Hearing loss can be taxing


Photo of the crowd at the 2017 Walk4Hearing copyright Mariso Sarto.

This year, millions of Americans will file their income taxes just days before the April 15 deadline. In many instances, they will spend time with a certified public accountant who analyzes their information and correctly files it for city, state and/or federal income tax reporting. The work can be both tedious and challenging, but the information must always be accurate. The task is even more challenging for accountants with a profound hearing loss.

Accountants Jeff Chess and Gary Jacobson never let their hearing loss hold them back. They are two of the more than 48 million Americans who have a hearing loss. Chess and Jacobson will join hundreds of others for the annual Walk4Hearing on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at the Long Beach Marine Green (between Shoreline Village Drive and Linden Avenue). The walk is designed to raise awareness about hearing loss and funds for both national and local programs and services for those with hearing loss.

Irvine resident Jeff Chess has been a certified public accountant his entire career. The now retired Chess was born with a severe hearing loss, but never let his it hold him back from successfully doing his work. Wearing powerful behind-the-ear hearing aids helped him to communicate effectively in person while an amplifier asssisted with telephone calls. His work as an auditor required strong analytical and communication skills. Although an expert lip reader, if Chess encountered any hearing challenges communicating over the phone or in meetings with auditee’s representatives, he would repeat to clarify the information. He is a volunteer with several non-profit organizations including HLAA where he is the Walk4Hearing treasurer and as well as for organization’s state association.

Gary Jacobson, who has dual cochlear implants to help with clarity on the phone, started his accounting career in the mid 1970s. An outstanding student, Jacobson received cash awards from leading accounting firms, yet none would hire him upon graduation. In the days before the Americans with Disabilities Act, one major firm told Gary that his hearing loss would be detrimental to the accounting profession and that the company feared clients would leave. The talented Jacobson instead opened his own business in 1978 as an Enrolled Agent, which is similar to CPAs. Even with today’s technological advances, Jacobson finds that many webinars lack captioning, making it difficult to hear the entire conversation. He is licensed to practice in front of the IRS in all 50 states. His Tri-Valley Bookkeeping and Tax Service in Winnetka, California has been serving clients – and none have ever left because their accountant has a hearing loss.

Walk4Hearing is a day of celebration, raising awareness in the community, and stepping up for hearing loss. To register for the walk or learn more about the fun event, visit Walk4Hearing.org or email local chairwoman Marla Peoples at [email protected]

Photo of the crowd at the 2017 Walk4Hearing copyright Mariso Sarto.

Photo of the crowd at the 2017 Walk4Hearing copyright Mariso Sarto.



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