In 2015, Angie Aspinall launched a monthly, live social media event, as a ‘time to talk about hearing loss’. She tells us more about why she started #HearingLossHour.
When I was thirty, I started to lose my hearing, gradually, in my right ear due to otosclerosis. I needed a hearing aid, but I found it uncomfortable, and it was so loud that it made my head hurt. Rather than use the hearing aid, I joined a lipreading class.
I felt as though I was the only person my age coming to terms with hearing loss. The other students in the class were very elderly and, after two years, I still hadn’t met anyone my own age with hearing loss.
A few years later, I developed mild hearing loss in my ‘good’ ear, and I started wearing a hearing aid. On the whole, I got used to having single-sided hearing and positioning myself, so everyone was always on my ‘good’ side.
Then, in 2011, I suffered profound, permanent Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss in my ‘good’ ear. It was devastating.
After that, I could hear nothing at all in my left ear. And, all I could hear in my right ear were very loud high-pitched sounds (such as a child’s cry or a smoke alarm). I couldn’t hear speech, other than my own.
Finding solace in social media
I found it too hard to communicate with people face-to-face: writing and texting were easier. I had just joined Twitter and I found that it helped me to connect with people and overcome the feeling of isolation.
CROS system – a lifeline
Seven months after my sudden deafness, I was fitted with a CROS system. (A CROS is a device which sits on the deaf ear and transmits sound to a hearing aid in the hearing ear.) It transformed my life. With the devices, I no longer had a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ side: wherever sound came from, I could hear it. It particularly helped me feel safer when crossing the road, and helped me to be able to join in group discussions.
Twitter for networking
In 2012, after launching a digital media business with my husband, a friend and I set up #Yorkshirehour, a weekly business networking event on Twitter. It was a great success, and that got me thinking: could a similar type of focused ‘Twitter hour’ help bring people with hearing loss together in the same way?
And so, in 2015, I launched #HearingLossHour, in the hope that it would help others with hearing loss to feel less isolated. I also launched a website with information about the aims of #HearingLossHour, how to take part, news about forthcoming discussions, summaries of previous discussions, and with resources for people new to hearing loss: www.hearinglosshour.com
The discussions have covered a wide range of topics, including ‘How can organisations and businesses improve communication channels and processes for people with hearing loss?’ and ‘Self-advocacy - How to speak up for yourself and express your communication needs’.
The impact of #HearingLossHour
US blogger, @TheDeafMama, writes about her experience of #HearingLossHour on her blog. And, award-winning Deaf Blogger, @DeafGirly even gave us a mention in her ‘Top 10 Things I love about my deafness’.
Here’s what participants have to say about #HearingLossHour:
“I love it because it totally supports my ‘no one size fits all’ approach to deafness. We all are so different with different experiences and it’s a chance to share and learn.” @deafgirly
“#HearingLossHour is a way of chatting about topics with others that share something in common (hearing loss) and to know we’re not alone. I always suggest HLH to people who message me asking for advice and where to get support from.” @Deafieblogger
“For me, it’s really nice to be part of a community sharing experiences, informed content, banter and shared knowledge. Also, it’s nice to be introduced to businesses that are deaf aware too. Tbh, I wish it was every week!” @deaftraveller
“#HearingLossHour has given me the opportunity to share ideas - in real time - on many hearing loss related topics with people who have an interest in the topics. A very valuable forum.” @kathleenlhill
“@HearingLosshour has been instrumental in helping me process my own hearing loss, it's a support network, an educational space, and a valuable resource for both the hearing impaired and those without hearing loss.” @saralhawthorn
And, as a result of discussion during #HearingLossHour, Sara has launched @DisAbilityPR, a network for disabled PR professionals. I am so proud that something I created has had such a positive effect on people within the hearing loss community.
How to take part in #Hearinglosshour
#HearingLossHour takes place on Twitter at 1pm on the first Wednesday of the month. We have a different topic each time, and four questions are asked, evenly spaced throughout the hour. The questions are designed to encourage the sharing of feelings, experiences, tips and recommendations. Here’s how to take part.
We’re always eager to welcome new people in and always on the lookout for new topics, so if there’s something you’d like to discuss, please send ideas to @hearinglosshour.
#HearingLossHour is sponsored by Rayovac.
To learn more about #HearingLossHour, please visit: www.hearinglosshour.com or follow @hearinglosshour on Twitter.