LOFT Testimonials

AG Bell LOFT participants are deeply affected by their experience in the program. Common themes from both participants and parents about their experience include: LOFT is empowering; LOFT helps break down barriers; LOFT builds trust and openness; LOFT is life-changing. Participants often experience a new sense of belonging and describe the positive effects of having a new support system through other LOFT participants.

We also hear from LOFT parents and teens that within weeks of returning home, they are already using skills and knowledge they learned at LOFT. Parents of the LOFT attendees tell us that their teen gained confidence, a sense of belonging and acceptance, and true friends who understand the challenges of living with hearing loss.

Below is a selection of testimonials from teens and parents of the 2009-2018 LOFT programs.

There are no words to fully describe how amazing my LOFT experience was. I gained lifelong friends, learned from the experiences of others and connected with teens like me. The counselors were great with each one of us. They knew just what to say and I loved hearing their experiences. The teambuilding activities taught me more about different kinds of leaders and that teamwork equals success for more than just one person. I also learned that I should stand up for the things I need and not be shy about it.
— LOFT Teen Participant
As a mainstreamed, profoundly deaf student with mild cerebral palsy, my son has had difficulty forming friendships with his hearing peers and classmates. In just one week he seems to have really bonded with the fine group of young adult participants. I’m thrilled to witness his confidence soar! He was treated as an equal and even made to feel at ease despite being challenged beyond his comfort zone. I was so touched when he returned from his amazing experience (his words) and referred to his fellow LOFT participants and counselors as family!
— LOFT Parent
LOFT has taught me how to speak in public, leadership skills and self-advocacy. LOFT has changed my life and I feel that I can become a more independent person. Everything I learned in LOFT will help me in the future years.
— LOFT Teen Participant
I not only had a wonderful time, I also learned something about myself: that I can do ANYTHING if I put my mind to it! I normally would run away from the problem and blame my deafness on why I ran. Now, I’m better able to face those challenges.
— LOFT Teen Participant
“It was such a great experience – I learned to believe in myself. I appreciated meeting so many other teens who know what it’s like to sometimes struggle and not fit in. We learned to work with our abilities and accept and trust ourselves. I am ready to take on my senior year and then college!”
— LOFT Teen Participant


Youth at Risk

Each day in the United States 33 babies are born with hearing loss, making it the leading sensory disability in the nation. By the time children reach kindergarten, the number of children with hearing loss doubles due to later onset, acquired or progressive hearing loss. Studies show that youth with disabilities are at a higher than average risk of being bullied, dropping out of high school, getting involved in the juvenile justice system, being unemployed, and living in poverty. Referred to as an invisible disability, hearing loss is often unnoticed today because modern hearing technology (digital hearing aids and cochlear implants) is less visible than in the past.

For children and teens with hearing loss, the delivery of services in hearing health care is at a critical juncture. Today, people who are deaf and hard of hearing are participating in the mainstream with more opportunities to enter many professions that previously proved extremely challenging.

The post-Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) era has seen an increase in the numbers of children who are deaf and hard of hearing entering mainstream education. Many teens who are deaf and hard of hearing have used technology from a young age to help them hear and function in a mainstream environment. While this creates many opportunities for these teens, it also brings challenges, including feelings of isolation, not feeling accepted or understood, and discomfort with or fear of being challenged. Success in the mainstream for youth with hearing loss means that from a very young age, they must be able to advocate for themselves, learn about their strengths and abilities, and provide leadership among peers who may not understand the difficulties associated with hearing loss.
But not all teens are comfortable in taking the initiative in these situations. Teens who are deaf and hard of hearing often underestimate or do not recognize their ability to lead others, even when they have the capacity and characteristics to do so.