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What is a Conference?

A personal reflection by Myrtle Barrett

There is a conference on hearing loss coming your way! Every year after a conference we get messages about how the CHHA National Conference changed a life. This year it could be yours, or someone you know, so please help spread the word.

A conference means many different things to different people as they gather to explore a life issue or specific topic. Let me tell you about the impact that one conference had on a life – mine. It was a beautiful summer morning and I awoke to the sound of a bird singing. I listened to my favourite music and took extra time with my hair and makeup. I searched the closet for my favourite outfit and I was feeling really good about myself as I headed off to work. I walked into the office and gave my usual morning smile. One of my co-workers said “Wow! You look like you’re expecting something wonderful to happen today.” Jokingly, I replied, “Oh yes, I am expecting one of those life shattering moments that will change my life forever.”

At the end of the day I was deafened.

So, I began my journey as a person with hearing loss. I thought my life was over, and it was – or at least the life I knew before. Then began the screaming, tears, and the frequent “What happens to me now?!”

I felt like I was at rock bottom. Eventually and gradually, I told myself there was nowhere to go but up, so I might as well give it a try. I had to come to terms with the fact that no one was going to make this go away, and that I was in charge of my own destiny. I had to accept that my hearing loss was a part of me, yet did not define me. It was a long climb back up; as I struggled with anger and denial, I really was my own worst enemy. I missed the conversations, the laughter and the sounds around me. I missed my music.

I missed me.

My family, friends and co-workers were at a loss as to what to say or do. I felt alone and helpless, and I was so fearful of my hearing loss because I felt like I was losing my identity. I was losing me.

I had a hard time voicing the words ‘hearing loss’, because once I said them out loud, they would become a reality.

Then my audiologist told me about a conference in Toronto. It was the first meeting of what we now call the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) –and attending it changed my life forever. It was there that I observed people like Charles Laszlo, Marilyn Dahl and Ruth Warick in action. I remember watching them and thinking “Ohmy dear God, what do they have to be happy about – they have hearing loss?” Over the course of the weekend I watched, went to workshops, listened to plenary speakers, and learned about accessibility. Most of all, I looked into people’s eyes and saw the same emotions that I was feeling.

I no longer felt alone! No more need to make excuses, no more need to feel inferior. The people at that conference were living my life, but they were living it better. I had found a way up from rock bottom.

I went home, determined to learn to cope with hearing loss - and believe me, it was not easy, but it was worth it. I saved me and I was a stronger and more confident Myrtle than ever. I’m not sure if it was a case of CHHA finding me, or me finding CHHA, but here I am, still with CHHA thirty two years later.

I can honestly say that I always meet old versions of me at the annual conferences. When I see it in their eyes, I reach out to them and, like I did so many years ago, that person goes home empowered.


So, if you or someone you know is on their own hearing loss journey, please help allow the experience of CHHA 2015 to happen for them.

If you are a professional, come learn about how we go about our daily lives.

If you are a manufacturer or supplier, come and join us to see, firsthand, the fruits of your labour, and how well we wear your technology.

I look forward to seeing you in SIDNEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA at THE MARY WINSPEAR CENTRE, MAY 25-27, 2017. It’s a conference hosted by the CANADIAN HARD OF HEARING ASSOCIATION, and it could be a life-changing moment for you, too.

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Participation is open to anyone interested in hearing loss or working in the field of hearing loss or hearing health related disorders.
Registration for the CHHA National Conference is not yet available. Further details on how to register and registration fees will be published shortly.

Register Online

Use the conference online registration form to register for the conference.

Register by Phone

Use our toll-free number 1-800-263-8068
(or 613-526-1584 if calling from outside Canada)
to register for the conference.

Register by Mail

Print a copy of the conference registration form and mail it with payment to the:
CHHA National Office, 205 - 2415 Holly Lane, Ottawa, Ontario, K1V 7P2
or fax to our number (613) 526-4718
or email us at

Payment can be made by a credit card (VISA or MasterCard) or cheque/money order. If paying by cheque/money order, make cheques payable to: CHHA Conference. All persons intending to attend the CHHA Conference must register, including workshop presenters. All prices are in Canadian dollars and include tax.


The CHHA National Conference 2017 will held from May 25-27, 2017 at the Mary Winspear Centre.
2243 Beacon Avenue, Sidney, BC V8L 1W9


Schedule for the CHHA National Conference 2017 is not yet available. Further details on the dates and times will be published shortly.


Exhibitor information for the CHHA National Conference 2017 is not yet available. Further details will be published shortly.