Jeff Swartz was born and raised in Los Angeles, California before settling down in Atlanta, Georgia. Because of his learning disabilities, Jeff struggled with school until he entered college, where he earned high honors in theology, business, and instructional design. During that time, he worked as a pastor for five years, specializing in counseling. As enriching as he found that experience, Jeff’s passions lay in instructional design, which enables teachers to enhance students’ learning experience via technology and multimedia.
Jeff’s hearing loss hit suddenly in April 2012 when he woke up with his hearing almost completely gone. He also began suffering from hyperacusis, which is an increased sensitivity to sound, and loudness recruitment, which is a rapid growth of perceived loudness within a specific pitch range. Both conditions can render sound extremely painful for the listener. In explaining hyperacusis and recruitment, Jeff compares himself to a mug and sound to water: the more water that is poured in, the closer it gets to overflowing—and the water level doesn’t go down for the rest of the day. When he has had too much, then Jeff must retire to a dark, quiet room for several hours until the pain becomes more bearable.
For the next two months, Jeff relied on lipreading as he and his doctors attempted to find out what had caused his sudden hearing loss. To this day, they are still not certain what caused it, though he suspects it could be attributed partly to his lifelong sinus and ear infections. Similarly, Jeff has struggled to find information on hyperacusis and recruitment since these two conditions are not very common. Despite all this, however, Jeff reports that the experience has given him a new perspective on life. His family and friends have grown closer, he has started learning about Deaf culture and American Sign Language, and his writing has been gaining momentum, especially through his blog, World of Silence.
Now, Jeff wants to give back to the community that has shared so much with him. He has found social networking especially empowering, particularly Facebook, DeafandHOH.com, Deaf-Insight.com, and SayWhatClub. As he puts it, “Sometimes when I felt bad about my ears, I would jump online and read other people’s stories and leave comments, and that is how I developed rewarding new connections in the deaf and hard of hearing world.”
Jeff Swartz currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Karen, and two daughters Abby and Elizabeth. His blog, which chronicles his experiences with hearing loss, hyperacusis, and loudness recruitment, can be found at www.myworldofsilence.blogspot.com.