The Center for Hearing and Communication played a pivotal part in my life. It broadened my horizons and expectations of what I could achieve.

Estelle’s Story

Estelle2014I lost my hearing when I was three years old though initially my parents were not aware of it.  It was 1953 and we never really had any concrete medical facts as to how and why.  Prior to the onset of my hearing loss, I was talking like a normal three year old.  But over the next three years when my  toddler chatter should have become more refined, my inability to correctly hear the sounds of the words left me with a speech impediment as I wasn’t able to hear the pronunciation of the words clearly.

It took three more years and numerous attempts at hearing assessments when in 1956 at age six I was fitted with my first hearing aid at CHC.  I wore a mold fitted into my earlobe with a cord dangling down and attached to an amplifier.  Kids didn’t know how to react to me.  They were cruel and they imitated my speaking patterns. It was difficult to form friendships. I was lonely.  My parents and my sister tried to console me but it wasn’t enough.

That’s where CHC came in.  After I was fitted with the hearing aid, the work in progress began. CHC became my “home away from home” and the place to learn positive steps in dealing with my disability and the challenges I would have to overcome.   My mother took me to New York once a week for six years where I received individual speech training sessions, in addition to Saturday mornings for ten years for speech and lipreading instruction with other hearing impaired children.

CHC played a pivotal part in my life. It broadened my horizons and expectations of what I could achieve. My interaction and association with other children, like myself, provided me with the self-esteem I was so desperately in need of. I formed many lasting friendships as we shared a common bond and connection between us…expressing our losses, our feelings and our triumphs. How do I begin to express my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to CHC?  Through their innovative programs, specialized services and dedicated professionals, they helped a shy, introverted and severely hearing impaired six year old adjust to life in a hearing world.

At my disposal in this wonderful institution were a staff of qualified and highly trained audiologists, teachers, technicians, social workers and so much more.  As the years went by, so did my concerns and doubts about my ability to function in a hearing world.  Thanks to the ever-changing technology, CHC now has me fitted with an almost invisible hearing aid mold that sits securely behind my left ear.

One important motto CHC taught me is:  “You may not feel good about being hard of hearing, but you can feel good about yourself.” CHC helped me through the process one has to go through of dealing and accepting your hearing loss. These words of wisdom will reap you the rewards you seek and I am proud to say “So they have!”

I am a college graduate of Hunter College, City of New York. For the past 35 years I have worked for a Japanese Import/Export Trading Company where I have earned the respect and recognition of my coworkers, not because of my disability but in spite of it.  I do not rest on my laurels. I continually find avenues to volunteer in promoting CHC and all it stands for and each time I do, I am saying “thank you” to CHC for being there when my family and I were in need.

I ask myself, “Where would I be today if it were not for CHC?”  I don’t have to ponder the answer to that question as I am where I am today because of CHC.

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