Happy World Hearing Day! I figured today would be the best time for me to finally get around to updating this website. For those of you who have been following me for a while, I apologize for the lack of updates. I am currently enrolled in the PhD in Communication program at Liberty University Online. This program has been both rewarding and challenging, but also a huge time commitment which has made it difficult for me to update this blog as much as I would like. However, I am currently finishing up a course called DIGI 835: Current Topics in Content Communication. My final project for this course is called an Applied Content Communication Project. I decided to use Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl for this project by upgrading my website and social media channels. I have been working on re-branding Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl all week long, and I think it worked out perfectly, having everything nearly complete and ready to be fully launched on World Hearing Day of all days.
What is World Hearing Day?
For those of you who may not know, World Hearing Day is a health awareness day created by the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated each year on March 3rd to raise awareness of hearing loss and provide resources to help the hearing world prevent hearing loss and deafness. Each year has a theme, and this year’s theme is “Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate”. WHO provides ideas and resources for both policy makers and the general public and ideas for how they can support World Hearing Day.
How Policy Makers Can Support World Hearing Day
There are several ways that policy makers can support world hearing day, including:
- Encouraging the general public to address their hearing loss by scheduling a hearing test or taking one for free online.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people world-wide live with hearing loss. However, many of these people leave their hearing to go untreated. Only about 17% of all people eligible for hearing aids actually wear them. Hearing loss isn’t talked about nearly enough. Politicians and policy makers hold a lot of power and influence, and if they start talking about hearing loss more, people will listen.
- Encouraging the general public to schedule an appointment to treat underlying health conditions and/or diseases that may contribute to hearing loss.
Sometimes, hearing loss is caused by nothing more than bad genes or unexplainable causes. This was always the case for me. As a child and even into my mid-20’s as I was going through the cochlear implant evaluation stage, I went to several ENTs and doctors looking for answers as to what caused my hearing loss. Medically, they could never come up with a cause other than either genetics or a simple case of bad luck.
This is not always the case for other people who suffer from hearing loss. Hearing loss can be caused by many underlying health conditions or diseases, including meningitis, mumps, Meniere’s disease, and chickenpox. Many of these diseases can be prevented through vaccinations, so policy makers must encourage the public to receive these vaccines.
- Making hearing health a higher priority for the general public by demanding that health insurance companies provide coverage for hearing tests, audiology and ENT appointments, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other hearing-health-related items.
Honestly, one of the main reasons why hearing loss often goes untreated by both adults and their children is because it is expensive. In the past, my hearing aids cost me $4,000 and up. I benefitted from The Miracle Ear Foundation when I was 17, which provided me with a pair of hearing aids for free. Other organizations such as The Starkey Hearing Foundation and Aid the Silent also provide children with hearing aids if they cannot afford them. These are great organizations, but we shouldn’t need to depend on them as much as we do; hearing aids and cochlear implants should already be covered by insurance.
It honestly boggles my mind that it is 2021, and this is still a major issue. Now that I have cochlear implants, my insurance does cover some things, but it is still minimal and unfair. I have Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is usually fantastic insurance coverage. Except, what I need it for the most is cochlear implants. That’s where they fail. I am currently in the process of upgrading my cochlear implants to Advanced Bionics Marvel Sky. My insurance is expected to cover about 60%, but they will cost me an estimated $6,000-$8,000. This is better than the total estimated cost of the new processors, which is $21,000. However, I already pay around $75-$100 in insurance with each paycheck, so this feels like I am paying my insurance company for practically nothing.
Policy makers are in a position to require or influence insurance companies to offer better coverage for hearing devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants or even hearing tests and audiology/ENT appointments. If more services and devices were covered by insurance, more people would be willing to get their hearing loss treated. Glasses and contacts are often covered by insurance. What makes hearing aids and cochlear implants any different?
How You Can Support World Hearing Day
You do not have to be a policy maker or politician to support World Hearing Day. Some easy ways that you can support World Hearing Day are by:
- Posting on social media.
Chances are, you’re going to post on social media at some point today, anyway. You might as well share about World Hearing Day and support a good cause.
Not sure what to say? Here is a graphic I created along with some text you can use in your post:
“Happy #WorldHearingDay! Did you know that #hearingloss affects approximately 1.5 billion people world-wide? Most people leave their hearing untreated. In fact, only 17% of those who could benefit from #hearingaids actually use them. Hearing devices such as hearing aids or #cochlearimplants have been proven to improve the overall quality of life for those who wear them. Take control of your hearing today by taking a FREE online hearing test at https://www.hearinglife.com/hearing-loss/your-hearing/test-your-hearing or schedule an appointment to see an audiologist or ENT today!”
