Seen & Heard: Juliette Sterkens

9 03 2013

Juliette Sterkens, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the March/April 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. I photographed Juliette at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island last June.

Other members previously profiled were Danielle NicosiaJohn KinstlerJudy Martin, Anne TaylorSam Spritzer, Jeff Bonnell, Eloise Schwarz, Glenice Swenson, Laurie Pullins, Rosemary Tuite and Kathy Borzell, Tommy Thomas, Marisa Sarto, George Kosovich and Gary Trompower.

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.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

JulietteSterkensS&HJuliëtte P.M. Sterkens, Au.D. Oshkosh, WI / born November 10, 1957, the Netherlands

President Fox Valley Hearing Center, Inc., Hearing Loop Advocate, Larry Mauldin Award 2011, Wisconsin Audiologist of the Year 2011, Presidential Award American Academy of Audiology 2011, Hearing Loss Association of America Technology Access Award 2011, Member National HLAA/The American Academy of Audiology Hearing Loop Task Force

MY HEARING LOSS… At this time I am just starting to lose my high-pitch hearing at 6000 and 8000Hz—not enough for a hearing aid but enough to crave one with a telecoil in a looped venue. I did grow up with a father who was hard of hearing.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Learn all there is to learn about your hearing loss, the pitches that are affected, the degree that it affects your ability to understand speech in quiet versus speech in noise and once you own hearing aids know what the limitations are of the hearing aids and what is due to your particular loss. Best advice: Never purchase hearing aids without telecoils.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… My sister telling my dad, after she discovered him watching a blaringly loud TV without wearing his hearing aids (which prevented him from hearing the doorbell) and being told that he didn’t think his hearing aids were doing much for him: “Papa, they may not do much for you, but they do a heck of a lot for us!”

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… an airline stewardess.

THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY…  was a vacuum cleaner.
(Oh, the Dutch are so tidy…)

IN MY SPARE TIME, I… like to go tandem biking with my husband Max.

I MISS… Dutch oil balls, a traditional delicacy on New Year’s Eve. (They are terribly unhealthy that is why we only eat them once a year!)

HOBBIES? Watergardening—we have about 30 large koi, a small turtle and several bull frogs in the pond.

DO YOU SPEAK ANY LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH? Dutch (of course) and I reasonably get by with my Dutch high school French and German.

WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE? David Myers, America’s Hearing Loop Advocate extraordinaire. Without his support and tutelage I would not be undertaking a year of hearing loop advocacy.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… occasionally do talk about something else other than the looping of America!

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT IS… baking bread and making yoghurt.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… licorice (the Dutch, salty kind).

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffet and find out if they, or a close friend has hearing loss. If they only knew how hearing loops could benefit users of hearing aids young and old alike they might just support this effort around the country.

I AM… dependable, hardworking and kind.

MY FRIENDS WOULD SAY I AM… Don’t ask her about loops, you’ll just encourage her!

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… to keep a clean and organized house. (Thanks mom!)

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to love the music of Jim Reeves.

THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD IS… my amazing iPhone.

I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… cook a wonderful meal in a short time with foods I find in my fridge.

MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to make America more accessible for people with hearing loss.

MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… audiologists who dismiss hearing loops.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as someone who helped thousands of her patients enjoy life because of the audiology services she provided.

I love Hearing Loss Magazine! I would love to see a column dedicated to hearing loop progress in the country.

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The Evolution of Zac La Fratta

6 01 2013

HLAA member Zac La Fratta is on the cover of the first issue of 2013 of Hearing Loss Magazine, which is published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Zac wrote the cover feature for the January/February issue.

I was first introduced to Zac at his second HLAA convention (and my first) in Nashville, TN, in June 2009. Zac was in town this past November for meetings at the HLAA headquarters in Bethesda, MD, so we set up his cover photo session in and around the office.

Zac La Fratta joined HLAA five years ago and was appointed to the Board of Trustees in June 2010. He currently serves as the secretary and is a member of the executive and strategic planning committees. As a young adult serving on the board, Zac represents the voices of young adults with hearing loss. He formerly was vice president for the HLA-Boulder (CO) Chapter and as president/founder of the HLA-Washington, D.C. Chapter. He is also the moderator for HearingLossNation, an online community for young adults with hearing loss. (A link for that online community can be found on http://www.hearingloss.org.)

Zac Blog Shot

Hearing Loss Magazine pitched Zac a few questions and topics to comment on and he took the ball and ran. Here’s what Zac has to say about his hearing loss and changing careers mid-stream. All photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Start at the beginning.

