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A Sony Exec Shares Her Story of Hearing Loss, Reinforcing Her Commitment to Accessibility

Cheryl K. Goodman, the head of corporate communications & corporate social responsibility at Sony Electronics Inc. North America, discusses how advances in technology helped restore her hearing.

Cheryl K. Goodman

Head of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Sony Electronics Inc. North America

Your hearing loss was rather sudden, can you give a little more insight on how this occurred?

It was amid a critically important meeting, that I knew I had a fundamental hearing loss. I walked in “normal” and left panicked that I hardly captured anything said.  I was praying this was trapped water from surfing the day prior, but I was diagnosed with otosclerosis, a disease process of abnormal mineralization of the temporal bone causing near total hearing loss in both ears. My hearing loss was actually progressive, but I dismissed early indicators and had a “sudden” realization of the depth of my limitations at the worst possible moment.

How did your life change personally and professionally after this occurred?

I was distraught but determined to do whatever was necessary to restore my hearing. While I was grateful to see that hearing aids were discreet and powerful, I was slightly horrified that such a fundamental need as hearing was so expensive. I was also really surprised how insurance didn’t help in any way to offset the $7,000 expense.

As a result, I became very interested in policies, like the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which allows adults to directly purchase high quality hearing aids without needing to see a hearing care professional, as well as any technology that could assist in hearing in a range of environments.

Being in the technology industry for 20 years, I knew that apps, devices, and wireless technologies were changing the quality of life for the hearing impaired.  It’s important to seek professional medical help as your first step, as the remedy for hearing is bespoke. In the case of my conductive hearing loss, I was able to restore some of my hearing through a series of surgeries.

What assistive tech have you incorporated into your life?

Hearing aids with streaming abilities have been the primary tech. There are also apps such as Sonic Cloud that allow for customization though your phone and other hardware.

Being at Sony allowed me to understand the importance of accessibility across all platforms — whether it’s closed captions on TV or the immersible wearable speaker.

What advice would you give to other professionals who are experiencing hearing loss?

I didn’t skip a beat once I accepted my loss. While life has changed for me in some ways, ultimately, I am grateful to live in such a time where technology bridges the gap where my ear bones failed me.

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