Letter: Hearing loss meetings offer more than info

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Here’s a story! I usually write about hearing loss, but this story has nothing to do with hearing loss — or does it? In the Mountains segment of the Asheville Citizen Times of April 7, Katherine Scott Crawford wrote about “taking time to flock with birds of a feather.” As a writer, she had been invited to a writers’ workshop to teach about infusing story settings with history:

“I entered the weekend assuming that . . . it would be that tough-to-get time to write which would fill my creative cup to the brim. However, it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong: I wrote in peace, and it was lovely. But what filled me up … and opened up creative spaces in my imagination was spending time with other writers.

“When we’re open, often the best advice comes from the folks doing what we’re doing. Usually, it’s not even advice: It’s conversation — conversation alive with subtle possibility.”

At our Hearing Loss Association Asheville chapter meetings, attendance varies hugely. Sometimes the topic attracts a lot of people, sometimes few. But the latter times leave me wondering at the opportunity missed by so many. Not just the opportunity to learn from the speaker or the panel, though our offerings have mostly been excellent and beneficial to those there. But I mean the opportunity to linger for a few minutes with other attendees wrestling with the same issues we have, to share, to learn, to teach. This is valuable well beyond the particular topic, beyond what the title shown in the flyer can convey.

Because I’m the leader, I’ve had to be at most of our sessions, but that has turned out to be a wonderful chore of enormous benefit to me. Often I learn something to mull over for myself, but I also learn more general principles and some can guide my many interactions with individuals and groups in our community who don’t have hearing loss themselves or in their loved ones. I find this of so much value that I go whenever I can to the Brevard chapter meetings, where I can benefit from having no responsibility and just be a regular attendee, able to associate with my hearing loss “birds of a feather.”

In May in Asheville, we’ll have a speaker who may be able to open the door for such sharing for many of us if the opportunity is seized. Not only will there be the usual brief period before and after the session to mingle, converse and share, which is always there at every meeting, but this time our speaker will be someone who does not have hearing loss but has found her way to membership of HLAA and considers her time with us extremely beneficial.

Let me invite everyone who can to come and listen to her, as I did in Brevard. She is an excellent speaker, but also she has something to say to all which can be of immense value to us in bridging the fully hearing world with the partial- or absent-hearing one, in enabling mutual understanding. Give yourself a gift and attend our meeting on May 2 at 10:15 a.m. at CarePartners.

On June 13 in [an unusual] evening [session] at 6.30 p.m., we can hear from an audiologist who specializes in helping people with hearing loss for whom music is important. Too many lose their connection with music, first through hearing loss itself and then, because our helpful devices (hearing aids and cochlear implants) are geared toward enabling us to hear speech, they often are obstacles to enjoying music. What can we do about this? Come and listen, ask questions and share your own experience for the benefit of others.

The calendars in our local papers — Asheville Citizen Times, Mountain Xpress, The Urban News — carry details about our meetings, which usually, but not always, happen at the 10:15 a.m. time at CarePartners the first Wednesday of the month. It’s worthwhile to learn when they appear and check those calendars. You can also contact me at 665-8699 or akarson57@gmail.com.

— Ann Karson
Asheville Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America



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