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Thursday, August 27, 2015

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

This is the third post in a series about my internship.

Photo op with Anna Gilmore Hall, Executive Director (left)
 and Barbara Kelly, Deputy Executive Director and
Editor-in-Chief, Hearing Loss Magazine

For my summer "vacation", I spent 4 1/2 weeks this past July/August in Bethesda, Maryland working as a volunteer intern at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I did this to earn 4 credit hours towards my master's degree in communication studies. For each credit hour, I was required to put in 45 hours time, so altogether it was a 180-hour internship.

my desk

How did I fill my time at HLAA? I worked in the area of strategic communications assisting the nonprofit organization to communicate effectively through their magazine, website, social media, emails, and internal documents. This involved research, writing, editing, and proof reading. I loved doing this work and having the opportunity to share my ideas and be a part of the team at HLAA.

Cover Girl

My internship supervisor Barbara Kelley surprised me when she asked me to write a feature story for the upcoming issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. Not only did I have the chance to share my hearing loss story, but I was photographed for the cover! None of the office wardrobe I had brought to wear in Bethesda could be used for the photo shoot because my skirts and pants were either black or dark blue and all of my blouses had busy patterns. Cindy Dyer, the magazine's photographer, graciously lent me the clothes, accessories, and jewelry I wore in the photos. I like her style and should go shopping with her next time I need something new to wear. We took the photos in a public library in Virginia. Our original plan was to go to the Library of Congress, but that did not work out. I'll share my experience visiting our national library in another post.

In terms of enabling employee communication access, the Hearing Loss Association of America is outstanding. For example, I attended two staff meetings in their looped conference room. When I came in, the staff gently reminded me to switch my hearing aids to their telecoil program setting. This brought the sound (from the several microphones on the table and the telephone used to communicate with staff members who were off-site at the time) directly into my hearing aids, eliminating the need for me to turn and face whoever was speaking. Additionally, a CART provider was on the conference phone call and everything that was said (including who said what) was projected onto two large screens. This made for an optimal meeting experience.

Display honoring Justin Dart, disability rights pioneer

While I was in the Washington D.C. area, the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was being celebrated. One evening the HLAA staff and I attended A Celebration of Pride, Power, and Promise, an event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. It was exciting to be there with leaders, activists, and politicians concerned about empowering people with disabilities. I particularly enjoyed the inspiring speeches which educated me about the history of the disability rights movement in America. One of HLAA's important roles is as an agent for change in our country so people with hearing loss can have equal access to opportunities. Learn more about HLAA's advocacy agenda here.

In my next post, I'll share about my field trips to Gallaudet University and the Library of Congress.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

What an interesting entry Sarah. I'm so glad that you had a good internship and am very proud of you for your dedication and hard work. Wish I could see the article. Perhaps you and Rob might be willing to share a copy with me?