HLM Cover Feature: HLAA Chapters

13 07 2017

Hearing Loss Magazine is published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). The July/August 2017 issue focuses on HLAA Chapters:

On the Cover by Dave Hutcheson

We really are on this journey together. Joan Kleinrock, HLAA’s very first national chapter coordinator, said it best, “Picture a wagon wheel from the Old West, with the hub of the wheel being the national office and the spokes of the wheel the local chapters. The wheel will not turn without the hub and spokes working together—supporting each other.”

Joan’s analogy couldn’t be more relevant. Every day, we embark on a journey to spread knowledge, provide resources and raise awareness of hearing loss. Our continued work and shared efforts get the wheels turning, and with each new accomplishment, both locally and nationally, we gain momentum toward reaching our final destination and goal.

For this issue’s cover we invited a few chapters near the national office in Bethesda, Maryland to join HLAA National Chapter Coordinator Erin Mirante on a little journey of our own. The sun was shining on the warm late spring day so we put the top down and got rolling. We asked our fellow travelers Russ Misheloff, Rachel Stevens and Veronica Davila Steele to share a few thoughts about their chapter’s journey. Now, won’t you join us?

Learn more about the Hearing Loss Association of America at hearingloss.org.

On the cover: (l to r, front seat) Russ Misheloff (D.C. Chapter), and HLAA National
Coordinator Erin Mirante; (l to r, back seat) Rachel Stevens (D.C. Chapter) and
Veronica Davila Steele (Prince George’s County Chapter), with her hearing dog Somalia
(“Sammie”).

Cover photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

HLM JulyAug 2017 Cover





HLM Cover Feature: Gael Hannan

3 09 2016

Writer, actor, hearing loss advocate and public speaker Gael Hannan is our cover feature for the September/October 2016 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine! I design and photograph for this bimonthly publication of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Gael is such a lively spirit and wickedly funny. It was so much fun photographing her at HLAA Convention 2016 in Washington, D.C. this past June. (She mentioned she doesn’t live very far from enchanting Butchart Gardens in beautiful Vancouver—one of my favorite places to photograph. She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m campaigning to be her new best friend!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Gael Cover

Hearing Loss Isn’t Funny 

by Gael Hannan

Keep your sense of humor. Experts say this is the trick to living well with hearing loss.

But—what if you don’t have one?

Well then, they say, you can learn to laugh at yourself.

What if you don’t know HOW, or CAN’T, or don’t WANT to? What if hearing loss has amputated your funny bone?

WEB Gael TOCHearing loss just isn’t funny. Quite the opposite; it drains us physically, emotionally and often financially. It’s not easy to guffaw at malfunctioning hearing aids, confused conversations and irritated relationships. Giggles don’t bubble from our lips when we make a comment that makes other people stop talking and give us the “you’ve got two heads” look—which of course means the discussion has moved on to something else while we’re stuck in five minutes ago. (I wish someone would announce a new topic—“And now we shall talk about politics.”)

Even people who are natural rays of smiling sunshine find it challenging to deal with a life-changing hearing loss. How many people, reeling from a 20 decibel drop in hearing, would say, “Gosh, isn’t that just my luck? Say, did you hear the one about the guy who couldn’t hear his wife…”

How was I supposed to laugh when a goofy mutt woke me up to show off his breakfast: my hearing aid, with bits of it still clinging to the doggy-curls of his chin? How to cough up a chuckle at embarrassing mishears such as accepting a date, only to find the man had asked something quite different? Or when I delivered one of my famous non-sequiturs: “Mom, can you help me with an essay?” “That’s great, say hi to him for me.” (Below: Gael and “Hearing Husband” Doug)

WEB Gael HusbandAlmost every hearing loss joke is a variation on one or two basics—which the average person with hearing loss will hear about a thousand times in their lifetime. The first goes something like this: “What day is it?” “Thursday.” “Me too, let’s get a drink.” And I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve asked, “Would you mind speaking up, I have hearing loss,” and the answer shoots back, “Pardon?”

We’re expected to laugh at all this?

Yes. Because it helps. (This is a good time to note that people with hearing loss are very good at laughing in group conversations. We laugh when others laugh and stop laughing when they do. Admittedly, that’s not quite the same thing as a real sense of humor, and our bluffing usually just gets us into more trouble. Just saying that we do know
how to laugh…)

Growing up in a small family—my parents, one sister and me—it was easy to understand dinner conversations because the kitchen table wasn’t big; anyone’s lips were only two dinner plates away. Even so, I would respond goofily to something I thought I heard, which amused everybody but me. We laughed a lot, en famille, because my father said the Lord loves a cheerful idiot and he felt we all qualified.

WEB Gael Hubby SonBut everything is funny, according to Will Rogers, when they happen to someone else. I can see the hearing people (especially the show-off types who claim they can hear a pin drop two counties over) almost implode as they try to suppress a smile or laugh at something we misheard. But later, when we’re out of earshot—which is usually not too far away—they tell these stories about us. Our communication faux pas and verbal boo-boos make us the friendly butt of funny stories: “I told Gael we were worried about our son’s shyness, and she said thank heavens no one in her family has sinus trouble.” Har-de-har-har. (Right: A pea between two pods—Doug, Gael and their son, Joel)

But hey, sometimes I laugh while the Hearing Husband doesn’t. He and I were living in a condo, waiting to move into our first house. He went to the lobby for some long-forgotten reason, and I closed the door after him and went back to watching a movie, which was loud. At some point, I might have vaguely wondered why he wasn’t back, but I was engrossed in the movie. At a momentary break in the noise, the phone rang beside me.

