HHF Attends HLAA 2018 Convention

By Nadine Dehgan

I was fortunate to attend my very first Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Convention last week in Minneapolis, MN with Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)’s Program Associate, Maria Bibi.

Nadine Dehgan and Maria Bibi at HLAA 2018.

Nadine Dehgan and Maria Bibi at HLAA 2018.

We spent much of our time serving as resources to the highly engaged attendees. In the exhibit hall at our HHF booth, we answered questions related to our critical research and awareness programming. Maria and I were humbled to learn of the deep appreciation for our work from our booth’s visitors.

Several educational sessions were held beyond the exhibit hall. I was particularly grateful to witness John Brigande, Ph.D., and Ronna Hertzano, M.D., Ph.D., speak about HHF’s Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), the international scientific consortium dedicated to identifying better treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus. Here, I met a supporter of HHF, who said, “[Drs. Brigande and Hertzano] were both informative, encouraging, and enthusiastic about their work and the possible outcomes. I will continue to follow their progress even more closely now.”

HHF Emerging Research Grants (ERG) 2018 recipient Evelyn Davies Venn, Au.D, Ph.D, also delivered a compelling presentation. An Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Venn’s research focuses on a highly personalized hearing technology to help individuals better understand speech in noise. She discussed a new hearing aid in concept phase that will convert the sense of touch into sound electricity.

A shift from typical days in our quiet New York City office, the four-day convention connected us with many inspirational people—folks with hearing loss and scientists alike. Buzzing with energy, optimism, and knowledge about hearing loss, the convention was an important representation of how HHF’s work impacts so many individuals.

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You’re Invited: Comprehensive Hearing Health Experience in February 2018

By Lauren McGrath

In honor of our 60th anniversary, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)’s Board Chair, Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., is hosting Hearing360—an educational and social forum at the San Diego Central Library—in early 2018. Hearing360 seeks to engage HHF’s San Diego area constituents with the latest updates in hearing research and everyday guidance for hearing health.

Featured event speakers include scientists Ronna Hertzano, M.D. and Andy Groves, Ph.D. from HHF’s Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), the world’s first international consortium dedicated to identifying a permanent biological cure for hearing loss. Their individual presentations on the regeneration of hair cells in the inner ear will be followed by a brief Q&A session.

Ronna Hertzano, M.D.

Ronna Hertzano, M.D.

Andy Groves, Ph.D.

Andy Groves, Ph.D.

Hearing360 will also honor the generosity of longtime HHF supporters Frank and Chris De Francesco, who shared their experiences raising a child with profound hearing loss in “Why We Believe in Hearing Health Foundation,” which appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Hearing Health magazine.

Scheduled for Sunday, February 11 from 3:00 - 5:00 PM in the San Diego Central Library’s Shiley Special Event Suite, Hearing360 will be fully accessible with a t-coil loop system and open captioning. Light refreshments and wine will be available.

Limited space is available and an RSVP is required for all guests. We look forward to meeting you in San Diego. Please contact HHF at with any questions regarding Hearing360.

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Meet HHF's Small But Mighty Team

By Nadine Dehgan

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is working around the clock to help find cures and treatments and also to better the lives of those with hearing loss. And we are doing it with a small and incredible team.

Recently I attended a bowling outing with HHF's full-time staff and our mighty army of interns. (Please see the photo.) Missing are Yishane Lee and Robin Wisser Kidder whose wonderful talent is used to edit and design Hearing Health magazine; Caroline Oberweger who aids with foundation grants; and Frankie Huang who helped as a marketing intern.

From left to right: Stephanie Jacovina, Breana King, Shawaza Majeed, Laura Friedman, Nadine Dehgan, Hai Zhou and Kelly Barahona

From left to right: Stephanie Jacovina, Breana King, Shawaza Majeed, Laura Friedman, Nadine Dehgan, Hai Zhou and Kelly Barahona

Thanks to these talented people, HHF has been able to: 

  • Increase awareness of preventable noise-induced hearing loss by developing. partnerships with peer organizations and corporations.

  • Register to fundraise in every state—a necessary and time-consuming process.

  • Write blog posts and magazine articles on various hearing loss topics as well as hearing research.

  • Secure media placement in the following outlets: The New Yorker, The Guardian, Men’s Journal, and others.

  • Rewrite our internal policies and procedures to streamline activities and reduce costs.

  • Send supporters and constituents countless communications including magazines, letters, and appeals to raise funds so we can continue our important work.

