th. This will be a huge fundraiser for us and allow us to do a lot of things to help the hard of hearing community. Like any not-for-profit organization having funds to fulfill your mandate is always difficult to come by. I'm confident that this fundraiser will give us the financial freedom we require to make an impact in our community.

That about wraps up the update on my hard of hearing world. When I sit back and re-read this over I'm very proud of the things that have happened since my last blog in July and I'm looking forward to what the future will hold. It's going to be a whirlwind couple months but I'm looking forward to every bit of it.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Ongoing Battle with ... Sweat

I've had an ongoing battle with hearing aids and sweat since I got my behind the ear hearing aids last year. With these hearing aids being more exposed they are more susceptible to being damaged due to moisture. This unfortunately, does not bode well for my active lifestyle. I've tried a variety of different measures including eargear, wearing an old pair or just going without. When it comes right down to it, I need to be prepared to go with all three depending on the situation. At first I was frustrated and annoyed by the inconvenience of having to carry around all of this extra stuff but it was pointed out to me that there are lots of people out there who have to take extra precautions before the participate in a variety of sporting activities. I know it's not an exact comparison but it helps ease my frustration that although I need to be prepared for a variety of situations, so do a lot of other people.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Does Disability Lead to Arrogance?

I have been working with a few hard of hearing individuals lately and it has been cause for some frustration. I cannot believe the arrogance and rudeness that I am experiencing. Two in particular choose not to listen to each other, constantly talk over one another and are just generally rude. It feels as though both are struggling for dominance within the committee instead of just working together. The goal of this committee is to help the hard of hearing, and in the end it feels like they are losing sight of that.

I can't help but think that over their years working with hearing individuals they have had to push and in some cases be assertive and hard nosed to get their voice heard. Both have been extremely successful in achieving results for their causes but I wonder if their drive and their disability are leading to this arrogance. On top of that, I wonder if this arrogance is just a cover for their insecurities.

Regardless of the root cause of their behaviour they need to see that it's not productive and it makes working on a committee with them extremely difficult and frustrating. I would think that individuals who understand the importance of listening closely and paying attention would show more respect when another hard of hearing person is speaking. Again, we are all working together for the same end goal, there is no need to step all over each other.