I was born in Denver, Colorado, on February 3, 1976. Mom checked into the hospital on a warm sunny day and checked out on a cold snowy day. I spent my childhood years in Dallas and went to high school in Lynchburg, Virginia. I have also been able to call Iowa, New York, Georgia, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., home, throughout my life.

I am the second of six awesome children—four brothers and two sisters. All but two still live in Virginia, the others in Alabama and Colorado. My extended family is gigantic and I have lost track of the growing count of cousins, nephews, and nieces. Any type of reunion that takes place, big or small, is considered the party of the year.

Describe your hearing loss.

I have a stable bilateral, normal steeply sloping to profound sensorineural hearing loss acquired from exposure to bacterial meningitis at eight months of age. It is not clear whether meningitis or the ototoxic medications I received for treatment contributed to the hearing loss, but I consider myself extremely lucky that the hearing loss was the only negative outcome.

My first spoken words (according to dad) were “hold me” after persistent, unsuccessful requests to be held through gestures and crying. Sign language was actually my first language before I started talking around three years of age. After leaving a pre-school that promoted total communication, spoken language became my primary mode of communication. I once again started learning sign language shortly after I began embracing my hearing loss in my late twenties. I sign at a proficient skill level conversationally and in the audiology clinic.

My hearing loss has always been underestimated, perhaps because I received intensive speech therapy. Also, I never sought accommodations in high school or college. I’m not saying this was a good thing not to use accommodations, it’s just a fact. So, I always chuckle when audiologists are shocked and astonished after reviewing my audiogram.

Do you wear hearing aids or use assistive listening technologies?

I wore hearing aids for the first decade of my life before “putting them in the drawer” for nearly 20 years. I now proudly wear hearing aids after accepting my hearing loss. I’m currently in conversations of possibly pursuing a cochlear implant. I wear high-end, high-powered, behind-the-ear hearing aids with the receiver in the canal that uses a size-312 battery. This particular hearing aid is already two model-generations old! Being an audiology student has its fun privileges in that I get to try different hearing aid technologies. They really are quite different from one another as is each person’s hearing loss.

I use different assistive listening devices that use the telecoil features in a variety of situations. For watching television, listening to music, and talking on a cell phone, I take advantage of the SurfLink streaming feature that comes with my hearing aids. I occasionally use FM technology if it is readily available in large group settings. I heavily rely on closed-captioning technology. In fact, my family and friends automatically turn the closed-captioning on for me, and some even leave it on permanently. I recall my first closed-caption decoder box my parents got me for Christmas one year. It was one of the most memorable gifts I have ever received. I also won’t attend a movie showing unless some form of captioning is available.

TOC Zac La FrattaWhat was it like growing up with hearing loss?

Growing up with a hearing loss has been a roller coaster ride for me, manifesting throughout different phases in my life. I have experienced a range of emotions—embarrassment, confusion, anger, fear, depression, acceptance, and finally, peace.

I often wanted to forget I had a hearing loss, but with constant reminders from family, friends, and strangers, not to mention my own struggles, I could not escape reality. I would frequently be asked the same question along the lines of: “How can you hear on the phone?” “Are you Australian?” “Can you read their lips?” “Do you sign?” and on and on.

Tell us about going to school with a hearing loss.

I received early intervention services through The Callier Center at The University of Texas at Dallas and was mainstreamed in both private and public schools.

I have vivid memories at Callier of happily clanging bells with dozens of other children with hearing loss, to what was supposed to be the “Jingle Bells” tune. The proud parents in the audience merrily sang along as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I have many other good memories from my time at Callier. However, I do recall, even at this pre-school age, my gut feeling that something was off, especially when I was instructed to wear uncomfortably loud devices on my ears.

To my parents’ horror, I reacted by flushing those expensive devices down the toilet. This event was the beginning of my resistance to wear hearing aids and my resolve to be “normal.” As hard as I tried, there was no escaping my hearing loss as it presented various inevitable challenges throughout my life. I had my share of bullies and academic struggles during grade school. Although the bullies never went away, my academic struggles dissolved after receiving appropriate intervention in public school settings, even after I discontinued wearing hearing aids in junior high school.

Professions—past and present

In my determination to be a successful, normal person, I managed to get through college and enter the software consulting industry without any accommodations. I spent a decade in the IT industry as a business analyst working with Fortune 500 companies.

I felt accomplished and had success in this industry; however, I no longer had the passion or drive to maintain the intensity required to keep up with the demands of the job description. Much of my role consisted of client interviews, managing meetings, and handling conference calls, all of which are a nightmare for the person with a hearing loss, especially without the use of assistive listening technologies or other accommodations.

I came to the realization that I had reached my peak and landed on a plateau in terms of fulfilling dreams and ambitions. I knew instinctively that in order for me to grow and move forward, I had to acknowledge my hearing loss and be comfortable and willing to ask for help.

However, I admit, by this time I was burned out and ready for a new career that inspired me, yet I didn’t want unnecessary hardship. I know it’s unrealistic that a new career wouldn’t bring challenges but this is the way I felt at the time. I needed a break from the day-to-day hassle of communicating on the job.

So…what happened next?

In 2007, my audiologist in Colorado asked me to interview with NBC’s Colorado & Company to share my experiences wearing new hearing aids for the first time in nearly two decades. (Remember, I denied my hearing loss and didn’t wear them.) There was an audiologist on the set and to my pleasant surprise, he also had a hearing loss and wore hearing aids. I was inspired learning about his journey.

The light bulb went off immediately and I knew a career in audiology was my calling. The following year, I was a registered full-time student at Colorado University at Boulder to fulfill the prerequisites required to enter an audiology program. At the time, it made perfect sense for me to pursue audiology as a profession. Having a hearing loss myself, I wanted to find new ways to contribute to the community of people with hearing loss. I was interested in working with children with hearing loss and their parents. I also had a burning desire to understand my own hearing loss from a clinical view and obtain the best resources available to make my life easier.

I am completing my clinical doctorate studies at Gallaudet University’s audiology program and will graduate in August 2013. Meanwhile, I am completing my externship (a.k.a. “residency”) at the audiology clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital. I also serve as an audiology LEND Fellow with the JFK Partners program in Colorado to continue my training with pediatric audiology through various multi-disciplinary models.

I’ve completed clinical audiology rotations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area at an ENT private practice, Children’s National Medical Center, and The River School. I am also proud to work with several programs at the Marion Downs Hearing Center in Colorado, including Campus Connections, Building Communication Bridges, Infant Hearing Screening Program, and Teen Day. In addition, I had the privilege of teaching the Peer Mentoring Certification Training Program at Gallaudet University for two years.

Describe a typical day in your externship.

I am fortunate to be completing my externship at the University of Colorado Hospital because it provides a great, all-around experience. In addition to working with audiology’s bread and butter—administering hearing tests and working with amplification technologies with a diverse population—I also work with balance testing, cochlear implants, and infant hearing screenings. My favorite part of my externship experience is counseling. From my personal experience, I can connect with many of my clients, especially parents of children with hearing loss.

Zac Outdoors LargeWhat (or who) do you think contributed to where you are today?

I have a supporting cast who believes in me, instills in me the confidence and courage to be the best I can be, and above all, loves me. I can’t underestimate the power of my family, mentors, and friends when it came to encouragement and support.

After having worked with parents in the audiology clinic, I discovered that I took for granted the challenges my own parents experienced to ensure I lived a great and normal life. I am forever grateful for how they raised me, taught me independence, and always provided a sense of belonging. They did an amazing job even with limited educational resources for kids with hearing loss.

My brothers and sisters also are a big part of who I am. They provided the social inclusion and unconditional love I needed during my childhood. They showed me how to be creative and silly. We had fun growing up and they created a safe haven for me to be myself. Since I am second to the oldest, I babysat my siblings on a regular basis, and it was always fun to create games and activities to keep them entertained. My brothers and sisters intuitively understood my hearing loss, oftentimes sacrificing their own needs for mine. They accepted that my hearing loss was a part of who I am and accommodating me was part of our family’s daily routine.

I am lucky to have the quality of friends I have made over the years. I didn’t have an abundance of friends growing up, but the ones I made were compassionate and trustworthy. As a kid, I latched onto friends who had similar interests and didn’t get bored doing the same things over and over (boxcars, Transformers, and G.I. Joe’s!). Eventually, we grew out of toys and took on sports.

Like my family, my friends never let my hearing loss interfere with our friendship. My friends might never have fully understood my hearing loss, but they always had my back. There were even practical jokes at the expense of my hearing loss but I knew I was accepted as one of the gang.

A favorite story was on a Halloween night. We were dressed in fun costumes and enjoying ourselves. One of my friends, known for his one-liners, got everyone hooked on over-enunciating one particular line from a movie throughout the night—“What the problem is?” (A line void of good grammatical form so it was hard to grasp.)

The problem was I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what they were saying all night. I finally had the courage to ask, “Are you saying ‘hippopotamus?’” And with that for the remainder of the night, “hippopotamus” was the new one-liner.

My mentors—a few teachers and speech-language pathologists—were pivotal in how I connected and fit in with mainstream society. We spent countless hours working on my speech and academic skills, as well as boosting my self-esteem. To this day, I have been unsuccessful in tracking them down to show my appreciation to all they have contributed. (If by some miracle you are reading this, I thank you!)

There is no one who understands me and my hearing loss as well as my girlfriend, Maureen Shader, whom I affectionately call Mo. More importantly, there is no one who has as much patience in regard to my hearing loss as she does. It amazes me the sacrifices she has made over the past few years to contribute to our powerful and fulfilling relationship. Mo does it all! It is the little things like her continuing efforts to face me when she speaks, constantly carrying hearing aid batteries in her purse, sitting quietly with boredom in the car while I drive (driving poses a large obstacle to lipreading), and giving up our time together while I put time into advocacy projects for those with hearing loss.

Without question, Mo is my biggest supporter and advocate. It certainly helps that she is also an audiology student and is proficient in sign language. We have a running joke that all that is missing is for her to have a hearing loss too. I thought I was destined to have a relationship with a woman with a hearing loss, someone who could walk in my shoes. In reality, I could not be more grateful that Mo doesn’t have a hearing loss. I admit it is nice to have a good set of ears around. As it should be, our different levels of hearing doesn’t matter. It’s about the person and the values you have in common, not the hearing loss. But it does help that she understands.

Hey Zac, did you have anything to do with you?

While all the important people in my life have been a solid foundation, okay, I’ll give myself a little bit of credit. Early in my life, I spent much of my time playing soccer and tennis since it was an easy way to escape from all of my struggles. My parents understood how important this was for me, so mom became a soccer mom and dad was my biggest fan. Winning and stardom on the playing field made me feel good about myself, so naturally I was determined to win off the field too, just so I could feel normal and accepted.

My family and friends can attest to this, I became fiercely competitive in everything I did, which I now know was annoying and exhausting for those close to me. But this tactic was my survival card, getting me through school, bullies, and feeling vulnerable. After college, this behavior became less and less effective and useful in my life. It is not a coincidence that after accepting my hearing loss, I discovered that this trait was unhealthy, so I began to channel my competitiveness in a productive manner in everything I do. I am able to use this new tool to accomplish things that benefit the community and society and are important for myself to feel like I’m making a contribution.

Tell us more about how you think people see you.

The consensus among my family and friends is that they often forget that I have a hearing loss. I honestly don’t believe that is true, rather they are fully aware but do not perceive my hearing loss as a disadvantage or a disability for me since they simply do not find themselves needing to compromise their own lives to accommodate me. However, they can recall quite a few occasions where they’ve advocated for me, remembered funny stories related to my hearing loss, or are reminded of events pertaining to my hearing loss.

When I am socializing, people often ask my friends or family members why I speak the way I do, why I am standoffish, why I frequently need repetition, or simply say “what’s up with the hearing aids?” Occasionally, people who are aware about hearing loss (through their own family members, friends, or co-workers) will inquire about my hearing loss.

My family always shares that they are inspired by how I’ve handled my many adversities—such as educational and social challenges. One of my brothers reflected that after having gone through middle and high school himself, which he considers one of the more difficult challenges of life, is left inspired that I was able to work through the same challenges in addition to having a hearing loss.

One of my sisters believes that I compensate for my hearing loss with a sixth-sense, or super-hero ability. She reflects that this trait equates to my determination to excel, especially when faced with challenges.

The family also has tons of fun with my hearing loss too. Long ago, audiologists told my dad that I have some residual low-frequency hearing, so he brilliantly exaggerates a low voice when he calls my name. My family and friends think it is hilarious, but it works! The whole family loves home signs, particularly “bathroom,” “stop,” and “hurry.” My family also never lets me forget how I have funny ways of saying words like “ridiculous” and “scissors” or how I am constantly mixing up idioms.

Tell us about getting involved with HLAA.

When I made the decision (and yes, it was a decision) in 2004 to accept my hearing loss, I went all out by launching “Deaf-inite Entertainment”—a fund-raising project to raise awareness among the hearing loss community. It was an exciting project that raised funds to provide a free open-captioned showing of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the local theater and to donate to the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

During this project, I met many wonderful people with hearing loss, including Debbie Mohney from the HLA-Boulder (CO) Chapter. Debbie planted the seed for me to join the chapter because she knew it was an opportunity for me to expand my role in the community of people with hearing loss.

Her patience and persistence paid off when she convinced me to attend my first chapter meeting in 2007. Debbie wasn’t kidding that I’d benefit from joining this chapter, because a few months later I attended my first HLAA Convention in Reno in 2008 thanks to a scholarship the HLA-Boulder Chapter awarded me. It was at this convention that I met a small group of young adults with hearing loss for the first time. I had never been in the presence of so many people my age with a hearing loss!

