HLAA 2013 Convention Recap – Portland, Oregon

Fellow committee member Terri Shirley and I had a fantastic time representing the Kansas City Chapter at the HLAA convention in Portland, Oregon this past June!  It was Terri’s first convention and my third convention (over the span of 10 years).

I hope that everyone with hearing loss has the opportunity to attend an HLAA convention someday.  It is an eye-opening, inspiring and motivational experience.  The convention allows me to recharge and embrace my hearing loss before being thrown back into the hearing world.  Here are my top convention highlights (in no particular order).

  1. Networking – It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can make acquaintances at HLAA conventions – young and old.  A simple hello can turn into a one-hour conversation and you are friends for life.
  2. Exhibit hall – I always enjoy talking to all the vendors in the exhibit hall.  It’s a great place to ask questions, try out new technology, and learn all about the programs that are out there to assist people with hearing loss.
  3. Jacob’s Ride – I had the pleasure of meeting Jacob Landis and learning about his mission to raise money for CI recipients by bicycling to baseball stadiums all over the country!  He will be coming to Kansas City on September 2, 2013 to attend the Royals game, so be sure to watch for announcements from HLAAKC about this exciting event!
  4. Opening Session – There was an impressive lineup of inspiring speakers at the opening session to kick off the convention.  Howard Weinstein fascinated us with his story of how he came to be the inventor of solar ear (a solar powered hearing aid) and his quest to help low-income people with hearing loss in the developing world.
  5. Accessibility – An HLAA convention is by far the most accessible convention you’ll ever go to.  CART was provided for all the sessions.  Sign language interpreters were available for the opening session, research symposium and banquet.  Looping and infrared technology (along with receivers) was available as well.
  6. People Watching – HLAA had the pleasure of sharing the convention hall with Leakycon, which is a Harry Potter fanfest – imagine costumes galore and 4,000 attendees that are all about Harry Potter!  The clever costumes brought a smile to my face more than once.
  7. Portland 100 – I enjoyed attending the happy hour and connecting with other young adults throughout the convention.  The young adult attendance has come a long way since my first convention in Atlanta in 2003; they were pretty much non-existent at the time.
  8. Playing Tourist – This was my first visit to Portland, so I took advantage of using my convention public transit pass to explore Portland’s many attractions. I also enjoyed attending the HLAA World Forestry Center event.
  9. Transitions – We had a great time praising executive director Brenda Battat for her past achievements and many contributions to HLAA and wishing her a happy retirement throughout the convention.  We also welcomed Anna Gilmore Hall as HLAA’s new executive director (as of July 8).
  10. Workshops – There was something for everyone in the many workshops offered throughout the convention.  Workshops covered topics related to advocacy, assistive technology, hearing aids and cochlear implants, and relationship and communication. There were also presentations geared toward veterans with hearing loss.  Additionally, there were beneficial demo room presentations where you could learn about a product or service.
  11. Future HLAA Conventions – Big announcements were made regarding future HLAA conventions! HLAA has been selected by the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) to host their next Congress in 2016 in Washington D.C.  And next year’s HLAA convention is a little closer to home – Austin, Texas!  So I hope to see y‘all there!

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HLAA National Convention – Portland, OR – June 27-30, 2013

Portland

Every year, the Hearing Loss Association of America hosts a national convention, and this year, it’s in Portland, Oregon! If you have never been, or if you are on the fence about attending, we wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to go! At this three-day conference (June 27-30, 2013), you’ll get to choose from a variety of workshops on topics related to hearing loss, meet people with hearing loss from all over the country and visit the Exhibit Hall that showcases various vendors demonstrating their products and services for the deaf and hard of hearing. Several of our members have been to past conventions and come away from the experience with new friends, armed with information about how to advocate for things like captions and accommodations, and with a renewed desire to see our community empowered! For more information about the convention or to register, visit the convention page.

If this is your first time attending an HLAA convention, scholarships are available to help offset the cost of travel, lodging and registration. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is THIS Friday, Feb. 15. Click here for more information about scholarships.

If you are a young adult (age 18-35), check out 100 Portland on Facebook and the 100 Portland Youtube Channel (videos are subtitled)! This initiative is making a special effort to welcome more young adults to the national convention. 100 Portland is also seeking ways to help raise money for young adults who would like to attend the convention. Those who are just starting out in their careers, or who have chosen to pursue higher education, often find themselves in a difficult position. They want to connect with others in their age group with hearing loss, learn from each other and network with those in their field – but that can be hard to pay for when you’re just starting out! 100 Portland is a great way to brainstorm with others to find more affordable options for attending the convention and meet new friends who are willing to help split the cost by sharing a room, chipping in with meals and working together to find reliable transportation to and from the convention.
If you would like to make a donation to the 100 Portland fund to help young adults attend the convention, please click on the 100 Portland attachment. Feel free to print and share. There are plenty of options to donate, so be sure to take a look!

See you in Portland!