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Oregon Family Magazine

Bridging the Communication Gap – Literally!

12/01/2020 ● By Ginevra Ralph
Hearing loss can be devastatingly isolating. COVID’s masks and Plexiglas barriers are making it all that more challenging. Regardless of who in our families has hearing loss – children, parents, grandparents – they all need to be part of our conversations.

Nearly 48 million Americans have hearing loss. 50% of them are under age 55. 13% of youngsters ages 6-19 do. If you suspect a problem – don’t wait. Get tested! If you or your children already use hearing aids or cochlear implants, speak up and let others know how to help you hear better.

Now a college sophomore, Gigi uses two cochlear implants. She consciously decided that “My hearing loss is not an imposition on others. As I transitioned to living independently and made new friendships, I realized that I deserve my spot at the table. It’s okay if I need a little extra help getting there. In the end, we are all sitting at the same table.” She adds, “In a letter to my younger self I would beg myself to learn how to advocate for myself sooner. In middle school, I used to let certain things slide, such as requesting closed captioning on videos. I have since learned that captioning not only benefits me but everyone else too, even if they don't have hearing loss! 

Hearing devices are essential  –  but they can never restore perfect hearing. Supplemental strategies and tools boost their effectiveness. “Hearing loops” are the most favored assistive listening systems. Loops can be large for filling a performance hall or quite small for store countertops. They work right through Plexiglas! Ask your specialist to activate your device’s telecoil program to use loops and maximize where and how well you can hear.

Retired realtor Sue Prichard uses her personal loop daily to stay connected. “We recently had a long-awaited visit from our 17 year old grandson, whose deep, soft voice falls squarely in the range that is most challenging for me to hear. Outside, masked, and “distanced”, I set up my portable loop, placing its microphone right next to him. I could hear and understand every word he said."

We invite you to borrow a personal-sized hearing loop from The Shedd to test out bridging all those socially distanced gaps –  in the car, at work, at play, on Zoom, the doctor’s office, etc.

Contact Ginevra Ralph at The Shedd for more information, 541-434-7002.