hard of hearing
In New Mexico, we visited the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy to learn how a group of parents decided the best way to reimagine education for the deaf was by starting a school for their own kids.
Books that feature deaf/ hard of hearing characters or protagonists should be added to every child's collection! Whether you are the parent of a deaf child or the parent of a hearing child, introducing developing young minds to deafness can help cultivate an appreciation for human diversity.
Hearing loss is a spectrum. The child may hear some but not all sounds. A child should have their hearing tested who has delayed speech, responds to sounds inconsistently, is inattentive, displays behavioral changes or responds incorrectly to simple basic questions.
You know the jokes about how many (fill in the blank)s does it take to change a lightbulb? Well I have a new one: How many gate changes does it take to trip up an air traveler with hearing loss? So far the answer is unknown, because I personally survived six gate changes on a recent trip!
Over the past few years, I've developed significant bilateral hearing loss. We're still not sure why or if it's going to get worse. But during this transition to understanding everyone around me to struggling to piece together context clues and pathetic attempts at lip reading, I have learned a few things.
There are an estimated 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in America. The number of deaf and hard of hearing individuals and people with other disabilities worldwide is equal to the population of China. This does NOT include the number of friends and family including children who travel with us.
Do you know someone who is new to hearing loss? Maybe they haven't yet accepted that they have a hearing loss, or maybe they are just starting to acknowledge it, but don't know what to do first, or second. I know some people like that, myself included, at one point.
Today, Swanson is my companion who looks to me for direction and who gets excited when she completes tasks. She infuses my heart with gratitude and her energy is contagious.