The Not So Elusive Josh Vinyard

6 11 2013

Dancer Josh “Elusive” Vinyard is our cover feature for the November/December 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. After seeing Josh on America’s Got Talent, I told HLM editor Barbara Kelley about him and then got the ball rolling to contact him. I was excited to learn that he lives in Austin, less than a two-hour drive from my family’s house in San Antonio!

Very special thanks to photographer Brian K. Loflin for assisting with the photo shoot of Josh all around Austin, as well as the images he shot for the feature. Brian was my boss many years ago and has long been my photography mentor. Austin is full of very colorful, graffiti-covered walls that made for a perfect backdrop for some of our shots. You can find Brian’s work at www.loflin-images.com. Visit his natural science photography blog, full of informative how-to photography articles, here: http://bkloflin.wordpress.com/.

Thanks also to Josh’s friend, Peter Tsai, for the photographs he contributed to the feature. Visit Peter’s website at http://www.petertsaiphotography.com/blog/. Visit Josh Vinyard’s website here.

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The Not So Elusive Josh Vinyard by Cindy Dyer

One night I was flipping through TV channels and paused at just the right time to meet 22-year-old Josh “Elusive” Vinyard, a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent (Season 7). I don’t usually watch the show, but when I paused, there was Josh—sharing his experience with hearing loss. I watched his performance and was mesmerized by his talent and athleticism. Through a web search, I learned that he lives in Austin, less than a two-hour drive from San Antonio where my family lives, so I could easily interview and photograph him the next time I was in the area. I sent him an email introducing myself and he responded immediately. I spent the entire day with Josh, photographing him and getting to know this very talented young man. (Cover photo by Cindy Dyer)

Josh Cover

Josh is unlike other subjects I have photographed for Hearing Loss Magazine. All of the other people we have featured have faced their hearing loss and availed themselves of the amazing technology. Josh has avoided it, and I don’t think he really knows what it could do for him. His personal choice is to not wear hearing aids, despite his mother’s pressure to do so when he was younger. If he were armed with more knowledge about the products available to athletes, I think he might possibly consider it in the future. What do you think?

Tell me about your hearing loss.
I honestly don’t know many of the details of my hearing loss from when I was younger. I was born with holes in both of my eardrums. I have had four surgeries on my left ear and one on my right ear. Thankfully, having surgery to repair the hole in my right eardrum worked. The next two surgeries were on my left ear. The last surgery was to remove a cholesteatoma. [A cholesteatoma is an abnormal skin growth in the middle ear behind the eardrum. It is usually caused by repeated infection that causes an ingrowth of the skin of the eardrum. Hearing loss, dizziness, and facial muscle paralysis are rare but can result from continued cholesteatoma growth.] You would think I would take the time to learn about it now that I’m older, but it has affected me so much in my younger life and I suppose I just prefer to leave it behind me.

Did you have any issues with your hearing loss when you were younger and in school?
I wish I would have had more help in school. My mother pressured me to wear a hearing aid but I refused. I thought it would further alienate me from other kids and decrease my chances for making any friends. The truth was, I was already a social outcast because I could barely hear since the time I was born.

Growing up, I had a hard time hearing people so I didn’t understand them most of the time. My solution was to stop trying to listen and play in my own imagination. I kept to myself and daydreamed all day long. I essentially committed social suicide without having a clue I was doing it. I gave the appearance of a loner, so kids labeled me as a weirdo and, presto, no friends!

The teachers accused me of not paying attention in class and, presto, angry teachers! Granted, I wasn’t paying attention, but I never understood what they were talking about every time I did try listening. I refused to accept any hearing aids. School is not a fun place when you think the teachers and students are against you. And when you’re young, you blame yourself.

JoshByBrianWere you teased in school because of your hearing loss?
I’m sure I was, but there are no specific times that I can remember. I never talked about my hearing loss when I was younger. I don’t want to say I was hiding it, but I never felt the need to express it with others. It was my personal business.

Had you ever considered wearing a hearing aid? Do you think you’re missing out on things?
I had not considered wearing hearing aids. As I said, I refused when my mother tried to get me to. The reason is because I did not want to be further segregated from the other kids. I don’t have the desire to wear one now because growing up, my hearing loss affected my life (for the better, I think) and I have discovered a lot of ways not to necessarily overcome it, but to handle it. I feel like I would be leaving a part of me behind in a sense. As an athlete, I don’t think I could constantly wear one. When I’m working on a show, movie, or in a competition, I need to hear, but I am performing and moving around a lot.

I’ve seen the video of you breakdancing when you received your high school diploma. Was this spontaneous?
It was a little message that only I understood, but that’s all that mattered. I relied on my dancing to get me through the hard times, including school. That was my way of declaring, “This is what got me through, not you.” It sounds a little cold when I actually say it, but that is how I felt and I wanted to leave that stamp. (Photo of Josh above, left by Brian K. Loflin)

How do you communicate without the help of technology?
I read a lot of body language and facial expressions. This practice always gives me clues to the context of the discussion and then I fill in the gaps of what I did not hear. I love that I have learned to do it this way, though. I probably don’t hear everything but body language gives me an insight to what they really want to say versus what they are actually saying.

Josh Walking WallHow do people react when they learn you have a hearing loss?
The reaction is always the same. “That explains a lot.” But then, at the same time they typically marvel on how well I do despite my hearing loss. (Photo of Josh at right by Cindy Dyer)

How does your hearing loss affect your life now, including dancing?
Nothing that is really different, honestly. I ask people to repeat themselves a lot, and will offer them my explanation if I have to ask them repeatedly. I still rely on other resources for understanding people other than just hearing. My resources include body language, tone of their voice, reading their facial expression, the syllables of each word they use and lastly, the context of the discussion to weave everything together. As for dancing, it teaches me to rely on intuitively feeling the music versus counting beats.

What would you want hearing people to know about your hearing loss in order to be more sensitive and accommodating?
No special treatment needed. Just be understanding of when I ask you to repeat yourself or to speak a little louder. Just don’t try to talk in my bad ear!

If someone were to encourage you to get your hearing evaluated to see if there is any kind of technology that would help you hear better, or understand conversation better, would you give it a try for your day-to-day life outside of dancing?
I would be open to something new. I have this thought that technology won’t help me due to my strenuous physical activities. Would something fall off? Bounce around too much? That is why I have not tried anything. I guess I need more information. (Photo of Josh against the Austin skyline by Peter Tsai)

Josh By Peter 1

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing at age 13. I didn’t think about mastering the skill. I was a disgruntled, self-destructive youth. I just wanted to be good at something. At age 15, I really began to rely on dancing to fulfill me emotionally. I had felt worthless due to my social inadequacies. I remember telling myself, “You’re not good at anything, but this is what you’re best at so just try to be decent at it.”

Needless to say, I was pretty hard on myself. My dancing is the offspring of my pain, but, ironically. It has practically given me everything I have now. Pain plus dancing have made me into who I am today—a person whom I love and believe in.

Does your family support your career choice?
I have an awesome, amazing and loving family, and I love them all so much. I am the youngest and have an older brother and sister. We all enjoy our time together. It’s a rare thing that I have and I am so lucky.

My family had never really supported my dancing and stunts, but they never discouraged it either. When it comes down to it, their attitude helped a lot. People have big dreams and a lot of them fall flat on their face. They thought there was a chance I might fail trying, but they weren’t going to discourage me from trying.

When the America’s Got Talent opportunity arose, it was one of those events where they knew that anything was possible and I could achieve anything. Not that they didn’t think I had a lack of talent to do it, but just because they know how hard the world is. They fully support me now.

What is your training ritual?
I try to practice for a few hours every day. Or at least, at the bare minimum, one hour. Sometimes I will practice for six straight hours, then have a lengthy stretching session, followed by working out, then do some cardiovascular training such as running. It wasn’t until later that I learned the importance of recovery. I might then massage my body with a foam roller followed by an Epsom salt bath. My complete regimen averages about 20-30 hours a week.

I have a background in gymnastics and martial arts that I pull from for working out. Around age 20, I studied anatomy and physiology enough to begin to understand really how working out worked. That’s when I began to design my own workouts and training routines specifically geared toward Bboying.

“Bboying” stands for Break Boy. Breakers originally used this semi-acronym before the term breakdancing was popularly used. Using the Bboying is to use it as a verb, to breakdance. To call someone “Bboy” before their name is an adjective, to define them as a breaker. I do workouts and exercises that I still have not seen other people do.

What are some of the daily habits and disciplines required to become a professional dancer?
You have to work hard and push yourself. The more you sweat, the less you cry when things don’t work out. Dancing is a special field. You can’t just physically exert yourself. You have to exercise tremendous imagination and emotions. One of the hardest things to do is to simply allow yourself to relax, especially after an injury.

A dancer should have had a lot of training in various physical endeavors such as stunt classes, martial arts, etc.

How does martial arts and stunt training help with dancing?
The study of movement is important and the more you know, even if it’s just how cars move, the more you understand about yourself. Therefore, I have training in gymnastics, martial arts, dance, and Parkour. (Parkour, also known as Free Running, was originally developed as a military obstacle training to efficiently and effectively move through your environment. You can see examples of this on YouTube, martial arts, other forms of dance, and just a lot of physical activities in general.)

I do a lot of random things—all physical—that all come together and help form me either directly or indirectly as an athlete and performer.

What was your first paying gig or contest and how did it go?
My first paying gig was when I was 15. I dressed up as Spiderman and pretended to be him for a child’s birthday—doing flips and everything. I made $50 for that. I won my first competition when I was 16. I was still a self-destructive kid, but it was one of those moments that make me say to myself, “I might not be a failure. I just might be worth something.”

Do you have a “day job” or are you focusing solely on making a career out of your passion for dance?
As of now, I am a full-time entertainer for dancing and stunts. Dancing has always been fun and it is my “crutch” and it will probably continue to be. As for a choice of career though, I am pursuing the stunt realm.

Which dancers inspired you when started dancing? Who are your favorite dancers in this genre?
I never really looked up to other dancers when I was learning. In my mid-teens, though, I was heavily inspired by Bboy Physicx. (He is a Bboy from Korea). Later I tried to learn from entertainers of all types. I loved to watch Bboy Cloud. His real name is Daniel Campos but his dance name is Cloud. Michael Jackson, James Brown and others have also influenced my work. Cloud and Physicx will without a doubt always be some of my favorite dancers in this genre.

What is it about Hip-Hop dance that makes it Hip-Hop?
This is where it begins to get weird unless you already understand it. Breaking is a form of dance that incorporates any movement the individual desires to use. The term breaking came about because Bboys would always dance to the breaks of a song. Breaking is a core part of hiphop. Hip-hop’s roots are in the Bronx and its fundamentals were graffiti, DJs, MCs (rappers) and Bboys. It is a raw art form. I say this because there is hardly any money, fame, or materialistic values involved in this art—the people who are a part of it are in it just to express themselves. It’s a creative outlet and it is fun. When you aren’t misguided for the wrong values, all that is left is you. And you feel compelled to express yourself. When I’m not practicing to gain something (money, etc.) I don’t have so many external influences. Everything becomes internalized, then everything emerges, allowing me to fully express myself. It’s a hard thing to express.

What is the best way to learn Hip-Hop dance? How did you learn it?
The best way to learn is by being a part of the Bboy culture. Go to where dancers are practicing, and join them, even if you don’t know anything. I learned breaking through online tutorials, took classes for a couple of months, and attended workshops when they were available. Above all, I practiced with my community and learned a lot from them. I don’t want to say I have made unique moves as my own, but the way I do them are unique.

Do you try to push yourself in new directions with each new piece?
I do try to make my dances more elaborate and indulge in other styles. One of my favorite things about breaking is that it isn’t one-sided. Breaking is everything and anything you can take from it. You can incorporate martial art moves, other styles of dancing—even different exercises like swimming. I saw a guy who acted like he was swimming on the floor and it looked fantastic, so I use them all.

One thing I usually do not do is choreograph. The beauty and all the appreciation I find for Bboying lies within the ability to improvise. Each song is different, giving you different feelings, different tempos. Every venue is different. Every crowd is different. To adapt and be able to connect with them all is poetry in motion to me!

Have you entered a lot of dance competitions?
I have entered a lot of competitions. I entered one in Arizona when I was 18. I flew out, not exactly knowing where I was going to stay, who would be there, how I would get around, or how I would do. My expectations were pretty low and my trip was not planned at all. I just wanted to get past the preliminaries, but I ended up winning it. Talk about a surprise! Then there was the trip I took to Dallas for my 16th birthday. I had just enough money for a one-way bus ticket. I was relying on my ability to win to get the money to get back home. I lost the first round. I borrowed money from everyone to scrape together a bus ticket. Talk about disappointment!

How did you decide to audition for America’s Got Talent (AGT)?
I was extremely reluctant to audition. I didn’t think I would make it past their auditions, but after a good friend pressed me enough to actually try it out, I reluctantly did. I just walked into the building and said “I’m here to audition.” I ended up making it to the quarterfinals. Out of the 75,000 people who auditioned for the show, I was a solo performer among the 48 groups they selected. I was a little surprised, to say the least. First stop was Austin, then Las Vegas, then to Newark, New Jersey.

When you made the first cut, how did you prepare for the next step?
Once I was told I was going to Vegas, I was really surprised. This meant that I passed the audition round. To go beyond Vegas meant I would be among the quarter-finalists. So I basically made it to round three. I just improvised during the auditions, so I figured this time I’ll actually put together something good. I practiced, rehearsed and executed a very well done routine in the Vegas round. Unfortunately, it was edited around and music dubbed over instead of my actual performance.

What was the AGT experience like? Were there any pressures? How did you adjust—or not adjust?
AGT was a horrifying process, but I was able to fall back on my old nature of being able to internalize and keep myself calm. It kept me and my performances protected. I have to say I adapted as well to the pressures as any survivor possibly could. Being on a live national television show is the scariest thing I have ever done, and I’m not sure if it will ever be topped!

What kinds of things did AGT do to accommodate your hearing loss?
Nothing. They actually didn’t even know about my hearing loss until the last round of the show. They were actually upset that I didn’t tell them sooner.

What were the judges like?
The judges were Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel. I never got one-on-one time with any of them so I don’t know what they were really like. They critiqued my performance but didn’t offer me constructive criticism.

Judge Howie Mandel said, “…I have to say, Elusive, that usually I don’t like to combine the story with what’s happening, but your story is phenomenal—the fact that you have a hearing loss, yet music is your life. There’s such a dichotomy between your problem and what you’re doing…that you’re so inspirational. And then I watch your strength and then I watch your dancing and your ability. It just dazzles me.”

How has coming so far in AGT helped your career and visibility of your work?
Honestly, I can’t really make any firm claim that AGT has landed me any work. It is a good credential that assesses my value with clients, but it has not directly helped my career.

What advice do you have for a dancer who wants to become established in the arts? Is it important to have an agent?
I don’t believe it’s as important as people think. If an agency finds you just one audition, then they are beneficial and worth it. But too many people rely on agents. As in a lot of careers, people have to go out, hustle, and be able to find their own work. I have never had representation. My advice to others: Have fun and enjoy it. That’s the only way you’ll actually be able to get good at it.

Were you born in Austin?
I was not born in Austin, but I have lived here since I was two or three years old. I have no memories of before Austin, so I consider myself an Austinite. There is not much work for dancing gigs in Austin as of yet, but Texas just increased their tax incentives for filmmakers so that might bring in more work. I focus on film, corporate and marketing gigs in Austin.

Tell me about your commercials.
You can see most of these projects on my website (www.joshvinyard.com). I choreographed the routines myself. Commercials pay handsomely, not for the actual day rate but for the residuals. I always have a lot of fun making videos and love to experiment and find new ways to interact with the camera, the angles, lighting and how it can all influence and alter the performance.

