Why World Hearing Day Matters
Every March 3rd, we honor World Hearing Day: a global awareness campaign dedicated to amplifying education about ear and hearing care and increasing access to treatment.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 430 million people are living with disabling hearing loss. With a projected increase in the prevalence of hearing loss, we need a worldwide call to action for preventative measures and accessible hearing care for all!
The Hearing Aid Access Project
We’re working towards a world where nobody experiences hearing loss from preventable causes, and where those who do have hearing loss can reach their full potential.
One way the House Institute Foundation is helping patients reach their full potential is through our Hearing Aid Access Project (HAAP). HAAP partners with local clinics and community-based organizations who refer underserved individuals with hearing loss or those who cannot afford the steep cost of hearing aids. We provide recipients with hearing testing, hearing aids, and hearing aid fittings in comprehensive one-day settings – completely free of charge.
This World Hearing Day, we wanted to introduce our community to Cassandra – a House Institute patient and recent recipient through our Hearing Aid Access Project. Cassandra is a teacher for deaf and hard-of-hearing students who herself wears a hearing aid. We sat down to talk with her about what the process was like and what differences a new hearing aid has made in doing the work she loves.
What was your experience like with the Hearing Aid Access Project?
When I found out that I would be sponsored by the program, I hadn’t had a new hearing aid in five or six years, and I was truly in need of the change. Everything about the process was easy, I was scheduled for an appointment, and met with Jonathan, an audiologist at the House Institute. I was born with hearing loss, so I’m extremely familiar with trips to the audiologist, though until now I’d usually gone to the same doctor who diagnosed me when I was five years old. It was strange at first to meet with someone new, but Jonathan was thorough and explained every detail as we went. I thought that was great. I’m familiar with a lot of this, but especially for someone who has new hearing loss, it’s nice to have that care and guidance.
The hearing test has definitely evolved significantly since the 80s, but it was different even since the last time I did one. The test confirmed that for sure I needed a new hearing aid. Jonathan reviewed the audiogram and made recommendations. As an experienced hearing aid user, I came with strong opinions about what I did and didn’t want. Johnathan listened and discussed the pros and cons of my options before we made a decision and submitted the order. The test showed that my hearing had gotten worse, and over time, I just got used to not being able to hear as well.
How has having a new hearing aid affected the work you do?
I’m a teacher for deaf and hard-of-hearing kids across 16 schools in Bakersfield. Because I’m also hard of hearing, there’s an automatic connection with my students. We talk about our challenges, share similar stories, and have this relationship that other people do not have. I can tell them — I do understand.
I work with them on understanding their hearing loss, self-advocacy, knowing their accommodations, and the importance of community. I want to empower my students, to help them understand their identity so that they don’t feel so different or alone.
For me, the Hearing Aid Access Project has been wonderful. Hearing aids aren’t covered much by insurance, and it’s really frustrating when you have hearing loss. It impedes every single facet of your routine, your wellbeing, the ways you want to live your life. Having my new hearing aid has made my job easier. I’m not struggling to hear with the kids, my speech is better because I can hear myself clearly. I can give my best to the work I love. Everything is an improvement.
Through supporting our Hearing Aid Access Project, you can help patients like Cassandra and join us in creating a world where all are connected by the power of sound.