“For some reason, I was ashamed,” said American River College professor Harold Schneider, about when he started losing his hearing 10 years ago.
A college hour on hearing impairment issues was held in Raef Hall Thursday, covering how hearing impaired students, staff, and faculty can obtain free phones, as well as other issues that affect the hearing impaired community.
Only 19 people attended. As students, staff, and faculty entered Raef Hal, they were given a short quiz about losing hearing.
After Schneider finished discussing his past experiences, he introduced his two guest speakers: Betty Vosters-Kemp of Avalon Hearing Aid Centers and Alma Ortiz, an outreach specialist with the California Telephone Access Program.
Vosters-Kemp began by asking the attendees how many Americans suffer from hearing loss, the answer being 36 million.
One of the main beliefs Vosters-Kemp tried to get across is that hearing loss affects people of all ages, and in fact people in their 20’s are the fastest growing group affected by hearing loss.
Vosters-Kemp also went on to tell the audience that the average American waits seven to 10 years before they seek help with their hearing loss.
As a result of this wait, many people run the risk of other health problems.
“Those with untreated hearing loss are four times as likely to suffer from heart disease,” said Vosters-Kemp.
People with untreated hearing loss are also two times as likely to have cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
After Vosters-Kemp finished, Ortiz started to explain what the state of California has done for those who are losing their hearing.
Ortiz handed out small flyers with steps to get a free home phone.
“These are probably the shortest government applications you will ever see,” said Ortiz.
To qualify for a free phone a person needs three things: they have to live in California, have a current phone number, and obtain a doctor’s signature.
There are already half a million people enrolled in the program, for which there is no age limit.
The loudest phone offered in the program is six times louder than a normal house phone.
Vosters-Kemp told those in attendance that Avalon will perform a complimentary hearing test for any ARC staff or student.