Support AG Bell Today

A Q&A with Erin Klokker, program coordinator for the Young Leaders Board (World Hearing Day 2023)

 The Young Leaders Board was created to help increase involvement among AG Bell’s young adults while promoting leadership and community among them. We spoke with Erin Klokker, the program coordinator, about her involvement and plans for the board, for World Hearing Day.

Lea en Español

By Rin-rin Yu

Q: How did you get involved with the Young Leaders Board? 

I was included in the communications for the Texas chapter relaunch and Joni, the national chapter coordinator, sent the job listing at AG Bell for this position of the Young Leaders Board Program Coordinator.

Q: What are your goals for it?

I hope to create a global network both socially and professionally for young adults who are deaf or hard of hearing and primarily use Listening and Spoken Language (LSL). As resources draw attention to newborns through high school, as soon as you graduate high school or your services are not frequent, you lose any contact to individuals who know what you are going through. I hope that the Young Leaders Board will not only be a place for individuals to create community, but to also be inspired to give back to others by sharing their experiences and actively partnering with organizations like AG Bell to help mobilize their mission in providing resources and opportunities for LSL among those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Q: What’s important about having a Young Leaders Board?

The importance of the YLB is that it gives young adults the opportunity to gain leadership experience in nonprofits that can align with individual interests such as fundraising, administration, marketing, volunteer management and education.

Q: What is your connection with the AG Bell community?

Initially when I was diagnosed with hearing loss around two years old, the audiologist shared with my parents about AG Bell and their resources, so I always knew about AG Bell growing up. When I was in high school, my mom forwarded me an email from AG Bell about LOFT (Leadership Opportunities for Teens) and I was provided the opportunity to participate! Fast forward to this year, I found out about the job for the Young Leaders Board Program coordinator though Joni and I really loved to read what AG Bell would like to accomplish with the program and am so excited to be a part of making it a reality! I just graduated from the University of North Texas in December where I took nonprofit leadership studies, and urban policy and planning, and everything from my studies to the timing and my previous experiences lined up for this position it was almost too good to be true!

Q: What do you love about the AG Bell community?

I love that the AG Bell community creates a space for individuals who use LSL to meet, learn from, and look up to one another. It inspires us to keep pushing the stereotypes that society has place on us.

Q: What was your most memorable LOFT experience?

LOFT was such a unique experience and I loved meeting others who were my age and going through similar experiences in life to me. I went in 2018. We got to learn more about how to advocate for ourselves especially in a university setting where we can request accommodations such as CART (real time captions), advanced class notes, ASL interpreters, and more. One of the most memorable experiences was when we went to an escape room and had to work together to try and get out- and we were so close to solving the case. Learning how to work with others in a pressure situation with people you just met really challenges you to get to know others more intentionally in a short period of time. Those experiences in LOFT really helped me to form lifelong friends in just a week and I hope to work with other LOFT graduates in the Young Leaders Board.

Q: What do you see still needs to change for young professionals who are deaf?

There are still so many misconceptions about what we can and cannot do as individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. I constantly have people ask me how I can “hear,” talk, walk, breathe and function as a normal human being. Especially in the workforce, I find that disability discrimination is still a big issue and I have had a job where after I was hired and I disclosed I was deaf, they never scheduled me, and I never heard back from them.

Q: What improvements have you seen in the past 10 years for people who are deaf with hearing technology?

For me hearing technology has been a night and day improvement. I wear the Kansos 2 from Cochlear America and the Bluetooth connectivity with my phone is unmatched compared to any other device I have had. The fact that I now do not need something behind my ear, the rechargeability, the waterproof accessories and so much more are all developed features that have changed my life as an individual who prefers to rely on LSL.

Entrevista con Erin Klokker, coordinadora del programa Young Leaders Board

 La Young Leaders Board (Junta de Jóvenes Líderes) se creó para incrementar la participación de los jóvenes adultos de AG Bell, fomentando al mismo tiempo el liderazgo y la relación entre ellos. Hablamos con Erin Klokker, la coordinadora del programa, sobre su participación y los planes para la junta.

P: ¿Cómo entraste en la Young Leaders Board? 

Me incluyeron en las comunicaciones para el relanzamiento del capítulo de Texas y Joni, la coordinadora del capítulo nacional, envió a AG Bell la oferta de trabajo para este puesto de coordinadora del programa Young Leaders Board.

P: ¿Cuáles son tus objetivos?

Espero crear una red mundial, tanto social como profesional, para jóvenes adultos con sordera o hipoacusia, que utilicen principalmente la Escucha y el Lenguaje Hablado (LSL). Lo cierto es que existen recursos desde el nacimiento hasta el instituto pero, en cuanto te gradúas en el instituto o los servicios que recibes dejan de ser frecuentes, pierdes todo contacto con las personas que conocen tu situación. Espero que la Young Leaders Board no solo sea un lugar donde las personas creen una comunidad, sino que también se sientan inspiradas para ayudar a otras, compartiendo sus experiencias y colaborando activamente con organizaciones como AG Bell para impulsar su misión de proporcionar recursos y oportunidades de LSL a personas con sordera o hipoacusia.

P: ¿Qué importancia tiene la Young Leaders Board?

La importancia de la YLB es que ofrece a los jóvenes adultos la oportunidad de adquirir experiencia de liderazgo en organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro con actividades que coincidan con sus intereses individuales, como la recaudación de fondos, la administración, el marketing, la gestión de voluntarios y la educación.

