Posted by - General.

I am 84 and have used hearing aids for 25 years. Until 2014 they worked so well that I could almost ignore them. But then I learned unconditionally that “sometimes hearing aids are just not enough”!  I.e. like when talking to doctors, lawyers, family, work men around the house, fill in the blanks, etc!

On a cruise in Jan 2015, I was shocked when I sat at a table for 6 the first night on board and found that  although I could hear their  voices well, I couldn’t understand a word any of my table mates said.  Nor could I understand anyone else on the trip!  I continually pointed to my ear(s) and gently shook my head and that worked well but it had to be repeated, and repeated, and repeated ad nausea. A cruise mate used a white cane with a red stripe painted on the bottom to help him navigate what otherwise would have been hazardous terrain.   The cane unmistakably announced his disability to all of us.  I had no such sign!  After the cruise, I designed and printed a business card sized note to be my own ‘white cane’!  It says:

I Have Hearing Loss

Please talk to me face to face

so I can read your lips

It has been so helpful to me that I now wear a note card on a lanyard around my neck wherever I go; even in the house.  I carry cards all the time to show or give away as is appropriate!

Three months ago I started to wear a note/card hanging around neck on a lanyard and at first it was a little uncomfortable but now, because of how helpful it had been to me, I feel much more comfortable wearing it in every situation. The note says it all and thus is a constant reminder of my disability to people who know me as well as those who don’t! It kicks up the degree of my hearing loss in people’s minds by a huge factor.  I am very comfortable with family and friends, because they have no doubt that I can converse with them if they follow the simple directions on the card.

My audiologists love the idea and had some cards printed above their company name to give to patients with severe to profound hearing loss.  That has been met with great satisfaction! They also make them available to anyone who visits their waiting room. Another audiologist among the scores I have contacted, shares the idea with all her aural rehabilitation patients.

Please share this ‘white cane’ idea with your associates and subscribers to try to make hearing loss more visible, one person at a time!

Jim Kurfess

About Jim Kurfess

Jim is a tireless advocate for those with hearing loss. He is a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America, and wants simply to spread the word on his ‘white cane’ idea! To reach Jim, please contact us at info@hearingtracker.com, and we will happily connect you with him.

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  • TonyInMich

    Self advocacy at its finest! A couple of questions come to mind. First, do audiologists still try to sell you a hearing aid even though they don’t seem to work? Second, is a cochlear implant an option?

    • Hish

      Hi. The function of a hearing aid is to amplify speech so you can hear the sounds better. Your brain has to do the rest. So if you wait too long to get hearing aids, your system becomes too badly damaged to cope with all the sounds it hears, especially when it is noisy. By the time most people decide it’s time to wear hearing aids, it’s too late. That’s why it’s good to see your hearing professional as soon as possible and follow what they recommend. No hearing aid will bring in the sound as you heard when you were a child. In other words, you don’t get “20/20” hearing when you wear hearing aids ( if there was such a rating) because your hearing organ will always be damaged. The hearing aid is not fixing the damaged ear.

    • Hish

      Sorry, i forgot to comment re: the cochlear implant: They usually work quite well, but be aware of the fact that unlike hearing aids, you can not remove them and still hear sounds. Once taken off the ear, that ear is totally devoid of sound