You recently met some agents in California. How did that go?
I met with a lot of agencies but they all wanted me to live in LA. I decided my desire to work didn’t override my desire to live in LA. I am not currently represented by any agencies.

I saw in your IMDB.com profile that you have been a stuntman in several movies, including an upcoming Spiderman movie. How did that come about?
Earlier this year, I went to Los Angeles to pursue dancing and stunt work. After three weeks, I came back to Austin, heartbroken and absolutely broke. I spent the next few days thinking about giving everything up and wallowing in self-pity.

I then picked myself back up, and told myself, Yes, I can do it and I met stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong less than 24 hours later. He proceeded to put me to work on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for two months as a stunt performer. I can guarantee that if I had kept my same doubtful mindset, it would not have ever happened.

You attended Austin Community College. What did you study?
I was studying for a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. I got halfway there before I dropped out of school to work with Andy Armstrong on the Spider-Man 2 movie, which debuts in 2014. Although I earned enough credit hours for an associate’s degree. It will be some time before I get back to school, though, because I have a career to think about now.

What are some of the current projects you are working on? Future projects?
I am working on film projects, both for dance and stunts. My dream project would be something that incorporates all aspects of entertainment—music, dance, acrobatics, special effects—just everything in general into something extremely dynamic. I have crazy ideas like being completely on fire while doing power moves, and things like that but nothing concrete is planned right now.

I know one thing for sure: It is so critical to always believe in yourself.

HLAA Convention 2014 will be held in Josh’s hometown—Austin, Texas. I think I might be able to convince him to check out the Exhibit Hall and learn about the amazing technology now available to atheletes like him. And who knows? There might be a Josh Vinyard sighting. Just look for the guy dancing off the wall!

Freelance graphic designer and photographer Cindy Dyer serves as designer and photographer for Hearing Loss Magazine. She experienced sudden hearing loss in her right ear in 1993 and had a cholesteatoma removed in same ear in 2003. She wears a hearing aid in her left ear. Cindy can be reached at dyerdesign@aol.com.

Josh’s 2009 graduation from Anderson High School in Austin

America’s Got Talent 2012 Austin Auditions

America’s Got Talent 2012 Quarter-final

Stunt Reel 2013

Fuel Rewards and Shell Gasoline Commercial





Seen & Heard: Carol Halla

6 11 2013

Carol Halla is our Seen & Heard profile in the November/December 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I  photographed Carol at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, R.I.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Seen & Heard Carol Halla

CAROL HALLA  Charleston, SC / born January 3 in Evanston, IL

MY HEARING LOSS…I started losing my hearing in both ears rapidly while I was in the Air Force, stationed in Hawaii, when I was 26. I was tested extensively. Over the course of the next 10 years, my hearing loss continued to deteriorate. It would seem to level off only to drop again. No definite cause was ever found, but a lot of scary stuff was ruled out. Through the 80s and 90s I wore increasingly large and powerful hearing aids and remained on active duty. After my retirement from the Air Force in ’97, my industrial strength hearing aids no longer provided the benefit I needed.

I felt the frustration, isolation, and grief that only a person with a profound hearing loss can truly understand. When I found out that I was a possible candidate for either one or two cochlear implants, I was at a total loss as to what to do. After doing my own research, working with the helpful folks at the Veterans Administration, our local CI center, and receiving a wealth of information, I took a giant leap of faith and had my CI surgery in July 2010. Now, I wear one CI on the left ear and a hearing aid on the right ear.

SAGE ADVICE…Educate and advocate for yourself! If you need a hearing aid, wear it and take pride in not allowing yourself to be too stubborn, shy or self-conscious. Be up front with your friends and family—they should offer the most support—but only if they are fully informed! Don’t give up easily—most hearing aids are programmable or adjustable to fit your needs.

FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT…Last year during my annual routine mammogram, when the technician had placed me in the position then went behind the screen to activate the machine, she said over her shoulder what I thought was “say cheese!” But what she really said was “don’t breathe!” Too funny! We both cracked up.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE…a vet because I love animals.

PETS? Yes—three crazy furball cats—Snickers, Doodles and Katie.

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE…During my Air Force career, I deployed to the Persian Gulf twice. The first time I lived in a tent in the desert for seven months with 2 other women. The bathroom facilities were one-quarter mile from our tent and were—shall we say—very primitive! The second time it was an apartment-type dwelling in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with a different group of women for four months. When I got home each time, I really appreciated all the little comforts of home—like my own bathroom!

I LOVE THE SOUNDS OF…With my new CI, I never tire of hearing the birdsong in my backyard. After activation, the sounds blew me away and brought tears to my eyes.

IN MY SPARE TIME, I…love to read, follow my friends on Facebook and the Hearing Journey, work in the yard on a nice day, continue organizing old pictures, crafts and learning more about my new Canon camera.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I…completed three marathons while I lived in Hawaii.

WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE? Other than my parents, it’s my loving husband of 28 years, Bruce.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR…vintage jewelry.

I COLLECT…dust bunnies under the furniture (shhh!).

MY FAVORITE COLOR IS…sunny yellow—a real mood lifter.

FIVE PLACES I HAVE LIVED…Wilmette, IL; Stuttgart, Germany; Selma, AL; Aiea, Hawaii; Rapid City, SD; Las Vegas, NV; Charleston, SC. Okay, that’s more than five, but who’s counting?

WORKING NINE TO FIVE…drug store clerk, shoe store clerk, Pizza Hut waitress, 22-year Air Force career, inventory management at an engineering company

I AM… stubborn, persistent and caring.

I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO…think the same thing my husband is thinking at the same time. Great minds think alike, right?

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT…love and hugs.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED…as someone who looked for the good in people without being judgmental.

“I love the interviews and articles in Hearing Loss Magazine. I love reading about how other people are successful in what they chose to do and don’t let hearing loss rule their world.” 





Sole to Soul

17 10 2013

Hayleigh in pinkI met and photographed Hayleigh (left) and her lovely family in D.C. at HLAA Convention 2011. Hayleigh started her business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, making hearing aid and cochlear implant ear “charms” and the whole family is involved in her venture. You can learn more about Hayleigh and her thriving business in my blog post here.

Please consider donating to their Sole to Soul fundraising campaign! Their goal is to raise $30,000 to buy 1200 pairs of shoes for children in Kenya whose school/dormitory recently burned down, forcing them to return to their homes in the slums of Kenya. They have raised $5,000 so far from babysitting, bake sales and other fundraising efforts. They plan to purchase the shoes in Kenya to support the local economy and will hand deliver them to the children in need.

And while you’re at it, send out a prayer and good thoughts of continued healing for Hayleigh, who is in the hospital in critical but stable condition.





Seen & Heard: Debbie Mohney

7 09 2013

Debbie Mohney is our Seen & Heard profile in the September/October 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I met and photographed Debbie at HLAA’s Convention 2011 in Washington, D.C.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

S&H Debbie Mohney

Debbie Mohney / Boulder, CO / born June 5 in Boulder, CO

MY HEARING LOSS… I was born with a bilateral high-frequency hearing loss, but it wasn’t discovered until I was in kindergarten. I had speech therapy in kindergarten, and then learned how to advocate for myself by sitting in the front row and getting to know my teachers very well. I got my first hearing aid at 18 when I realized I needed to be able to hear professors in college who often face the blackboard while they write. I now wear two BTE Phonak Nios. They have Sound Recover, which is a frequency transposition program. I make sure all my hearing aids have a telecoil so I can use assistive listening systems. I also have an iCom—a Bluetooth streamer—which allows me to use my cell phone, listen to my iPod, and gives me TV in stereo surround sound—very cool!

SAGE ADVICE… Learn everything you can and attend a Hearing Loss Association of America chapter meeting. Learn what works from other people and all you can about the technology that is available. Stop bluffing your way through conversations and start educating about your needs. Easier said than done sometimes, but I used to be the same way.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… The funniest one that wasn’t at the time: I would often meet my parents for lunch, and one day my Mom called and said “We are going to be a little late, Daddy’s dead in the car.” My heart started racing and I shouted out “What???” She replied, “Yeah… Daddy’s down in the garage and the battery is dead in the car.” For many days after that, every time I saw or talked to my Dad, I asked him how he was doing.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE… a teacher and a writer.

THE BEST GIFT I EVER RECEIVED… My grandma taught me how to read when I was three years old, so I have no memory of actually learning how to read. It gave me advantages that I would not otherwise have with my hearing loss.

MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY IS… sitting in my Dad’s lap to go to sleep as a toddler, watching Johnny Carson. Really, I think I watched more Johnny Carson than I got sleep!

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… I’ve been a babysitter. I’ve worked in a print shop putting publications together. I’ve been an accounts receivable clerk and an office manager.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… Disneyland and Disneyland.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… my son playing saxophone. He has a swing band and his music has inspired me to learn how to dance.

IN MY SPARE TIME… I volunteer with HLAA and other hearing loss-related organizations and Boy Scouts. I love to listen to music and enjoy museums, movies and hiking.

MEETING ROCKY STONE… I met Rocky Stone several times—the first time at the New Orleans SHHH Convention. He was so warm and friendly to talk to, and he always asked me about Ann Pruitt from Colorado. From then on, he always remembered me and always had a big smile for me.

Hearing Loss Magazine is a great magazine. In each issue there is so much timely information about everything to do with hearing loss. From more technical articles to personal stories and advocacy, you come away from the magazine empowered to do something.





Seen & Heard: Barbara Johnson

12 07 2013

Barbara Johnson is one of two Seen & Heard profiles in the July/August 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I met and photographed Barbara at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Barbara Johnson S&H

BARBARA JOHNSON

Newton, Massachusetts / Born March 23 in Lowell, Massachusetts

MY HEARING LOSS… I stopped cheating on my hearing tests in the fourth grade. Each year the school nurse gathered us in her office where we’d put on heavy rubber headphones and I would raise my hand when I saw the other kids raising theirs. I finally realized the point of this test and stopped raising my hand unless I actually heard the tone.

Hearing loss runs in my family—four out of my five brothers have serious hearing loss and I am the one sister out of four who has hearing loss. My oldest brother wears two hearing aids. My second brother has bilateral cochlear implants. My fourth and fifth brothers are deaf in one ear.

We didn’t talk about our hearing loss when I was growing up. My loss was essentially untreated until I decided this year, at 51, to get my first cochlear implant. I still have about 30 percent residual hearing in my non-implanted ear.

I’m very new with my cochlear implant, activated March 23, 2012, on my birthday. It’s exciting and challenging.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Talk about it. Find out what technology can help you, such as hearing aids, assistive listening devices, captioning, CART. Figure out what you need to communicate your best and ask others in your life to help. Seek out others who also have hearing loss. They’re out there and it’s so helpful to connect with someone else who really “gets it.”

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… a teacher, a ballerina, or a stewardess (yes, that’s what we called flight attendants when I was a kid).

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… get a cochlear implant. It’s a big deal!

MY LITTLE-KNOWN TALENT IS… drinking coffee in the shower.

HOBBIES? dance, photography, foreign language study, backpack travel to far-flung corners of the globe

PETS? Hank the Cairn terrier, who thinks he’s a cat; Scooter the Jack Russell, who would love to eat a cat; Hildie the Aussie shepherd, who is a scaredy-cat; and Anoush, the Shitzu-terrier mix, who just cuddles better than a cat

I DEFINITELY AM NOT… a couch potato!

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… lifeguard, cashier, ice cream scooper, computer programmer, IT project manager

HAPPINESS IS… hanging out with my husband and four dogs.

MY FAVORITE SEASON IS… summer. I love being outside anywhere on the New England coast, especially the Outer Cape.

I AM… optimistic, energetic and fun.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… home-baked goods.

I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… connect with others no matter who they are and find common ground.

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… coffee.

MY THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS ARE… my MacBook Air, orange ballet flats and my paid-for car!

IF I RULED THE WORLD… there would be mandatory global travel for all! Get to know the world, people!

MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to make peace with my hearing loss. (Right now we’re kind of fighting…)

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IS… being successful in life and love while living with a severe hearing loss.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as a kind, loving, helpful and positive person who made a difference in someone’s life.

I love reading other peoples’ stories in Hearing Loss Magazine and encourage the publication to reach out to readership on a regular basis for input and ideas.





Seen & Heard: Edward Ogiba

12 07 2013

Edward Ogiba is one of two Seen & Heard profiles in the July/August 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I met and photographed Ed at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Edward S&H

EDWARD F. OGIBA

Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida / I came flying out on August 4 in New York City in the final year of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s reign.

MY HEARING LOSS… My hearing loss started in the military and progressed until Ménière’s disease left me deaf. Today I am totally grateful for the cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Find the right audiologist and give him or her the feedback they need to help you get the most out of your hearing devices. Join an HLAA chapter. Focus at communication strategies with your family, friends and co-workers so they know how to best help you hear them.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… When I got my cochlear implant, my vanity prevented me from wearing it to client meetings. But when I had to facilitate an all-day workshop for a board of 24 people I had no choice. After the meeting, a board member approached me and she said: “I will give you credit as this was the most productive meeting we have had in a long time. But you are the rudest person whom I have ever encountered in a meeting.” I was mortified and said: “I am sorry, madam. What did I do?” She barked: “What did you do? How can you be so inconsiderate to carry on multiple conversations? Not once all day did you have the courtesy to turn off your cell phone.” I checked to confirm my cell phone was off before I realized: “Do you mean this?”pointing to my implant. She gave a disapproving nod, snipping “you must be a phone freak to have one implanted.” I laughed and told her, “This is a cochlear implant that allows me to hear despite my hearing loss.” There was a chuckle from another board member as he apparently had told her it was an implant. She then expressed her embarrassment and apology, but I countered: “You have given me a wonderful gift. If you thought it was a phone, others might too, and regardless you have given me the courage to stop being such a bozo about wearing it.”

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… the starting second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… Ebbets Field at age five. I never saw grass greener.

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY WAS… a ’57 Caddy convertible.

PETS? Moka. She’s a crazy Russian Bear Hound.

MUSICALLY INCLINED? I play a mean shower. With my hearing aids out, I can actually stand my own singing.

DO YOU SPEAK ANY LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH? Mon Français est pathétique, mais le langage est si romantique et la cuisine est si fabuleux. Il ne m’échoue jamais excepté toutes les fois que je suis servi les goûts d’un plateau de cendre sautéed. (Translation: My French is pathetic, but the language is so romantic and the food is so fabulous. It never fails me except when I have used the likes of “ash tray sautéed.”)

YOU JUST WON A $10,000,000 LOTTERY. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? CPR.

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET…Thomas Jefferson, the consummate multi-tasker.

FAVORITE COLOR? I used to say “blue.” But after living in Martha Stewart’s county for 16 years, I have been conditioned to say Araucana Teal or perhaps Aragon Sky.

FIVE PLACES I HAVE LIVED… Long Island, Manhattan, Toronto, Weston (CT), Sarasota

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… an ad or Mad Man in Manhattan, again in Toronto, head of New Products Company in Toronto, again in Connecticut, development director for the Ear Research Foundation.

EVER MEET ANYONE FAMOUS? Prince Phillip, Barbara Streisand, Doris Day, Ricardo Montalbán, Margaret Hamilton, Patricia Neal, Peter Ustinov—some of the few sane moments for me as a Mad Man.

Hearing Loss Magazine always delivers a warm hug of support, the inspiration to do more and the guidance from the legions of superheroes in hearing loss nation to blaze the way. Thank you, HLM.





Design Studio: “Hear This!” CD project for AAMHL

17 06 2013

I just completed this CD package design for AAMHL (Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss). They are publishing the project through Amazon’s CreateSpace, so the CD will be available for purchase shortly.

My friend, Charles Mokotoff, plays two pieces on “Hear This!” I photographed Charles for the feature he wrote for the January/February 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. You can see that post here.

Design © Cindy Dyer/Dyer Design. All rights reserved.

HearThis! CD Artwork Blog

Also on the CD:

Celloist PAUL SILVERMAN has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the Strathmore Music Center.

