[hear-it.org] When Dane Aïda Regel Poulsen found out about her hearing loss, she turned it into something positive. She now uses her hearing loss actively in her work life, making her better at her job and tackling her own hearing loss. “Today, my hearing loss is not a disadvantage for me,” Aïda says.
When Aïda Regel Poulsen had a caesarean at the age of 26, the anaesthesia damaged her hearing. At that time, doctors did not have the knowledge they now have to connect hearing loss with anaesthesia. Today, we know that anaesthesia can in some cases damage hearing.
”My hearing reduction is stable and today, my hearing is around 50 dB in both ears. That means I am dependent on my hearing aids,” says Aïda.
Even though it affects Aïda’s daily life, she has never been depressed or embarrassed about her hearing loss.
“You need to recognize your life conditions and deal with it. My hearing loss is part of what shapes my personality,” said Aïda.
Getting used to hearing aids is a process
Aïda says that you have to get used to using hearing aids and it can take time to set them up correctly.
”When you begin using hearing aids or change to new ones, you must be prepared for the fact that it can be hard work. It’s a process in which you have to get used to them and have the settings of the hearing aids regulated until they are finally set-up correctly for your hearing loss,” says Aïda.
She says that the adjustment phase can be especially challenging during work hours because she has to get used to new acoustics and voices.
“In that period, it is hard for me to be at work because I work as a consultant at many schools. There is a lot of noise in the classrooms and if my hearing aids are not set-up correctly, they do not support me sufficiently,” explains Aïda.
Hearing loss helps at work
Her hearing loss certainly does not make her feel left-out. Instead, she uses it actively to her advantage in her work life. Aïda is trained as a teacher in English and Music and since her hearing loss, she has trained as a Speech and Hearing therapist. Today, she is employed as a hearing consultant and visits schools nationwide giving advice about pupils with hearing loss included in local schools.
“In this way, I can use my hearing loss in my work life because I know first-hand how it is to live with a hearing loss and I am familiar with the technical equipment which I give advice about. So, because I have a hearing loss, I can understand how the children experience different situations. For example, I know how my hearing aids do not always hear different tones of music and that means when talking about e.g. listening to Music in music lessons, I can use my experiences with hearing aids to better guide and help the children when their hearing aids need to be adjusted,” explains Aïda.
She is passionate about working for better conditions for children and she works targeted in her effort to make it easier to live with hearing loss and easier to get an education regardless of reduced hearing.
Active in EFHOH
It is not just in her work at the special school that Aïda uses her hearing loss to ensure better conditions for people with hearing loss. Aïda is also a volunteer in the Danish association for people with hearing loss, Høreforeningen and since 2015 she has also been secretary for EFHOH.
EFHOH (European Federation of Hard of Hearing) is a European non-profit and politically independent organisation which works for a Europe where people with hearing loss can live under equal conditions as those without hearing loss. The members of the EFHOH are hearing associations from European countries, and EFHOH is supported by different professional organisations across Europe.
“As secretary in EFHOH, I am helping to inform people about hearing loss all across Europe as well as spreading the organisation’s opinions and values of openness and respect,” explains Aïda.
”In EFHOH, we believe that hearing loss is not a disability but just a part of life. Everybody on EFHOH’s board has a hearing loss. And in EFHOH our aim is to help our members.”
“Together, we carry a culture in EFHOH. We understand each other in a way, that is not always easy for those who are not hard of hearing. We need to be together with others who are just like us.”
The board members of EFHOH come from five different countries. All communication is therefore in English and at board meetings EFHOH also use Assistive Listening Systems (ALS) and Speech to Text Interpreting (STTI).
“Many times it is argued that hard of hearing people have difficulties learning more than one language. The work in EFHOH and internationally proves this a myth”, explains Aïda.
Read more about EFHOH at EFHOH’s website: www.efhoh.org