“Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people,” Stephanie Rogers shares a quote attributed to Helen Keller, a historical figure who was both blind and deaf, to stress the role of hearing in communication. “Think about where language comes from — our ability to communicate relies heavily on our ability to hear. We stress the importance of hearing in children because it is important for them to learn and develop communication. We think in the language we learn, and we learn language by speaking and hearing. For adults, it is the ability to hear that connects us to the world we live in.” Rogers, a licensed clinical audiologist, and her team at Audibel have helped empower individuals through healthy hearing across the Pine Belt. Audibel has been working tirelessly to strengthen the community’s hearing health for over 50 years. Rogers completed her Audiology degree at Louisiana State University and served as the Director of Audiological Services for Audibel in Louisiana before coming to Mississippi. She is a passionate advocate for understanding hearing loss and seeking solutions, and is quite the authority on hearing health. “A link has been found in recent studies that suggests those with untreated hearing loss have a higher chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer's,” Rogers explains. The study, referenced from a John Hopkins Medical Journal, states that those with even moderate hearing loss can have cognitive abilities decline 30 to 40 percent faster than those without.
“Hearing is our link to the world. Hearing is therapy and brain exercise. Without our hearing, we begin to lose connections with the world around us.” Rogers emphasizes. The same study also suggests that only 15 percent of those who need hearing devices actually get them. Stephanie Rogers and Audibel are relentlessly de-stigmatizing hearing loss, and have a personal mission to serve the Hattiesburg community and uphold their 2018 theme: “Communication for All.” Audibel is connecting people to people, much like what Hellen Keller once said, ‘deafness separates people from each other,’ and Audibel can provide solutions to bring people closer together.
A therapeutic approach to hearing loss
“We use the phrase ‘hear better, live better,’ and it’s just that! When you can hear things clearly, you live a better life. There is an isolation for those who cannot hear, the ability to hear can be an important factor in mental and emotional stability.” Rogers explains that the treatments and solutions that Audibel provides for the community is very close to therapy; it is not simply a “diagnose and fit,” tactic, but a process which teaches those who have hearing loss to re-engage with their surroundings, to re-engage with their loved ones. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it,” Rogers laughs at the old saying. “But it’s true. People don’t know they have hearing loss until they’ve been tested. A lot of clients have forgotten what crickets, birds, or pets sound like.” Rogers recounts a story where a client re-connected with his family dog after years of misunderstanding his cries. “Hearing loss often goes unnoticed because it is not painful. Oftentimes it’s the family of those with hearing loss that seek help for their loved ones. A lot of patients initially seem shy or stand-offish, but it has less to do with personality and everything to do with their ability to hear and communicate.” Rogers states.
“We can fit patients with the most advanced technology on the market. We’re here to empower individuals — to give them back control of their communication.” She enthusiastically adds, “And it can be as discreet as the patient wants it to be! If they want to show off their tech they can. Or, if they want to keep it to themselves, the power is theirs.” Despite the benefits to solutions for hearing loss, there is still stigma attached to wearing hearing devices. “People notice you missing conversations more than people notice hearing devices. Even someone like me who looks at ears every day can barely see them now!” Rogers boasts.
Talking technology with Audibel
“Our goal is to reach something as close to natural hearing as possible when wearing devices.” Rogers emphasizes. “Struggles are there, such as processing multiple hearing sources, but the technology is getting closer to recreating natural sound.”
The technology that Audibel offers is constantly changing like the technology in our lives constantly changes. “There are made-for-iPhone hearing aids now,” Rogers enthusiastically responds. “Streaming telephone calls, music, and other audio from your smart device straight to your ears,” Rogers explains how the technology now grants patients access to a new age of communication. “Getting fit for hearing devices can now be streamlined to be patient-specific.” Rogers also emphasizes that not all technology is created equal, and not every hearing device is best for every patient. “All this new tech that comes out, there is always a marketing spin. What is most important to us is what works best for our patients.” Rogers continues. “When a new device comes out, we have in-house focus groups. We give current patients the new devices for a few weeks, and see how they perform in comparison to the devices they already own.” An example of this is the Audibel A4iQ. “The patients love this technology!” Rogers exclaims.
