Deafandhoh.com Celebrates Its Second Year of Open Chat Night
Deafandhoh.com will be celebrating the second anniversary of its Open Chat Night on August 3rd. The Open Chat Night is an all-inclusive chat scheduled every Wednesday night at 8 to 10 PM, though several participants often choose to stay and converse until midnight.
Founder Senthil Srinivasan, who started www.deafandhoh.com four years ago under the name www.iamhearingimpaired.com, launched the first Open Chat Night on August 5, 2009 in order to create a welcoming forum for people with hearing loss. In addition, he also recruited several audiologists for a monthly “Ask the Audiologist” session during Open Chat Night. Over the years, Open Chat Night attendance has increased from a few newcomers to a steady following of about a dozen regulars. In fact, it has become so popular that Srinivasan plans to start a second Open Chat Night once a month on Sunday nights.
Growing up with moderate hearing loss, Srinivasan has struggled with socialization and isolation. Because of his experiences, he envisioned Open Chat Night as a safe, comfortable environment where people with hearing loss could congregate to make friends, learn new things, and enjoy themselves without any communication barriers. “When people joined, someone would say something like, ‘Wow, I never could find a good place to chat with deaf and hard of hearing people.’ That’s when I realized [Open Chat Night] was worth continuing, even with a small group of people,” says Srinivasan.
Jean Szabo, an Open Chat Night regular, agrees: “It’s a great place for sharing information with anyone who has hearing loss.” Indeed, many people have found a sense of belonging in Open Chat Night that is hard to replicate anywhere else. Before getting his own laptop and Internet access, Junior Monthy, a young Iowan janitor, would make trips to the local library, using their computers to talk with the other Open Chat Night members until closing time. And Bill Pennell, a 59-year old Florida resident who has attended nearly every Open Chat Night since its inception, says with a smile, “I try not to miss a night here; there’s too many nice people.”
Everyone can access the Open Chat Night every Wednesday beginning at 8:00 PM by going to www.openchatnight.com, or by clicking on the “Check it out” icon on the homepage. No membership is required; non-members can simply log in as guests. Srinivasan emphasizes, “Everyone is welcome . We would love to have more people in the chat.”