Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Chances are your hearing is not as good as it once was. The constant noise barrage that accompanies our civilization has been taking its toll. A shocking number of San Diegans, from kids to seniors, are discovering that the whole world has suddenly started mumbling.

Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, the impact on your life may vary from a minor inconvenience to a debilitating disability. Those on the more severe end of the scale often discover that hearing loss results in isolation, depression and withdrawal. Whatever the severity of your hearing loss, you’ll be happy to learn that San Diego offers a host of resources to assist you.

The Association of Late Deafened Adults is a self-help group for people who lose some or all of their hearing as adults. ALDA publishes a quarterly newsletter and sponsors an annual conference. But the real heart of ALDA is the network of local chapters, which provide an opportunity for people to get together on a regular basis.

ALDA San Diego president Joan Padilla remarks, “Six years ago I attended my first ALDA meeting. I was searching for support, information and a sense of belonging. I found the most compassionate, supportive, caring, loving and fun people. I am so grateful to ALDA for giving me back my confidence and self-esteem, and for providing me an opportunity to grow as a person.”

The San Diego chapter meets on the third Saturday of most months in Mira Mesa.

Self Help for Hard of Hearing People is the “original” hearing loss self-help group. It is organized much like ALDA, but is a larger organization with more chapters. Our local chapter meets in Escondido on the second Saturday of most months. The local contact is Dorothy Wormser, who’s waiting for your contact at dorthi@worldnet.att.net. More information on the local chapter is available at http://www.shhhescondido.org. The national Web site is at

The monthly meetings of both local groups are informative, entertaining and supportive. The meetings generally last two hours: Most meetings devote an hour or so to a speaker, with the remaining time devoted to social activities, community news, chapter administration and other issues. Both groups welcome newcomers with open arms.

Hearing Loss Network is a different type of organization for people with hearing loss: It’s a local service agency, rather than a self-help group. I have the honor to be the executive director. We established Hearing Loss Network a couple of years ago to provide services beyond those provided by the self-help groups. We have active outreach, advisory and advocacy programs and provide a wide and growing assortment of workshops and classes.

Our most popular workshop, titled “Coping with Hearing Loss 101,” is a big hit with community centers, service organizations, senior centers and churches. Most people with hearing loss know that hearing aids can help, but very few know about other available techniques and technologies, many of which are at least as important as hearing aids. These topics are the focus of this workshop.

For example, many workshop attendees are amazed to discover that an inexpensive assistive listening device, or ALD, can help them hear in situations where hearing aids are of little value. Shirley McClure stated, “My ALD is just fantastic! Now I can hear the TV, and people can talk to me without having to write everything! I wish I’d known about this years ago.”

HLN also conducts an ongoing advocacy program, which was instrumental in the recent Federal Communications Commission decision to fine local TV stations for failure to make emergency information accessible to people with hearing loss. Visit the Hearing Loss Network online at http://www.hearinglossnetwork.org.

Finally, please feel free to contact me at larry@hearinglossnetwork.org with questions or comments. Our mission is to enrich the lives of people affected by hearing loss.

Larry Sivertson is executive director of the Hearing Loss Network.

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