By Lynette M. Loomis
All of us know someone with a hearing loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, hearing loss can occur due to age, prolonged exposure to loud noises (from ear buds and head phones, to firearms, industrial noise), disease, genetics, injury, illness or even medication.
The National Institutes of Health report that 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing and the proportion of adults with hearing increases with age. Hearing loss creates social isolation which can lead to social, occupational and educational isolation in all age groups.
One of the very active national associations, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), is celebrating its 40-year anniversary with its HLAA2019 Convention, June 20-23, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. Hundreds of people from around the country are expected to attend.
The mission of HLAA is to “open the world of communication to people with hearing loss by providing information, education, support and advocacy.”
“Our primary purpose is to educate ourselves, families, friends, coworkers, hearing health care providers and others about hearing health,” according to Barbara Kelley, HLAA’s executive director. “HLAA provides people with tools for self-help; sensitizes the general population about the special needs of people who have hearing loss; and promotes understanding of the nature, causes, complications, and treatments of hearing loss.”
According to Dan Brooks, president of the local HLAA Rochester Chapter, “Another important aspect of HLAA is advocacy to improve communication access for people with hearing loss. Advocacy efforts range from the grassroots, local level all the way up to Capitol Hill. We advocate for communication access in the workplace, hotels, schools, court systems, medical, and entertainment facilities. HLAA promotes new technology, medical research, and legislation.”
Highlights of the HLAA 2019 Convention:
• Exhibit Hall and Trade Show — Free to the public. Just stop by the HLAA2019 registration at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center and get a free pass (no exhibit hours on June 23).
• Keynote at the opening session by Rebecca Alexander author of “Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found.”
• Research Symposium — “The Latest on Genetics and Hearing Loss,” special rate of $30 for those wanting to attend the symposium only.
• Educational workshops on interesting and current topics divided into tracks: advocacy, lifestyle, hearing assistive technology, genetics and state/chapter development.
• Research Symposium: The latest on genetics and hearing loss, moderated by Thomas Friedman, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health. The symposium will include presentations by Zheng-Yi Chen, Ph.D., Mass. Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School; physician Richard Smith, University of Iowa; and Patricia M. White, Ph.D., University of Rochester School of Medicine.
All sessions are communication accessible with the use of CART/captioning and hearing loss. Sign language interpretation will be available for plenary sessions and by request for workshops. For questions, contact Amanda Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more information and registration details at hearingloss.org/convention.
To contact the local chapter of HLAA, visit hearinglossrochester.org or call 585 266 7890.