The High Cost of Hearing Loss
When I first lost my hearing, it was frightening and lonely trying to navigate in a world I used to belong to. Everything had changed, from my ability to communicate to employment opportunities to the possibility of returning to college. Years went by and after being welcomed into the Deaf Community after learning ASL, I quickly found out that my hearing loss was to be an expensive existence.
This isn’t to say that I have to pay everything out of pocket. There are some excellent services and advocacy groups that help the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to secure the things they need to increase awareness and function in a hearing world. There are also free phone apps that help, such as the video phone application called Purple. It’s an excellent way for the deaf to communicate with not only each other, but the hearing world at large.
However, in smaller cities where some services may not exist to help the Deaf or Hard of Hearing, the cost of being a part of the hearing world can be expensive.
Take, for example, answering the door. There are several devices that emit a strobe-like flash when someone rings the doorbell or knocks on the door. These devices can range between $30-200.
What if you would rather have a TTY/TDD (text telephone for the deaf) instead of a set-top box or phone app from Purple? These devices can provide a sense of normalcy for those of us who lost our hearing late in life. They offer the ability to speak into a handset (VCO or voice carry-over) but you wait for the relay operator to type out what the other person is saying. These can run from $120 and up.
What if you wanted to finally learn American Sign Language? School isn’t cheap and depending on where you are, you may have to travel a bit to get there. Even with private lessons, the cost can add up. Or what if no college near you has classes in ASL?
On the flip side, what if you wanted to get a Cochlear Implant? You’d still be deaf but with the option to hear when you want to. Surgery with the implant can be quite the financial undertaking. If your insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of the surgery (for reference, my surgery and implant was $72,000… Paid for by insurance), you may be looking at out of pocket costs in the tens of thousands. Perhaps even six figures if you get binaural implants.
There is so much more but, as said earlier, if you look hard enough and ask around, you may not even have to pay for everything. Just be smart about it. Look online and research deaf advocacy groups in your area.
Be assertive. Research. And be proud of who you are. Because the ONLY thing you can’t do is hear!