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USC retiree calls attention to hearing loss

Marilee Potthoff, John Orr and Janette Brown (Photo/Maricela Hinojosa)

Hearing loss can gradually reach a point when others may notice the problem before you do. That’s what happened to John Orr, USC professor emeritus of religion and past president of the USC Retired Faculty Association.

“I did not know I was suffering from hearing loss until my family told me,” he said.

Earlier this year, Orr approached Janette Brown, executive director of the USC Emeriti Center, and suggested that the issue be addressed by the center.

“John was instrumental in bringing this to [our] attention. He is a great advocate for those dealing with hearing loss,” Brown said.

His resolution, in part, brought many people together on April 19 for the first USC Hearing Health Symposium presented by the Emeriti Center, which partnered with the House Research Institute and the USC Davis School of Gerontology.

More than 170 attendees heard three panels cover the issue, each with separate moderators: “Exploring Your Hearing Health,” led by James Boswell, CEO of the House Research Institute; “Latest Research, Communication and Effective Self-Advocacy,” with Charlotte Schamadan, trustee of the House Research Institute, and Kathi Hammons of USC Disability Services & Programs; and “What’s New — Assistive Devices, Technologies, Community Resources” with Professor Kenneth Lopez of the USC Thornton School of Music.

Marilee Potthoff of the House Research Institute worked with Brown to enlist these experts in the field of hearing loss. In addition to Orr, other speakers at the symposium were John House, president of the House Clinic and House Research Institute; Alison Freeman, a clinical psychologist deaf since birth who addressed “faking” hearing; and Ryan Enoch of Contacta Inc., who discussed hearing loop technology.

The biggest challenge for Orr was to accept that his hearing was impaired in some way.

“It took me seven years before I would acknowledge that I was suffering from hearing loss,” said Orr, whose family cared enough to tell him he was not hearing them.

“Communication is the key,” he said.

The symposium can be viewed at

USC retiree calls attention to hearing loss

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