Having hearing loss should never stop you from being an active part of your social network, but for many people it is helpful and supportive to also belong to communities for the deaf and hard of hearing. People with hearing loss can offer advice and support each other, as they can more easily sympathize than a person without hearing loss.
Online Oasis for Those with Hearing Loss
There are many internet communities tailored specifically to deaf people and people with hearing loss. Deaf and HoH was founded in 2008 by Senthil Srinivasan, who grew up with moderate hearing loss and often struggled with feeling isolated among his peers. Srinivasan started the site to share his experiences, and it soon grew to an entire online network of people across the country. The site has resources for those with hearing loss, a blog, a newsletter, a chat room, and an online forum that allow anyone with hearing loss to communicate with each other, regardless of geographical location.
Hearing Health & Technology Matters is another online hearing loss community, and focuses on spotlighting hearing loss experiences from many different people. The site also gathers content about to hearing-related studies, new drug and therapy treatments, the history of hearing technology, and much more. There is a wide variety of articles on many different subjects that many people with hearing loss may find fascinating!
The Hearing Health Foundation is the largest private funder of hearing research, and has spent the last three decades donating millions of dollars to furthering hearing loss and tinnitus research. They publish a free magazine that is a valuable resource for hearing loss research, products, and technology. The Hearing Health Foundation has also created a community of philanthropists, and encourages people to share their stories of hearing loss.
Communities Across the Country
If the online network isn’t your style, you may be able to join a nearby community for the deaf and hard of hearing, depending on where you live. For example, there are several community centers in Florida that cater to the deaf and hard of hearing. The Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Sarasota, FL, offers services like American Sign Language classes, provides peer mentors, and distributes special telecommunication devices. They also have a busy calendar of monthly events like socials, “silent dinners”, coffee and tea chats, and more.
Traveling north, the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center also offers a community center, providing hearing screenings, hearing aid sales and fittings, sign language interpretation, financial assistance for hearing devices, and more. The Cleveland community center has many classes and resources especially for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, helping families adjust to a new lifestyle together.
If you’re looking to find a community near you, explore the Hearing Loss Association of America’s website: they have chapters in almost every state, and it’s easy to find a group near you! HLAA chapters allow you to meet and speak with others with hearing loss, receive and provide peer support, take part in educational programs, and take advantage of resources in your area.
Whether you were born with hearing loss or experiencing it now for the first time, joining some type of hearing loss community can be a supportive and encouraging experience. Explore the sites we’ve mentioned above, or go out and find your own!