Pianist, soloist and chamber musician JENNIFER CASTELLANO was commissioned to write music for the North/South Chamber Orchestra and was named the 2012 Commissioned Composer for New Jersey Music Teachers Association.

Pianist KATHRYN BAKKE received her Masters degree in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota. She is a speaker, writer and advocate for better hearing loss access.

Singer/songwriter and certified hearing aid dispenser ELISSA LALA has made a career singing vocals for TV documentaries; she was hired by Aaron Spelling to sing “All the Things You Are” for the ABC miniseries Crossings.

Prolific singer/songwriter BLUE O’CONNELL works as a music practitioner at the University of Virginia Medical Center, performs at Charlottesville, VA coffeehouses, and has published a CD called “Choose the Sky.”





Hearing Loss Magazine, May/June 2013 issue

21 05 2013

The Bozzone family graces the cover of the May/June 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which is published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Jason and his wife, Melissa, have three children. Their youngest child, Madeline, has a hearing loss. In this issue of the magazine, Melissa writes about Madeline in “Our Party of Five: Madeline’s Story.” Julie Fisher, the Walk4Hearing Program Assistant, interviewed Jason for this issue as well. I photographed the Bozzone family at a Pennsylvania Walk4Hearing event last fall.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

HLM_MayJune_2013_Cover

Also in this issue:

National Sponsors Create Awareness for Walk4Hearing
2013 sponsor Noreen Gibbens explains why she supports the Walk4Hearing.

The Countdown is On
Nancy Macklin builds excitement for Convention 2013 in Portland, Oregon.

Closed Captioning Frustrations—How to Get Some Help
Carol Studenmund explains how consumers can help improve the quality of captioning on TV.

Can You Hear Me Now? Maximizing Your Hearing on the Phone
Audiologist Brad Ingrao offers technical tips and communications strategies for using the phone.

Seen & Heard
HLAA member Teri Wathen is this issue’s profile.

Advocacy, One Person at a Time
Lise Hamlin, HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, outlines how the organization advocates for public policy and federal regulations, as well as for the rights on more personal levels

Hooked on Bionics
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and in honor of the event, world-renowned puzzle creator George Barany creates a doozie for our readers.

Hearing Loss: My Secondary Disability
Osteogensis Imperfecta is a rare genetic condition. Adding hearing loss to that could mean a lot of frustration and insurmountable challenges, but, not for author Rosemarie Kasper.

New in Print: Shouting Won’t Help: Why I—and 50 Million Other Americans—Can’t Hear You
Janet McKenna reviewed Katherine Bouton’s new book.





In the (traveling) studio: Gary & Cindy Trompower

14 04 2013

Gary Trompower was recently featured in our Seen & Heard column in Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I photographed him at Convention 2012 in Providence, R.I. Here’s a shot I captured of Gary with his wife, Cindy, after his session. You can read Gary’s fun answers in his profile here. Read it and you’ll see why I’m craving Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups right about now.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Gary&Cindy Trompower lorez





Seen & Heard: Don Doherty

9 03 2013

Don Doherty, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just made his Seen & Heard profile debut in the March/April 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I photographed Don 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, Gary Trompower and Juliette Sterkens.

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.

DonS&H

DON DOHERTY, Moyock, NC / born June 12, 1946, Camden, NJ

MY HEARING LOSS… As a Marine infantryman, I lost my hearing or most of it, in Vietnam where I spent 19 months as part of a rifle company (Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1966-1967), following exposure to gun fire, artillery, and other very loud noises. I was 20 years old. The first sign that I lost my hearing was during night patrol or other operations while still in Vietnam. I realized I couldn’t understand what someone was saying if they whispered in my ear. I could hear that they were whispering but I couldn’t understand what the message was. I managed to survive by letting some people know I couldn’t hear, but generally I just faked it and tried to bluff my way through situations. Following my return from Vietnam I was transferred to Puerto Rico where I again had difficulty hearing. This time the jig was up and I was medically evacuated to Philadelphia Naval Hospital where I was issued one hearing aid. I needed two aids, but in those days needing two hearing aids meant discharge, and I still wanted to be a Marine. So I was grateful to have one hearing aid.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS…  Keep your sense of humor and lose your sense of being different. Most people who know you, know you have a hearing loss, and won’t care.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I once went to bed and locked my wife out of the house using a chain lock. She couldn’t get in and enlisted the help of neighbors who eventually used a hacksaw to get into the house.

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE A… I always wanted to be a soldier or Marine. I grew up with John Wayne movies and pride in my country. I joined the Marine Corps at my first opportunity and have never regretted that decision.

MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… is of being at my great grandmother’s house in the country. There were woods to explore, forts to dig, turtles, frogs and snakes to find, and quiet moments to fish. It was a magical time in the 1950s when all seemed right with the world.

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… When I was a child we used to get a pair of shoes each year from Ruby’s Shoes, a small store in Westmont, New Jersey. The shoes were $5 a pair. I always had a choice of brown or black shoes. My dad said if you want different styles and want to spend more money then you have to get a job. So I delivered bleach and got a paper route and was eventually able to buy a $10 pair of shoes.

PETS? I have a small teacup poodle that I named “Pookie Bear” and who is the joy of my life. She gives me licks and makes me laugh. Even though we graduated from Puppy Obedience School she doesn’t always listen. But then, I don’t always “listen” well either!

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… was graduate from college while in the military. It took me 10 years and five colleges but I was finally able to do it. I now have graduate degrees but my hardest courses were as an undergraduate, especially the math.

IN MY SPARE TIME, I… am an avid reader especially of action novels. I love Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy. I get to a point where I just can’t put the book down. As an HLAA Chapter president I am also looking for and reading anything of interest that I can share with the hearing loss community especially if it relates to a new or improved hearing assistive technology.

I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… a dancer or party person. Large noisy places are difficult for me with two hearing aids. I have learned to choose my hearing environments so that I have a better chance at understanding what is going on. Even with directional mics, speechreading, and a telecoil—a party environment is still just a lot of noise. Besides I have so many other things I can do.

I MISS… being able to hear like I used to or like I would want to, but then I wonder how my life would be different. For the last 46 years I have learned and adapted to my hearing loss. Many times my drive to achieve or to excel has been in an effort to overcompensate for something I didn’t have which was good hearing. I knew in my mind as long as I did things better than anyone else, I was able to compete and be successful at whatever challenge I undertook. I think it’s a fear that many with hearing loss have that in order to be accepted we have to be better than our peers. It’s like “bluffing” or pretending to hear something when you don’t. You’re accepted and part of the group without having to draw attention to the fact you are different and have more challenges that most folks who can hear effortlessly. Yes, I miss hearing a lot, and my life would be easier in many ways, but no, my life wouldn’t be the same and I wouldn’t have the strength and adaptability that I have today.

HAPPINESS IS… a choice, an expectation and a state of mind. I see happiness as a choice I make every day regardless of where I am or what I am doing. I have been lonely on occasion when stationed overseas and far from home but I have always found something to be grateful for. I try to surround myself with people who laugh and are having fun in their life. By the same token I try to avoid those who are perpetually upset, complaining, sad or angry.

HOBBIES? My hobbies include reading, learning new computer programs, using Facebook and Twitter, playing with my dog, and doing work for the HLAA Chapter. I recently purchased a new iPad and am learning and playing with many of the applications I find. I am never bored and can always find something to do.

WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE? A Roman Catholic nun by the name of Sister Mary Walter was one of the most scholarly and understanding persons I know. She believed in my ability to get a college education regardless of the subject, the challenge or level of difficulty. As the psychology department chair she was both humble in character and rich in the ways of life. She lived on campus and her students more or less adopted her. I remember fondly her inspiring words “You can do this!” I was able to graduate from Alvernia College in Reading, Pennsylvania, with honors (and a hearing loss) because of her.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… am shy but might not show it, am emotional with sad movies or books (especially where an animal dies like in Old Yeller), can write poetry, collect art, will never go camping in anything more rustic than Holiday Inn, and that I still get messed up with directions!

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT IS… I try to share whatever I can do with others and pass on areas outside my areas of expertise. So while I may be able to help you with a resume, don’t ask me to remodel a room. I remember trying to put a rug in the bathroom. I traced an outline of the floor, turned the rug over, cut it out with a sharp knife, then flipped it over. The cutout for the toilet was on the wrong side. Another thing I will never do again is try and put together a large cardboard dollhouse that comes unassembled—just too many lettered cardboard tabs.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… Chocolate in any form, most pies, a good grilled steak and corn on the cob.

I COLLECT… colorful prints, black and white sketches, and sepia prints of an artist by the name of Herb Jones. He has often been called a “poet with a paint brush” and his work has been on the world stage. I met him personally toward the end of his career and I was struck by the beauty of his work and the humble nature of his surroundings. He lived in a small bungalow in Norfolk, Virginia, with his wife. Despite severe diabetes and failing vision he continued to paint landscapes, water scenes, and rich clouds of varying intensity. He instilled in me a love of art that I would not have had were it not for his invitation to come to his home and talk with me.

I AM… friendly, helpful and compassionate.

FAVORITE COLOR? I like and look good in green so I will start there. I like colorful shirts and ties. Aloha shirts and Jerry Garcia ties are favorite parts of my wardrobe.

FIVE PLACES I HAVE LIVED… In the military I was fortunate to have lived in many different places and experienced many different cultures. My favorite place to live was Kailua, Hawaii. I was there for three years and it was truly living in paradise. I also lived in Plano, Texas, where I learned to eat and talk Texan. My time in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was interesting but not one of my favorite places to live mainly because of the language problems. Arlington, Virginia. was an exciting place to live with a lot happening. I now live in Moyock, North Carolina, a great little country community on the pathway to the Outer Banks.

FIVE JOBS I HAVE HAD… Career Marine for 23 years, clinical director for a substance abuse facility, program director for a substance abuse facility, V.P. for marketing & reseach development, and an education specialist for the federal government

MY DAUGHTER TAUGHT ME… patience of the highest order.

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… love and human contact.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? Friends and a good bottle of wine

THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… my photo albums, my iPad and my Pookie Bear

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as a good person who took the time to help others along the way.

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE… proudly serving as a Marine for 23 years, getting my education and raising a wonderful daughter.

Don is HLAA Virginia state coordinator and president of the Virginia Beach Chapter. You can meet Don in person at Convention 2013 as he is participating in the panel: A Holistic Approach to Hearing Health Care for Veterans: The Difference Between Getting By and Living Well, on Saturday, June 29. The panel is part of Hamilton CapTel presents Hearing Loss Solutions for Veterans.

I like stories in Hearing Loss Magazine that provide me with new information that I can share with others. I especially like hearing about new research, new technology, the capabilities of some of the newer hearing aids (like being water-resistant) and some of the best practices that are working to sustain our HLAA Chapters nationwide.





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.





Seen & Heard: Gary Trompower

6 01 2013

Gary Trompower, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made his Seen & Heard profile debut in the January/February 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Our Seen & Heard column first made its debut in the magazine in 2010 and was met with great enthusiasm. We’ll be publishing one or two profiles (as space allows) in each issue of the bimonthly magazine. Other members previously profiled were Danielle NicosiaJohn KinstlerJudy Martin, Anne TaylorSam SpritzerJeff BonnellEloise SchwarzGlenice SwensonLaurie PullinsRosemary Tuite and Kathy BorzellTommy Thomas and Marisa Sarto. I met and photographed Gary in Providence at HLAA’s convention in June 2012.

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.

And what is the top thing you’ll learn about Gary? The man has it bad for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! (They’re my favorite, too!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

S&HGaryTrompower

Canton, Ohio / Born May 5, 1956 in Canton, Ohio

ALL ABOUT MY HEARING LOSS… I was 17 years old and diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. It’s come to rest now at 95% loss in my left ear and 80% loss in my right ear. I wear one behind-the-ear aid on my right ear, which helps to hear some sounds.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything! Go out and enjoy life the best you can.

FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… People will telephone and ask for me and my wife will tell them, “Gary is deaf and I will ask him your questions.” The person calling will say they’ll call back or call tomorrow. Huh? Like I’m going to be able to hear them tomorrow or sometime later? I only wish it worked that way!

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE… Batman!

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… Quit smoking cigarettes (more than six years tobacco free). My stress level went sky high, but the health benefits are worth the effort.

I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… a snobbish or a stuck-up person. Some people get that impression, but it’s just that many of us have the, as Rocky Stone would say, “invisible condition,” and we just don’t hear them.

HOBBIES? Woodworking and computers

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… like math. I always have and it’s been very useful in this life.

I WISH I HAD A TALENT FOR… hog wrestling and playing bass guitar.

FAVORITE PLACE TO BE… with my wife

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… At 14, I flipped burgers at the local ice cream stand. At 19, I managed a Radio Shack. At 21, I tried selling hearing aids. At 22, I ran my own small lawn care business, and then I started my current engineering career (35 years) with a local medical center.

I AM… a traditional, red-blooded, American dude!

MY FRIENDS WOULD SAY I AM… really, really cool!

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD…  Texting—it’s a fantastic way for people with hearing loss to communicate.

I REALLY SHOULD STOP… eating Reese’s Cups, but they’re so good!

PHRASES I OVERUSE… What was that? What did you say? Yes…I’ll have another Reese’s Cup.

I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… fix anything but a broken heart.

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… tough one, huh? Reese Cups!

EVER MEET ANYONE FAMOUS? For many years, we have attended the Clark Gable foundation birthday parties (Cadiz, Ohio) where I met many of the cast from Gone with the Wind, including Fred Crane, Rand Brooks, Cammie King, Butterfly McQueen and Patrick Curtis.

Hearing Loss Magazine has great stories and valuable information about hearing loss. It is a wonderful publication!

 





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.

 





Marisa

18 11 2012

Here’s another shot I captured of Marisa Sarto in Providence, R.I. this past June. Marisa was the cover feature of the November/December 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design for the Hearing Loss Association of America. You can learn more about Marisa and her book project, Hear Nor There: Images of an Invisible Disability, in a recent post here and in her Seen & Heard debut here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Seen & Heard: George Kosovich

15 11 2012

George Kosovich, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just made his Seen & Heard profile debut in the November/December 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Other members previously profiled were Danielle NicosiaJohn KinstlerJudy Martin, Anne TaylorSam SpritzerJeff BonnellEloise SchwarzGlenice SwensonLaurie PullinsRosemary Tuite and Kathy BorzellTommy Thomas and Marisa Sarto.

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.

George Kosovich

Rockville, MD / Born December 10, 1941, Bingham Canyon, UT

MY HEARING LOSS… I had a hearing loss in childhood, but it wasn’t discovered right away. In elementary school, I started wearing a body aid and hated it. Now, I use both a cochlear implant and a hearing aid and love it.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Get that hearing aid—you don’t know what you’re missing!

HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… School was hard—all the way from elementary school through my two master degrees!

IN MY SPARE TIME… I play golf, tennis and pool.

MY LITTLE-KNOWN TALENT IS… dancing.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… the angel Gabriel.

I MISS… my brother, Jerry.

I AM… friendly, lovable and handsome.

FAVORITE COLOR? Purple

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… not to smoke cigarettes. The one time I did try when I was 10, she caught me. That day, I smoked until I was sick and told her. She told me I was not going to find any sympathy from her. I suffered that time but learned my lesson and I never smoked again.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… the basics of football, and then was a big support to me when I was playing football in high school and college.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… OSERS at the U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.; VR counselor in Portland, OR; juvenile center counselor, Portland, OR; Short order cook at the Sheraton, Portland, OR; Newspaper delivery boy, Portland, OR

I HAVE A FEAR OF… guns. One time I shot a guy. I was around 12 years old, working at a berry picking farm in the summer. It was in the evening and we had gone back to the workers’ cabins. My brother and a guy also named Jerry were in the cabin. I was playing around with a rifle and I thought I took all the bullets out, but when I pulled the trigger, a bullet hit him in the thigh. I was shocked. My heart was racing. We carried him out down to the house which was quite a ways down. We took him to the hospital in a car—it was the longest ride of my life. The guy was okay once patched up, but he couldn’t play football for a year. And I never played around with a gun again!

