My name is Ray Elliott. I’m the General Manager for REI here in Bellingham, and this is where Nate works. Hi, my name is Nate. I’m 29 years old. I am profoundly dead in both ears, with a digital hearing aid in my right ear. For the past six years, I’ve been working at REI as a customer service and sales specialist. I’m talking on the phone; I’m talking with many different customers and co-workers. I do run into some difficulties on the job every once in awhile. Sometimes, I may miss a page over the intercom. Regularly miss a word or two from a customer, and I simply just ask them to repeat that if I do miss that. I have no problem asking for help. I’ll usually let them know that they can just talk normal, and I might just have to have them face me, so I can read their lips a little bit better. If I may not have heard them the first time, and they’re nearby, and it’s kind of noisy, they might just come up and touch me on the shoulder. When I first started, I let them know what my needs were – in order to understand – and how I like to communicate with them. Nate is among the first to say, “I would like that challenge.” I would like to take that responsibility.” I like to set an example constantly. I like to prove myself time and time again. I am incredibly happy to be one of the leaders at the store there. It’s definitely nice that I can be an empowering presence there even though I do have a hearing disability. Hello, my name is Tim. I work in the pharmaceutical industry. I am a senior product manager in an oncology division. I have profound hearing loss, which was diagnosed back when I was in high school. It has progressively gotten worse over the last 20, 25 years. But I think it’s stabilized now, and with the help of technology, I find that I am doing better than just coping in an everyday business world. I really try to make my environment around meeting face to face. In fact, I turn down meetings that people have requested for on the telephone, because really, that’s not my strength. My strength is face to face with people. And the people that know me, and even my upper management, who understand that I have a hearing disability, in fact, will make that happen. Probably the most stressful thing in my day is, I don’t want to miss anything you’re saying; And I feel very apologetic if I miss what you’re saying. There’s always a little bit of apprehension when I’m walking into a room or a situation that’s somewhat unknown. Will I be able to hear the conversation? Will I be able to situate myself in a position that I’m able to get the cross-conversation? Will there be background noise in the room that will affect my ability to effectively communicate? Once I’m in a room, and I’m able to analyze and set myself up, then the apprehension and the tension comes down. You have to pay such close attention to everything that’s happening around you, and you are always looking at people when they’re speaking; and digesting. And in addition, you don’t always pick up every word that’s being spoken to you, or every word that’s being spoken between individuals in a meeting. Therefore, you’re constantly piecing together conversations and your mind is adjusting so that you can stay with the conversation. I like to ask my team, to ensure that I have slides ahead of time, so that I know what they’re going to be talking about. Therefore, if a miss a word here and there, I’m able to look at the slide, and I can pull myself back in, and my mind naturally adjusts to the flow of the conversation, and I’m able to pick it up from there. Obviously, you find ways of adapting and technology has helped me with that. I have an FM system; and that is basically a small microphone which I can place on a table in front of a speaker in a boardroom, so everything that the speaker is saying is directly into the microphone and is piped right back into my ears, which is fantastic. I have another device that actually connects with my telephone, so when I answer the telephone, I press a button, and I’ve got my phone — both ears. As soon as I get in my car with my cell phone, it automatically connects to my Bluetooth within the car; and so I’ve got a beautiful sound system. And so actually the best place for me possible to have a telephone call, or a conference call, is in my car. I exercise everyday. It is so exhausting, my all-day, everyday life, paying such close attention to all the sounds and people communicating with me. To get that endorphin rush, I go hard for a full hour, and really clear my head, and then bang; I’m ready for the rest of my day. I don’t require too much attention. In fact, I say to some of my colleagues, “I’m not that fragile. I can survive.” However, it’s great that the company and my colleagues support me in such a way that I’m able to have great conversations with them and lead the team.