‘The Deaf Mama’ helps parents find accessible products, inspires self-advocacy
After Emily found out she was pregnant, like most moms, she began to build her baby registry. As she looked for baby monitors, she noticed that they all relied on hearing. Where were the resources for deaf and hard of hearing parents? This was the start of The Deaf Mama blog.
“Much to my surprise there was almost nothing at all,” she says. “I wanted video, audio, and vibration options for sleeping at night. My search led to underwhelming results and I was frustrated with the search,” she says.
Inspired by her search, Emily decided to create her own list of baby monitors for deaf and hard of hearing parents, which led to her to create her blog.
“I created the website just to make an up-to-date list of monitors for deaf and HoH parents and decided to fill it out a little more with a blog and some other equipment suggestion pages,” Emily says. “My list of monitors is much shorter than I’d like it to be, but it’s by far my most popular page and is actually (last I checked) already the second Google result for ‘baby monitors for deaf parents,’ which goes to show how little is out there.”
“I created the website just to make an up-to-date list of monitors for deaf and HoH parents and decided to fill it out a little more with a blog and some other equipment suggestion pages.”
After starting the blog, Emily says she has learned more about her identity as a deaf person. On her blog, she talks about embracing her hearing loss identity and learning more about the D/deaf and hard of hearing community.
“I’ve found that I have much more open conversations about hearing loss with others now, and I still have a lot to learn!” she says.
Has anyone tried the Baby Monitor 3G app and its ability to have your smartphone vibrate upon alert? Hoping to try it out soon! https://t.co/znhlxXV8Hd— the deaf mama (@thedeafmama) 5. Januar 2018
Emily’s hearing loss
Emily was born with a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. She has a moderate to severe loss in her left ear and severe to profound in her right ear. Because mandatory newborn hearing tests did not existing back in 1986, Emily’s hearing loss wasn’t discovered until she was 15 months old. It was a shock to her family because there is no hereditary loss in their family.
She wears one hearing aid in her left ear and uses hearing loops when in public places such as airports. She says she’s also interested in using hearing aid accessories, which can enhance listening experiences in difficult environments.
“Ever since I started participating in community discussions, such as #hearinglosshour on Twitter, I’ve learned a LOT about more options that I’m very interested in pursuing. Most recently, I learned about streaming systems, which would be great for when I go running so that I don’t have to try and work with headphones or a T-coil hook.”
Emily also speaks and uses lip-reading as her modes of communication.
Self-advocacy for parents with hearing loss
As Emily continues on her parenting journey, she says she is learning more about her personal hearing loss journey, including how to advocating for herself, even when she was giving birth.
“I won’t try to speak for those women that are totally deaf and rely on sign language, but I would suggest really advocating for yourself and making sure people know about your loss,” she says. “From your OBGYN, nurses, pediatrician, pharmacist, other new moms. When I went into the hospital and had my son in March, the hospital had a sign on my door to please speak clearly and look at me when talking, which was a big help, especially in a stressful situation such as giving birth.”
Emily also talks about how sometimes she won’t hear her son crying, which makes her feel awful, but will happen now and then, she says.
Alternatively, for parents who wear hearing aids, Emily notes that it can be a blessing to turn it off when the baby’s screaming right in your ear.
Emily learned American Sign Language as a kid, but hasn’t used it since then, she says. She hopes to learn it again and continue to help other deaf and hard of hearing parents through her website.
“As far as my website, I would love to make an impact that leads to more availability of video monitors for deaf parents,” she says. “Why, if a parent is deaf, should they have to only live with a signaler?”
You can also find Emily advocating for a fully waterproof hearing aid. That way she can go swimming with her son once he is older!
Stay connected with Emily through her website and Twitter account. Do you have any parenting tips for our deaf and hard of hearing parents? Let us know in the comments!