Denver, CO (PRWEB) July 11, 2014
H.E.A.R Me Out Listens to Needs of Hearing Impaired
A new organization launches this week to provide comprehensive information and services available to Colorado’s hearing impaired community. Reaching almost half a million Coloradoans with hearing loss, this organization is the first of its kind to provide all encompassing information of the local and state resources that aims to give new hope to the deaf and hearing impaired.
H.E.A.R. Me Out and its website was founded by Colorado native Darnell Parks, who was born completely deaf in his right ear with profound hearing loss in his left. Parks recognized a significant gap that needed to be filled in the hearing loss community.
The website offers a wealth of resources and information geared toward various audiences. H.E.A.R. Me Out’s online audience includes the deaf and hard of hearing, spouses, family members and friends of those that are deaf and hard of hearing. It includes individuals who simply wish to learn more about the hearing loss culture. The organization has plans in the near future to help train employers and businesses with creative and technological solutions to better serve the needs of hearing impaired employees.
The reality hit Parks hard a few years ago when he was applying for an IT job that required a high amount of work on the phone. Both the company and Parks wanted him to have the job, but both realized that neither of them knew how to solve phone issue so he ended up being passed over for the job.
“What I recognized is that even though hearing loss is the number one disability in the world, there is a major lack of awareness for available technologies that people can use. More importantly from my own experiences, I recognized that there was a lack of understanding for how to facilitate better communication with the deaf and hard of hearing in work environments,” Parks says.
According to the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, it is estimated that 8.6 percent of the population (or 446,132) people in Colorado are deaf or suffer from hearing loss. Many are unemployed or working jobs they’re overqualified for. Additionally, according to The Hearing Journal (Feb. 2013), individuals with a hearing loss earn on average 25% less than their normal hearing counterparts.
In addition to the website, the organization is working to get the funding to have trainers available to go into workplaces and teach both the technology and practical aspects of how to work around any hearing issues.
Natasha Turner, who was Parks’ elementary school teacher and mentor, is on H.E.A.R. Me Out’s board of directors. Today, she's the EDU/ECE Department Chair for the Community College of Aurora. She says statistics like those above prove services like H.E.A.R. Me Out’s are needed desperately here in Colorado.
“Getting employers to understand how to recruit and retain people with a hearing loss is critical. H.E.A.R Me Out says, ‘before you judge me and write me off as a potential employee, hear me out,” says Turner. “Employers need to learn how they can bring employees with hearing loss into the workplace and get a great worker with some fairly easy modifications.”
“Many agencies that provide services for the deaf and hard of hearing work primarily with school age constituents or a multitude of different disabilities; thus their resources are split among the various groups. H.E.A.R Me Out focuses primarily on helping adults with hearing loss get services that they previously didn’t even know was available that can change the quality of their lives,” Parks says.
Despite his profound hearing loss, Parks is also a music producer and audio engineer. He has musically produced an album called “Beautiful Chaos” that he hopes will help to raise funds for the organization. “Beautiful Chaos” is a 13 track spoken word musical journey that combines the arts of poetry and music in song written formats. It fuses jazz, soul, and blues with funky hip hop styles of music. Parks hopes the project will serve as an inspiration for those with hearing loss or other disabilities. He believes that anyone with aspirations should continue chasing their dreams and goals and overcome any physical limitations they may have.
Parks is available to for interviews about H.E.A.R. Me Out, his personal story that led him to develop the organization, and how people with hearing issues can use its services. You can also check out the website at: H.E.A.R. Me Out.
Wendy Greenwald or Laura Kelley