What Did You Say?

More and more folks are losing their hearing--and many don't even realize how much they're missing

Elaine White, 60, a professional mediator, remembers the precise moment 10 years ago when she realized she had a hearing problem. She and a colleague were leading a prejudice-reduction workshop in Rochester, Minn. One of the participants uttered a racial slur. "I didn't hear it," White says. "Fortunately, the other facilitator made an appropriate response. But if I had been there by myself, I would have ignored it--and the point of the workshop was to encourage people not to ignore racial slurs." Shortly thereafter, White got her first hearing aid.

White is one of 28 million Americans--about 10% of the population--with...

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