Oh, What a Year! And the Best Is Yet to Come.

By Cheri Perazzoli, HLAA-WA President

I write in a spirit of deep gratitude for your support of HLAA-WA. Look at all that we’ve done together in 2022!

Community Outreach & Support

  • HOPE Meetings: As word spread, more people joined this virtual support group every month! Special thanks to the HOPE Crew for being excellent hearing loss ambassadors.
  • Renton Support Group Reborn: As COVID restrictions eased, advocate extraordinaire Glenda Philio relaunched in-person support meetings at the Renton Senior Activity Center.
  • Whatcom County Chapter: Acing online Zoom meetings, this award-winning chapter in Bellingham shared videos of guest experts talking about everything from technology to travel advice.
  • Annual Picnic: After two years of waiting, we gathered together in person! What joy to see all your smiling faces.

With all the struggles, it’s still the best of times to be hard of hearing — that’s what we get from these wonderful HOPE meetings.   

~ Karen Utter

Information & Education

  • A New Website: Chock full of information and support, our new HLAA-WA website offers a helping hand and community to people starting or continuing their hearing loss journey. If you haven’t already, we invite you to explore the site and share your thoughts with us.
  • A Robust Annual Meeting: In November, members across the state gathered online and had an excellent discussion about hearing access in healthcare settings and the importance of advocating for ourselves and others. The new leadership at our state’s Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) joined in and also shared information about their programs.

“Being involved with HLAA-WA helps me overcome my hearing challenges and gain confidence. And I discovered a whole new community of people living large with hearing loss and inspiring others.”  

~ Carolyn Odio

Advocacy

  • Legislative Groundwork: Throughout 2022 we met with Washington State legislators to keep hearing loss issues top of mind. Insurance coverage for hearing aids, captions on telehealth appointments, and open captions at movie theaters were on the list. SUCCESS! Rep. Tina Orwall is introducing a bill in 2023 requiring insurance coverage for hearing health in Washington State!
  • Power in Numbers: HLAA-WA spent 2022 continuing to cultivate partnerships with like-minded agencies and organizations. We are excited about our budding collaborations with ODHH, the Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium, the Washington State Association of the Deaf, and others.

Legacies

This past year we said goodbye to Jerry Olmstead and Cibyl Kumagai, two well-loved, longtime hearing health advocates. Their dedicated efforts leave behind a legacy of greater hearing access throughout Whatcom and Snohomish Counties.

Looking Ahead

Inspired by all we accomplished this year, we are looking to build on our success in 2023.

  • Community Outreach & Support: Our local and virtual support meetings will continue to provide inclusive and welcoming spaces for sharing the hearing loss journey.
  • Information & Education: We are considering a series of issue-oriented virtual meetings on topics like hearing loss and mental health, how to talk to legislators, and how treating hearing loss can reduce dementia risk.
  • Advocacy: It’s full steam ahead in support of the new insurance coverage for hearing aids bill.

And that’s just for starters! Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved.

Help carry our shared success into the new year with a gift today.

Your tax-deductible gift will help sustain our work through 2023, as together we envision, engage, and enrich our hearing loss community in Washington State. Your donation matters to us! And small donations add up to make a big difference right here at home.

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