Learning Sign Language with a Baby or Toddler

Learning sign language with your deaf or normal hearing baby

We started learning sign language as soon as we found out about Harry’s hearing loss.

Even though Harry has a cochlear implant and can hear our voices, we wanted him to know the basics of sign language for the future. Not only to better communicate with him, but also to be a part of the deaf community. He is still a deaf person after all, and he may very well have deaf friends who only use sign language to communicate.

Not only is sign language useful for children with hearing loss, but its also great for hearing children to learn as well. Even when they are very young, a baby’s motor skills and ability to make hand gestures are far more developed than their ability to speak, which makes it really very easy for them to learn the basics of sign language. You will be so shocked at how fast a little baby can start to copy different hand gestures, eventually realizing they can use their hands to tell you what they need! Imagine if your baby could tell you what they want via signing instead of screaming and wailing!

With help from our Teacher of the Deaf, Harry he had a whole range of signs he was using to communicate with us by the time he was around 9 months old.

Continue reading “Learning Sign Language with a Baby or Toddler”

Switching on my Phonak CROS

Have you seen those YouTube videos of people having their cochlear implants switched on for the first time? Well, that’s just what is was like for me getting my CROS system ‘switched on’.

My audiologist hadn’t given me terribly high hopes for using the Phonak CROS. With my single-sided hearing loss, he’d said it could take anything from three months to a year to get the benefit. But, as soon as the hearing aids were switched on, I immediately looked to the left to follow what the audiologist was saying. He and the Phonak technician couldn’t believe how quickly my brain was able to process the sound. It was instantaneous. None of us could believe it. I was instantly getting a sense of sound coming from both the right and left ear. The sound sounded quite natural too – not like it was coming through microphones and being amplified: it just sounded ‘normal’. Continue reading “Switching on my Phonak CROS”

Showing off my new hearing aids

I had my annual checkup the other day at the hospital, and I was somewhat adamant I wanted to keep my hearing aids even if there was a newer version available.

However, that changed completely once I talked to my audiologist… Continue reading “Showing off my new hearing aids”

The Minefield of Hearing-Related Terminology

“Deaf,” “deaf,” “hard of hearing,” “hearing impaired”…

There are many words that describe someone with hearing loss. Some of them are used to describe how much you can hear, others elicit positive feelings, and other more negative. Other terms are viewed as politically correct, while unfortunately in some places it’s still common to use words like “deaf and dumb.”

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from terms that belittle people with hearing loss, but there are still situations that we run into that make us think, wow, we still have a long way to go.

So, what do you think? How do you describe hearing loss to your friends, family or people you aren’t that close with? Does it matter?

“The idea behind “hearing impaired” is that we are lesser human beings and must be fixed to function.

Those who suffer (dare I use “suffer”?) from mild to moderate hearing loss do not necessarily identify with the term deaf—a word that is historically loaded and also carries a distinction between capitalized and lowercase “d”. Uppercase “Deaf” reflects a community and a culture of identity, and carries pride similar to that of ethnic and religious groups. Lowercase “deaf” can reflect only severe to profound hearing loss, or hearing loss on the whole, depending who you ask.” – Christina The Name I Call Myself 

Join the discussion about this topic in the comments section, or on the Hearing Like Me forum!

Continue reading “The Minefield of Hearing-Related Terminology”

Confessions of a teenage deaf lifeguard

Lifeguarding requires patience, attentiveness, responsibility and (most importantly) the ability to jump into the water at any given moment. That’s why for me, as a hearing aid wearer and person with limited non-direction hearing, it’s been the perfect job.

Of course, not everyone has believed the role would be a good fit for me…

I’ve always loved swimming. I used to swim competitively, but I had to pull out when I got too busy with school. I have to say, this was probably one of the hardest things to let go of, because it was such a big part of my life.

I missed the pool so much. The adrenaline from swimming competitively, the kick from winning a race, the peacefulness of silently gliding underwater… I just wanted to be back on poolside again.

In April 2014, the opportunity arose for me to do the RLSS (Royal Lifesaving Society) Pool Lifeguard Qualification, however due to my hearing loss, I didn’t think it would be possible. I spoke to the training provider and asked them if it would be achievable, and luckily they agreed to make adjustments for me. Continue reading “Confessions of a teenage deaf lifeguard”

Finding out our baby was Deaf

We were still getting used to the fact we had a mini human who was awake most of the night when we found out that Harry was deaf. He was just 7 weeks old when he failed the Newborn Hearing Screening.

