HLAA 2017 Convention – Opening Day!

It’s the official opening day of the convention so crowds of people will be coming!

(our very own Tim Browning chronicles his continuing journey at the HLAA 2017 Convention. Here’s his recap.)

After a good breakfast, I naturally make the mistake of trekking all the way over to the convention center from the hotel during toasty morning temperatures  instead of the train. I get there nice and hot so I try to cool myself off via any means I could.

I venture in to check out the HLAA Trustee meeting led by Dr. Margaret Wallhagen who is stepping down as the HLAA Board of Trustees Chairperson after the convention. The meeting is interesting as it covers a wide array of topics including building a strategy for HLAA in 2018, an overview of what the HLAA staff at their headquarters in Maryland does and an overview and summary of the various committees latest developments. More details on the meeting itself at a later time but one observation that really stuck out with me was how open and collaborative the board of trustees was with all questions and ideas from the audience.

Margaret Walhagan leading the Trustees meeting

I found the main theme of the questions asked centered around the over the counter (OTC) hearing aid bill pending with congress and the possible impact if passed. The FDA will be the key as regulations will need to be defined, tested and implemented to ensure that consumers in the future, include me, won’t get scammed or taken advantage of. Keep in mind that even if passed (and the majority feels that’s a good thing), it will still take potentially several years to implement.

The meeting ends around noon so I venture out to the registration area to see if I find any familiar faces and lone behold, there is our one and only amazing Grace! Rumor is Grace had a wild time the night before in Vegas on her way to the convention but she seemed ready to go and it was great to see her. Liz and Lisa showed up soon thereafter ready to learn all sort of new stuff from the upcoming sessions.

I went to two sessions in the afternoon, “Confessions of a Reluctant Leader” and “The Wireless Industry”. Both were interesting with one geared toward chapter development and the other with future technology.

The reluctant leadership session focused on building and maintaining confidence while controlling your fear of failure. We all fail from time to time, even me which is shocking I know, but the key is how do you learn and pull yourself forward to continually succeed. The wireless session discussed the upcoming “Real Time Text (RTT)” due in 2020 that will allow people to see words and letters appear as they are typed instead of waiting for the whole message. 5G is coming as well around 2020 that will revolutionize how we currently download and use multimedia. We are talking seconds for gigabytes of data! Accessibility was also discussed focusing on the iPhone as Android has a ways to go, but they are working on it.

After the last session, I hurry to join the others as we attend the HLAA 2017 opening session led by Barbara Kelley, Executive Director for HLAA. The session included some remarks from outgoing Board of Trustees chairperson, Margaret Wallhagen, and our new incoming chairperson, Don Doherty. Don’s focus will be with better serving our veterans and with him being one himself with hearing loss from serving our country, he will make a great and positive impact for the coming 3-year term.

Shilo Harris getting introduced

The main highlight of the session was the keynote address from Shilo Harris (please see this link to learn more about his amazing story). Shilo’s story was filled with his undying desire to serve our country at any cost and the resulting tragedies and hardships he had to endure in the years to follow. It was a very touching story with many lessons to be learned in perseverance and never giving up.

I’m pooped by this time so head back to rest before I join the gang for the Get Acquainted Party at CaptionCall. After a 20 minute bus ride over, I’m given a cowboy hat and suddenly I feel like I’m transformed into the Old West except I notice I’m standing in a parking lot. It was a lot of fun, meeting new people, playing games and good BBQ food. I also see Raylene and Arlene so it was nice to see them and chat for a bit. The games included Blackjack, rope toss, ring toss and throwing cowbell frisbees at a cow’s head target. I noticed most people threw the frisbees in the air at the target but Mitzi got clever and threw the frisbees on the ground, letting them slide into the target every time. Impressive and potentially cheating at the same time…?

It was a long day so back to the bus and bed. Please note the bed was not on the bus, we got off and headed to our rooms first.