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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The invisible challenge

One couple tells their story

We were excited when we received the call to serve in Senegal through ELCA Global Mission. Our first task was 10 months of learning French, which we knew would be a challenge—especially with Karen’s hearing loss.

But Karen doesn’t let hearing loss stand in her way. She’s quite adept at reading lips, uses powerful hearing aids, has an assistive listening device, and over the years has learned to adapt. But to learn the nuances of a foreign language one has to clearly hear the sounds and pronunciations to reproduce the words correctly.

Tim labarge<BR><BR>Karen and Ron McCallum
Karen and Ron McCallum worship at Calvary Lutheran Church in Hillsboro, Ore., where Karen uses a personal listening device to hear the pastor.
We made it through French—Karen with flying colors against many odds. She didn’t hear the sounds and inflections as well so she had to study twice as hard. Some days it was difficult to the point of exhaustion. But Karen speaks it well enough to be understood and when she hears it she knows what is said.

That’s the problem with hearing loss—it’s an invisible challenge. Family and friends live with it daily. But those who occasionally encounter a person with hearing loss don’t always understand the complications it brings. In congregations, meetings and large groups with sermons or speeches, most groups and planners don’t consider people who have trouble hearing. As our church population ages, we need to raise awareness even more.


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October issue

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