“Hello?”
“IT’S ME!”
“Oh hi, honey. Where are you?”
“In the LOBBY using the entrance phone!”
“But what…OMG…did I lock you out?”
“YES…YOU…DID! I’ve been back and forth between the apartment, pounding on the door, and back down here, and calling up for a whole bloody half hour!”

C’mon, don’t you agree this was funny? I mean, it’s not like I locked him outside in a snowstorm in his underpants! The Hearing Husband is also not amused with the consequences when I don’t hear the water running. Our two-year-old somehow flipped on a sink tap without me seeing or hearing it, and the resulting flood knocked out our phone line and electric garage door opener for 24 hours. And we’re just starting to laugh about the recent flood in our camper when I didn’t quite turn the tap all the way off before going to bed. Mopping up at 4:30 in the morning definitely ain’t funny and it didn’t help that the cat had refused to wade to his litterbox and “went” on the sofa.

Parenting with hearing loss can be challenging. I was engaged in an up-the-stairs shouting match with my teenage son; would he please get a move on and pack his darn hockey bag! I felt a tap on the shoulder; he was behind me, hysterical at watching me yell and gesture up the stairs to an empty bedroom, while he’d been answering me from the basement—where he was packing his darn hockey bag. I hate getting caught out like that.

WEB Podium GaelAbove: Gael gave convention-goers some humorous communication
tips at the Opening Session of HLAA Convention 2016 in June.

After a lifetime of hearing loss, this stuff still happens. Even with a commitment to good communication, hearing aids, and soon, a cochlear implant, I still have occasional bad hearing days when I seem to ask for repeats with every breath I take. On these days, I could swear that somebody had just passed a law that all citizens must speak as unclearly as possible with Gael Hannan for 24 hours. On these days, I’m a self-centered, walking pity party. But the next day, I can usually manage a whimpering smile at my day of bad hearing, and a couple of days later, maybe a weak ha-ha. Eventually, the embarrassment and frustration fade to black, leaving the funny bits intact. (Okay, Digby the dog did look hysterical with hundreds of dollars’ worth of hearing aid hanging from his hairy face.)

In most cases, our hearing loss is permanent; we get to keep it—forever and ever, amen—and if we don’t find a way to laugh, all we’ve got left is frustration and tears.
The late comedian Bob Hope once said, “I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

WEB Canadian Group

Above: Gael with her fellow Canadian HLAA members before the banquet

It is absolutely possible to hone the hearing loss sense of humor, even if you think you don’t have one. The first step is understanding that you’re not the only one going through this; you share it with millions of people around the world. The next step is to connect with some of these people, either in person or on social media. Through HLAA and other consumer groups, you can share your heartbreaking and hilarious stories that turn out to be universal—only the names, dates and locations are different.

Hearing aid feedback when someone leans in close for a kiss? We’ve been there, done that. Spent a sleepless night in a hotel, staring at the alarm clock and clutching the Shake-Awake for fear of missing your flight? Yup, us too.

Had to figure out if your man really just said—at 5 a.m. when you weren’t quite awake—“Let’s get married” when you didn’t have your hearing aids in? Okay, maybe that only
happened to me (but lucky for him, I’m an ace speechreader).

Allan Klein, author of The Healing Power of Humor, wrote, “You may not be able to change a situation, but with humor you can change your attitude about it.” When hearing loss causes its inevitable daily communication breakdowns—some tiny, some big—we do what we can to get through them.

No, hearing loss isn’t funny—until you find the power to tell the joke on yourself. If you can’t, allow me to quote the famous t-shirt: “If you can’t laugh at yourself, I’ll be
happy to do it for you.”

We can laugh at our hearing loss. Just give us some time.

_____________________________________________________

Gael Hannan’s The Way I Hear It

WEB Gael Book CoverIn The Way I Hear It, Gael Hannan explodes one myth after another in a witty and insightful journey into life with hearing loss—at every age. Part memoir, part survival guide, The Way I Hear It is an insider account of the frustrations of communicating with hearing loss: pillow talk and other relationships, raising a child, in the classroom and on the job, hearing technology and the everyday things we like to do. Gael offers advice on how to bridge the gap between consumer and professional in order to get the best possible hearing health care, as well as tips for effective communication, poetic reflections and humorous, poignant stories from the people she has met in her advocacy work throughout North America. This is a book for people with hearing loss—but also for their families, friends and the professionals who serve them.

The Way I Hear It is available for ordering from FriesenPress and other online retailers in hard or soft cover, or as an e-book. E-book also available from iTunes, Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Google Play.

Check out her website at www.gaelhannan.com.

HLAA Member Gael Hannan is a writer, actor and public speaker who grew up with a progressive hearing loss that is now severe-to-profound. She is a past director on the national board of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and created The Hearing Foundation of Canada’s award-winning Sound Sense hearing awareness program for Canadian elementary students. As a passionate advocate for people with hearing loss, she writes a weekly column for HearingHealthMatters.org and delivers insightful, entertaining workshops across the continent for people with hearing loss, hearing health professionals, and the general public.





Seen & Heard: Candace Meinders

6 01 2015

Candace Meinders was our Seen & Heard profile for the November/December 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I photographed Candace at HLAA Convention 2011 in Washington, D.C.

S&H Candace Meinders

CANDACE MEINDERS  St. Paul, Minnesota / Born June 5 in Granite Falls, Minnesota

MY HEARING LOSS… I had high fevers when I was 6, but my parents didn’t take me to see a doctor until I was 13 years old when it was diagnosed.

HOW I LEARNED ABOUT HLAA… In 1994, my sister, Linda, encouraged me to become a member and get the magazine.

THE BEST GIFT I EVER RECEIVED WAS… a cochlear implant…now I can really hear!