To say I haven’t looked back since then is an understatement. I always was a happy person, compensating for my hearing loss in the most competitive ways. But it wasn’t until I accepted my hearing loss—even embraced it as I like to describe my experience—that I began to understand the significance it’s had on my life.

Moving forward, there are a lot of things to do in both my personal and professional life. First on the list is to find ways to get more young adults with hearing loss involved in HLAA. Read on about the 100 Portland initiative. I hope to see you in Portland, Oregon, this June for HLAA Convention 2013.

Zac La Fratta lives in Denver, Colorado. In addition to his studies and the 100 Portland project, he enjoys playing tennis, dining out with his girlfriend, traveling to new places, and spending time with friends and family. He recently discovered the joys of cooking and experimenting with different recipes. You can e-mail him at zachary.lafratta@gmail.com.

Also in this issue: Zac La Fratta debuts 100 Portland, an initiative to attract young adults, ages 18-35, with hearing loss to come to HLAA Convention 2013 in Portland, Oregon, this June; audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, A Rose by Any Other Name: PSAPs vs. Hearing Aids, takes a close-up look at hearing devices advertised on TV and in magazines; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, shares highlights for the upcoming Convention 2013; Stephen O. Frazier and Sally Schwartz discuss induction loop technology in their article, The Often-Neglected Neck Loop; audiologist Mark Ross reveals why simply giving a person who is elderly a hearing aid doesn’t always get to the heart of the matter of not hearing well in his article, Older People with Hearing Loss: Aural Rehabilitation Might be More Necessary than Ever; Sally Edwards writes about how life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when a hearing loss interrupts those plans, in Labors of Love; and HLAA member and Reeses Peanut Butter Cup lover Gary Trompower is profiled in Seen & Heard.

KNOW SOMEONE WITH HEARING LOSS? Give them a gift membership to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Visit www.hearingloss.org for more information.

 





Seen & Heard: Judy G. Martin

15 11 2011

Judy Martin, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the November/December 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Seen & Heard is a new column in our magazine and we had 48 members get enthusiastically involved in our first outreach effort! We’ll be publishing one or two profiles (as space allows) in each issue of the bimonthly magazine. The first two members profiled were Danielle Nicosia and John Kinstler, who appeared in the the September/October 2011 issue. You can read more about their debut on my blog here.

I especially enjoyed Judy’s responses to my questionnaire—she’s very funny, interesting and outgoing and her answers definitely reflect that fact. She and I share an affinity for true crime books and tv shows and I laughed out loud when I read her long- and short-term goals. I photographed her at HLAA’s annual convention this past June, which was held in Washington, D.C.

Judy G. Martin / Jacksonville, FL / born July 15 in Columbus, NE

MY HEARING LOSS…began about age seven or eight. I got my first hearing aid at age 17 and had two hearing aids at age 42. I received my cochlear implant in January 2006 and I still wear one hearing aid.

SAGE ADVICE…Find a good audiologist. Make sure your hearing aid has a t-coil. Join or start a local HLAA chapter.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE A… nurse or a teacher.

THE BEST GIFT I EVER RECEIVED WAS…a blue and white two-wheeler Schwinn when I was seven.

THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY WAS… a 1965 Black Mustang with red leather interior.

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… to quit smoking cold turkey in 1981. I had a two-pack-a-day habit. There is a story behind why I quit (not health).

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… symphony music, big band, golden oldies, birds (all kinds), wind blowing through trees, and a church choir.

IN MY SPARE TIME I… advocate for people with hearing loss and volunteer at church as acolyte, chalice minister, lector, and usher.

I MISS… New York, but not during the winter!

HAPPINESS IS… partying with my husband, family and friends.

HOBBIES? Genealogy. I have 46 first cousins and traced my German side back to the 1600s, but my Polish side eludes me and that goes back to only 1837. In 2002 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and at the same time found information that through one of my lines I was descended from French Huguenots through the Danish Huguenots. My love of genealogy and my excitement over this latest finding literally drove the fear of cancer from my heart and mind.

CITY, COUNTRY, BEACH OR MOUNTAINS? City and country. I was born on a farm, lived in the suburbs and as a young chick chose to move to Manhattan. Except for the fact that I met my first husband there, I loved every square inch of that beautiful city, from Battery Park on the tip of the island to the uppermost Inwood section, from the Hudson to the East Rivers. Although I’ve been a Florida resident for six years, I am a proud almost-lifelong New Yorker! You can take the girl out of New York but you can’t take New York out of the girl.

MY FAVORITE PLACE TO BE… is at home where I can putter.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… food.