IF I RULED THE WORLD… everyone would have a smile on their face!

WHAT IS THE KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS EVER DONE FOR YOU? Love me

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Being a father

HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED? As a good guy

Hearing Loss Magazine is great! I like the stories about people and how they deal with hearing loss, but I also like the information about technology that makes our lives easier.





Seen & Heard: Marisa Sarto

14 11 2012

Marisa Sarto, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the November/December 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Marisa also wrote the cover feature article for this issue. I had the pleasure of spending a fun afternoon with her, photographing her around Providence, and discussing everything from hearing loss to creativity to photography. 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, and Tommy Thomas.

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.

MARISA SARTO
North Hollywood, CA / Born May 17, 1989, Tarzana, CA

MY HEARING LOSS… My parents discovered that I had hearing loss when I was a few months old. I’ve been wearing hearing aids since I was one.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Learn to love yourself and learn everything you can about hearing loss. And talk and share your feelings with others.

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… a grocery clerk at my local Ralph’s.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… Extravagant family Halloween parties

PETS? I have two yin-yang cats—Jinx is one-year-old, white and deaf. Kiki is 21-years-old, black and almost blind in one eye. My family has a lovely blue-nose pit pull named Friday.

HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… break someone’s heart

IN MY SPARE TIME… I apply for jobs.

HOBBIES? Expressing myself through photography, making jewelry, creating veggie and fruit juice with my juicer, harvesting fruits from around the neighborhood, thrift shopping with my partner, and watching movies.

WHO HAS INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST? Besides my parents—my baton and life coach, Gail Pearson

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT… I can twirl fire.

MY LITTLE-KNOWN TALENT IS… I can punch really hard

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… Rite Aid’s Thrifty’s mint-flavored ice cream

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… myself ten years ago.

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… Running Out of Summer by Peter Morgan (my uncle)

I AM… brave, friendly, and funny.

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… to speak my mind.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to love myself first before loving someone else.

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… air conditioning (I live in the valley!)

I REALLY SHOULD STOP… putting my clothes on the floor.

I REALLY SHOULD START… learning about cars, so I don’t change the oil twice.

I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… guess people’s age, see things like an eagle, smell food, and notice when my food has been touched.

LEARNING SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY… I’m learning how to identify fruit trees and new photography tips.

MY MOTTO… is when presented with choices, try to make the good one; and if not, learn from the bad ones and try not to repeat them. Not learning is the biggest sin.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as an amazing woman who was a good friend and someone who made a difference.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… earning a Posse Foundation Scholarship to attend The University of Wisconsin-Madison

I like reading member stories in Hearing Loss Magazine, and appreciate the opportunity to share mine!





Hayleigh Scott and Netegene Kirkpatrick: An Unlikely Friendship

14 11 2012

HLAA Members Hayleigh Scott and Netegene Kirkpatrick co-authored “An Unlikely Friendship” for the November/December 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I photographed the feature photo of them at HLAA’s annual conference this past June in Providence, R.I.

With the help of her mom, dad and sisters, Hayleigh started her own business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, where she and her family create hearing aid scrunchies, tube twists, charms and patented clasp ideas for hearing aids and cochlear implants—allowing those with hearing loss to highlight their hearing instruments rather than hiding them. Ten percent of proceeds go to furthering hearing research and education of the hard of hearing and deaf community. Hayleigh first appeared in the January/February 20122 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, and when Netegene read her story, she e-mailed her and they became fast friends.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

An Unlikely Friendship

by Hayleigh Scott and Netegene Fitzpatrick

Is there really a generation gap among people with hearing loss? We don’t think so. Here, 13-year-old Hayleigh Scott and 68-year-old Netagene Kirkpatrick share how they bridged the gap while a strong friendship grew. They joined forces to help reduce the stigma of hearing loss, spread awareness, and are having fun doing it.

Meeting Netagene by Hayleigh Scott

Netagene and I first met through my business website when Netagene e-mailed me saying she had read about me in Hearing Loss Magazine. She liked what I was doing and ordered some hearing aid charms. I thought it was great that Netagene was interested in being a model of my charms. I have many adult charm buyers but usually it’s the kids who send in pictures wearing their charms. Netagene was willing to put her photo on my website’s customer page. We became pen pals and I learned that she really feels the same way I do about hearing aids and glasses—we both want to have fun!

Netagene and I met in person at HLAA Convention 2011 in Washington, D.C. We talked for a while and got to know each other even better! Then we began sending each other little gifts. She even found pretty beads that she liked and she sent them to me with instructions on how she would like me to make them into charms for her.

One of the hardest things about having my own business is letting people know that I exist. Netagene has been so helpful in sharing what I do with others; she hands out my business cards, wears my charms, was interviewed by a newspaper in her home state of Alabama mentioning my business, and talks about the philosophy that we share. (We are not embarrassed to wear fancy glasses, so let’s make our hearing aids sparkle and shine!)

We kept in touch over the course of the next year updating each other with new things going on in our lives. Then Netagene’s mother died. I sent her a surprise pair of cross charms to wear to the funeral. We then saw each other this past June at the HLAA Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. It was so nice to get to see each other again! The last night of the convention we went out to dinner together and talked about the convention and lots of other things. Netagene is not just one of my favorite customers—she is one of my favorite people. Thank you HLAA for sharing what I do and for helping an unlikely friendship form.

Hayleigh Scott is an HLAA member and entrepreneur from Hollis, New Hampshire, and has exhibited at the last two HLAA Conventions. Her website is HayleighsCherishedCharms.com. Check out her Customer Photos page to see all the happy people, including Netagene.

Meeting Hayleigh by Netagene Kirkpatrick

There was an article about Hayleigh Scott and her business in the January/February 2011 Hearing Loss Magazine. I like to help others—in particular, young people—so I immediately looked up the website for Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms.

As the user of a long white cane (I am high-partial legally blind since 2003), I learned not to be ashamed of carrying one of those, of letting others see and know that I am imperfect. Some friends put a ribbon or some bells on their canes. One year, I taped a string of tiny battery-powered Christmas lights on my cane. Besides, people show off fancy eyeglasses that they wear, so why be ashamed to let others know that you need aids to see, to walk … and to hear!

That’s Hayleigh’s—and my—philosophy about wearing hearing aids. She had written my thoughts on her website, but she went a step farther. She did something about it when she was five years old at that! She started making charms. I went to her website and I immediately ordered the Dragonfly and the Red Cyclops Charms. (So what if I am 68 years old!)

When I got to the hotel in Crystal City for the HLAA Convention 2011, the first thing I did after checking into the hotel, even though I looked like something the cat had drug in (after a long train ride, plus dealing with the Washington, D.C. Metro), was to look for Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms in the Exhibit Hall. I met Hayleigh, her sisters Vienna and Sarah, and their mother Rachel. Sweet! Hayleigh and Rachel both are good about e-mailing their customers. I am not a cuddly, hugging kind of person, but that family is one that even I wanted to take in my arms and hug.

I learned their favorite colors and crocheted little bitty purses for all three girls. I’ve also bought little stuffed animals for them. I wish I could afford to buy more of the charms they make. I’ve mailed some strings of beads to Hayleigh and asked her to make me one pair and then use the rest to make others to sell.

When my mother passed away in 2011 at age 94, Hayleigh made a pair of cross hearing aid charms which arrived the day of my mother’s viewing. I had also told her about some of my past exploits, such as having been a DJ and having ridden a motorcycle. She also made a pair of hearing aid charms for me with a motorcycle on it! I didn’t ask for either pair so both were a surprise.

I keep my hair pulled back so that people can see my charms, and when someone mentions my “pretty earrings,” I take off one of my hearing aids to show them off. I keep a few of Hayleigh’s business cards on hand and give them away. I’ve shown my hearing aid charms to my audiologist and put some of Hayleigh’s cards in the waiting room of the hearing clinic.

I march to the tune of my own drummer and don’t like to be a cookie-cutter person; I like being a bit of a maverick—being unique. And, like Hayleigh and her family, I am proud of who I am and I’m not ashamed to let others know that just like I need aids to see, I also need aids to hear. Maybe amongst Hayleigh, HLAA and I, we can educate some people!

Netagene Kirkpatrick is an HLAA member from Birmingham, Alabama and has attended the last two HLAA Conventions.

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.





Marisa Sarto: The Hear Nor There Project

14 11 2012

Marisa Sarto wrote the cover feature article for the November/December 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Marisa recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in film on a Posse Foundation scholarship. She has worked as an intern for an acclaimed documentary artist and as an intern for a television production company and is currently pursuing her passion—photography and photo/visual journalism—in Los Angeles.

I met Marisa in Providence, R.I. this past June during the Hearing Loss Association of America annual convention. I was going to profile her for our Seen & Heard column but after learning about her photo book project, we decided to make her story a main feature for the magazine. I photographed her one afternoon in a park near the hotel.

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 for Hearing Loss Magazine here: Marisa Sarto Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, Better Hearing, Better Health, explores the relationship between hearing loss and health-related quality of life; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, shows 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 prove there isn’t a generation gap among people with hearing loss in their feature, An Unlikely Friendship; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reports good news in Shopping for Phones; long-time HLAA member Vern Thayer explains why he is Lucky he discovered HLAA in 1983; and HLAA members George Kosovich and Marisa Sarto are both profiled in Seen & Heard.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Marisa is helping spread the word about “100 Portland,” a movement to recruit 100 young adults with hearing loss to gather at the HLAA Convention 2013 in Portland, Oregon. Check out the video below to learn about Marisa’s experience at Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island and an introduction to “100 Portland” and its mission. “100 Portland” also has a Facebook page.





Seen & Heard: Tommy Thomas

18 10 2012

Tommy Thomas, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made his Seen & Heard profile debut in the September/October 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I photographed Tommy during Convention 2012 in Providence, RI. Other members previously profiled were Danielle NicosiaJohn KinstlerJudy Martin, Anne TaylorSam SpritzerJeff BonnellEloise SchwarzGlenice SwensonLaurie Pullins, and Rosemary Tuite and Kathy Borzell.

TOMMY THOMAS 

Vine Grove, KY / born April 15, 1955, Bowling Green, KY

MY HEARING LOSS… I had German measles at age four and developed a high fever. My parents noticed the hearing loss at age five. I was fitted with a body aid and then went to a BTE (behind-the-ear) on my left ear. There was total loss in my right ear. I was implanted with a cochlear implant in my right ear about eight years ago. I still wear a BTE on the left ear.

SAGE ADVICE for SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Join a hearing loss support group for advice; lots can be learned from them.

A FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… On the third date with the woman who would later become my wife, my hearing aid battery died. I said, ‘Excuse me, but I need to change my hearing aid battery.’ She was curious because she had never been around anyone who wore a hearing aid, so she asked, ‘How often do you have to do that?’ I said, ‘well, with you it will be more often—because you talk quite a bit.’ The look on her face was priceless. After we married, and it was time to go back to work after the honeymoon, at 4:20 in the morning she was awakened by a strobe light and a shaking bed. She sat straight up in the bed, startled and thinking there was an earthquake or something. I intentionally had not told her about my alarm clock. She had never considered how a deaf or hard of hearing person awoke in the mornings to go to work.

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… a farmer and a welder.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… riding horses and going on trail rides

PETS? Morgan, a one-eyed Corgie mix and Trouble (a very appropriately named cat)

HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… at age 14, I took a tractor motor completely apart and reassembled it without any manuals or instructions.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… my antique tractor running.

IN MY SPARE TIME… antique tractor rides, antique tractor shows, work in my shop

I MISS… being in my 30s when my body didn’t ache.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT… I am 5’15” tall—do the math.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT… is that I am an exceptional lip reader.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… Smarties (the candy).

PLACES I’VE CALLED HOME… nine months in my mother’s womb, Bowling Green, KY; Bardstown, KY; Radcliff, KY and then Vine Grove, KY

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… I’ve had only three jobs—(1) farm laborer as a teen; (2) meat cutter for 33 years; and (3) full-time farmer.

MUSIC TO MY EARS… Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, Standing on the Promises, Jesus Loves Me

I AM… honest, dependable and fun.

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… first, the hearing aid and second, the cochlear implant

I HAVE A FEAR OF… ferris wheels.

SONG I LOVE BUT AM EMBARASSED TO ADMIT TO… She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy

MY FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… my tractors, all my tools, and my teddy bear that I’ve had for 53 years and it still looks good

PET PEEVE… school buses—they stop every 20 feet

IF I RULED THE WORLD… everyone is treated equally, no one goes hungry, and no politics

WHAT IS THE KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS DONE FOR YOU? My friend, Charlie, took me out every day to walk after my back surgery to help me get my strength back.

HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED? as Sir Tom—the name I have used in the hearing loss chatroom for years

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… I built my house at age 21 and I’m still living in it.

I like everything in Hearing Loss Magazine, but I wish it came monthly.

 






Seen & Heard: Rosemary Tuite and Kathy Borzell

18 10 2012

Siblings Rosemary Tuite and Kathy Borzell, both members of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made their Seen & Heard profile debut in the September/October 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, along with Rosemary’s service dog, Janet. I photographed them at Convention 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Rosemary Tuite

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY SISTER KATHY BORZELL… Kathy and I have had a support system going with each other because we both have hearing loss. I believe it has made us even closer than we would have been. She has been an incredible support to me and I think she feels the same about my support of her.

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY SERVICE DOG, JANET… Janet has changed my life. I sleep better knowing she will be there if need be and she is my comfort and strength when I get into a stressful situation due to my hearing loss. She has become a support to both my husband and I as he has a physical disability that she understands.

MY HEARING LOSS… I’m not sure when my hearing loss was first discovered, but it was probably in my late teens. There was severe-to-profound hearing loss in our family; mine was considered mild so I didn’t get hearing aids until I was 40 even though I needed them years before. I wore them religiously once I got them and was implanted with my first cochlear implant in November 2007 and my second in September 2010.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS…
Get with peers, join HLAA and a local HLAA Chapter.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… When I received my first cochlear implant, I was waiting in the audiologist’s office at Mayo Clinic for my second mapping. I thought I was doing so well and could hear most of all the conversations around the waiting room except for two elderly ladies sitting on the other side of my husband, Jim. I leaned to Jim and said, ‘I can’t understand a word those two people are saying.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Rose, maybe because they are speaking Spanish.’ We were both laughing so hard; my audiologist came out to get us and said this has to be about a CI moment. There are been many CI moments that bring a smile to my face.

DISADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… When you can’t hear, and you are by yourself in a room full of people, it is so lonely.

ADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… the incredible people I have met because of my hearing loss, the smile on someone’s face when you give them advice about their own loss that they never knew before, or just the look on their face when they know you truly understand

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… a teacher.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… Christmas was my favorite time, I was about three years old; but another favorite memory is sitting on my dad’s lap in the evening and he would sing what I called the ‘Moon Song,’ I don’t remember what the real title was. I can remember the chair we sat in each night outside on
the patio.

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… clothes! I love clothes and my mom made almost all of my clothes when I was young.

HARDEST THING I’VE DONE… let my children make choices that I knew would not be in their best interest

FIRST MEMORY OF REAL EXCITEMENT… Christmas morning. I would get so excited I often got sick on Christmas day from all the excitement.

SOUNDS I LOVE… with my cochlear implants, it’s the sound of everything. I never believed I would hear this well.

IN MY SPARE TIME… I love to play golf or read.

I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… shy!

I MISS… Those who have gone before me. I also miss the things that my husband and I did together. He was 13 when he became an amputee and has worn prosthesis for 63 years. We found things to do together; he loved golf, so I learned it. We don’t golf anymore but we go out more to be with people as I can now better communicate with others.

