HLAA Spotlight on Chapters

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HLAA Spotlight on Chapters

HLAA is proud of and grateful to the hundreds of members who have developed an extensive network of our organizations. HLAA national is initiating Spotlight to foster teamwork. Spotlight is an opportunity to share successes and unite us in our common mission.

Chapters will be spotlighted to share a success story that has helped them grow. These stories are to encourage chapters to try something new.

When selected, leaders will be emailed a brief online form with space to write something that has worked well for that chapter. (Stories should not be longer than 500 words and may be edited for space and other considerations.)

Periodically, the webmaster will post new entries here on the Spotlight page and will also be announced in other HLAA media.

Questions may be directed to spotlight@hearingloss.org.

We’re All On This Journey Together

Cover of Hearing Loss Magazine July-August 2017 issue For the July/August Chapters issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, we asked our chapters nationwide to tell us stories that highlight their successes. On the cover, we spotlighted members from our local chapters near our national office and interviewed them to find out a bit more about the journeys they are on. Below are their full interviews. You can find additional interviews and articles from our chapter members in this most recent issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. Not getting issues of Hearing Loss Magazine? Become a member and receive issues bimonthly!

Chapter: District of Columbia Chapter
Year Formed: 2010
Travelers: Russ Misheloff, chapter president;
Rachel Stevens, outreach chair

What is the value of a chapter to you?
Russ: Some years ago, I belatedly acknowledged my hearing loss. But I knew very little about available hearing technology or strategies to enhance my ability to communicate effectively.  Searching for support, I happened upon HLAA. That’s the good news. But unfortunately, at the time the DC chapter was dormant. Over the past few years, several of us in similar circumstances have taken steps to revitalize it so that it now functions as a learning community and a platform for reaching out to general audiences to increase awareness and advocate for improved service. Importantly, we now provide opportunities to informally share information and experience, and to hear from experts in a wide variety of hearing loss related subjects about which I had previously given little or no thought. Yes, we did this with the needs of hearing loss community in mind. But in the process I’ve personally learned and know that my colleagues have as well. 

Why did you see the need for a chapter in your area?
Russ: As indicated, my need for a chapter (or more correctly, a community from which to learn) was personal.  I needed help. But it very quickly became apparent to me that many others were in the same boat. If the prevalence of hearing loss in DC is about the same as it is nationwide, which is likely, there may well be 100,000 people who are in need to support.  Few of them are getting the help they need to function and thrive in the wider hearing world. And, as we are learning, for many this has unfortunate health and quality of life implications. So our goal is to reach out to as many people as we can. That in my mind is the function of a successful local chapter. It’s a tall order. And, although we have expanded our reach, we are still nowhere close to assuring that all who are living with hearing loss receive the support they need.

What made you want to join the chapter?
Rachel: I moved to the DC area when I was 25 and I had never met someone my age with hearing loss. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming at my first chapter meeting that I immediately wanted to get involved. Now I’ve made several friends through the chapter who share the challenges that come along with hearing loss and we are there to support each other through those challenges. Because of this, I decided I wanted to help connect children, teens, and young adults with hearing loss to others like them so that they no longer feel alone. I’m grateful to be a part of what this chapter does in providing education and support to the local community.

What types of activities are being coordinated by the chapter outside of chapter meetings?
Russ: The DC chapter has focused on getting the word out to two groups:

  • People who have hearing loss, including both those who come to our programs, and others, who, for one or more of several reasons, e.g. health issues, mobility limitations, or reluctance to acknowledge their hearing issue, cannot, or are not yet ready to come to us; and secondly
  • The general public, who we depend upon to accommodate our hearing needs, but who often do not know how. As we know, but many don’t, shouting doesn’t help.

How do we do this? Chapter meetings are important. Typically, these feature invited guests to discuss diverse subjects of interest to those of us with hearing loss (e.g. assistive listening and alerting technology, communication strategies, public policy advocacy, and the nexus of hearing loss, health and personal well-being. All meetings are widely advertised and are free, with real time captioning and a hearing loop provided.

Beyond our meetings, we have developed a presentation on “Living with Hearing Loss”, and tailor it to the concerns of the varied audiences that we encounter. The presentation is generally given by two or more chapter members who back each other up, interject personal anecdotes to illustrate points and encourage audience participation. Presentations have been made to several “village” organizations that support independent living for the elderly (aging in place). We always make available the slides we show, plus informational materials from HLAA. We also provide our own contact information so that people can follow up with questions that come to mind after the presentation is over, or discuss with us things they prefer not to bring up in a wider setting. We have found this is an effective means of outreach because, while many people with hearing loss will not attend our programs, they are often comfortable and attentive to our message in groups with which they are already associated, that is groups not organized around hearing issues.

As part of our outreach, we have also participated in several health and wellness fairs sponsored by city agencies, church groups, youth organizations and senior centers, provided training to staff of residential facilities on the basics of hearing loss and the health and quality of life implications of unacknowledged and untreated hearing loss, advocated for improved hearing assistive technology at public library facilities and religious congregations, engaged with young adults and teens, assisted accessibility staff at local theaters to better serve patrons with hearing loss, and worked with and advised the staff of DC government agencies with responsibilities that include serving people with disabilities. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of the chapter for?
Russ: Through our programs, internet and social media we have expanded our reach and are now frequently called upon to provide support to current and prospective members and to partner with other service organizations. This is a source of pride for us. But, to be honest, our accomplishments are very modest in relationship to the need. Our membership (now at 61) and our “mailing” lists (including email, snail mail and Facebook membership) which now numbers about 400, is still a tiny fraction of the six figure number of people in our area living with hearing loss. Through our outreach activities, we have made strides to acquaint general audiences with hearing loss issues and how people and the organizations to which they belong can be helpful.  But progress is slow.

Do you have any anecdotal or memorable stories about your chapter that you would like to share?
Russ: During a light moment at a recent meeting of our chapter’s Executive Board, we were reminiscing about our first impressions of the chapter. One member remembered that at the time she thought to herself how nice it is to be able to say frequently and without embarrassment “What was that? I think I missed something” (or words to that effect). Another member, whose mind was clearly somewhere else responded, “What?”  Little else got done that night.  But we all went home laughing.

Chapter: Prince George’s County Chapter
Traveler: Veronica Davila Steele, Chapter President
Founded: 2016

What is the value of chapters to you?
The value of having a Chapter to me is that as I learn about all of the things available to me that allow me to live as next to normal life (with hearing loss) I am able to share with my community. What I found disheartening is the fact that so many of us (Hard of Hearing) live in the shadows and do not want to share their experience for fear of being shamed or simply treated differently. The Chapter allows me the opportunity to educate and advocate on behalf of those that are Hard of Hearing and find the resources they may need to remain a productive and engaged in everyday life as well as in the workforce.

How has the chapter become more involved in the community?
We have reached out to first responders in local police and fire departments and to all of the districts in Prince George’s County. We have been participating in Coffee Club and Community Roundtable meetings, which are monthly get-togethers held by each district where members of the community can network and discuss various topics. They are attended by many community leaders and groups such as civic associations and homeowners associations (HOAs). These meetings have also led us to participate in several health fairs held by various county agencies and also events held by elected officials.

As a new chapter, have you received any assistance in reaching out to people?
My State Coordinator, Margaret Wildner-Kolberg, has been instrumental in guiding us in our outreach efforts. Being a new Chapter we were pretty green in knowing how to begin the process of educating and sharing vital information to the Hard of Hearing residents in Prince George's County. We've been fortunate to work with Dr Henry and Dr. Medwetski at Gallaudet University who brought their knowledge and expertise to our presentations.

How does the chapter raise money?
This will be our task in the coming year! Interested in learning how other Chapters are addressing this.


HLAA Central Virginia Chapter’s Advocacy Efforts Lead to New Hearing Loops in National Historic Landmark

Juliette Sterkens doing a presentation at UVA Rotunda
Dr. Juliëtte Sterkens presents at the newly-looped UVA Rotunda

The Rotunda, a signature building at Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, is now accessible to people with hearing loss. As part of a four year, $58 million renovation, eight classrooms and meeting spaces in the Rotunda now feature hearing loops.

The Rotunda was originally designed to be a focal point of the University of Virginia (UVA), located in Charlottesville, when construction began in 1822. Once housing a library, classrooms, and laboratories, in recent years the Rotunda has become more of a museum piece and not an integral part of the university's academic life as it once was. It mainly turned into a meeting spot where tours of UVA’s historic academic village, the Lawn, began. UVA’s Board of Visitors did meet there and from time to time special events were held, but it was not a study destination for the student body nor a particularly good listening venue when used as a lecture hall.

“The building's usability was the thing most dear to the design team," according to historic preservation architect Jody Lahendro. "I think it's a sin that there are people who have graduated from the University in the last 70, 80 years who have never set foot in the building," he says. (The UVA Magazine, Fall 2016)

The Rotunda now crawls with students in its quiet nooks and crannies, and the usability of the building extends to people with hearing loss, thanks in part to the HLAA Central Virginia Chapter.

Five or six years ago, then-Chapter President Ron Keeney and HLAA Member Larry Herbert met with building officials at the University and encouraged them to begin incorporating hearing loops into some of the facilities there. Interest was expressed by staff in attendance, and even though a lot of inertia followed, a seed was planted. All the hard work paid off, and now the signature building at the school is accessible to people with hearing loss.

On November 15, 2016 Dr. Juliëtte Sterkens, HLAA hearing loop advocate, visited Charlottesville and spoke to faculty and students in the speech and language program at UVA’s Curry School of Education. Her presentation was fittingly held in the beautiful Dome Room of the Rotunda.

The hearing loops were installed by Hearing Technologies, Inc. of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

It's a noteworthy achievement for a noteworthy building in the history of American architecture.

History of the Rotunda
The Rotunda at the University of Virginia was designed by Thomas Jefferson as the architectural and academic heart of the University’s community of scholars. He named the University’s original buildings the “Academical Village.” As the phrase suggests, the Academical Village is based on the Jeffersonian principle that learning is a lifelong process, and that interaction between faculty and students is vital to the pursuit of knowledge.

Jefferson modeled the Rotunda after the Pantheon, a second century temple in Rome, Italy. Construction began in 1822 and was completed in 1826, shortly after Jefferson’s death on July 4 of that year. Built at a cost of $60,000, it was the last structure to be finished on the Lawn. Together with Monticello, the Academical Village is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A photo essay of the renovation of the Rotunda can be found in UVA’s Virginia Magazine.

Submitted by: Larry Herbert
Larry Herbert is a member of the HLAA Greater Richmond Chapter and a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is a previous member of the HLAA Central Virginia Chapter in Charlottesville and the HLAA Augusta Chapter in Augusta, Georgia.