P: ¿Cuál es su conexión con la comunidad de AG Bell?

Cuando me diagnosticaron una pérdida auditiva a los dos años, el audiólogo habló a mis padres de AG Bell y sus recursos, así que siempre supe de la existencia de AG Bell. Cuando estudiaba en el instituto, mi madre me envió un correo electrónico de AG Bell sobre LOFT (Oportunidades de liderazgo para adolescentes) y ¡y me ofrecieron la oportunidad de participar! Este año, me enteré que existía una vacante para el puesto de coordinador del programa Young Leaders Board a través de Joni y me encantó conocer los logros que AG Bell desea conseguir con el programa y poder formar parte de la experiencia de hacerlos realidad. Me gradué en diciembre en la University of North Texas, donde cursé estudios de liderazgo en organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro y política y planificación urbanas, y todo, desde mis estudios hasta el momento y mis experiencias previas, encajaba con este puesto. ¡Parecía demasiado bueno para ser verdad!

P: ¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de la comunidad de AG Bell?

Me encanta que la comunidad de AG Bell cree un espacio para que las personas que utilizan el enfoque de LSL se conozcan, aprendan y se ayuden entre ellas. Nos inspira a seguir superando los estereotipos que la sociedad nos ha impuesto.

P: ¿Cuál fue tu experiencia más memorable en LOFT?

LOFT fue una experiencia extraordinaria y me encantó conocer a otros jóvenes de mi edad con experiencias vitales similares a las mías. Participé en 2018. Pudimos aprender más sobre la manera de defender nuestros intereses, especialmente en un entorno universitario donde podemos solicitar adaptaciones como CART (subtítulos en tiempo real), apuntes de clase avanzados e intérpretes de ASL, entre otras. Una de las experiencias más memorables fue cuando fuimos a una sala de escape y tuvimos que trabajar todos juntos para intentar salir; estuvimos muy cerca de resolver el caso. Cuando tienes que trabajar con otras personas que acabas de conocer en una situación de presión, te enfrentas al reto de conocerlas deliberadamente en un corto periodo de tiempo. Estas experiencias en LOFT me sirvieron para hacer amigos para toda la vida en solo una semana y espero trabajar con otros graduados de LOFT en la Young Leaders Board.

P: ¿Qué crees que todavía debe cambiar para los jóvenes profesionales con sordera?

Sigue habiendo muchos conceptos erróneos sobre lo que podemos y no podemos hacer las personas con sordera o hipoacusia. La gente me pregunta constantemente cómo puedo «oír», hablar, andar, respirar y desenvolverme como un ser humano normal. Especialmente en el mundo laboral, me parece que la discriminación por discapacidad sigue siendo un gran problema. En una ocasión me contrataron para un puesto de trabajo y, cuando se supo que tenía sordera, no me volvieron a llamar ni supe nunca más nada de ellos.

P: ¿Qué mejoras has visto en los últimos 10 años en la tecnología auditiva para las personas con sordera?

En mi opinión, la tecnología auditiva ha dado un salto extraordinario. Utilizo el Kansos 2 de Cochlear America y la conectividad Bluetooth con mi teléfono no se puede comparar con ningún otro dispositivo anterior. El no necesitar llevar nada detrás de la oreja, la posibilidad de recarga y los accesorios resistentes al agua, entre otras características, han cambiado mi vida como persona que prefiere utilizar el enfoque LSL.

 

 

AG Bell membership for families is always free!

Family membership benefits:

  • Financial Support

    Scholarships for technology, therapy, and education

  • Professional Guidance

    Speak to a parent who's been there or search for a certified therapist.

  • State Chapters

    Connect with and get support from local families like yours!

  • Resource Library

    Get answers with access to our information library

  • Volta Voices

    A bilingual magazine with in-depth stories about growing up with hearing loss

  • Loft & Leap

    Access to unique leadership & educational programs for teens

Seeking an AG Bell professional membership?

Get listed on our searchable professional directory, find educational and research resources, scholarships and mentorship.

Professional Membership Has Its Benefits

Join today to connect with fellow members, exchange insights, get listed in our global directory, and celebrate the journey of listening & spoken language.

Professional benefits include:

  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

    Earn CEUs through the AG Bell Academy, at our yearly Symposium, or through events held throughout the year for members

  • $100 off Exam Fees

    Take your Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS®) certification exam for less!

  • Event Discounts

    Discounted registration to AG Bell’s symposium and other events, plus special discounts on travel, restaurants, retail shops and more

  • LSL Professional Directory

    Get listed and found by families that need your services and students that want your mentorship

  • LSL Leading Edge

    An exclusive e-newsletter for AG Bell professional members packed with the latest news and developments in hearing health and the listening & spoken language field

  • Volta Voices 

    AG Bell’s award-winning, quarterly digital magazine in English and Spanish

  • Access to AG Bell’s Network

    Connect with 40+ state chapters located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico

  • Professional Opportunities

    Get involved in AG Bell through committees, task forces, councils and other venues for members to interact and contribute meaningfully

  • The Volta Review 

    Stay current with the latest research through our peer-reviewed, online professional research journal

Seeking membership as a friend or family member?

Membership is always free for family & friends of people who are deaf or hard of hearing and helps connect individuals to our professional community!