CLERMONT — “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” has never been more true than for someone who has lost their hearing.
Dr. Kristen Weinbaum, owner of Precision Hearing in Clermont, is going to make one person’s holiday season a memorable one through her 5th annual Gift of Hearing contest. The winner will be gifted a new set of state-of-the-art Oticon More hearing aids equipped with artificial intelligence technology, valued at more than $5,000.
“Over the last four years, this feel-good giving back project of mine has been a roaring success,” Weinbaum said. “We’ve had people from numerous walks of life tell us why they are in desperate need of hearing aids. It warms my heart that I’ve been able to make a difference in so many people’s lives. I feel very blessed to have a successful small business and to have helped so many people achieve better hearing.”
Last year's winner: Clermont doctor provides the gift of hearing for Christmas for Orlando woman
Local COVID landscape: Case count, positivity rates fall
The contest invites people in Lake, Sumter or Orange County to share their story of how they, or someone they are nominating, suffer from hearing loss and can’t afford the treatment they need.
To enter, contestants should submit their stories online at GiftOfHearing.net, email them to email@example.com or mail them to Precision Hearing, 4331 S. Highway 27, Clermont, FL, 34711. The deadline to enter is Friday, Dec. 10.
“Hearing loss creates a disconnect between an individual and their loved ones which becomes particularly noticeable around the holidays when there are lots of gatherings,” Weinbaum said. “I’m hoping to give someone the opportunity to connect with their loved ones this holiday season.”
COVID-19 hasn’t been particularly helpful for those with hearing loss, either, as the use of masks have limited those with hearing loss from communicating without reading lips.
“In some cases, people with hearing loss didn’t even know it until we all started wearing masks,” Weinbaum said. “So more people are finding that they need hearing aids.”
Weinbaum said that this new hearing aid technology is similar to what they use to predict the weather. It’s trained to better predict the noise levels depending on the situation.
According to the press release, “it’s the world’s first hearing aid that uses a fully trained, on-board Deep Neural Network to process the sound environment in a more precise and balanced way. Speech in noise is processed more like the human brain, based on extensive experiential learning, not on a limited set of man-made rules. The result is a more natural representation of all sounds and an additional 15 percent increase in speech understanding.”
Weinbaum’s passion to help people comes partly from the community support she has received in her small business and partly from her own experience with hearing loss. And her favorite part of the job is turning on the hearing aids and watching the patient’s reaction for the first time.
“I was diagnosed with hearing loss in kindergarten,” Weinbaum said. “While I was not a candidate for a hearing aid, my mom taught me to be an advocate for myself and let my teachers know. It was never looked at as a disability. It was just me. I think I connect with my patients in that same way. Many people feel ashamed when they begin to experience hearing loss, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
This article originally appeared on Daily Commercial: Clermont doctor Kristen Weinbaum hosting hearing aid giveaway