Supporting people with hearing loss and their friends, families and coworkers lies at the heart of the HLAA mission. HLAA State organizations and Chapters provide assistance and resources in their communities. They also are helping to eradicate the stigma associated with hearing loss and are raising public awareness about the need for prevention and treatment. In the process, they attract new people and provide support to participants.
HLAA organizations involved in community service projects grow because they are reaching out to people with hearing loss. HLAA presents the Community Service Award to an HLAA State organization or Chapter that has undertaken significant outreach projects or efforts that serve the community by creating awareness and teaching others about hearing loss and the communication obstacles that it can create. Read about the recipients of the HLAA 2012 Community Service Award.
Examples of service might be educational forums or classes for employees of hospitals, fire departments, emergency care providers, police forces, recreation and entertainment facilities, businesses, etc. It might also take the form of presentations to students of all ages, teachers, scout troops, service club members, houses of worship, etc. Professional support with this work can be of value as long as the assistance has no connection to any kind of hearing health product or service or the marketing of them.
Outreach promotes participation, encourages unity, prevents group apathy, creates community awareness and provides participants with social activities. Outreach makes a difference. Projects and activities may be short-term or continuous, and one or several may be in motion at all times.
Since the list of possible pursuits is endless, it is wise to choose realistic projects. Assess the readiness of the group as a whole. Success will depend on membership involvement. Begin with smaller or simple activities and projects, then build to greater heights.
Outreach will be specific to the area in which members live. In planning, keep these questions in mind.
- What is the goal of the project? What will it accomplish?
- Is the outreach consistent with the HLAA mission and priorities of access, awareness, education and employment?
- How many people will it reach?
- What are the jobs that need to be done and how many people will be required to participate?
- What are the time sequence and the target date for completion?
- How much funding (if any) will be needed and where will it come from?
Outreach Project Ideas
- Participate in area health fairs, farmers markets and awareness events. (See the Publicity page for more information. Publicity Materials to display and distribute are available free from the national office, through the HLAA website www.hearingloss.org or by calling 301.657.2248. HLAA asks that the organization reimburse HLAA for the shipping cost.)
- Help educate people about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by introducing the need for assistive listening systems in the community.
- Work with professionals and fraternal organizations (Lions Clubs, Sertoma, etc.) to provide free hearing screenings.
- Sponsor a class in speech reading, Cued Speech, assertiveness training or coping/communication strategies, aimed at helping people with hearing loss.
- Plan a party or special event for children with hearing loss.
- Start a support group for teens. Include plenty of fun events and socializing. (HLAA’s Hartford Chapter in Connecticut does this well.)
- Fund an assistive listening device for a school, nursing home, etc.
- Conduct workshops on assistive listening devices.
- Visit libraries to acquaint them with HLAA. Set up a library display. Encourage library membership in HLAA. (The Diablo Valley Chapter in California does this well.)
- Conduct "mini-meetings" for people in senior centers and retirement residences that can’t travel to chapter meetings. Take a hearing loop and all the assistive listening devices you can collect for a hands-on demonstration.
- Visit long-term care facilities and nursing homes as a friend to patients with hearing loss. Acquaint yourself with the staff and help them evaluate the patients’ hearing problems and related needs. Offer to put on an in-service workshop for the staff.
- Each year, November 29 is HLAA Founder's Day when we remember Founder Rocky Stone and the beginning of the organization. Plan activities during November that commemorate Rocky and draw the community’s attention to the needs of people with hearing loss.
- May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Plan a project for May that will bring attention to the issues of hearing loss. Ask your governor/mayor to issue a proclamation and seek publicity in newspapers and on the Internet, radio and TV. Place attractive displays in libraries. Initiate and participate in a hearing health fair with service providers. This is a good time to go into public schools with lessons on hearing loss and/or noise awareness. (Our Southwest Connecticut Chapter has conducted such a program.)
- Visit local restaurants and assess the noise levels within them. Work with a local newspaper or dining guide to report the results. Here’s how.
- Hold a half-day workshop. Meet in a free, public meeting space and solicit a catered lunch from a nearby restaurant (even a chain restaurant). Here are some possible themes.
- An employment workshop geared to employers and employees
- An awareness and coping skills workshop geared to consumers or parents of children with hearing loss
- Coping with hearing loss (show the HLAA DVD Learn About Hearing Loss, invite a speaker to talk about the emotional and social effects of hearing loss, and/or have a member panel where each person discusses how they have learned successful coping strategies)
- Explore facilities in your area: Are amplified phones available in public places, large stores, hotels, and hospitals? Do public utilities, emergency services, and other critical locations have written procedures for contacting people with hearing loss? Is hearing accessibility well publicized with the correct signage?
- Develop a resource directory of places with assistive listening systems.
- Audit state resource directories to make sure that they list HLAA headquarters and the HLAA State organization and Chapter(s) there.
- Does your state have a newborn screening program? Are existing laws for people with hearing loss being implemented? Serve on state or local commissions, councils, and regulatory and advisory boards as a representative. Let them know your interest in participating,
- Encourage movie theaters to show captioned movies. Send letters of support and thanks for captioning to national television networks, advertisers, and the companies who sponsor captioning.
- Initiate "55 Alive" driver training or CPR classes for people with hearing loss.
- Adopt a school. Initiate a scholarship program for students with hearing loss.
- Give HLAA membership as gifts where they will be appreciated and useful. (The state organization or chapter pays for the membership.)
- Request HLAA membership brochures, place the organization’s information on the back and distribute them to professionals and organizations in the community that have an interest in hearing loss. HLAA offers special member benefits to hearing health professionals.
Checklist for the Outreach Committee Chair (suggested)
___ Organize and guide all outreach initiatives, coordinating with the president, publicity, and program and education chair.
___ Make an effort to involve all state or chapter members.
___ Receive approval of a majority vote before making any binding commitments.
___ Provide a clear, concise write-up of activities and submit them to the newsletter editor before the deadline.
___ Arrange for photos of outreach events. Submit reports, including photos to the editor and publicity chair for publication. E-mail this information to the HLAA national office for possible use in the Hearing Loss Magazine (text in Word doc and high-resolution photos in JPG attachments).
___ Keep a record of all activities for future reference.
___ Use HLAA resources for outreach projects as appropriate.
___ Work with those involved with publicity to establish and organize a speakers’ bureau.