The Cost Of Hearing Aids

Today, I wanted to talk about the cost of hearing aids. Let me ask you hearing people how much do you think we deaf people pay for hearing aids. Just take a wild guess. I’ll wait.

If you thought $500-$1000, you’d be wrong. A good quality digital hearing aid can cost anywhere from $1000 to $5000 EACH hearing aid, depending on the severity of the hearing problem. I said EACH hearing aid because many deaf people wear a hearing aid in each ear, so their cost could be anywhere from $2000 to $10000 for a set of two hearing aids. That’s a lot of money involved right there.

And yet – many insurance companies will not cover the cost of hearing aids. Why? Because they consider them to be “optional” like, say, a nose job or other types of plastic surgery. Which is bullshit in my opinion. It’s not an option for us deaf people to wear a hearing aid. It’s a MUST.

I only wear a hearing aid in my right ear, which still has about 25% hearing left in it. My left ear is a near total loss, so I don’t wear anything in that ear. I used to wear an older $500 analog hearing aid, but when it died a few years ago, I dreaded have to pay a couple grand or so for a new digital hearing aid. I didn’t want another analog hearing aid because all it does is amplify everything around me and I mean everything such as background noise when I’m trying to have a conversation with someone.

So I looked into the cost of a digital hearing aid. I stopped at a local audiologist to talk about it. I had a hearing test and nothing changed from my last test. 90% loss in the left ear and 75% loss in right ear. Then the audiologist surprised me with something. She showed me a used Phonak Supero, an entry level digital hearing aid with one program. She said it was sold to her from the estate of a deaf man who passed away. And that I could buy it at cost for just $120. I was like, sold. I went through a trial period in which a few adjustments were made and in time, I liked it. It was my first ever digital hearing aid after wearing an analog hearing aid for much of my life. While it’s an entry level digital hearing aid, it was far better than the analog hearing aid that I used to have. It filtered out many of the background noise around me, which allowed me to focus on my conversation with my companion.

But even though I like I’m wearing now, I know there are better models out there with far more features such as Bluetooth and the ability to program it via an app on a smart phone and that is just for starters. But those hearing aids are definitely not cheap.Ā  With no insurance to at least help defray the cost, most deaf people are stuck wearing entry level hearing aids or none at all.

The subject of the cost of hearing aids came up during some comments on a photo on Instagram. Jessica Flores, a deaf YouTuber, posted a photo of her hearing aids that she decorated and the cost of hearing aids were discussed among the comments in the photo.

“I got lucky with mine because I worked at a place for 3 plus years and they set money aside to cover any medical expenses that I had,” said Jessica. “I didn’t use it at all when I was working, so when I left, I had enough money to buy new ones. But I’m not sure if I’ll have enough in the next 5 years when I need to get another pair.”

That is the reality that we deaf people face today – trying to find the money to pay for new hearing aids because they are not normally covered by insurance. I would not mind paying a deductible or copayment or even a percentage of the cost of the hearing aid like I would for any other medical expense. $500 would be acceptable to me with insurance covering the rest.

But sadly, that is not the case. Hopefully someday this will change. And I think the only way for this to change is to get the word out to your local lawmakers and try to pass a bill to require the insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids like they would on other medical expenses.

I want to thank Jessica Flores for her input on the cost of hearing aids. Check out Jessica’s YouTube channel where she advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing.

A message was sent to a representative at Phonak, a hearing aid manufacturer, to attempt to get a comment for this article. The message was not returned. If I do hear back from Phonak, I’ll write a follow up article.

Until then, stay tuned šŸ™‚

Serving The Deaf In Restaurants

Today, I’d like to talk about serving deaf people in restaurants.

Myself, I’m fortunate to be able to speak and hear (somewhat) despite being deaf. So I have no problems ordering food at a restaurant,Ā  whether it is a sit down place or a fast food place. Every now and then, I do get the occasional server who may be looking down at her notepad while she is talking so I can’t read her lips. Or the sever may talk too fast like “Doyouwantfrieswiththat?” and I’m like, what???

