The first thing you notice about Lance won’t be his hearing aid, even though he wears it with pride, but his infectious positivity, many passions, and generous energy. A health educator and grad student living in New Mexico with his husband and 2 dogs, Lance discovered his hearing loss in his 30s. Rather than seeing himself as limited or defined by his hearing loss and hearing aid, he has found strength, empowerment, and compassion that he shares openly.

Voices of Audicus shares the empowering stories of our customers in their own words to create a more positive conversation around hearing loss. In our first interview, we meet Lance, an outdoor enthusiast, reader, gamer, and student who is driven to help Hard of Hearing and Deaf communities through his work and challenges the entrenched stigmas around hearing loss.

Lance was the first in his family to go to college and is now on his second master’s

I was the first in my family to go to, and I graduated with honors, I was the first to complete a graduate degree, and again I graduated with honors. That set me off in directions and experiences I would have never had previously.

Since I have an M.S. in Health Education and Promotion, I like to volunteer to do health education training, classes, or workshops in the community. I love to cover anything from nutrition and exercise, all the way to medication compliance and understanding specific health issues. I am also getting a second masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

He lives in New Mexico with his family where he explores the outdoors, reads, and plays video games to blow off steam from his courses

Hiking and camping are two of my favorite things to do. I love time away from electronics and the city, plus we go back to mainly fruits and veggies while camping and we love to hike! Living in the beautiful Southwest, specifically New Mexico, we have a range of scenic areas to choose from when we set out hiking or camping. I also love to kayak, I prefer lakes and ponds, but rivers are a blast as long as you have an arrangement to be picked up – carrying a kayak for miles is not fun…especially since we always have our dogs with us too.

Living in the beautiful Southwest, specifically New Mexico, we have a range of scenic areas to choose from when we set out hiking or camping.”

I have a love for reading about Deaf history, Deaf culture, and all things American Sign Language (ASL). I try to spend free time daily devoted to learning ASL until I can take courses locally so that I can gain fluency and be able to provide therapy and health education services to the Deaf community. I also have a passion for forensic psychology and true crime books.

As a true badge of my geekiness, I love playing video games by myself, with my husband, and with people online. They are a daily stress reliever and fun break from school work.

He was already interested in hearing loss when he learned of his own

I had been lightly interested in learning about Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities but it all took a whole different meaning for me when I discovered my own.

A pivotal moment was going to the audiologist and finding out that I was losing my hearing and I was only in my late 30s. When I put on my Audicus hearing aid, I finally realized what I was missing for so long. I also decided to engage with the Deaf Community as a Hard of Hearing person, and I am learning American Sign Language (ASL). I am learning so much about myself, Deaf Culture, Deaf experiences, and I am beginning to realize that this is part of me that was waiting to be released. I have come home, I am proud of my hearing aid, and I am not shy about being Hard of Hearing.

“I am learning so much about myself, Deaf Culture, Deaf experiences, and I am beginning to realize that this is part of me that was waiting to be released. I have come home, I am proud of my hearing aid, and I am not shy about being Hard of Hearing.”

With the Deaf community, there’s not enough of us, even if you know sign language you only learn to speak the language you don’t learn to navigate the culture. Then I started to lose my own hearing and got hearing aids. I thought: wow this starting to hit home a little more closely.

A friend got him his first hearing aid and his concerns about wearing one did not last long

I found out about you through a friend who offered to buy me my first hearing aid, because I was in grad school. She was absolutely amazing. She sent me a text message that said,  “I know this is going to be a little awkward, but my wife got a bonus and I really want to do something good and not just splurge, I want to buy your first hearing aid.” I didn’t even know what to say.

Though he didn’t see himself reflected in the way hearing loss is typically depicted, he refused to buy into the stigmas or negativity

When people think of hearing aids, even a lot for the places that sell hearing aids, they have people with grey hair and scooters in their commercials and that’s not me. I may be 40 but I’m pretty proud that I look like I’m in my early 30s and I don’t match this demographic. – I’m in the mountains hiking with my husband and two dogs. This doesn’t fit. This isn’t all there is to people wearing hearing aids.

When people ask “What happened?” or “Why do you have hearing aids?”, my husband jokes: “Yeah its old age” and we laugh but that really is the mindset for a lot of people, even though he and I can joke.

“When I tell people I have hearing loss the first reaction is it’s a disability. It’s really not. Sure it’s kind of classified like that but it doesn’t change me or change who I am. It made me a better person for sure.”

When I tell people I have hearing loss the first reaction is it’s a disability. It’s really not. Sure it’s kind of classified like that but it doesn’t change me or change who I am. It made me a better person for sure.

He shares his hearing loss with his father and has been a model for positivity in his own family

For a long time my dad was one of those people who we thought was just quite, and yes he is introverted but he got his hearing aids and all of a sudden he’s involved in conversations, not hanging back. I haven’t talked to my father this much in as long as I can remember. Now that I have my first hearing aid, it’s helped my father to not feel like, ‘Oh I’m old and need these,’ he feels a little more comfortable now.

“I haven’t talked to my father this much in as long as I can remember. Now that I have my first hearing aid, it’s helped my father to not feel like, ‘Oh I’m old and need these,’ he feels a little more comfortable now.”

Even though he is so much more than his hearing aid, he wants you to ask about it and to share his experience

I meet people, and immediately tell them I wear hearing aids and they didn’t even notice and not that I want it to stand out or it be when people see me they see the hearing aid but I want it to be something I’m not ashamed of, I’m not embarrassed that I wear these. And as a therapist I want people to ask questions because then I can give you information on something you likely aren’t going to run into.

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