HLAA CHAPTER MEMBER… Twin Cities Chapter in Golden Valley, Minnesota

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… a librarian. I remember asking my school librarian about her job as a senior in high school.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… mailroom clerk, janitor, library clerk, accounting clerk, data entry operator

FAVORITE BOOKS… anything written by Joyce Meyer

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… One Nation by Dr. Ben Carson.

I AM… honest, quiet and strong willed.

MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to be happily married.

MY SHORT-TERM GOAL IS… to vacation in Germany or Hawaii.

SOMETHING I HAVE IN MY HOME THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T… International Poet of Merit Award presented to me by the International Society of Poets

MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… people smoking around me.

THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… my gray Tabby cat Sebastian, my Bible and my iPhone

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… that I can do anything I set my mind to.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to not forget to go to church.

I HAVE A LITTLE-KNOWN TALENT FOR… research. I’ve advanced so far in my genealogy research that I now need to visit Germany to research Ostfriesen culture.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… ice cream.

THE KINDEST THING ANYONE EVER DID FOR ME… When I was 24, my penpal from Florida sent me a big bouquet of flowers for Christmas. I was so touched because I had never received a bouquet of flowers.

GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… cochlear implants

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… my short-term mission trip to Haiti in 1991

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as a Christ follower.

I love the Seen & Heard profiles in Hearing Loss Magazine. Attending HLAA Convention allows me to explore different cities.

 





Music to My Ears: Nancy Williams

27 08 2014

In the September/October 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine (published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America—HLAA), Barbara Chertok interviews pianist/author/publisher Nancy Williams. I photographed Nancy at HLAA’s Convention 2014 in June in Austin, TX.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

NancyWilliamsCoverMusic to My Ears by Barbara Chertok



HLAA Member Barbara Chertok interviewed Nancy Williams, an HLAA member who despite a hearing loss, is an accomplished pianist and much more. Discover what inspired Nancy to reclaim her passions.

What caused your hearing loss and when did it begin?
Although I wasn’t diagnosed by an audiologist until age six, my parents suspect that I was essentially born with a hearing loss. My loss is genetic, as a result of a mutation in the Connexin 26 gene. For much of my childhood, my hearing loss was confined to the high frequencies, and my hearing in the low-to-mid frequencies was normal. In seventh grade, I was fitted with my first hearing aid, a behind-the-ear model, bulky by today’s standards.

In an article you wrote, you revealed you not only denied your hearing loss to others but even to yourself. Now, you tell people about your hearing loss. What brought on the change?
I have to credit reclaiming the piano for helping me to be open about my hearing loss. Returning to the piano shortly after my 40th birthday spurred my desire to write about the intimate relationship between music and hearing, sound and silence. I wrote an article for my online magazine, Grand Piano Passion, about how wearing hearing aids figured into my piano recital.

After reading that piece, a friend asked me to attend, as a member of the press, a reception by the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), a New York-based nonprofit funding research for a cure for hearing loss. At the reception, I was elated by the prospect of a cure. For the first time in my life, I was in the company of a large group of people with hearing loss.

Shortly thereafter, I joined the HLAA Board. Becoming an active member of the hearing loss community solidified my commitment to write openly about my hearing loss, yet the catalyst was my love for playing the piano.

If people question how you can perform on the piano or interpret what the composer has written when you have a significant hearing loss, how do you respond?
I am fortunate in that no one has directly questioned my ability to play, although occasionally I have worried that people might be voicing those objections to themselves. I think the best way for me to respond to the potential objections is to simply play, demonstrating to people my love of the piano.

The Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss, founded by Wendy Cheng, a violist with cochlear implants in both ears, has a similar strategy. Their recent CD, Hear This!, is an inspiring example of musicians with hearing loss putting forth their music.

You claim to have a ‘listening profit’ when it comes to your piano playing. Would you explain that for us?
I coined the term ‘listening profit’ as a counterpoint to the much more familiar term ‘hearing loss.’ The act of listening is quite different from the act of hearing. Lindsey Dryden, a gifted filmmaker who is deaf in one ear and created the movie Lost and Sound, remarked in a Grand Piano Passion interview that she often wondered whether she was good on the piano as a child precisely because she was partially deaf. I believe that people with hearing loss listen more keenly and more consciously than musicians without hearing loss. I have found that striving to overcome the disability of not hearing is part of what aids my musicality.

Do you have tinnitus [ringing in the ears] and does it interfere with your piano playing?
My tinnitus is very mild. I am not sure whether that is because I have worn hearing aids for most of my life and using amplification can help mitigate the symptoms of tinnitus (the Hearing Heath Foundation, where I serve on the board, has a great treatment of this topic), or whether I have just been lucky. Occasionally I hear a rapping sound in my left ear, but my mild tinnitus does not interfere with my playing.

You have written about the stigma against hearing loss being real. What do you feel it will take to eradicate this stigma?
I think the most important ingredient in eradicating the stigma against hearing loss is for people who are functional in society but nonetheless suffer from hearing loss to be more candid about their condition. That is easier said than done, because our society stereotypes people with hearing loss as slow, out of touch, thickheaded, and unlikely to accomplish much.

I know people who work in worlds ranging from music to finance who are unwilling to be candid about their hearing loss for this exact reason. So it’s up to each person to decide how much candor they can risk. Every time someone with hearing loss unveils their condition and asks for what they need, we as a community take another step toward loosening the stigma. I believe we will be greatly helped by our current generation of children, who sport cochlear implant bling and other hearing aid fashions.