As long as the sever faces me and talks clearly, I have no problem ordering food at restaurants. But what about the deaf people who cannot hear at all and do not speak? Usually they communicate by sign language.

Just as there are many different spoken and written languages (English, French, Spanish, etc), there are also many different types of sign languages. There is American Sign Language. There is British Sign Language. And so on. Today, we’ll talk about using American Sign Language (ASL) in a restaurant..

Typically, a deaf person may write down what he wants to eat or point at an item on a menu. But the sever still has to communicate with the deaf customer. To make things easier for the deaf customer, it might be helpful for the server to know many common phrases in ASL when serving a customer such as “May I take your order?”

This YouTube video is a great tutorial for learning some common phrases used in restaurants when using ASL. I’m not saying a server has to be fluent in sign language. But it will go a long way with the deaf customer if the sever at least makes an effort to learn some common phrases used in a restaurant to communicate with that deaf customer. The deaf customer will most likely be happy with the service, leave a nice tip and perhaps come back again.

If you are a server reading this and live in another country, find out what form of sign language is used in your area, do a search on YouTube for that specific sign language for servers, and take the time to learn it.Ā  Your deaf customers will most certainly thank you šŸ™‚

As always, leave a comment below or drop a message on my Facebook page. Until next time, stay tuned šŸ™‚

Benefits Of Being Deaf

While being deaf has its challenges such as making phone calls, sitting in meetings, etc., it also has its benefits. I’ll outline a few below.

Sleeping – When I go to bed, I remove my hearing aid. So I can’t hear a thing. Which allows me to sleep like a baby. šŸ™‚ There could be a raging thunderstorm going on outside and I would not know it. If there are a lot of lightning flashes outside my bedroom window, I might wake up from that. But even then, that doesn’t happen often, especially since I work nights and sleep days.

Especially since I sleep days, being deaf has its advantages there. My neighbor could be cutting the grass right next to my house and I would not hear it šŸ™‚ And as I live on a highway, I get lots of traffic in front of my house and I don’t hear them either as I sleep šŸ™‚

Exempt From Jury Duty – Because I’m deaf, I’m also permanently excused from jury duty. When I got my first jury summons many years ago, I had my doctor write a note to excuse me from jury duty. As a deaf person, there is no way I can follow court proceedings.

Which is just as well because I have no desire to sit in a courtroom for hours watching two sharks in $2000 suits present their case. I don’t think I could do that, even if I was hearing.

Noisy Distractions – Being deaf also allows me to block out any noise around me by turning off my hearing aid. If I want some peace and quiet while reading a book, for example, I can just turn off my hearing aid and read in peace. Or if I’m at a restaurant and there’s a bratty child crying his lungs out because his mom would not let him have ice cream, I can turn off my hearing aid and block that out šŸ™‚

Airplane Boarding – This is one benefit that I feel bad about sometimes. Since I can’t hear my group number being called while waiting to board an airplane, I have to tell the gate attendant that I’m deaf and cannot hear my group number when it’s time to board. So the gate attendant would let me preboard along with the other disabled people. The problem is, I don’t consider myself disabled. I don’t look disabled either. So I got some disapproving looks when boarding my plane going to Los Angeles and back home last month. But nothing I can do about that.

Some airlines would sometimes post the “group number now boarding” on the monitor by the gate. Others don’t. If I do use an airline that posts the group number on the monitor, I’m than happy to wait with the other passengers. But I also have no problem being able to board before everyone else either if I have to šŸ™‚

These benefits are all I can think off right now. I’m sure there’s more that I have not thought off yet. If any other deaf people have other benefits to being deaf, post a comment or send me a message at my Facebook Page.

Until then, stay tuned šŸ™‚



Deaf People And Drive Throughs

Last year, I made a comment on Facebook about deaf people going through drive throughs and how difficult it is for them to do that. That comment came up on “On This Day” on my Facebook profile today, so I thought this would make a good subject for today’s blog entry.

Even though I can speak and I can hear (somewhat), I still have my own issues going through a drive through at a fast food place. For one thing, there is no person for me to face and read lips. Pretty much everything sounds the same when not reading lips, which is why I don’t make phone calls either.

