You may have never met anyone else with a hearing loss, but you are not alone. With one in ten people in the United States having a hearing loss, there are people your own age with hearing loss, from mild to profound.
People ages 18-35 may have unique issues with hearing loss than someone older. These are just some of the issues young adults tell us they deal with. Maybe you do too?
Education – Getting the right communication access in classrooms in a college or continuing educational setting is not always easy. In elementary or high school, your parents or teachers may have helped you get what you needed either with an Individualized Education Plan or on a more informal basis.
In higher education, you have to advocate for yourself. Seek out the office for disabled students at your college or technical school. Ask for help. Don’t assume teachers know how to deal with your hearing loss. Be ready to make recommendations of what you need. Be proactive. For example, if teachers are showing videos for classes, request ones with captions. Even with a mild hearing loss, it is sometimes hard to understand the words on a video, even if you hear them. See the Access to College page under the Advocacy section for more resources.
Dating and relationships – How do you deal with communication issues? If it’s not obvious, are you uncertain about how and when to tell someone you are attracted to that you have a hearing loss?
Social life – Do you stay at home because you can’t hear at parties?
Employment – Looking for a first job is hard enough without having a hearing loss. When do you disclose your hearing loss to a potential employer? How do you function on the job? Do you use captioned telephone, CART, an assistive device? Are your co-workers cooperative and help communicate clearly? See the Workplace page for more resources.
Parenting – Can you hear your baby cry? Do you know there is technology (e.g., alerting devices) to help you? How do you communicate with your young child who might not speak clearly? How do you cope with teachers, other parents, or at school meetings and gatherings?
Stigma – Are you embarrassed about your hearing loss? Do you cover your hearing aids with your hair? Are you secure enough with yourself to be comfortable with your hearing loss? If not, how can you get more comfortable? Perhaps meeting other young adults with hearing loss can help.
Sports and recreation – Can you hear your coach, teammates, or referees? Can you wear your hearing aids or cochlear implant during sports? Does technology malfunction when you play sports?
Hearing aid or other technology affordability – Young adults often make less income than someone who has been working longer. See the Financial Assistance section.
HLAA Convention: HLAA has specific workshops and activities geared toward young adults at the annual HLAA Convention. There are also scholarships for young adults to attend an HLAA Convention.
HLAA Chapters: Some HLAA Chapters are focused on young adults or have sub-groups of young adults that meet within the chapter. When inquiring about a chapter, ask if young adults participate. If not, maybe there is enough interest in the community to start a sub-group of that chapter.
Walk4Hearing: The Walk4Hearing is held in cities across the country is a great way to meet others with hearing loss. It’s also a way to be a positive role model to children with hearing loss who are involved in the Walk4Hearing. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and a worthwhile community event.
Online Community: View links to useful online communities focused on young adults with hearing loss.