by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man explained:
I am interested in finding information about face-to-face support groups for those of us who are hard of hearing. Do you have any insight on finding such a group? I have searched briefly on the web and called the local self-help center but have not found anything.
If there is not a group locally, I am thinking about starting one. I am thinking the purposes would include providing emotional support and providing education and resources for dealing with hearing loss. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Many hard of hearing people feel isolated and don’t know other people in the same boat as themselves. That is when they need a support group to help them. You are right on when you say they need emotional support, education and awareness of resources to help them.
It really makes things ever so much easier when dealing with your hearing loss if you can find help and support from other hard of hearing people who have been down the road before you.
Support can be of two kinds, either on-line (cyber) support or local (face to face) support.
On-line groups are available to you 24 hours a day via email, boards and chat rooms. Face-to-face support groups typically meet once a month for a couple of hours. Both kinds of support are important. Therefore, I encourage you to link up with both kinds of groups.
The best cyber support group of which I know is the SayWhatClub. I’ve been a long time member of the SayWhatClub. They excel in giving emotional support to help you deal with your hearing loss.
In addition to the “cyber people” that help you on-line, you also need to meet with local “skin people”, that is, people you can meet with face to face and touch. By far the largest face-to-face group in the USA is a local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) (formerly Self Help for Hard of Hearing People or SHHH). To find the closest chapter to you, click on your state. There you will find a listing of the chapters in your state, complete with contact information. You will be welcome at any of their meetings.
If there is no chapter near you, why not start one? That is what I did a number of years ago. HLAA will be delighted to help you get started. Contact the Director of Member Services and Chapter Development, and she will point you in the right direction.
In addition to local chapter meetings, HLAA also has an excellent annual convention with many workshops on various topics of interest to hard of hearing people. There you will meet hundreds and hundreds of other hard of hearing people just like yourself.
If you live in Canada, the organization you want to contact is the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA). They have local chapters (called “branches”) scattered across Canada, and an annual convention (much like HLAA has).
To find the closest branch to you, select the province or territory in which you live, and you’ll see a list of the branches there.
If there is no branch near you, consider starting one. The people at the provincial chapter will be delighted to help you. Their contact information is listed first in the appropriate provincial listing.
I’m a member of both HLAA and CHHA and have spoken at numerous chapters/branches/conventions of both these organizations. You will feel right at home in them. I know I do.