Sep 30 2018

Rebranding DeafandHoH.com for our community

Published by under Hearing Loss

As our website continue to expand with over 11,000 members in our Facebook community, we are re-branding our logo to serve both deaf and hard of hearing individuals worldwide.

As I mentioned before, I started the hearing loss website back in 2008 because I always felt like an outsider and not having many friends while growing up with mild to moderate hearing loss.  Back in the school days, it was always a challenge to make new friends and found myself outside of the social circle.

I worked with our talented designer, Autumn Wallace, to create a new logo for our branding.  She used the “I Love You’ sign and that reminds me of all the challenges I faced wanting to be cared about from others.  Even though I am a non-signer, I feel this sign is commonly recognized by hearing, deaf, and hard of hearing individuals all around the world.  It’s a symbol that represent love.  I want everyone to feel loved and cared about in a community unlike how I felt feeling isolated between the two worlds.  The squares represent unity and digital technology as we establish this community online with a wide social media presence.

 

 

The mission of DeafandHoH is to empower the hearing loss community by promoting confident social interaction and open communication.

We will continue to work hard and make this a great place for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

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May 26 2018

The milestone of 10,000 members

Published by under Hearing Loss

I would like to personally share some exciting news.  We have finally reached the milestone of 10,000 members in our online hearing loss community with DeafandHoH.  I’ve had mild to moderate hearing loss all of my life, and have always felt like an outsider and as if I don’t have many friends. Those feelings were my inspiration for starting a hearing loss community.

Thank you to all of our past student interns who have contributed to make our hearing loss website a great place for the deaf and hard of hearing community.  We have had many students from Ohio University, the University of Dayton, and other colleges over the years.  Without your contribution and involvement, we would not have gotten as far as we are today.

Last summer, I unexpectedly lost my job for no reason and faced another road block in my life.  I will continue to advocate for others who are treated unfairly and are isolated in the outside world.  I will continue to share my stories, frustrations, and achievements.  Lastly, I will continue to reach out to the stars and all my dreams will come true no matter what roadblocks I encounter again.

I am confident our community will expand to become bigger than ever.  The more we have, the stronger we are.  Just remember, you’re not alone in this world.

I appreciate each and everyone in the hearing loss community, the friends who are still my friends today, and especially my parents who always been supportive and always there for me.

I love you all and thank you for reading.

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Jul 09 2017

“Total Communication” philosophy

Published by under Hearing Loss

Thank you Kris Raasch Polly and Barb Nagy for your recommendation letter on behalf of my nomination for the 2017 Oticon Focus on People Awards.


 

At age 3 Senthil joined the full-time preschool program for deaf and hard of hearing children
in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The preschool program followed the “Total Communication”
philosophy which was very popular at that time. This philosophy allowed for oral speech,
auditory skill development, speech reading and sign language techniques to coexist within the
same classroom, based on the needs of the child. This class of 10 children included those who
were hard of hearing, profoundly deaf and 3 children with apraxia who were learning sign
language to help them in communicating their ideas. This “Total Communication” philosophy
probably contributed to Senthil’s acceptance of people with different communication styles and
needs.

senthil

Even at a young age, the teacher noted that Senthil displayed unusual compassion, interest in what other children had to say, and a desire to include everyone. Always a polite and well mannered
child, an unkind word from Senthil was never heard in the years she worked with him. He also developed an appreciation for the cultural differences among people. At home his family continued some traditions and customs from India, while at school he learned about American customs and values.

By third grade, Senthil was mainstreamed into a regular education classroom. He would continue to be educated with his hearing peers through his middle school and high school years. A resource room teacher and then an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing would consult with regular education staff to see that modifications such as appropriate seating and the use of an FM system to help him to hear the teacher’s voice and block out competing background noise were in place to help facilitate his success.

Senthil graduated and went to college. He became a graphic designer working with computers. As an adult he went on to develop a website for deaf and hard of hearing people, featuring a weekly chat night available internationally to share experiences and information. Given Senthil’s character, it is no surprise that he continues to find ways to help others and it has been our privilege and pleasure to have taught Senthil and be part of the process of referring him for this award.

