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Kathy Mason’s Testimonial, 9/12/11

Happy Birthday, HLA-WC!  I can't be there today to celebrate but I'll be thinking of all the great things that have happened in the past seven years.  I'd like to share just a little of what I've gained through my involvement with this organization.

Eight years ago I was working for a hearing instrument specialist and learned that I had a significant hearing loss.  I got my first pair of haring aids (at age 55) and it changed my life.  I would love to share with you what a huge difference it makes to actually hear what’s going on around you and understand what others are saying, but I now want to tell you about the Hearing Loss Association of America, Whatcom County.

In the summer of 2004, the hearing clinic where I worked receive a flyer announcing the start-up of a group that was then called “Self Help for Hard of Hearing”, SHHH for short.  I attended the firs tmeeting and have been a member and volunteer ever since.  Our mission is to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss, providing information, education, support and advocacy.  I’d also like everyone to know that the Hearing Loss Association of America is not just for those who have a hearing loss.  It’s also for those who want to learn about relating and communicating and relating to the hearing impaired.

Not only have the presentations at monthly meetings helped me to understand and cope with my hearing loss, but I’ve also been able to share knowledge I gained working with the hard of hearing.  It is so rewarding to be able to guide people to a better quality of life, have a voice in hearing loss issues, and be with others who share and understand each other’s difficulties in a hearing world.  I have been privileged to volunteer with some extremely dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly for many years on issues related to hearing loss and, in particular, hearing accessibility.

This year we have stepped up our outreach efforts and are beginning to see some increase in the community’s awareness about this “hidden disability”.  I look forward to our little corner of the world becoming an example of understanding and accessibility for other communities.

I hope everyone here today will experience the rewards of being a member of HLA Whatcom and helping create a community where hearing loss is better understood and accessibility is no longer an issue.  Volunteering with this group is a great experience that everyone should take advantage of.