By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer

Hearing loss can have far-reaching effects on a person’s life — stifling self-confidence, inhibiting verbal expression, turning an extrovert into an introvert, and generally decreasing joy in life.

In addition, hearing loss worsens gradually so people often don’t realize what they have been missing.

The Valley Hearing Center has been in Solvang more than 25 years, helping people with their hearing problems. John Adams has been in the business of helping people hear better for more than 20 years. As a hearing instrument specialist, he evaluates people to determine the best hearing instrument to improve their life experience.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1952, Adams moved to Santa Barbara at the age of 6 when his father was offered a job as a teacher at Laguna Blanca School, a private school in Hope Ranch. Adams attended the small school where his father eventually became head master in 1963 until retiring in 1983.

“I didn’t realize then what a great experience it was to attend such a small private school. The classes were small and I was able to play soccer, baseball and basketball. My graduating class consisted of only 26 students,” he said.

After high school Adams attended UC Riverside, majoring in history, but a friend told him a degree in history was not going to go far in the real world. She suggested that he further his education, so he attended UCLA and received a master’s degree in business in 1976.

“I initially got a job as an accountant, but in no time I realized that accounting was not for me,” said Adams. “I then went to work for 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) selling microfilm document systems to banks and insurance companies in the Bay Area.”

Still with 3M, Adams moved to Tustin in Orange County in 1985, but he said by 1991 it became painfully apparent that microfilm was becoming obsolete.

“Given my desire to stay with 3M I took advantage of their internal job placement system and landed a job with a new division call Hearing Health Division, which was pioneering the first generation of digitally programmable hearing aids, using a computer and fitting software to fit the individual hearing needs of the patients,” said Adams. “I was intrigued with the brand new revolutionary hearing technology and remained with 3M until they sold that division to a competitor.

“I chose to remain in the hearing industry and worked as a sales rep for several hearing aid manufacturers for the next 15 years,” he continued. “My timing was great because I was able to witness the evolution of digital technology in hearing instruments and how it was improving the patient’s ability to hear in challenging environments.”

In 2008 Adams became a California licensed hearing aid dispenser, which is required in the state to provide hearing tests and dispense hearing instruments.

“My wife Bonnie and I moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 2016, fulfilling my desire of living near my Santa Barbara roots and my wife’s dream of living in horse country,” said Adams. “I was fortunate enough to discover an opportunity to continue working in my chosen field at the Valley Hearing Center in Solvang.”

“I’ve always tried to keep in mind that I’m not just fitting hearing aids but I am trying to improve a person’s life,” Adams said.

Adams explained that many times people who first notice they have hearing loss issues will offer comments such as “My wife seems to mumble lately,” or “I have to turn the TV up in order to hear it more clearly.” Sirens can also be difficult to hear, and that may be dangerous.

He suggests that if you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, it is time to make an appointment to have your hearing tested.

“With a new patient I’ll do an extensive hearing exam to measure their degree of hearing loss. I use this information to calibrate a set of hearing aids in order to let them hear for themselves what they’ve been missing. It always gives me a good feeling to witness the look on a patient’s face when they can better hear the voice of a loved one clearly. It creates a lot of personal satisfaction for me,” said Adams. “I counsel them on what to expect from their new hearing aids and the importance of yearly check-ups.”

Adams professional creed is, “Better hearing means a better life.”

Consultations and hearing tests are free. Valley Hearing Center is open Monday through Thursday at 2027 Village Lane, Suite 204, Solvang.

For more information, call 805-688-8566.