July 7, 2004
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
8:52 a.m. EST
Mark Kraham: Good morning and welcome to NBC25 Today. I’m Mark Kraham. I have 2 guests today… Terry Portis, who is the Executive Director of the national Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People, and Denise Portis, who is with the Frederick County chapter of the Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People. Nice to have both of you here today.
Terry and Denise: Thank you.
Mark Kraham: Let’s talk a little bit about your organization – the purpose of it and the role it plays in the community.
Terry: Well SHHH is geared towards those people who are losing their hearing usually later in life, and they’re not sure what to do about it. What we provide is information and education and we also advocate on Capital Hill about a number of issues. We have about 250 local chapters across the country and about 15,000 members. We publish a magazine that goes out every couple of months, and also have a website that has about a million hits a month on it. So a lot of interest across the country.
Mark Kraham: Very nice. Now the local chapter…what role does it play in Frederick County?
Denise: Well we’re just trying to get the locals to understand that we’re THERE, and that hard of hearing people of all ages come to our meetings to find out how to cope with hearing loss. It’s also an education for the family, because hearing loss does not just affect the individual, it affects the entire family. So we have families coming to our meetings and learning more about what hearing loss is, how to cope with it, and how to advocate for yourself and in your community.
Mark Kraham: O.K. Very good. Now when do you hold your meetings and how can people get more information?
Denise: Well currently we are meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at the downtown library in Frederick, which is the C. Burr Artz library. We meet from 7-8:30 on Tuesday nights. We hope to start a daytime meeting soon on Saturday, as that will help some people. You can contact us at the number there on the screen.
Mark Kraham: O.K. And the phone number is 301-631-5268, for more information. Now, how long has the organization been around?
Terry: The organization was started 25 years ago. This year is our silver anniversary.
Mark Kraham: Very good. Now you’re based in Washington. Obviously it’s easier there to work with legislators and things like that. What is the greatest challenge facing people with hearing loss, or those who are hard of hearing?
Terry: Well the greatest challenge is communication. Trouble, whether it’s communicating with their families or certainly communicating in the workplace. A lot of people, particularly adults as they get older – maybe into their 40′s and 50′s — may start to struggle to hear. So they’re having trouble talking on the telephone, having trouble in staff meetings, having trouble talking to customers…those kind of things start to affect them. What we see is that people start to pull away a little bit; start to isolate themselves from their co-workers or family and friends, because it’s such a struggle to communicate. So that’s the biggest issue for most people.
Mark Kraham: So what recommendations do you have for those who are maybe experiencing this, and for those who are coping with it as family members?
Denise: Well I think family members should educate themselves, too. We’ve learned to face each other; you learn not to talk from another room. We have a wealth of information about assistive listening devices. A lot of people don’t realize what is out there by way of technology. We live in a great age where there is a lot available to help people both at work and at home hear better, and so therefore communicate better.
Mark Kraham: All right, very good. And so locally contact the organization there in Frederick, and of course, nationally as well. You have a website as well?
Terry: Yes, it’s hearingloss.org.
Mark Kraham: hearingloss.org. www.hearingloss.org. O.K. TerryPortis and Denise Portis, we appreciate both of you coming in from the Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People. Thanks a lot!
Denise: Thank you!
Terry: Thank you very much!
Mark Kraham: And you…enjoy today!
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