I COLLECT: nativities and have 57 sets as of Christmas 2010. They get put up every other year because every other year we travel to New York to spend with family. During the intervening years, we travel north at Thanksgiving.

PLACES I’VE CALLED HOME… Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… advertising, publishing, newspaper, church

MUSIC TO MY EARS… John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” (Tom—my husband—and my song), “Ave Maria,” “Adagio for Strings,” Mario Lanza’s “All the Things You Are,” Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”

LITERARY FAVES… Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Ann Rule’s book on Ted Bundy—The Stranger Beside Me, Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Understood Betsy

FAVORITE MOVIES: Them, Miracle of the Bells, Night of the Living Dead, Affair to Remember, Imitation of Life

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… Ann Rule’s In The Still of the Night.

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… how to cook and how to iron men’s pants.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… that men can be moral and trustworthy.

GET ANYTHING GOOD IN THE MAIL LATELY? Yes—My N5 Processor!

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? Facebook!

I HAVE A FEAR OF… being stabbed to death. I read too many true crime books and watch too many true crime shows on TV.

EARLY BIRD OR NIGHT OWL? Whoooooo? Night Owl, definitely.

SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU ARE SURE MOST PEOPLE DON’T… Many, many books and three-ring binders filled with genealogy history and printouts of ancestors

MY FAVORITE POSSESSIONS ARE… my cochlear implant processors, computers, genealogy printouts and records, and finally—42 photo albums with pictures pasted in the old-fashioned way, 18,500 photos on my computer, and one box of photos and negatives to be sorted before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

EVER MEET ANYONE FAMOUS? Red Skelton, Rex Harrison, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ted Steele (bandleader from the 40s) Fred Astaire. I went around the revolving door twice with Willie Nelson at the old El Morocco.

MY LONG-TERM GOAL… is to live long-term.

MY SHORT-TERM GOAL… includes remembering what my long-term goal is.

PET PEEVE… drivers who talk or text on their cell phone while driving and weaving or driving slowly in the left lane.

RIGHT NOW I AM CRAVING… Boars Head Blazing Buffalo Chicken on white bread with fresh tomato and mayo.

IF I RULED THE WORLD… there would be no war or poverty.

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IS… my happy 33-year marriage, my two children and through them my three grandchildren.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as a person who tried to live the best way she could—not always successfully—but with the best of intentions.

“Every issue of Hearing Loss Magazine is filled from front to back with fascinating, useful, thought-provoking, humorous, and educational articles. As a newsletter editor, I’ve done lots of interviewing and am incessantly interested (some say nosy) in the lives of others. Folks will often say they are not newsworthy, but I always respond that every life has a story. I always appreciate the absolute professionalism—the layout, the photography, the planning, the editing—of this publication. I’m proud to pass it on.” —Judy Martin





Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms

2 07 2011

Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms was one of the exhibitors at the annual Hearing Loss Association of America Convention, held last month in nearby Crystal City, Virginia.

HAYLEIGH’S ROCKY START
Before Hayleigh Scott was born, a sonogram revealed that she had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which displaced her organs. Her parents, Rachel and Andrew, were given options to terminate one baby, in-utero surgery, or to just “watch and wait.” They opted for the latter, with much prayer and support from family and friends. Her twin, Vienna, was healthy at birth; Hayleigh was not. She was in the ICU for two and half months and had to be quarantined for the first two years of her life. They noticed her hearing loss when she was 18 months old. She was diagnosed with severe-to-profound hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids (and decorating them!) ever since.

AN ENTREPRENEUR IS BORN
When Hayleigh was five, she decided she wanted to show off her hearing aids with some “bling.” She started drawing sketches with her sisters and a few years later, their mom helped them make the designs into jewelry. With the help of her mother, father, twin sister Vienna and younger sister Sarah, Hayleigh turned this kitchen table venture into a full-fledged business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms. She encourages her customers to celebrate their uniqueness by embellishing their hearing aids and cochlear implants and not trying to hide them.

She and her two sisters make all the jewelry, which includes more than 50 hearing aid charms (see sample at left). They also create cochlear implant bling, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Their newest creations are colorful and fun Tube Twists (shown at right) and Snake Tube Twists. And they’re not just for girly girls (and big girls)—they create charms for boys and tomboys, too! The charms are reasonably priced—from $10 to $25—and shipping on all orders is free in the U.S. and international shipping is just $5. Hayleigh is committed to giving back to the community she serves—ten percent of all proceeds are donated to furthering hearing research and education of the hard of hearing and deaf community.

