Katherine Bouton, a former editor at The New York Times, is the author of Shouting Won't Help: Why I—and 50 Million Other Americans—Can't Hear You.
Throughout a successful career in magazine publishing, which included ten years at The New Yorker and 22 years at The New York Times, Katherine struggled with progressive hearing loss. Like many adults who lose their hearing, she kept the loss a secret. Even her family and friends had no idea of the severity of the loss, or of the emotional toil it took.
The decision to write "Shouting Won't Help" was a decision to come out about hearing loss, to tell her story so that others like her, who number in the millions, would also gain the courage to speak up about hearing loss, to ask for accommodations, to get hearing aids or a cochlear implant and wear them -- and most of all, to demolish the myth that hearing loss is a sign of aging, a stigma has done untold damage to millions.
As a former science editor and writer, Katherine also deals with the science of hearing loss and its sister afflictions tinnitus and vertigo. She talks about causes, treatments, the potential for a cure. She discusses the neurological aspects of hearing and hearing loss, and how the brain can be trained to relearn to recognize sounds with a cochlear implant.
She is a frequent speaker at hearing loss organizations as well as to academic and professional groups. She speaks about the subjective experience of hearing loss, the need for public policy changes like insurance coverage for hearing aids, the need for caregivers to recognize hearing loss, the consequences of untreated hearing loss (which may include depression, insomnia, isolation, a higher risk for dementia) and many other issues.
She is an advocate for people with hearing loss, but also a writer and speaker who hopes her own experience can ease the way for others.
"What I Hear" explores the experience of losing one's hearing as an adult. In my 2013 memoir "Shouting Won't Help" i recounted my own experience with progressive hearing loss, how it affected me professionally, socially and psychologically, and how I learned to accept it
Losing your hearing is a deeply emotional experience, and very hard to talk about. Most people simply don't. For friends and relatives, it's often difficult to know how to respond, and how to help. For employers it can lead to misunderstandings and even the loss of one's job.