HLAA Wisconsin State Association and Metro Milwaukee Chapter Hold Inaugural Hearing Loop Expo

photo of Wisconsin Hearing Loop Expo

The HLAA Wisconsin State Association and the HLAA Metro Milwaukee Chapter held their inaugural Hearing Loop and Accessibility Conference on Saturday November 5, 2016 and it proved to be a huge success!

There were more than 100 attendees and 24 exhibitors at the event, along with many high-quality sessions and hearing assistive technology demonstrations. HLAA Board of Trustee Member and noted composer/sound-engineer Richard Einhorn gave the keynote address Hearing Loops: What Have They Done for Me, What They Can Do for You.

HLAA Metro Milwaukee Chapter Leader Eloise Schwarz and HLAA Looping Advocate Juliëtte Sterkens did a fantastic job organizing this event. 

You can find more information about the Wisconsin State Association and the Hearing Loop and Accessibility Conference on the Wisconsin State Association website.


HLAA Sun Lakes Chapter Member Elizabeth Booth
Honored With Oticon Focus on People Award

photo of L. Booth Elizabeth Booth of the HLAA Sun Lakes (Arizona) Chapter was among the outstanding individuals with hearing loss honored with a 2016 Oticon Focus on People Award. The Oticon Focus on People Awards is a national competition that celebrates people who are helping to eliminate negative stereotypes of what it means to have a hearing loss. As the first place winner in the Advocacy category, Booth was honored at a special awards ceremony at Oticon’s U.S. headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey on September 27.

As part of her award, Booth designated HLAA and the HLAA Sun Lakes Chapter as her choices for a $1,000 donation from Oticon.

“Outstanding volunteers, like Elizabeth Booth, are opening doors of opportunity for all people with hearing loss,” states Oticon President Peer Lauritsen. “Elizabeth generously shares her time, talent and personal experience with hearing loss to help others with hearing loss live full and productive lives. We are inspired by her optimism, her dedication and her ‘can do’ attitude.”

Elizabeth is a retired reading specialist and still volunteers full time to educate, generously giving her time and talents to better the lives of individuals with hearing loss at the local, state and national levels. As someone who has a cochlear implant and hearing aid, she is a natural teacher and role model for others struggling with the challenges of hearing loss. Elizabeth says, “Life is not always the party we hoped for but while we are here, we should dance. Helping people master the steps is a rewarding and humbling commitment.”

Elizabeth is the co-leader of two HLAA chapters and her popular Listening with Booth column appears in several hearing loss-related newsletters. She is a mentor for cochlear implant candidates and recipients and a frequent volunteer for research studies at Arizona State University. In 2012, the governor of Arizona appointed her to a seat on the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing where she also serves on the Hard of Hearing Task Force.

Read the inspirational stories of all 12 winners of the 2016 Oticon Focus on People Awards.

Along with Elizabeth we congratulate HLAA Members Stephen Frazier of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Dan Carione of Massapequa, New York who won second and third place, respectively, in the Advocacy category. Well done!


HLAA California State Association Holds
Inaugural Hearing Loss Tech Expo

photo of CA State Association expo

The HLAA California State Association hosted its inaugural Hearing Loss Tech Expo on Saturday, October 8. By all accounts the event proved to be a tremendous success!

The Expo was free and open to the public. Along with HLAA members, many others with hearing loss, their families and friends attended the Expo. The extensive promotional efforts prior to the Expo paid off handsomely, with more than 180 people in attendance.

More than 20 exhibitors demonstrated their latest products and services for people with hearing loss. Attendees enjoyed learning about the products and services while networking with other people with hearing loss, their families, and friends.

Raffles gave attendees a chance to win various prizes, including seven sponsor-paid $50 Target gift cards. Reusable tote bags stuffed with valuable information and prizes were also given out, and there were plenty of complimentary refreshments for attendees to enjoy. In addition, a sign language interpreter was on hand for those who needed assistance.

We Couldn’t Do It Alone!
Many entities came together to make the Expo a success. Along with the State Association, several HLAA California chapters were involved helping to coordinate the event. Without the time and money given by sponsors, exhibitors and the many individuals who volunteered, the Expo would not have been possible.

Participating HLAA California chapters included Diablo Valley, East Bay, Peninsula, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

The Tech Expo’s gold sponsor was MED-EL. Other sponsors included ClearCaptions, ClearSounds Communications, General Technologies, Harris Communications, Hear-More, Oticon, OTOjOY, and Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss.

Many thanks to all those who contributed to making our inaugural Expo such a great success and wonderful all-around experience. Most of all, we would like to thank the attendees. We hope you came away with plenty of helpful information and support.

You can find more information about the Tech Expo on the HLAA California State Association website.


HLAA Fox Valley Chapter Brings “HOPE” to Its Members

H.O.P.E. participants
A group photo of HOPE participants at our March 2016 meeting.

The HLAA Fox Valley Chapter in Appleton, Wisconsin was founded in 1984. Since then we have learned a lot and seen many changes. And like many chapters, our attendance and membership have waxed and waned. Leaders have come and gone. New folks come and go. Some stay, but many do not. Not too long ago the chapter was in danger of folding. Thankfully, the handful of leaders – both old and new – kept the chapter alive while considering possibilities and searching for reasons why many who come once do not come back. Something was missing.

We have quite possibly found a missing link; a piece that other chapters might consider adding to their structure. The HLAA Rochester Chapter already has. We asked newcomers questions, and people told us they were not getting the information they wanted and needed to feel better about themselves. Some said they felt uncomfortable in the group. Further analyzed, the reason for that was “not getting their basic questions answered.” They often found it difficult to talk to the people who they wanted to ask questions of. Too many left the meetings feeling they had not gained anything.

We all know hearing loss can make it difficult to communicate in a group full of other talkers and that one-on-one conversations work best. How difficult that is following a chapter meeting is a phenomenon that only a person with hearing loss can fully understand. Waiting for that one-on-one opportunity can be futile when everyone else has the same desire, and the old-timers are anxious to leave the meeting because they have done their job of organizing the meeting. These new folks needed more time.

We began to realize there was a need to go back to the basics for people who are new to hearing loss. While our seasoned members were interested in learning more about advanced technologies and options available to them, the new folks wanted to talk about their experiences and get support from people who understood their frustrations. They wanted to talk. Learning they were not alone with their hearing loss frustrations is basic. When long-time members were asked what SHHH/HLAA did for them when they first learned of the organization, and why they decided to get involved, the usual response was, “Once I learned I wasn’t the only one like me, it gave me new life!” That, we believe, is what has been missing.

With the help and leadership of a new member who helped identify this problem, the Fox Valley Chapter started a pre-meeting discussion group we call “HOPE.” HOPE stands for “Hearing Other People’s Experiences,” and that is exactly what goes on for an hour preceding each regular chapter meeting. We weren’t sure people would come at 5:30 in the evening, but HOPE attendance has grown, and so has the chapter. People come regularly, and have started bringing friends. Most remain for the chapter meeting and program. We are currently seeing enthusiasm for HLAA and an increase in national membership from these new people.

HOPE is giving people hope. There are many “a-ha” moments when someone discovers they can hear via the hearing loop in our meeting room! Loop receivers help those without telecoils. CART is available at the regular meetings as well. So these new folks are realizing that attending our accessible meetings isn’t an exercise in futility. They are becoming believers.

The HLAA Fox Valley Chapter is alive and well. Thanks to HOPE, it is healthier now than it has been for years. We hope other chapters will consider starting a HOPE group. When we make the effort, and provide an opportunity to listen to people who are struggling with hearing loss, it matters. Self-help and mutual support remain central to building effective chapters.

H.O.P.E. business card

In spite of all the outreach we have done over the years, one of the first questions people who have come to HOPE ask is, “Why haven’t I heard of this organization before?” We decided to have business cards printed so people who are excited about HLAA and HOPE can share their excitement with others who might be interested. They can add their name and contact information to the back of the card.

Submitted by:
Julie Olson, julieo@athenet.net
Nancy Gilbertson, nancy.gilbertson2@gmail.com
Chapter website: http://www.hlaawi.org/fox-valley-chapter.html


HLAA-Peninsula Chapter in California Creates and Posts Rocky Stone Hearing Assisted Technology Demonstration on YouTube

HLAA-Peninsula Chapter logoThe HLAA-Peninsula Chapter in California features an assistive technology exhibit the first Wednesday of most months (the exceptions are January, July, and August). The exhibit features over 25 assistive devices on display, with volunteers at the ready to explain and demonstrate the items. This has been a very popular and much-appreciated activity. Chapter member Raegene Castle said she always envisioned a video demonstration showing this table that the chapter could use to introduce people with hearing loss to HLAA and let them know they would find things that would help them at the Peninsula Chapter meetings. Raegene and fellow chapter member Liz Furber enlisted the help of Raegene’s grandson, who recently graduated from film school, to produce and publish a short video on YouTube to do just that. They named the video the Rocky Stone Assisted Technology Demonstration.

She and Liz Furber are also working on a multi-page manual other HLAA Chapters can use to guide their Chapter in setting up a similar demonstration exhibit. They are willing to share and can always use more volunteers! If you would like to help, please contact Raegene at Raegeneandjack@gmail.com.

Submitted by:
Content originally appeared in the HLAA-Peninsula Chapter Spring 2016 Newsletter.
Raegene Castle,  Raegeneandjack@gmail.com


Chapter Libraries Promote Information Sharing…

Does your HLAA chapter have a lending library? Because there are many books and periodicals about hearing loss, this is a project your chapter might consider. Education and information sharing are major tenets of the HLAA mission.

The HLAA-Silicon Valley Chapter (San Jose, CA) has a chapter library. I would like to share information about how we have developed a chapter library system, and how we’ve acquired a collection of books, magazines, and other printed literature for the library. Our library has books about coping with, identifying, and recognizing symptoms of hearing loss. There are stories of famous people with hearing loss, along with information about medical research and more. There are fiction books with stories of characters with hearing loss, and several that have been written by authors with hearing loss. ASL books, books dealing with cochlear implants, and other related subject are also included in the library.

When I or other chapter members learn of an interesting new book or periodical, an effort is made to get it for the chapter. Many books are available used or online. I often find good books at thrift stores and used book sales. I receive many newsletters that relate to the HLAA mission, and include those too. Further, we always collect and display past issues of Hearing Loss Magazine at our meetings, and encourage people to take them and share them with others. Books have been donated by hearing healthcare professionals, chapter members, and even by the authors themselves.

My husband and I bring bins of books to each chapter meeting so people can check them out for the month. The library depends on a self-check honor-system. We ask people to sign their name, e-mail and/or phone number, along with the name of the book or item they borrow. All items borrowed are due at the next month’s meeting. There is no fine if a something is not returned on time. We just urge them to return them the following month. If a book is lost, the person is asked to pay to replace the book. Some members are regular customers who look forward to a new ‘read’ each month.