  • Communicate with the Federal Drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission, and various elected officials regarding the critical need for affordable hearing health care (e.g.,. over-the-counter hearing aids) and significance of funding hearing research.

  • Advocate for the reversal of the 2018 federal budget’s proposed elimination of all federalUniversal Newborn Hearing Screening funding, $18 million in total.

  • Announce our newly formed partnership with Hearing Charity of America’s Hearing Aid Donation Project to collect used hearing aids to give to those who need.

  • Increase Hearing Health magazine ad sales revenue enabling HHF to invest in growing its readership.

  • Continue to receive top ratings from charity watchdogs with HHF named twice in two categories in Consumer Reports’ top five best charities.

  • And most importantly increase funding to our critical hearing and balance research programs promoting innovative approaches by both early-stage scientists and established experts in their fields!

At HHF we all live and breathe our mission. I would like to recognize and express my gratitude to those the who give of their time and talent to our cause.

There is much to do and many unmet research needs—but together we will get there.

From the bottom of my heart I am grateful and hope you wil join me in thanking these folks. They help make it all possible.

Nadine Dehgan is the chief executive officer of Hearing Health Foundation.

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Getting Married? Turn It Down

By Emilio Cortez, Ed.D


Wedding day celebrations often include music, but when music is too loud, you and your guests may experience hearing loss as a result. The problem of loud music is rampant and has contributed to the growing number of 48 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss.

Many bands and disc jockeys play music at 100 decibels (dB). If you’re not wearing earplugs, 100 dB can cause hearing loss in just 14 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A telltale sign that music is too loud is when you need to shout to the person next to you just to be heard. If the music at a wedding is played consistently at 90 dB of loudness, hearing loss can occur after two hours of exposure.

Since we are all the targets of dangerous decibels, we need to remember, “Be decibel-wise: under 85 keeps hearing alive.”

When interviewing bands or DJs for a wedding, insist that you want the music to be no louder than 80 dB—and then be prepared for bewildered faces. Since many musicians and DJs are accustomed to playing very loud music, some of them have already lost hearing, so 80 dB won’t seem loud enough; an alternative plan would be to make earplugs available to your guests (see below).

The louder music is played, and the more guests that attend a wedding, the louder guests must talk to converse which adds to the total loudness. You may want to appoint a wedding helper to monitor the music’s loudness and to remind musicians to turn down the volume as needed. Also, by having the music alternate between loud songs and softer music, you can give your guests and their ears a healthy rest from potentially dangerous decibels.

Many free decibel meter apps are available for both Apple and Android smartphones. You can check it for accuracy by talking into it in a normal speaking voice. You should be getting a reading somewhere between 60 and 70 dB, which is a normal reading for conversational speech. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has blogged about the accuracy of decibel meter apps.

If you choose to use earplugs that conform to your ear canal size, refer to the YouTube video, “Fitting Foam Earplugs.” In essence you want to roll the earplug down to toothpick size and then insert it into your ear, allowing it to expand in order to provide the most effective hearing protection.

My daughter is getting married this August, and I had her share this information with the prospective DJ so he knows exactly what I will be expecting as the father of the bride! Noise is the most preventable cause of hearing loss. Don’t squander it on your wedding day.

Emilio Cortez, Ed.D., is a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America of Pennsylvania and a co-chair of its Turn Down the Volume Committee.

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HHF Welcomes Two New Board Members

By Nadine Dehgan

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is thrilled to welcome two new board members, Jason Frank and Sophia Boccard. Their unwavering dedication to furthering research and awareness of hearing loss and its associated disorders make Jason and Sophia the perfect addition to our leadership team.

Jason Frank is a Vice President/Assistant General Counsel of JPMorgan & Co. in New York City. Jason and his wife Jenny delved into the world of hearing loss after their son was diagnosed with bilateral, mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss. When looking for resources, Jason says, “We found HHF and the Hearing Restoration Project and knew we wanted to to get involved…. It has been over five years and, while our son is doing wonderfully thanks to early intervention and access to hearing aids since he was 8 weeks old, we remain committed to spreading awareness for hearing loss and finding a cure. I am extremely excited about joining the National Board and becoming more intimately involved with HHF and its cause.”

Sophia Boccard is a digital marketing strategist in the hospitality industry with over a decade of marketing experience in the entertainment industry. “As someone who was born with moderate to severe hearing loss, I've always accepted the loss of hearing as a part of who I am. After being diagnosed with Usher syndrome type 2a in 2012, I realized that a cure for both hearing and vision was something I needed to fight for,” Sophia says. HHF looks forward to working with Sophia to share her experience living with Usher syndrome to raise awareness and find better therapies and cures.

