Sudden Hearing Loss
HearingLossHour was inspired from my hearing loss journey. In 2011, I suffered sudden sensorineural hearing loss. With it, I also experienced vertigo that was so bad I wasn’t able to get out of bed for several days. Moving my head made me sick. I was laid in bed, cut off from everyone.
A week or two prior, a friend had taught me how to use Twitter. I decided to try it out while I was immobile. It was ideal because it involved no head movement and enabled me to connect with people without needing to hear. After a few hours, I was hooked! I was amazed how easy it was to chat with strangers about all manner of things. I’d been feeling very isolated. Then suddenly, it felt as though a whole world opened up for me.
The vertigo subsided after a few days of treatment, but the deafness turned out to be permanent. I found it too hard to communicate with people face-to-face and became withdrawn. I continued to use the social media platform to communicate both with people I knew in real life and new friends I’d made on Twitter.
Finding Community on Twitter
At that time, none of the communications were about my deafness and what I was experiencing; I was using Twitter more as a distraction. And then I shared my experience via a direct message (DM) with a new Twitter friend. Her reaction was so lovely that it spurred me to be more open about my hearing loss. Together we set up #Yorkshirehour, a weekly business networking event on Twitter. It was a great success, gaining over 50,000 followers at its height.
As my confidence in opening up about my hearing loss grew, I started to meet other people on Twitter who had also suffered sudden sensorineural hearing loss and other types of deafness. It was good to no longer feel alone.
After being fitted with a hearing aid, I felt I had been given my life back. I could once again participate in conversations and hear traffic, so I could stop worrying about getting knocked down while crossing the road!
In 2015, I launched HearingLossHour as a time to talk about hearing loss once a month on Twitter. The hope was that it would help others with hearing loss feel less isolated. At first, the sessions took place at 7 PM on the first Wednesday of the month (the hour before #YorkshireHour), but we tried other times too. A weekday lunchtime proved to be more popular. It meant people could join in on their lunch break and professionals could join in as part of their working day. Now, we meet on the first Tuesday of every month.
The main questions are shared by the @hearinglosshour account. However, anyone is free to ask questions relating to that month’s topic. You just have to remember to include the hashtag in every tweet so it can be seen by all participants (and not just your followers). It’s as easy as that!
Who Takes Part in HearingLossHour?
Participants are a mixture of people living with hearing loss or working with people with hearing loss. Some are new to hearing loss while others have been living with hearing loss for many years. We have some lovely regular participants. Most participants live in the UK and other parts of Europe, but we have some dedicated Twitter friends who wake up early in the US especially to join in. We’re looking forward to having you join the community as well!