Meet Deanna Vega
Being a teacher was a career choice that Deanna Vega thought was out of the question. During her college years, she began struggling with hearing loss. She feared that working with children would be impossible because she would be unable to hear her students. After missing classes and relying on friends for notes and help with homework, Deanna recognized she was struggling with something that could no longer be avoided. In 2000, she made her first appointment with an audiologist who confirmed what she suspected: Deanna needed hearing aids.
The audiologist confirmed the extent of her hearing loss and recommended a pair of hearing aids. As is most often the case, Deanna’s health insurance did not cover hearing aids. Fortunately, as a student, she qualified for services from the Department of Vocational Resources (DVR) who generously paid for her first pair of hearing aids. This enabled Deanna to not only complete her Bachelor’s Degree in English but her Masters Degree in Teaching, both from the University of Washington. She landed her first job working with children in a day care. A child with autism at this day care sparked her passion for working with children with disabilities.
Eight years later, Deanna works as a special education teacher for the Lake Washington School District. She teaches students in Kindergarten through 6th grade in her school’s resource room. Her ability to effectively communicate with students and staff was tested when her hearing aids began to fail in last summer. With prices for hearing aids ranging from $3,000 up to $10,000, she was panicked. How was she going to pay for them?
Upon exploring her options, Deanna learned that her health insurance, once again, would not cover the cost of her hearing aids. Her DVR counselor told her that she no longer qualified for services but recommended that she try the Washington Assistive Technology Foundation. Deanna felt that this was her best option for financing her hearing aids and submitted an application.
Kevin Meirose, WATF’s Assistive Technology Program Manager, worked with her to process her application quickly. WATF’s loan review committee approved her loan and set up a monthly payment plan that fit her budget. Deanna signed up for Electronic Funds Transfer, which means her monthly payments are automatically withdrawn from her checking account. Deanna appreciated the ease of the application process and the willingness of WATF staff to help her along the way.
She worked with her audiologist, Dr. Wuth, at James at the Ear Center Northwest Seattle to order and adjust her new hearing aids. She remarked that these hearings aids "work like a dream" and have improved her hearing already in and outside of the classroom. She intends to earn her National Board Certification in teaching this year.
When Deanna is not teaching in the classroom, she and her husband, a graphic designer and artist, can be found exploring the restaurants and shops in their Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. They share their home with two cats and a dog. They also love to travel, especially to New York City, and spend time at the local farmers market, both of which are not known for being quiet!
The Washington Assistive Technology Foundation enjoyed working with Deanna Vega to ensure full access to assistive technology. WATF applauds her on her success in the classroom and appreciates her willingness to share her story. We look forward to working with her again and encourage others to apply for a loan with us.
"If you are thinking about getting new hearing aids, I would highly recommend it. The first step is stopping the denial and recognizing that you have a treatable problem! Most people do not think twice about getting glasses or contacts, but for some reason, getting hearing aids can be a scary idea. Once you get tested, you are ready to select the right hearing aids for your lifestyle. After you order your hearing aids, be prepared to be very patient. It takes several weeks to adjust to all of the new sounds you will be hearing. It can be quite amazing–but also sometimes annoying! Also, you may need to try several different types of hearing aids. Finally, you need to know that hearing aid costs are not typically covered by insurance. That is why WATF is so important! They offer a great option for people with hearing loss that are unable to pay for the cost of hearing aids upfront." -Deanna Vega
WATF is proud to have been a part of helping Ms. Vega with such a critical part of her lifestyle. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Deanna, and we look forward to continuing our work with you in the future!
Deanna Vega and WATF offer the following suggestions to those considering hearings aids:
- Don’t deny that you may have a hearing loss and recognize that it can be treated
- Get your hearing tested at an audiologist
- Try different hearing aids out
- Explore your financing options (WATF maintains a list of resources that can be used to finance the purchase of new hearings aids including Medicare, Veterans benefits)
- Be patient as you adjust to the new sounds and visit with your audiologist to fine-tune your new hearing aids
For more information on financing or choosing hearing aids, contact Kevin Meirose, WATF Assistive Technology Program Manager at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, 888-808-8942 (TTY), or 206-328-5116 (Voice).