I consider myself a millennial.
Above that, I consider myself a Hearing-Millenial.
What I mean by this, is at 22 years old (born in 1994), I am of the first generation of people with congenital hearing impairments to have worn advanced digital hearing aids for the majority of my life. In almost every regard, this is a huge positive. Had I been born 5 or 10 years earlier, hearing aids would have been far less advanced, less available, and the opinions surrounding them would have been far different. Its very likely that I would not have worn hearing aids until I was much older – if at all. I would likely have not developed the same language skills that I have now, and I might have had to rely on speechreading or other communicative messages. All in all, I’m very thankful to have been born when I was.
Unfortunately, this means that for my age group, many of the resources available for those with hearing impairments are severely dated or don’t apply to us. I just read a very new book written by a middle aged woman with a congenital hearing impairment and despite hearing very good things about it, was very disappointed. So many of her experiences, and those in many similar resources, did not apply to me at all. Tips for communicating with your spouse, explaining your hearing impairment to your grandkids, taking speechreading classes, advice for how to ensure you hear well at work conferences – none of these really effect my life that much. This is especially troubling, since I am already an “old” person by many accounts.
(Having a 10 year old explain Minecraft to me was my Simpsons-meme “It’s the children who are wrong” moment.)
I do think that the number of voices out there, online, in books, etc. is great, but it does seem a little problematic. Being a child growing up with a hearing impairment is already a very marginalizing, difficult experience. When this wave of hearing-millennials seeks out resources and support groups, I worry that they will feel even more alone when the wealth of published information they find doesn’t really apply to them.