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April 2024

Mary Sorene, BIVR and acquired deafness

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Acquiring deafness may be age-related as is the case with our Secretary of over 20 years, baby boomer, Mary Sorene.

Mary SoreneMary never had any problem with her hearing, working in courtroom settings from 1971 until 2012 when arthritis in her hands caused her to retire from active notetaking and concentrate fully on training Speech-to-Text Reporters for D/deaf or hard-of-hearing people.  Mary’s husband Raymond, however, had had severe hearing loss for many years, along with chronic tinnitus which, with the screaming sound in his head, felt worse than the hearing loss.  The tinnitus would keep him awake at night and none of the recommended masking measures seemed to work.  Raymond put this acquired hearing loss down to the noise from the engine of his licensed London taxi, which in the early days (he drove a cab for 50 years) had no muffling under the bonnet.  Raymond used old jumpers to muffle the noise!  When they married in 1975 and Mary first saw them under the bonnet, she innocently asked him why he needed to keep the engine warm!

Fast-forward to 2015 when, sadly, her husband died, Mary stopped using the subtitles on the TV, thinking she didn’t need them.  Wrong!   After a few months it was apparent that Mary was turning the volume up to its fullest extent to hear the speech while the music, of course, was several decibels higher, meaning that the reverberation was going through the ceiling from the lounge into her daughter’s bedroom above, keeping her awake.  It was time to have a hearing test.

In October 2015, Mary was told she had lost a certain level of hearing, causing her to not hear the beginning and ending consonants of words.  Mary was effectively having to guess the words by the context.  This was especially difficult trying to take notes in meetings, sometimes held in a noisy environment, with a lot of background chatter.

With the supply of hearing aids, Mary was now able to hear much better and only occasionally had to ask someone to repeat what they were saying.  Strangely, though, the TV was still a problem.  That was solved by buying a special unit which plugged into the back of the TV set, with the headset themselves being cordless.  Bliss!  The volume was muted on the TV set so no sound reverberated upstairs.  The headset runs on rechargeable batteries.

Mary has only mild tinnitus, no doubt caused by years of audio transcription work; however, she insists that she only ever used over-the-ears “cans” and not in-the-ear buds.