Cochlear recipient, Lisa Yuan is honored at the HLAA annual conference for her involvement and activism. Lisa shares, "I no longer let my hearing loss define me. Instead, I let it empower and inspire me."
When Lisa Yuan reached a point with her hearing loss where she could no longer hide or fake it, she became hopeless and depressed. “I knew I needed to find help,” she said. This was the catalyst that led to Lisa’s involvement with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).
Lisa was 20 years old and a senior in college when she got diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss, something she never planned or prepared for. Although Lisa got hearing aids, she remained in a state of denial and frustration for the next 16 years. As her hearing aids became bigger and more expensive, her hearing got progressively worse.
The Turning Point
“When I finally found the Hearing Loss Association of America, it was a turning point for me.”
Lisa joined the Los Angeles Chapter of HLAA in 2006. It was a relief to discover that she wasn’t alone after so many years feeling isolated and misunderstood. “Suddenly here I was, with a group of people who understood what I was going through, who were sharing stories that I could relate to so well.”
She continued to go to the monthly meetings, and over the years became increasingly involved. She wasn’t just helping others, but also helping herself.
One of the many valuable things she learned through HLAA was information on cochlear implants. “My cochlear implant has improved my hearing so much – it sometimes amazes me how well I can hear people, even if I’m not looking directly at them. And with technology constantly advancing, I look forward to even better hearing in the future.”
Becoming an Advocate for Others
Over 12 years with the LA Chapter, Lisa has served as president, vice president, secretary, newsletter editor, and website editor. She’s been involved with planning chapter social events and fundraisers, including a wine tasting and silent auction, annual garage sales, and numerous Walk4Hearings. In addition to these roles, Lisa served on the Advocacy Committee, where she participated in efforts to get captioning at live-performance venues like the Hollywood Bowl.
On the national level, Lisa has completed HLAA’s leadership workshop and hearing assistive technology training, and attended every annual convention since 2011. At this year’s convention, she will receive the 2018 Spirit of HLAA Award.
“Accepting my hearing loss – and myself as someone with hearing loss – has allowed me to accomplish so much more than I ever imagined. It’s allowed me to embrace myself and embrace life,” Lisa said. “For these reasons, I’ve often said that HLAA saved my life. How could I not give back?”
How to get involved
For anyone thinking about getting involved with HLAA, or other organizations that advocate for the hearing loss community, Lisa recommends proceeding at whatever pace feels comfortable.
“When I first joined HLAA, I had no mindset to get involved with advocacy. I simply needed help coping day to day with my hearing loss. I never could have imagined back then that I’d someday end up as president of the chapter!”
Lisa adds that people shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or to vent any frustrations, because chances are, most of the people in the room will relate. Being in a community of people who understand what you’re going through offers support, information, and an opportunity to learn from others. They become your allies.
“Together, we can do so much to not only help each other, but also the entire hearing loss community.”
Interested? Visit: http://www.hearingloss.org/content/convention