Living with hearing loss can be a challenge, especially if you've been recently diagnosed and are still learning which coping and thriving methods work best for you. And, hearing loss is often referred to as an "invisible" disability, as it can be difficult to determine who around you also has hearing loss, which might leave you feeling left out.
However, more than 48 million adults in the U.S. report some degree of hearing loss - about 20 percent of the adult population. Additionally, two or three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss or is deaf, while one in three people ages 65 or older is hard of hearing.
Thankfully, there are various organizations committed to connecting people living with hearing loss. Here are some that you can consider joining - many of which have local chapters:
- Hearing Loss Association of America: HLAA has more than 200 state and local chapters around the U.S., so there's a good chance there's one near you. The HLAA area or local chapters have regularly-scheduled meetings and various fundraising, entertainment and educational programs throughout the year, such as its annual spring and fall Walk4Hearing events. The local chapters are a good way to learn about how technology can improve your hearing and help you thrive, alleviate isolation by providing you with a community of people who understand your needs and issues and help you and your family members improve your relationships. The state organizations are more focused on state legislation and policy that can support those living with hearing loss.
- Association of Late Deafened Adults: This organization has an ALDA Community - called LDAchat - which is not a chat room but an email discussion group for its more than 600 members to support each other with issues in life, at the workplace and in relationships. ALDA is an inclusive group for adults who have become deaf late in life, and they welcome anyone who communicates via sign, speechreading, hearing aids or any other methods.
- Cochlear Community: This support network, hosted on Cochlear's website, features various groups that those who use these devices can join, including a new member group, one for those who use the Baha System specifically and a group for those who have bilateral cochlear implants, among others. This is a great way to meet others who use cochlear implants.
- DeafPals: This free social networking site was developed by 28-year-old Patrick Petronelli, who was having a difficult time meeting others who were deaf on social networking sites like Facebook. This site is specifically for those to find others in their area, for dating or friendships, who know the intimate struggles of living with hearing loss.
There are many other online and in-person communities for those with hearing loss, so you'll definitely be able to find the best fit for you.