Barbara Johnson is one of two Seen & Heard profiles in the July/August 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I met and photographed Barbara at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island.
Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.
Newton, Massachusetts / Born March 23 in Lowell, Massachusetts
MY HEARING LOSS… I stopped cheating on my hearing tests in the fourth grade. Each year the school nurse gathered us in her office where we’d put on heavy rubber headphones and I would raise my hand when I saw the other kids raising theirs. I finally realized the point of this test and stopped raising my hand unless I actually heard the tone.
Hearing loss runs in my family—four out of my five brothers have serious hearing loss and I am the one sister out of four who has hearing loss. My oldest brother wears two hearing aids. My second brother has bilateral cochlear implants. My fourth and fifth brothers are deaf in one ear.
We didn’t talk about our hearing loss when I was growing up. My loss was essentially untreated until I decided this year, at 51, to get my first cochlear implant. I still have about 30 percent residual hearing in my non-implanted ear.
I’m very new with my cochlear implant, activated March 23, 2012, on my birthday. It’s exciting and challenging.
SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Talk about it. Find out what technology can help you, such as hearing aids, assistive listening devices, captioning, CART. Figure out what you need to communicate your best and ask others in your life to help. Seek out others who also have hearing loss. They’re out there and it’s so helpful to connect with someone else who really “gets it.”
WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… a teacher, a ballerina, or a stewardess (yes, that’s what we called flight attendants when I was a kid).
THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… get a cochlear implant. It’s a big deal!
MY LITTLE-KNOWN TALENT IS… drinking coffee in the shower.
HOBBIES? dance, photography, foreign language study, backpack travel to far-flung corners of the globe
PETS? Hank the Cairn terrier, who thinks he’s a cat; Scooter the Jack Russell, who would love to eat a cat; Hildie the Aussie shepherd, who is a scaredy-cat; and Anoush, the Shitzu-terrier mix, who just cuddles better than a cat
I DEFINITELY AM NOT… a couch potato!
WORKING NINE TO FIVE… lifeguard, cashier, ice cream scooper, computer programmer, IT project manager
HAPPINESS IS… hanging out with my husband and four dogs.
MY FAVORITE SEASON IS… summer. I love being outside anywhere on the New England coast, especially the Outer Cape.
I AM… optimistic, energetic and fun.
I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… home-baked goods.
I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… connect with others no matter who they are and find common ground.
I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… coffee.
MY THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS ARE… my MacBook Air, orange ballet flats and my paid-for car!
IF I RULED THE WORLD… there would be mandatory global travel for all! Get to know the world, people!
MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to make peace with my hearing loss. (Right now we’re kind of fighting…)
MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IS… being successful in life and love while living with a severe hearing loss.
I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as a kind, loving, helpful and positive person who made a difference in someone’s life.
I love reading other peoples’ stories in Hearing Loss Magazine and encourage the publication to reach out to readership on a regular basis for input and ideas.