Some of the best stories are told when we gather with friends and family for the holidays. We laugh, we cry, we celebrate snapshots of our lives. Those meaningful moments are what we remember and carry with us.

Imagine if we could create those amazing feel-good moments when the general public thinks of an audiologist. Imagine that by sharing powerful patient stories, stories that present real-life challenges living with hearing and balance issues, and stories of success that resonate with the public, that we could reframe how people viewed hearing and balance wellness. 

Let’s share with the world the best of what it means to be an audiologist. 

We need to tell our patients’ stories. Audiology needs to proclaim to the world the benefit of early identification, treatment, and management of hearing and balance problems. Much of the general public, health-care providers, regulators, and legislators are not aware of the amount of care an audiologist can provide for individuals with hearing and balance deficits. 

Many don’t know that untreated hearing and balance problems have been linked to cognitive decline and fall risks in the older patient, and undiagnosed hearing loss in children has been linked to an impact on reading and language development that can follow the child for years. 

Many don’t know that a lifetime of exposure to hazardous noise, both on the job and recreationally, can lead to significant hearing loss. Many don’t know that although more than 95 percent of infants have their hearing checked before three months of age, one in six infants and children will have some amount of handicapping hearing loss. 

We need to tell our stories of success on behalf of these individuals and all the people we serve. Many people don’t even know what an audiologist is…in 2017! We have to take control of our message and one way to do that is to ask our patients to share their journeys back to hearing and balance wellness.

The American Academy of Audiology Foundation is asking you to tell a story—specifically, tell a story about a patient of yours who has successfully regained their hearing and/or balance function. We know you have many stories of your patients that can tell about the impact of identifying and treating hearing and balance dysfunction. For example, the three-month old baby who is fit with amplification and hears her parents’ voices for the first time; the 87-year-old retired music teacher who has developed early-onset dementia, and with the help of hearing aids is now better connected to her family and friends and the music she dearly loves; the veteran who has a diagnosis of PTSD and reports highly bothersome tinnitus who now sleeps better at night because of the tinnitus treatment you provided, and on and on.

The AAA Foundation wants you to submit your stories to share with the world. To make this story-telling initiative fun, the Foundation will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the American Academy of Audiology by having a competition to select 20 amazing stories that will be made into a coffee-table book. The working title of the book is: The Voices of Hearing and Balance Wellness. For a modest donation of $30 (or more), you can own a copy of this one-of-a-kind compilation of human stories of hearing and balance wellness to share at work, and with friends and family. Who knows how far and wide these stories will be shared! Modeled loosely on the successful “Humans of New York” series, our story-telling will help portray to the world how lucky audiologists are to get to work with one amazing person after another each day to address hearing and balance problems that affect overall quality of life.

Here’s how this will work: Academy members submit a 300-word story, told from the patient’s perspective or yours, a photograph (if possible), and a signed release. The Foundation Trustees will select the most compelling 20 stories to be included in the coffee-table book. To make it even more fun, two submissions will be selected and the author will be awarded free registration to AAA 2018, April 18–21, in Nashville. The stories we receive will also be shared on social media and the Academy will be able to use the stories in press releases and other publicity. 

Submissions will be accepted through December 15, 2017, and winners will be notified by the middle of January 2018. The book will be available at AAA 2018 in Nashville!

For any questions regarding this initiative, please contact Rissa Duque-Yangson, foundation manager, at ryangson@audiology.org or 800-881-5410. 

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