Hearing health clinic part of a six-part series

Many attendees of the "How is Your Hearing Health?" clinic vowed to make significant changes to protect their hearing health by the program's conclusion. The clinic, presented by Fort Hays State University's Department of Communication Disorders, sponsored by the Hiawatha Masonic Lodge No. 35, A.F. and A.M., and underwritten by the Kansas Masonic Foundation, was conducted for hard-of-hearing individuals on Oct. 25 in Hiawatha.

Individuals from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska attended the program in Hiawatha, the second of a six-part series. The series supports KMF's mission to bring health services to rural areas across the state.

Victor Olson, a member of KMF's board of trustees, introduced the program and described KMF's partnership with FHSU and how it focuses on clinically educating stroke survivors for work, supports the clinical instructor position and provides graduate fellowships.

Dr. Marcia Bannister, chair of the Department of Communication Disorders, and Kassy Kleymann, Masonic clinical instructor, joined in planned activities with men and women, both young and old, Masons and non-Masons, and those with hearing loss and those without.

A self-assessment of hearing in daily life was the first activity. Participants learned about the need for hearing conservation programs and hearing protection in the workplace. The also had the opportunity to examine different types of protectors for work and recreation.

Other presenters demonstrated communication strategies that make social and work situations easier for the hard-of-hearing person. Graduate students and Masonic Fellows Elizabeth Cline, Lyons, and Katie Gentert, WaKeeney, used an original skit to demonstrate good and poor communicaiton strategies. The skit was followed by a discussion.

Participants were given the opportunity to try a personal FM system, which is designed to broadcast a speaker's voice directly to the ears of a hard-of-hearing individual. One man, challenged by both hearing and vision problems, was awed by the clarity of the presenter's voice when using the system.

Other assistive listening devices for the telephone and the television, as well as alerting devices, were demonstrated and made available for examination and trial.

According to Bannister, the willingness of participants to share their experiences and concerns contributed greatly to the program's success.

After attending the program, some people commented that they would be seeking hearing evaluations. Others decided to begin using noise protection, and some will seek an assistive listening device that will help them hear on the telephone. The remaining attendees committed to using better listening and speaking strategies with those who are hard-of-hearing and to help inform the public of the need for good ear and hearing protection.

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