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033 – Shari Eberts & Matt Hay – Life with Hearing Loss During a Pandemic

Today’s episode of the Future Ear Radio podcast features two great guests – Shari Eberts and Matt Hay. Shari is a longtime advocate for hearing health and launched her blog, LivingWithHearingLoss.com in 2014, where she shares her own personal stories of navigating life with hearing loss, as well as featuring stories from other individuals with hearing loss from around the country. Matt is a fellow advocate, director of sales at hearing aid drying company Redux, and was fit with an auditory brainstem implant when he was in his mid-twenties due to him losing his hearing from Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2).

This was a different type of episode than I’ve done before and frankly, one of my favorite ones that I’ve done. We talked about what life has been like in a world that is suddenly dominated with masks and zoom calls – both of which yield a number of new challenges for the hearing loss community. We talked through those challenges and ways that we can all support and advocate for better accessibility options for hearing loss individuals.

Throughout this conversation, Shari and Matt both speak to their personal journeys with hearing loss, from the onset of it to treating it and now to being champions for the hearing loss community. For example, Shari is at the forefront of advocating for free captioning on video conferencing platforms. You can sign her petition to support her efforts, which had 35,000 signatures when we spoke on Wednesday, and has already risen to nearly 39,000 as I type this on Friday. Matt was featured on NPR for a segment called “Soundtrack of Silence” that is definitely worth checking out (you should probably have a box of tissues close by).

We also spoke a lot about technology – the good and the bad. There’s certainly still a lot of ways that technology can improve, but as Matt mentions, “it’s never been a better time to have hearing loss.” What he means is that the technology today is night and day compared to even a generation ago. Beyond speaking to how each of their preferred solutions work, we also spoke to some ancillary products that have come about of late that might prove useful in certain situations.

This conversation and these two people really inspire me. I hope that it does the same for you too and makes you think a little bit differently. It might provide a little bit of empathy on how we can all be a little more accommodating to our hearing loss population.

-Thanks for Reading-

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