8 Min

Tips for Finding the Right Hearing Loss Support Group

People with hearing loss can benefit from a hearing loss support group. Find out how to find a support group, the benefits, and what to expect!

Juana Poareo
Author:
Juana Poareo
Tips for Finding the Right Hearing Loss Support Group
Juana Poareo
Juana Poareo

The founder of Being Access-able, an accessibility resource hub for brands and entrepreneurs. She also writes about accessibility and advocacy.

If you or someone you know has hearing loss, it can be frustrating to communicate with others. A hearing loss support group can provide a sense of community and help prevent isolation and loneliness. 

In this article, we give you information on how to find a hearing loss support group, and understand the importance and benefits of such support groups.  

Understanding the Importance of a Support Group

Hearing loss can have a serious psychological impact on you, and affect your quality of life. Connecting with others who have similar experiences can provide you with empathy and guidance.  

One important thing to consider is your hearing loss journey. For example, someone who’s born deaf (congenital deafness) will have a different experience from someone who loses their hearing later in life (late deafened) or has age-related hearing loss. A congenitally deaf person may want to join a group that’s primarily in ASL or at least has a sign language interpreter present. Someone who is late deafened may not need either. Understanding your specific needs will help you determine the best support group for you.

How to Find a Hearing Loss Support Group

There are many ways to find a hearing loss support group in your local area. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Talk with your audiologist or hearing care provider. They may be able to recommend a local support group or give you resources on finding one.
  2. Search online. There are many online directories and resources that can help you find a hearing loss support group in your area. For example, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) has a "Find a Chapter" page on their website. You can also search for local groups on Meetup.com or Facebook.
  3. Contact a national organization. Many national organizations, such as the HLAA or Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), have local chapters or support groups that you can connect with.
  4. Ask around. Someone you know may have hearing loss and can recommend a support group.

Benefits of Joining a Hearing Loss Support Group

Three young women sitting at a table with coffee cups. Two women comfort the third woman, who seems upset, with her hands on her face. Photo by myjuly.
Three young women sitting at a table with coffee cups. Two women comfort the third woman, who seems upset, with her hands on her face.

Hearing loss support groups offer a variety of benefits, such as emotional support and personal growth. Here’s a deeper look at the benefits: 

  • Common lived experiences: Your friends and family may empathize with your hearing loss but talking with others with whom you share the common experience helps you feel seen and understood. 
  • Practical information: Sharing your story with others can unveil some new information for you, like where to find good hearing aids, supportive services, communication devices, or maybe even a dating service.
  • Social interaction: Being in a support group with others like you can help you feel a sense of belonging which strengthens your emotional health. 
  • Coping skills: A support group is an open forum to share positive and negative experiences related to your hearing loss. Whether you’ve been deaf since birth or became deaf later, sharing with others can help you learn new ways to cope with your hearing loss.
  • Self advocacy: Not only do you get support through a hearing loss support group but you also learn how to advocate for yourself by staying up to date on technology and research, and learning about resources and services available to you. This will boost your confidence and your communication skills.    

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What to Look for in a Hearing Loss Support Group

Once you’ve found a few potential support groups, it's time to evaluate them to see if they’re the right fit. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Location and meeting times. Make sure the group meets at a time and location that’s convenient for you.
  2. Group size. Consider whether you’d prefer a smaller or larger group.
  3. Group dynamics. Attend a meeting or two to get a sense of the group dynamics. Do you feel comfortable with the other members? Is the group supportive and welcoming?
  4. Group focus. Some groups may focus on specific types of hearing loss or may have a specific focus, such as advocacy or technology. Make sure the group's focus aligns with your own needs.

Before committing to regularly attending any support group, make a couple of appearances as a guest first before deciding to become a member. 