If you end up with a lot of books, it is not necessary to bring them all to every meeting. Last month, for example, our speaker was a local ear surgeon, so we chose to bring books that mostly dealt with cochlear implants. The program piqued interests and a number of books were borrowed that day. We do not always have a lot of books on a single pertinent subject, but this time it seemed very appropriate.

To promote use of the library, I often write a book review for the chapter newsletter, and/or talk for a few minutes at the chapter meeting to share information on what is new in the library.

Our chapter is also accumulating assistive devices that can be loaned. Those who try the devices are given the opportunity to share how they worked for them when they return them.

I hope this encourages other chapters to start a library. I would love to hear from other chapters that have libraries, and from chapters that might be interested in starting one.

Happy Reading to you and your chapter members.

Submitted by:
HLAA Silicon Valley Chapter (CA)
Lynne Kinsey, Librarian, lkinseyhearinglossca.org


On the Net with HLAA-KY Home

It all started innocently enough. Our local three-times-per-week newspaper published its annual public service organizations and clubs magazine. Hearing Loss Association of America wasn’t in it. Our chair, Becky Crawford, began a little research and found that most of the organizations were listed with the United Way. Next step---Get HLAA-KY Home listed. Further research led to the discovery of a “volunteers needed” page within their website. Why not? Wow! A volunteer responded to our request for a person to maintain our existing website. Alas, she said she didn’t feel confident enough to do that—but she thought her husband could help.

Enter Dave Robertson, MRSC MBCS CITP (Registered Lecturer in Applied Science - General Teaching Council, Scotland). Dave’s hobby just happened to be websites. Dave looked at our current website, shook his head and said, “Let me play with it for a day or two.” That was ten months ago.

Now www.hearinglosskyhome.org has grown to a resource site for people with hearing loss throughout Kentucky. Our first goal was to define HLAA. We do that in our “Who We Are” column which gives us several options: “About Us”—our goals and benefits, “Meet Our Founder Rocky Stone” —a history and his Invisible Condition editorials. Our editor’s letter comes out on the first of each month and describes what our chapter is doing and what’s new this month. In the “Helpful Information” section we have: “Layperson’s Guide” and “Current Research” to inform people new to hearing loss and those interested in the latest hearing loss research. Our monthly “Quiz” under the “Get Involved Section” usually relates to one of the articles or the chapter meeting’s topic.

The monthly cycle of website editions, keeps the website content fresh and encourages readers to keep coming back for more. Kentucky is predominantly a rural state with only four chapters; hence, the need for written information. The website aims to serve the hearing loss community by including information about hearing loss services and groups throughout the state and even our bordering state cities of Nashville and Cincinnati. Throughout the website, we have videos that describe HLAA history, hearing loss issues and advocacy.

Dave’s pride and joy undoubtedly is “My Story” which appears under our “Get Involved” banner. On the first of each month we add an individual’s personal story. In rural communities people know people. Having personal stories allows neighbors to see friends in a different light and relate to hearing loss in a different way. Our state senator attended one of our meetings. Later, he told me that he came believing that I just represented myself. He didn’t expect his friends and neighbors to be there because he didn’t know their lives were also affected by hearing loss.

Dave also opened a Magic Jack account and introduced a phone number that can be routed to specific board members. This allows us to publish a phone number without exposing personal numbers. It also gives us a permanent number presence in all of our cards, brochures, fliers and PR. We can connect via the Internet or by voice mail screening.

We are pleased to say that www.hearinglosskyhome.org is a work in progress. Join us.

The Kentucky Home Chapter meets in Bardstown at the Nelson County Public Library. Find out more about chapters in your area.

Submitted by:
Kentucky Home Chapter
Ed Schickel, Editor of the Kentucky Home Chapter Newsletter, ed@hearinglosskyhome.org


New Beginnings in New Jersey!

HLAA Essex County Chapter group photo
Group photo of HLAA Essex County Chapter in New Jersey

The HLAA Essex County New Jersey Chapter held its initial meeting on March 7, 2015. It began with a great deal of enthusiasm and was deemed a huge success! The meeting attracted 35 people of varying ages who shared personal experiences of living with their own hearing loss or about their loved ones. The resulting laughter and tears generated a great deal of excitement about the possibilities of this new chapter.

Chapter founder and vice presidentLatisha Vaughn-Porter and Shelly Simpson serve as president and vice president of the New Chapter in Essex County, New Jersey (pictured left).

Latisha Porter-Vaughn is the founder of the HLAA Essex County Chapter and will serve as its first president. Latisha was born with sensorineural hearing loss that went undiagnosed and untreated until she was 19, except for speech therapy in grade school.

She says, “The specialists I saw at that time, explained my entire life in one visit! I could not hear or distinguish certain sounds, and had been getting by with lip-reading my entire life. At that time, I was struggling in my work environment and in college studies. I had little understanding of hearing loss, and realized I had learned to live with it by educating myself!”

In 2010, Latisha participated in the New Jersey Walk4Hearing, where she met Arlene Romoff. Arlene invited her to attend meetings of the chapter she belonged to. After doing that Latisha says, “I knew immediately that I wanted an HLAA Chapter in my own community where there was a huge gap in support for people with hearing loss.” She began working toward that goal then, but had trouble finding others who were interested. She didn’t give up, and in time, was able to pull together a few interested parties.

Shelly Simpson, the mother of a teen-aged son with hearing loss is the chapter’s vice-president. As a strong advocate for her son, Shelly is excited about building the chapter, and especially in reaching out to young people with hearing loss. Through her son, she understands the challenges that teenagers with hearing loss face.

Latisha and Shelly, together, have generated enthusiasm that has drawn others. They look forward to providing peer support groups, not only for adults, but for children and teenagers. They know the value of emotional support that brings people who have common interests and concerns together to talk and learn.

The initial meeting featured guest speaker, Rashaun Boyd, a 16 year old honor roll student who aspires to study engineering in college. Rashaun was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss at age four. He spoke of the challenges he has faced as the only student in his school with hearing loss; the difficulties of social life, and his interest in meeting others his age like himself. He had the audience spellbound with his stories.

HLAA Essex County Chapter plans to hold monthly meetings. They are pleased to have received support from the State of New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing for CART services.

We look forward to hearing more from this enthusiastic new chapter!

Submitted by:
Essex County Chapter (NJ)


Winter in Gainesville, Florida

It's been slow going here in HLAA Gainesville Chapter, as the college students who become helpers, come and go, and others move. However, we now have a great new webpage at: www.hearinglossgainesville.org.  We continue to volunteer at the Senior Recreation Center by providing hearing advice and support.  Don't let the term "Senior Recreation Center" fool you! They have yoga, dance, zumba, painting, dances with a band, computer classes, a workout room and more. The seniors there are more active than most teenagers are! 

We look forward to an upcoming presentation on hearing loops for churches, businesses, and home use to be presented at the Senior Recreation Center by HLAA Loop Advocate Juliëtte Sterkens, Au.D., on Monday, March 2, 2015, (with the room temporarily looped). We hope the University of Florida will see it is feasible and needed, and will install loops in the facility. 

Cruise with Communication Access
A chance to "Win a Cruise 4 Two" will be given soon to some lucky raffle winner!  A donation of $10 per raffle ticket (6 for $50) is all it takes for someone to win. Whether you win or not, we invite you to join many others on an Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Royal Caribbean Ship, The Allure.  This is a Florida Fun Fundraiser to help local chapters and the HLAA Florida State Association. It allows us to continue reaching out through convention scholarships, to hold expo's, and support whatever chapters decide to do to make a difference in their communities.

You can get raffle tickets from me by contacting me at: Lynnrousseau50@gmail.com. This is your opportunity to “Win a Cruise 4 Two,” but even more important, to provide financial support for HLAA in Florida.

If taking a fully communication accessible cruise interests you, you can get onboard with a refundable deposit of $250 per person, with full payment due in August. The Allure sails out of Ft. Lauderdale on November 8, 2015, for a week-long cruise of the Eastern Caribbean. It’s a great way to get out of the cold and bask in the sunshine for a week. You can even do your holiday shopping and come home with a tan!

Last year’s travelers had a great time. The ship’s entertainment director had fun testing the CART provider each time he spoke and commented enjoying seeing his words in print. It was a powerful way to show what CART can do for thousands aboard the ship who had never heard of it. We were delighted that he also spoke about HLAA and our efforts to provide communication access on the ship. Many people asked us about both CART and HLAA, and, we held our first meeting at sea. Please think about joining us in 2015.

For more information on the cruise, contact Barbara Maher Barbaram@gotravel.com  or call 800-800-7703 Extension:112 . Be sure to mention HLAA-Florida for the group rate, and choose a cabin that suits your needs. 

Lynn Rousseau is the president and founder of the HLAA Gainesville Chapter. She is also a past member of the HLAA-FL Board, and a past State Chapter Coordinator for Florida. Lynn can be reached at Lynnrousseau50@gmail.com. The email for the HLAA Gainesville Chapter is HLAGainesville@aol.com. The email for the HLAA Florida State Association is HLAFlorida@yahoo.com

Submitted by:
Gainesville Chapter (FL)
Lynn Rousseau, Chapter President and Founder, Lynnrousseau50@gmail.com


Loop Santa Barbara Campaign; a Huge Success!
Here’s How They Did It!

In November 2012, the HLAA Santa Barbara Chapter, through the generous support of its members and Thomas Kaufmann, founder of Otojoy, a hearing loop distributer in the community, looped the chapter meeting room. Our chapter members, most of them trying a hearing loop for the first time, were absolutely amazed at the quality of sound. Our interest in looping started to take shape and we knew we needed to get a Loop Campaign going in our community. Our interest really took shape after Juliëtte Sterken’s presentation at our February 2013 chapter meeting, Hearing Loops: From Loss to Listening.

While we had a couple of people dedicated to the Loop Campaign idea, we quickly learned we would need a large amount of resources to keep it going. Claudia Herczog, our chapter co-leader, approached her friend Jo Black, the director of the Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC). The ILRC agreed to partner with HLAA Santa Barbara Chapter, and submitted a grant application to California Communications Access Foundation to help fund a campaign to loop Santa Barbara. “In April 2013, the ILRC was awarded the grant and the Let's Loop Santa Barbara campaign was born. Kase Martis, a community relations specialist from the area, was hired and with additional help from Otojoy, the campaign really took off. Since early 2013, more than 40 venues in the Santa Barbara area, including almost all the audiologist offices, several churches, government offices, live theatres, and retirement facilities have been looped.

