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What is a Peer Mentor?

A peer mentor is an individual who is deaf or hard-of-hearing and trained to work with other individuals with hearing loss who are in need of support, information, teaching, and/or advocacy, in order to live their life with hearing loss as seamlessly as possible.

Why are Peer Mentors needed?

In 2004, a survey done by MarkeTrak revealed that there are over 31.5 million people in the United States with hearing loss. This population will continue to grow exponentially with projections indicating there will be over 52.9 million people who report difficulty hearing in the year 2050. Of the population with hearing loss only 23.5% are actively using hearing technology.* While hearing loss is a physical diagnosis one must manage, it is also intricately tied with psychological and social aspects of life. It is the complexity and impact of hearing loss that often makes it difficult for consumers to digest information and become good advocates for their needs. An audiologist will typically provide care and management to individuals with hearing loss who seek services, but it is often difficult to get the multitude of information and support necessary to truly cope with and manage their hearing needs. Peer mentors are needed to spend time with individuals, supplementing the information they have already acquired, sharing in their struggles, validating their experiences, and providing the resources and support needed to enable these individuals to become their own effective users of technology and advocates for their needs.

What is the role of a Peer Mentor?

The role of the peer mentor in aural rehabilitation is a revolutionary concept in the area of audiology and this training program is a grant-funded project to introduce and begin implementing such a profession into the field. The role of the peer mentor may include but is not limited to:

  • Understanding and empathizing with the struggles of the hearing loss
  • Reviewing and supplementing information given by audiologists and other professionals
  • Acting as a liaison between audiologist, other professionals, and the consumer
  • Introducing consumers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to the wide variety of assistive hearing technology
  • Helping consumers successfully adapt to the use of their hearing technologies
  • Teaching consumers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing how to use appropriate communication strategies to maximize communication success
  • Working with individuals to better understand and cope with the psychological and social impacts of hearing loss on themselves, their families, and peers
  • Providing informational support to an individual's family, friends, and places where they work and/or play
  • Helping consumers to evaluate communication environments to create user-friendly contexts
  • Helping consumers develop an understanding of law and public policy related to disability and hearing loss
  • Sharing with consumers strategies for advocacy to help ensure their civil rights
  • Working with local, state, and national organizations to improve the impact of hearing loss as it relates to people and society¬†
  • Dispelling common myths related to hearing loss and deafness
  • Helping consumers develop problem solving skills to address the challenges of hearing loss
  • Providing resources and support to audiologists and other related professionals

Peer mentors who have graduated from this program have come from all different professions and walks of life with a variety of goals and reasons for participating in this program. If you are interested in working or already work with a hearing loss association, an audiologist, a rehabilitation specialist, government or state disability programs/projects, or are interested in development of self, self-advocacy, or self-identity, you may want to consider the Peer Mentoring Program.

What are the Objectives of the Peer Mentoring Program?

The long-term objectives of the Peer Mentoring Program are to raise awareness on meeting the holistic needs of individuals with hearing loss, developing a training curriculum, and building a vocation of professionals who can become part of a multidisciplinary team; a team needed to better serve those with hearing loss.

The short-term objectives of this program are to network and collaborate with individuals with hearing loss, to facilitate in reaching self-actualization, to create a stronger body of empathetic adults trained to meet the needs of their community, and to represent well the intentions and passions of the Peer Mentoring Program.

* Kochkin, S. (2005). MarkeTrak VII: Hearing loss population tops 1 million people. Hearing Review, 12(7), 16-29.

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Copyright 2011 by the RERC on Hearing Enhancement -- All Rights Reserved
Last modified: 07/01/2013

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