Pat Dobbs started to lose her hearing when she was 20 and today is the happy recipient of bilateral cochlear implant. Through most of her life she bought into the stigma of hearing loss until finally she came to terms with it.
Then she launched the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Morris County Chapter in New Jersey, serving as president. She also attended Gallaudet University’s two-year peer mentoring program. Inspired by this program, she designed and facilitated a series of workshops on managing hearing loss, and began coaching practice focusing on the unique personal, career and relationship challenges unique to people with hearing loss.
Pat is the President of SayWhatClub, a global, online hearing loss support group and a new resident of Deer Isle, Maine where she is looking to start a hearing loss support group.
I was a classic late-bloomer, I spent thirty years of my business career selling mainframe solutions. It was only after I launched the “Hearing Loss Revolution and Its Nine Guiding Principles”, that I discovered my true calling: Advocating for people with hearing loss.
Thank you to evryone that has helped me realize this dream.
See video about Pat here.
Losing My Hearing Over Forty Years
I was born with perfect hearing. At 20, my hearing started to decline and continued to gradually decline for the next three decades. By my late fifties, I had a profound hearing loss. Hearing aids weren’t able to give me the help I needed and understanding speech became a challenge.
If I had been up front about my hearing loss and advocated for myself, I would have been OK. But I didn’t want people to know I couldn’t hear. I wanted my hearing aids to be as inconspicuous as possible - invisible would have been best! Yes – I was vain. My biggest concern was people would associate my hearing loss with negative stereotypes : slow, stupid, out of it, and, the unthinkable - OLD.
The consequences of keeping my hearing loss hidden made my life situation worse. I did a lot of “fake” hearing. I pretended to understand what people were saying, by reading their facial expressions, picking up a few words here and there, and trying to put the meaning all together. That is fine if you make the right guess but not if you are wrong.
Communicating became exhausting and frustrating. I started dropping out of social situations, became withdrawn and depressed. I wanted nothing less than a magical cure and in a sense I got one - a cochlear implant.
Getting a cochlear implants is a personal decision and not for everyone. My decision was based on desperation – nothing could get worse!
National Speaking Engagements:
HLAA National Conventions
ALDA National Convention
SayWhat National Convention
Kean University, Montclair State University
and Drew University
Started and President HLAA-Morris County
HLAA-NJ - Trustee
HLAA Representative to NJ Department of Deaf and Hard of Hearing
SNAP Peer Mentor
Wrote and present workshops on:
Hearing Loss Revolution and its Nine Guiding Principles
Coming to Terms with Hearing Loss (Six-session on-site)
Coming to Terms with Hearing Loss (Six-session on-line workshop with no oral)
The Miracle of the Cochlear Implant
In 2010, I received my first cochlear implant. As my other ear continued to decline, I got my second implant in 2015. Today I hear in the average range – not perfectly but I can easily enjoy conversations; hear birds singing, rain falling, breezes blowing and more. As the result of my 2nd implant, I have the joy of being able to localize sounds.
Onward to the Hearing Loss Evolution!
For me, my greatest disability has been my hearing loss. It’s also been my greatest gift. As I began to hear better, take advantage of assistive listening devices and learn how to advocate for myself, demanding to hear and be heard, I realized something I’d never truly acknowledged to myself: as a person with hearing loss, when I didn't tell people about my hearing loss and bluffed instead, I had been contributing to the myths and misconceptions people have about this invisible disability.
I decided to take a stand in the community, challenging these prevailing myths and misconceptions. As I do this work, I realize how much we lose, not simply because we can’t hear well, but because we let ourselves believe we are “less than” people with good hearing, that it’s OK if we isolate ourselves, pretend we’re hearing when we’re not, and do all the things we hate when they are done to us.
Today, I use my personal experiences with hearing loss, corporate sales, and education to advocate for people with hearing loss. It’s my pleasure and delight to share these gifts with you through the services I offer.
Welcome to the Hearing Loss Evolution!