Kris Raasch Polly and Barb Nagy, Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, School District of
Waukesha, retired

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Mar 18 2017

#hearmeout

Published by under Hearing Loss

written by Molly Kauffman, social media coordinator

Jen Mikol, a current doctorate of audiology student at Ohio University, is finishing up her 4th year internship at Hackensack University Medical Center/Hackensack Audiology and Hearing Aid Associates. She completed her undergraduate work at SUNY Plattsburgh as a Communication Sciences and Disorders major. I reached out to her and several other students in the program to see what it was like to live a day in the audiologist student life. Below are several stories that Jen and some of her colleagues thought would be meaningful for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

  • I had a patient come in, a 3 year old, very smart little girl. During the testing we ran an automatic test (optoacoustic emissions). I asked her if she could hear the “birdies” and she looked up at me and said no- I instantly had a bad feeling about it. We wound up diagnosing her with a severe to profound hearing loss in one ear. She now wears a soft band BAHA and LOVES IT! She is doing really well in school (top of her class, in her words).
  • We had a kiddo come in with hardly any language at 2.5 years. He was diagnosed with a moderately severe SNHL in both of his ears. He was very interactive but just did not say words. He was fit with hearing aids and began speech and language services and he is now a little chatterbox. He is doing really well in school and knows his audiologist as the woman who helps him hear and plays fun games with him.
  • I had a kid come in who was starting to go through the process of potentially having a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was 4 and very introverted, he did not speak much, he did not connect with people. He had failed hearing screenings but was put off as not being able to engage well. He wound up having a significant (believe it was moderately sever to profound) hearing loss in both ear. We fit him with hearing aids and began getting him proper therapy, primarily speech services. He is not interacting much more with people and saying much more. He is still in intensive therapy however things like this are why our job is so rewarding. We get to help people and work with other wonderful professionals and the families of these kids.
  • Plain and simple, I have a little girl who cries every time she has to take her hearing aids out, for testing, a bath, at night, going in the pool, whatever it may be and it breaks my heart and makes me so happy at the same time that she loves getting sound that much!

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Feb 28 2017

You are invited to participate in this year’s Scavenger Hunt!

Published by under Hearing Loss

Adventure is waiting!  Let the fun begin!  It is time for DeafandHoH’s Scavenger Hunt!  Mark your calendars because our next Scavenger Hunt will begin on March 1st.  Below you will find the guidelines to follow in order to participate in this thrilling hunt.  The participant that finds the correct answers for all eight clues gets entered into a drawing.  This drawing then qualifies you for a special prize: The HA HA Communicator Personal Amplifier, which is a subtle hearing assistive device that can help you hear and communicate better.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Our first clue can be found on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DeafandHoH.
  2. Find the answer on our website: www.DeafandHoH.com.
  3. Email your answer to scavengerhunt@deafandhoh.com.
  4. Watch for our email and FB post about the next clue.  We’ll post two new clues every week!
  5. Look for the next clue on the webpage where you found the last answer.
  6. Keep searching and answering until you find the final clue!

A great prize waits make sure to keep a lookout for those clues!  Happy scavenging!

 

scavenger_hunt

 

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Feb 20 2017

Tuesday night chat with Erin Fausel

Published by under Open Chat Night

Erin Erin Fausel, one of our staff writers, has launched a new opportunity to participate in Open Chat Nights!  Every Tuesday from 7-9pm EST join Erin to discuss hot topics, teen experiences, and problems and promises we experience in the hearing loss community.  This is your chance to get connected and have awesome conversations on a weekly basis!  On February 21st we will be discussing TV consumption and how far closed captioning has, or hasn’t, come. You decide!

Some questions to keep in mind for Tuesday’s chat: How does your hearing loss affect how you consume television?  Are there networks or television services that you prefer over others, why or why not?  What positive changes do you wish to see in closed captioning in the future?  We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday at 7!

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Nov 22 2016

Deafness: Is It Really A Disability?

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

In college, I was taught about two approaches to deafness: the medical approach, and the cultural approach. Essentially, the medical approach regards deafness as something to be fixed or cured; the cultural approach regards deafness as something to be embraced and celebrated. Now, I won’t lie: after years of fighting to be “normal,” the Deaf community was a welcome respite that helped me solidify my identity outside of my hearing loss. But that niggling feeling remained: it wasn’t the whole story, especially when it came to job-hunting.

Deafness is pretty unique in that it’s one of the few disabilities that affords near-complete independence. We can drive, we can move around, we can hold down jobs in any physical and intellectual capacity. The only thing we– most of us– struggle to do is communicate in a hearing world.

Unfortunately, that last one is a pretty big deal, especially in networking and securing employment; or in seeking information and education. It’s much like being a perpetual foreigner– without communication, you miss out on language, social cues, and local culture. And not everyone is willing to accommodate, or they don’t know how.

In part, that’s what gave rise to Deaf culture. At various points throughout recent history, a bunch of deaf people got together, worked out their own communication and social norms, and out of it came a distinct language and culture. Over time, a social network for education and employment also developed– it wasn’t and still isn’t uncommon for Deaf people to find jobs in residential schools, ASL courses, and municipal social work.