Do you feel a special kinship with Beethoven because of your mutual hearing loss? Do you hear the music within as he did?
I hesitate to answer this question in which Beethoven and I appear in the same sentence. However, he is one of my favorite composers, and the second movement of his Fifth Piano Concerto is about as close to heaven as I am able to get. I have always felt a tremendous empathy for the anguish he must have experienced as he lost both his hearing and the society of those close to him.

It fascinates me that we can in a sense hear music in our brain, and that is in essence how Beethoven managed to compose while he was deaf. I am able to hear within my mind the piano music that I study closely. In the years since my hearing loss was first diagnosed, my audiogram has been slowly worsening, such that my hearing loss is now moderate in both ears, sloping to severe in the high frequencies. I’ve tried to consciously develop the skill of hearing within, with the thought that if someday I am unable to hear at all, I still will be able to hear my music.

You founded Grand Piano Passion, an online magazine. What is its mission and purpose?
Grand Piano Passion celebrates all who make music despite a hearing loss, no matter their instrument, level, or age. We profile both amateur and professional musicians who have a hearing loss, and we also cover the best books and articles in this field. One of my favorite series is Hearing Health Affirmations, articles that showcase the positive affirmations of musicians with hearing loss. Also not to be missed is a series called Practice Listening by Jay Alan Zimmerman, a deaf composer who has been called ‘Broadway’s Beethoven.’

Do you use any assistive listening devices when you listen to music?
I purchased the Phonak ComPilot, which I use while using my iPhone—the ComPilot pipes sound directly from my iPhone into my hearing aid—as well as for listening to classical piano music on my computer. Listening to music is a big part of my job as the founding editor of Grand Piano Passion, so the ComPilot has been very useful for me when I review albums for my online magazine.

You refer to yourself as an ‘amateur’ pianist, yet you have performed at Carnegie Hall. Why is that?
In 2012, I took a master class on performance and our final recital was held at Carnegie Hall. Short of my wedding day and the birth of my two children, this was the best day of my life. I got a wonderful taste of the life of a concert pianist.

Although I am not a concert pianist in the strict sense of the term, performing [on] the piano is increasingly occupying a larger part of my professional life. I speak on finding your passion, and often my speaking engagements include performing a select repertoire on the piano. By sharing my music, I am able to demonstrate both via sound and emotion just how powerful a passion can be. I presented my workshop “Finding Your Calling… Despite a Hearing Loss” at the HLAA Convention 2014 in Austin this summer.

Do you ever choose to learn a piece of music because it falls within the range of the hearing you have in the lower frequencies and not in the higher frequencies where your hearing loss is more significant?
The frequency range of a piece of classical piano music is most definitely a consideration for me. For example, the wonderful fioritura, or series of grace notes, which concludes Chopin’s Nocturne in E-Flat Major begins on the second highest C on the piano keyboard, a region where even with my hearing aids I hear mostly the little plunk of the key hitting the key bed. I play these notes mostly by touch. When I studied Debussy’s Clair de Lune, a shimmering meditation on nighttime that is beloved by many pianists, I chose not to perfect the music, one reason being the concentration of notes in the upper end of the keyboard.

You returned to the piano after a 25-year hiatus. How much of your former repertoire were you able to retain?
When I first returned to the piano, the only note I could remember was middle C, that note on its own line, between the two staffs. I had to count all other notes from middle C. I had forgotten the notes, along with all the repertoire I had studied and performed as a teenager, as a defensive mechanism of sorts against reclaiming the piano. I think many adults carry a passion deep within, and excavating it can take a lot of commitment. I’m happy to say that now I have relearned Debussy’s Reverie, a piece I first performed in recital when I was 13, and now is one of my favorite pieces in my repertoire.

When you play the piano, whether for your teacher or in a concert, does it worry you that you might miss hearing a wrong note because of your hearing loss?
This is an interesting question because it gets at the distinction between hearing and listening. As a pianist, even if I physically hear myself play a wrong note, unless I am listening attentively to the music, the wrong note could escape my notice. So I think the bigger challenge is to truly listen to the music, both its melody and accompanying harmony.

What would you tell a budding pianist with hearing loss embarking on a career in music?
There are inspiring examples of pianists with hearing loss, such as Kori Linae Carothers, Jennifer Castellano, and Ricker Choi (whom we have featured in Grand Piano Passion).

For people with hearing loss who have a passion for the piano, or any instrument for that matter, I wholeheartedly encourage them to pursue their callings. Passions help all of us to develop the whole person. Many adults find that when they activate long dormant callings, they realign other parts of their life, strengthening their professions, forming new friendships, and even growing closer to their families and the people they love most deeply.

Barbara Liss Chertok lost her hearing suddenly in 1957 at age 21 from what was diagnosed 35 years later as Cogan’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. She hears with bilateral cochlear implants. She joined SHHH/HLAA in 1979 and is an active member of the HLAA Sarasota Chapter. A former lipreading/speechreading teacher, she is a freelance writer/interviewer for Hearing Loss Magazine. She serves on the National Advisory Board of the American Hearing Research Foundation. Barbara can be reached at barbchert@gmail.com.

Nancy Williams on the Web
www.grandpianopassion.com
http://www.Facebook.com/NancyWilliamsPiano
http://www.Twitter.com/NWilliamsPiano
www.youtube.com/nancywilliamspiano

Relevant Links
Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss: aamhl.org

Hearing Health Foundation: hearinghealthfoundation.org

Interview with Amateur Pianist Ricker Choi
http://bit.ly/GrandPianoPassion-Choi

Hearing Aids at My Piano Recital by Nancy Williams
http://bit.ly/PianoRecital-Williams

A Different Way of Listening—Lindsey Dryden on Hearing Loss, Her Music and Her Documentary
http://bit.ly/LindseyDryden-HearingLoss

 





The Pawlowski family

13 05 2014

I photographed the Pawlowski family for the cover of the May/June 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of American (HLAA). From left, Alex, Katherine, Megan (mom), Nicholas, Sebastian (dad), and Elizabeth. Eight-year-old Katherine is HLAA’s first Walk4Hearing Ambassador.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MayJune2014cover

 





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.





