Beck: Hi Amanda. It is indeed a pleasure to meet you.
Beers: Thank you Dr. Beck. Its a pleasure to meet you too.
Beck: Amanda, you have an amazing story, and in some respects youre following in the footsteps of another amazing individual, Heather Whitestone McCallum. I know you are currently Miss Washington, and I wonder if you could share a little of your personal hearing history and story with us today?
Beers: Sure, Id be happy to do so. I was actually born with a sensorineural hearing loss. Its a mild loss in the low frequencies and a moderate hearing loss in the high frequencies. The doctors speculated the cause of the hearing loss was a difficult birthing process. My mother went into labor at three months, and while they were able to stop the labor, the doctors put her on complete bed rest for the remaining six months. They also didnt give my parents much hope about my survival. Fortunately I survived, and it is believed that the early labor somehow impacted the development of my ear.
Beck: How old were you when the hearing loss was discovered?
Beers: Because my hearing loss is only a moderate hearing loss, it wasnt as obvious to my parents as a more severe hearing loss would be. They discovered my hearing loss when I was three and a half years old.
Beck: And were you able to get hearing aids as soon as the hearing loss was discovered?
Beers: Yes, we had insurance and thankfully the insurance covered the hearing aids. My first pair of hearing aids were in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids. In addition to obtaining the hearing aids, I started speech therapy to improve my speaking skills. My parents noticed I had an accent. I couldnt hear the sounds correctly, so I was not able to produce them correctly. Of course, the hearing aids and the speech therapy helped tremendously.
Beck: How long did the hearing aids last?
Beers: Well, thats an interesting question. I think they lasted a good five years until I outgrew them in second grade. Unfortunately, by then our insurance company had dropped coverage of hearing aids, and my family could not afford to replace them. That left my parents the choice of taking out a loan or getting by without hearing aids. Because I did hear quite a bit, and I supplemented what I didnt hear by reading lips, we decided to try and go without hearing aids. I finished my education without hearing aids.
Beck: Oh my, that must have been very difficult?
Beers: Yes, it was, and it gets to the old issue of you dont know what you dont know. If you are accustomed to hearing loss, everyone sounds like theyre mumbling and many of the sounds are flat and hard to understand, and of course, many sounds simply cannot be heard.
Beck: If you dont mind, Id like to take a few photos and attach them to your interview so the readers can see exactly how beautiful hearing aids can look! I think you probably are aware that there are some 28 million people with hearing loss in the USA, yet only about 1 in 5 people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wears them. And importantly, many of the people who wont wear hearing aids are concerned about cosmetic issues. That is, many people wont wear hearing aids because they are concerned that the hearing aids will look funny. But frankly, I think that once they see your photo, some of them may have to rethink the cosmetic appeal issues!
Beers: Thank you, thats very kind. If I can help people think through the issue of whether or not to get hearing aids, Id like to encourage them to do so.
HH/Beck: Thanks so much.
Beers: Thank you too, Dr. Beck.
For more information on Miss Washington 2002, Amanda Beers, visit www.misswashington.org.