2. Schedule a hearing test (or take a free one online!)
Posting on social media is a start, but it is not enough if you yourself don’t take action! After you encourage your followers to schedule a hearing test, make sure you schedule one for yourself or take a free online test, too.
3. Schedule an appointment to see your audiologist or ENT.
Even if you choose to take the free online hearing test, it is still a good idea to see an audiologist or ENT for an annual checkup. An audiologist can help you interpret your hearing test results and talk about the best solutions for hearing loss, if necessary. Audiologists can also treat additional issues such as tinnitus or ringing in the ears, balance issues, and more. Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors (ENTs) can also treat hearing loss, balance issues, and tinnitus, but they also specialize in treating ear infections and can clean wax build-ups from your ears.
How I Am Celebrating World Hearing Day
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I am celebrating World Hearing Day with the official launch of the new Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl website and social media platforms! This project is special to me because I am to use Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl as a tool to share my experience with hearing loss and cochlear implants with others. I want to educate and inform those living with or without hearing loss of the issues deaf and hard of hearing people face living in the hearing world. I also want those living with hearing loss to know what options and resources are available to them.
I will also likely be placing my order with Advanced Bionics for the new Marvel Sky processors today. I will be posting more about them in future blog posts, so stay tuned!
What’s New on Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl
I made many changes to Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl, which my current followers should be able to pick up on right away. Here’s what’s new:
- New URL
I have officially purchased the ConfessionsOfADefDeafGirl.com domain! This means no more .Wordpress.com to remember. I have wanted to purchase a domain name for a long time because I thought it would help this blog rank better in Google’s search engine and give it more credibility. Better rankings + more credibility = more exposure, and hopefully, more people I can educate and inform.
2. New layout design
When I discussed my Applied Content Communications project with my professor, he recommended that I make some changes to my website’s layout. The new layout is much more simple and a cleaner and less cluttered look. In my research, I read that most people prefer light colors on websites, so I opted for a mostly white layout with a little bit of color. I liked the seafoam green color featured in the headline since it almost matched the color of my first cochlear implant. I also took out some of the plug-ins I was using, such as my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and added the social channels on the bottom of the page. I did this to make things look less cluttered and also to increase the page load times.
3. About section
I don’t know why I didn’t have this before. I guess in the past, I saw Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl as being a blog. Now that I have an official website domain without .Wordpress.com, I have shifted things around and built more pages to make it look more like the actual website it is meant to be. Having an About page seemed standard and like a necessary way for me to introduce myself to all of you without expecting you to scroll through my previous blog posts all the time.
4. Press section
I like to talk to the media and share my experience with hearing loss whenever possible. I was recently on KMVT 11 News and have also been featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer and Prevention, so I thought having a Press section made sense. I also thought it would give me more credibility and hopefully open up some doors and provide me with more opportunities in the future.
5. Resources section
I have received several messages since creating Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl asking about who my surgeon is, which cochlear implant brand I went with, and where people can find more information. I heard you and decided to create a resources section where you can find out more information on all of the cochlear implant brands, a few brands of hearing aids I used in the past, my surgeon, my former audiologists, and some charities and organizations that I support.
6. New social media channels
I realize that our world is becoming more and more visual. My research has shown me that videos are one of the most preferred communication platforms for deaf and hard of hearing people, especially those in the capital-D Deaf community. Many Deaf influencers such as Jazzy, Cheyenna Clearbrook, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, Jessica Flores, and Rikki Poynter are all active on YouTube. However, there are not as many sources on YouTube from those who use cochlear implants. I created a YouTube channel for Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl as a way to enter this community and share my experience and give voice to those who currently use or are considering cochlear implants. I also uploaded a video where I share my story with hearing loss.
I am most interested in studying how D/deaf and Hard of Hearing people use Instagram for my dissertation research. As such, I thought it would make sense for Confessions of a Def Deaf Girl to be active on Instagram as well. I shared my YouTube video on Instagram TV and also have a shortened version on my account for those who don’t feel like watching a 20+ minute video.
I hope that you all have a Happy World Hearing Day and are blessed with healthy ears for many years to come! If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog for updates, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me with any questions you have about hearing loss, cochlear implants, or anything that comes to mind.