Deaf Culture in Oklahoma

Services and Groups for the Hearing Impaired in Oklahoma

The sound of silence can be deafening, whether you were born with significant hearing loss or developed it over your lifetime.  Even if hearing aids provide some relief, they can be difficult—especially if you aren’t ready to accept your hearing loss just yet. While we aren’t miracle workers that can restore you to perfect hearing, we can provide you with a guide to the culture in Oklahoma City for the hearing impaired:

Hearing Impaired Across the U.S. and Oklahoma

Hearing loss and impairment is a popular joke among the aging population, with the number of jokes about hearing aids and adult diapers increasing in correlation with the number of birthdays celebrated. To put things back in perspective, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) have some staggering statistics:

  • Males are more likely than females to experience hearing loss
  • About 36% of the adult American population reports some degree of hearing loss
  • 2-3 children out of every 1,000 are born deaf, and 9 out of 10 of those children are born to parents with perfect hearing
  • Only 1 out of 5 people that could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one
  • Approximately 4,000 cases of sudden deafness occur each year within the United States

For most of us, the United States is a large place. It can be hard to relate to those affected by similar conditions if meeting them isn’t an option.  In a state where only three cities have a population over 100,000 and only 40 towns with a population over 10,000, it can be hard to relate to national statistics.

Although our wonderful state tends to get a bad reputation as being a rural, fly-over state, we aren’t completely removed from popular trends. In fact, Oklahoma is the 28th most populous state with 3,751,351 people calling it home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those, roughly 71,442 are experiencing some form of hearing impairment.

While there aren’t any official statistics on the number of Oklahomans that are currently benefiting from hearing aids, what information is available doesn’t look promising. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance (DHAA) cite the cost of hearing aids as a main deterrent in purchasing them, even for those who need them. In addition, most insurance companies do not fully cover the hearing aids, leaving most with out-of-pocket expenses.

The type and level of hearing loss determines how beneficial a hearing aid might be. For most experiencing natural hearing loss due to age or loud noises, hearing aids will be a perfect solution to amplify sounds that were previously lost. In some uncommon cases, surgery may be able to restore some hearing–including cochlear implants for the deaf—although it may require expensive procedures.

Due to major advancements in medical technology, there is a type of hearing device that can restore some sounds to all but the most extreme cases of hearing loss. With the many different factors that play into hearing impairment, it can be hard to know where your case is.

What Does it Mean to Be Hearing Impaired?

For most experts, hearing impairment can be divided into categories: mild, moderate, severe, and profound.  Since the human language is divided into vowels and consonants, certain parts of speech may be impacted by hearing loss. This can also serve as a guideline for how hearing can change over time. If you’re unsure where you lay on the spectrum, check your range on our chart here or schedule an appointment with our experts (they even make house calls):

Not all hearing loss was created equal: while some people may benefit from a small hearing aid, others may not find any relief from using them. Although the sounds you hear—or the lack thereof—may differ with others of the same condition, you have far more in common than you thought:

  • Emotions and Bereavement: For those who have experienced gradual or sudden hearing loss, there is likely a moment of grief at no longer experiencing the world at full volume. Even for those born with hearing impairment, there are often emotions of jealousy, fatigue, and embarrassment that are difficult for others with hearing to understand.
  • Daily adjustments: Even those with mild hearing loss have to make drastic changes to their daily routine, as do their families and friends. Certain situations and activities may be especially difficult or impossible, and require creative alternatives. For parents with hearing-impaired children, it can be difficult attempting to bond without first learning how.
  • Communication: Especially for those with severe hearing impairment, communication takes on a new role. Non-verbal cues take on a new level of importance that is absent for those without hearing issues, and reading lips to fully understand conversation is common. In a state where natural disasters like tornadoes can be extremely devastating, disaster preparedness and adapted communication skills are essential. Modern conveniences, such as texting, can help to bridge the gap.

Finding out you or a loved one has a hearing impairment can be incredibly difficult; it’s a lot of information to process at once. Regardless of the cause of hearing loss, it can be beneficial to reach out to others with a similar experience. We’re here to make that process easy!

Deaf Culture in OKC

Fortunately, Oklahoma City has a deaf culture that is very much thriving for the hearing impaired of all ages and stages.  We have a short directory listed here, with summaries of how each service and group may be able to assist you. Although some national directories are listed, we focused mainly on Oklahoma-area resources:

  • Hearing Loss Association of Oklahoma City provides individuals and families coping with some level of hearing loss support and social interaction with day and night meetings. This group is sponsored through the INTEGRIS Third Age Life Center.
  • The Oklahoma City Deaf Community page on Facebook offers up to the date news, events, and other resources.
  • Hearts for Hearing is a group of licensed health professionals dedicated to creating life-changing opportunities for individuals with hearing impairment. This includes everything from infancy testing to researching and improving new auditory technology.

In addition to these support groups and foundations, Oklahoma City has a myriad of activities for those with hearing loss. If you haven’t already, you may want to check out:

  • Summer Camp for Kids: Hearts for Hearing has partnered with many Oklahoma City-area businesses in the past to create a summer camp for kids with hearing loss. The camp activities and enrollment vary each year, so be sure to check this year’s calendar!
  • The Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA) is just one of many museums that provide assistance to those with hearing disabilities. With three to four exhibits from national and international traveling exhibitions hosted annually at OKCMOA alone, there is never a shortage of new art to appreciate.
  • Local events like Dodger baseball games, H&8th, and the Plaza District Festival are summer events that bring together activities, food trucks, and local businesses for families and individuals alike.

Did we miss something? Whether you want to evaluate your hearing loss and be fitted for a hearing aid, or simply want to tell us about your own experience with deaf culture in OKC, come chat with us! We would love to hear from you!