After a series of tests and a very intensive ABR he was confirmed as profoundly deaf with no threshold of hearing. The emotions hit us like a steam train and immediately we felt worried and scared for what the future would hold for our perfect baby boy. I remember that day so clearly; when my partner Scott and I held each other close and cried ourselves to sleep. We almost had to mourn what our idea of a perfect child was, and come around to the fact that our experience as first time parents was going to be a little different than what we had expected.

We spent a good few days feeling extremely upset and worried for our little chap. Our baby was the only deaf person we had ever met. It was a completely new thing to learn about. I started to panic when I left him alone to sleep, as I thought he would wake up and be scared because he couldn’t hear us. It took me a while to realize that actually Harry had never known any different, and he shouldn’t be scared because to him the world had always been silent.

It was as quick as the day after Harry’s diagnosis when we had a phone call from our local Teacher of the Deaf. The amount of information being fed to us was quite overwhelming, but comforting knowing a support system was already in place. She came over soon after to introduce herself, and we immediately felt confident that our son wasn’t going to be forgotten about or left behind. She explained that she would help us with his development from Day 1 until he finished his education, which filled us with hope and a lot more confidence than we had initially had.

Continue reading “Finding out our baby was Deaf”

19 Percent

19.1 percent.

That’s the number of people with disabilities working in the US, compared to 68.2 percent without disabilities, according to United States Department of Labor’s September 2015 Disability Employment Statistics.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has laws that make discrimination on the basis of disability illegal, but my high school experience showed me the slippery ways people in power can bypass these laws.

In my first post-graduate job, a makeup salesperson at a major US department store, I received diversity training, which included many topics: language inclusivity; recognizing racial bias; respect of different religions. But what struck me was the topic of disability.

When I first entered the workforce, my parents encouraged me to hide my disability because I passed for able-bodied better than most people in my position. Any discrimination, they believed, would be brought by my openness, and they suspected it would be better for me to be quiet. Typically, I would have rejected this advice, telling my parents I would not be shackled by chains of ableism created by ignorant people, however, I was nervous about my post-collegiate future and felt adrift in the “real world” after almost 20 years of academia. I hated living at home and I wanted to earn money, but I was not sure if moving out and making a living would be possible if I was open about my hearing loss. Wanting to err on the side of caution, I nervously chose to go into hiding on my first day of work.

Continue reading “19 Percent”

Hear Armenia: Ensuring little ears can hear

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Armenia with the Hear The World Foundation. Elena Torresani leads the department of the Hear the World Foundation. She is passionate about her job, is creative and enthusiastic. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, travelling, doing yoga and spending time with her loved ones.

Every year, about 665,000 babies around the world are born with significant hearing loss. This is a statistic that, as a foundation, empowers us to help make a difference in these children’s lives.

Since 2010, The Hear the World Foundation has been supporting the Arabkir Hospital in Yerevan to develop a newborn hearing screening program. Since then, the program has expanded to five additional provinces of Armenia. Now, all infants born at these locations receive a newborn hearing screenings 48 hours after birth!

We saw firsthand the success of this program during our visit to the Institute of Perinatology on Thursday, where we watched baby Haik have an Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test, which can detect blockage in the outer ear canal, as well as the presence of middle ear fluid and damage to the outer hair cells in the cochlea.

[wpvideo Ae9VWym6]

Continue reading “Hear Armenia: Ensuring little ears can hear”

Cool Halloween Hearing Aids Prove that Technology Isn’t Scary

Hearing aids can be scary to someone who doesn’t know how they work. So with Halloween just around the corner, we think it’s the perfect opportunity to show kids and their friends that hearing aids are cool!

👊💙👂 #captainamerica #superhero #halloween #marvel #hearinglosswontstopme #nikon #hearingaids #phonak #hearingloss #hearinglossawareness @marvel

A post shared by #hearinglosswontstopme📷🎣☔️☀️🎨🐾 (@k.piesch) on

Continue reading “Cool Halloween Hearing Aids Prove that Technology Isn’t Scary”

How I Made My Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms

For the first 12 years of my life, I slept peacefully through the majority of thunderstorms. If I ever awoke, it was during a strike so violent everybody in the house was awake, and huddled in my mother’s bed.

With half an eardrum in one ear and no eardrum in the other, the idea of a thunderstorm being frightening seemed silly. Why would pretty flashing lights with next to no sound be scary? As long as there was no thunder, storms seemed like a ridiculous thing to fear.

Summer 2005, however, would change this idea for the rest of my life.

Almost one year after my left eardrum was repaired and half my hearing was restored, the horror of strange sounds hit me.

Continue reading “How I Made My Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms”