Cover shoot: Hearing Loss Magazine

10 05 2017

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

I photographed Don Doherty at the Iwo Jima memorial in March for his cover feature of the May/June 2017 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I design and photograph for this bimonthly publication of the Hearing Loss Association of American (HLAA).

Doherty is a retired Marine Corps combat Veteran (1965-1987) who lost his hearing in Vietnam. He has worn hearing aids since June 1970. He has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 20 years, and is currently the Education Specialist for the National Chaplain Training Center which serves in excess of 1,100 Department of Veterans Affairs Chaplains at more than 153 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers nationwide. His specialties include education, chemical dependency, mental health, post-traumatic stress and compassion fatigue. Doherty is the incoming chairperson of the HLAA Board of Trustees.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

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Don Doherty’s Service Career Didn’t End with the Marine Corps—It Really Just Got Started

by David Hutcheson, editor, Hearing Loss Magazine

Merriam-Webster defines service as “contribution to the welfare of others.” Emphasis on others. Don Doherty epitomizes this definition. His military service career spanned 22 years. He lost his hearing from exposure to the dangerously loud environment of war when he served as a combat infantryman in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967. After Vietnam, his hearing loss forced him into more administrative roles within the Marine Corps. He used that time to educate himself and learn the skills that would carry him through life, most notably skills as an educator and counselor— skills that allowed him to continue serving. But in both his military and civilian careers—and even now, in retirement—he is the living embodiment of what it means to serve others.

Read more about Don’s service to others through his military and civilian careers in the accompanying article. Although, his “paying career” is really just the tip of the iceberg; he has been a strong advocate and supporter of people with hearing loss for many years. But his passion and dedication to serve others goes far beyond that. Don has many years of experience working with different boards and organizations in Virginia. He is the former American Academy of Medical Administrators state director for Virginia and West Virginia; a two-term commandant, senior state vice-commandant, and state judge advocate for the Marine Corps League.

While working at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA; he retired in 2016 after 25 years there), Don spent many years working on behalf of people struggling with chemical dependency. But that wasn’t enough for him. He served as chair of the Virginia State Standards of Practice Committee; a member of the Board of Directors for the Virginia Council on Alcoholism; and is also a former member of the Virginia Attorney General’s Task Force to Combat Illegal Drug Use.

In 1997 Don received the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award. This prestigious award recognizes people “whose lives model the giving spirit and unconditional service to community, nation, and humanity.” Past recipients include Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, and luminaries such as Bob Hope, John Glenn and Mickey Rooney. Don is in good company.

And this doesn’t include his work on behalf of people with hearing loss. Don’s long-time involvement with HLAA includes roles as president of the Virginia Beach Chapter; Virginia State Chapter coordinator; and member of the Board of Trustees. His work continues outside of HLAA; he is a member of Hamilton CapTel’s Heroes with Hearing Loss program and is a certified peer mentor through Gallaudet University’s Peer Mentorship program. Now, at the end of June, we look forward to Don stepping into his newest role as chairperson of the Board of Trustees. A lifetime of service continues.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

HLM MayJune 2017 Cover Small

For This Marine, It’s Service Above Self

DON Return to statesAt the close of HLAA2017 Convention, Don Doherty will assume the role of chairperson of the HLAA Board of Trustees as Meg Wallhagen’s term comes to an end. Don has been involved with HLAA for more than 20 years through the Virginia Beach Chapter, and has served on the HLAA Board of Trustees for three years, most recently in the role of vice chairperson. We thought Hearing Loss Magazine readers would enjoy getting to know Don better as he transitions into his new role. A retired (but lifelong!) Marine, the theme that runs throughout Don’s inspirational journey is service, first to his country, and then to others.

by Don Doherty

Greetings HLAA members! I would first like to say it is my honor and privilege to represent you—our members, our friends and supporters—as chairperson of the HLAA Board of Trustees. I truly believe we belong to the greatest organization in the world dedicated to helping people with hearing loss.

HLAA helps members communicate more effectively through information, education, support and advocacy. I know firsthand the struggles that many individuals with hearing loss go through, but I also know the success that lies on the other side of that. You see, I have a hearing loss as well—a bilateral, sensorineural, profound hearing loss. I have worn at least one hearing aid since 1970. I thought it would be of interest to share some of the highlights of my journey that have brought me to where I am today.

Service to Country Begins in Vietnam
I grew up in the small borough of Woodlynne, just outside Camden, New Jersey. After I graduated from high school I realized I needed a new start in life. Coming from a patriotic family in which all of my uncles served in World War II, I decided to join the Marine Corps. On January 29, 1965 I became the first family member of my generation to serve as a Marine.

After basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina I was assigned to the infantry. My first assignment brought me to Camp Pendleton, California where I joined the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, First Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. We were formed into a Battalion Landing Team and went by ship to the 1st Marine Brigade at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

By this time, the 7th Marines had already landed atChu Lai, Vietnam and we knew we were soon to follow. Leaving Hawaii in 1966 we went to the Philippines for jungle training and were soon steaming by ship off the coast of Vietnam.

Our Battalion made the first assault on the Rung Sat Special Zone, a 300-square-mile swampy area about 22 miles south of Saigon. An Army Times article at the time referred to it as “a special kind of hell.” The Rung Sat Special Zone was a Viet Cong (VC) stronghold and it was our job as infantrymen to find the well-hidden enemy hideouts and drive them out of an area they knew well, but that we knew nothing about.

That operation was difficult and dangerous. But on that one and many to follow, the common denominator was noise—loud noise. Whether it’s from rifle fire (up to 155 dB), machine guns (159 dB), grenades at 50 feet (164 dB), recoilless rifles (190 dB), artillery (178 dB), or jets (140-150 dB), the military combat (and even training) environment is one of hazardous noise exposure zones.

I didn’t know it at the time, but each time I fired my weapon I was damaging my hearing. You might ask, “Why didn’t you wear earplugs?” Wearing earplugs meant we couldn’t hear the enemy, especially when it was dark. The fact is that hearing conservation wasn’t a major focus during the war. Today there are earplugs that block the sound of high-level blasts from even reaching your ears, but back in Vietnam earplugs were just not an option for infantrymen.

Getting My First Hearing Aid
After completing my tour in Vietnam I was stationed at the Marine Barracks in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I knew I had some problems with hearing but I was in denial that it was affecting my job as a Marine.

One day my command learned that I couldn’t hear as well as other Marines, particularly low voices or whispers, and especially at night. I will never forget the colonel who called me into his office and read me the riot act for not being able to hear. He loudly stated I had no business being in the Marine Corps if I couldn’t hear. I was devastated. I loved being a Marine and I was good at it. I was a staff sergeant (E-6) at the time, and the fact that I attained a staff noncommissioned officer rank in only five and a half years was a sign of my competitive nature and desire to succeed.

I decided to re-enlist after Vietnam. I wanted to be a career Marine. I made a commitment that I would do everything in my power to show the Corps that I could succeed.

In June 1970 I was medically evacuated by air from Puerto Rico, and after many stops ended up at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital in Pennsylvania. I was assigned to a ward with about eight other sailors and Marines. Within a few days we were sent for a hearing assessment examination. A medical doctor took my history and did an ear exam. From there I was sent to an audiologist and had an audiogram, which confirmed my hearing loss. They also took an impression of my ear for the mold I would wear. The next day I was told I was going to have a behind-the-ear hearing aid ordered.

While waiting for the hearing aid I got a bodypack amplification device. It looked like a 4×6 inch fanny pack with a tube going up into a device with a hook which attached to your ear. It had one knob on the top that you could use to adjust the volume. When I first heard the sound from this device it was almost painful. I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear all that noise.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was in an aural rehabilitation program. It was modeled after similar successful programs following World War II. I was given training in a variety of areas. We had education classes on how we hear, types of hearing loss and how hearing aids could help for some of that loss. We also had classes on basic lipreading and how to cope in noisy environments.

In our groups we talked about “bluffing,” where we pretended to hear something, like a joke, and laughed just because we saw others laughing. One interesting exercise I remember was listening to a Bill Cosby comedy act (on a 33 rpm record) with the group. We listened to several of the humorous stories on the recording—but nobody laughed. Then the facilitator gave us a script to read which contained the words. The record was played again and I remember laughing so hard it brought tears to my eyes. The lesson I learned from that exercise was that I needed help to understand what was being said, and that bluffing was not the answer.

When we started the program with our new devices we would take short walks down the hall, and eventually progressed to venturing outside the hospital onto the noisier city streets where we learned to find meaning behind the background noise.

My hearing aid arrived in about 10 days, and we all gladly ditched the bulky bodypacks. We went back to the audiologist to have our new hearing aids fitted and adjusted, and then had another audiogram and went through speech testing again. From this point we wore our hearing aids everywhere and discussed any problems we would be having in a group setting. Some minor adjustments might have been made but this was the aid we would keep. We were issued only one hearing aid—mine was for my left ear.

Finding Success as a Career Marine, Even with Hearing Loss
I spent a month in aural rehabilitation and then had to go through a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) to determine whether or not I would be discharged from the Marine Corps. My medical doctor recommended discharge but I appealed to the PEB and was allowed to stay on active duty with the provision that I would have to be retrained into a different military occupational specialty that did not involve exposure to loud noise. This meant I had to leave the infantry.

I retrained into the administrative field. I did everything in my power to be the best administrator I could be, but I was always fearful there would be an instance when I couldn’t hear well and it would lead to discharge. I persevered and was able to adapt to many different “hearing” situations and environments (such as heat, wind and rain).

I started taking college courses and advanced in rank. I served in many duty stations in the U.S. and Far East. I studied hearing loss on my own time and learned many of the skills I still hold today, particularly as a counselor and educator. For the last five years of my military career I served as a counselor helping Marines overcome problems associated with drugs and alcohol.

I retired from the Marine Corps as a Master Sergeant in 1987. I was able to complete my associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees all before I left active duty. On my first visit to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after retirement I was issued a second hearing aid, for my right ear.

I don’t think my military story is unique. Today, one in three service members who served in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan has a hearing loss. Hearing loss and tinnitus are the top two disabilities that veterans receive compensation for through the VA.

Sadly, many members of the military with hearing loss are afraid to bring it up or seek help for fear that they won’t be as competitive, won’t get promoted, or will be seen as a liability. Even outside the military I wondered whether I should wear my hearing aids during job interviews or just show that I could do the job better by wearing my hearing aids after being hired.

DON Red ShirtA Long Career of Service to Others
My experience and education opened the door to a civilian career in chemical dependency. My first job following active duty was as a clinical director for an adolescent and family treatment center in Dallas, Texas. Within six months I was the administrator of the facility. I was transferred to Chesapeake, Virginia where I facilitated the construction and operation of a new program. But when insurance rules changed in the early 90s, large nonprofit programs could no longer afford to stay in business as the costs became too high to operate. I was laid off just before our parent corporation shut down operations for the whole nine-facility organization.

