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Success Stories: Steven Richardson

Job Developer with a Personal Touch

By Lateef McLeod

At first glance, Steven Richardson seems like your typical successful entrepreneur. Employed over 15 years at a handful of Silicon Valley technology-management companies including Autodesk, EDS, Answerthink, and Black Pearl, Richardson’s work took him on a number of challenging and fascinating projects all over the world.

He has enjoyed successful careers in both technology management and workforce development services. Today, Richardson is employed at the Department of Rehabilitation where he assists others in finding and securing employment opportunities. As a job developer, Richardson also brings something extra to the table — his personal experience with assistive technology.

Early as an infant Richardson’s mother noticed he could not hear loud and sudden sounds so she took him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with a serious hearing loss and later fitted with hearing aids. He learned quickly how to adapt to multiple surroundings, each presenting different challenges.
He learned lip reading and sign language and was mainstreamed throughout his education. He competed in athletics and chess, and performed in several school plays. These early experiences allowed him to build self-confidence and ease interacting with his peers. For Richardson, the use of hearing aids has always been part of his daily routine. Today, the technology continues to facilitate his communication and participation at work, at home and in the community. In his relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, he pays careful attention to his conversations, making sure everyone is on a same page. With a combination of personal strategies and appropriate technology, Richardson has built lasting relationships, especially with his wife and daughter.

Richardson’s hearing aids allow him to bridge the gap not only with co-workers but also with business associates and friends from several countries, all with different cultures and languages. When reflecting over his career, Richardson imagines that his opportunities would have been very different without the benefit of his hearing aids.

Always on the go, Richardson relies on his hearing aids to be durable throughout his hectic schedule and he expresses some frustration with an industry that, despite offering a broad variety of models, still falls short on developing a hearing aid that matches his very active lifestyle.

His current hearing aids are the top-of-the line model from Interton — the EVO-Mega Power. The EVO is fully-featured complete with an integrated and programmable telecoil, three-to-seven band channels, volume control, multiple memory, speech management system operation, a feedback manager, and a sequence switch that can be programmed as either a volume control or a program selector. A local hearing-aid center programs Richardson’s hearing aids to his liking.

While manufacturers typically claim their product is the best, Richardson notes that the underlying audio technology is generally the same across the industry. Still, with some of the recent advancements, Richardson can hear someone conversing in a loud restaurant, often times better than a person without hearing loss. He relies primarily on his hearing aids when he engages in conversation, whether it’s with someone one-to-one or in a larger group. With his hearing aids, Richardson is able to initiate and join conversations without a second thought.

Throughout his successful career, Richardson’s hearing aids have helped facilitate his demanding work schedule. He was able to utilize the assistive technology and accomplished his career goals with his skills and tenacity. By utilizing this very specialized assistive technology, Richardson continues to demonstrate his abilities and looks forward to continued success.
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Hearing icon

Different Hearing Aids for Different Needs

There are several types of hearing aids. Each type offers different advantages, depending on its design, levels of amplification, and size. Before purchasing any hearing aid, ask whether it has a warranty that will allow you to try it out. Most manufacturers allow a 30- to 60-day trial period during which aids can be returned for a refund.
There are four basic styles of hearing aids for people with hearing loss:

  • In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely in the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case, which holds the components, is made of hard plastic. ITE aids can accommodate added technical mechanisms such as a telecoil, a small magnetic coil contained in the hearing aid that improves sound transmission during telephone calls. ITE aids can be damaged by earwax and ear drainage, and their small size can cause adjustment problems and feedback. They are not usually worn by children because the casings need to be replaced as the ear grows.
  • Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are worn behind the ear and are connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The components are held in a case behind the ear. Sound travels through the earmold into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss. Poorly fitting BTE earmolds may cause feedback, a whistle sound caused by the fit of the hearing aid or by buildup of earwax or fluid.
  • Canal Aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two sizes. The In-the-Canal (ITC) hearing aid is customized to fit the size and shape of the ear canal and is used for mild or moderately severe hearing loss. A Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aid is largely concealed in the ear canal and is used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. Because of their small size, canal aids may be difficult for the user to adjust and remove, and may not be able to hold additional devices, such as a telecoil. Canal aids can also be damaged by earwax and ear drainage. They are not typically recommended for children.
  • Body Aids are used by people with profound hearing loss. The aid is attached to a belt or a pocket and connected to the ear by a wire. Because of its large size, it is able to incorporate many signal processing options, but it is usually used only when other types of aids cannot be used.

From the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

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Photo of Steven Richardson
quote For Steve Richardson, the use of hearing aids has always been part of his daily routine. Today, the technology continues to facilitate his communication and participation at work, at home and in the community."