Decision leads to lifetime of helping hear
In 1977, Janice Anderson made a decision to help her daughter’s hearing.
Nearly 35 years later, that decision is still resulting in Anderson helping to enhance the hearing of others, as she now owns four Anderson Audiology hearing aid sales and service offices throughout southwest Virginia.
Though proud of her company’s growth, the Snowville native admitted it wasn’t always in her plans.
Anderson gave birth to her daughter Carla in 1970 while she was living in Germany, where her husband was stationed with the U.S. Army. During the return flight to the U.S., Anderson said the infant ran a very high fever, which she now believes caused her daughter’s hearing loss.
During Carla’s first year of life, she was often sick, and at 12 months old, she was officially tested and pronounced deaf.
Anderson said she immediately sought to increase her own knowledge of deaf studies. She started with a mail-order corespondent’s course and eventually she took a sign language course through New River Community College.
Anderson also began to explore using technology to help Carla, though she said her earliest experience with hearing aids wasn’t very pleasant.
“The first person to fit my daughter did not ensue any confidence,” Anderson said.
“I remember going out to the car and crying and thinking there’s got to be a better way to do this,” she said.
Anderson did find a better way when she met Luther Repass who owned what was formerly Hearing Aid Sales and Service in Dublin. Repass fit Carla with a hearing aid which allowed her to hear some basic drum sounds.
More importantly, perhaps, Repass fit Anderson with a unique way of paying for the purchase — working a long side him in the hearing aid business.
The decision to accept Repass’ offer was one that changed the course of Anderson’s life, which eventually led to her taking over the company in 1990, re-branding it Anderson Audiology in 1996, and earning a doctorate from the University of Arizona in 2004.
It also led to the growth of the company from one office in Dublin — which remains the headquarters — to opening offices in Wytheville, Galax, and most recently, Christiansburg.
Anderson said that having a deaf child not only guided her into the business, but also helps her to understand some of the fears her patients are facing.
“Most people are very apprehensive about trying hearing aids, so I don’t have them pay for them up front. I’ve never considered myself a salesperson…I want them to realize I’m here to help them,” Anderson said.
That message has been heard loud and clear by 69-year-old Jack Brown, who said during his 10 years of being Anderson’s patient, she has also always provided free check-ups and battery replacements.
Another patient, 59-year-old Joyce Moser said she was hesitant to explore hearing aids after a different hearing specialist told her she would never benefit from such a device. After visiting with Anderson, however, Moser, who only had 50 percent of her hearing remaining, decided to give the technology a shot.
“It was very pleasant,” Moser said of the experience.
“She took the time to answer all the questions I had, which was good cause I had all kinds of questions,” she said.
Anderson said she believes her experiences also allow her to view situations from the perspective of her patients’ significant others. She said this enables her to give simple advice, such as saying the patient’s name before starting a conversation, which can greatly help both parties.
Through her set of experiences and opportunities, Anderson said she’s learned to make the best of every situation.
“I’ve just learned with things like that, to just go with it,” Anderson said.
Her willingness and flexibility have led Anderson to getting to do what she said she now enjoys most — helping people communicate.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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