How to Prepare for Your First Meeting

Attending your first hearing loss support group meeting can be intimidating, but it helps to know that everyone has a similar experience. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Bring a friend or family member. Having someone you know with you can help ease any anxiety you may be feeling.
  2. Come prepared with questions or topics to discuss. This can help you feel more engaged and involved in the group.
  3. Be open to sharing your experiences. Sharing your experiences can help others in the group feel less alone and can help you feel more connected.
  4. Take things at your own pace. You don't have to share anything you're not comfortable with, even if others are sharing more than you. 

It’s normal to feel apprehensive and unsure if you’ll fit in, but attending your first meeting will help you feel more comfortable and you can consider it an act of bravery. 

Finding Empowerment and Support Beyond the Group

While hearing loss support groups can be valuable for you, there are other types of support. By accessing varied resources, you’ll be exposed to more people with different experiences and perceptions. This can help you enrich your daily life. 

Online Communities and Forums

Online communities and forums provide a safe space for people with hearing loss to connect, share experiences, and offer advice. Because these sites can be accessed 24/7, they provide a constant source of supportive information. One example is Hearing Tracker.

Advocacy Organizations

Organizations like HLAA and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) work to raise awareness, promote accessibility, and protect the rights of those with hearing loss. These organizations are committed to breaking down communication barriers and ensuring that individuals with hearing loss are able to participate fully in society. 

Social Media Groups

Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, offer various groups and pages dedicated to hearing loss support and information. These groups can provide a sense of community, as well as a platform for sharing experiences and resources.

Workshops and Webinars

Attending workshops and webinars focused on hearing loss can provide valuable information and skills. These events may cover topics like communication strategies, assistive technology, and self-advocacy.

Local Community Resources

Many communities offer resources for individuals with hearing loss, such as libraries with accessible materials, recreational programs with accommodations, and local events with captioning or sign language interpreters. This can help you stay engaged with your community while also receiving hearing loss support. 

Friends and Family

We can’t overlook the support and understanding that friends and family can provide. Open communication about your hearing loss and accompanying frustrations can create stronger relationships in a supportive environment.

When to Seek Professional Guidance and Counseling

A woman patient sitting with hands together. She is talking with a male counselor who is writing on a notepad. Their faces are hidden. Photo by Pressmaster.
A woman patient sitting with hands together. She is talking with a male counselor who is writing on a notepad. Their faces are hidden.

While support groups can provide valuable interaction with your peers, there may be times where professional help may be more appropriate. 

Signs You May Need Professional Counseling

It's important to be aware of the signs that you may benefit from professional counseling. These signs can include:

  1. Persistent sadness, anxiety, or depression
  2. Struggling with communication or relationships
  3. Difficulty coping with the challenges of hearing loss, despite seeking support from loved ones and support groups
  4. Feeling overwhelmed by the emotional and mental impact of hearing loss

If you experience any of these signs, they may be a strong indication that professional help is needed. 

Benefits of Professional Counseling

There’s no disagreement that support groups have a positive effect on you through sharing your experiences but professional counseling can provide personalized guidance. Some benefits of professional counseling include: 

  • Individual Attention: Counselors can create a customized plan to address your emotional and mental well-being.
  • Expertise: Some professional counselors have specialized training and experience in dealing with the psychological aspects of hearing loss, providing more in-depth guidance than a support group.
  • Confidentiality: Counseling sessions are private and confidential, allowing you to discuss sensitive issues without fear of judgment or disclosure.
  • Flexibility: Counseling can be adapted to your schedule and preferences, with options for in-person or virtual sessions. 

Many people benefit from both professional counseling and support groups. Support groups provide a sense of community while professional counseling offers personalized guidance. 

Support Groups

These groups have chapters for support groups. Conduct an online search for hearing loss support groups in your area. You’re bound to find one that’s right for you. If not, search Facebook and Twitter. 

Conclusion

Finding the right hearing loss support group can be a transformative experience that provides you with emotional support and personal growth. By evaluating potential support groups, seeking additional resources, and considering professional guidance, individuals with hearing loss can find the support that best fits their needs.  

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