Carole Willans

Carole Willans

Head shot 2021

Carole is a past president of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA), and the current president of CHHA’s Foundation. She is also currently a special advisor for the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) and the editor of the IFHOH Journal. She has a great deal of experience mentoring young lawyers, as well as people with disabilities., including persons living with hearing loss.

What motivated you to join CHHA?

At first, I wanted to learn how to be the best hard of hearing person I could be. I am still learning that every day, and now I also like to give back, for example through CHHA’s mentoring program.

What is your favorite part of volunteering?

 My favourite part about volunteering is spending time around people who “get it”. It gives me the courage to face the rest of the world!! Some days, it takes a lot of energy to deal with individuals, businesses and organizations who do not have experience dealing with people like us. However, it is important not to acquire an us vs. them attitude. We are all human beings trying to live the best life we can. Showing empathy to others opens the doors for a better world for everyone.

In what capacity do you volunteer for the network?

 As a volunteer for the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH), I communicate with persons who are living with hearing loss around the world. It is a humbling and fascinating experience, learning for example how difficult it is to just get access to an audiologist or to get a hearing aid if you are a youth in Uganda or Kenya. I have a good friend in Algeria whom I have never met, but with whom I discuss what it means to have hearing loss in the Maghreb. Being hard of hearing is a shared experience with commonalities no matter where we live on the planet. However some people are more fortunate than others.

What is your vison for CHHA?

My wish for CHHA is for it to thrive and to become a household name, for everyone to be aware of its existence and how it can literally save people’s lives – – and make life feel like it is totally worth living, with all its joys and tribulations.

What would like to see the organization achieve in one or three years?

I would like to see CHHA achieve a greater membership that reflects the diversity of the Canadian mosaic, including people from all three founding nations, and the diversity of people who chose to immigrate to Canada.

Do you have a message you wish to share with the membership?

Our first contact with CHHA is usually out of a desire to improve our own lives.  Most of us soon realize that sharing what we learn with others is its own reward and helps to give value to our lives.