Let Me Hear From You
Ensure a Positive Message
One of the pleasures in being the Academy president is the opportunity to visit at some of the state audiology meetings. These conferences present a wonderful opportunity to interact with colleagues around the country, learn about state audiology efforts, and hear from our members. A recent comment had to do with the ongoing need to promote ourselves as audiologists to the consumer. “Audiology” and “audiologist” are not yet widespread household words. How often do you share that you are an audiologist and the person you are conversing with isn’t sure what you are talking about? For those who know the basics of what an audiologist does, there is the usual response of “what” said in a joking fashion. However, how frequently are you questioned on what an audiologist does? Does the person who jokes with you know the extent of the services we provide? How often do you take the time to respond with a synopsis of the scope of audiology? Do any of us only test hearing?
Another experience in my travels was a conversation with a passenger sitting next to me on a flight. During the usual formalities of introduction and discussion of what we do, I learned that his environmental work involved travel to various plants and businesses to ensure that they were up on new laws and that they had safe practices in place. In his line of work, he was familiar with some of what we do as audiologists. After talking a bit more, we went on to our own reading and work. Early in the flight, I noticed that he was wearing earplugs and at one point he leaned over to offer me a set of earplugs and let me know he had extras. I politely declined, as I didn’t want to inconvenience him in getting his bag from the overhead bin. After his second offer, I realized that he probably thought it odd that I was an audiologist and yet wasn’t interested or concerned about protecting my hearing. The fact that I often use noise cancellation headphones or custom plugs on the plane and that I didn’t want to inconvenience him were unknown to him. I realized that in that situation, my actions (or lack of) did not match with what I tell my patients. I went home from that trip with my own increased awareness of the message I send as an audiologist and added various forms of hearing protection to each of my travel bags to ensure I had them in the future. Now, if I don’t have room or forget my headphones, I have an alternative.
October is designated as National Audiology Awareness Month to promote awareness of our profession and familiarize people with the role of the audiologist. This month is also National Protect Your Hearing Month, a time to educate others about preventing hearing loss. The Academy Public Relations Committee has developed a number of materials to assist us in our efforts to promote prevention and awareness of hearing loss and knowledge about our profession. Included among these materials is everything from bookmarks to PowerPoint presentations. In addition, there are a number of press releases and PSAs that are easily customized and sent to local media. I encourage each of you to take an hour or so this month to send these materials to your local newspaper or radio stations. I also urge each of you consider any unintended message you may be sending in your actions. Ensure a positive message is sent from the protection of your own hearing and the simultaneous chance to increase the awareness of those around us. Our collective efforts this month and our activities every month can do wonders in making audiology a well-understood profession.