Seen & Heard: Teri Wathen

21 05 2013

Teri Wathen is our Seen & Heard profile in the May/June 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. I met and photographed Teri at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

TeriWathen S&H

TERI WATHEN
Richmond, TX / Born April 2 (not quite a fool) in Houston, TX

MY HEARING LOSS… I was born with a mild hearing loss and got my first hearing aid at age 12. My hearing loss progressively grew worse as I aged (I aged?). I am now a bilateral cochlear implant user and love them.

SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS…Get hearing aids as quickly as possible. They are not a cure-all, but they sure do help. Find other people with hearing loss and ask a lot of questions. Your local HLAA Chapter is a good place to start. Educate yourself. Do not bluff.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… While walking down the street with a friend, looking at her in order to read her lips, I ran into a light pole. This really happened!

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… an airline stewardess. I don’t think they call them that anymore, though.

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY WAS… my first car, a 1967 red and white Ford Mustang convertible. My sons wish I still had that car. “It’s worth at least $40 – $50,000 now, mom!”

HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… I was a business teacher and taught typing, shorthand, business law and accounting. When computers first came out, I had to teach programming. I had never taken that course, had never programmed anything, and had no idea how to teach it. Some of my students knew more than I did. It was agonizing and embarrassing!

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… I never thought I’d say this, but I love the sound of trains. We just moved into a new subdivision that has a train close by. We hear the train horns all times of the day and night (except when my processors are off). Now when I hear trains, it reminds me of “home.”

IN MY SPARE TIME, I… love to play Sudoku, the Jumble, crossword puzzles, and Spider Solitaire on the computer.

I MISS… my friend, Karen, who passed away way too young.

WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE? My husband, Ray. He is kind, talented, humorous, loves to play with words (puns), a poet, and a great husband, father, and grandfather. We just celebrated our 40th anniversary by renewing our wedding vows.

MY KIDS HAVE TAUGHT ME… Both of my sons have hearing loss. My younger son has two sons and they also have hearing loss. All of them have inspired me to advocate for others with hearing loss.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… have a black belt in Karate.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… When I was a teenager, I gift wrapped in my mother’s dress shop. In college, I worked as a secretary for my aunt and uncle’s advertising agency. I was a teacher for 32 years. I have been a hearing loss resource specialist for the past 10 years. (That’s only four jobs in the last 50 years!)

I AM… passionate, tall, laid back, forgetful, and very sensitive. (I cry at the drop of a hat.)

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? My iPhone. I love that I can text, e-mail, talk, and play games all in the palm of my hand.

MY GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS… getting my master’s degree, getting my black belt, having two wonderful sons, and being married to Ray
for 40 years!

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as someone who had a passion to help people with hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Magazine is great! I love reading about new technology and inventions that can help those of us with hearing loss. I love reading about others and what they have accomplished.





Meet Rosemarie Kasper

21 05 2013

I had the pleasure of photographing Rosemarie Kasper at HLAA Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island. Read her article below from the May/June 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine to see why I find her to be such an inspiration!

Rosemarie Kasper

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Hearing Loss: My “Secondary” Disability by Rosemarie Kasper

For half my life, navigating the barrier filled world in a wheelchair was a major struggle. My loving parents always wanted the best for me but worried endlessly about my safety.

The major characteristic of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is fragile bones, bones that can sometimes break even without moving, especially during infancy and youth. Related symptoms include respiratory problems, scoliosis,  short stature, weak muscles, and brittle teeth. Not long ago it was determined that more than 50 percent of individuals with OI experience hearing loss.

Due to inaccessible schools and the absence of special transportation, a public school teacher came to my home for one hour each school day—after classes were finished. Although I was frustrated at the separation from school and classmates, I looked forward to attending a local college and preparing for a career.

This was not to be. As an interviewer at a local college explained, “We have too many stairs” to accept students in wheelchairs. It was not until 1968, 13 years after high school, when my college dream became a reality. I was so overjoyed to attend new and welcoming Bergen Community College that instead of trying to hasten my graduation, I wanted to delay it!

After completing my associate’s degree at Bergen Community College, I was accepted at the four-year, stairfilled Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, then stayed on for my master’s degree in counseling. All courses were taken at night and I continued to work full time during the day. As my college credits accumulated, my position with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation changed from clerical to counseling.

Through the years the problem of inaccessible facilities gradually lessened as the equal rights of people with disabilities were enhanced through legislation. My peers and I, with supporting human service agencies, joined together in advocating for our cause. As a result in my 20s I enjoyed an active life including a secretarial job, membership in clubs, and community activities. The future looked bright.

Hearing Loss Enters the Picture
In my early teens, my parents became concerned about the volume I preferred on radio and TV but attributed this to a fondness for loud sounds. Tests ultimately proved otherwise, and at 18, I received my first hearing aid. It was upgraded periodically in accord with my needs and advances in technology. I also learned the value of binaural aids and regretted not trying them sooner.

Various assistive listening devices (ALD) joined the group of communication tools as needed. Presently, my captioned phone and alerting system are especially valued. But captioning for TV? With the volume turned on high, I felt that was not needed.

Who Dunnit?
One memorable evening I watched a mystery show in my room while my parents watched a different program on another TV. When the mystery ended, I stared blankly at the screen—I had no idea what had happened! And there was no one I could ask. The next day, I ordered a caption decoder box.

