NJ’s mental service gaps for people who are deaf, hard of hearing | NJ Spotlight News

A Senate committee is set to discuss legislation that would require better services

Growing up in Hamilton, Ohio in the 1960s and ‘70s, Latisha Porter-Vaughn recalls watching cartoons on television without closed captioning and struggling to hear what was being said. The trouble continued as she moved on to high school, where she struggled academically, she said, due to hearing loss.

It wasn’t until she left Ohio in 1986 at 19 years old and moved to East Orange to live with her sister that she was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when there is damage to the inner ear, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

“He told me that if I had one hearing aid, I would have done much better,” Porter-Vaughn said of her initial diagnosis by a South Orange audiologist. “But he said because I didn’t have any hearing aids, I missed out on a lot.”

Today, Porter-Vaughn continues to create awareness of hearing loss issues through her role as the state president of the Hearing Loss Association of America New Jersey State Association. She is one of several supporters of a bill scheduled to be heard Thursday by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee that aims to address mental health services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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