HAPPINESS IS… hearing; being married to a wonderful husband for 46 years, enjoying family and friends

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… really cherish my time alone.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT… If I have one, I really am not aware of it.

CITY, BEACH, COUNTRY OR MOUNTAINS?… Mountains for sure—I feel peace and serenity when I can
see mountains.

FAVORITE PLACE TO BE… home

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… chocolate.

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… Jesus, but if I met Him when he was on this earth, would I have really known Him at that time?

FAVORITE SEASON… Fall, because I love and marvel at the colors each day brings. I love the change of seasons and Asheville has all of them.

I COLLECT… Longaberger baskets.

YOU’VE JUST WON A $1,000 SHOPPING SPREE TO A FAVORITE STORE… I’d go to Chico’s and buy clothes.

FAVORITE COLOR?… Green, all shades.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… babysitter, secretary, homemaker, gift shop sales, volunteer (more volunteer jobs than any paying jobs)

FAVORITE FOODS… pizza, lasagna, mountain trout, lobster tail, chocolate malts

LAST BOOK I READ… A Lucky Irish Lad by Kevin O’Hara

MY FRIENDS WOULD SAY I AM… a good friend.

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… that I was not better than anyone else in God’s eyes.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to pray.

GET ANYTHING GOOD IN THE MAIL LATELY? A memorial program and pin for someone dear to me whose memorial service I could not attend

THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… This makes me laugh as I have said it so many times—my iPad!

I HAVE A FEAR OF… heights when there are no barriers.

PHRASE I OVERUSE… “It is what it is.”

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… my faith.

EVER MEET ANYONE FAMOUS?… Arnold Palmer

PET PEEVE… People think you hear everything because you wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.

MY MOTTO... “Let go and let God!”

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… my children

Hearing Loss Magazine has many articles of interest to people with all levels of hearing loss It keeps going on from me, I share it and know the people I share it with also share it.

______________________________

Kathy Borzell

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY SISTER, ROSEMARY… She’s made my life easier being able to share my hearing loss journey with her. She has always been there for me.

MY HEARING LOSS… I was about 19 when it was noticed that I wasn’t hearing normally. My father and my oldest brother were also hard of hearing so I just figured I had ‘it’ too. Little did I know at that time how much ‘it’ would impact my life!

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Find support through others who have hearing loss. Your hearing loss professional can be wonderful and helpful to you, but there’s nothing more empowering than being in a safe environment of your peers. You’ll be so much better equipped to deal with life in the hearing world!

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I was in my late 20s and at a cocktail party with my husband. I was having a conversation with a gal who was talking about being a “Buddhist.” She told me she had a special room in her house where she practiced. The conversation went on, and I just nodded my head (knowing nothing about Buddhism!) when I finally realized she was telling me she was a flutist. Now that made sense!
We’ve done a lot of laughing at this over the years.

DISADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… it impacts every aspect of your life. Until you come to terms with hearing loss, it can eat you up.

ADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… Silence can be very nice.

WHEN I GREW UP I WANTED TO BE…I had no clue.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… Christmas—I am the youngest of five children, and my siblings spoiled me so much.

THE BEST/WORST GIFT I’VE RECEIVED… my hearing loss

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… my first car—a Toyota Corolla that was a lemon, but I loved it anyway

HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… say goodbye to my late brother

FIRST MEMORY OF REAL EXCITEMENT While I can’t remember a specific time, I’m sure it must have been at Christmas time.

SOUNDS I LOVE… the wind blowing and birds chirping.

IN MY SPARE TIME… I play golf, read, cook, take care of my plants and garden.

I MISS… listening to John Denver without assistive equipment.

HAPPINESS IS… feeling okay with oneself.

IF YOU COULD LIVE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD FOR A YEAR, WHERE WOULD IT BE? Right here, where I am, in these beautiful mountains

I WISH I HAD A TALENT FOR…line dancing.

YOU JUST WON THE $10 MILLION LOTTERY. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? I go into hiding.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… pizza and chocolate.

I WOULD LIKE TO MEET… Joe Namath.

FAVORITE SEASON… Fall—it’s just so gorgeous here and, oh, football season!

YOU’VE JUST WON A $1,000 SHOPPING SPREE TO A FAVORITE STORE! Chico’s for clothes!

FIVE FAVORITE SONGS… Looking for Space by John Denver, Carolina on My Mind by James Taylor, Kathy’s Song by Simon & Garfunkel, Up on the Roof by James Taylor and No One in the World by Anita Baker

MY KIDS HAVE TAUGHT ME… that I’ve done a better job of being a mother than I give myself credit for.

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… sliced pizza

I HAVE A FEAR OF… driving over bridges.

I REALLY SHOULD STOP… shopping online.

PHRASE I OVERUSE… can’t repeat it here

SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU ARE SURE MOST PEOPLE DON’T… a Shake-Awake alarm

MY THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… my engagement ring, my home, my dog

FAVORITE QUOTE… “Bless the beasts and the children—they have no voice, they have no choice.”

EVER MEET ANYONE FAMOUS? Donald Trump—while working at The Bowery Savings Bank in Manhattan

MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to grow old gracefully.

PET PEEVE… Sitting in a noisy restaurant or bar or airport where there is a TV but no captioning. Then again, the rest of the crowd is as clueless as I am.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED AS… a caring person who tried to make a difference.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Raising my kids—they’re good people





Melissa Puleo Adams: Sixth Time’s a Charm

12 09 2012

Melissa Puleo Adams graces the cover of the September/October 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. I met and photographed Melissa for the magazine in May when she was in town visiting her parents, Joe and Lisa. Barbara Kelley, the editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine, interviewed Melissa this summer. (Cover photo © Cindy Dyer)

Sixth Time’s a Charm

by Barbara Kelley

It’s fall and that means one thing to a lot of people in this country—football! True grit on the gridiron not only stirs passion from spectators, it contributes to a multi-billion dollar sports industry in the United States. According to Plunkett Research®, Ltd., sports, with football at the top, is big business. “Combined, the ‘Big 4’ leagues in America, the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB), bring in about $24 billion in revenue during a typical year, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. U.S. sporting equipment sales at retail sporting goods stores are roughly $41 billion yearly, according to U.S. government figures.

A reasonable estimate of the total U.S. sports market would be $400 to $435 billion yearly. However, the sports industry is so complex, including ticket sales, licensed products, sports video games, collectibles, sporting goods, sports-related advertising, endorsement income, stadium naming fees and facilities income, that it’s difficult to put an all-encompassing figure on annual revenue.” (www.plunkettresearch.com)

What About the Cheerleaders?
Yes, cheerleaders are part of this lucrative sports industry. NFL Cheerleading is a professional cheerleading league in the United States. Most of the NFL teams have a cheerleading squad in their franchise. Cheerleaders are a popular attraction that gives a team more coverage/airtime, local support, and increased media image. Think Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders or their rivals, First Ladies of Football, Washington Redskins Cheerleaders.

For the NFL, the Baltimore Colts was the first team in the NFL to have cheerleaders in 1954. These girls were also a part of the historic Baltimore Colts Marching Band. The only NFL teams without cheerleaders are the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The February 2011 meeting of the Packers and Steelers at Super Bowl XLV was the first time a Super Bowl featured no cheerleaders. The Packers do, however, use a collegiate squad from time to time in a limited role to cheer at home games.

Apply Here
I was curious. Besides being able to hear the music and follow the beat, what other qualifications do you need to be an NFL Cheerleader? So, I went online as if I were going to apply to become a “Charger Girl,” the cheerleading squad for NFL’s San Diego Chargers. I got so excited when it said “Be a part of the Hottest Dance Team in the NFL! Charger Girls Audition.” Using my super-sized imagination, I went through the list of requirements to see if, by any slim chance, I could apply.

• You must be at least 18 years old by the date of the preliminary audition. There is no maximum age limit. (Check! Whew, good thing.)

• There are no height or weight requirements. (Check! Oh boy, got lucky again, so far, so good.)

• Team members must have flexible schedules for twice-weekly rehearsals, games and appearances during and prior to the season. (Check! This might be tough but I have some vacation time coming.)

• Team members must attend a mandatory weekend mini-camp. (Check! My husband can hold down the fort.) 

• Team members must have a means of transportation. (Check! I’ll take the family SUV; it’s a little trashed from kids’ cleats, mud, and empty Gatorade bottles, but it’ll work fine.)

Also from the application:

“The Charger Girls uphold a high standard of quality dance performance and community involvement. The Charger organization feels strongly that the cheerleaders should complement the professionalism represented on and off the playing field. During the preliminary audition process, applicants will be judged on dance ability, crowd appeal, showmanship, and individual applications. For finalists, there is an interview process and a final dance audition.”

Highlights of being a Charger Girl:

• Experience the thrill of performing in front of more than 65,000 fans

• Perform at San Diego Chargers home games in Qualcomm Stadium

• Participate in the annual swimsuit calendar photo shoot

• Serve as ambassadors for the Chargers organization as well as the San Diego community

• Bring smiles to underprivileged children

• Have local and national media exposure

• Work with many of the nation’s top choreographers

• Donate time and talent for various charity events

• Make invaluable friendships with fellow teammates

Wow, this was sounding great.

And finally, in big bold letters, the application states:

“IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO MAKE A FULL ONE-YEAR COMMITMENT TO THE SAN DIEGO CHARGER GIRLS THEN YOU SHOULD NOT AUDITION!”

Okay, deal breaker, count me out. But, now I know that auditioning for this job is not for the faint of heart. I watched some of the auditions on the Internet to learn more about what is behind the women who are brave enough to try. You have to be talented, athletic, outgoing and more. One woman, Kei, came all the way from Japan just to try for this coveted role.

But there is one young woman who stands out among them all—Melissa Puleo Adams. She’s a tenacious, spirited girl, who caught the attention of ABC’s Good Morning America and who was interviewed on the program last year. By the way, Melissa happens to have a hearing loss. Now, she has our attention.

Meet Melissa Puleo Adams
Melissa, (29) was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and now lives in Carlsbad, California. She graduated from James Madison University in Virginia in 2004. Her parents, Joe and Lisa, live in the Washington, D.C., metro area and we met her when she was home to visit. When you ask her dad about his daughter, he says, “Her mom and I would say how proud we are of all Melissa has achieved despite her hearing loss. She is smart, compassionate and determined.”

How did she do it when getting the routine right depends on hearing the music and the numbers being called out? She neither had the roar of the crowd nor the loud music to fuel her. Even the football referee’s whistle was too high-pitched for her to hear. Melissa Puleo Adams talks about the people who helped her along the way and her perseverance to making her dream of being a Charger Girl come true. (Photo courtesy of the Charger Girls)

In Melissa’s Words

Your hearing loss… when was it detected and was it treated?
I was five when my hearing loss was detected by my kindergarten teacher. My teacher notified my mother that she noticed I wouldn’t turn around when called at times. My parents took me to an ENT to get my hearing tested and they discovered that I had a hearing loss in both ears. I was fitted with two behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids at age five.

What about school, the classroom, friends?
I was fortunate to have a pleasant grade school experience due largely in part to a great family support system, and a positive attitude. When I was first fitted with BTE hearing aids, I proudly wore my hair up with confidence, showing them off to all my friends and classmates. My friends all thought my hearing aids were ‘so cool’ and wanted to try them on and get a pair of their own.

However, in high school and college I was shy, maybe embarrassed, about my hearing loss. I no longer told my peers about it and kept my hair down to cover my hearing aids. I always thought what guy would want to date a girl who wears hearing aids? I didn’t know anyone else with a hearing loss. This didn’t affect my positive outlook, although I’m sure having a friend to relate to may have helped during my high school years.

In terms of teachers and school, I still continued to tell the teachers on the first day of class that I needed to sit front and center and that if they turned away from me to face the blackboard then I probably wouldn’t understand what they were saying. I did the same in college and talked to the professors after class if I thought I missed something.

Speaking of college, how did you decide on your major when you had so much interest in dancing?
When I first attended James Madison University, I had an undeclared major and had no idea what I wanted to do. As a freshman, I declared Business as a major because it felt like a suitable, broad option. Though I enjoyed my business classes, the artistic/creative side of me felt ignored. I decided on Media Arts and Design with a concentration in Interactive Digital Media. Classes consisted of graphic design, web design, communications, media, broadcasting and copywriting. This was right up my alley because I’ve always been creative. When I was little, I used to write stories and mini-books complete with pictures. I also loved making up plays and making my little brother, Marc, and our friends perform the parts I created for them in front of family and friends.

Did you take dance lessons as a child? There must be a segue to wanting to become a Charger Girl.
My mom put me in tap and ballet class when I was five (same time frame when my hearing loss was detected). I fell in love with it immediately and knew that I wanted dancing to be a part of my life forever. I have always been an avid exerciser but to prepare for the Charger Girl auditions, I took more dance classes on top of my usual cardio and weight-training routine. Taking dance classes not only helped me brush up on my skills, but also helped train my memory for learning choreography.

When did you start thinking about becoming a Charger Girl?
I’ve always had the dream of becoming a professional dancer when I started dance lessons. When I moved to San Diego from Maryland in 2005, I heard of the San Diego Charger Girl auditions. They have a great reputation of being a fantastic group of women and I wanted to be part of it.

What about your audition?
I first tried out for Charger Girls in 2005. The auditions are always held in March or April. My hearing loss made it more difficult for me because the auditions were in a huge auditorium with an echo. Once I got the dance routine started, I would be totally fine, but the main challenge was starting on the right beat. Sometimes I would use my peripheral vision to look at the girl to the right or left of me to see when to start. It is a vigorous audition process. More than 400 girls audition for a spot on a team of 28. There are preliminary tryouts first, after which they make two cuts. You learn choreography and then you must perform for a panel of judges in groups of three. About 60 girls make it to the final rounds which include a one-on-one interview, a group interview, and a final dance audition. You have to prepare a solo dance to showcase to the final judges as well. It is nerve-wracking but the adrenaline that pumps through you gets you through it!

So, what happened next?
I didn’t make it. I tried out again in 2006. I didn’t make it. Again, in 2007. No, again. I tried again the next two years in 2008, 2009. No and no. That’s five tryouts.

After one rejection, most of us would have moved on.
For five years, after rounds of dance auditions and interviews, I had the same experience. All of us sit together holding hands, eyes closed, hoping to hear our audition number called. It’s an intense moment. The first five times my number was not called, it was tough. I had friends who would make the team and it would be a bittersweet moment. I was thrilled for them but I had to go home, year after year, not as a Charger Girl.

Though it was hard not to make it, and especially not to know why you weren’t picked for the team, I knew this was something I could do well if given the chance. I was not giving up on my dream. Well, all I can say is: Hence, if at first (second, third, forth, and fifth in my case) you don’t succeed, try and try again.

And, in 2010, what happened?
My number was called after my sixth audition! It was one of the most memorable moments in my entire life. I waited six years to hear my number called! I’ll never forget that moment.

Is life as a Charger Girl what you expected?
I was a Charger Girl for two NFL seasons, 2010–11 and 2011–12. I had the most incredible experience and can say it was all that I expected and more. Some of the teammates I had will be my friends for life. The director, Lisa Simmons, is an amazing leader and I’m proud to call her a friend of mine.

Now, what about your hearing loss?
My hearing loss was always accommodated. I couldn’t believe the amount of support I had from my teammates and director. At every practice, girls would repeat things that were said to me. For each dance there would be a girl close by me who would give me a signal (tap on the leg, quietly mouth the count—5, 6, 7, 8—or shake her pom) so that I would know when to start the dance. Most times I couldn’t hear the music when I was on the field so this system ensured that I would never be off beat or lose count. That is why I call my teammates friends. They could have easily looked out for themselves first with little regard for me. I will never forget that. (Family photo © Cindy Dyer)

What are you doing now?
I decided not to audition for the San Diego Charger Girls for another season. The two seasons I had were incredibly good to me, but I have other exciting things planned for the future. I am currently self-employed as a marketing manager, event coordinator, and graphic/web designer. I’ve been dubbed the “Get It Done Expert.”