In 2014, the California Communications Access Foundation extended the grant for another year. Through this grant and the efforts and dedication of Let's Loop Santa Barbara partners, the Independent Living Resource Center, Otojoy, and HLAA's Santa Barbara Chapter, we have truly turned Santa Barbara into one of the most hearing accessible cities in California!

Submitted by:
Santa Barbara Chapter (CA)
Cherie Alvarez, Chapter President, CherieA@hlaa-sbc.org


HLAA-Peninsula and HLAA-Silicon Valley Chapters in California

Members of HLAA-Peninsula Chapter and the HLAA-Silicon Valley Chapter attended a book talk at Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park, California, to hear author Rebecca Alexander talk about her book, Not Fade Away. Rebecca spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about her experiences and feelings growing up with Usher’s Syndrome (a rare debilitating inherited disease), slowly going deaf and blind, learning and communicating with American Sign Language (ASL), regaining her hearing with a cochlear implant, becoming legally blind, succeeding as a spinning instructor and an extreme athlete, and having a successful psychotherapist career in New York City. Rebecca’s story is inspiring, uplifting, and can be emulated by persons with hearing loss and other disabling conditions.

HLAA-Peninsula members Bonnie Neylan and Sister Ann Rooney, along with HLAA-Silicon Valley members Lynne and Stephen Kinsey, Maggie Iller and her sister Jan Kirkley attended the fascinating session. Bonnie contacted the bookstore in advance, and convinced them to loop the book talk area. She also helped locate ASL interpreters for the event. Although a temporary hearing loop was set up, the store is now considering a permanent loop for all their book programs. The HLAA Chapters hope that this will be the first of many in the area for similar purposes. Lynne Kinsey had previously purchased copies of Not Fade Away for both herself and her HLAA Chapter and highly recommends this book. See www.rebalexander.com for more information on the author, her book, and future speaking engagements.

Submitted by:
Lynne Kinsey, lkinsey@hearinglossca.org


It Only Takes a Spark

A spark caught fire when Don Willson of the Northern Colorado HLAA Chapter followed through on a suggestion by a member of the Fort Collins City Council to contact the Commission on Disabilities about hearing loops. The Commission facilitator invited Don to give a presentation at a Commission meeting, where he used a PowerPoint presentation on hearing loops that developed by a member of HLAA. The commission’s enthusiasm was heartwarming as was their endorsement of the potential of hearing loop technology. The Commission facilitator offered to take Don’s recommendation to the City Council.

The spark was lit there, but it smoldered very slowly as it took about six months before the City Council approved the installation of a hearing loop in the City Council chamber. Another month or so passed before the loop installer called to say they would be installing the loop the following week. The council chamber is a semicircular auditorium that seats approximately 200 people with stadium seating. The seats are on concrete, but the aisles between the sections of seating are carpeted.

On the appointed day, in December 2011, Don went to observe and was pleased and interested in the way the technicians installed the hearing loop. At the January City Council meeting, during the three-minute, from-the-floor speakers, he told the City Council that the hearing loop that they had authorized was installed, working and that he was listening to them through the hearing loop rather than through the PA speakers. You cannot say a lot in three minutes, but Don got the message across. That small spark had smoldered and burst into a small flame as it got this one room looped.

After the public comments one Council member spoke up and said they should include hearing loops in the local building code for all new buildings where appropriate. He also suggested that several other existing city buildings should be looped as money became available.

Don says he had been talking with the manager of the Lincoln Center in fort Collins for two years. It is facility with two live theaters, and several ballrooms that are used for conventions and meetings. Don received a promise that during the scheduled remodel the two theaters and 3 meeting rooms would be looped. However, problems arose that used up the contingency fund set aside for this purpose, but eventually, in the summer of 2013 the five rooms in the Center were looped.

Through Don’s advocacy and education, one of the community recreation centers was also included in this looping effort. In that building, there is a three section general purpose room that required the loop be placed above the drop ceiling. An expansion of the Fort Collins Senior Center also took place in this time frame. It is now complete with loops installed at the reception desk, in several general purpose rooms and a small movie theater. This all started with that single ‘spark’.

Don says, “You can strike a spark too. Blow gently and watch it spread. My only contact was with the City Council for the initial loop. The loop vendor worked with the City for the other loops. This vendor has also looped a classroom at Colorado State University, a church sanctuary, and an apartment in an area retirement home. Along with loops installed in my own home, there are now at least 17 hearing loops installed in the Fort Collins area!”

While this has been predominantly a one-person effort, it shows that good things happen when people are willing to light that first spark. This creates awareness about hearing loss and the local chapter of which Don is a member.

It has been said that “Mountains can be moved, if individuals are willing to carry a few stones.” Don has carried more than his fair share. He hopes others in the Fort Collins area will keep the fire going.

Submitted by:
Northern Colorado Chapter
Don Willson, Coordinator, LoopNColo@comcast.net


HLAA Albuquerque Chapter News ... Now Here’s a Busy Chapter!

The Albuquerque Chapter (HLAAbq) takes the summer off from meetings so members can enjoy the many pleasures of the "Land of Enchantment" but that doesn't mean nothing is happening!  Chapter leaders never stop advocating for New Mexico’s population of people with hearing loss. Throughout the summer, HLAAbq Chapter leaders have: 

  • Appeared on two different local TV programs to talk about HLAA and the chapter's  Loop New Mexico initiative. 
  • Met with KOB-TV management to discuss ways to improve their captions on the local news.
  • Presented programs on Living with Hearing Loss and an aural rehab program offered by HLAAbq at three different venues. 
  • Met to plan the 2014-2015 chapter programs that will start with the September meeting.
  • Lobbied the state licensing board to require telecoil counseling before hearing aids can be dispensed and also for stronger rules governing advertising by New Mexico’s hearing care providers. 
  • Met with city officials in support of a plan to add a hearing loop to a proposed new FM system in the chamber used jointly by the city council and the county commission. The plan to add the loop was the result of the head of the council staff seeing one of the TV shows where chapter leaders discussed the benefits of hearing loops over other assistive listening technologies.
  • Visited several of the city's churches with the chapter's engineer to check on reports of malfunctioning hearing loops and helped to get the problems corrected.
  • Sent monthly Loop NM updates to nearly all of the state's audiologists and hearing instrument specialists on the growing use of hearing loop technology in the U.S., and also educated on the growing number of hearing care offices who are coming out in support of it on their web sites and by installing it in their waiting and fitting rooms.
  • Used email to encourage members and supporters to join the chapter's Smith's Community Rewards program that earns money for the chapter as members and supporters shop at the supermarket's stores.
  • Met with the local VA hospital's new audiology department head. Dr. Brad Ingrao, chapter member and audiologist, will initiate an effort to reach out to vets in need of aural rehab.
  • Talked with organizers of the National Council of Hispano Deaf and Hard of Hearing to explore ways the chapter might help with their upcoming national convention which will be held in Albuquerque in October.

Some of the chapter's past successful advocacy focused on getting health insurances policies in the state to cover children, raising the amount paid by Medicaid toward hearing aids, a mandatory trial period for hearing aids, a mandatory deadline for refunds on returned hearing aids, sound level limits in city owned facilities to protect against noise induced hearing loss. Though unsuccessful in the past, the chapter is still advocating for removal of the sales tax on hearing aids and mandating counseling on telecoils by providers.

Submitted by:
New Mexico Chapter
Stephen O. Frazier, Coordinator


HLAA Going Strong in Kentucky

HLAA Kentuckiana Chapter, which meets in Louisville and draws members from southern Indiana as well, has a Board of people who believe it "takes a village" to make our chapter work. I have the honor of serving as president of the chapter for the 2013-2015 term.  The HLAA Kentucky state chapter coordinator is Ron Haynes who, along with his wife Jean, power a committed and loving direction for our chapters.

This year, the Kentuckiana Chapter has had the good fortune and blessing of starting a "Munch Bunch" meeting on the fourth Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. -- a time for some good food and companionship.  We sometimes meet at a local Kentucky Proud Bagel Shop which is adjacent to a charity shop called Fabulous Finds that offers some wonderful perusing while sending all proceeds to the Heuser Hearing and Language Institute (formerly the Deaf Oral School).  If nothing else, the Munch Bunch offers a chance to get out and to get to know members better on a social level.  In the future, we plan to meet near places of work of members who still are doing the 9 to 5 schedule so they can join the fun.

We also have the support of Michelle Niehaus, program administrator / statewide coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services with the Kentucky Division of Behavioral Health. She presented at one our meetings and took to heart some concerns/questions of new members, and started a support group which now meets once each month.  We have discussed topics of anxiety, stress, general complaints and fears along with other physical and emotional concerns of hearing loss. This has been a great support system and problem solver for many of us.

We have had two fun fundraisers through local chain restaurants: a Flapjack Fundraiser Breakfast at Applebee’s and a Panera dinner at Panera Bread Company.  The fundraisers raised some cash to help us with expenses, but, even more important, raised community awareness about HLAA and generated some good-will donations! Having the opportunity to work together and have fun in the process has been gratifying to chapter members.

One of our Board members suggested a book group this year and facilitated a lovely evening of food and discussion. Another member provided her home and CART skills. The chapter bought and circulated copies of Shouting Won’t Help- Why I and Fifty Million Other Americans Can’t Hear You by HLAA Member Katherine Bouton. 

Meeting programs this past year have related to concerns expressed by members:  

  • Affordable Hearing Aids
  • How Legislation Becomes Law
  • The Importance of Early Intervention
  • Dealing with the Stigma of Hearing Loss, Vertigo, and the Psychological Aspects of Hearing Loss.

We have many more important topics to cover.
We have had four outreach opportunities for our HLAAKY Booth in health fairs and community events with two more still to go this year.  We have two more social events, too.  But, it wouldn’t happen without this group who make up our HLAA Kentuckiana Chapter “village.”

There were four of us in Austin for the HLAA Convention 2014, and we’re looking forward to St. Louis in 2015!

Submitted by:
HLAA Kentuckiana Chapter
Carla Trivedi, President, Carla.trivedi@gmail.com


Los Angeles’ Amazing Grace

The HLAA Los Angeles Chapter is home to a very special HLAA member who has been actively involved at the chapter level since 1984 when she first learned about Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. Grace Tiessen, who is also the editor of the award winning California state newsletter; The Hearing Loss Californian, celebrated her 95th birthday this past spring.

Lisa Yuan, president of the HLAA Los Angeles Chapter says “Grace has charmed us and blessed us with her presence every month at our meetings. She continually amazes us with her wit, larger-than-life personality, and seemingly ageless body and mind. In her lifetime, she has defied every stereotype associated with being a woman, especially a woman with hearing loss. She is now defying every stereotype associated with aging.”

