I’m fascinated with the effect of hearing loss on people and communities in the world and in the United States. Hearing loss strikes people from all walks of life – poor, rich, smart, tall, short, strong, or weak. The commonality with hearing loss is that everyone struggles; life IS different when you have a hearing loss. Even a subtle hearing loss can affect, for example, social skills when cues and inflection are missed in speech and communication.
In Kansas, there’s a Deaf Cultural Center across the street from the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe that strives to convey those challenges and steps taken to overcome them. The perspective that “Hearing loss isn’t a disability, it’s a different ability” is a vital distinction to make to those who don’t have much exposure to the diverse group of hearing loss. Myths about hearing loss need to be dismantled and corrected; not all deaf people are mutes and only speak in sign language, in fact, they’re hardly representative of that population! Most people with hearing loss have a mild to moderate loss and are elderly or aging, and don’t identify with the rather small population of deaf signers. All this information is available in the museum housed within the Deaf Cultural Center.
As a board member of the DCC, I highly encourage everyone to take a free tour of the exhibits and experience some of the hands on things that people with hearing loss go through daily, and even try out some of the assistive devices that make living with hearing loss and integrating with the world that can hear that much easier. Since the museum is also a non-profit and depends on donations to keep operating, consider becoming a member to support this center. http://www.kefdcc.org/membership/purpose-and-benefits
The Deaf Cultural Center is located at 455 E. Park Street in Olathe, KS 66061. Their website is at http://www.kefdcc.org/