From there I worked as an assistant director for a homeless shelter and as a trainer for a marketing company. In both of these jobs I was still was very conscious of my hearing loss and developed many new strategies to make sure I was in the right seat or could see the person I was speaking with. My greatest difficulty was hearing the telephone and understanding what was said. The stress of working with a hearing loss can be considerable. Psychologically, I would isolate and tend to avoid large groups, especially in areas with loud background noise. I still had a lot to learn about hearing loss.

In 1991 I began working for the VA in Hampton, Virginia. For my first two years I was in a long-term spinal cord injury unit. I was then transferred to mental health where I worked on the conversion of a 30-day inpatient alcohol treatment program to an outpatient system that was able to treat all forms of drug and alcohol abuse.

In May 2000 I accepted a position as an education specialist at the National Chaplain Training Center at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. We provided training for approximately 1,000 chaplains at 153 VA medical centers throughout the country. I loved the chaplains and staff I worked with, and especially appreciated the many chaplains who visited our live-in school and attended our many course offerings. In June 2016 I retired from the VA after 25 years of service.

The Psychology of Hearing Loss
The psychological impact of hearing loss is much like the grieving process. In college, I remember reading about the stages of grief or loss. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist who, in her book On Death and Dying, first talked about the five stages of grief a person might go through when faced with a terminal illness or following the death of a loved one. These five stages are also applicable to someone with hearing loss.

Stage 1—Denial. Someone in denial might not be willing to accept the facts or reality of the situation. People with hearing loss sometimes stay in denial for years before
seeking help.

Stage 2—Anger. This can be anger directed at themselves or others for suffering the loss. A person with hearing loss might get angry at a spouse, friend or even a doctor or audiologist who is trying to help.

Stage 3—Bargaining. In this stage a person could try to make a deal or compromise. I remember telling my wife soon after I received a hearing aid that I’ll wear it at work because I have to, but I didn’t want to wear it at home in the evening.

Stage 4—Depression. The signs of this depression could be sadness, regret, uncertainty or even fear. Those of us with hearing loss may tend to isolate to avoid these feelings.

Stage 5—Acceptance. The final step in the grieving process is acceptance. For people with hearing loss this means you finally and fully know that you need your hearing aid or cochlear implant to communicate, and you accept this new reality in your life.

Not everyone goes through these stages in order, and you can even regress, but the important thing to recognize is that acceptance of your hearing loss is a process, and takes some time to accept.

Hearing loss is stressful for the one who has it, but it can be especially stressful for family members. I remember in my marriage all communication stopped when the lights went out. Whatever had to be said had to be said when the lights or hearing aids were on. I used a large clock radio with the volume set as high as possible to ensure I would wake up. It worked for me, but my wife never did get used to waking up that way. Parties and social functions were limited, as were crowded restaurants.

Wearing a hearing aid is tiring; it is a daily struggle to hear and understand. A family makes many mistakes in the communication process that could be avoided with the right information. It’s not that we weren’t listening to the audiologist; it was more that we didn’t know which questions to ask.

A Lifetime of Service Continues—Now Through HLAA
This knowledge gap is what led me to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Following my retirement from the Marine Corps, my civilian job required a lot of traveling. I stayed at many hotels across the country, and invariably the hotel was ill-equipped to deal with a guest who had a hearing loss. Wake-up calls didn’t work because I couldn’t hear the phone without my hearing aids, clock radio alarms weren’t loud enough, and even one of the hotel staff beating on my door didn’t faze me.

To make sure I would get up, I took to sitting in a chair next to the clock radio or alarm with both hearing aids on catching what bits and pieces of sleep I could. It was this problem that led me to my first SHHH (Self Help for Hard of Hearing, which is what HLAA was known as then) chapter meeting in the 90s. I had seen a newspaper ad for the local Virginia Beach Chapter and decided to check it out.

The meeting had a speaker on hearing aids, but the real value for me was the question and answer session that followed. I explained my problem and that’s when I first learned about a vibrating alarm clock. I was overjoyed. I would have never guessed that such a device even existed. It was encouraging to be in a room where everyone had a hearing loss and where most people wore hearing aids. I also learned about captioned telephones, which could help me both on the job and at home.

That first meeting was another life lesson; there were technologies out there that could help me. I knew then I needed to make time to attend meetings and get as much information and education as I could about what products were available and which ones seemed to work better than others. Even then HLAA was leading the way in supporting people with hearing loss as well as being a consumer advocate.

Rising Through the Ranks Again— Just Not in the Marines
As I attended monthly chapter meetings I realized what a valuable and supportive forum they were. I began to take a more active role, assumed positions of leadership, and did everything I could to bring the message of help and hope to as many people with hearing loss as possible. I enrolled in an HLAA Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) training session and leadership training for chapter leaders.

I have been the HLAA Virginia Beach Chapter president for many years. We have an energetic and vibrant chapter and have helped many people over the years. We were also one of the pioneer chapters that supported and advocated for open captioning of Broadway shows at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia. We work with the Norfolk Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities and Access Virginia, a captioning advocacy group.

Chapter members attend performances as a group and are so overjoyed just to see a Broadway show and understand what is being said. The Virginia Beach Chapter also supports people with visual impairment in receiving verbal information about what is happening on stage. We also take trips to the movies and use the new captioned glasses. But mostly, we support each other and have fun doing so.

I have been on the HLAA Board of Trustees for more than three years. I have served on many committees, and most recently as the vice chairperson. Two years ago I proudly accepted the HLAA Keystone Award for my unending work on behalf of people with hearing loss.

I am now proudly stepping up as chairperson of the Board, where I will be able to continue my service to HLAA.

These are exciting times for people with hearing loss. There are many developments and changes on the horizon, and these changes are all for the benefit of you, HLAA members. We will continue to lead the way as the voice of the consumer and to effect change. Our current focus is on implementing the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), and most recently, pushing for the passage of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017.

As chairperson of your Board of Trustees I will continue the good work of HLAA Founder Rocky Stone and my predecessor, Meg Wallhagen. I am dedicated to helping our organization grow and prosper. The Board of Trustees is comprised of a diverse, highly-educated and motivated group of professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to support the HLAA staff and our members in every way we can. We do not take this responsibility lightly. There are still too many people with hearing loss who want and need help, but don’t know about us, the critical work we do or the support we can provide. I am also making a personal commitment to working with, and for, our nation’s veterans to ensure that everyone who has served our country knows that we are here for them. I hope to see you in Salt Lake City in June. Semper Fi.

Don Doherty, M.A., Ed.S., is the incoming chairperson of the HLAA Board of Trustees and lives in Moyock, North Carolina. He can be reached at chairperson@hearingloss.org as of the end of June.





Seen & Heard: Jan Connolly

10 05 2017

Jan Connolly is our Seen & Heard profile in the May/June 2017 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Jan at HLAA Convention 2016 in Washington, D.C. last June. Jan is a member of the HLAA Houston Chapter.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

S&H Jan Connolly

Jan Connolly

Houston, TX / Born March 17 in Rockledge, FL

DO YOU BELONG TO A CHAPTER? I am currently the secretary for the HLAA Houston Chapter. Being involved in a chapter enables me to help others who are working to cope with their hearing loss.

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT HLAA? I attended the Walk4Hearing in 2014. I picked up a brochure at the Houston Chapter table and went to the next meeting. The rest, as they say, is history.

THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING A MEMBER OF HLAA IS…knowing that I am not alone—we have all been affected by hearing loss in some way.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT HLAA CONVENTIONS?
Besides having access to massive amounts of information, I get to meet new friends and catch up with others who don’t live in Houston.

MY HEARING LOSS… I was born with some hearing loss. It progressed as I aged and worsened due to excessive ear infections and surgeries. I began wearing hearing aids right out of high school, which was too late—I really needed them much sooner. I received my first implant (BAHA—bone-anchored hearing aid) in 2008 and my second in 2009.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY…One of my favorite childhood memories was when I went to an Auburn game with my father. It was just the two of us and I enjoyed the one-on-one time.

THE BEST GIFT I EVER RECEIVED… was my dog, Pepper.

MY FAVORITE LAZY DAY IS… in the backyard playing around with my dogs—Darsey, Raleigh, and Rori Shae.

IN MY FRIDGE YOU’LL FIND… a lot of water and fruit.

THE BEST ROAD TRIP EVER WAS… when I went to Alaska with my mom. We encountered so much wildlife. It was amazing!

SOMEONE REALLY NEEDS TO DESIGN A BETTER… BAHA. I have to wear a body aid and it falls off my hip all the time. (Hint, hint…)

MY FAVORITE THING TO WEAR IS… my Houston Texans gear, but my favorite item that I do not wear out of the house would be my father’s shirt. I’ve slept in it most every night since his passing in 2008.

I LOSE ALL TRACK OF TIME WHEN I’M…  playing an instrument.

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… say goodbye to my father when he passed away.

I LOVE THE SOUNDS OF… a baby’s giggle, birds singing, and the sound of my flute and all kinds of music.

I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… shy.

HOBBIES? Photography, scrapbooking, writing, playing my instruments, sewing, baking, and playing with my dogs

MUSICALLY INCLINED? Yes, I play the flute, piccolo, guitar, drums, piano, ukulele, mandolin, and I own a saxophone and a clarinet.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… really can’t hear when I am not connected to my “ears.”

I WISH I HAD A TALENT FOR… singing.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… cheesecake.

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… Luke Bryan and Keith Urban.

MY FRIENDS WOULD SAY I AM… outgoing, considerate, and fun.

GET ANYTHING GOOD IN THE MAIL LATELY? Yes, my Texans season tickets and Hearing Loss Magazine!

THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… My BAHAs and my Roger Pen. Without them I would not be able to function in this wonderful noisy world.

MY THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS ARE… a napkin my grandfather signed that said he’d come to my high school graduation (he did), my father’s shirt, and my autographed footballs.

EVERY MEET ANYONE FAMOUS? Rob Lowe, Charlton Heston, Linda Evans, Clint Black, JJ Watt (from the Houston Texans) and numerous other Texans players.

MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to work with people with hearing loss and help to empower them to empower themselves.

IF I RULED THE WORLD… What? You mean I don’t? LOL.

MY GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT… I have been a teacher (of the hearing) for twenty-six years.

Hearing Loss Magazine is full of valuable information. It is the only magazine I actually read cover to cover. I would like to see more information on the activities and work of local chapters, such as in advocacy.”
 





Seen & Heard: Cindy R. Jagger

10 01 2017

Cindy Jagger is our Seen & Heard profile in the January/February 2017 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Cindy at HLAA Convention 2016 in Washington, D.C. this past June. Cindy is a member of the HLAA Diablo Valley Chapter in Walnut Creek, CA.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

sh-cindy-jagger

CINDY R. JAGGER

Suisun City, CA / Born January 16, 1948 in Washington, D.C.

DO YOU BELONG TO A CHAPTER? Yes, the HLAA Diablo Valley Chapter in Walnut Creek, California. HLAA is a passion of mine and I enjoy helping other people with hearing loss. I’ve been a chapter leader for the past 29 years and I have held many positions, including secretary, vice president, and president of the Diablo Valley Chapter. I also started a chapter in Solano County and served as the northern California state chapter coordinator for 11 years.

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT HLAA? I got a flyer at work to attend a workshop with Sam Trychin, Ph.D., about how to cope with hearing loss. It was at the workshop I found out about HLAA. I joined in 1987, when it was called SHHH.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT HLAA CONVENTIONS? I like meeting people from all walks of life and remembering that people are not alone with their hearing loss.

MY HEARING LOSS… was discovered when I was three years old. I am not sure what caused it but the theory is that it was from a high fever I developed when I was six months old. I started wearing hearing aids when I was six and wore them for 43 years. I got my first cochlear implant (CI) in 1999 and second in 2008. My CIs are the most miraculous gift I have received to enhance my life!

FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT…  After receiving my first cochlear implant, I was in a small meeting room alone and kept hearing “tick-tick-tick.” My first thought was that maybe there is a bomb under the table. When someone who was hearing arrived in the room, I asked what that “tick-tick-tick” sound was. “Oh, that is the clock on the wall,” said my friend.

MY FAVORITE LAZY DAY IS… reading a book on a rainy day. I also enjoy researching genealogy and doing crafts.

MY BEST ROAD TRIP EVER WAS… to Arizona in our new car and seeing three days of major league baseball spring training.

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… earning my associates degree and continuing my education at a state college.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I…  am the first CI recipient to climb the bridge at Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT IS… dancing.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR…  sweets.

I HAVE A FEAR OF…  being stuck in a crowded elevator (it has happened twice!)

I COLLECT… angels and bears.

EVER MEET ANYONE FAMOUS?  Red Skelton, Nelson Rockefeller, Heather Whitestone

THE MOST RECENT SKILL I HAVE ACQUIRED IS…  interior design.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF…  ocean waves, rain drops, and music.

YOU JUST WON A $10 MILLION LOTTERY. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? I give a gift to HLAA, pay bills, invest, remodel my house, and then travel the world.

FIVE PLACES I HAVE LIVED…  California, Japan, Maryland, Virginia, and Rhode Island

FIVE JOBS I HAVE HAD…  Third party collections (medical insurance for the Department of Defense), medical claims adjuster at an insurance company, travel voucher clerk, human resources clerk for a major contractor and engineering firm, and dance school teacher

I AM…  easygoing, loving, and positive.

MY FRIENDS WOULD SAY I AM…  fun, brave, and creative.

KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS DONE FOR ME… My husband, Jim, was so caring and loving during my cancer journey.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as an intellectual and loving person who had a thirst for knowledge and enjoyed life.

I love articles regarding new studies and new technologies regarding hearing loss in Hearing Loss Magazine.





HLM Cover Feature: Larry Herbert, Cynthia Moynihan (LaRue, too!) and Lily Vaughn

10 01 2017

Larry Herbert, Cynthia Moynihan (with LaRue) and Lily Vaughn grace the January/February 2017 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I photographed the trio at HLAA Convention 2016 in Washington, D.C. this past June. This issue focuses on the HLAA Walk4Hearing.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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HLM Cover Feature: Carmen Iraida Franceschi

8 05 2016

Carmen Iraida Franceschi is our cover feature for the May/June 2016 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine! I design and photograph for this bimonthly publication of the Hearing Loss Association of American (HLAA).

Iraida sent me a friend request on Facebook awhile back without knowing that a) I was the designer and photographer for the magazine, b) I also have hearing loss, and c) that she lives just a few miles from me! I imagine the friend request came because of my connection to several of her other hearing-loss-related friends on Facebook. I had no idea who she was or where she lived. After our big “Snowmageddon,” I saw a photo she posted on FB of her townhouse front steps covered in massive amounts of snow. I thought, hmm…could she actually be in my neighborhood? I messaged her and learned she was in another townhouse subdivision just a few miles from me! That’s when I asked her if she would be interested in being interviewed and photographed for the magazine.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

HLM MayJune 2016 Cover Small.jpg

Iraida Spread lorez

 

Carmen “Iraida” Franceschi: The Power of Perseverance

Interview by Cindy Dyer

Carmen “Iraida” Franceschi was born in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, the neighbor city of Ponce, located at the southern end of the island. She came to Virginia when she was 18 to live with an aunt and attend college at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her hearing loss was diagnosed when she was in grade school and progressively worsened. When hearing aids were no longer effective, she discovered she was a candidate for cochlear implants. I sat down with Iraida and her mother, Coca, to talk about her hearing loss journey. It was a family affair as Iraida’s husband Michael and their two daughters shared their experiences, too.

Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM): When was your hearing loss first discovered?

Iraida:
I believe I was 7 years old. My first-grade teacher noticed that I was not really paying attention when she was calling me. My family was also thinking maybe there was something wrong with me, but they had doubts because I was doing so well. I was taken to the audiologist and they diagnosed my hearing loss. It was mild at first, but soon became progressive.

Coca: The doctor thought that the damage might have been caused by an antibiotic that she was given when she was a baby. He thought that the progression would end when she was in her 20s—but by that time she had lost a lot of her hearing.

HLM: Do you think you were compensating by reading lips?

Iraida: When I was a little girl I cannot recall if I was reading lips.

Coca: She was reading lips! She was always so attentive when she was speaking with somebody. She would always look directly at them. She began speaking early and was within the normal range as she grew older.

When she was about 2 or 3 years old, she communicated without problems with us, other kids, and adults. Then there were some changes when she was in kindergarten, but we attributed them to being distracted. As she grew older we realized that her hearing was not as good as it should be, especially when she sang a song (in Spanish)—it sounded like gibberish, yet she was truly enjoying the song. We were puzzled as to why she would sing the song in such a foreign way!

HLM: Do you still read lips even with cochlear implants?

Iraida:
Yes, I always do. It’s such a habit for me.

HLM: What was it like wearing hearing aids?

Iraida:
I did not like them. I wore them to school, but when I got home I would take them off. When I was with my family, I didn’t think it was that bad, but maybe they thought otherwise. The hearing aids were so noisy. I could hear all the background noise. Everything was so loud!

Coca: She was able to hear. I was able to speak to her if I spoke slowly. I didn’t have to speak louder because her problem area was with high-pitched tones.

HLM: Did your hearing loss affect your schoolwork?

Iraida: That’s a good question. When I was a little girl I was very fun-loving and did not take schoolwork seriously!

HLM: What did you study in college?

Iraida:
At the time, I was trying to get into accounting, but that was a complete shock for me because English became harder for me to understand.

HLM: Was that because the hearing loss was progressing?

Iraida:
Yes, but English was just harder. The college environment was much more advanced to me and I just could not keep up. I always wanted to understand hearing people. I was sad about that but I did not let it stop me from interaction.

Coca: When she moved to the United States she did not speak English at all. She moved here in mid-summer and in the fall she entered Mary Washington College. Her hearing was bad and was getting progressively worse. She was wearing hearing aids but they did not help. She asked the teacher to record all the lessons so that when I came home I could transcribe for her, but he would not allow it.

Iraida: For a while I had great hearing aids, but then I wanted to give up because the hearing loss was progressive and they weren’t working. Cheap ones, expensive ones—none of them were helping at this point in time.

HLM (to Coca): How did she get into college without being able to speak English?

Coca: She was able to understand and write English. It was just a problem when she got into a conversation. It was hard for her to keep up with the teacher who was speaking far away from her without looking at her. She was not used to the language at the time, so it was not easy. It was not just reading or writing in English—it was listening to someone speak English. That’s what made it difficult.

HLM: At what point did you know you were a candidate for cochlear implants?

Iraida:
I was 28 or 29. I was trying to find information online but there didn’t seem to be much available.

Coca: I remember once we were trying to check on some kind of device that you could wear just to watch TV. It was years ago and it was too cumbersome—there was a cable running from your head and you had to carry something in your pocket. We both said, ‘Forget it! When they invent something better, we will reconsider.’

HLM: At this point you began working. Where did you work?

Iraida:
I got a job at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. I’m a program assistant. It’s mostly data input, coordinating programs, and running the panel. It is quite a workload. I have worked there for more than 20 years.

In the beginning I wore my hearing aids because I needed to be able to hear my supervisor and co-workers. Requesting closed captioning for upcoming meetings had to be done well in advance. Although I wore my hearing aids, I didn’t like the constant feedback noise. My co-workers could hear the squeal of the feedback and they would let me know. It seems the hearing aids were always squealing. There was always a problem with the earmold. They would shrink over time and I would have to go back and get a new mold cast.

HLM: Tell me about your experience with cochlear implants.

Iraida:
As my hearing loss progressed, information was hard to find. Then we got an invitation to a seminar on cochlear implants. I almost didn’t go. I was not that curious yet, and we were still researching options. I also didn’t know anyone who had cochlear implants. Now I know lots of people who do and we have a closed group on Facebook that is all about cochlear implants. Now I have thousands of friends that I can relate to!

Coca: It was always so disappointing when we tried to get information. There were no people to contact. How were we going to be able to pay for it? How were we even going to find out the cost? I had no idea whether insurance would cover anything, and not being able to find the answers to your questions was horrible. We tried calling our health plan providers and doctor’s offices, and found no data. No one could answer our questions. It was like there was a wall up and there was nothing available, so we decided to forget about it.

Iraida: I decided to go to the seminar at the last minute and drove all the way to Maryland where it was being held. When I got there I found there was a large resource of information. There were brochures and doctors and health insurance information. They guided me to a room with two large-screen TVs with closed captioning. Everybody was asking questions and they were answering them clearly and slowly. When the doctors took the stage to answer questions, I paid close attention because I planned to make an appointment with one of them. One of them got my attention. He was a doctor at George Washington University.

I’m bilateral now. I had the first implant for one year before getting one in the other ear. I just wanted to try it. In the beginning it was very difficult. It wasn’t what I expected. I was expecting sounds to be clearer. In the beginning sounds were more clutter and static, and at first voices sounded squeaky, like Donald Duck. It was horrible. When my implant was first activated, I was in shock. I told myself, ‘I made a mistake,’ but they assured me it would fade out and fade away. My brain would have to grow accustomed to it.

After six months I noticed that I could put the implant on, and if the room was quiet then it would be really quiet, but I could also hear when somebody was walking. I could hear the sound of footsteps from outside, or when somebody was opening the door, or locking the car. When I used the remote starter I could hear when my car’s engine was running, while I was in the house.

When I started to hear these sounds, so clear and so crisp and so wonderful, I thought, ‘I really want to have the other ear done!’ I wore a hearing aid on the other side but I felt that it was not working. The cochlear implant was so powerful that I had to keep checking the hearing aid and asking myself, ‘Is this on? Is the battery good?’ It was like the hearing aid wasn’t working at all, but it was.

I told my family that I wanted to proceed with a second cochlear implant and they suggested I wait. I got the second implant on January 23, 2013. The nurse pointed out that it was one year to the date from the first implant.

I believe that my second implant was easier because I knew the process of what was going to happen. Not every implantation is easy. Everyone’s experience is not the same. Other people feel differently about their second cochlear implant. They fit comfortably and there is no feedback. I hear more and I feel more confident.

HLM: How has having cochlear implants helped you at work?

Iraida:
Now that I am bilateral, I can participate in meetings even when there isn’t closed captioning available. My supervisor and co-workers have noticed that I am more productive now than I was in the past. My supervisor said, “I noticed that you appeared to be struggling with understanding what the staff was saying. Lately, I noticed that from a distance you can hear what I am saying to you. And you don’t ask me to repeat. Big improvement!”

I can turn on the telecoil, (or t-coil), which I can use in a meeting room with a hearing loop, but not many meeting rooms come with a loop. I love it because the sound streams straight to my ears and it is so easy to use.

I would like to look into an upgrade for my cochlear implants. I would like to know if it is possible and how much my insurance would cover.

HLM (to Coca): Did you notice a difference communication-wise after Iraida had the implant?

Coca:
Our dynamic has completely changed. Before, when we had a conversation and we were talking to other people, we would be looking at each other so that I could repeat what the other person said. I would speak slowly and in a tone of voice that she could understand, and then I would get lost in the conversation because I was not listening, I was talking.

She would miss a lot and we would have to repeat frequently. Or, we would say the same thing using different words and slowly, but we wouldn’t be able to retell every detail, and we had to make sure she was looking at us. Now, that’s all a thing of the past!

Iraida: They were speaking to me but sometimes I was not listening to what they were saying because I was watching my mother and not listening to the speaker.

Coca: Sometimes Michael, Iraida’s husband, would do some sign language. He could do spelling and a few words.

Iraida: Michael is not proficient in sign language and I only know a few words myself. I have taken sign language classes but only when I was an adult and thinking about getting a cochlear implant. I also have a co-worker who is deaf. He wears no hearing aids and uses sign language. It really is another language. It is a challenge to learn sign language. Some people don’t even want to try.

Coca: One difference in the dynamic with her children is that they used to lie to their father and say, “I spoke with Mommy but she didn’t hear anything.” They can’t do that now. They can’t get away with as much as they used to!

HLM: How hard was it to communicate with your husband?

Iraida: It was hard. Sometimes he was writing to me and sometimes he used sign language to spell out words. We could easily have miscommunication and misunderstandings. Sometimes our plans got broken because I would meet him somewhere at 5 p.m. and he would tell me, ‘No, we were supposed to meet somewhere else or at some other time.’ Sometimes I got details wrong.

I love to make fun of myself when I miss details like mispronouncing ‘chicken’ with an ‘sh.’ My children will mispronounce the word the way I say it just to tease me, and I laugh because I love it. It really doesn’t bother me at all. There are some other words, like ‘chocolate.’ I cannot pronounce ‘chocolate,’ and they say, ‘shock-o-late.’ Spanish words are easier to say than English words. English words have so many grouped consonants like ‘sh’ and ‘ch’ that are hard for me to pronounce. I have trouble pronouncing ‘s’ and ‘z.’

HLM: When you take your implants off, can you hear at all?

Iraida: No. I take them off at night when I go to sleep and when my husband comes home, I am unaware. He works the night shift and does not wake me. When my children were younger, they could be on a phone call late at night and I would not hear it. In fact, my husband was the one who got up at night for them when they were infants. I did not hear them cry. Taking them off allows me to sleep peacefully.

HLM: You had hearing loss at a young age. Did you notice a difference between listening to music with hearing aids versus cochlear implants?

Iraida: With cochlear implants, I had the beginning phase with trouble hearing music, but I do enjoy listening to music, so I’m happy I was able to adjust to it. Music sounds wonderful when I crank the volume up. I love to listen to music when I drive.

HLM: How is your hearing in noisy social situations?

Iraida: With hearing aids this did not bother me because I could hardly hear anything. I couldn’t understand anyone—not even my family, even if I read their lips. I would just sit there, eating and smiling.

With cochlear implants I hear more background noise but I am more restful. My family might still speak louder, thinking that I cannot hear them, but I can talk to them and participate with the group. I might miss a few things, but this is so much better than before. I can enjoy the conversations. I can follow along and interject comments into conversations. Some of my friends say that the noise in restaurants bothers them. They have a hearing loss and it bothers them, but it doesn’t bother me.

HLM: Tell me about your family.

Iraida: Sienna is 16. She loves softball, and is pretty good at it. She is pretty quick at everything. She studies quickly and does homework and housework quickly‚ so I have to check on her because she might miss something!

Delayna is 14, and the complete opposite of Sienna. She is slow and likes to take her time. She does not like to be rushed. She’s not as social as Sienna, but she has her friends.

My husband, Michael, is a forensic photographer with the FBI. He photographs evidence for use in court presentations. He used to be in Washington, D.C., but now works in Quantico [Virginia]. He recently received a medal for 30 years of service.

For some odd reason people think my husband is Hispanic, like I am, but he’s not. He’s from Pennsylvania, and does not know any Spanish. He listened to cassettes on Spanish so he could talk to me when we first met.

I had an aunt who is married to someone in the Navy and she lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I came to Fredericksburg to go to college, and when my aunt moved to Italy, her friends threw a farewell party. Michael and his then-girlfriend came to the party. They were not happy at the time and constantly arguing. He spoke with me at the party, and after they broke up I started going out with him. He got my phone number from his girlfriend, who was actually a friend of mine!

HLM: What are your favorite sounds? Least favorite?

Iraida: When I wore hearing aids, I was always dropping things and couldn’t hear those sounds. Then I would have to backtrack through the house to find the items. With the cochlear implants I hear these types of sounds right away. Now I am careful about putting the dishes away quietly since I can hear them better. I used to put them away loudly because I did not notice the sound! When I wash dishes, the sound of water seems very loud.

I don’t like the sound of aluminum foil crinkling. I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for my daughter every morning before school and wrap them in aluminum foil, and I find that sound is so loud!

The tick-tock of a clock was one of the first sounds I recognized when I was first implanted. I was sitting in my computer room doing audio rehab, and I paused to listen to the cutest sound—it was the clock on the wall.

Every morning I hear the birds and they are loud, but I enjoy them. I like the music of the 80s, maybe because during that time I was listening to music the most. I love hearing warning beeps from the stove, alert beeps from the pushing of buttons at the gas station, or any machinery—even the sound made by pushing buttons in the checkout lane at the grocery store. I love all those beeping noises. The washer and dryer also make warning noises, and I am amazed at them all.

I love my cochlear implants. They are my gems now. The most wonderful thing about it all, besides being able to hear the birds and crickets, is being able to fully participate in silly and happy chatter with family.

__________________________________

FAMILY PERSPECTIVES

MICHAEL, Iraida’s husband
We started dating each other around 1990. Although she couldn’t hear, I noticed she was a good listener. I remember, at first, we would write on napkins or scrap paper in restaurants to communicate, which seemed sufficient at the time when life seemed to
go by at a slower pace.

As our relationship progressed, we of course needed to communicate better, so we learned some basic American Sign Language. As technologies such as closed captioning, instant messaging, and texting improved, so did our ability to expand into a more interdependent relationship where we could make choices together rather than just using my best judgment.

Deciding to get a cochlear implant was a big decision for both of us, but I confess my biggest incentive for her to do it was so I didn’t have to listen to feedback from her hearing aids!

Now with the latest technology, Iraida is a bilateral cochlear recipient and together we experience the good and the bad issues resulting from her immensely improved hearing.

I remember at first she would ask, “What’s that noise I’m hearing?” and I would have to concentrate to try to isolate the many different sounds we (as hearing people) ignore on a daily basis. Finally, I would say it’s a bird or the kids playing outside. The really amazing sounds she would share were the fizz from a soda or the subtle variance of noise as you passed parked cars from the passenger side windows—“whoosh, whoosh…” she would say, like a child experiencing something for the first time.

These little highlights of hers helped remind me to stop and smell the roses, and not block out all the wonderful everyday senses we tend to take for granted.

Over the years, I have relied upon my hand gestures and exaggerating my pronunciations slightly to compensate for my soft-spoken voice. But now my wife will slap my hands away if I make a sign to remind me that she wants to practice her hearing abilities without all of the tools and aids we’ve developed through time (so far). At which point, I will jokingly say to her: ‘I liked you better before’—and a good hearty laugh follows.

SIENNA, Iraida and Michael’s daughter, age 16
The benefits that came from my mom getting cochlear implants outweighed the risks, and it was life-changing. Before her implants, it was a struggle to communicate with her when my sister or I needed something, and every day there was something we needed, all the time. However, at the time I didn’t know anything could be done to help the situation, and honestly I didn’t think that an implant could help her hearing. It just seemed too good to be true. I was also a bit hesitant about her going through the surgery because I felt it was risky and there is always a chance something could go wrong. But she explained that the doctor told her the surgery was easy, and that she wouldn’t even have to stay in the hospital overnight.

Thankfully, everything went perfectly and I noticed my mom’s hearing coming back when she would get upset with me for making too much noise in my room, or for placing silverware in the sink too loudly and carelessly. In the past, she would never point this out, and it amazed me that she thought it was now too loud!

When my mom is driving me places, she and I can now sing along to the lyrics of songs that I like to play on my iPhone. This is something I treasure because it truly is so much fun! She doesn’t always know the music from my generation, but she has an app that recognizes the song and plays the lyrics, and this, too, is amazing. She has now added some of my favorite songs to her own library on her cell phone—gotta love that!

DELAYNA, Iraida and Michael’s daughter, age 14
Now that my mom has cochlear implants, conversation with her has been much easier. I don’t have to repeat much, unless it’s an unusual or a rarely used word. In the past, I had to repeat myself constantly. We couldn’t really finish our conversation because it was so frustrating for me, especially when I needed her help with my homework back when I was younger. The teachers were teaching me something differently and my mom had her own way of doing schoolwork. Her methods were different, and I tried to explain the way my teacher wanted my schoolwork done, but it was almost impossible to express that. I am so glad my mom has cochlear implants now, and every thought that we communicate is a breeze!

Something funny that she now does when I am talking to her is that she doesn’t stop or pause to look me in the face, as she wants to continue her errands in the kitchen. I kind of want my mom to look at me. Yet, she says she is practicing, and for me to continue talking. It’s a little unusual at times, but it’s really fun to see that she did get my message when she repeats what I had just said. That’s so amazing!

Cindy Dyer designs and photographs for Hearing Loss Magazine. Her photography has been featured in Shutterbug Magazine, The Washington Post and in the Learn & Explore series on nikonusa.org. She is a twice-published USPS Stamp Artist, with two series of Forever stamps—Ferns (released in 2014) and Water Lilies (released in 2015). See more of her work at cindydyerphotography.com, cindydyerdesign.com and on her blog at cindydyer.wordpress.com.





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2015 Recap

27 12 2015

I design and photograph for the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America. Here is a recap of the issues published in 2015.

 

JanFeb CoverJanet and Sam Trychin graced the cover of our January/February 2015 issue, and wrote the two main features—How it All began! The Origins of the Living Well with Hearing Loss Program by Sam, Trychin and A Love Story—Audiologist Meets Psychologist by Janet Trychin). I photographed Sam and Janet at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Washington, D.C. Also in this issue: Should I get a Hearing Aid? by Mark Ross; Walking with You: My Journey as the Walk4Hearing Ambassador by Katherine A. Pawlowski; Beyond the Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant by Don Senger; Resources Worth Their Weight in Gold, article by Larry Medwetsky about Gallaudet University’s Peer Mentoring Program; Something Extraordinary Has Happened!…and It’s All About the People, an article by Julie Olson celebrating highlights in our year-long 35th commemoration of HLAA’s founding; and Welcome Back to the Movies, an article by Lise Hamlin about HLAA’s work on movie theater access for people with hearing loss. Betty Proctor is featured in our Seen & Heard column for this issue. You can read her profile here.

 

COVER MarchApril 2015The March/April 2015 issue was our Convention sneak preview edition, featuring Nancy Macklin’s Convention feature, The Train is Leaving the Station: Hop On! In a nod to the “All Aboard” theme, I photographed the Talbert and Drawdy families at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio for the cover. Also in this issue: State Agencies for People with Hearing Loss by Lisa Kornberg; Subjects Being Sought, an article by Donna Sorkin and Teresa Zwolan about a new study to examine expansion of Medicare criteria for cochlear implants; The Walk4Hearing and Alliances Help Communites Across the Nation by Ronnie Adler; Let’s Chat—Changing Our Internal Conversations by psychologist Michael Harvey; HLAA member Ann Liming writes about her cochlear implant in A Consumer’s Perspective; HLM Editor in Chief Barbara Kelley’s article, Chilean SHH, profiles the organization and how it was inspired by HLAA; audiologist Mark Ross reflects on his hearing loss in My Near Deaf Experience; Hearing and Health Care—High Stakes Communication by Kathi Mestayer; and Robin Itzler talks frankly about the terms hard of hearing and hearing impaired in [Please] Don’t Call Me Names. Convention 2015 was held in St. Louis, MO, on June 25-28 at the beautiful St. Louis Union Station, a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel.

 

COVER MayJune 2015I photographed Elise Williams and her dog Jackie in San Antonio, Texas, for the cover of our May/June 2015 issue. The main feature was HLAA Walk4Hearing: 10 Years of You Walking Coast to Coast by Barbara Kelley. Also in this issue: Joe Garin shares the story of his son’s hearing loss, the gift of hearing, and their journey with the HLAA Walk4Hearing in Joey G’s Gang; Katerine Bouton writes about NYC Deputy Inspector Daniel Carione and his hearing loss in Standing Your Ground for Justice; Nancy Macklin shares highlights of HLAA Convention 2015 in All Aboard! Last Stop…St. Louis!; Jodi Iler writes about a chance encounter in Oregon leading to a grateful order of nuns in Iowa in Religious Sisters Get in the Loop; Loretta M. Miller discusses her journey with tinnitus in The Trip with Tinnitus; and Ellen Semel writes about the exhibits at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Advocacy Works. HLAA members Dave and Carrie Welter make their debut in our Seen & Heard column. You can read their profiles here.

 

HLM JulyAug2015Our July/August 2015 issue focused on hearing loss and technology, beginning Cynthia Compton-Conley’s Best Practices in Hearing Enhancement—What Jack Discovered and What Every Consumer Should Know; in The Smartphone Will See You Now—Really?, Larry Herbert talks with Martin Cooper, inventor of the cell phone, and looks at the future of hearing health care; audiologist Larry Medwetsy shares how to extend the use of your hearing aid with the latest technology in Hearing Aid Connectivity—Bridging a Closer Connection to the World of Sound; Julie Olson writes about how technology is a boon to those with hearing loss, but we can’t forget the human factor in HEAR in the Real World; Lise Hamlin shares how the ADA put people with hearing loss on an equal playing field in the workplace and in public places in The ADA at 25; audiologist Mark Ross writes about the negative perceptions of hearing loss in The Stigma of Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids; and Teresa Goddard shares her personal story of living successfully with hearing loss in Technology—It’s Never Been a Choice Not to Use It! Larry Herbert focuses on his life with technology in our Seen & Heard column. You can read his profile here.

 

Sarah CoverLibrarian and HLAA member Sarah Wegley graces the cover of our September/October 2015 issue. I photographed Sarah this past summer when she was interning at the HLAA headquarters. In Speak Up Librarian, she chronicles her mid-career hearing loss and the adventures that follow. Also in this issue: Back to School: Hearing Aid Checklist for Parents with Children with Hearing Loss by Anna Bella and Suzanne D’Amico; The Smart Hearing Aid Revolution by Eric Banda; The Smart Hearing Aid Revolution by Guard Your Health; Nancy Macklin shares convention highlights in HLAA Convention 2015 Wrap-Up; Lise Hamlin writes about HLAA’s role in providing communication access recommendations for rail cars in HLAA is Working for You—Rail Access; and Barbara Kelley introduces Ingebord and Irwin Hochmair, inventors of the MED-EL cochlear implant in Harnessing the Power of Technology. Chameen Stratton is featured in our Seen & Heard column. You can read her profile here.

 

Shari Eberts CoverIn our November/December 2015 issue, Shari Eberts shares how she tried to hide her hearing loss for 10 years in Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to Be a Showstopper—Breaking the Stigma of Hearing Loss. Also in this issue: Sarah Wegley shares results of a research study about the diminishing stigma of hearing loss in No More Stigma—The Hearing Aid Effect; Dr. King Chung explains the connection between hearing loss and cognitive function in Hearing Aid Use, Cognitive Function, and Proven Benefits; Nancy Macklin announces highlights for the upcoming convention in HLAA Convention 2016 in Washington, D.C.; audiologist Larry Medwetsky continues part two of his series on smartphone apps, Mobile Device Apps for People with Hearing Loss: Expanding the Horizons of Hearing; S.R. Archer interviews a clinical psychologist who works with people with hearing loss in What You Can’t Hear, Can Hurt You; Lise Hamlin’s article, An Idea Whose Time Has Come, discusses how Medicare should include coverage for hearing aids and related services; and Poetry & Prose features Brady Dickens’ Listen and Alyssa Blackmer’s Hearing Silence.

 

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

 





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2012 Recap

28 11 2012

The last issue in 2012 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes last week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services to HLAA. Here is a recap of the issues published in 2012.

Tina and Tom Hamblin were the cover feature for the January/February 2012 issue. Tina contacted me in fall 2010 after seeing the wedding photos I shot for Todd and Abbie Hlavacek in September 2010. Todd and Abbie are also members of HLAA and Abbie wrote her cover story for the May/June 2008 issue (recapped here). Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

I first met Tina and Tom when they arrived for their engagement photo session at my favorite location to shoot, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA in spring 2011. After we did our portraits around the garden, Tom started doing cartwheels (he’s a gymnastics coach) and I captured him in full motion—making it the first time I’ve ever photographed someone doing anything gymnastic. I captured him in his wedding finery doing some handstands and cartwheels on his wedding day as well! My colleague Ed and I photographed Tina and Tom’s wedding on October 8, 2011 in Kurtz Beach, Maryland.

I asked Tina and Tom if they would write a sort of “his and her” story for the magazine about their respective hearing loss, how they met, and how they support each other. The title of their article, “Taking the plunge,” refers to both the turning point in their friendship and their recent marriage. You can find Tina blog’s here and Tom’s all-things-gymnastic blog here. Their cover story is available in pdf format here: Tom&TinaHamblin Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao focused on the best practices for hearing assessment and hearing aid fitting in Getting it Right the First Time: Best Practices in Hearing Aid Fitting; Gael Hannon showed us a practical look at information that would be helpful to those who have hearing loss in What the Professionals Should Tell Us; Michael Ann Bower discussed what people with hearing loss can do to avoid the misdiagnosis of dementia when hearing loss is the issue in Hearing Loss and Dementia; and Barbara Kelley interviewed young jazz singer Mandy Harvey in Musically Inclined.

The March/April issue featured the host city for the upcoming Convention 2012—Providence, Rhode Island. HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, presented a comprehensive guide to the upcoming convention in this issue.

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao discussed cochlear implants in Plugged in for Sound: Cochlear Implants Today; Scott Bally outlined the Five Most Effective Speechreading Strategies; Renowned audiologist Mark Ross talked about hi HealthInnovations Hearing Aid Dispensing Program; Meredith Low, a pro at planning and making sure that the communication environment is arranged so she can enjoy the party as much as her guests, offered great tips in Welcome! Easy Entertaining for People with Hearing Loss; Pamela Selker Rak shared her experiences with hearing loss in Lost in Translation: How a “Lost and Found” Friendship Opened My Eyes to Hearing Loss; Lise Hamlin focused on HLAA’s efforts in Advocacy: A Few Hot Issues, and HLAA member Netegene Fitzpatrick crafted a special Word Search puzzle for her fellow members to solve.

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, was the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue. In his article, Einhorn wrote about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. You can read excerpts on my blog post here. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard in March 2012. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film.

Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world. It has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. You can learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Also in this issue: Barbara Kelley interviewed Richard Einhorn to learn more about his work and future projects; Therese Walden, president of the American Academy on Audiology, discussed the UnitedHealthcare® hi HealthInnovations hearing device benefit program in Self-Diagnosis, Self-Treatment: The Wave of the Future?; Brad Ingrao wrote about water-resistant hearing aids and cochlear implants in Jump Right In! Water-Resistant Hearing Technology; Lise Hamlin revisited the Americans with Disabilities Act 22 years later in Accessible Design for People with Hearing Loss; and Yoona Ha revealed the special bond with her grandmother in My Six-Million-Dollar Grandmother.

