When I joined Hearables maker Doppler Labs over two years ago, I knew I was about to embark on one of the most important journeys of my career and finally get a chance to pursue my life’s mission of helping people get access to affordable and socially acceptable hearing technology.
When you have the knowledge and talent to help change millions of people’s lives for the better, you have a responsibility to use that power to affect real change. You must! My journey with Doppler wasn’t just about creating innovative technology to help people hear better – it was about changing millions of lives by sharing my life-long struggle for access to hearing technology so others too could be proud and not ashamed of something that has been stigmatized for so long. In doing so, I hoped I would help demonstrate that by putting your whole self out there, we can all make an impact and leave a legacy to be remembered.
It’s not easy allowing yourself to be that vulnerable – sharing with the world your fears and hopes, trials and tribulations. And had it not been for the amazing community and culture inside and outside of Doppler, and the purview I was given to do whatever I could – literally anything in my power to affect change – I would not have been able to have made such an impact. I am so profoundly grateful that for the last two years that my voice was amplified through my passion for change and the efforts of Doppler’s team. Together, we were able to help start a movement of real change.
Beginning with Here Active Listening we began to hear from other people with hearing loss about how our products were changing their lives for the better, and equally importantly about other improvements we could make to our products and services to help people even more so.
So here’s to Rich, Jonathan, Sue, and our thousands of other Here Pioneers. Here’s to their many stories of how our technology gave them hope. Here’s to raising awareness around the massive issue of hearing health and opening the door with our technology to provide people with hearing problems a voice. Here’s to the people who no longer feel ashamed. And here’s to the Doppler team – one of the most excellent group of people I have ever worked with.
And lastly, here’s to walking the halls of Congress, lobbying for the Over The Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 with the support of Senator Warren’s team, and getting that bill passed so that now the lives of millions will change for the better. Doppler was a part of history, and I couldn’t be prouder of the role that myself and the fantastic team who built the technology were able to play that pushed it all over the edge.
Not many people know this, but in my final days of lobbying on Capitol Hill, I brought Here One with me to show the power of our technology and demonstrate the possibilities of the impact better and more accessible technology could have to help millions of people. I’ll never forget the reactions when people on the Hill finally tried Here One. After months of back and forth and lots of talking, they put Here One in their ears, and everyone who had been a sceptic of the new legislation lit up. It all just clicked. We have always said “hearing is believing” and it was most true with this legislation and was evidenced when person after person on the Hill would take Here One out of their ears and respond, “I know someone in my family who needs this to help them hear.”
For these and many other reasons, I know our legacy will live on through the products that will follow from other companies and the movement we helped spur. I am proud that in our final days the entire Doppler team kept pushing forward and working hard so that we could release a new app specifically tailored to the hard of hearing community. This is emblematic of the passion that has always driven the Doppler team. Even in the final days when it looked like things may not end up working out with funding, everyone pulled together and still showed up for 10 hour days to make sure we could get this final app release out because our user testing had shown it would significantly help Here One users who have hearing loss.
We are proud to be change-makers. The voice for the many that didn’t have one. We used our knowledge, technology, and passion for trying and making a difference in the world and starting a movement for technology for all, for enhancing abilities instead of focusing on disabilities. All of us put our heart and soul into this journey, and even though Doppler Labs may be at the end of its road, our voices are louder than ever, and our advocacy for access to life-changing technology will not end.
Thank you for coming on this journey with us, and here’s to all of you who will continue to carry that torch. This is only the beginning…
Kristen “KR” Liu
Diagnosed with severe hearing loss at the age of three, KR has made it her life's work to be a strong advocate and executive for hearing loss awareness. She has been awarded a U.S. Congressional award and passed legislation for hearing health access. KR Liu is on the board of directors for the HLAA, the CTA Foundation, and Deaf Kids Code