On the Fourth of July in 1985 the unthinkable happened: I lost total hearing in my right ear. This was a spontaneous medical occurrence and drastically reduced my communication ability. With the encouragement of my friend and companion, Jo Ann, I enrolled in a lip reading course, and we then both took lessons in sign language. Although nothing helped significantly, basic knowledge of sign language has been useful in certain circumstances. Children are often fascinated by sign language and learn it quickly. An intro course for the early grades might prove valuable.

After expending time and energy trying to convince people that a small person in a wheelchair can function independently, my difficulty in communication has become very frustrating. Servers in restaurants, salespeople, clerks at ticket counters, persons attending meetings—all frequently present communication challenges that hinder independence.

Certain situations are especially frustrating. In a vehicle it is virtually impossible to lip read, and my hearing—even when aided—is useless without this assist. It is also nearly impossible to talk with anyone who is pushing my wheelchair. In small groups every effort will be made to seat me where no one will stumble over my wheels, but it is rarely possible to face everyone.

Roller Coaster Ride with Captions
I have learned to expect far more surprises with a hearing loss than with a wheelchair. If a building is wheelchair-friendly there rarely are difficulties. With a severe-to-profound hearing loss, the absence or malfunction of an assistive listening system can be a major problem. There also seems to be an almost universal belief that people with hearing loss can benefit from sign language interpreters. This depends on various factors, and many late-deafened persons such as myself lack all but minimal skills in sign. I am everlastingly grateful for the availability of captions and this is especially true at HLAA Conventions!

However, movie captioning was not initially helpful to me. With Rear Window captions, the device is placed in a cup holder next to the patron’s seat, but a wheelchair has no holder. My alternative was to hold the device in my hand throughout the movie, which was cumbersome and tiring. However, my own advocacy and especially that of my friend, Arlene Romoff, a crusader in theater access for people with hearing loss, helped to alleviate this problem and a special holder was developed for wheelchairs.

I was thrilled with the advent of captioned live theater but this joy was short lived as the captions often are not readable from wheelchair locations. To assure safety, and as mandated by the fire department, wheelchairs are placed in a specific area close to an exit. One evening when it was impossible to read the captions, theater personnel led our small group to three different areas, each with a progressively worse view. We missed a large part of the first act before reaching a place where the captions were marginally readable. I quickly learned to contact the theater before ordering tickets to a captioned show.

He Did a Great Job
Early in my adjustment to hearing loss I was fortunate to learn about the local New Jersey HLAA Chapter, then known as SHHH. Although I now have a large number of role models, Jack Mulligan, the long-time president, was my first and he similarly inspired many others. He chaired 11 meetings each year, many with interesting speakers. He also sent out a newsletter and added a personal note on many. A retired gentleman, he spent his “spare time” volunteering at our local hospital, and appeared in a video featuring their services for persons with hearing loss.

Jack unfailingly would tell all who helped: “You did a good job!” In 1994, he was honored with the well-deserved Spirit of SHHH Award. Our committee has tried to follow in his footsteps, but he is a tough act to follow.

Going Forward
Even before my hearing loss became so severe, I sensed how much greater its impact would be on my life than the wheelchair now was. Friends easily learned to push my wheelchair and realized the type of help I needed in certain situations. They willingly folded and lifted the wheelchair into their cars and some even carried me up and down steps.

With my hearing loss, it was more problematic. People tended to overlook this invisible condition and did not know how to deal with it. Everyone’s time and patience in repeating a conversation are limited. Today, a dictation app is available for iPads and iPhones but this is appropriate only in certain circumstances. As they say, it’s a different ball game.

A year ago a friend who is a CART reporter expressed her willingness to caption Mass at my church. It seemed a gift from heaven, but I was unsure that it could be set up conveniently. I was wrong, and my pastor was willing and even eager to offer this service. Since then, two Masses each month are captioned and while not many worshippers with hearing loss appear to be availing themselves of this service, those of us who do find it helpful.

On a number of occasions I have been invited to give presentations to classes of medical students. Often schools and universities will seek out speakers, preferring persons who are experiencing the problem. Afterwards, students sometimes commented: “The textbooks never talked about that!”

Public hearings afford the opportunity to testify on various issues including transportation needs, communication issues, and more. It is a valuable opportunity both to provide input and to promote awareness. Overall, coping with hearing loss in addition to using a wheelchair has impressed on me that the most formidable problems might not be visible. Staying at home or pretending to understand when we don’t will not help us or future generations, and joining with others in a cause—such as HLAA demonstrates again and again—can be both rewarding and the key to success.

Rosemarie Kasper graduated with a master’s degree in counseling from Fairleigh Dickinson University and worked for almost 35 years with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Hackensack. At retirement she was a senior rehabilitation counselor. Rosemarie also worked for four semesters as an adjunct instructor at Bergen Community College in the Department of Continuing Education. In addition, she served as the editor of Breakthrough, the newsletter of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (OIF) for 10 years. Rosemarie has been actively involved in OIF for many years, served on the national Board, and co-founded the local New Jersey Area OI Support Group 20 years ago. She remains its co-chair. In addition, she currently is president of the HLAA Bergen County New Jersey Chapter. Her top interests are travel and writing. With close friend Jo Ann, she has traveled to 39 states as well as Canada, the British Isles, and Bermuda. She has published close to 100 articles in magazines and newspapers, most on her travels as well as how-to pieces. Rosemarie can be reached at rdkoif@verizon.net.