A PASSION FOR BUSINESS
Her parents then applied for a provisional patent for her invention. A three-year process, this meant she couldn’t wear the charms, promote them or advertise them during that time. Now that’s what I call an extremely patient entrepreneur. Hayleigh and her sisters are so engaging and lively, and their enthusiasm for their products and their business is contagious! As a self-employed person for more than 20 years, I can relate to their joy and enthusiasm for their passion. Their booth was always busy and Vienna later told me that they did really well in their first time as exhibitors at an HLAA Convention.

Audiologist Douglas Beck conducted an interview last year with Hayleigh and her mother about Hayleigh’s hearing loss and her blossoming business for The American Academy of Audiology website. From that interview, I learned that Hayleigh and Vienna are “mirror twins.” I wasn’t familiar with that term until now. It means they have opposite identical features, like left versus right handedness and their hair parts on opposite sides. Read that interview transcript here. Author Maureen Doty Tomasula wrote about Hayleigh in her article, Sharing Her Special Charm, published in The Hearing Journal in September 2009.

SHARING A COMMON BOND
Hayleigh may not know this, but she shares an honor that I was privileged to receive a few years ago. She is the first place winner in the Student Category of the 2010 Oticon Focus on People Award. Congratulations, Hayleigh! I received first place in the Adult Category in 2008. Hearing Loss Magazine editor Barbara Kelley secretly nominated me for the award. Oticon flew all the winners and a guest to Denver for the ceremony, and I wrote about that amazing experience (thanks again, Barbara!) on my blog here.

To continue in the “six degrees of separation” vein, I met my friend and HLAA member Lynn Rousseau while in Denver at the Oticon Awards event. She was a first place award recipient in the Advocacy Category. We became fast friends and her life story was so interesting that I suggested to Barbara that we profile her in Hearing Loss Magazine. She made her cover feature debut in the May/June 2011 issue, which I wrote about here.

I photographed the entire Scott family (including Hayleigh’s adorable cherub of a brother, AJ) at the end of the Convention. Look for Hayleigh and her family in a future issue of Hearing Loss Magazine!

All photos (except product photos) © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Hearing Loss Magazine, 2009 recap

1 01 2010

The first issue in 2010 of the Hearing Loss Magazine, published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), will arrive in member mailboxes in about a week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services as well. Reflecting back on 2009, we profiled Dr. Mark Ross, audiologist and regular contributing Hearing Loss Magazine author; Jennifer Cheng, an epidemiologist and competitive cyclist; Dr. Vinton Cerf, also known as the “Father of the Internet,” and his wife, Sigrid; Ret Cpt Mark Brogan and his wife, Sunny; and Deanne Bray, who stars in the NBC series, Heroes. 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 2009: Dr. Mark Ross is an audiologist and recipient of HLAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2008. Dr. Ross received his BA and MA from Brooklyn College in 1957 and 1958 and his PhD from Stanford University in 1962. He is a professor emeritus in audiology at the University of Connecticut, and has also worked as a clinical audiologist, a director of a school for the deaf and as director of research and training at the NY League for the Hard of Hearing. He is currently serving as a consultant to the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center at Gallaudet University. Ross is a regular contributor to Hearing Loss Magazine. His article in this issue, Revisiting the Perennial Question: What is the “Best” Hearing Aid?, is available for download here: BestHearingAid. Also in this issue, Dr. John Niparko and cochlear implant audiologist Courtney Carver‘s article, Successful Aging and Our Hearing, which can be downloaded here: NiparkoCarverFeature. (Dr. Niparko just happens to be my wonderful otolaryngologist, and the “model” in this feature is Fred Anzaldua, a family friend and HLAA member from San Antonio, Texas.) Cover photograph of Dr. Mark Ross © Cindy Dyer

March/April 2009: HLAA’s annual convention was held in Nashville, Tennessee, June 18-21, 2009. HLAA also celebrated its 30th birthday in 2009. Dr. Vinton Cerf, a “Father of the Internet,” was the Opening Session keynote speaker. Dr. Cerf was our cover feature for the May/June 2009 issue (see next entry). Nashville was a fantastic venue for the event! You can view the schedule of workshops, speakers, and social event for Convention 2009 here:  Convention2009Teaser. This issue also featured an excellent article titled, Why is Everyone So Mad? Getting a Grip on Hearing Loss. Author Sam Trychin is a lecturer at Penn State. Dr. Trychin conducts training programs, classes, and workshops for people who are hard of hearing, their families, and professionals who provide services to them. Trychin’s article can be downloaded here: WhyIsEveryoneSoMad