Outside of those niches, however, our options become… more complicated. A whole lot of  service and sales professions– for example, reception, hospitality, and nursing– rely heavily on verbal communication. At least, as most people understand it. Mind you, several deaf people have found workarounds for succeeding in these types of jobs (many of whom are cuers!)*; often, their biggest challenge lay in convincing their employers that they could do it, albeit in a different way. Quite a few have just gone ahead and started successful businesses, notably in Austin, Texas.

These people, however, are a bit of a rarity.

A paradox: if deafness isn’t a disability in most senses of the word, then why do so many of us end up on SSDI? Or worse, straddling the poverty line?

Any objective measure comes up with two answers:

  1. Deaf people struggle to access secondary information in an auditory environment. We don’t usually overhear things like hearing people do; direct communication is how we learn and retain information. This has major implications for education.
  2. It’s harder to convince employers to hire and retain deaf employees at a living wage. We take longer to find jobs, and we get promoted at slower rates.

The best reconciliation I’ve heard for that paradox so far came from this Australian deaf blogger,** who defined deafness as a social disability. Once I thought of it that way, all those niggling pieces in my mind finally fell into place. See, one of my biggest hurdles in the Great 2014-2015 Job Search was networking at social events and job fairs. Imagine a patchwork conversation like this:

Me: So what kind of job do you do?
Them: Oh, I work at …. [unintelligible]
Me: Say again?
Them: [unintelligible] administrations at [unintelligible] in Dallas.
Me: Oooh. Administration? That sounds interesting.
Them: Yeah, we do a lot of paperwork and [unintelligible].

Not really a whole lot to work with, so the conversation peters out. And that happens everywhere: church, work, parties, social events. Building relationships is the whole point of networking, and how do you fluidly do that with persistent communication breakdowns?

The social model also explains why deaf people so often flourish in a variety of roles within deaf/disability/diversity-related occupations. Those occupations are designed to facilitate deaf-friendly communication, which in turn enables deaf people to build personal connections with coworkers, supervisors, and educators.

We’re not disabled, for the most part, unless our environment makes it that way.

 


 

*This does not include the relatively few professions where safety unequivocally relies on verbal communication, like armed services, police field work, and firefighting. I do know deaf people who work in these professions, but they tend to be in volunteer or support roles, not in active duty.

**Sadly, I lost the link to the Australian deaf blogger, because I suck. If anybody knows who I’m talking about, please feel free to drop me a line so I can credit him. It’s really an excellent article.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Oct 04 2016

Important Update: Open Chat Night

Published by under Open Chat Night

As we begin the season of fall, I’ll continue to host our Open Chat Night on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. However, due to recent low attendance, I plan to make some changes to ensure our chat is as productive and worthwhile as possible. From now on, the chat will take place only if a minimum of 5 people, in addition to Bill Pennell (a chat night regular) and me, RSVP via email or in our Facebook event to join the chat. Our RSVP deadline will be at 4 p.m. (EST) prior to the scheduled chat. If we don’t get a least 5 members committed to join us, the chat will be cancelled for that particular night.

I think this new tactic will help us to avoid slower chat sessions and to make Open Chat Night more effective and productive. We always hope to have a nice group of people in the chat who help us to explore new topics, keep the conversation going, and develop a safe and friendly community.

As always, we welcome suggestions for chat night topics, as well as any feedback. Let your voice be heard! For all our regulars and newcomers, we hope to see you there and to keep our chat night going strong in the years ahead!

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Sep 21 2016

“If you could restore your hearing, would you?”

Blog topic written by Hannah Mann, A Croaking Dalek With Laryngitis

The first time I thought about this scenario, I hesitated.

As I’ve mentioned in another post, I grew up with the impression that deafness was this great obstacle to be overcome, to be excised out of my daily life as much as possible. To boot, I grew up in a very religious community that was big on faith healing. My mom, especially, prayed regularly for my hearing to be restored, and I went along with it as a kid. So when I started reading news articles about new advances in treating hearing loss…

By all rights, I should’ve responded with a resounding “yes.” But I didn’t. I was afraid that I would be changing myself. This, even though I’d already gotten a cochlear implant and knew that it didn’t take anything away; it just gave me more access. Whether I wanted it or not– mostly not, for most of my formative years– deafness had already shaped my identity. So, when I thought about taking that away… I paused.

But when I dove deeper into it, I realized that regained hearing couldn’t erase my past experiences, which helped shape the perspective and strengths that I have now. I would still think and feel “deaf,” if that makes sense. It wouldn’t make me un-learn ASL or Cued Speech, or stop hanging out with my d/hh friends; why would I have to give any of those up just because I could hear?