Years ago, drive throughs had those old speakers that would have too much static on it and garbling the order taker’s words too much. In addition to that, there was no confirmation screen next to the speaker. Whenever I would have to go through one of those drive throughs, it was hit or miss if I got my order right and it was a lot more miss than hit. I would avoid drive throughs for that reason alone and would only use it if I had to, such as if I had small children in the car with me or if the dining area is closed.

Today, most modern drive throughs have clear sounds on their speakers and have an order confirmation screen. My kids are now grown and I’m usually the only one in my vehicle. However, I still avoid them whenever I can. I usually walk inside a fast food place to get my food as it is a lot easier for me. But if I want the late night munchies, then yeah, I’ll go through the drive through.

Even with clear sounds on the speaker, I still have a hard time understanding the order taker. So I listen for key words like “One moment, I’ll be right with you.” or “Good evening. May I take your order?” If I hear those key words in the latter phrase, then I’ll say something like “I’ll have the #2 cheeseburger combo with a coke.”

I then wait for the order to pop up on the confirmation screen and if it matches what I said, I say, “That’s it.” and I pull up to the window to pay. I’ll have my money ready because the confirmation screen also indicates the amount that I owe. IĀ  don’t usually have any issues ordering at a drive through this way. But even then, I still prefer to go inside.

At least I can still use a drive through if needed. But what about the deaf people who can’t hear or speak? I’m curious to know what do they have to do. I know sometimes they can just pull up to the window and write down what they want, but I’d like to know their experiences on this subject. Please comment below, message me at my Facebook Page or email me at and I’ll do a followup to this article if I get enough comments.

Until then, stay tuned šŸ™‚

Not All Deaf People Know Sign Language

I wanted to put this out there – not all deaf people know sign language. I’m one of those deaf people that do not know sign language. Yes, I know some signs, but I’m nowhere near fluent. This subject came up when a video was posted on Facebook that was entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). I mentioned that the video didn’t have captions. It did have captions, but it wasn’t working on my end. Any video posted on Facebook sucks for captions. But that’s a topic I’ll discuss another time.

Anyways, some guy commented that since I’m deaf, I still should be able to understand the video since it is in ASL. I commented back that while I’m deaf, I do not know sign language. I was deaf at the age of 2 and grew up in the mainstream hearing world. I went through speech therapy to learn to communicate verbally. I did learn some signing later on, but not enough to carry on a conversation.

And I’m not the only one. There are lots of other deaf and hard of hearing people who don’t know sign language at all or only know bits and pieces.

And yet, this guy insisted we deaf people should know sign language.Ā  It’s not the first time that I’ve dealt with this misconception about the deaf and hard of hearing people and it certainly won’t be the last. I’ll be making a video on my YouTube channel to talk about this subject in more detail. For now, I just wanted to put this out there – not all deaf people know sign language. Please don’t go assuming that they do. Thank you.

Stay tuned for further updates on this topic.

Los Angeles Vacation: My First Experiences With Uber

Today I’ll talk about using Uber for the first time. For those of you who do not know what a Uber is, it’s basically a ride sharing service and an app for a smart phone is required to use it. More information can be found on the Uber website.

 I’ve had the Uber app on my phone for several months in the hopes that the Marinette-Menominee area
(where I live) would have it. I even heard rumors about Uber coming to my area. But the rumors turned out to be untrue.

Still, I left the app on my phone even before I booked my Los Angeles trip because it would be nice to have if I was out of town visiting cities that has Uber. Once my trip to LA was confirmed, I knew the app would be useful.

The first time I used Uber, it was on Tuesday, July  18. I was not scheduled to see my family until later that evening. I had the day to myself, so I decided to do some hiking. I had Will Rogers State Park on my to-do list almost from the day that I booked this vacation. More on my day on Will Rogers Park on a future post.

I looked at the Uber app on my phone and read the FAQ’s so I can understand how to use it. I then went outside of my hotel and waited by the entrance. I fired up the Uber app and looked at the app. I was like, wow. There are several Ubers driving around in the vicinity of my hotel. On the map, they are represented by little icons of a vehicle driving around the map. I thought that was cool and I regret not getting a screen shot of the map.