In June I became certified to teach barre3, a mixture of yoga and pilates, using a ballet barre. It’s a fantastic workout that tones your entire body, and the best part is that almost anyone can do it! Being an instructor poses a new challenge with my hearing loss, but as always I’m up for the challenge.

Future plans?
I have a couple of other business ideas in the works I plan to unleash on the world in the future. I can’t share them quite yet. I also want to have a family down the road, but in the meantime, I am enjoying this stage of my life and embracing any opportunities that arise.

Who or what is the most important to you?
My family—without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love being active—hiking, Bikram yoga, hanging out at the beach, taking my dog, Drama, for a walk. (Yes, his name really is Drama, named after the Entourage character, Johnny Drama…it suits him.) I cherish my time with my friends. I’ve learned over time to surround yourself with people who make you happy—life’s too short not to. (Photo © Cindy Dyer)

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Honestly, every day is a challenge. Little things such as listening to the radio in the car with the windows down, using the phone, jumping in the pool, aren’t as easy for me as they are for those with normal hearing. It’s all about your attitude. I just stay positive and cherish all the amazing things that I do have in my life, especially my supportive family and friends.

If someone tells you that you can’t do something…
… it makes me want to do it more!”

To find out more about the Charger Girls, go to http://www.chargers.com/charger-girls/. Melissa Puleo Adams can be reached at melissapuleo@gmail.com.

Barbara Kelley is editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.





The Indomitable Spirit of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Siegel

2 08 2012

Scott J. Bally’s article, The Indomitable Spirit of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Siegel, was featured in the November/December 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I photographed Betty in my studio last fall, and discovered we share a lot of common interests. After our photo session was over, I told her that she and her husband are now on our guest list for future parties! Below is Bally’s article, reprinted with permission from HLAA.

At the heart of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Art’s efforts to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities is Betty Siegel, nationally recognized leader for accessibility to the arts.

Wicked was beyond belief. I had given up on attending anything like a play or musical. It was like being in the fairy tale. I could feel the music—understand the play—and be a part of a magical evening that I had long since given up. Now I see this is just the beginning!”
Suzannah “Bay” Dirickson, HLAA member, Richmond, Virginia

A broad smile of accomplishment widens across Betty Siegel’s face when she considers the Kennedy Center Accessibility Office’s success this past summer when 600 attendees of the HLAA Convention took in a performance of the blockbuster musical Wicked (click here to learn more about Wicked). This standing-room-only Broadway hit which explores the back story of The Wizard of Oz was a perfect fit for convention goers as it addresses and brings new insights into the challenges of being different.

The event attracted the largest number of people with hearing loss ever to attend a performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The challenges for the Center’s Accessibility Office were daunting and patron needs were successfully met with seven captioning screens placed at strategic points throughout the Kennedy Center Opera House and masterfully guided by captioner David Chu, two types of gratis assistive listening technology to select from, a team of specially-selected interpreters, an occasion-specific crafted welcome and orientation letter and a staff of 36 ushers who had undergone sensitivity training to help this contingent have the most complete theater experience possible. Feedback provided to both the Kennedy Center and HLAA pronounced it a resounding success! Betty Siegel, who orchestrated the efforts, called the achievement “absolutely thrilling!”

From the Inside Out
At the heart of the Kennedy Center’s efforts to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities is Betty Siegel, nationally recognized leader for accessibility to the arts. Betty Siegel’s three-person staff has a broad variety of responsibilities as part of the education program.

The Kennedy Center keeps its policy simple and to the point. “The Kennedy Center welcomes persons with disabilities.” Betty thinks it needs no further explanation.” That says it all!” she states emphatically. It also gives her the ability to widen the scope of her office in creative and practical ways that achieve this objective.

Betty looks back to 1989 when she started at the Kennedy Center. She reflected on the Center’s slow emergence from viewing the accessibility staff as the fly in the ointment (“eyes rolled when we walked into a meeting”) to being an integral part of the institutional culture to whom others look for counsel and advice. The overriding attitude at the Kennedy Center is that “accessibility is just something that we do.” And they do it well.

Betty notes that now, without her urging, consideration is given to persons with disabilities in every effort the Center undertakes including staffing and staff training, renovation of the facilities and planning for meeting patron needs. “It just happens,” says Betty with a gleam of personal satisfaction in her eye. The Center has both in-house programs so that the Center’s cultural offerings are accessible to the greater Washington, D.C. community, but also leadership training for institutions both nationally and internationally.

The Kennedy Center’s Accessibility Office has become one of the nation’s primary resources for cultural institutions in the area of disabilities. They are able to provide solutions for technology challenges in theaters, direction for incorporating individuals with hearing loss and other disabilities in the arts, and understanding of the legislation that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities who attend public cultural institutions.

Meeting the Challenges
The greatest challenges for Betty and her colleagues, Jessica Swanson, Andrea Miller, and newcomer, Clinton Bowman, include keeping up with the rapidly-changing technology available to theatergoers as well as the compatibility between group and individual technologies. As the director for Very Special Arts (VSA) and Accessibility, Betty’s responsibilities have broadened as a recent Kennedy Center reorganization has brought the VSA program under Betty’s capable wings. With six new staff members and a whole new program to oversee, Betty seems undaunted at the prospect noting “I thrive on new challenges,” especially those for which she can implement “socially sustainable design.” A group of volunteers provide support to the office.

The challenge here, according to Betty, is that when you meet expectations, the expectations of patrons move to a higher level. “You need to exceed their expectations at every turn. We need to be doing things better and more effectively on every front.” No resting on laurels although pausing to appreciate the Wicked experience is cause for some satisfaction for Betty and her team.

“Building new audiences…and keeping the ones you have” is a dual challenge described by Betty. A significant portion of arts’ audiences are baby boomers. They are all aging. With aging, many individuals will develop some degree of sensory or mobility disability that needs to be addressed so that these individuals are able to continue their access to and enjoyment of the arts.

Networking is a key factor in the success of the Center’s programs. Each year since 2000, the Kennedy Center has hosted its LEAD program, Leadership Exchange in the Arts and Disability. Administrators from cultural institutions across the country discuss institutional cultural arts and disability issues. Their shared common goal is “the desire to create accessible cultural arts programs that are inclusive of people with disabilities and older adults.”

Betty describes useful presentations as well as a vigorous exchange of ideas between venues. The Department of Justice supports the efforts by frequently providing speakers who give updates on legislation related to persons with disabilities as it has become clarified through court cases, and the most recent updates on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Betty noted that ticketing regulations has recently been a topic of particular interest among participants. Other highlights of their annual conference include accessible performances, technology demonstrations, and resource rooms.

The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center is the nation’s busiest performing arts facility and hosts approximately 3,000 performances annually for audiences totaling nearly two million people. This does not include individuals who tour this national monument to see its Edward Durrell Stone designed cutting edge architecture and furnishings gifted from nations around the world without seeing a performance. The Center, now in its 40th season, has already established a reputation for excellence in meeting the needs of persons with disabilities.

Individuals with hearing loss find several accommodations to meet their needs. Assistive listening technology for performances is available at no charge to patrons. There are captioned performances for every play and musical in the Eisenhower Theater and the Opera House, the Center’s largest venues. The other theaters (the Kennedy Center has six, plus the Millennium Stage which provides free performances in the Grand Foyer 365 days a year) will provide captioning when requested with reasonable notice.

Recently a patron at a musical explained, “I don’t think I have much of a hearing loss, but the [Infrared] earphones brought the actors voices past the orchestra so I could actually understand the words.” The Center also offers audio-described performances for those with vision loss and signed performances for people who use sign language.

Cultural and sensitivity training for the more than 500 ushers who work the performances enable the front line “redcoats” to meet the immediate needs of patrons with disabilities and older adults. Each theater also has “accessibility ushers” at every performance whose primary responsibility is to assist patrons with mobility and other accessibility needs.

When asked how many patrons benefit from the Center’s efforts, Betty shakes her head and notes that it is “virtually impossible to tell.” She continues, “Patrons with disabilities do not need to identify themselves to Kennedy Center staff to take advantage of accommodations. Although theater managers report on some services provided such as large-print programs or wheelchair use, many patrons are self-sufficient and slip by unnoticed. Hearing loss is, of course, invisible so we are uncertain as to how many people who are hard of hearing and deaf actually attend captioned or signed performances.”

Cognitive disabilities, mental illnesses or autism and such medical challenges as heart conditions or arthritis, are also difficult to identify. Even statistics on assistive listening device use are not reliable because individuals without hearing loss also might use them. A broad estimate by Betty puts the figure at “easily 25,000 patrons, but it is probably more.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in ten Americans has a mental or physical disability, a figure that supports her assumption.

From Whence She Came
When asked about Betty’s professional background she laughs. She confessed that she started out in costume design…but “without much passion.” Her professional path kept moving her toward working with people. She discovered the joys and challenges of working in the area of disability access to the arts at the Arena Stage, a regional theater venue in Washington, D.C. where she was a theater manager in the early 1980s. She found it rewarding to “make a difference in the lives of theatergoers with disabilities” and helping them to be an integral part of the cultural event, rather than limited spectators.

For the efforts of the Kennedy Center’s Accessibility Office, Betty accepted HLAA’s National Access Award 2011 at the HLAA Convention for their contributions toward making the arts accessible to persons with hearing loss. “Arts should not shy away from the issues [which confront persons with disabilities].” From Betty’s viewpoint, she is immersed in those issues every single day…and loving every minute of it.

Scott J. Bally, Ph.D., M.S.W., CCC-SLP, recently retired from Gallaudet University where he was a full professor in both the speech-language pathology and audiology programs in the department of hearing, speech and language sciences. He has worked in public school, hospital, deaf institute, community clinic and university settings in a career spanning more than 35 years. He has written numerous articles and book chapters on the biopsychosocial effects of hearing loss and has presented to both professional and consumer organizations.

Dr. Bally has also worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where he is head usher at the Opera House and is regularly called on to work with patrons who having hearing loss at captioned performances in the Opera House and the Eisenhower Theaters. He can be reached at sbally@hearingloss.org.

Patron services at the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts through the Accessibility Office:

Captioned performances and events
Assistive listening devices
Sign language interpreted performances and events
Audio-described performances and events
Braille and large-print playbills (other materials upon request)
Online listings of accessible performances
Specially-priced tickets
Accessible tours
Wheelchair accessibility
Transportation and parking accommodations
Courtesy wheelchairs
Curb-to-seat service
Phone and e-mail information services

Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. In the U.S., 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, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





Seen & Heard: Laurie D. Pullins

17 07 2012

Laurie D. Pullins, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the July/August 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Laurie is also the cover feature author for this issue. She had already signed up for the Seen & Heard column before we approached her to write her feature, and her answers were so interesting that we included her Seen & Heard profile as well! Seen & Heard is a new column I developed for the magazine in 2011 and we had 48 members get enthusiastically involved in our first outreach effort! During Convention 2012 in Providence last month, I photographed 21 new profile subjects. We’ll be publishing one or two profiles (as space allows) in each issue of the bimonthly magazine.

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.

LAURIE D. PULLINS    Maryville, TN / born April 1, 1957 in Columbus, OH

MY HEARING LOSS… My hearing loss was discovered at the age of two. There was no real explanation for it or a family history of hearing loss. I wore hearing aids for 40+ years and received my first cochlear implant in August of 2005 and my second in January 2007.

SAGE ADVICE… There is no better time than today to be deaf or hard of hearing. It is not the end of the world and there are so many options and services available today compared to 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Technology is improving by leaps and bounds, making it possible to hear in different ways through hearing aids and cochlear implants. Most importantly, surround yourself with a strong support system. Advocate for yourself or your family member who has the hearing loss.

FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENTS… #1: Shortly after my hearing loss was discovered, I started therapy in Buffalo’s Children’s Hospital first and then transferred to Ohio State University’s program after my parents were relocated. The room where I had therapy was in a highrise building (don’t remember how many floors up). While my mother and therapist were discussing my latest therapy session, I climbed out the window and sat on the ledge, looking at the activity and passersby below me. Needless to say, I caused some anxiety for my mother and therapist and it was a challenge for them to get me back in the room off that ledge! #2: Forgetting to tell my husband that I set my Sonic Boom Alarm clock for the first time. I had to pry him off the ceiling the next morning! #3: I attended my first HLAA Convention in Oklahoma City with Jennifer Thorpe and we were roommates. Neither one of us had shared a room with a deaf person before. The first morning, I woke up before she did so I made sure I was quiet as I got dressed, tiptoeing around the room, not making a sound. She did the same for me when she got up before me. A day or two later we both realized, “Duh! Neither one of us can hear with our “ears” off as we sleep!” We could make all the noise we wanted and not wake each other up. We have laughed about that so many times.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE I WANTED TO BE A… dental hygienist. Today my passion is to “pay it forward” and help others with hearing loss.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… I remember swinging in a handmade swing in a big maple tree on my grandparents’ farm. I would swing for hours as high as I could over the garden and sing a song that was actually a poem “How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue…” I loved spending time with both sets of my grandparents on their farms.

THE BEST GIFT I EVER GOT… was the gift of time from my best friend, Dawn. When I got the call that my mother had slipped into a coma after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, Dawn helped me pack my suitcase and said, “Just go be with your mother. I will take care of your family for you.” She took care of our four children plus her own three (all the kids were between the ages of 2–11) for eight days so I could spend my mother’s last days with her. I love to be with people and the gift of time is always special to me.

THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY WAS… contact lenses. I wore glasses starting in third grade and wanted contact lenses so bad. My parents told me that if I saved $100, they would pay the rest. So, I saved my babysitting money and got my contacts at the age of 15.

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… returning to college while working and raising a family of four children.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… music, the little voice of my grandson, the wind softly blowing through the trees, the sounds of the birds—just to name a few.

IN MY SPARE TIME I… love to write and read. I also love quilting, sewing, gardening, ballroom dancing, reading and knitting.

I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… bored.

I MISS… my mother.

HAPPINESS IS… being loved and accepted.

MUSICALLY INCLINED… piano, hand bells, recorder

DO YOU SPEAK ANY LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH? Yes, a little bit of Latvian (just the basics). I’ve gone to Latvia several times on mission trips.

WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE? My mother was my best friend, prayer partner and confidant, and understood me better than anyone else.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… used to go deer hunting.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT IS… synchronized swimming.

FAVORITE PLACE TO BE… Every year I escape to my aunt’s house in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, for a week-long sabbatical away from my obligations and family. We talk, eat, sleep and quilt to our heart’s content. “Gilead” means “healing waters” and this place is a “healing place” for me.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… crème brûlée, my favorite dessert.

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… Heather Whitestone McCallum.

I COLLECT… anything related to the Drummer Boy.

PLACES I’VE CALLED HOME… Ohio, Florida, Idaho, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Tennessee

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… dental assistant, department store manager, bank teller, information technology assistant, accountant

FAVORITE TUNES… Amazing Grace, Annie’s Song by John Denver, Colour My World (Chicago), Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin), Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel), Christian music, Loving You Forever (Carole King)

ON MY BOOKSHELF… The Bible, Heaven is for Real, Ken Follett books, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, James Patterson books

ON THE BIG SCREEN… I love any movie with Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman (Book of Eli, Hurricane, etc.), The Sound of Music, Shall We Dance, The Ten Commandments, The Chronicles of Narnia series and Harry Potter movies.

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… Ken Follett’s World Without End and The Hunger Games.

I AM… loving, encouraging and industrious.

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… to hear and to communicate, that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and she encouraged me to try new things.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… how to play Scrabble and card games.

