By Lee Pigeau National Executive Director
I have been with CHHA for an entire year now and was asked to write about this year in review. So much has happened that the first draft of this article was just a list of the accomplishments, benchmarks, twists and turns and bumps in the road. It was no more reflective than a grocery list.
Something did strike me as being particularly significant, and that was the number of meetings, webinars, and events I attended on a virtual platform. Like all meetings, some were critical to CHHA’s ongoing success, and others were well…. just meetings.
In 1999, I did my first ever video meeting: an interview for a new job across the country with a university. The school had arranged for me to go to another institute across town from where I lived, and I sat in a huge classroom with thousands of dollars in equipment and an on-site tech person. I spoke to an interview panel four provinces away. I was amazed and excited, even though the video cut out halfway through the interview. Jumping ahead to 2021, video conferencing has not only become commonplace but essential. We can all access the same technology in different varieties on our phones and computers now. Thankfully, captioning is included free for most of these software applications and is available to each user, not just the person running the meeting or the tech expert behind the scenes.
CHHA’s efforts in removing barriers to communication and accessing needed resources are kind of like the 1999 video conferencing platform. What we are doing is helpful, needed, but just getting started. We published a guide to using these technologies and introduced free Zoom captioning in Canada to our members earlier than scheduled. We are advocating with government services, broadcasters, the transportation sector, and workplaces to integrate better (accurate) captioning into our daily lives. There is so much more on the horizon as better technologies, provincial and federal legislation, and general awareness makes removing barriers easier. We will continue to bring these issues to the fore.
CHHA also has launched our e-store to provide another choice for consumers looking for hearing health products, a choice that has the benefit of providing funds right back into our operations so that we can serve you better. Our mentorship program expanded across Canada, assisting individuals who are just starting their journey with hearing loss by matching them with peers who have expertise and experience.
Just as our members and networks are working together to provide practical solutions and positive outcomes, CHHA National reaches out and partners with dozens of other charities, schools, businesses, and coalitions around the globe to address larger issues around hearing health. We continue to raise awareness to ensure that the ‘invisible’ disability’s hearing loss is not overlooked.
Looking forward to 2022, we will need to address so many issues and opportunities that the cooperation and passion of our network leaders, members, volunteers, and staff team will be more vital than it has been since our inception. I am excited about this because I’ve seen how well we’ve worked together in our first year – things can only get better together.