Read time: 4.5 minutes
There are so many people within 3C who make an impact on people every day. Carrie Spangler takes her journey with hearing loss to help us all become better human beings, and learn along the way. Come to get to know Carrie a little more.
1. Here’s a little about Carrie and what motivated her to choose audiology.
I am a wife, mom, friend, dog lover, 5 AM workout nut, sushi lover, and grateful audiologist. Helen Keller once said, “character cannot be developed in ease and quiet; only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
My journey to audiology started at a young age when I was diagnosed at the age of 4 with bilateral severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. I didn’t venture down this career path until later in life, but the trials I experienced were instrumental in my future profession of audiology. To be able to take these lived experiences and pay it forward to better the lives of those who are deaf and hard of hearing gave me the vision to pursue my chosen path of audiology.
2. What are some lessons that you have learned from the people you serve?
Create a mindset that every encounter is an opportunity to learn; this is what I strive to do. I have learned every child and family that I come into contact with has their own story that they deserve to live and tell. We are professionals are there to guide them through this journey and help each family and student become the best version of themselves.
3. How do you hope to impact your clients and families in your career?
I hope that families and students see through my personal and professional experiences that being deaf or hard of hearing is just a part of who they are, and it can be their superpower if they allow it to be.
4. What has been the biggest challenge(s) for you
as a professional, and what are some of your ideas to ease these challenges?
In the school setting, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring all deaf/hard of hearing students receive the services that they need to have equitable access to the classroom environment. Hearing loss is an invisible challenge.
Although many of my students benefit from hearing aids and cochlear implants, these devices do not create “20/20 hearing”. Without appropriate accommodations and support, these students will have difficulties.
Educating our school teams about this impact and empowering them to provide the access that is needed can be difficult. To ease this challenge, educational audiologists need to create learning opportunities for the school teams to experience the day-to-day challenges and be aware of the necessary accommodations and supports. On the student side, creating opportunities for autonomy, competence, and relatedness builds strong self-determination skills.
There are multiple layers to this problem. One layer is the lack of awareness that a deaf and hard-of-hearing student needs to have an educational audiologist on the educational team. Another layer of the problem is the lack of educational audiologists that are hired by educational consortium programs.
5. Please tell us about an experience you had with a client, family, or peer that has influenced you in some way?
Being the only deaf/hard of hearing student can be isolating, especially during the teenage years. When I first started my career, I served several school districts and had several students who were the one and only. I remember a personal experience when I had the opportunity to meet someone “like me,” and it was a
positive experience. So I thought to myself, how can I make this possible for these “one and only” students I served?
The idea of a support/leadership group came to mind and, with effort, came to fruition.The team of audiologists planned multiple events where students had the opportunity to meet and that is when the magic happened.
I saw students who were shy about their hearing technology and communication challenges come to life when they realized that they were not the one and only. The simple act of providing an opportunity to connect influenced the passion I have for peer-to-peer connections and family-to-family connections. It is powerful when we create opportunities.
6. What do you feel is still unknown about hearing loss?
It is exciting to be in the field of audiology and hearing disorders. Reflecting on when I first started, there have been so many advancements in research, technology, teaching, and counseling. Becoming a cochlear implant user, I have learned first-hand how many advancements this technology offers.
To think that we can give the gift of sound to individuals is truly amazing. However, I also feel we have a lot to learn in this area as candidacy shifts to lesser degrees of hearing loss and unilateral/single-sided deafness. Emotionally this is a huge step for patients and families and how do we better support this lifelong journey. The future is also bright with finding out more about genetics and hearing loss as well as hair cell regeneration.
7. If you had 3 million dollars that you could use for developing
improved hearing loss treatment, how would you use that money?
So many projects come to mind for this question that it is hard to choose just one, and I think I have already run out of money thinking about it!
I have a passion for helping children and their families. I want children who are deaf and hard of hearing to have the best opportunity that they can have to fulfill their dreams. If families desire their child to learn to listen and talk, having appropriate hearing technology is an essential piece.
In Ohio, most insurance plans consider hearing aids “cosmetic” devices and do not cover this essential need. As a result, families are placed with the financial burden of paying for these devices out of pocket, follow- up visits, repairs, earmolds, and the cycle continues year after year.
Hearing is a basic human right, and children deserve to have hearing aids. If I had 3 million dollars, I would help children and their families obtain hearing technology and fund the maintenance necessary to ensure continued access.
8. Tell us more about your mission with creating digital educating?
My mission is simple: to empower (EAR) listeners about audiology and hearing. Whether a professional, student, parent, individual who is deaf/hard of hearing, or interested citizen, I want listeners to be inspired with new information and research about hearing and hearing disorders, gain empathy from personal stories, and grow in their knowledge and resources. I also hope my guests will also feel empowerEARed sharing their expertise or experiences with others.
It is safe to say, we all are better individuals to know Carrie. You can find where you stream your favorite podcasts, empowEAR Audiology, or view her newest webinar, Back to School: Optimizing the Learning Environmental For Students Who Are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.
Remember to connect with others, communicate effectively for others, and collaborate for a better today and tomorrow.
With compassion and kindness,
©Photo by Carrie Spangler via Canva.com