Working With A Handicap

Katherine Bouton reflects on the challenges posed her progressive hearing loss:

My work life was one long dance around the fact that I couldn’t hear a single thing. At a meeting I was leading, with eight or 10 people, I deftly (or so I thought) asked participants to send me a summary of their suggestions and I would incorporate them in my report. When someone called on the phone, I’d say, “I’m really swamped. Could you follow up with an e-mail?” Unless caller ID told me who the speaker was, I often couldn’t tell.

In a later article, Bouton describes the limitations of cochlear implants:

My success with the implant has been mixed. My hearing is still poor in the speech frequencies. I rely heavily on my right hearing-aided ear, and I continue to have a great deal of difficulty with the vowel sounds. Bit or bet; prim or prom; lift, left, loft, laughed. They’re all one to me. I can hear the rustle of a palm tree but not what my husband is saying in the beach chair next to me.