I picked my destination as Will Rogers State Park and picked my pickup point as my hotel. I then chose the standard Uber Ride and sent in my request. The app immediately told me it is looking for a nearby driver. About 30 seconds later, a driver was located and is on its way. And within 2-3 minutes, the Uber pulled up. I was impressed. I’m so used to waiting 30 minutes to an hour back home for a taxi. 

The Uber driver took me to Will Rogers park and dropped me off by the visitors center at the park. The ride was about 11-12 miles and took about a half hour through the crowded LA freeways. Once the driver dropped me off, the cost of the ride was charged to my PayPal account (my preferred method of payment.). The cost? Just $15 and change for the ride. That’s cheap for how long it took to get there and the distance as well. I was immediately sold on Uber.

After my hike, it was time to go home. I booted up the app to request a ride back to the hotel. I choose my hotel as my destination and as for my pickup point, there was a few spots at the state park for pickups. I walked over to a Uber preferred pick up spot about a hundred yards away from the visitors center, marked myself on the map, and sent in my request. Within 30 seconds a driver was found. He was like 5-7 miles away and his ETA was like 9-11 minutes. I could see his car on the map and can track his progress as he makes his way to me.

The driver arrived within 11 minutes of sending in my request. Considering I was at a park kinda out of the way, that was still impressive.  And it still was faster than calling for a taxi back home – LOL. The ride back to my hotel took about the same time as the ride there and was another 15 bucks.

I used Uber 3 other times during my stay in LA. The next day, I was set to go to Griffith Park Observatory with my dad. He texted me with an ETA sometime after 12pm. It was 11am when I got the text and right after I received that text, my hearing aid beeped with a low battery warning. I was like, crap, I forgot to pack spare batteries. I looked at the Google Maps app on my phone to see if there was a nearby CVS so I can get spare batteries. There was one about 2 miles away. Too long to walk there and back.

So I went out of my hotel, requested another Uber to take me to CVS and within a minute, a driver pulled up in front of the hotel. It only took like 6 or 7 minutes to get to CVS. I was only charged 6 bucks for the ride. Now that’s cheap when I consider it cost 8 bucks flat rate for a taxi ride back home in Marinette and Menominee. 

Once I got the hearing aid batteries at CVS, I requested another Uber. One showed up within 3 minutes of requesting it and took me back to the hotel and another 6 bucks was charged to my PayPal account.

I used Uber again to take me back to the airport after checking out of my hotel and saying goodbye to my family. The driver showed up within a few minutes after I requested it. The ride to the airport, which was about 10 miles away, only took about 15 minutes on the congested freeway. Despite the amount of cars, traffic still moved and did not stop at all. The driver dropped me off at my terminal and the cost was only 13 dollars and change. 

I was very impressed with Uber overall. It even has a ratings system for both the driver and the rider. The ratings system is based on a 5 star rating. Every one of the drivers that picked me up had an average rating of 4.7 stars or better. I had no issues with any of my rides and gave them all a 5 star rating. In addition to that, each driver gave me a 5 star rating as a rider. I was proud that I earned 5 stars on each of my rides. I know a perfect 5 star rating won’t last. I’m sure I’ll encounter a driver that might be an asshole who thinks I might have shut the door too hard or maybe I tracked in some dirt into his vehicle or something. But no one’s perfect and I’m sure eventually I’ll be given less than a 5 star rating as a rider. 

The nice thing about Uber is that I can do it all from an app. No phone calls needed. Great for deaf people like myself. It’s one of the reasons why I hate taxis back home. Only one taxi service takes taxi requests by text message and they are not always available. The rest, I would either have to ask a friend to call for me or use a telecommunications relay service to call the taxi for me. I dislike having to do either.

I really hope we get a Uber in my hometown, but that is not very likely. But I’ll be keeping the app on my phone for my future trips out of town. If you are planning on a trip to a large city and need a way to get around, give Uber a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll write about my visits with my dad and sister. Until the, stay tuned šŸ™‚