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Over the last three years I have had the privilege of getting involved with the Salt Lake City chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the Walk4Hearing.

To be honest I initially got involved because of my role as the Director of Marketing for Listen Technologies. In this role, I get approached by many parties that want to know if Listen is interested in sponsoring this, advertising in that, exhibiting here, buying lists, and on and on. Its okay, I get it, as a marketing professional these are all opportunities that I need to consider.
There were several things that were different about the sponsorship opportunity for the Walk4Hearing. First, Kathy Evans who has hearing loss approached me in person. Before she even asked about Listen getting involved she shared her story with me. I quickly learned that Kathy is someone who is a passionate advocate for the hearing loss community here in Salt Lake City. In addition to her involvement with the HLAA chapter she is also involved with Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Utah Communication Access Network, Association of Late-Deafened Adults, SayWhatClub and Cochlear America. Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But, every one of these organizations is lucky to have Kathy’s involvement – she speaks from the heart about what the challenges and struggles she has had with her own hearing loss but that together with others a difference can be made so that the stigma associated with hearing loss diminishes and people with hearing loss can lead engaged lives.

This is Kathy with one of her team mates.

Her optimism was infectious. I quickly recognized that supporting the hearing loss community was well aligned with Listen’s core purpose and the solutions we offer. So, off I went and joined the volunteer planning committee and represented Listen and our sponsorship involvement. Well, the people I met on the committee and at the Walk4Hearing drew me right. I have been profoundly touched by this community of people with hearing loss. I have also come to quickly understand how widespread hearing loss is. With the numbers being where they are in the US population – 17% of Americans there is an excellent chance that if we are not personally affected we have a friend, colleague, family member that has some degree of hearing loss. What seems to be a common thread is their desire to engage fully despite their hearing loss.

listen-trek-walk4hearingThere are several people in my life that are affected by hearing loss. All have different degrees of hearing loss and what I hope for them and anyone with hearing loss is that addressing hearing loss with whatever aid is needed becomes as common place as glasses have become for those that need glasses to see fully. It seems to me that using an assistive listening device or hearing aid will only make your experiences better.
So, what began as a job responsibility has turned into something that excites me to get behind and do what part I can to make a difference for those with hearing loss. Every spring and fall thousands of walkers – children, families, young adults, young at heart and everyone in between – form teams and walk in their communities to raise money for programs and services for people with hearing loss and to increase public awareness.
They walk together with hearing help providers, hearing device manufacturers and members in the medical field who believe in the cause and organize teams to fundraise for programs that make life better for people with hearing loss. Here are some of the programs and services that the HLAA and the Walk4Hearing fund:
· Advocating for the rights of people with hearing loss.
· Funding for hearing aids and devices for people who cannot afford them.
· Outreach to veterans returning with hearing loss.
· Installation of hearing assistive technology in public places.
· Support for parents of children with hearing loss.
· Captioning of live theater productions.
·  Scholarships toward college tuition for students with hearing loss
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I invite you to consider supporting the 2012 Walk4Hearing to make a difference to people with hearing loss. You can register to walk as an individual, to start a team, or join a team at a walk site near you by clicking here. If you would like to donate to someone who is walking, please click here.

I’ll leave you with this video the HLAA produced to educate about the Walk4Hearing.

Three separate ListenTALK receivers in a row with different group names on each display screen.
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