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Monday, June 22, 2009

HLAA - summing it all up

Now that I've had a day to reflect upon my adventure, I'm left with a sense of belonging... and a connection with a family. Truly, my trip to HLAA and meeting the wonderful, positive, supportive friends and acquaintances let me know that, yes, no matter your hearing loss, someone knows what you're going through and there's never a need to believe you're alone in your struggle.

I say that because while I felt like I fit in, and that many, many others at the conference did as well, there are still those who are afraid of their hearing loss, their disability, their need to "be hearing" overcoming their acceptance of themselves and who they are. I came to terms with my hearing loss at last when I chose to go to college at CSUN that had a sizeable student population with hearing loss, seeking a chance to meet others who were like me and to struggle through school together.

There are those I met at the conference whose single track mind was "will I ever get my hearing back?" Those were the low points of the conference to me -- how can I, who was able to get past my current limitations, break through to someone who wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than perfect hearing? There is still much work to be done to remove the stigma of being deaf and all the stereotypes associated with that.

The conference was very scientific - excellent for a nerd like me, not so great for those who haven't cracked a science book in 50 years. I'm hoping that we won't dumb down the conference, but instead seek out speakers who can deliver both a highly technical yet convey the information in an engaging and interesting manner.

In any case, I'm looking forward to the 2010 conference in Milwaukee, and will be playing some part in making the young adults an integral part of HLAA.

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