The billboard on I-77 South recently caught my eye - “6 ft shouldn’t sound like 60 feet apart,” it read. Hearing loss exacerbated is yet another effect of COVID. People with hearing impairments can sometimes get by with lip-reading, but masks have made that almost impossible.
Therefore, Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center (CSHC)’s Giving Tuesday’s goal is to raise awareness of and funds for their mission- to provide the gift of speech and hearing to all those in need in the Charlotte community, regardless of income or other barriers.
Hearing and speech-language disorders affect more than 40 million Americans. CSHC provides over 100,000 services to nearly 4,000 individuals every year and works with all ages: not only in their two clinics but also across the community in childcare facilities, charter schools, and homes, working in tandem with caregivers, parents, teachers and other professionals to best serve their patients. Over 100 individuals have received hearing aids through CSHC in 2020, and are now able to continue working and enjoying life thanks to the gift of hearing.
After pivoting for COVID, they now offer drive-up hearing services. This summer, a Charlottean, Connie, heard reports that her mother was no longer attending community events in her assisted living community. Her mother withdrew at the same time people began wearing masks, not out of fear, but avoidance. She could no longer lip-read, making it especially difficult for her to compensate for her hearing loss as she had for the past 5 years. Her daughter, Connie, heard about CSHC’s drive-up hearing services, and they came for an appointment. To make patients safe and comfortable while staying in their cars, CSHC offers hearing screening services from your vehicle. After their visit, Connie’s mother was able to get hearing aids in August, and she’s now once again meeting together with her social community, masked, of course.
People don’t realize how hearing loss affects one’s overall well being. Hearing loss and hearing impairment affect physical safety and cognitive function - the brain is interpreting those sounds...the brain is working overtime to try and figure out what’s going on in one’s environment, inhibiting response time, affecting one’s balance and equilibrium.
Hearing services are not the only remote services offered by CSHC. As the school year mostly has consisted of computer screens for the majority of students within the Charlotte region, Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center has begun offering Speech-Language Teletherapy services. Not only does Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center’s Hearing Services Bank program offer hearing aids on a sliding fee scale based on the patient's income, but their Assistance Fund offsets the cost of Speech Therapy based on patients’ income.
“Our Giving Tuesday campaign is focused on providing access to care; income should not be a barrier to the ability to communicate, especially during these difficult times.” Kirsten Gantt, Marketing Manager explained to me. “If someone wants to support us, they can make a monetary or in-kind donation - games and arts and crafts supplies for speech language therapy, cleaning supplies to keep our clinics safe to continue seeing patients in person.”
If you are interested in helping share the cost for other Charlotteans’ hearing or speech services, more information about CSHC’s Hearing Services Bank or Assistance Fund can be found here. Their in-kind donation needs are also outlined on their Amazon Wish List.
DID YOU KNOW:
Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center is in the running to win $5K courtesy of the Amy and Brian France Foundation! If you want to support their curical work right now -and in just a few clicks- you can VOTE NOW for this orgnaization to take the grand prize.
#GivingTuesdayCLT is just around the corner- mark you calendar and don't miss the chance to be part of the globe's largest day of generosity when you give locally through givingtuesdayclt.org on December 1st!