Singer, songwriter, and musician Zoë Nutt recently released a song, “Like You,” telling the story of her progressive hearing loss.
At the beginning of the Tennessee native’s open captioned official video, Nutt says, “I lost all of my hearing in my right ear. I now have progressive hearing loss in my left ear. Along with tinnitus, which is this high-pitched ringing that’s just there all the time.’
“That change in my life led me to write a song addressed to my children—whenever I have those children. And it basically says that no one will ever sound like you. Even if I can’t hear you…no one will ever be just the same.”
According to an HLAA report, Nutt says, “But releasing this music video has been more than just a letter to a possible future. It’s most importantly the start of a conversation I’ve been longing to have with others. I am going deaf, but I will not let it stop me from making music.”
The song’s lyrics describe beauty and meaning beyond sound: “I won’t ever hear you say you love me / I’ll never know whether you can sing. / But I can’t wait to watch your lips speak wonders / ‘cause no one else will ever sound like you.”
According to a review from Vents Magazine,”Nutt’s very deliberate vocal style never clashes with her effortless ability to convey sensitivity in every line. Like You, as a whole, is more than just one of the year’s best full length debuts. Instead, it heralds the arrival of a major new voice who will only follow an upward trajectory from here.”
Two groups have created a variety of useful materials about communication disorders that are free to use and distribute.
To raise awareness about communication disorders, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association observe Better Hearing and Speech Month each May.
This month, they are holding a social media contest and providing an inforgraphic and a quiz about hearing loss, as well as other communication disorder information in press releases, information sheets, posters, and more.
According to the institute’s website, 48 million Americans have a form of communication disorder, while 37.5 million of us have hearing loss–that’s 15 percent of Americans.
Currently, the institute supports research for promoting accessible health care and urges people who think they have hearing loss to have their hearing tested.
Since only 25 percent of Americans who could benefit from hearing aids have used them, there are potentially people who might want them who haven’t had access to them, or who may need them for safety or work-related issues.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is promoting a social media contest to raise awareness. The association will award points for sharing information on social media and issue prizes for those earning the most points. Prizes will include Amazon gift cards and association promotional materials.
Learn what people with communication disorders, audiologists, speech-language pathologists are doing to raise awareness on this interactive, international map.
Technology provides many solutions, but some people with hearing loss, or their employers or loved ones, aren’t aware of devices that could assist the person with hearing loss at work, home, or during recreation.
Harris Communications has created a downloadable and online Free Guide to Assistive Technology that will help people who have hearing loss, or their employers or family members to explore creative solutions.
It includes newer resources, such as vibrating smart watches, and personal listening devices similar to hearing aids that don’t require a prescription, as well as old standbys, such as vibrating alarm clocks and flashing light signalers for many sounds in the home or office. For businesses, they have ADA kits ready with a combination of products.
Why Don’t People with Hearing Loss Know about These Already?
If a person grows up with a strong network of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing who provided them with information about tools they could use to make daily living easier, they often know about this equipment. At least, they know about most of it, since new technology is developed often.
If a person gradually experiences hearing loss, they may or may not have resources to teach them about available technology to solve many problems they may encounter.
When a person loses hearing, if they have sight, they will use their sight and residual hearing to assist them.
Living with Less Sound: Using the Other Senses
In some cases, both vision and hearing are affected, and a person may use a variety of light or sound products to use their remaining senses as much as possible. The sense of touch is another option.
Signaling sounds with light is one of the first ways a person can get a visual cue for a sound. For example, their door bell may ring, and they may set up their home to have a light flash.
Vibration is another tool. A person may arrange it so that when their cell phone would normally ring, instead it vibrates so they can feel it. They may need other options for when they don’t have their phone on them, such as a flashing light.
Sound may be a tool for people with hearing loss too, and this is much more specific to the person. Each person has a unique hearing range. One may hear in a high frequency range, another may hear medium frequency, and yet another only low frequency. There also many be deficits within those ranges.
People who are Hard of Hearing have learned from experience whether they hear higher women’s voices, or lower men’s voices–or if some sounds are out of their range, such as fire alarms, perhaps.
Many hearing loss products offer superior amplification, clarity, and a variety of ranges so that a person can set them to sounds they may hear. For example, a person with high frequency hearing loss may set their amplified alarm clock to a low tone that will wake them up.
Sound may not be enough of a wake up cue, and people with hearing loss may also use a vibration disc under their mattress to ensure they wake up. Alarms with this ability also often have flashing light function. Sound, light, and vibration are all three available in many alarm clocks for the consumer segment with hearing loss.
Picking the Right Product
People may have several disabilities at once. Epilepsy can be seriously impacted by flashing lights. So may migraines, for those that experience them, so flashing light models are for many, but not all people, and this should be part of determining the right product for the right person.
Where to Purchase Products for People with Hearing Loss or Deafness
Businesses such as Harris Communications have great value within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, since they provide specialized products that are difficult to find, and all in the same place. They also provide free shipping.