She goes on to explain how treatment for hearing loss has progressed with technological innovation. “Not unlike an amputee,” she states, “Where an amputee once used clumsy crutches, they now have beautiful, 3D-printed prosthetics that can be used to run marathons — the same advances apply to those with hearing loss. Patients still have the underlying hearing loss, but modern technology has made it possible for some individuals to nearly out-perform those with no hearing loss at all.” Rogers states. “Patients with hearing loss can now function in a natural way without the handicap, without the stigma, and communicate with their loved ones.”
These advancements are not only for those suffering from a loss of hearing, but are for everyone. “We make custom hearing assistance devices for users with little to no hearing loss all the time,” Rogers ensures. “Stage performers need ear monitors! We see many church worship team members that use devices so they can hear themselves and be comfortable on stage. We take ear impressions so that we can give them custom, quality products. For those individuals it’s about hearing comfortably and protecting their hearing.”
Stephanie Rogers explains how the Starkey Hearing Technologies Brand is changing lives in our community and beyond. “Starkey is the last remaining major American-made hearing aid manufacturer. This means that our values are American values — we believe in customer service,” Rogers states that Starkey’s number-one priority will always be patient care and satisfaction. “Starkey’s philanthropy work is changing lives all over the world,” Rogers goes on to talk about how she and other providers have had the opportunity to fit underprivileged children with hearing aids in Mexico as a part of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. “Starkey will go to orphanages for deaf children to fit them with hearing aids — only to find out that some of these kids aren’t deaf at all; they are just hearing impaired. We’re able to give the gift of hearing and communication to these kids.” Starkey Hearing Technologies also has their “Hear Now” program where they partner with local providers to give hearing to those that are financially unable in local communities. “Starkey donates the hearing aids, and we donate our time.” Rogers said. “It’s just one way that we’re able to give back to our communities.”
Audibel has partnered with the Dynamic Dyslexia Design (3D), School and Evaluation Center in Petal, Mississippi. “What many people don’t realize is that a lot of children diagnosed with Dyslexia have underlying auditory disorders. This is prevalent in a classroom setting, a competing environment,” Rogers explains. “So, we fit some students with these headphones and receivers, and the teachers with ‘Roger Pens,’ a special speaker that interacts with the students technology via bluetooth,” Funded with a grant from the Hattiesburg Junior Auxiliary, this technology allows the students to better focus when the teachers are speaking, and can even interact with children’s existing hearing aids.
Educating the next generation on hearing health is one of Audibel’s priorities. “We recently were able to donate headphones to an Oak Grove Upper Elementary School classroom and provide a hearing protection lesson to the kids,” Rogers explains. “One teacher requested financial assistance because many kids couldn’t afford headphones, and with the implementation of iPads and Chromebooks in classrooms, they’re necessary for the auditory assignments,” Rogers continues. “Audibel is now looking into partnering with local schools to provide this kind of hearing education. It’s a part of normalizing hearing health. Kids, teens, and young adults should be tested.”
Hear better. Live better.
The American Speech Language Hearing Association has named May the Better Hearing and Speech Month. With no apparent hearing loss, hearing should be tested every five years, or in the case of some hearing loss, have hearing tested annually. Clients suffering from hearing loss have appointments quarterly to monitor the progression of the loss, how they’re aging, and how they are communicating with those around them. Audibel’s clients lives are ever-changing, and so is technology — Audibel keeps up-to-date to provide the best service possible to ensure that clients continue to connect with the world around them in the most natural way.
Audibel Hearing Healthcare has been serving the Pine Belt with a high le vel of car e for ov er 50 year s. With 11 offices throughout south Mississippi and Alabama, Audibel delivers the technological research, quality instruments, and customer service in the hearing industry while offering high quality, American-made hearing aids. They also offer custom swim plugs, ear plugs, musicians in-ear monitors, hunter’s ears, and many other hearing protection products and services. Call 601-329-2946, toll free at 1-888-354-2143, or visit them at www.audibelms.com for your free hearing consultation and start experiencing better hearing, better life today!
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