GET ANYTHING GOOD IN THE MAIL LATELY? My aunt sent me some old letters that my mother had written years ago.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? The World Wide Web and technology (cell phones, Bluetooth, etc.) enables the deaf and hard of hearing to be “connected” to the outside world.

I HAVE A FEAR OF… bridges.

I REALLY SHOULD STOP… procrastinating.

I REALLY SHOULD START… spending more time with my grandchildren.

WORD OR PHRASE I OVERUSE… “Bless Your Heart” (it’s a southern thing!)

I HAVE THE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… misplace everything.

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… my cochlear implants or my glasses!

SONG YOU LOVE BUT ARE EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT TO… “Popcorn”—I used to listen to this all the time back in the
70s. It really sounds like popcorn popping!

NAME SOMETHING YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU ARE SURE MOST PEOPLE DON’T… Latgale pottery from Latvia (bowl and plates)—they are my favorite pieces

MY THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… are my cell phone, computer, and my favorite chair.

MY LATEST OBSESSION… is ballroom dancing.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE… “As long as I live I’ll always hear birds, waterfalls, and winds sing.” —John Muir

MY MOTTO IS… “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” In other words, we should listen more than we talk!

MY LONG-TERM GOAL… is to retire and build an energy efficient “green home” in the Smoky Mountains.

MY SHORT-TERM GOAL… is to take photography classes at our local community college.

I LOVE… my husband, Steve Pullins. He has a great sense of humor and is a calming influence on me and others around him. He is my best friend and dance partner for life!

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IS… our four children.

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as a kind, loving, and giving Christian woman making a small difference in someone’s life.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Seen & Heard: Glenice Swenson

6 07 2012

Glenice Swenson, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the July/August 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Seen & Heard is a new column I developed for the magazine in 2011. We had 48 members get enthusiastically involved in our first outreach effort and just last week I photographed more than 20 members during HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, R.I. We’ll be publishing one or two profiles (as space allows) in each issue of the bimonthly magazine. Other members previously profiled were Danielle Nicosia, John Kinstler, Judy Martin, Anne Taylor, Sam Spritzer and Jeff Bonnell and Eloise Schwarz.

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.

GLENICE SWENSON  

Owatonna, MN / born Sept. 2 in Grand Forks, ND

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY DAUGHTER, JANA… I love many things about Jana and today I love that she chose an education and profession that makes her incredibly aware of what it is like to be hard of hearing. Because she pursued her degree in Deaf Studies and is a sign language interpreter (even though I do not sign) we have had many interesting conversations about subjects regarding challenges of people with hearing loss.

MY HEARING LOSS… Although my mother and my pediatrician suspected there might be an issue with my hearing, I wasn’t actually diagnosed until I was 14. The junior high I was attending did a screening of all 9th graders in preparation for high school. As recommended by my school, my mother took me to our doctor to be checked out and they found I had some hearing loss—possibly progressive. When I was 18, I graduated from high school. I decided I better find out more about this hearing loss diagnosis. At that point it was determined that it was definitely progressive as I had lost more since the diagnosis. At the age of 28, I got my first pair of hearing aids. When I was 44, I had my first cochlear implant surgery. I currently hear fabulously with bilateral cochlear implants. Life is grand.

SAGE ADVICE… During my most challenging years of hearing loss, I did not have a support system other than my hearing family as I knew nothing about support groups and none were readily available. My advice is join HLAA, seek out others with hearing loss, learn what your options are, and use the tools and technology that is so available in this modern day!

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… After a family gathering, I was out with some of my cousins who I didn’t see very often. We were having a great time in one of the local bar and grill joints when it was time to close. As is the tradition to signal closing, they shut the lights out and without skipping a beat, I said, ‘Oh, no! I go deaf in the dark.’ When the lights came back on, the cousin I had been visiting was looking a little uncomfortable, but chuckling and grinning from ear to ear, was looking at me with an expression of surprise. He had no idea that I had a sense of humor about my hearing loss and need to read lips.

DISADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… It takes a lot of energy to pursue the same things as hearing people.

ADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… I don’t usually think of hearing loss in terms of advantages. Communication in our house is a priority. We developed many communication rules and courtesies in our home during the years I was losing my hearing and our daughters were growing up. I think the courtesies enhanced my relationships with my daughters. The fact that I needed to stop whatever I was doing to read their lips and focus my attention on them was a good thing.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE… in the Navy, a WAVE! My second choice was to be a hairstylist. Due to my hearing loss, I did not get to serve my country as a Navy WAVE. I did go back to school for cosmetology after having my children. I ended up leaving that profession after three years when I had reached the point where I could no longer make appointments by phone.

MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… is my first bike! When I was seven, my dad had a friend who knew he was looking for a little bike for me. His friend was working out at the Grand Forks Air Force Base when he spotted a little bike in someone’s trash. It was awful, but my dad was great at fixing things up. He worked on it until it pedaled like a dream and it was fast too. He was going to paint it my favorite color—blue. Dad got the primer on it, which was an ugly gray. I was trying it out before he got it finished and discovered how fast it was. When the neighborhood kids saw me riding this bike and how fast I was going, they wanted to try it. The next thing I knew one of the boys got out a stop watch and we were timing each other to see who could get around the block the fastest. That bike was so busy getting ridden that it never got painted blue.

THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY WAS… a bike! I started babysitting when I was about 12. I saved my money until I had enough to buy my first big bike. I ended up finding a used 26” blue bike for $13.

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… When I read this question, the memory that jumps out at me is my last hearing test before I qualified for the cochlear implant. When the audiologist went to get the picture board to give me clues to the words she was saying, I knew it was bad. Getting through that testing session was really hard.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… I did not hear birds for many, many years. Even with my hearing aids, I never got the songbirds back, only the coo of a dove. With my cochlear implants, I can hear all birds! There is a pair of cardinals that live in my neighborhood and it still chokes me up when I hear them. I love listening to the birds. I also love listening to my grandchildrens’ giggles.

IN MY SPARE TIME, I… I’m almost always reading something. I enjoy getting outside to Trikke, bike, or walk. I also enjoy swinging kettlebells and going to kickboxing.

I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… a couch potato, except when I’m working on my laptop!

I MISS… my kids and grandkids. They are spread out from 40 to 1,000 miles away.

HOBBIES? photography, writing, sewing, crocheting

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… like motorcycles and used to have one.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT… This is a new thing that I’m doing, but I’m pretty good at carving a Trikke!

I WISH I HAD A TALENT FOR… public speaking.

YOU JUST WON A $10 MILLION LOTTERY. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?  I would plan a trip to St. Moritz in Switzerland!

MY FAVORITE PLACE TO BE… is on a ski slope when it is 28 degrees, the air smells great and the snow is perfect.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… chocolate.

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… the Queen of England.

MY FAVORITE SEASON… is autumn. I enjoy the cooling of the air, the beautiful foliage changes and the anticipation of the holiday season.

I COLLECT… crosses in the forms of home decor and jewelry.

I HAVE A FEAR OF… big bridges.

YOU HAVE JUST WON A $1,000 SHOPPING SPREE TO A FAVORITE STORE! WHAT DID YOU BUY? I would probably get an iPad and an iPhone from the Apple Store.

PLACES I’VE CALLED HOME… Warren, MN; Grand Forks, ND; Crookston, MN; Owatonna, MN

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… carhop at A & W Drive In; waitress at Del’s Coffee Shop; parking enforcement officer for the City of Grand Forks; bookkeeper and teller at Polk County State Bank of Crookston; full-time mother

MY FAVORITE FOODS… chocolate, dark cherries, peanuts, avocado, shrimp

MUSIC TO MY EARS… You and I by Stevie Wonder; Manheim Steamroller’s version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Don’t Take Away My Heaven by Aaron Neville; I Believe in You by Don Williams; Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole

LITERARY FAVES… The Bible, The Biography of Hellen Keller, The Biography of Annie Oakley, All Creatures Great and Small, Where Angels Walk

THE BIG SCREEN… Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Parent Trap, Sound of Music

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… The Secret

MY KIDS HAVE TAUGHT ME… patience.

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… to never judge a book by its cover.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to love music.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? Microwave bacon cooker!

WORD OR PHRASE THAT I OVERUSE… “and stuff”

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… chocolate!

SONG YOU LOVE BUT ARE EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT… the original recording of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” by Jimmy Boyd

NAME SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU ARE SURE MOST PEOPLE DON’T… antique Lincoln rocking chair

MY FAVORITE QUOTE… “If it was easy everyone would do it. It is the hard that makes it great.” — Coach Dugan in A League of Their Own

MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to write a book.

MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… when people assume versus finding the truth.

RIGHT NOW I AM CRAVING… Good Earth original recipe tea.

MY MOTTO IS… never say never.

I WOULD LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED… as a good, kind and caring person.





Seen & Heard: Eloise Schwarz

14 05 2012

Eloise Schwarz, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the May/June 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Seen & Heard is a new column I developed for the magazine in 2011 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. Other members previously profiled were Danielle Nicosia, John Kinstler, Judy Martin, Anne Taylor, Sam Spritzer and Jeff Bonnell.

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.

ELOISE SCHWARZ Born 7.9.1952 in Quincy, IL / Resides in Wauwatosa, WI

MY HEARING LOSS… I’ve had a hearing loss since birth. Ten years ago I got hearing aids.

SAGE ADVICE… Think about, ask about and learn about hearing loss—
find others with it and join them!

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE… teacher.

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… a house

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… was getting my MBA.

IN MY SPARE TIME, I… write.

HOBBIES? Sewing, playing piano, talking politics with family and friends

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… stutter.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT IS… grant writing.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… chocolate.

I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… both President Bush’s.

I COLLECT… tiny cups and saucers.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… housekeeping, nursing, laundry, nurse’s aide

I AM… organized, objective and dependable.

I HAVE A FEAR OF… uncleanliness.

I REALLY SHOULD STOP… worrying!

I REALLY SHOULD START… laughing!

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… my computer.

MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… my hearing loss and not being able to understand the technology and aids for it.

FAVORITE QUOTE… Life is a big canvas—throw all you can on it!

EVER MEET ANYONE FAMOUS? Yes, the governor of Wisconsin and one of the prisoners from The Rock.

MY THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… my wedding rings and my car (a new VW)

KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS EVER DONE FOR ME… My husband loves me, married me and cares for me!

MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to travel to all 50 states.

IF I RULED THE WORLD… We would all see and hear things through my ears and eyes!

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… getting ahead, living even though I’ve had so many life-death encounters in my life

I love the real-life articles about real-life people in Hearing Loss Magazine.





No Compromise: Richard Einhorn, Composer

14 05 2012

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, wrote the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. In his article, Einhorn writes about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

Learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here and the fascinating details about how Voices of Light came to fruition here. To learn more about Joan of Arc, view his program notes here.

I found it especially moving that Einhorn recorded the church bells ringing in Joan’s birthplace and included them in the production. In his program notes, he writes: Just prior to writing Voices of Light, I traveled to France to visit some of the important Joan of Arc historical sites. I went to Orleans where she won her first battle and also to Rouen, where I was deeply moved by the ruins of the castles where Joan was held and the cross erected at the site of her martyrdom. I also traveled to the little village of Domremy, Joan’s birthplace in the southeast, where her house and church, much restored, still stand. I took along a portable DAT recorder and recorded the sound of the Domremy church bell and later incorporated it into my score. I felt that Joan, who so loved church bells, whose voices seemed to speak to her whenever they were ringing, would appreciate the effort.

Excerpted from his website: 

Einhorn has written opera, orchestral and chamber music, song cycles, film music, and dance scores. Among his many projects is the wildly popular Red Angels for New York City Ballet, set to Einhorn’s music with choreography by Ulysses Dove, which had its television premiere on Live From Lincoln Center (PBS) in May of 2002. His film credits include the Academy Award-winning documentary short, Educating Peter (HBO) and Arthur Penn’s thriller Dead of Winter (MGM), starring Mary Steenbugen; and Fire-Eater directed by Pirjo Honkasalo, for which Einhorn won the Jussi (Finnish Academy Award) for Best Musical Score.

Born in 1952, Richard Einhorn graduated summa cum laude in music from Columbia University. Before turning his attention exclusively to composition, Einhorn worked as a record producer for such artists as Meredith Monk and The New York Philharmonic. His production of the Bach Cello Suites with Yo-Yo Ma won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance.

Recent works include The Spires, The City, The Field, a 9/11 memorial premiered by the Albany Symphony. A Carnival of Miracles, a piece written for Anonymous 4, premiered to a sold-out crowd at New Sounds Live and broadcasted live over WNYC-FM. My Many Colored Days is an orchestral commission from the Minnesota Orchestra. He lives in New York City with his wife Amy Singer and their daughter Miranda.

________________________________________________________________________________

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard for Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM) in March. 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. 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. To get a feel for the combination of this powerful film and Einhorn’s remarkable composition, view the 10-minute video segment below. The film is captioned in both French and English.

Barbara interviewed Richard for a companion piece to his article. This interview is included in its entirety below.


BEHIND THE SCENES: Composer Richard Einhorn and Voices of Light

by Barbara Kelley

Richard Einhorn’s acclaimed Voices of Light has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” Voices of Light is an oratorio set to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world, including two recent performances with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conducting.

Einhorn, who has composed many film scores and concert works, had been interested in writing a large work on a religious subject. In 1988, he finally discovered what he would do. As he wrote in the liner notes for the Sony Classical recording of Voices of Light, “Imagine walking down an ordinary street in an ordinary city on an ordinary day. You turn the corner and suddenly without warning, you find yourself staring at the Taj Mahal. It was with that same sense of utter amazement and wonder that I watched Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time.

“That was back in January 1988. I was idly poking around the film archives of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, looking at short avant-garde films, when I happened across a still from Joan in the silent film catalog. …some 81 minutes later, I walked out of the screening room shattered, having unexpectedly seen one of the most extraordinary works of art that I know.”

The film is lauded as one of the top ten films of all time. Richard’s original score took six years to put together. He says about Voices, “[It] explores the patchwork of emotions and thoughts that get stitched together into the notion of a female hero.”

Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, said, “I don’t think anyone will be able to leave this performance unaffected.” Right: Richard Einhorn rehearses with soloists at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore; from left: Stephen Campbell, Phoenix, AZ; Rachel Grider, Modesto, CA; and Nola Richardson, Sydney, Australia

Another oratorio by Einhorn, The Origin, recently received audience and critical acclaim for its European premiere in Bremen, Germany. Richard also devotes his time to advocacy for people with hearing loss and has been featured in The New York Times and elsewhere. Read The New York Times article about Richard, “A Hearing Aid That Cuts Out All the Clatter,” by John Tierney at http://bit.ly/EinhornNYTimes

A Hearing Loop Installed for Voices of Light Performance
On March 2 this year, Einhorn’s Voices of Light was performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This was a special event because Richard was able to hear his own composition. Thanks to Ampetronic and their U.S. distributor, Fred Palm of AssistiveAudio, Inc., as well as the Meyerhoff, a hearing loop was installed in the concert hall for the weekend performances.

Audience members with hearing loss using cochlear implants or telecoil-equipped hearing aids were able to enjoy the performance by accessing sound transmitted electromagnetically by a hearing loop—a wire that circles the room and is connected to the sound system.

After the performance, Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine, interviewed Richard to learn more about his career.

You were 15 when you began composing. Did you play a musical instrument? I first learned to compose entirely on my own, by experimenting with tape recorders and improvising. I played drums in a rock band when I was a kid, but quickly became interested in writing my own music. I was involved with an avant-garde multimedia ensemble in high school and, as an experiment, wrote a piece for some friends of mine who were modern dancers. The moment I saw my friends dance to my music I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life except compose.

Above: Barbara Kelley, Richard Einhorn and Brenda Battat (Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America) after the performance of Voices of Light at the Meyerhoff 

After a year or so, I realized I needed to study formally and I went to Columbia University where I majored in music, studying ultimately with electronic music pioneer Vladimir Ussachevsky and opera composer Jack Beeson. I graduated in 1975 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, then worked as a record producer for Columbia Masterworks for five years, before pursuing composition full time.