When she was interviewed about her hearing loss in 1984 when she joined SHHH, She said: “Hearing loss is a chronic stressor. Trying to hear is exhausting because of the effort and concentration required to understand and communicate. Sheer fatigue can cause a person to tune out when there is no more energy left to unscramble sounds.”

Thirty years later, Grace had this to say: “Finding SHHH in 1984 was the beginning of a whole new life for me. HLAA gave me friends, causes to advocate for, information, technological support, and a hard of hearing family. I am grateful.”

When asked what to share with the younger generation of people with hearing loss, she said: “Get involved with HLAA. Embrace and accept your hearing loss. You cannot participate in life to its fullest if you don’t. If you deny your disability, you deny yourself accommodations.”

Many of us had the pleasure of wishing Grace a Happy Birthday at the national HLAA convention in Austin in June. The Hearing Loss Association of Los Angeles has a Facebook page. Be sure to ‘like’ them, and take time to wish ‘Amazing Grace’ a happy 95th year!

NOTE: This is edited from the information in the HLAA Convention 2014 Program and Exhibit Guide. Ed Ogiba, director of chapter development, asked that we include this in the Spotlight Column. I agree! Grace really is amazing. It was nice to see her at the convention.

Julie Olson
Spotlight Editor for HLAA


HLAA Rochester Chapter has Cochlear Implant Subgroup

Dynamic and vital, the HLAA Rochester Chapter was established in 1983, making it among the oldest chapters. Cochlear implants were figments of science fiction when the organization started its mission to support, educate and advocate for people with hearing loss in upstate New York. One of many projects and programs the HLAA Rochester Chapter promotes is a cochlear implant subgroup that began in 2010 and holds meetings twice a year.

The real experts on cochlear implants are the people who use them every day to hear in classrooms, meetings, concerts, at dinner at home or restaurants, alerting them to sounds of pleasure or danger—all the noises of living. The cochlear implant subgroup of the Rochester Chapter is conducted by experts.

Anyone interested in cochlear implants is welcome to participate. Meetings are advertised on the chapter web site and in the monthly newsletter.

People with implants, friends and family, and professionals in the hearing loss fields have all attended meetings. Most important are those considering implants. They have queries and concerns about surgery, rehabilitation, and devices and can benefit from the experiences of old timers. Generally 10-15 people attend.

In addition to round-table conversations, representatives from all three cochlear implant manufacturers have updated participants on new developments of their products. Audiologists and doctors of the Strong Hospital cochlear implant team have explained the implant experience from their point of view. Education, whether of possible ci candidates, their families, or members is the most important task of the group.

There is close overlap between the subgroup and the larger HLAA Rochester Chapter. In 2013 and 2014, two panels of cochlear implant wearers told their experiences at chapter meetings. At least one chapter meeting annually features either a surgeon or an audiologist who work with cochlear implants.

Rochester is unusual in that a college established to train deaf students, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, is located nearby. About one third of present students have cochlear implants notwithstanding the large local culturally Deaf population. The Cochlear Implant group participants can clarify the benefits of an implant from first hand experience. About 20 HLAA Rochester Chapter members employ implants, a number being bilateral.

Echoing the HLAA mission, the cochlear implant subgroup educates, informs, supports and advocates for cochlear implant users and their friends and families in the larger community.

Submitted by:
HLAA Rochester Chapter
Janet McKenna


Albuquerque Chapter Members Meet Future Audiologists

A panel of four HLAA Albuquerque chapter members met in March, with a class of 46 University of New Mexico students who plan to pursue advanced degrees in audiology or speech pathology. The panel consisted of: Jim Ogle, a member with Meniere's disease; Dr. Norm Dawson, a previously deaf cochlear implant recipient; Karen Twohig, a long time hearing aid user who transitioned to a CI; and Steve Frazier, an HLAA member whose ski slope hearing loss is hereditary but exacerbated by noise exposure.

The panelists were asked to personalize their experiences with hearing loss, how it affected their personal communication at home, work, and in social settings. They were also asked to share their personal experiences with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other hearing assistive technologies. One of the more interesting anecdotes were offered by Karen Twohig who reported that her husband rings the doorbell when he arrives home to alert her so she isn't startled to see movement in the house when he comes in since she can't hear him enter. Their entire home is looped.

Dr. Dawson, who met and married his ASL interpreter while studying to become a chiropractor, told how his hearing deteriorated during childhood and early adult hood until he was deaf. He then explained how he was able to transition back to hearing quickly, (including talking on the telephone), after receiving a cochlear implant. Jim Ogle discussed how stress seemed to aggravate his Meniere's with recurrent bouts of vertigo. He said this problem had become a thing of the past, for the most part, since he retired and is under less stress.

Steve Frazier focused on how many years he wore hearing aids before learning about telecoils and hearing loops, something that he benefits from daily. The TV in his home is connected to a hearing loop, and he also uses a personal neckloop in many situations, including a personal FM system and a Pocket Talker®.

Each panelist stressed the benefits they have received through HLAA membership. The students were invited to attend upcoming local HLAA chapter meetings and were encouraged to familiarize themselves with HLAA. Further, to recommend it to clients when they begin a practice.

The national HLAA "Your Decision" brochure was given to each of the students along with printed material about the Albuquerque chapter and a brochure of the chapter's nationally recognized Loop New Mexico initiative.

Submitted by:
HLAA Albuquerque Chapter
Stephen O. Frazier


Five Point Outreach Program Attracts New Members

The HLAA Twin Cities Chapter recently initiated an effort to increase the number attendees at meetings and promote membership in HLAA. Leaders know that membership is a constant issue with organizations so the chapter officers developed a plan to be pro-active in reaching new people.

Our Outreach Program included five elements:

  1. Advertising - We took out 1/2 page ads over several months in suburban newspapers. Those ads attracted new people. In addition, the sales person we worked with said: "This is a great story, I will ask a reporter to interview your president". That led to a front page story in several suburban newspapers.
  2. Brochures and Flyers - We had 1000 tri-fold color brochures printed. They were placed in audiologists and doctor's offices; also at churches and at other organization’s meetings. We also had several hundred colored flat flyers printed. Those were placed on bulletin boards in area Park and Community Centers, in offices, churches and other locations.
  3. Internet Support - The HLAA TC website was upgraded and redesigned, and we added a Facebook page.
  4. Educational Outreach - Members of HLAA-Twin Cities promoted the chapter while doing presentations on hearing loss for a variety of groups.
  5. Exhibits at Expos and Conventions - Large colored posters about hearing loss were designed and printed. HLAA materials were distributed. Information on how to get support for hearing loss was shared at events focused on audiology, health and wellness, etc.

The outreach efforts of HLAA TC have resulted in quite a number of new faces at chapter meetings. We find there is a delayed response. Some people will come soon after they see an advertisement or flyer, while others think about it for a while before they attend.

Topics that have been successful at meetings include: technology, feelings and emotions about hearing loss, and legislative issues that relate to hearing loss. We sometimes use the 2nd hour of our meetings for open discussion where participants discuss and share tips on coping well with hearing loss, sharing information on new devices and other related topics. We always ask new people for input on topics that interest them, and welcome their ideas for the chapter.

Submitted by:
HLAA Twin Cities (Minnesota)
Ross Hammond, Membership Chair


Royal Oak Michigan Chapter Takes Pride in Participation

HLAA Royal Oak (Michigan) Chapter prides itself on its members having a strong involvement at the state level. Several chapter members are on the HLAA Michigan Board. We also participate fully in major events such as the HLAA Michigan Annual Meeting held each April, and the SE Michigan Walk4Hearing held in May. Our chapter's walk team “The Royal Oak Rowdies”, is a major walk fundraising team. The team has consistently placed 2nd, and brings in funds to provide CART at every monthly meeting.

CART is a major meeting attraction and a reason for the people to keep returning and join HLAA. Many of our members have become very well informed about coping well with hearing loss, and appreciate meeting and interacting with other people who also have a hearing loss just like them. After listening to the stories of others, more and more chapter members have acted on decisions to get a cochlear implant.

Royal Oak Chapter regularly holds rap sessions at meetings to share information and provide support among members. On occasion a speaker will share information on assistive technology, safety matters, etc. Each December and June our family members join us for potluck dinners, which have proven to be a fun time for everyone.

The HLAA Royal Oak Chapter is located in Royal Oak, Michigan within the Metro Detroit area. Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month in the evening except November, July and August.

Submitted by:
HLAA Royal Oak Chapter (Michigan)
Barbara Quart, royaloak@hearingloss-mi.org


Sharing, Support, Solutions … You are not alone.

The HLAA Sun Lakes (AZ) chapter began meeting in November, 2011. Sun Lakes is a very large retirement community and the need for hearing loss support is great. Thanks to the Friends of the Library we are able to meet in a large library room with audio/visual equipment provided. During our first year CART was provided pro bono by a very generous captioner, remotely from Tucson. Second year CART was granted to us by the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This year we are able to pay for CART through membership dues and generous donations.

We do PR through local newspapers, audiologist and hearing aid dispenser offices, and senior centers. We meet once a month from October through May with attendance anywhere between 30 and 50. Many of our members are winter visitors to Arizona.

We have been fortunate to have excellent speakers with a variety of interests and specialties. We have welcomed professors from Arizona State University for programs on innovations in hearing aids, balance disorders, and audiology mission trips to Africa. Speakers from the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing have brought us excellent programs on the ADA, hearing loss in medical situations, and traveling with hearing loss. Programs on captioned telephone services were popular as well as presentations on hearing dogs. The psycho-social impact of hearing loss was discussed by a psychologist and two audiologists have addressed our group on hearing aid satisfaction. Coming up are talks on the cost of hearing aids and tinnitus.

Our members interact and ask questions of our speakers and freely share their own experiences. There is much support during the meetings and the social time when refreshments are enjoyed. Over time our board of four (two co-leaders, treasurer, hospitality chair) have been joined by volunteers to help with AV and refreshment set-up, sign-in, records keeping, etc.

Our goal is to provide an inviting and safe venue for people with hearing loss and their family and friends. Coping with hearing loss can be a lonely journey until one meets others who share the challenge. Support, friendship, and outreach will keep us strong as we grow our chapter.

Submitted by:
HLAA Sun Lakes Chapter
Liz Booth, Co-leader


HLAA Fox Valley Chapter Has Fulfilling Year; Looks Forward to Another!

