Birthday

A Birthday Wish

By Beth and Jeremy Hochheiser

In Beth’s words

Our son Jeremy recently turned 29, and on his Facebook page for his birthday he asked friends and family to donate to Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) to help reach his fundraising goal, which he exceeded.

Jeremy introduced us to HHF when he discovered its commitment to hair cell regeneration. He has a profound hearing loss and has been using hearing aids successfully since childhood.

We did not realize there was a problem with Jeremy’s hearing until he was 14 months old, mainly because he had been making sounds like a typical baby. Even as a baby, Jeremy had an infectious belly laugh and was always very attentive to what was going on around him.

But when we discussed a potential hearing issue with our pediatrician, he didn’t seem concerned. It was only after we went to see an audiologist that we finally got a diagnosis of profound congenital bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.

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Throughout Jeremy’s childhood we visited audiologists and doctors regularly. We found an otolaryngologist in New York City who specialized in hearing disabilities, and we kept up with the latest technology in hearing aids to understand options for Jeremy. As he got older, we always encouraged him to ask people to repeat themselves if he couldn’t hear or understand them.

Since Jeremy was diagnosed with quite a bit of residual hearing, the audiologist suggested an unconventional means of learning speech, the auditory-verbal approach introduced by Helen Beebe. Children learn to use the hearing they still have by being bombarded with speech consistently. I read books and introduced pictures by sitting next to Jeremy, not facing him, so that he could learn how to repeat words and speech sounds by hearing them rather than watching my face and lip-reading (speech-reading).

As a result, Jeremy’s speech developed as a typical hearing child’s would—by listening and repeating. We as his parents knew that developing Jeremy’s hearing to its fullest potential was imperative—the “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” theory—and that lip-reading could come later, as a supplement.

With his hearing aids Jeremy thrived, learned to play piano at age 7, and was even presented with an award at Carnegie Hall. He excelled at school and showed us that his hearing was not an issue or a factor that would get in the way of his education or competitive spirit. The natural belly laugh he had as an infant translated into a great sense of humor and positive outlook.

As a kid Jeremy liked to place one of his hearing aids on his tummy and say, “Mom, I’m so hungry, I can hear my stomach growling!” We’re so proud of him and his studies, the many activities he has thrown himself into, his thriving career, and his own family and baby to come.

In Jeremy’s words


Be Bold


My advice to anyone with hearing loss (and their loved ones) is to be bold, brave, and up front about your hearing. Accept it and wear it proudly, otherwise others may misinterpret who you really are, or even bully you. Hearing loss isn’t who you are.

I also tell those new to hearing loss to never stop using your mind. Your brain is your most powerful tool. I play chess and compete in Brazilian jiu jitsu, plus I love being a software engineer and doing math, exploring art, and enjoying nature. I love to learn. Being fully engaged keeps your brain active and fights off feeling down from hearing challenges.

Your Voice Matters

I remember being afraid to ask others to repeat themselves, but as I got older I learned to ask, even if I had to do it more than once. In this way, I show I am involved and can contribute meaningfully to the conversation. I earn respect for that. Your voice and opinions really do matter. What definitely won’t work is to hold back.

I consider myself outgoing and social, and sometimes when I ask someone to repeat themselves it can break the flow of the conversation, or cause frustration in a new acquaintance who doesn't understand. But it is infinitely more frustrating if you can’t fully participate.

New Challenges

My wife Lauren has typical hearing and sees me as a typical hearing person. But when I am tired and my hearing is down, I have to ask her to repeat herself or let me see her lips. Then when I am less tired and my hearing is better, I get frustrated again if Lauren is still making accommodations for me that I don’t think I need—and that can frustrate her, constantly having to switch! I love my wife for going with the flow and understanding what I need to hear.

Managing Hearing Loss

I find that there are days where I can understand what people are saying without looking, and then sometimes I have to rely on speech-reading. People have said to me, “You can hear better with your glasses on!”

