When you design for disability, you design for everyone

"I come as one, but stand as 10,000 to the 10th power!" - Maya Angelou.

I get letters from people around the world who have hearing challenges themselves, or are writing on behalf of someone else: a loved one, a child, a friend. I've included a few letters below to give an idea of what these folks are going through in their daily lives, and how today's technology engenders hope and radically changes their world for the better.

Hi KR,
Hope you are well. Just wanted to reach out and say hi and that I've been watching your posts a lot recently both on your hearing loss/disabilities.
 I have not suffered from hearing loss from childhood as you have but 3 years ago before you and I started working together I got tongue cancer which had to be fought with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
One of the side effects of Platinum based Chemo for many is auditory nerve damage which leads to continual Tinnitus and hearing damage. It's definitely been a new world to live in over these last few years and has given me a new appreciation for the things that we sometimes take for granted and for those who never had those things in the first place.
Anyway just wanted to say thanks for continuing to raise the awareness and hope you are doing well.
Dear Kristen,

This has been a great morning! I spend a lot of mornings searching and researching hearing solutions for my daughter who was diagnosed with moderate congenital hearing loss at the age of 3. She is now 16 and a senior in high-school. Over her life, she has tried many hearing aids and has rejected them all - mainly due to the stigma, but more recently due to the poor overall sound quality as she has become quite the musician. 

I am ecstatic beyond words. Your story and accomplishments are so inspiring.

I want her to see the great career opportunities that combine music/sound, computer science and engineering; but more selfishly, I want her to learn about how cool technology is, and gain the confidence to wear them so she can fully experience college without 'missing out' on the many sounds around her.

My premature birth caused my hearing loss: My journey to push for accessible technology

Thirty-eight years ago, I was born three months premature, weighing one and a half pounds. In the left image above, I’m inside an incubator in the ICU—what would become my home for the next few months—weighing in at two pounds. Though she’s not pictured, my twin sister was right next to me, also fighting for survival. Over the next several months, I remained in the ICU, struggling to learn to breathe, with alarms going off as often as 30 times an hour alerting nurses that I was in trouble. I flatlined and came back to life several times. Each minute was a fight to survive.

Reflecting on the tragic police shooting of Daniel Harris

“Blindness separates us from things, but deafness separates us from people.” - Helen Keller

Ever since I was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at the age of three, I’ve had to adapt to a very noisy world by learning how to communicate differently with others. Listening, reading lips, keeping up with conversations—these are all skills I’ve worked hard at perfecting so that I wouldn’t be treated differently or discriminated against for my hearing loss. It took many years for me to become comfortable talking about my hearing loss, but now, I proudly advocate and champion for the hearing health community. However, the recent news of the tragic killing of Daniel Harris, an unarmed deaf man in Charlotte, North Carolina, renewed a sense of fear about why I hid my hearing loss in the first place.