Reconnecting with Community at an HLAA Convention

Cheri Perazzoli and Bob Branigin have served together for decades.

Attending an HLAA convention can be a fun way to find community, build long-term friendships, learn about new technologies and communication techniques, and socialize in a stress-free, accessible setting with people who understand your hearing challenges. Bob Branigin, one of HLAA and HLAA-WA’s first heroes, has been to 35 (!) conventions. Here Bob shares his thoughts about the 2022 convention and what it’s like to travel and attend as a power wheelchair user.

The convention in Tampa this year was probably the same size as the first convention—I believe it was in Bethesda, Maryland.  The flights between Seattle and Tampa were on time with no problems, except walking from the door to the seat and the lavatory was hard for me.  When I arrived at the hotel, my rented power chair was waiting for me.  I was having problems with it as the charger was not charging the battery very well.  I had to stay around the hotel grounds the whole time because the battery need to be charge at mid afternoon for two hours.  So, this limited the workshops I wanted to go to, but I did go to the Exhibit Hall to see if I could find a vendor that sells something for my television.  I did see some friends who works with Captel, Med EL, Caption Call, etc. and I had a visit with them.  I saw and visited with friends who were at the other conventions, and that was a fun time for me.  

Bob Branigin poses with HLAA-WA leaders Erlene VanDerMeer, Diana Thompson, and Glenda Philio at this year’s convention.

I did go to these workshops below.

  • Importance of Genetic Testing for Hearing Loss
  • What Do You Want to See in Your Captions?
  • Hearing Loss goes to Court
  • I Can’t Read Your Lips!
  • The General Session 

Because I was in a power chair, some of the rooms were small and I had to “park” in the back, making it hard to read the captions and see the speaker’s lips.  At one of the sessions, I felt badly because I had to park on the aisle as the workshop was very popular. I did learn a lot, though. And I like to socialize with people, and luckily I was able to do that.

If you’re considering attending, I’d highly reccomend that you give it a try. You may find friends that last for decades!