Laurie Pullins was the cover feature for the July/August 2012 issue. Back in February, right before my photography exhibit (Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio) opened at Green Spring Gardens, Laurie sent me a message that she would love to come see it in person (she’s been a big supporter and fan of my work for a few years now) and she was trying to coordinate a time when she could accompany her husband to the Washington, D.C. area on a business trip. It so happens that I had been catching up with her blog, Dance with Sound, and had just suggested to Barbara that we entice Laurie to write for the magazine. I pitched the idea to Laurie and said that if she could come up to see my show anytime in March or April, I could shoot the portraits of her for the feature then. We wanted to keep it a secret from even her closest friends so that she could surprise them; only her husband and children knew about it. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Laurie is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I am thrilled that she has a spotlight in the magazine with beautiful photos and her honest and inspiring writing. See Laurie’s feature on my blog post here or download the pdf here: Laurie Pullins Feature

Also in this issue: Brad Ingrao helps you understand your hearing loss and what you need to hear better in Beyond the Beeps: Needs Assessments and Outcome Measures; Lisa and Des Brownlie shared their experiences of their babies born with hearing loss in Two Children, Two Hearing Losses; Sam Trychin discussed research that has uncovered information about another built-in, inherited type of pain that also has survival value—social pain—in Hearing Loss and Social Pain; Lisa Tseng of hi HealthInnovations shows the company’s model for how to reach those who need hearing help in Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reveaks her personal experiences resulting from the fruits of HLAA’s labor in Newborn Hearing Screening: A Success Story; and Viola LaBounty expresses her improved hearing loss through her poem, Digital Technology: My World Alive.

Melissa Puleo Adams, a former San Diego Chargers cheerleader, was our cover feature for the September/October 2012 issue. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph Melissa when she was visiting her family here in Virginia in May. The title of her feature, Sixth Time’s a Charm, is in reference to her trying out six times to be a Charger Girl cheerleader. She persevered despite the rejections and made it on the sixth try. Her fellow Charger Girls were very supportive of her and her hearing loss. Melissa owns her own web and graphic design firm in California. You can see her web design work hereCover photo © Cindy Dyer  (Read Melissa’s full feature in my blog post here.)

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao provided an in-depth look at three alternative hearing systems in Middle Ear Implants and Bone Conduction Hearing Devices; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, revealed highlights in her Convention 2012 Wrap-up; Susan Clutterbuck wrote about the results of the EARtrak survey and if they reveal whether or not consumers’ opinions are being heard by their hearing health care providers in Improving Health Care—Make Your Voice Heard!; Ronnie Adler shared great stores about how Walk4Hearing Funds are put to good use in local communities in Rewarding Great Ideas—The Benefits of the Walk4Hearing; and Scott J. Bally showed how NVRC is changing lives in the community in NVRC: A Model Community Center Improving Communication.

Marisa Sarto was the cover feature for the November/December 2012 issue. I met Marisa in Providence, R.I. this past June during HLAA Convention 2012. I was going to profile her for our Seen & Heard column but after learning about her photo book project, we decided to make her autobiographical story a main feature for the magazine. I photographed her one afternoon in a park near the hotel. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Marisa’s inspiration for her book-in-progress, Hear Nor There: Images of an Invisible Disability, came from her experiences as a woman growing up with a hearing loss that made her feel self-conscious and set apart from others. The project will be a documentary monograph, showcasing photographs and stories of individuals of varying ages, ethnicities and genders and their challenges of living with a hearing loss. Learn more about the project on her website here and sample images and narratives here. Download and read her feature article here: Marisa Sarto Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, Better Hearing, Better Health, explored the relationship between hearing loss and health-related quality of life; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, showed us why It’s Time to Head West! with her Convention 2013 Sneak Preview; Hayleigh Scott, owner of Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, and Netegene Fitzpatrick proved there isn’t a generation gap among people with hearing loss in their feature, A Unlikely Friendship; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reported good news in Shopping for Phones; long-time HLAA member Vern Thayer explained why he is Lucky that he discovered HLAA in 1983; and HLAA members George Kosovich and Marisa Sarto were both profiled in Seen & Heard.

 





Here’s a jolt of color for ya!

17 02 2012

My friend Sonya is working on a diet/health-related design project and asked if I had any photos of produce in my archives that I could share. Here’s a photo that I shot at a local farmer’s market four years ago. Such intense color—just enough to perk me up on this drab, gray, cold winter day.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2010 Recap

12 01 2011

The first issue in 2011 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes this week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services. Reflecting back on 2010, I photographed Charles Mokotoff, a classical guitarist and IT specialist from Maryland; Lois Johnson, a former librarian and now the state director of the Texas State Office of the HLAA Chapter in Houston; Jennifer Thorpe, a wife, mother of five, avid blogger and hearing loss advocate from Tennessee; Craig and Lisa Yantiss, and their young son, Anthony, from Virginia; and Lisa Fuller Seward, a missionary back in the states from an assignment in Mali. These cover subjects are in the links below. To view the corresponding pdf links, click on the link, then on the same link again in the next window. The pdf should begin to download and open automatically.

January/February 2010: Classical guitarist Charles Mokotoff was our cover subject in A Life in Music, an interview by HLM editor Barbara Kelley. At age 15 Charles experienced sudden onset of hearing loss in both ears, leaving him with a severe-to-profound loss. Medical intervention was unsuccessful, and he was “given one hearing aid and sent off into the world.” Charles graduated cum laude from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in music, concentrating on classical guitar. He continued on to Ithaca College where he received a master’s degree. He was hired to teach music at Ithaca College and began a career with impressive highlights—one being his Carnegie Hall debut in 1987. In 1992 he set the guitar career aside and began his IT career, leading to his current post at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sixteen years later, he felt the urge to play again and now balances an active life of performing with his job at NIH. On a personal note, he graciously performed at our first annual Tapas Party last November and was an instant hit with our guests! Read my post about Charles’ cover debut here. You can download and read his article by clicking here: Charles Mokotoff HLM Feature. Visit www.charlesmokotoff.com to listen to his music, watch videos, and see a list of upcoming recitals. His CD is available on CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/charlesmokotoff Also in this issue: Hearing Health for Young Musicians—Embracing the Concept Early by Catherine V. Palmer; The Third Year: Personal FM Systems and Adults by Mark Ross; Hearing Loops Conference in Zurich by David G. Myers; Hearing Loss—The Price of War by Stephen O. Frazier; and Ascending from Deafness, by Karen Moulder

March/April 2010: The 2010 HLAA Convention in Milwaukee was the cover focus for this issue. Also in this issue: Hearing with Our Brain: Karen’s Journey Back to the World of Sound by Barbara Liss Chertok; Adam Mednick: Noted Neurologist with Profound Hearing Loss by Manny Strumpf; I Just Got Hearing Aids…Is That All There Is? by Mark Ross; Changing Lives in the Developing World by Paige Stringer; They Can Change a Life—A Message to the Pros by Colin Cantlie and Joe Gordon; and Compound Grief and Hearing Loss by Marc F. Zola

May/June 2010: HLAA member Ettalois (Lois) Johnson graced this month’s cover with her article, A Journey into the World of Hearing Loss. For more than 20 years Lois has suffered from Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance. She was diagnosed at age 38, after having migraines, vertigo and tinnitus. Less than six months later, the hearing in one ear had greatly diminished. Ten years later, the hearing in her “good” ear also had deteriorated to the point that she decided to pursue a cochlear implant. She became actively involved with her local HLAA chapter in Houston and attended her first HLAA convention in 1991. She hasn’t missed an HLAA convention since! Also in this issue: Hurricanes and Hearing Loss: Surviving the Storm by Lise Hamlin; Stigma and Hearing Loss—The Lowdown by Mark Ross; Invisible No More by Michael Eury; Getting Her Life Back—This Could be Your Story by Barbara Kelley; Let’s Hear it from the (Walk4Hearing) Teams: How Alliance Groups Work by Ronnie Adler and Rebecca Lander; and The Color of Quiet by Mary McCallister. Read my post about Lois on my blog here.

July/August 2010: HLAA member Jennifer Thorpe and her family (husband Dicky, son Will, and four daughters—Katie, Rachel, Claire and Ellie) graced this month’s cover. Jen wrote I Am Simply Me, sharing how hearing loss affects the family dynamic. Jennifer lost most of her hearing around age four and now has two cochlear implants. Also in this issue: Hearing Loss is Not Just About Me by Cathy Kooser; Let’s Hear from the Families by Barbara Kelley; Employment and Equal Access: A Success Story by Lise Hamlin; What’s On Your Mind? A Question for the Psychologist by Michael A. Harvey; and My Dad, the Ford Man by Tom Hedstrom. Read my post about Jennifer and her family here.

September/October 2010: This issue focused on children with hearing loss, featuring Craig Yantiss and his son Anthony. Anthony’s mother, Lisa, shared her story with Barbara Kelley in We Thought the Test Was Wrong. Anthony failed the newborn hearing screening twice and was later diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears. He wears a hearing aid and has a cochlear implant. Also in this issue: About Maya: A Daughter Born with Hearing Loss by Robyn Bittner; Moving from Grief to Warrior Mode by Christina Marmor; The Early “Big Bang”—A Guide for Parents from a Parent by Marcia Finisdore; Convention 2010 in Milwaukee…Inspiring! by Nancy Macklin; Cell Phones Age into Hearing Aid Compatibility by Lise Hamlin; Hearing Aid Features: A Closer Look by Mark Ross; and The Boy Who Did a Good Deed by AJ Traub. Read my post about this issue here.

November/December 2010: The final issue of 2010 featured HLAA member Lisa Fuller Seward and her article, A Missionary’s Life, chronicling her adventure with hearing loss through the “Dark Continent.” In 2008 she “went from being a healthy 41-year-old wife and mother, living overseas and loving serving my family and God to being sick, then hospitalized, then deaf—permanently.” After a bout with malaria (very common in the area and not her first experience with it), the new medicine she was on caused her kidney function to elevate. She was then given an antibiotic that was ototoxic (toxic to the hearing system), and because of her kidney problems, it had a catastrophic effect on her cochlea. The dosage she was told to take was four times the amount usually prescribed. She was deaf for six months before pursuing a cochlear implant back in the U.S. Her first implant surgery was in September 2008. She now has two cochlear implants. Also in this issue: We Move Forward When We’re Ready by musician Richard Reed; The Sounds of Music—Strategies for Improving Music Appreciation with a Cochlear Implant by Donna L. Sorkin; Choosing and Using a Cell Phone with Your Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant by Lise Hamlin; Convention 2011—A Capital Experience by Nancy Macklin; The Hearing Healthcare Professional—The Key Factors in Determining Successful Use of a Hearing Aid by Mark Ross; Purchasing a Hearing Aid—A Consumer Checklist; and From Invisible to Invincible by Shifra Shaulson. Check out my post about Lisa here. Download Lisa’s article in pdf format by clicking the link here: LisaFullerSeward.

Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





No Barriers: Bill Barkeley

11 01 2011

Bill Barkeley is the cover subject for the January/February 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I had the immense pleasure of photographing Bill and his wife Mary Beth this past summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was there as the keynote speaker for HLAA’s annual convention in June 2010.