______________________

What is Osteogenesis Imperfecta?
Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a genetic disorder, affects a person from birth throughout his or her life. It is caused by an error—a mutation—on a gene that affects the body’s production of collagen found in bones and other tissues. OI is variable having eight different types ranging from lethal to mild. The number of Americans affected by OI is estimated to be 25,000-50,000. For more information about OI, go to www.oif.org, the website for the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.





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.





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.





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2012 Recap

28 11 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 





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





My World Alive by Viola LaBounty

2 08 2012

A few months ago, my friend Mary Ellen Ryall introduced me to Viola LaBounty, a friend in her writer’s group in Wisconsin. At Mary Ellen’s urging, Viola submitted this poem for publication in the Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. It appeared in the July/August 2012 issue. Special thanks to Anna Martineau Merritt, Misty Pines Photography, for the perfect photo of Viola and her husband Bob (beautiful job, Anna!)

My World Alive [Digital Technology]

by Viola LaBounty

Awakened at dawn in silence,
I remember yesterday’s song;
we walked through the forest together
in amazement at how alive all had become.
I had struggled to know what was absent
as we’d walked down these pathways before.
Not known I’d been there in silence
what was muted
until now?

I have missed sounds of sand under footsteps;
each bird-song, each flutter of mourning dove
as we startle her there in oaken leaves;
She flies off to her mate in the distance.
All came alive in an instant…
This is where inspiration had gone.
I’d lived in silence for all this time;
I didn’t realize
until now.

Silence had overtaken my world in part.
where once there was joy in each word came my way;
only quiet as dew rolled to ground…
Now I will savor sound as a gift;
breathe as it whispers its secrets.
Precious words; priceless thoughts
have been given…how many have I missed
until now?

So subtle is aging in many ways,
may steal away some of time;
my world, live with wonder, as a child again;
pure senses, each movement records.
Sound of breezes;
Your voice in soft tones;
prompts of God; He surprises afresh…
I have learned in my journey
each day truly new.
My world is alive once again.

Viola LaBounty is an active member of St. Croix Writer’s Group in Solon Springs, Wisconsin. She is also a member of Wisconsin Writer’s Association and Lake Superior Writers. Viola is a retired teacher’s assistant of early childhood autistic children. She and her husband Bob have two adult children, Michael and Shauna, and one teenage granddaughter Kaylee. Viola enjoys playing gospel music and singing with her auto harp. Her hearing loss has been gradual over the years. She had been exposed to loud environments through her teens and twenties and did not protect her hearing through these times, not realizing how important it would be to do so.

Photo © Anna Martineau Merritt, Misty Pines Photography

 





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.





Attention HLAA Members! Want to be Seen & Heard?

4 06 2012

Last year I developed a column called “Seen & Heard” for the Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). This year we’re continuing the efforts to feature more HLAA members in this fun, lively and revealing question-and-answer column. If you’re registered for HLAA Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island, and want to participate, please follow the steps listed below:

1) E-mail me at dyerdesign@aol.com and I will send you the questionnaire in Word format.

2) You must answer directly in the Word document, then add your name to the filename and return it to me no later than June 15 to be considered. We ask that you take your time—make us laugh, make us cry—reveal yourself, show us what makes you special. And please, don’t make all of your answers just one word—we want to get to know you! The questions are fun and not too personal, so don’t be scared!

3) Once you submit your answers to dyerdesign@aol.com, I will e-mail you with the date, time and place for your photo session during Convention 2012 in Providence, R.I.

4) Pretend it’s elementary school picture day—wear something colorful that you think will photograph well—we frown upon dull tones, putty colors and “griege.” We love blue, red, purple, orange, yellow, green and even patterns (floral, plaids, etc.) for our Seen & Heard profile photos! And, if you insist, even black and white would work if you’re colorphobic—but we strongly prefer more color for our photos.

5) Stay tuned for possible future publication in the Hearing Loss Magazine or on HLAA’s website at www.hearingloss.org!

I must have your submission by June 15 to be considered for publication in a future issue of the magazine. Answer as many questions as you can (please do not make them all one-word answers, though!), but keep in mind that we will select our favorite answers from each profile to print. This column is aimed to get to know you, your hearing loss, and fun facts about you. We aim to feature 1-2 members per issue, but due to space constraints and the number of participants we had last year (48!), we will begin publishing many of them on the HLAA website—so check the website often for new profiles.

If you have just joined HLAA and haven’t seen our new column, click here to view some sample questions from a previous profile.





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.





Seen & Heard: Jeff Bonnell

14 05 2012

Jeff Bonnell, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made his 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 and Sam Spritzer,

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.

My favorite response from Jeff? “I simply cannot live without… air.”

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

JEFF BONNELL  Born 6.15.1948 in Worthington, OH / Resides in Atlanta, GA

MY HEARING LOSS… No one knew I was totally deaf in my right ear until my first grade teacher noticed I had to turn my head to hear when we were playing “Pass the Secret” game. She called my folks; I was tested right away. My left ear compensated for my hearing loss until a minor stroke 12 years ago left me with only 5 percent hearing in my “good” ear. My hearing aid restores my sanity!

SAGE ADVICE… Know you are not alone; more than 36 million Americans have a hearing loss, too. Hearing loss can certainly be frustrating, but advocate for yourself and your hearing loss. Help educate those who can hear how to best communicate with you (e.g., look directly at me, don’t cover your mouth when talking, etc.)

FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I tried to get my 96-year-old mother to use closed captioning on her TV. She finally relented to using it when Victor, her soap opera star, was using a voiceover while he was ‘thinking’ instead of moving his lips. After just a short while, Mom exclaimed, “Do you know sometimes the words appear on the screen before the person actually says them?!” Go, Mom!

