The first annual Veteran’s Hearing Awareness Forum looked interesting so I drove to Sarasota this morning. The forum was created and hosted by the Sarasota Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. They offered product displays and presentations that described technology, services and communication strategies for better hearing. Other veterans were going to share their insight and experience in adapting to the challenges of hearing loss. I am a hearing impaired veteran, and audiologist, so my usual Saturday morning bike ride and coffee on the Bay were traded for this event.
Upon arrival, I was impressed by the large number of people who attended. I was immediately greeted at a reception table. It was obvious to me that they were prepared for the crowd. As a business man and hearing health care provider I appreciate when an organization pays attention to first impressions. These volunteers obviously know how to make a good first impression.
This forum was focused on the veteran but any person with hearing loss would have gleaned knowledge from the agenda. Cynthia Moynihan, president of the Florida Chapter of HLAA, introduced me to the local chapter officers Maria Anderson and JoAnne Devries and other volunteers who organized and promoted this very successful event. They are impassioned to improve the quality of life for those who suffer hearing loss. They reminded me of Howard “Rocky” Stone the 1979 founder of The Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH). That name was later changed to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Mr. Stone died in 2004. I remember seeing and hearing him earnestly advocate consumer services to the hearing professionals who attended our conventions. Professional publications often showed his image and stories. His hearing was originally damaged while serving in the military during WWII so I am sure that he would have attended today’s forum and praised the volunteers in Sarasota.
In my opinion the Sarasota chapter of HLAA could be a model for other HLAA chapters. Hearing loss advocates in Sarasota and Manatee County have convinced scores of businesses and government buildings to accommodate the hearing impaired with something called hearing loop systems. In comparison, my hometown of St. Petersburg only has a handful of public facilities that are looped. Maybe I can help fix that problem the help of HLAA.
Kudos to the Sarasota chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America! I hope you consider a second annual forum.