Bill is one of 15,000 people in the United States and 100,000 in the world with Usher Syndrome Type II, which is the leading cause of deaf-blindness. Bill has worn hearing aids since he was five years old, but in 1987 he discovered that he had been slowly going blind his whole life. “My hearing loss is 85 percent bilateral, progressive, severe sensorineural hearing loss. I am also legally blind,” he said. We took a taxi over to a local park for our photo session, and on the way Bill and Mary Beth told me about their journey since Bill was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome Type II. Usher Syndrome is an inherited condition. The vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative condition of the retina, and the hearing loss is due to a genetic mutation affecting nerve cells in the cochlea. Learn more about Usher Syndrome on the Foundation Fighting Blindness website here. Despite their challenges, the Barkeleys are the most down-to-earth, upbeat and positive couple that I’ve ever met!

In his article, No Barriers, Bill writes about dealing with hearing loss since early childhood, marrying Mary Beth and raising their three sons, then being diagnosed with Usher Syndrome Type II. By 2007 he had worked his way up to being a director of sales and marketing for a Fortune 500 company. He then decided he “needed a challenge and a vision to help take me on the next phase of my life.” At age 45, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, utilizing the latest hearing aids, FM systems and Bluetooth technology. He said it changed his life. “I retired from my 25-year career. I became a deaf-blind adventurer and storyteller, traveling the globe while sharing a message of inspiration, aspiration, hope and faith for those with hearing and vision loss.”

Walk Your Own Path, a film by Josh Levine, documented Barkeley’s climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. The climb was also covered in the July 2008 issue of Outside Magazine. In Triumph of the Human Spirit: Reaching New Heights with Hearing Technology, published on www.healthyhearing.com, in 2008, Bill wrote, “My mission is to educate people about all the available technologies and how they can transform and enhance their lives. The greatest message that came out of my climb was that I had dual disabilities and I did not ask for accommodations. The expedition team did not modify expectations, processes or goals to help me summit. I blended in with assistive technology…it was assimilation versus accommodation. That is incredibly liberating. People describe me as deaf-blind but these words do not define me.”

In 2009 he was awarded the No Barriers USA James O. Goldsmith award. The award “recognizes the individual that passionately and selflessly works to break down the barriers that limit accessibility to life. Through pioneering spirit, focused determination, innovative spirit and tireless effort, the recipient opens the door to adventures for others.”

In July 2010, Bill took a group of kids (with and without hearing loss) to the Peruvian Amazon on the first Hear the World expedition. Hear the World is a global initiative by hearing system manufacturer Phonak to raise awareness about the importance of hearing and consequences of hearing loss. The Amazon trip was covered in social and traditional media. Read a recap of his trip here. The website, www.tonic.com, also has an excellent recap of this trip. Bill will lead the second Hear the World expedition with Global Explorers to Grand Canyon National Park in July 2011. Learn more about this trip on www.globalexplorers.org. Applications start January 17, 2011.

Bill also invites adults, parents, families and kids to join him in South Africa this July for the World Deaf Congress 2011, sponsored by the United Nations. He will share a message of “Life Without Limits” using assistive technologies such as hearing aids and FM systems for hearing loss. Learn more at www.wfd2011.com. Barkeley is also on the board of directors of No Barriers USA (www.nobarriersusa.org), a community of modern day pioneers who use the experience of nature to promote innovation, education and assistive technologies that create transformative life experiences and inspire people with challenges to live full and active lives. Learn more about the No Barriers USA 2011 Festival in Winter Park, Colorado, June 28-July 2, 2011 by visiting their website here.

Mary Beth wrote a companion article for this issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. In For Better or for Worse, she explains that, “Communication is the most important element and the glue that binds the relationship and validates the other person. Being married for 24 years is a real feat no matter what the circumstances. I have to say that our circumstances, although seemingly challenging, have proved to bring us closer together in an effort to stay connected and active. We have witnessed the promises we made “for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer and poorer.” She shares the frustrations and adjustments (revealing both the serious and humorous sides) in dealing with Bill’s hearing and vision loss.

Mary Beth works part-time as the Community Service Representative for HomeInstead, a non-medical home healthcare company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bill is now active in community service. He is past president of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI). He is on the executive committee of the Hearing Loss Association of America (Grand Rapids chapter). Visit his website, www.billbarkeley.com , to learn more about his upcoming adventures and speaking engagements. The Barkeleys have three sons, John (21), Brian (20) and Will (16). Photo of the Barkeley family © Betsy Pangle; all other photos © Cindy Dyer

Read Bill and Mary Beth’s articles in Hearing Loss Magazine by clicking on the pdf here: HLM Bill Barkeley





Lisa Fuller Seward: A Missionary’s Life

12 11 2010

Lisa Fuller Seward is our cover profile for the November/December 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Lisa and her daughter Hilary for the magazine at HLAA’s convention in Milwaukee this past June.

Lisa, husband Tom, and their three children (Hilary, a college freshman studying graphic design; Benjamin, a high school freshman; and Caleb, who just started fifth grade) are missionaries in Mali, West Africa. They are currently in Chicago for the 2010-11 school year, with the intention of returning to their missions work with World-Venture in Mali next summer.

Lisa and Tom are currently helping with the youth program at their church, and Lisa is also a volunteer mentor in the “Mom to Mom” program. Their main responsibility this year on home assignment is to report to their donor base and build new support for the programs they are involved in overseas, including student sponsorships and women’s literacy. Regular updates and pictures are posted on their family blog at www.tomseward.com.

Lisa plans to concentrate on language learning upon her return to Africa, working on the trade language to better communicate with nationals, particularly the women, many of whom have received very little education. She enjoys exchanging cooking styles and learning to live a rustic life, while sharing in the joys and sorrows of weddings, funerals, business ventures, and illnesses. Since their return to Africa after Lisa’s illness and subsequent hearing loss and cochlear implantation, the Sewards have sensed an increased interest in their input by local friends who value their commitment to returning after such a difficult personal life event. The Sewards are eager to increase their impact in people’s lives as their sensitivity to people with disabilities has grown.

Download Lisa’s article are her hearing loss journey in pdf format by clicking the link here: LisaFullerSeward.

Very special thanks to:

HLAA member Dan Schwartz, who connected me to Lisa online through Facebook, suggesting that she might make a great profile subject for our magazine (he was right!);

Photographer Jim Adams for providing additional photos of Lisa and her family for the Mali collage;

and Leslie Lesner, audiologist and owner of Lesner Hearing Center, in Alexandria, Virginia, for affording me the opportunity to photograph various hearing aids at her practice to illustrate Mark Ross’ article in this issue.

Other articles in this issue of Hearing Loss Magazine include:

“We Move Forward When We’re Ready” by Richard Reed
A late-deafened musician tells how he adjusted to a cochlear implant.

The Sounds of Music—Strategies for Improving Music Appreciation with a Cochear Implant, by Donna Sorkin, vice president of consumer affairs at Cochlear Americas

Choosing and Using a Cell Phone with Your Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant by Lise Hamlin, director of Public Policy at the Hearing Loss Association of America

Convention 2011—A Capital Experience by Nancy Macklin, director events and marketing at the Hearing Loss Association of America

The Hearing Healthcare Professional—The Key Factors in Determining Successful Use of a Hearing Aid by Mark Ross, audiologist and associate at the Rehabilitation Engineering Center (RERC) at Gallaudet University

Want to learn more about the Hearing Loss Association of America?
Check out their website at www.hearingloss.org.





Design Studio: Exhibitor Prospectus

10 09 2010

Here is the cover and a few spreads from a 20-page exhibitor prospectus I just finished for the Hearing Loss Association of America’s (HLAA) Convention 2011 marketing campaign. The convention will be held on June 16-19, just about 15 minutes from where I live—Crystal City, an area near Washington, D.C.

The keynote speaker for Convention 2011 will be Chris Artinian, president and CEO of Morton’s Restaurant Group, Inc., whose family is the subject of the 2001 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature, Sound and Fury. The film documents one family’s struggle over whether or not to provide two deaf children with cochlear implants—devices that can stimulate hearing. The film was directed by Josh Aronson, produced by Roger Weisberg, with Jackie Roth as coordinating producer.

From the PBS website: As the Artinians of Long Island, New York debate what is the right choice for two deaf cousins, Heather, 6, and Peter, 1-1/2, viewers are introduced to one of the most controversial issues affecting the deaf community today. Cochlear implants may provide easier access to the hearing world, but what do the devices mean for a person’s sense of identity with deaf culture? Can durable bridges be built between the deaf and hearing worlds?

I designed a logo for the convention as well as the logo for “Get in the Hearing Loop,” a joint project of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Academy of Audiology. The 2nd International Hearing Loop Conference will be held on June 18-20. Both events will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. Learn more about Convention 2011 on HLAA’s website at www.hearingloss.org. Learn more about the 2nd International Hearing Loop Conference here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





HLM Cover Feature: Jennifer (Jen) Thorpe

29 06 2010

The July/August 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine (which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) features Jennifer (Jen) Thorpe, an HLAA member. I met and photographed the Thorpe family in Nashville last year at HLAA’s annual convention. In her article, I Am Simply Me, Jen shares how her hearing loss has affected not only her but her family as well. The issue is en route to HLAA members shortly! You can read more about Jen’s “journey to bilateral bionic hearing” on her blog, Stereophonic Bionic.

I discovered Jen on Abbie Cranmer’s blogroll, which I found during a random search for hearing loss-related blogs. It turns out Abbie and Jen were already friends. Now both have been profiled for the magazine!

Abbie wrote her feature for the May/June 2008 issue of HLM and I spotlighted her on this blog here. Abbie’s blog can be found here. Download Abbie’s full feature article, Chronicles of a Bionic Woman, here: http://www.cindydyer.com/BionicWoman.pdf

I’m thrilled to report that Abbie and her husband-to-be, Todd, have hired me to photograph their wedding in mid-September. They’re getting married in a botanical garden in New Jersey—-how dreamy is this photography gig? Jen will be one of Abbie’s bridesmaids, so I’ll get to see her again this fall, too.

Other articles in this issue include:

Author Cathy Kooser’s excellent article, Hearing Loss is Not Just About Me, outlines her maladaptive coping strategies—bluffing, dominating the conversation, withdrawal and selective hearing—and how they impact her family and friends. Cathy is a licensed independent social worker with a severe hearing loss, and lives in Dayton, Ohio.

Audiologist Mark Ross’ article, Understanding and Managing a Severe Hearing Loss, identifies what qualifies as severe hearing loss and explores treatment options such as cochlear implants, hearing aids, directional microphones and hybrid implants. Mark is an associate at the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) at Gallaudet University. He is a regular contributor to the magazine.

In Let’s Hear from the Families, editor-in-chief Barbara Kelley introduces us to Alicia, wife of HLAA member and cochlear implant user, Mike Royer, and Katie, wife of Reed Doughty, starting safety for the Washington Redskins and a hearing aid user. Alicia and Katie share their insights as to what life is like living with a loved one with hearing loss. I’ve had the honor of photographing the Royer family (see their portraits here and here, kids Annie & Joshua here, and most notably the birth of their daughter, Ashley, here) and the Doughty family (see my post here on Reed’s cover debut and family portraits here.)