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

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… I loved teaching neighborhood kids in our basement classroom, complete with a large blackboard!

FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… A bright orange Plymouth Barracuda!

CRITTERS? I had two cats who lived to be 14 and 21. We had a coming-of-age party when Julya turned 21!

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… Console the family of a suicide victim (I work part time in a funeral home.)

I LOVE THE SOUNDS OF… birds chirping, clocks ticking, waves pounding the surf and chimes.

HOBBIES? Gardening, traveling, reading, hanging out

MULTILINGUAL? Je parle un peu de Français und Ich spreche Deutsch.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… had open-heart surgery.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT IS… singing in the shower.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… anything chocolate.

I COLLECT… airline memorabilia.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… cleaned school houses, taught 7th and 8th grade English, and English as a Second Language, reservations sales agent and supervisor for Delta Air Lines, and funeral assistant in a funeral home

I AM… liberal, caring and outgoing.

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… Computers

I HAVE UNCANNY ABILITY TO… make people smile.

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… air.

THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… My liberty, my family and my free time

LONG-TERM GOAL… peer mentor for hard of hearing folks

SHORT-TERM GOAL… Consoling families after they experience death in the family

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED AS… loving, kind and thoughtful.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… Passing Algebra

I enjoy the variety of articles in Hearing Loss Magazine and wish it came out monthly! Encourage articles from frontline folks like us.





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.





Seen & Heard: Sam Spritzer

14 01 2012

Sam Spritzer, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made his 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, Judy Martin and Anne Taylor.

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.

My favorite answer? Sam finished the statement “How I want to be remembered…” with “a statue in front of Williamsville Town Hall!”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MY HEARING LOSS… I was born deaf but my parents didn’t know it until I was three years old. I was implanted in 2007 and 2008.

SAGE ADVICE… Quitting is not an option!

FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I was watching tv in the family room and heard what sound like a gas-powered generator. It was so loud that it drowned out the sound of the tv. Finally, I had enough and asked my wife if she knew where the sound was coming from so I could go over and complain or something. Her response…the sound was crickets in the trees in the backyard.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE I WANTED TO BE A… veterinarian.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… My first pet—a beagle named Mickey

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… run a 5K race.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… Dave Brubeck and Led Zeppelin.

IN MY SPARE TIME I… run foot races and will begin my quest to riding bike races, and then combine the two.

HAPPINESS IS… finding God and my family

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… bodyguard, coffee boy, porter, photographer, hugger

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… Listening Closely.

I AM… funny, out of this world and older than dirt.

MY FRIENDS WOULD SAY I AM… funny, weird, sensitive

MY KIDS HAVE TAUGHT ME… what I was like when I was their age. Now, I couldn’t have been that bad!

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? The cochlear implant! Need I say more?

I HAVE A FEAR OF… heights. The only thing that will get and keep me up there is an airplane.

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… God, my family and my CIs.

MY FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… Bike, camera, running shoes

WHAT IS THE KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS DONE FOR YOU? The love and outpour when I had my heart attack two years ago

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… with a statue in front of Williamsville Town Hall!

I love that Hearing Loss Magazine brings us the broad wealth of information about hearing loss. The stories about people with some form of hearing loss, how they live with it and overcome it is just totally inspirational. I would like to see more of those stories and less of the technical/educational. The latter can easily be found on the Internet.





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.





Tina & Tom Hamblin: Taking the Plunge

14 01 2012

Tina and Tom Hamblin are featured on the cover of the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

HLAA member Tina contacted me in fall 2010 after seeing the wedding photos I shot for Todd and Abbie Hlavacek in September 2010. Todd and Abbie are also members of HLAA and Abbie wrote her cover story for the May/June 2008 issue of the magazine. Learn how I found Abbie here. Read about her Hearing Loss Magazine debut here and see the fun glamour shots I did of her and her cousin Patty after our cover photo session here. See some of the wedding photos I shot of their wedding at the Sayen House and Gardens in Hamilton, New Jersey here, here, and here.

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

My colleague Ed and I photographed Tina and Tom’s wedding on October 8, 2011 in Kurtz Beach, Maryland. They were blessed with a truly beautiful fall day in a lovely setting alongside the Chesapeake Bay. I’ll be posting a full collage of images from that event shortly, so stay tuned!

I asked Tina and Tom if they would write a sort of “his and her” story for the magazine about their respective hearing loss, how they met, and how they support each other. “Taking the plunge,” the title of their article, refers to both the  turning point in their friendship and their recent marriage.

They were introduced to each other by Fran, a CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) reporter whom Tina met while attending Towson University. Fran told Tina about Tom and suggested they meet. They became fast friends and in late 2005, Tom asked Tina to attend the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point Park in Annapolis in January 2006. According to Tina, “I accepted because I wanted to watch Tom plunge in the freezing water. However, he told me that no spectators were allowed—which I later found out wasn’t true! Basically he was telling me that I had to also take the plunge in the freezing water. So, I called his bluff and went with him, took the plunge, and raised some money for the Special Olympics. Tom and I went out on a date that night and we have been together ever since!” Tina is a bilateral cochlear implant wearer and Tom wears hearing aids. He proposed to her two days before her first cochlear implant surgery.

The cover photo is an image I shot at Green Spring Gardens last spring that they used it as their engagement portrait. I think they did a great job on their collaborative writing effort and we’re very pleased to feature them in the magazine.

You can find Tina blog’s at www.yougottabelievehonornot.blogspot.com and Tom’s all-things-gymnastic blog is at tumbletech11.blogspot.com. They can be reached via e-mail at hamblinfamily@ymail.com.

Their cover story is available in pdf format here: Tom&TinaHamblin Feature





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.