Can you help me?
I have been going through this website for several days now, and have never seen anything related to my situation. My husband is seriously considering relocating to St. Croix for a new position. We are in our early 50s. I am very established and comfortable in my career on the mainland. My problem is that I am hearing impaired and wear behind the ear aids (very high degree of amplification). I read lips, but it is sometimes very difficult for me to understand people with accents. I have, at times, been called rude or snobbish, but that is because I did not hear someone or understand what was being said to me. I do not walk around with a sign that says, "hearing impaired" and this type of disabiltiy is not readilly apparent to people. I want to support my husband in his career and better our life, but I do not want to allienate myself or the people that I will be living with and around. I also do not want to offend people. Since I will be the one dealing with setting up the household while my husband works, I am very concerned about this.
I also need to know that there are places that handle hearing aids, since they do break down frequently, and can sometimes take 2 weeks to repair even on the mainland. That would leave me in total isolation.
I hope that you understand my situation. You have all been very helpful with all your information. St. Croix seems like a wonderful place to call home. I am just not so sure that I will be able to fit in.
I've been watching this post for a few hours hoping someone with island experience would respond. I know you don't wear a sign that says "hearing impaired", but I'm sure a polite "I'm sorry, but I don't hear well enough to understand you" would be fine. Those of us who can hear well sometimes are a little slow to figure it out on our own. I knew a fellow years ago who could not hear at all and he carried a little notepad. The first page simply said "I'm sorry but I can't hear you", then he and the other person could "talk" by writing on the pages of the notepad. That's how I met him and we talked to each other for years that way. I never saw or heard of him having a problem with someone.
Susan: There is an audiologist who splits her time between St Croix and St Thomas. Her name is Judith Hirsch- 340-773-8801 on St Croix. On St Thomas, she is associated with Adam Shapiro,M.D., the (only) ENT. He has a website: www.entvi.com. You might be able to contact her through it.
TTY service is available:
I don't know about hearing aid repair but I suspect that you can find someone who does here:
Programs for Children and Youth who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Carrie S. Johns, Acting State Director
State Office of Special Education
Special Education/Department of Education
1834 Kongens Gade
St. Thomas, VI 00802-6746
You've been given great advice thus far and there will probably be more to come. Continue to research this website about general moving and I think you'll get the gist.
The islands are a real conglomerate of people, many of whom suffer from disabilities of one kind or another and yours is relatively minor. Of course you'll encounter idiots (and I say "idiots" as a panacea expression because this is an open forum) who'll not understand your problem but Tony Straight's experience probably hit home.
Be not afeared! All the very best to you!
Thank you all for your responses and your understanding. You have pointed me in the right direction, and I will continue to do my own research. STT Resident, I am sorry that you believe my disability to be "minor". As someone who was born with this impairment and who has lived with this physical challenge for 50 years, all I can say is please remember that blindess keeps you away from things, deafness keeps you away from people.
While it is a challenge being hearing impaired in the islands, I don't believe it will be significantly more challenging than where you are now. I often don't understand the local pronunciation even without a hearing impairment, and I can't say how it may be for you to lip read. However, I do know there are quite a few who use American Sign Language to communicate. Usually, most people will be very understanding and helpful when they know you have difficulty hearing, and will not be alienated or offended. Just don't be afraid to let them know if they don't pick up on it right away. You will find almost everyone will be very generous and hospitable... it is their way.
For hearing people, the difference between them and the hearing impaired (and visa versa) is often viewed as merely a language difference and a cultural difference, that can be overcome with good communication (whether by ASL, lip reading, writing notes, etc.), and understanding. I'm sure STT Resident meant your impairment was minor in that context and in no way intended to diminish the gravity of your disability.
Sorry that you took offence at my wording. I did say, "relatively minor" in context and meant in no way to dismiss your impairment!
As someone who grew up in STT, and someone who now works with the hearing impaired population, i understand your concerns. You've received some great feedback already; here are some points that came to mind as i read your post:
1) Contact Judith Hirsch as recommended - just this week i interacted with her on a professional matter and she was incredibly helpful.
2) Do a little research to see if there are support or social groups for individuals with hearing loss and hearing aids on the island.
3) It sounds as if you might be hesitant to admit that you have a hearing loss, as is the case with many people. Trust me when i say that, in the end, others will figure it out, but only after they've assumed that you are "rude" or "snobbish" (as has been your experience), or something perhaps even worse, if you respond inappropriately to something you "thought" you heard. When you are having difficultly hearing someone, don't say "I can't hear you", as it will result only in the person shouting at you and maybe a little faster because they will think you simply missed it. Be specific: "I'm sorry, I have a hearing loss, can you say that again a little more slowly?". This is your best bet for not offending people and/or alienating yourself.
4) I have normal hearing and trouble with accents. I have said on occasion "I'm sorry, I have the hardest time with accents, can you say that again?". I also sometimes have to use closed captions for british movies. Having trouble with island accents with your hearing loss is bound to happen. Your best bet is to prepare yourself by developing compensatory strategies (as you are doing).The audiologist can help with other strategies you can utilize in various listening situations.
5) Invest in a dry-aid unit to extend the life of your hearing aids, as it will absorb the moisture that is bound to accumulate throughout the day.
Best of luck!!
I hope this might help you. I also have a hearing problem. I wear a (micro Savia )made by Phonak hearing systems. These our relatively new on the market less than 2 years. I have not needed any service yet, however the warranty is void if repaired by a hearing care professional in his office. You can mail your equipment from ST. Croix to the mfg overnight mail and repairs completed 24hours upon receipt and mailed back. Check the MFG policy on your equipment. I also lip read, sign a little, and use a partner service animal. ST. Croix is no different than the mainland, you will find some challenges at times but not very often. God put ST. Croix on this planet for all of us, move and enjoy it.