You May Receive Financial Assistance to Pay for the Products
People with hearing loss or deafness may receive assistance purchasing products that assist them with work or daily living. They should contact their state office of Health and Human Services to see which agency may assist them in their state.
In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission assists people with Vocational Rehabilitation. This is for people who are going to school or are planning to work.
If you’re new to hearing loss, are no longer working, or can’t work right now, it may be easiest to contact Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist to assist you in finding resources you can use. They understand hearing loss and will connect you to the right people and products.
Vox and Curbedcreated a video and article to demonstrate how DeafSpace differs from spaces created for people who hear.
The close captioned video begins with the open captioned words: “We live in a world built for people who hear.”
Curbed houses the article, “How Gallaudet University’s Architects Are Redefining Deaf Space.”
Gallaudet University is America’s only liberal arts college for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
According to the article, “Deaf (with a capital D) is a cultural identity that stems from pride in signed language and what Deaf Studies professors call ‘Deaf ways of being,’ or shared sensory experiences and cultural traditions.”
“DeafSpace is an approach to architecture and design that is primarily informed by the unique ways in which Deaf people perceive and inhabit space,” according to the video.
The video explores some of the five basic principles of DeafSpace.
Space and Proximity
According to the article, “Facial expressions are important in ASL. So are body movements; to be able to sign comfortably, a person needs adequate space—more than is typically required for someone engaged in spoken conversation.”
The video shows wide hallways that accommodate two people signing and using full body language while having more space to sign and maintain eye contact.
The principle refers to “how Deaf people use their senses to read the environment,” according to the article. DeafSpace would extend the person’s sensory reach, by allowing him or her to view between rooms and have low-glare reflective surfaces so people would see shadows indicating someone is outside the room.
In the video, they show transparent elevators and some offices have opaque glass walls, while some public rooms have clear glass walls.
Mobility and Proximity
“DeafSpace design calls for ramps and wide, gently sloping stairs; ‘soft’ intersections to prevent pedestrian collisions…” according to the article.
In the video, instead of stairs, which hinder the free-flow of communication, ramps allow greater access and would accommodate other disabilities that might need white canes or wheelchairs.
The video also shows classrooms in a U-shape that allows for signers to view one another.
Light and Color
“Certain colors, especially muted blues and greens, contrast well with a variety of skin tones, making them easy on signers’ eyes,” according to the article. “Lighting should be soft and diffuse, and avoid dimness, backlighting, glare, and abrupt changes in illumination levels.”
In the video, Derrick Behm, from Gallaudet’s Office of Campus Design and Planning, signs in natural lighting that is restive to the eyes.
According to the article, “In general, acoustically quiet spaces are the goal. Hearing aids and cochlear implants amplify sounds, and for their users, the hum of air conditioning or loud echoes can prove extremely distracting.”
DeafSpace is part of an architectural movement similar to Universal Design, where architectural design considers how to complement all abilities, not just mainstream ones.
Planning ahead is a strategy that works for people of all abilities, and more so with people who have neurological disorders, wheelchairs, or hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Cory Thomas, CEO/Founder of The Traveling Barbers “Hair Professionals For The Disabled,” was asked for some hair styling tips for people with neurological disorders in a recent article. This included clients who used wheelchairs.
He said, “Make sure the wheelchair are properly locked” and “Guard against flying hairs” by wrapping fabric around the wheelchair.
“Clippers shouldn’t be as sharp as they would be when working in an conventional barbershop or salon, so as to not hurt or bruise the client’s head from any sudden quick motions that may take place with someone who has a neurological disorder,” he said.
Going for simpler, “traditional” hairstyles and making sure clients are seeing familiar faces round out his suggestions.
A blogger for the Say What Club blog gave advice for styling hair for those who use hearing aids or other wearable equipment, such as cochlear implants. “We talked about their haircut/hairstyle before they took their aids off. After that, I made sure to face them while talking a little slower, if I asked more questions.”
With careful planning, a visit to a hair stylist can be a treasure for people with different abilities.
After Glenn Schweitzer was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. His blog, Mind over Meniere’s, shares information about how to cope with the disease’s side effects.
“Meniere’s disease is a terrible illness with not enough good information available. So much of what’s out there filled me with hopelessness and dread. My goal is to show you that there is so much hope,” Schweitzer said in his blog.
Something unique on his website is a project with music designed to assist people with their symptoms.
According to the website, “The Symptom Relief Project is a collection of special mind-altering audio tracks designed to help relieve some of the worst symptoms of Meniere’s disease: Vertigo, Brain Fog, Fatigue, Morning Grogginess, and Stress/Anxiety.”
A combination of sounds helps to influence our brainwaves and help us feel better, according to the website.
According to a recent email by the Texas SILC, “By taking this short survey, you can help us create a framework for service delivery by including your feedback in the next State Plan for Independent Living. Take the Survey