And finally—my dear friend, Tom Hedstrom, writes about his father’s hearing loss in My Dad, the Ford Man. Tom’s father, Bernie, wore hearing aids for more than 30 years until he got his cochlear implant at the age of 92. Bernie is a long-time member of HLAA and loves reading and sharing the magazine. I photographed Bernie for this issue when he was visiting the D.C. area in May.

All photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





HLAA member Ettalois (Lois) Johnson

2 05 2010

The May/June 2010 Hearing Loss Magazine (which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America) features Ettalois (Lois) Johnson, an HLAA member. Lois began her career as a public librarian then went back to school to get her master’s degree in Library Science from Sam Houston State University in Texas. While in graduate school, she decided to become a school librarian. She has served as secretary, co-president, vice-president and committee volunteer for her local HLAA Chapter in Houston. In 2000 she became the first state director of the newly-formed Texas State Office. She is now the Texas state director of the organization. I met and photographed Lois in Nashville last year at HLAA’s annual convention.

Excerpt from A Journey Into the World of Hearing Loss:

Lois Johnson is a native New Yorker born and raised in the South Bronx and has lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and Wiesbaden, Germany. She has lived in Texas for the past 28 years, raising a family, furthering her education, and learning how to live with hearing loss, and in turn, helping others do the same. 

For the past 20 years, Lois has suffered from Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance to varying degrees. It is characterized by episodes of dizziness and tinnitus and progressive hearing loss, usually in one ear. It is named after the French physician Prosper Ménière, who first reported that vertigo was caused by inner ear disorders in an article published in 1861. The condition affects people differently; it can range in intensity from being a mild annoyance to a chronic, lifelong disability. 

Lois is soft-spoken, but don’t let that fool you. She is the epitome of the expression “still waters run deep.” She is a stalwart in Texas, working on behalf of people with hearing loss. However, when asked how she has survived hearing loss, a heart attack, and a hurricane, she says, “I have three wonderful kids (and two grandkids) who have been such a great help to me in this past year and a half—and have been very supportive during my journey into the world of hearing loss.”

This issue also features an article titled, Hurricanes and Hearing Loss: Surviving the Storm, by Lise Hamlin, HLAA’s Director of Public Policy. The article chronicles Lois Johnson’s harrowing experience when Hurricane Ike hit Houston in 2008. Her home was badly damaged during the storm. Hamlin’s article offers tips for emergency preparedness and is followed by an article titled, FEMA’s Are You Ready? Guide on Hurricanes. This document can also be found on FEMA’s website here.

HLAA’s Convention 2010 is June 17-20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
Milwaukee is more than just the beer capital of the country, it is a beautiful city along the shores of Lake Michigan filled with amazing architecture, parks, museums, shopping, world-class restaurants, and of course breweries. But it’s the people there—the Midwestern friendliness abounds among people whose ancestors came from Germany, Ireland, Poland and many other countries. According to one HLAA member, the convention is a “transforming experience,” so come to Convention 2010 and be inspired! Learn more about Convention 2010 on HLAA’s convention page here.





In honor of George Hope Ledbetter…

28 01 2010

Pancreatic Cancer Challenge: Know it. Fight it. End it.

Please take a moment and send Congress an urgent message to increase funding for pancreatic cancer research by filling out the form here.

Carmen recently sent me this “Take Action Now” message from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (pancan.org).

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Every day there are approximately 116 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. More than 35,000 people will die from pancreatic cancer this year. The five-year survival rate is only 5%.

Carmen’s husband, George Ledbetter, lost his fight with pancreatic cancer on November 9, 2007. He was a very dear friend and is still very much in my thoughts. Only 56 when he died, George rose to the rank of full-colonel during his U.S. Air Force career, and had retired from that service some two years before his death.

He was brilliant and witty, and filled to the brim with stories of his career as a military attorney. Some of his stories Carmen deemed “not quite appropriate for mixed company,” but he always responded to our pleas for him to “tell it anyway.” He was completely enamored with the world of finance, and when he retired he began studying to become a financial adviser. However, he was never sure whether he would pursue that profession on completion of the intense course.

George was a familiar sight to the staff at a local McDonald’s restaurant. He spent several hours there every morning, eating breakfast and drinking coffee, with his workbooks and notepads spread over a table for four.

One of my favorite memories of George—and one of the stories I love to tell about him—occurred on a trip Michael and I made to the Green Valley Book Fair, one of our favorite day trips. We invited George and Carmen to go, and while en route our conversation turned to this question: “What would you do if you won ten million dollars?”

We each offered up a variety of plans, items such as “pay off all my bills, buy a house in the mountains, or on a lake or on the beach, travel the world, build a giant studio in a barn, save the animals (insert species here), fund animal rescue leagues, etc.” George, usually the last to respond in such conversations remained quiet, listening closely while forming his answer.

Finally I said, “George, what would you do if you won ten million dollars?” His answer was ready, and he immediately launched into all the ills that would befall one in such a situation—how much the government would skim off the top, how much interest the money  would gain if one didn’t spend any of it, what tax bracket it would throw one into, how it couldn’t possibly solve all of one’s financial problems, and how friends, ones that one didn’t know one had, would come out of the woodwork to claim their piece of the pie! I responded, “Gee, George, ya really know how to kill a fantasy, don’t cha?”

Michael says he thinks about George every day, primarily because George taught him a stretch exercise to avoid foot pain caused by a shortening of the Achilles tendon. Michael has done this stretch faithfully every morning since learning the exercise.

After Carmen retired she embarked on a new career, and she and George moved into a beautiful home in South Carolina. Restless in retirement, George returned to Alexandria every chance he got, frequently by agreeing to babysit a friend’s dogs whenever she was out of town. During those solo visits we continued meeting frequently for lunch. His favorite restaurants were Ruby Tuesday and Roy Rogers, and while there he would offer up firm opinions and lengthy diatribes, give sage advice and voice acute observations on a variety of topics—everything from politics to finances, and from celebrities to neighborhood gossip.

George was a consummate conversationalist—no topic was taboo, no subject uninteresting and no angle unexamined. He had what we felt was an unwarranted fear of health problems—George was physically fit and took daily walks, but his fears concerning his health were always present in our conversations. His greatest fear was that of developing diabetes, a condition that was prevalent in his family.

We found it very sad and ironic that he would ultimately be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a devastating and incurable disease which usually strikes without warning—those afflicted rarely see it coming.

I shot the photos above at our Second Annual Pesto Fest in 2006. They show George and his wife Carmen toasting, George in uniform for his retirement ceremony, and George with Angus, his beloved Cocker Spaniel.

Famous people who had pancreatic cancer:

Actor/director Michael Landon, age 55 (1936 — 1991)
Actor Patrick Swayze, age 57 (1952 — 2009)
Professor Randy Pausch, age 48 (1960 — 2008)
Operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, age 71 (1935 — 2007)
Actor Joan Crawford, age 72 (1905 — 1977)
Composer Henry Mancini, age 70 (1924 — 1994
Actor Juliette Prowse, age 58 (1936 — 1996)

In an article I read on www.medicine.net, Gagandeep Singh, MD, director of hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., and a spokesman for PanCan, reported, “Pancreatic cancer is almost equal in its incidence in men and women, so sex is not a factor. It occurs most often in patients about the age of 60 through 65, so at age 55, Patrick Swayze is young. The youngest patient I have ever treated was 21 and the oldest was 86, so there is a spectrum.”

In answer to the question, “Does pancreatic cancer run in families?” Singh replied: “Yes. About 10% to 15% of these cancers do have a genetic or familial predisposition. In fact, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter was the only person in his family who did not have pancreatic cancer. His mother, father, and all of his siblings had pancreatic cancer. We do know that there are certain genes that may be linked to pancreatic cancer.”

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Tomatoes, nasturtiums, herbs and Alzheimer’s

25 08 2008

Hey, I finally found a use for all those plates I’ve collected throughout the years. Photo props!

This is my meager—but no less lovely—edible harvest from this morning. And yes, the Nasturtium flowers are edible, too. These rapidly growing annuals are easy to grow from seed, like full sun to partial shade, come in an array of colors (yellow, orange, pink, red, butter yellow, cream, and mahogany), and have a peppery taste. There are climbing and trailing types available. Nasturtiums are also called Scottish flamethrower or Indian cress. Both the lotus-leaf-like leaves and flowers are edible.

Read this funny and informative post titled, “Nasturtium: The Flower Growing Under False Pretenses,” on Hanna’s This Garden is Illegal blog.

You’ll find growing tips and recipes for Nasturtiums here and here. I cheated this year and bought my tiny seedlings from DeBaggio’s Herb Farm and Nursery in Chantilly, VA. Yes, sometimes I am not a patient gardener! My also-gardening-crazy friend, Karen, introduced me to this family-owned nursery several years ago. We buy most of our herbs and heirloom tomato plants there. (They sell 100 varieties of tomatoes!)

Time for the serious stuff…
In 1975 Tom and Joyce DeBaggio started their family business selling home-propagated herb and vegetables from their backyard in Arlington. Author of several herb books (all of which I own—duh, no big surprise), Tom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 1999 at the age of 57. NPR interviewed DeBaggio on their All Things Considered program in May 2005 here and April 2007 here. The Alzheimer’s Research Forum wrote about the NPR Audio Interviews in May 2007.

I read his first book, Losing My Mind, published in 2003 by The Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Inc., after my father shared his observations about conversations with one of my uncles, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My father said most of my uncle’s waking hours were spent in the past…in his early years…as a teenager….as a young man…repeating the same story over and over. My uncle passed away a few years ago.

DeBaggio’s follow-up book, When It Gets Dark: An Enlightened Reflection on Life with Alzheimer’s, was also published in 2003. Both of these books, as well as his excellent herb books, are available online here. His son, Francesco, now runs the family business.

A review of Losing My Mind from Publishers Weekly:
“I have a clear sense of history, I just don’t know whether it is mine,” writes DeBaggio in this moving and unusual memoir. The author, who has previously written about his gardening business (Growing Herbs from Seed, Cutting and Root), documents his mental deterioration from Alzheimer’s. Diagnosed with the disease in 1999 at the age of 57, DeBaggio undertook this project in order to increase awareness of this devastating illness from a patient’s point of view. He describes how his gradual loss of memory has impacted his life. For example, after he became confused about how to get to his niece’s house, he realized he had to give up driving a car. The increased loss of language has been extremely difficult for a man who once worked as a journalist and a freelance writer. Interspersed throughout the narrative are DeBaggio’s recollections of his childhood events that may soon be lost to him. He also describes the disease’s negative effect on his wife and grown son. Although DeBaggio provides information on the medical advances that are being made to treat this disease, it is clear that a breakthrough will come too late for him. With this rare first-person account, DeBaggio has made a significant contribution to literature on an illness that currently affects four million Americans.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.