HLAA-Fox Valley (WI) ended the 2013 program year with a Christmas pot-luck gathering that attracted 33 people despite blowing snow and a subzero wind chill. (This is the frozen tundra, you know!) A total of 307 people attended the monthly chapter meetings this year compared to 251 for 2012, up 22.3% from 2012. This chapter takes a three month hiatus during the winter since so many members head south each winter. Chapter meetings will resume the second Monday in April. The board, meanwhile, will meet during the winter months to develop next year’s programs. For the second year, a professionally printed four-color poster listing 2014 programs and dates will be ready for chapter members to distribute in March. Plans are underway also for special events to observe our 30-year anniversary. A Cochlear Implant Support Group, which was started in January 2013, has grown from seven participants to 17. This subgroup provided the impetus for the board (with help from a few generous donors) to invest in a portable loop system now in use at monthly board meetings as well as at the CI meetings. Members in increasing numbers are making presentations to community groups on hearing loss, assistive technology, and the induction loop system. Our theme for next year: Keep the Momentum Going!

Submitted by:
HLAA Fox Valley Regional Chapter (Appleton Wisconsin)
Betsy Foley, President, betsy.foley@sbcglobal.net


HLAA Advocates in Utah

We have several members in our HLAA chapter advocating for accessibility in our community. The first committee pulled together by chapter members was called the Popcorn Coalition, who later changed their name to Utah-CAN (Communication Access Network). They worked hard to get open captioned movies and then when theaters switched to digital format, they pushed to get the CaptiView devices in the theaters. Members also worked to get captioned performances at live theater and most recently, worked with our university stadium to get captions at football games. Because of these efforts, one of our members was allowed to represent the needs and interests of hard of hearing people on the Homeland Security Special Needs Committee.

Last fall, a few of our members helped create the Loop Utah movement. With an energetic committee, they looped the stage area at the Sanderson Center's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Festival. They also looped an information booth where many people were able to try a hearing loop for the first time. Many signed up right away to stay in touch with Loop Utah. Currently this ambitious committee is working to get in the door to the Sundance Festival, hoping to loop at least one show. They will attend the Utah Speech-Language Hearing Association convention in March 2014 to present on hearing loops and provide another looped information booth.

In addition, two people from HLAA Salt Lake City Chapter sit on the Advisory Council, representing hard of hearing needs for the state of Utah. This advisory council has a liaison to the Rehabilitation Advisory Council and supports the work of Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities.

We are blessed with active members who want to make a difference in our community.

Submitted by:
HLAA – Salt Lake City UT
Chelle George


Mission Viejo Chapter Acquires Looping

The City of Mission Viejo has installed a wireless looping system in our meeting room at the Norman P. Murray Community Center, Mission Viejo, CA. We are excited that this was all done by our city to reach people with hearing loss.

We wonder how many other cities have done this for a HLAA Chapter meeting room. The room can also provide access for people with hearing loss who are taking classes or attending other activities at that center.

Our Chapter met with the Facilities Department of the City to do this, and it took several months to get the final looping accomplished.

Submitted by:
HLAA Mission Viejo Chapter
Mission Viejo, CA
Priscilla (Pril) Kirkeby, pwkirkeby@cox.net


Growing Our Newsletter

When I became chapter president, the meeting announcements were mailed out to all members. They were one paragraph about the upcoming meeting on a sheet of paper (usually two months at a time).

Over time, I began to add a bit more, such as asking for input requested by the next speaker. Eventually I went to a two-column format, changing the title to Announcements and News. I put in bits from "This Month in Bethesda" and added in a summary of the previous meeting. I still did all of the writing myself.

Then I missed a meeting and asked someone to write a few paragraphs for the next mailing. She had a totally different style than I do! But I left it as she sent it to me, and people loved it. I find asking people to "write a couple paragraphs" seems to be much less intimidating than asking them to "write an article." I include things like the Culver's nearby getting a loop at their drive through window.

Having a few different people contributing to the newsletter in their own style makes it easier for a new person to write something. If I'm inspired and have time, I sometimes add clipart. By switching to email, for at least most of our mailing list, we cut the cost significantly, as well as freeing us up to make it as long as we please. At this point it's usually 2-4 pages.

Submitted by:
HLAA Chicago North Shore Chapter
Northfield, IL
Liz Hupp, Liz@Hupp.com


Building a Quality Chapter

Thank you for asking us to participate in Spotlight. We are new and still finding ourselves. We have a lot of ideas, but a shortage of funds and volunteers at this point.

Our community outreach program has begun. We participated in one community services fair and are scheduled to participate in two more in the near future. I am always on the lookout for health fairs that we can participate in to get our name out in the communities and to make people aware of our existence. I am hopeful that a few of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) Audiology Doctorate students might join us at the coming events to do visual ear checks to attract attention to our booth.

Quality speakers on topics of current interest are an absolute must to retain guests and members from month to month. We have an advantage by having our meetings at the UCONN Speech and Hearing Clinic. The Audiology Program Director, Dr. Kathleen Cienkowski made a very good presentation on aural rehabilitation and working with your audiologist. Dr. Kristin Dilaj, also from the Audiology Program made an excellent presentation at our April meeting – Cochlear Implants 101. Our members were very much engaged by these programs and asked a lot of questions. Other engaging programs have been by Suzanne Guerrucci, a psychotherapist who talked with us about dealing with our negative feelings about our hearing losses, and our first speaker, Michelle Sangster from Relay CT and Sprint, caught the attention of members with her explanation of various telephone devices that are available and how to obtain free phone equipment through the state funded relay telephone service program. Next month Juliette Sterkens will be joining us to talk about looping.

It seems we are growing albeit slowly. We are attracting at least one new attendee each month, and we had our largest attendance for our April meeting. Dr. Dilaj gave an excellent presentation and helped to make a very good impression on the new guests, some of whom came from outside our normal service area.

We have a web site which is on a free hosting site which means lots of pop-up ads. I am hoping that we will be able to upgrade our web site and eliminate the ads soon. We have what I feel is one of the best Facebook pages for people with hearing loss. I update our page almost every day from a number of sources and post as much local information as possible. We get a newsletter out on a monthly basis.

We don’t press “members” or guests for membership fees or dues. We have a few people who have been very generous with the chapter so we have been able to get some equipment that we need. We get a steady stream of cash from the “50/50” drawing that we have at each meeting. Most winners have turned the winnings over to the chapter so the chapter is getting 100% of the pot rather than half.

Building a quality HLAA chapter is a slow, arduous process. We have an excellent Board that understands we are going to need time to get things in high gear. We are working for quality support, education, information, assistance and advocacy for our members. We seek out people who may need help rather than waiting for them to come to us, and we are slowly building a reputation of being the “go-to” place if you need help with a hearing loss. We have some of the best resources available that we could ever ask for. We have the support of UCONN Audiology Program and the support of some very distinguished people who are willing to pitch in and help anyone who needs help with their hearing loss. I am sure the chapter will reap the rewards and grow and prosper given time.

Submitted by:
HLAA Eastern CT Chapter
Storrs, CT
Randy Kirsch, hlaaeasternctchapter@cox.net


From Five to Thirty Attendees in Three Years

Attempting to jump start a sagging chapter, our state HLA organization engaged a high profile speaker and did a lot of publicity. Building on the high attendance of this initial meeting, we kept the momentum going. We asked our attendees what kind of meeting they preferred, and they overwhelmingly voted for having speakers, rather than activities or social events. Along with monthly speakers, we made sure to collect emails and contact information, and always send a notice to everyone about a week before our meetings. We are also lucky to have a member who is a very good outreach person, putting our name on the lists of hospitals, senior centers, colleges, and audiology offices.

To generate helpers to run the chapter, we announced at meetings what jobs needed filling, passed around a sign-up sheet, and waited patiently. (No arm-twisting.) Little by little, people began to sign up. So the secret to our success has been 1) interesting speakers, 2) good communication to members, and 3) patience and a smile.

Our growth and support over three years has been phenomenal!

Submitted by:
HLA Bellevue Chapter
Bellevue, WA
Linda Worley, BellevueHLA@comcast.net


Knowledge, Advocacy, Support and Tradition

The HLA San Diego Chapter is thriving having two hour monthly meetings of 20 to 30 attendees. We publish a monthly newsletter and maintain a website on which we post meeting agendas and newsletters.

Our president, Marilyn Weinhouse, books varied and qualified speakers who cover a full range of subjects that are compelling to people with hearing loss such as existing and future technology and devices, psychological ramifications, and available services in the area. For example, in April, San Diego State University audiology students come in to discuss “Going to the Hospital with your Hearing Loss" with us. In May, Jonah Kohn, the teen who won the Google Science Fair award in the 13 to 14 year age group will discuss his winning project of providing people with hearing loss an improved experience with music. Some of our members had participated in his study. Our monthly programs are listed at: http://hearinglosssandiego.org/home/programs_for_meetings

Our members want to learn and grow. We find instructors to teach speech reading and sign language classes. Members want to talk with each other, so we try to find time at each meeting for group discussion and healthy break times so people can chat on a one to one basis. Our members want a sense of family and we support each other as such. We maintain family traditions during the holidays including Thanksgiving with all the trimmings and a Holiday White Elephant Gift Exchange combined with enthusiastic singing.

We focus on growing the group because it is the new people who have never had a support group that remind us of our purpose and inspire us to mentor. To do this, our members volunteer to "man” HLAA booths in various venues. We advertise through our website and newsletters. We get new members who first attend our classes.

Our San Diego Chapter has been active for many years and the last few years have been very gratifying with strong leadership with Marilyn as president and Larry Sivertson dealing with meeting logistics and communications. The board is engaged and our membership participates each as they are able. Our speakers often comment during our discussions how knowledgeable and supportive our group is.

We know we will always have challenges in keeping the ball rolling, but for now we are enjoying the synergy of Knowledge, Advocacy, Support and Tradition.

Submitted by:
HLA San Diego
San Diego, CA
Char Sivertson VP, csivertson@juno.com
Website: www.hearinglosssandiego.org


Person to Person

HLA Renton Chapter meets in the Renton Sr. Activities Center. We have a core group of 6-8 members. Our group consists of people with hearing aids and those with CIs. We have been hard of hearing for many years and have found HLAA to be very helpful personally and want to pay it forward. New people usually hear about us through the Center's brochure or occasionally the local paper. We have the support of the facility staff, but rarely have accommodations other than pocket talkers or personal FM systems.

I think, despite our size, we are successful primarily because of our shared experiences, friendly attitudes, and flexibility. We wear nametags and give copies of Hearing Loss Magazine, our state newsletter "Sound Waves," a communication tip sheet and questionnaire to people who drop-in. Even if we have a program scheduled that day, we always take time to address the reason our visitor came and invite them to come again and consider joining HLAA. We have used HLAA DVDs as conversation starters, have had local audiologists, other members and even the local fire chief do presentations.