HHF is excited to have Jason and Sophia as new board members and we look forward to their contributions to HHF’s mission. Please join us in giving them both a warm welcome!

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Give Thanks and Then Give Back

By Pallavi Bharadwaj

Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is the official kickoff to the holiday buying season. Cyber Monday has become synonymous with online-only shopping deals on the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Giving Tuesday is a movement to create a national day of giving during the holiday season that will inspire philanthropy and encourage bigger, better, and smarter charitable giving.

HHF is thrilled to participate in Giving Tuesday this year on November 29th. 

This Giving Tuesday, please join HHF and support groundbreaking research to cure hearing loss and tinnitus. You can donate directly, or fundraise for a cure.

If you’re looking for some ideas to contribute to HHF on Giving Tuesday:

  • Post on Facebook and Twitter (and other social networks that you belong to) encouraging each of your friends to donate $1 to HHF. The average individual has 300 friends on Facebook which means that if each of your friends donates just $1 on Giving Tuesday, you can raise $300 in one day—it’s that easy!

  • Contribute to an item on our Wish List and give our researchers the tools they need to conduct their studies.

  • Host a potluck dinner party and invite your family and friends to join you by bringing a dish and making a donation to HHF.

  • Hold a bake sale at your workplace or your child’s school and advertise that the proceeds will be donated to HHF.

  • If you play a musical instrument, ask for donations for your music practice that day.

  • Take some time to burn those excess Thanksgiving calories and go for a run, swim (indoors of course!), or bike ride fundraising for every mile accomplished.

  • Make a donation to HHF in honor or in memory of someone close to you.

  • You can make gifts of appreciated stocks too.

    Do you have other ideas to fundraise for a cure? Please share with us in the comments!

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Sports Life in Silence

Chase Ross and his wife, Amy

Chase Ross and his wife, Amy

The crowd is roaring, cheerleaders cheering, coaches are yelling and teammates are making play calls. As hearing impaired athletes, my sister and I did not necessarily hear all of this. Growing up in a small town atmosphere and loving sports, teammates and coaches found ways to communicate with us to ensure we were part of the team, part of the family, by making sure he/she was standing next to us when talking or giving us hand signals during play.

My sister and I were very fortunate to have a close, caring, understanding and loving family to help guide us through life. But they made sure we had to work for everything we earned and did not take anything else in life for granted, much less our hearing. My sister, who has cochlear implants, provided me with a great example of how not to let our hearing loss keep us from doing anything we dreamed. Growing up she was very active with sports. Even as she went on to college, she was a football cheerleader while earning her degree.

Growing up I had a strong passion for playing sports – football, basketball, baseball and track. Sometimes the sweat would get into my hearing aids causing them to not work correctly and I would still have to play parts of games without hearing – relying solely on reading lips and using hand signals that our team had put together for such cases. It was a challenge that my teammates had recognized. That is when you learn to connect with friends, family and teammates on a new level.

To help bridge that gap, last year I founded Sports for Sound, a non-profit entity designed to raise funds and help hearing impaired patients who need financial assistance with obtaining new hearing aids, molds, FM systems for the classrooms or whatever his/her needs may be. After making appointments with my audiologist and needing new hearing aids for the first time since I have been on my own, it hit me how costly they can be, even with insurance. This is what motivated me to want to help those who may need assistance.

To help better educate the participants with hearing and show them why hearing is truly important, participants in the running events must wear ear plugs. This helps the participants better understand what hearing impaired people go through and how much we need to rely on our other senses.

Our first year (2014) was dubbed a success raising over $23,000 and providing assistance to 10 applicants. In 2015, 2015 we raised $18,000 & we were able to provide new hearing aids to 8 recipients. Sports for Sound is having its 3rd annual event on May 21st, 2016 at the Eastern Ohio Sports Complex in Sherrodsville, OH. The event is held in May to coincide with “Better Hearing & Speech Month.” This year our event will feature a 5K obstacle run, 10K road run and 5K cross country walk. The event will also have food, raffles, silent auction and a Chinese auction.

Chase Ross is the founder of Sports for Sound. His goal is to grow SFS to help assist hearing impaired patients beyond its established location, Tuscarawas County, OH., all while giving participants the experience of being hearing impaired while participating in SFS events.

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