Do you come from a musical family? Nobody in my immediate family is musical. However, my great-aunt Hattie was a concert pianist in the early 20th century. My grandfather was an inventor and worked in East Orange, New Jersey when Thomas Edison was in West Orange. Somewhere in the family, there is correspondence between them! Probably, I got my interest in technology from my grandfather and my musicality from my great-great grandparents.

How did you know you had this aptitude at a young age? I don’t know if I have any aptitude. I have a lot of interest in composing music and I have a lot of ideas. I am also extremely persistent and won’t let go. I work very hard at composing but it’s enjoyable work and I love it. I am thrilled that other people often seem to enjoy it as much as I enjoy composing it.

What inspires you? Sound inspires me the most of all. I live for sound and my primary experience of the world, especially the world of emotions, is through sound, not sight or another sense. I am also inspired by great stories, such as Joan of Arc’s and Charles Darwin’s. I find them both amazing human beings in many different ways.

What projects are you working on now? I have a new piece for Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, a collaboration with the great filmmaker Bill Morrison. It will be an interactive piece called Shooting Gallery, with laser beams, six projectors and an hour of interactive music. I haven’t done anything like it since high school and I’m very excited!

I’m also writing a new piece for dance for two great musicians I’ve worked with quite a bit, violinist Mary Rowell and pianist Judith Gordon. The work will premiere in fall 2013. Further off is a large piece for orchestra and film, again with Bill Morrison. All I can say at the moment about it is that Bill, the conductor, the orchestra, and I are extremely excited about it.

Are there any projects you would like to work on? What is your dream project? I am a dramatic and lyrical composer. I’ve lived many of my dreams. I always wanted to work with Bill Morrison, and already have on the Darwin piece, The Origin. I have always wanted to work on an opera, and it looks like I will. I’ve composed scores for some truly wonderful movies and I’ve worked with some of my favorite musicians—and some of my favorite people.

I feel very lucky to have been able to do so and doubly lucky that my family has fully understood that this is an unusual life, but in many ways a rewarding one for all of us. I want to continue to compose the best music I can for the best musicians I can, for the most exciting projects I can find, and collaborate with artists from other disciplines whom I admire. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and that has made the hard work and long hours it takes to compose all the more worthwhile!

Special thanks to the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for permitting us to take photographs of Richard Einhorn in the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

All photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Autumn Johnson’s debut in Hearing Loss Magazine

19 01 2012

I photographed Autumn Johnson this past fall to build up my hearing-related stock photo file. Leslie Lesner, an audiologist and owner of Lesner Hearing Center in Alexandria, graciously help us set up the shots in her office and she also modeled for me. I also got shots of several of my favorite subjects (Hannah, Margot and Karen) getting their hearing tested, being shown various models of hearing aids and getting fitted for hearing aids. The images will be used in the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine and other materials for the Hearing Loss Association of America.

In this shot below, Autumn is getting her hearing tested by Leslie. The shot was used to illustrate the feature article, Getting it Right the First Time: Best Hearing Aid Practices by author Brad Ingrao, AuD.

From the small world department: When Autumn and her mother, Virginia, arrived at Leslie’s office, they realized that Leslie had actually been one of Autumn’s audiologists during her hearing loss diagnosis many years ago!

A literary nod: Autumn’s mother, Virginia Johnson, is a librarian at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. She and co-author Barbara Crookshanks wrote Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, published by The History Press in 2008 and reprinted in 2011. Read more about their book here and order it on Amazon here.





Mandy Harvey: Musically Inclined

14 01 2012

Mandy Harvey, a jazz vocalist and songwriter from northern Colorado, was one of the feature articles in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Mandy at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, host to HLAA’s Convention 2010. Mandy was the guest entertainer at Friday night’s Rumble event at the Museum.

Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of HLAA, interviewed Mandy for this issue of the magazine. Learn more about Mandy here and listen to her music and buy CDs here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mandy showed an early talent for singing, but also had infrequent periods of hearing loss. At age ten, her family moved to Colorado. Her vocal talent blossomed and she won numerous school awards, notably Top Female Vocalist of 2006 as a high school senior.

After high school, Mandy went to Colorado State University. During her first semester, Mandy noticed she had to move closer to hear recordings. Hearing aids helped at first. Six months later, she had no hearing left. Discouraged, Mandy returned home to take American Sign Language classes and pursue Elementary Education at a local community college.

Once she returned home Mandy decided that she would take a year off from singing, but continued to play the guitar with her father. One day, while searching the Internet, Mandy and her father discovered a song titled Come Home by One Republic. Mandy’s father suggested that she learn the lyrics. Mandy thought this would be impossible but she gave it her best effort, and to her surprise she was able to learn the lyrics. She realized then that she didn’t have to give up singing.

I met Mandy in 2010 in Milwaukee at the HLAA Convention where she sang at one of our events at the Harley-Davidson Museum. HLAA photographer Cindy Dyer photographed her at the Museum before her performance. We were pleased to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions.

Tell me about your hearing loss.
My hearing loss is due to neurological damage and the last it was tested showed it around 110 dB in both ears.

Do you use any type of assistive technology?
I had hearing aids when I was first losing my hearing, which was around winter 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Once my hearing loss progressed to a specific stage hearing aids didn’t help much. Because of the nerve damage, a cochlear implant was not an option for me. At this point I rely mostly on lip reading and American Sign Language.

Talk about your aspirations to become a music teacher.
I went to Colorado State University in the hopes of becoming a vocal jazz teacher. In all honesty I wouldn’t feel right about giving my professional opinion to students wanting to study voice. If I cannot hear them to give advice or to teach 100 percent, I would end up just getting frustrated and feeling as if I was wasting their money. Instead, I have turned my life to performing jazz as well as working in the medical field.

What about your personal life and family?
I currently live in Denver with my hearing service dog, Annie, and my love, Travis. My family is extremely supportive and they have learned some American Sign Language. My sister, Sammi, is fluent in the language now. It helps a lot to be able to communicate with your loved ones. Travis is currently learning the language for me.

Where is your singing career right now?
My singing career is in a beautiful place right now. As things stand I work a regular 8-5, Monday through Friday, job. The weekend is mine for performing. Having the regular job mixed with weekend work relieves the pressure of having to do a bunch of gigs just to be able to pay the bills. Instead I am able to do gigs that inspire me and that bring joy.

I have two albums, Smile and After You’ve Gone, which are both full of jazz standard, though the latter contains some original work by myself and Mark Sloniker. I am currently saving up to make a Christmas album this year.

Tell me something about yourself you would like people to know; something that would surprise people.
That’s a hard question. I used to be fascinated by insects and toads and non-girly things like that. When I was a child I wanted to travel the world and discover amazing finds on archeological digs.

You have a fascination with the 40s. How has this genre influenced you and your music?
I have been fascinated with the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s my entire life. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, and classic jazz. I love everything in those eras from the clothing to the inventions. It truly was a beautiful time in history…seems to have had lots of details that were not as obvious as things are today. Back then, there could be a song about someone’s smile and how it would capture the imagination. I feel music today has lost some of that mystery and has become far too blunt.

What are your favorite songs?
My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch Over Me, Come Fly with Me, Over the Rainbow, and of course, Smile…this list is never ending. I find passion in the music and it makes you feel something different every time you sing them.

What music don’t you care for?
I love most everything but I am not a huge fan of most Rap or R&B. I will admit I do enjoy a few songs here and there but in general they all tend to feel the same.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk, Duke…oh my goodness, my list could go on and on. They are brilliant and the work they have done inspires me every time I think of them.

What one place in the world would you like to visit?
I have always had a dream to live in Scotland. The country has always called my name. My goal is in the next 10 years to have been there for at least three months continuously. If you are there for only a week you cannot understand the culture.

To find some of her recordings, go to YouTube.com and search for Mandy Harvey. You will find several videos, including her rendition of Smile.

Barbara Kelley is deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.

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, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





Seen & Heard: Anne Taylor

14 01 2012

Anne Taylor, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the January/February 2012 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. Other members previously profiled were Danielle Nicosia, John Kinstler and Judy Martin.

One of Anne’s answers was really original. When asked to “Name something you have in your home that you are sure most people don’t,” she answered: “My husband!”

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.

MY HEARING LOSS… A teacher noticed I was hard of hearing when I was six years old. I have worn hearing aids all my life until two years ago. I received my first cochlear implant in August 19, 2009 and my second one on September 1, 2010.

SAGE ADVICE… Just know that you are one of approximately 36 million Americans with some level of hearing loss. Join a support group (e.g., HLAA) for information exchange.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I thought God’s name was “Harold.” (Hallowed be thy name)

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE… an airline stewardess.

THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… clothes

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… was admit that I had a hearing loss.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… the patter of rain, the click of a switch and my husband’s voice.

IN MY SPARE TIME, I… study in a peer mentoring program,work out, play tennis and travel.

I DEFINITELY AM NOT… stupid because I lost my hearing.

HAPPINESS IS… hearing again with cochlear implants.

I MISS… my family in England.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… maintain tennis courts.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… I was a French teacher, a barmaid and in the British Civil Service.

MUSIC TO MY EARS… “Imagine,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” and the “Sound of Silence”

LITERARY FAVES… 10,000 Puns, Water for Elephants, The Girl Who Played With Fire

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… The GIrl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

FAVORITE MOVIES… Cadence, On Golden Pond, Rainman

I AM… sympathetic, nice and friendly.

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… to knit.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to play cards.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? Cochlear implants!

NAME SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU ARE SURE MOST PEOPLE DON’T… My husband!

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Coming out of the deaf closet

I love reading about other people’s success stories in Hearing Loss Magazine.





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2011 Recap

23 11 2011

The last issue in 2011 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services to HLAA.

January/February 2011: I photographed 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. Usher Syndrome Type II 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. 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 wrote 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.” Read Bill’s article here: HLM Bill Barkeley

Also in this issue: Mary Beth Barkeley’s For Better or Worse, Lise Hamlin’s The Future is Here: The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Jennifer Stuessy’s “Organic” Solutions, Sam Trychin’s How Were Your Holidays?, Get in the Hearing Loop by Brenda Battat and Patricia Krikos, It’s Good Business to Walk4Hearing by Ronnie Adler and Rebecca Lander, Hiding My Hearing Aids? Not Anymore! by Hayleigh Scott, and Is Auditory Training Effective in Improving Listening Skills by Mark Ross.

March/April 2011: The 2011 HLAA Convention in Washington, D.C. was the cover focus for this issue. Also in this issue: Come to the 2nd International Hearing Loop Conference by Dana Mulvaney, Cell Phone Inventor Forsees a Universal Ear by Larry Herbert, Small and Convenient: Today’s Hearing Aid Designs by Mark Ross, Lise Hamlin’s Standing Up for Movie Captioning, Walk4Hearing Keeps Stepping Forward by Ronnie Adler and Rebecca Lander, and author Jennifer Rosner’s At Bedtime, a story about her daughters, Sophia and Juliet. HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat asked members to participate in a survey about jury duty in this issue.

May/June 2011: This month’s cover feature was my dear friend and HLAA member Lynn Rousseau. Lynn’s love of dance and performing garnered her several “15 minutes of fame” moments—in her teens she was just one of three girls chosen to perform every Saturday on the Rick Shaw Show and the Saturday Hop Show in Miami. She performed at legendary Miami Beach hotels and her first television show was with Paul Revere & the Raiders, Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Diamond. She also had a small part on the big screen in Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason, had the opportunity to dance with the June Taylor dancers, and was an extra on the movie, Doc Hollywood, with Michael J. Fox.

In her feature article, The Beat Goes On…, she shares both the sad and funny moments in her life concerning hearing loss, introduces us to her incredibly supportive family (husband Joel, three children, and eight grandchildren), and reveals her diagnosis of and subsequent recovery from breast cancer in 2008. My father, H.M. Dyer, co-authored and edited the article. He also has a blog—thekingoftexas.com. I photographed Lynn at the HLAA 2010 Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for this cover. You can read Lynn’s article here: Lynn Rousseau

Also in this issue: Living Well with Hearing Loss: Professional and Consumer Collaboration for Hearing Loss Support Programs by Patricia Kricos, HLAA Convention 2011 by Nancy Macklin, Mark Ross’ On the Job: The Effects of an Untreated Hearing Loss on Workplace Compensation, Sam Trychin’s Making Changes: Tools from the IDA Institute, At Work with Hearing Loss by Kathi Mestayer, Judy Martin’s In Complete: Walt Ivey—Musician, Audiologist and HLAA Member, and Lise Hamlin’s Emergency Preparedness—Once Again.

July/August 2011: This month’s cover subject is my friend and fellow blogger from Oslo, Norway—Ulf Nagel, accompanied by his handsome son, Oskar. I discovered Ulf’s very insightful, well-researched and painfully honest blog, Becoming Deaf in Norway, on Abbie (Cranmer) Hlavacek’s blogroll a few years ago. With editing and compilation assistance from Hershel M. Dyer and beautiful photos by Anne K. Haga, Ulf’s story—From Silence to Sound: My Quest to Hear Again—debuted in this issue. Ulf works as an IT consultant. He and his fiance, Mette, recently added a baby girl, Joanna, to their family, which includes sons Oskar and Gabriel. You can read Ulf’s article here: Ulf Nagel Feature

Also in this issue: From a Body Hearing Aid to a Cochlear Implant by Mark Ross, A Look Into the Mind and Heart of Caring Physician by Barbara Liss Chertok, Pam Stemper’s We Finish Only to Begin, Penny Allen’s The Important Stuff and Lise Hamlin’s Jury Duty: Will You Serve?

September/October 2011: Michael Eury’s article How My Hearing Loss Made Me a Superhero was the cover feature for this issue. Michael approached Barbara Kelley (the editor-in-chief) and me this past spring and proposed writing his story for the magazine and pitched an idea for a conceptual cover. With the help of fellow photographer Ed Fagan and set assistance by Michael Schwehr, we captured his superhero spirit! Eury wears binaural hearing aids and has been a member of HLAA since 2005. He is the state president of HLA-NC and is a 2011 recipient of the Spirit of HLAA Award. He lives in Concord, North Carolina, with his wife, Rose, who has loyally stood by his side during his journey through life with hearing loss. Michael is the editor of Back Issue, a comics history magazine published eight times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also a prolific published author. You can read his article here: MichaelEurySuperhero

Also in this issue: Unbundling: A Way to Make Hearing Aids More Affordable? by Stephanie Sjoblad and Barbara Winslow Warren, Decibels and Dollars: A Look at Hearing Aid Features Across Price Points, Lise Hamlin’s Make Hearing Aids Affordable: Insurance Coverage in the Workplace, and Peter Yerkes’ Listening Closely—A Journey to Bilateral Hearing. Hearing Loss Magazine‘s new Seen & Heard column debuted in this issue with profiles on HLAA members Danielle Nicosia and John Kinstler.

November/December 2011: Senthil Srinivasan’s article, Opening Up, is our cover feature for this issue. I met Senthil online after discovering his website, Outerchat, and asked him if he would be interested in being profiled for the magazine. I first met him and his parents at the HLAA Convention 2010 in Milwaukee. He flew to Washington, D.C. in September so I could photograph him for the cover. Senthil lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and for the past six years has worked as a web designer for PowerSports Network in Sussex, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Visit his blog at OuterChat.com. You can read his article here: SenthilSrinivasanOpensUp

Also in this issue: Carleigh’s Story by Syndi Lyon, Brad Ingrao’s 21st Century Connectivity in Hearing Devices, Barbara Kelley’s It’s Football Season! Where is Reed Doughty Now?, Scott Bally’s The Indomitable Spirit of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Siegel, Lise Hamlin’s The FCC, HLAA and Technology, and Seen & Heard with HLAA member Judy Martin.

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.