Caitlin Van Ermen
Studies alarmingly show that as many as one out of every four teenagers experience hearing loss. Virginia Martz, the Deaf/Hard of Hearing ability access specialist from the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, recognized the importance of educating the East Lansing community. The RCPD partnered with Michigan Rehabilitation Services to bring the Kooser Program to Michigan State University. Kathy Kooser, a social worker with severe sensorineural hearing loss, started this program to educate people on the causes and preventions as well as the social and health aspects of hearing loss.
When asked what her main motivation was for getting involved with the Kooser Program, Martz stated, “[It was] the number of students that I was dealing with who had hearing loss.”
Contrary to the stereotype, the greatest numbers of individuals with hearing loss are under the age of 50. Kooser provides essential information appealing to those with or without hearing loss, in hopes to enhance and empower the lives of individuals with hearing loss, their families, friends, and employers through education and support services. Through the program, participants learn how to read an audiogram, use hearing instruments, understand the impact of hearing loss, and more.
Currently, Michigan State University is the only college partnering with Michigan Rehabilitation Services working to address the growing campus population of individuals with hearing loss. Although this is the first year RCPD has worked with Michigan Rehabilitation Services and Kooser, the program has received public attention and a large support of participants. Recently WKAR Radio covered the efforts of Kooser to enlighten the public.
Pictured above: RCPD student Jeffrey Astrein featured in WKAR's story on Kooser
Martz stresses the main message of the Kooser program is to “be your own best advocate.” From birth we are exposed to more and louder sound, and it is imperative to protect the hearing you currently have. We are all susceptible to significant hearing loss, but with the right education and resources individuals can minimize the risk of permanent hearing damage.
For more information on the MSU Kooser Program partnership or how to register for the Fall 2014 program, please visit the Kooser page or contact specialist Virginia Martz.