May/June 2009: In March 2009 I had the immense pleasure of meeting and photographing Dr. Vinton Cerf and his wife, Sigrid, for the cover and interview by HLAA member and freelance writer Barbara Chertok, who is a former speechreading and lipreading teacher as well as a bilateral cochlear implant recipient. Dr. Cerf is a hearing aid wearer and Sigrid is a binaural cochlear implant recipient. Dr. Cerf is currently vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google. (Sigrid’s otolaryngologist is also Dr. John Niparko, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland.) Learn more about Dr. Cerf and Sigrid in my May 10, 2009 posting here. Read Barbara Chertok’s interview with the Cerf’s here: DrVintonSigridCerf. This issue also included an article titled, Music, MP3 Players and Hearing Health, by Patricia M. Chute, an audiologist and dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York. This article is a must-read for adults and parents of children who use MP3 players incessantly! Read Chute’s article here: MP3HearingHealth. Cover photograph of Vinton and Sigrid Cerf © Cindy Dyer

July/August 2009: Jennifer Cheng, a competitive cyclist and infectious diseases epidemiologist from Washington, D.C., was our cover subject and author of the article, Racing With (Not Through) My Hearing Loss, in this month’s issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. Jen was diagnosed with progressive sensorineural hearing loss at age 17 and wears a hearing aid. Born and raised in Seattle, she graduated from George Washington University with a Master of Public Health degree in International Health in 2005. She is a competitive road cyclist for Team CycleLife powered by Specialized, a promoter of women’s cycling and racing in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Cheng received the HLAA Outstanding Young Adult Award at HLAA’s Convention 2009 in Nashville. You can read Jennifer Cheng’s article in the link here: JenniferChengFeature. Also in this issue—an article by Dr. Mark Ross titled, Listening to Music Through Hearing Aids: The Music Program, available for download here: MusicThroughHearingAids Cover photograph of Jennifer Cheng © Cindy Dyer

September/October 2009: Ret Cpt Mark Brogan and his wife, Sunny, were profiled in an article by Barbara Kelley, editor of Hearing Loss Magazine. I had the immense honor of meeting and photographing Mark and Sunny in June during HLAA’s Convention 2009 in Nashville. Mark shared his story (along with scars and his amazing Purple Heart tattoo, courtesy of Miami Ink)—it was a humbling experience for me. Mark was also a guest speaker at Convention 2009. He was a United States Calvary Officer in A Troop, 4th Squadron 14th Calvary, 172 Stryker Brigade Combat team, deployed from Fort Wainwright, Alaska to Iraq to lead a platoon of infantry soldiers. A TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivor, Mark was wounded while on a foot patrol in the Al Anbar Province in Iraq, on April 11, 2006. In addition to the injuries to his skull and arm, his right eardrum was perforated and he has severe-to-profound hearing loss. He wears hearing aids in both ears. Mark was medically retired in 2007. He is a veterans’ advocate and a commander in the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 356 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Read about Mark’s incredible journey from intensive rehab to reconstructing his life, in his blog here. Read a downloadable pdf of Barbara Kelley’s feature article on Mark Brogan here: MarkBroganFeature Also in this issue—an investigative article by Dr. Mark Ross titled, “What About that Thing I Saw on TV that Helps You Hear Better? It’s only $14.99!” is available for download here: SoundAmpProducts Cover photograph of Mark and Sunny Brogan © Cindy Dyer

November/December 2009: Actress Deanne Bray was interviewed by Barbara Kelley, Hearing Loss Magazine editor, in an article titled, Deanne Bray: A Hearing Loss ‘Hero’. Bray was most recently known for her starring role in the PAX-TV series, Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye. The show was loosely based on the true experiences of Sue Thomas, a woman with a profound hearing loss, who worked for the FBI in 1978 doing undercover surveillance by reading lips. Deanne’s latest role is that of Emma, in the NBC hit series, Heroes. Deanne has a severe hearing loss (70 dB to 90 dB) and wears a hearing aid in her left ear. She reads lips to augment what sounds the hearing aid provides. She also uses sign language, assistive listening devices, and captioning to navigate her personal and professional life as an actress. She is married to Troy Kotsur, an actor who is Deaf. Troy was on the Lifetime series, Strong Medicine, and guest starred in Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye. He was also on a special Deaf themed episode (December 13, 2008) of CSI: NY, and an episode of Scrubs. They have a four-year-old daughter, Kyra Monique. Learn more about Deanne on her website here. Read Barbara Kelley’s interview with Deanne here: DeanneBrayInterview. Also in this issue—Author Nan Johnson describes her history of progressive hearing loss and her decision to seek a second implant, in her article: Going Bilateral with Cochlear Implants: A Personal Trip to “Stereophonic Hearing,” available for download here: GoingBilateralCochlear Cover photograph of Deanne Bray by Felicity Murphy.

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.