On the contrary, when I started speech therapy last year, I started using my cochlear implant a lot more– I mean, really paying attention to sounds around me and picking out what made people tick when it came to music and spoken language. And things started falling into place, and my world broadened just a little bit more. I stayed me, but now I had more access to the hearing world, and more potential to speak for myself without having to go through interpreters or transliterators. And to me, that’s a good thing.

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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Aug 24 2016

School starts this week. Change. – by LeAnn Caseria

Blog topic written by LeAnn Caseria

This morning I helped my youngest pack our old Toyota as he left for his 2nd year at University, new dorm, new roommate and part-time job, new classes and new people to meet. Change.

This fall, another son and daughter in-law are anxiously awaiting the birth of their second child.  My adorable grandson is so excited to soon be a “big brother.” Change.

Speaking of babies, a very dear friend and her husband have wanted a child for a very long time.  They’ve just received the news that they are expecting two! Change.

A friend has recently taken her elderly father into her home to live with her family.  She’s not sure how this will work out, but she wants to try to make it work.  Currently it is very difficult for all involved.  Change.

Some years bring more changes than others, but we all know that life never stays the same.  The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus spoke of what he saw as the needless unconsciousness of the people around him.   Famous for his views on change being the essence of the universe, he is known for such quotes as “No man ever steps in the same river twice” and “The only thing that is constant is change.”

By this time next week, I will be getting up a little earlier and packing a lunch again.  Making sure that I have my gym bag packed for the days that I go straight from work and planning my meals ahead, for those evenings when my brain will seem to be nonfunctional by 6pm.  Experience has taught me that there will be those days.

Change…in the summer it is easier for me, less adaptions to keep things normal for living with hearing loss.  I have more control of where I go and can choose places without a lot of loud background noise.  For me, this means less lip reading needed with the blessed results of less headaches, tinnitus and vertigo.  I belong to a hearing loss support group and read about the daily challenges that each person makes to have a relatively normal life.  Knowing that I am luckier than most, I remind myself of the good change coming up and that even though all the noise is very difficult, I can still work in a job that I love.

At the middle school where I work, the students are energetic, fun and never boring.  Like rocks on the river bank, they are all different, but each is beautiful in their own way. Some come with some pretty sharp edges but when you get a closer look, you can see the beauty there.  Sometimes their beauty is hidden in cracks, buried under a bit of dirt. They’ve hidden their shiny parts, a bit afraid that their peers might not like what they see. Their natural abilities and talents might need to be dug out. Like us, they don’t always see the value in their individual shapes or sizes, or how strong they really are and how important that strength is. With their own personalities, talents and challenges, they will all teach me something this year, and what I learn will be in direct correlation to the attitude that I bring to the relationship.

I’ve learned so much since sudden hearing loss brought a new kind of change to my life. I’ve learned that continuous lip reading causes daily headaches and that it is crucial to “rest my eyes” whenever possible during the day. I now take my breaks and often go sit in my car to calm the ringing in my ears. Time spent in the local gym has taught me that if my muscles are stronger, I have less dizzy spells and am less fatigued. If I’m overtired or catch a cold, my inner ear can throw a bit of vertigo to make my day more interesting. Those days, I’ll need to change things up and move a bit slower. Maybe stay seated more and be careful going around those crowded hallway corners.

Explaining some of my challenges to the students helps them to understand why my interactions may be a bit different and how I’ve made changes and adapted to my physical challenges. No longer do I make excuses because I do not want them to think that their own challenges make them weak, but that they are courageous when they tackle their obstacles and that it’s okay if they do things differently. I explain that I watch a bit more intently so that I can “hear” with my eyes.  For those that are interested, I take off my BAHA (bone anchored hearing appliance) to show it to them and we have some great scientific discussions about sound waves and how they can travel through your bones. When students find out the adaptions that people with hearing loss make, it often opens up discussions on learning strategies and changes they may need to make.

As we learn from each other, I will be helping them discover what change is needed in their life. Maybe organization will be a new focus or daily reading to strengthen their skills. Some changes they may embrace, while others they may not be quite to excited about…..sigh, such is life. But my hope is that as we learn together, that they too will find ways to grow, to change and some days when it is really, really hard to just be able to cope with it. To learn how to hang in there….maybe take a quiet moment, rest their eyes or their tired brain. Breathe in and out, then gather themselves, finding that inner strength that they have.  That we all have.

Rumi, the 13th-century Persian Poet is quoted saying, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” And it was Mahatma Gandhi who said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Yes, the word change still scares me somedays, but I realize that just because I don’t like it….well, it’s not going to go away.

So yes, school starts this week. Change…..what’s changing in your life?  What’s hard?  What scares you, and what can you do about it? What’s something that is working for you?  What advice can you share that might help others on how to handle change?

Join us on Wednesday at this week’s Open Chat Night!

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