Submitted by:
HLA-Renton Chapter
Renton, WA
Glenda Philio, philiofam@gmail.com


Chapter Branding

In order to get the word out to the community about our Virginia Beach Chapter we have tried to "brand" our logo as we participate in various events. At a recent bowling fundraiser all members had a T-Shirt with HLAA Virginia Beach. I have ordered golf shirts and long sleeve shirts where the members can purchase a shirt at cost for their own use. This sometimes helps while traveling to ensure appropriate accommodation and assistance particularly at airports. As a reward to the chapter, I have given all HLAA registered members a baseball cap with our chapter logo on the front. We want everyone to know who we are.

Submitted by:
HLA Virginia Beach Chapter
Virginia Beach, VA
Don Doherty, dondoherty@mchsi.com
Website: www.hlaavirginiabeach.com


Progressing with Pride

Our Denver Chapter is doing well. We are fortunate to be afforded excellent free meeting space at the Englewood Public Library on the 4th Saturday of most months. We have been able to have highly qualified meeting speakers on various topics of interest. The topics are selected through a member interest survey about programs of greatest interest. The chapter has two social events a year, a picnic in August and a holiday party in December at a member's clubhouse. Both events are well attended.

Bernie Steinberg is not only our Vice President, but more importantly, serves with distinction as Advocacy Chair for the chapter. In that capacity he has been appointed as representative for people with hearing loss to the Community Relations Council for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He is a representative in the community for persons with disabilities. He provides invaluable input to respective theater and concert venues on enhancements needed to the assistive listening systems in place. Bernie also recently attended the national HLAA seminar on ALD’s, following which he gave a very informative presentation to the chapter on information gained from the seminar.

Submitted by:
HLA Denver Chapter
Denver, CO
Dave Conant, Dconant2279@msm


Leadership Training of Members

Many people with hearing loss are shy and lack experience leading a meeting or calling on community organizations for speakers. Each HLA Pittsburgh board member is requested to be responsible for one monthly meeting each year. They have to decide on a topic or program, contact a speaker, follow up and ensure equipment is obtained, do the introduction, and send a thank you note. Other members and officers provide assistance. Each year the members become more confident and it means there are more people able to continue the Chapter.

Submitted by:
HLA Pittsburgh Chapter
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Teresa Nellans, Nellanst@aol.com



This year has been a year of devastating loss for the St. Louis Chapter as several of our members have died, but we have persevered. We successfully completed our fourth walk, kept our Chapter going by having interesting programs, recruited new members through the new cochlear support group in the St. Louis area, actively looked for a public venue to install a loop system, and inspired by our program on looping, we had a Chapter member go to her church and convince them to install the first loop system in a church in the area. It has been a successful year because we have a dedicated group of members who believe in our organization and want to see it continue to grow and thrive. There is no special formula except the dedication of the Hearing Loss Association of Greater St. Louis members.

Submitted by:
HLA Greater St. Louis Chapter
St. Louis, Missouri
Mary Stodden, MaryStodden@att.net


Growing Our Chapter

Growing our chapters is something we all want to do. Reinventing the wheel is something we don‘t have to do. Here are some things that have worked well for us in the New York City Manhattan Chapter. The very first on the list is an idea shared years ago by Sue Miller, founder of the Rochester (NY) Chapter. We would love to hear what has worked for you.

Treat newcomers as you would party guests in your home. Welcome them at the door, introduce them to someone else, and give a little hint of something to start the conversation going before walking off to greet another. Make sure they know where the refreshment table is. Say goodbye when they leave. We have found that we need to systematize this because we are so pleased to see our pals once a month that we too easily forget to be as welcoming as we might.

Give people something to do. Even if it is only something small – setting up chairs, putting chips in a bowl, handing out agendas. We don’t like to feel that we have walked into a closed group and we all love to feel that we are contributing. As people become more committed, they will want to take on more complex jobs.

Make your meetings accessible. Proceeds from the walk allowed us to loop our meeting space and hire a captionist for our meetings. This has been a huge boon to our membership. We have many people who joined once we had CART, including some of our most important leaders. If you don’t have a walk in your area to fund CART, do everything possible to raise the money.

Listen for ideas and enthusiasms and pick up on them. We have lots of things going on in the Manhattan Chapter and they all started because someone was passionate about doing them. Did we start them all at once? No we didn’t. They have evolved gradually as our membership and chapter participation have grown.

Be flexible. We don’t have to do things the way they have always been done. If you are having trouble getting one person to do a job, asking two to pair up often works. We carried this idea into the governance of the chapter, forming a Planning Committee (PC). This structure arose ten or more years ago because the chapter was unable to find new people willing to be president and vice president. The committee meets once a month, two weeks before our general meeting. For a while, even the planning committee meeting chair rotated monthly among the members. More recently, we have had one person who has functioned as chair of the PC and as chapter leader. Most significant, members who have joined the chapter within the last five years make up half the PC.

And most important, enjoy. Your enthusiasm is contagious. People will want to stick with you.

Submitted by:
HLA Manhattan Chapter
New York City
Anne Pope, atpop24@aol.com
Website: hearingloss-nyc.org


Perseverance + Loyalty = 30 Years of Self Help

Thirty years ago an audiologist with a vision started a self-help chapter at Albany Medical Center. Over the years a loyal core of members developed and is still active to this day. In May we are holding our 30th Anniversary party! It’s been an awesome ride with many ups and downs along the way.

In addition to the core of members and the members who have come and gone over the years, HLA Albany owes its success to being able to put its finger on the pulse of the people with hearing loss and anticipate their needs.

We've held programs on hearing aids and assistive devices, college and career programs featuring successful persons with hearing loss, and more recently, held a very successful program on the Loop Initiative. A special program on Emergency Services for persons with hearing loss presented by local emergency personnel was very well-attended. We also offered a well-attended program on advocating for students with hearing loss that included presentations by a lawyer, a PEPNet (Postsecondary Education Programs Network, a system of programs that link young people to work and education promoting a successful transition to adulthood) representative and a social worker who showed ways to navigate the educational path including IEPs (Individual Education Programs) and advocating for yourself.

Part of our success is due to coordinating our programs with the local ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) organization and Hands and Voices – the local group for parents of children with hearing loss – to provide programs of interest to professionals and the public and to reach more persons with hearing loss.

We have participated in health fairs and handed out brochures and answered questions. Some of our members go to senior centers and libraries to talk about coping with hearing loss.

We are working on offering scholarships to college-bound and summer camp-bound students.

We have a website, brochure and business cards, and we also publish the Hear News newsletter ten months out of the year to a membership of around 100, plus complimentary copies to senior centers and libraries. We also participate in the Walk4Hearing.

We host a summer picnic and a December holiday party where we provide a signing Santa and gifts for the children.

We couldn't have done or continue to do all this without the loyal, unpaid, closely-knit group of volunteers who have joined our chapter throughout the years. They have weathered the highs and lows, attended the business meetings, made the plans, hosted the meetings and handed out brochures. Loyal volunteers and outreach efforts do everything for a chapter.

Submitted by:
HLA Albany Chapter
Albany, New York
Patricia Mirza, hearhlaa@yahoo.com
Website: www.hearingloss-albany.org


Lions Lighthouse to the Rescue!

The HLA Atlanta Buckhead Chapter meets in the Cathedral Towers, a HUD senior citizen housing on the grounds of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip. The HLAA attendees living here are low income to qualify for HUD housing. That doesn't dampen their thirst for information on coping with their hearing loss!

We invited the Lions Lighthouse Foundation (LLF) to address this group. Many associate the Lions Clubs with providing eyeglasses to needy folks; however, 10% of its budget is designated for hearing aids!

The LLF representative explained the application process (they require a current hearing test and proof of income) and happily answered individual questions/concerns.

This program proved to be very beneficial for our attendees! One member was fitted with two brand new digital hearing aids for $120!

An exciting outgrowth of these presentations was a meeting set up specifically for the Russian residents of the Cathedral Towers, translator included. Hearing loss knows no language barriers.

Invite the Lions Lighthouse Foundation to one of your chapter meetings. Support them and they'll support you as well!

Submitted by:
HLA Atlanta Buckhead Chapter
Atlanta, Georgia
Jeff Bonnell, cjbnatl@gmail.com
Website: hearingloss-ga.org


Small in Numbers but Energies Astounding

The Frederick County Chapter membership is small - 20 members in fact - with 10 to12 in attendance at our monthly meetings that consist of coffee time, a special program and a business session. We meet at a Retirement Village and have attracted three residents to join us. This year we participated in four area Health Fairs all of which we know touched some lives. We made brochures for our Chapter, obtained materials from HLAA, purchased pens to giveaway as well as greeted everyone who passed by our table which was attractively decorated with flowers and “take one" brochures. Many left with new info about hearing loss.

We felt that where we planted a seed, time will let is sprout. We are in hopes that this effort will be of some assurance to those with hearing loss that we are in the area to be of assistance. Just waiting for the sprouts to start growing!

Submitted by:
Frederick County Chapter
Frederick, Maryland
Mary Frances Gosnell, hearinglossfred@gmail.com


Hear, There, Everywhere!

The Gainesville Chapter gets involved in many avenues of hearing loss and awareness.

The Chapter participates with the University of Florida once a week to teach the Learning to Live with Hearing Loss class. It is free, accessible and fun! Participants often keep in touch by email to ask for more info or to say hello. The Chapter also helps host the Signing Santa for a local elementary school (along with the Pilot Club).

A cruise in December was geared towards accessibility and understanding via CART. Many other passengers from around the country took notice of the words and it was announced in the last show by the cruise director who tested it as he spoke! Networking with various Loop businesses is an ongoing project. Busy...hear, there...everywhere!

Submitted by:
HLA Gainesville Chapter
Lynn Rousseau, HLAFlorida@aol.com


New Strategies Lead to Rewards

The Montgomery County, Maryland, Chapter is based in a metropolitan area where people are busy. For years we met on weeknight evenings and despite excellent programs, our membership was static. New people would come but not come back. Much of this was probably attributable to workers having long commutes, getting home late and older people who do not like, or are unable, to drive at night.

The chapter operates with a steering committee of six to eight members. This works very well for us. Everyone takes on some task so no one person has more to do than they can easily handle. About a year ago the committee agreed to try Saturday morning meetings to see if – by chance – it would make a difference in attendance. The result surprised all of us because now so many people attend that we almost run out of chairs.

We are all reenergized because success prevents burnout! We even have people who are volunteering to join the steering committee and others offering to help in other ways. In sum, trying new strategies can have rewards.

Submitted by:
Montgomery County (MD) Chapter
Bethesda, Maryland
Hollace Goodman, Steering Committee Member, hgoodman@hearingloss.org


Friendship Chapter: Where Lifelong Friendships are Created by
People with Hearing Loss, their Spouses, Family and Friends

We are in our 27th year of continuous meetings which have created long time friends. We provide CART and ALD's. We have a Tour Guide System with individual headsets for use when trips to various places are not hearing accessible.