The company I work at now has wonderful benefits and accommodations for their employees with needs. They hold meetings throughout the year among those who have requested accommodations in order to foster an inclusive environment, and they are proactive about making sure I have everything I need. It’s been very welcoming.

How I Discovered HHF

When I was in middle school, my parents and I went to a support group, and I met a couple of kids my age who also have a hearing loss. One of them happened to end up working for HHF, Laura Friedman (HHF’s former communications and programs manager).

I also followed news on the development of hair cell regeneration in the inner ear. I am encouraged about HHF’s Hearing Restoration Project consortium bringing together multiple labs and scientists. All of this is why I wanted to do my part to raise money for research toward the cure.

Beth Hochheiser lives in New Jersey, and Jeremy Hochheiser lives in Pennsylvania. HHF sincerely thanks the Hochheisers and their family and friends for their support.

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Celebrate Founder’s Week Starting August 1

By Nadine Dehgan

This August marks the 100th birthday of Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)’s late founder, Collette Ramsey Baker. She formed our foundation 60 years ago in gratitude for surgery that restored her own hearing. Her legacy lives on as we continue to fund innovative hearing and balance science. HHF exists to better the lives of the millions who live with hearing and balance disorders, and we would like to acknowledge those who are most important to you.

June 1966: Collette Ramsey Baker (left) is presented with an award at the Rotary Club of New York.

June 1966: Collette Ramsey Baker (left) is presented with an award at the Rotary Club of New York.

To celebrate the spirit of Mrs. Baker’s birthday, HHF will dedicate a week to your loved ones and those connected to hearing loss. When you make a gift to HHF between August 1 and August 7 in honor of, or in memory of someone special, we will notify them (or their family) of your generosity and add their name to our “Honor Wall” page. As you share your names and stories, we will see the many faces of hearing loss.

Commemorate the most extraordinary people in your life by participating in Founder’s Week and dedicating a gift to hearing research in their honor.

As always, 100% of your gift will be invested in life-changing research and awareness programs, and you can choose where to direct your donation. Thank you for supporting our important work - we couldn’t do it without you!

Make your tribute gift at www.hhf.org/foundersweek beginning August 1, where you will have the opportunity to tell us who you are recognizing and why and to submit their photo.

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Celebrating Your Birthday in September? Learn How You Can Help HHF!

By Lauren McGrath

Sharing birthday presents is a popular custom. Most Americans report positive emotions when giving gifts. 83 and 78 percent of people feel joyful and generous, respectively, when sharing a present with a loved one, Pew Research finds. 

The receiving side of the gift-giving process is much different. The question, "What do you want for your birthday?" often triggers a mental blank, especially when multiple friends or family members inquire simultaneously. To think of one tangible item on the spot can be difficult.

More people in America were born in September than in any other month, according to a study shared in Reader's Digest from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, so it follows that this is the most popular birthday gift-giving time of the year, too.

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Should you fall among the millions of Americans celebrating a birthday during this ninth month of 2017, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) has a suggestion for you. Did you know that you can dedicate your birthday to a nonprofit organization of your choice on Facebook, inviting your friends to give directly to the cause?

A new feature on Facebook prompts users two weeks before their birthday to select a nonprofit organization's page. The individual whose birthday is approaching can set a goal amount and enter a custom message. Friends will see the public post, which expires at midnight on the user's actual birthday.

HHF relies on the generosity of individuals to propel forward its critical hearing and balance research, awareness efforts, and advocacy work. If you are a September-born HHF supporter who considers our work personally valuable, please consider creating a fundraiser of any size. Every dollar makes a difference.

Help your friends contribute to HHF through the following steps:

1. Once logged into Facebook, go to the Fundraisers page.

2. Click Raise Money.

3. Click Get Started.

4. Choose Nonprofit.

5. Type or Choose Hearing Health Foundation.

6. Personalize your message and click Create.

Happy birthday! And thank you for considering donating your special day to HHF.

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