An interview with a former Hearing Loss Association of America Chapter President on the latest news and updates from the HLAA.
With local chapters in many states, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is a leading national organization that provides support and resources for people with hearing loss. In this interview with previous Madison, Wisconsin Chapter President and CapTel Outreach Marketing Manager, John Kinstler (JK), we learn more about HLAA and how you can get involved.
CapTel: What is the mission of HLAA?
JK: HLAA’s primary purpose is to educate ourselves, our families, friends, coworkers, teachers, hearing health care providers, government, and the general population about hearing loss. As for support and advocacy, there is a wide range of local and national programs, events, and resources where people can go for help. They also provide advocacy for communication access in the workplace, hotels, schools, court systems, medical, and entertainment facilities.
CapTel: What was your role in helping to fulfill this mission on a local level in Madison, WI?
JK: During my role as chapter president in Madison, our meetings focused on what was current and interesting for people with hearing loss in the community. One of the highlights of my involvement with the HLAA Madison Chapter was when we went to the Wisconsin Capitol on Legislative Day to talk with senators about what we, the hard-of-hearing community, need in Wisconsin, and we made our voices heard. Together we’ve educated, supported, and advocated for people with hearing loss.
CapTel: Please share your personal experience with hearing loss and how it has helped you in your roles with HLAA and CapTel.
JK: Having been born with a hearing loss, I’ve encountered some obstacles and situations that were not accessible. I didn’t have captions on TV growing up, I couldn’t understand what was said on the phone, and I didn’t feel qualified to be on a football team because I couldn’t hear. Those experiences gave me the drive to want to make a difference not just in my life, but for others as well. So, I found other people with hearing loss and connected with them. Together we learned more about what we didn’t know and empowered ourselves. I learned about telecommunication relay service and worked as a customer service representative for many years, and then joined Ultratec to work for CapTel as Outreach Marketing Manager. Later, I became an HLAA member and volunteered my time to help others with hearing loss. I believe no one should have to go through the hearing loss journey alone.
CapTel: Describe the HLAA events or initiatives that you’re most excited about in 2019.
JK: I am excited that HLAA and its chapters are advocating for installing telecoil loops in public places like churches, performing arts centers, and more. HLAA is educating the general public on the importance of hearing loss prevention and getting their hearing checked. HLAA is also working on getting insurance companies to cover hearing aids.
While HLAA is working to inform, educate, support, and advocate on a national level, it has empowered me to want to make changes locally. Many areas need to be improved such as:
- Fast food drive-throughs need to be accessible for people with hearing loss. One idea is to simply put up a touch screen display to make ordering food easier.
- TVs should have captions on all the time, to help educate others to turn on captions for their families with hearing loss.
- Places of worship and other venues like movie theaters and performing arts centers should be looped with a telecoil and have captions.
- There should be more mobile options for people with hearing loss.
CapTel: What is your vision for the future of HLAA on a local or national level?
JK: For HLAA to be widely known to everyone everywhere, whether they experience hearing loss or not. Hearing loss affects everyone. For example, a daughter or son may be struggling to communicate with their parent on the phone because their parent experiences hearing loss or a hearing parent is struggling on how to raise a child with hearing loss and not sure where to go. HLAA’s website is full of information on how to get support from a local chapter.
CapTel: How can readers get involved in HLAA in Madison, WI and around the country?
JK: Go to Hearing Loss Association of America’s website to access information, support, and resources. If people are interested in learning more about chapters in their area, they can find them here. If they live in the Madison, WI area, they can click here for the local chapter’s site.
CapTel: Is there any other news or information you want to share?
JK: People need to know that if they or someone they know experience hearing loss, help is available. They can go to HLAA’s website where there is a wealth of information to educate themselves about hearing loss, along with resources, products, and services that they will find helpful.
You can also find more resources for hearing loss on the CapTel blog.
If hearing loss makes phone calls difficult, discover how a CapTel captioned telephone can help you catch every word.