We have name tags for all and always have a display table with brochures, literature, and various information for handouts. We end our meetings with social time when members can become better acquainted.

Speakers are invited to keep us up to date on the latest hearing loss technology as well as speakers on other health related issues which many have. Hearing loss does not mean we are not susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, vision, safety issues, etc.

Community involvement and creative awareness is a goal we seek with presentations, health fairs, town hall meetings, working with other disability groups as well as our volunteer efforts at conferences and conventions to provide resources necessary for living life with hearing loss.

For various reasons, many are unable to attend our meetings, but they rely on our monthly newsletter to keep up with the activities of our chapter and National HLAA. Our members enjoy the updates on activities locally and the personal touch in our newsletters of member's news, birthdays/anniversaries, and various family events. The newsletter goes out by postal mail or electronic mail, to all members, state chapters, agencies and medical professionals.

Our Hospital Kits Project has been on-going for the past 10+ years and we've filled orders for about 2000 hospital kits since the beginning. The kits are sent to locations around the world. Many health professionals, hospitals and clinics have used the kits and copied them for their use.

Over the years we have been blessed with wonderful acceptance from the community. We are looking forward to the future to continue to be here for all who face the challenges of living successfully with their hearing loss.

Submitted by:
Hearing Loss Association of San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
Barbara Hunter, bobatex@aol.com


HLA-GR: "A Safe Place"

The Hearing Loss Association of Greater Richmond is a small but very active chapter located in Richmond, Virginia. We have approximately 25 dues paying members. However, our chapter is very fortunate to have the support, financial and otherwise, of many audiologists in the Greater Richmond area, as well as the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH), and a number of assistive technology vendors. As a result of these associations, we are able to make our meetings as hearing friendly as possible for our members and guests. We meet 10 times a year either at an area church or VDDHH. Our lending library is small, but stocked with excellent books, videos, and DVDs. We have a varied collection of assistive devices that can be borrowed by our members for their personal or professional use.

We have a variety of speakers and activities throughout the year. We participate in assistive technology evaluation programs, hearing screenings, and health fairs. Group social events include apple picking in the fall, hard of hearing and deaf bowling tournaments, and pot-luck luncheons. We frequently "adjourn" our meetings to a little family owned pizzeria close to our meeting location. When our finances permit, we participate in the HLAA Walk4Hearing and attend HLAA conventions, as well as conferences and seminars across the state.

Our members and guests frequently say that our chapter is a safe place to come and share experiences and ask questions. That is part of the attraction of our chapter. We make every effort to put everyone at ease and let them know they are always welcome. We are a casual group, as well as very chatty...qualities that lend themselves to an easy, friendly atmosphere.

We are a close-knit group that loves to open its arms to new people and their experiences, advice, and questions. HLA-GR is truly a safe place for the hard of hearing, deaf, and deaf-blind communities in the Greater Richmond area...a place where they quickly learn that they "are not alone."

Submitted by:
Hearing Loss Association of Greater Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Linda T. Wallace, GRHearingLoss@comcast.net


The Chicken or the Egg: How to Grow a Chapter when Volunteer Resources Are Limited

The topic of our recent board meeting was how to streamline our current behind-the-scenes work while gaining more members. We have six board members and an average of 25 people attending our meetings. Our board members have all the work they can handle; so we need more volunteers to do more outreach and increase our membership and gain more volunteers. We know that PR work is our most important focus, but no one can do more.

The first thing we decided was to streamline some of our current work. Our resource table needed to be pared down so it's manageable but still informational. It takes too much time to set up and take down, time that could be spent talking with new attendees and making them feel like they're part of the group.

Our flyer announcing our next meeting topic needed to be reformatted to reach more people and take less time to create. We feel it's important to not only describe the next meeting topic but to provide topic information for the following month, so we were writing full descriptions using Arial 12 pt font. When we posted the flyers on bulletin boards, the 12 pt font wasn't always readable; the page was crowded and had way too much verbiage. People weren't attracted to it. Now we use a 14 pt font which leaves less space for lengthy descriptions so it's easier to write. The announcement is much easier to read, especially on a bulletin board and consequently much more inviting. We create just a tickler for the following month's meeting. Overall, more people will read our announcements; we'll spend less time creating them and hopefully our attendance will increase.

We're looking for a bulk email server so it will be easier for us to send large group emails. We want to be able to send out informative articles throughout the month as well as our monthly flyer. Putting our chapter information in front of people on a regular basis will hopefully increase attendance at our meetings and lead to more involved volunteers.

We're creating a website to increase our online presence. It will be simple but informational. We're creating business cards for our board members so they can recruit people individually. We're beefing up our existing Facebook page to get more people involved on a social level.

Overall, we're hoping that these changes will help re-energize the board members by making their involvement less time consuming. Even more so, we're hoping that our membership will increase and, consequently our number of volunteers and our ability to perform outreach. We're hoping to create a self-feeding circle. Wish us luck!

Submitted by:
HLA-Madison Chapter
Madison WI
Lisa Zovar, lzovar@charter.net


Reach Like the Fountain

I would like to share some of the things that we do in the Fountain Hills Chapter that have led to over six years of outreach to the hearing loss community. It's important to recognize the two ladies who served as co-leaders for the first few years of this group, Rosemary Tuite and Barbara Daly. They began some traditions that remain to this day.

Presently we have an excellent board comprised of a president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, hospitality chair, and records chair. Our board meets twice yearly with new business conducted via e-mail when necessary.

Our members and friends/guests are alerted to our monthly meetings (September-May) through a flyer sent by e-mail or snail mail (printing is generously provided by a member), followed by another friendly reminder a few days before the meeting. Meeting information is also published in the local newspaper.

Local members have permanent nametags to wear during the meetings. People take turns providing refreshments during the social time. It's important for all to feel a sense of ownership for the group, as well as a personal connection.

The Fountain Hills Community Center has generously provided us with a looped meeting room and AV equipment. Jennifer Schuck is our devoted CART provider who has shared her time and talents since the chapter's beginnings.  We also have headsets available, so accessibility is truly guaranteed.

Our programs vary. We have a full member discussion agenda at least one month each year and always leave time for questions and concerns at the end of meetings. Our group loves to share stories and offer help and support to others. We sometimes pose a question related to individual experiences with hearing loss and members respond in writing. Comments are shared at a later date.

Our speakers have been generous with their time and truly inspiring.  We welcome presenters from the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, communication in medical settings, theater/movie accessibility, our rights under the ADA, Deaf culture, ASL, professors from the speech and hearing department at Arizona State University, choosing a hearing healthcare provider and a hearing aid, balance issues, audiological mission trip to Africa, opportunities to participate in hearing research, audiologists, ENT/Oto-Neurology doctors, hearing dog trainers, psychologists for people with hearing loss, representatives from captioned telephone companies, and the local fire department chief. Several years ago we were fortunate to have Brenda Battat address our group.

We try to keep our members up to date on various hearing loss issues and activities.  We talk about national HLAA and encourage participation in the annual conventions. We announce local opportunities relating to living with hearing loss, and welcome occasional presentations by our local members with expertise on a certain topic. There is always a table full of brochures, Hearing Magazines, etc. Most are ordered from national HLAA. We love to have visitors and guests and ask them to introduce themselves.  Although we encourage local and national membership, all are always welcome.

Currently we are collecting old hearing aids which will be donated to the speech and hearing department of Arizona State University. These will be refurbished and taken to Malawi, South Africa for distribution next summer.

There are six HLA chapters in the state of Arizona, coordinated by Ginny Clarke-Wright. Our goal is always outreach. The fountain in the center of town could be a metaphor for our goal as it reaches to the sky. We are continually looking for ways to reach people with hearing loss. Our message is meet, greet, eat, connect, learn, and share. With over 700,000 in the hearing loss community in our state, we will be busy for a long time!

Submitted by:
HLA-Arizona/Fountain Hills Chapter
Fountain Hills, Arizona
Liz Booth, halib72@gmail.com


Focus on Community Events

Our chapter had a change of officers a few months ago, so we are just beginning our terms. But one thing we've done a lot of in the past few months is take part in and/or visit community events, especially those focused on aiding the handicapped in some way - like providing information about assistive listening devices for people with hearing loss.

Our Chapter Vice President Vickie Pacheco and I met with people who work in this field and we have given them information and literature about our chapter. We are finding that they are telling people who come to them for help about our chapter. At last month's meeting, we had three new people attend after hearing about us from three different people or agencies. They contacted us and we were happy to provide more information and pleased to see them at our meeting. We plan to continue this outreach, spreading the word to more people who may benefit just as our current members have. We have also visited local audiologists, leaving packets of information about our chapter.

Submitted by:
HLA-Colorado Springs Chapter
Colorado Springs, CO
Pauline Weiss, hlaacosprings@gmail.com


Wayne/Holmes County Chapter to Offer Hearing Health Support

We are in the process of creating an application form to help someone with the costs of either a hearing test or hearing aid. We are hoping to distribute these applications to various hearing health centers in the Wayne/Holmes county areas. Our hope is to make the public somewhat aware that our organization exists for support.

Submitted by:
HLA of Wayne/Holmes County Chapter
Wooster, OH
Margaret Latta, malatta@sssnet.com


Lives Touching Lives

The Brevard Chapter is the result of a dream that Rosemary Tuite and I had of bringing Hearing Loss Association to our area of North Carolina. We announced a planning meeting in March of this year and were a bit dismayed when only two people came. The good news was that one of those two people was an HLAA member who agreed to be the 4th individual we needed to start a chapter. The other of those two people was a CART reporter who offered her services to us at no cost. We were delighted that we were able to proceed with the paperwork to become a chapter.

Our first official meeting was in April. Attendance has been good thanks to the coverage we've gotten in two local newspapers (we're working on a third) and flyers we've posted. Programs we've had so far include presentations from an audiologist from Western Carolina University, CaptionCall and Sprint CapTel of NC. We also devoted a program to Communication Strategies, and another meeting focused on hearing loss from the perspective of our hearing family members.

We strive to have a portion of every meeting be interactive so everyone has an opportunity to be involved.  It's been so rewarding to witness enthusiasm and tears as people express their gratitude at finding others who relate to their struggles. One member was so impressed that he applied to his former employer, IBM, for a $500 Community Service grant to support the efforts of the Brevard Chapter. The grant was approved!

In January of 2013 we plan to start a monthly "5 Minute Focus" where we'll invite one member to share his or her story during the meeting. Future speakers include a presenter on loops, HLA-NC President Julie Bishop, a speaker from Cochlear Americas and another from MedEl.

Yes, this chapter has been a lot of work and time consuming, but we are having SO much fun!

Submitted by:
HLA - Brevard Chapter
Brevard, NC
Kathy Borzell, kborzell@gmail.com