After a successful trip to Haiti to provide support to children who have hearing loss, Hear The World Foundation has head to Armenia. Open Ears is following the group of Sonova team members on their journey. As Head of the Hear the World initiative, Elena Torresani leads the department of the Hear the World Foundation. She is passionate about her job and is creative and enthusiastic. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, travelling, yoga and spending time with her loved ones.
We’ve spent most of the time here in Armenia fitting children with new hearing aids, adjusting their hearing aids, preforming Visual Reinforcement Audiometry tests and doing newborn hearing screenings. It has been amazing watching the children react to new sounds and see how well they’ve adjusted to their hearing aids since the last time we were here.
One boy, named Daniel, was first fit for hearing aids when he was just eight months old. It took him one month until he reacted to his name, and now he is alert, attentive, clever and asking a lot of questions!
Another little girl Ruzana, was first had an Auditory Brainstem Response test, which was donated by Hear the World for use by the Arabkir Hospital, when she was a baby. Since her diagnosis of severe to profound hearing loss, she has received hearing aids, and now at four-and-a-half years old, she speaks well, and is doing great at school, with help from her FM system.
Aside from helping these children hear the world, we’ve also been able to provide them with a special gift, thanks to the support of Phonak team members back in Switzerland and Germany!
At Phonak, we are committed to fighting the stigma attached to hearing loss, to tearing down barriers for the hearing-impaired and to finding new and innovative ways to help everyone reconnect to the beauty of sound. We also know that individuals play a strong role in breaking down those stigmas.
To celebrate those in our community who are being open and proud of their hearing situations, we’ve teamed up with some of our favorite Instagrammers, and asked them to capture their personality and signature looks, and show us what it really means to live with hearing loss.
Last week, we featured 20-year-old Eloise Garland, a music student from the UK.
She is an inspiration to many people – especially teens – with hearing loss, both in what she’s accomplished in her personal life, as well as the unique way she shows of her hearing aids with cool stickers and decorations that she sells on her Etsy.com store, Rainbow Tubes.
You can share your story with us too using the hashtag #lifeison on Instagram! Together we can break down the stigmas of hearing loss.
This May marks 45 years since Let it Be, the Beatles’ last album, was released. My parents, who were 11 and 21 at the time, remember the album as the tragic marker of the Beatles’ downfall. Dad lost his taste for the Beatles after they shed their mop tops, but he was still saddened to see them break up. To this day, Mom cannot watch the film version of Let it Be without crying because the fights between John and Paul, along with George and Ringo’s frustration, were nothing short of painful.
I am having an exceptional experience with a new Phonak Audeo V hearing aid which I received on January 23, 2015. It’s one thing hearing sounds more clearly than I had previously, but as a singer it’s quite another to be able to hear many more facets of my voice than I had been hearing for decades with other aids.
I’ve been a professional singer and recording artist since the ’70s. I studied voice, speaking and acting for years in New York and worked very hard at creating a voice and a style that employed my musical gifts and talents. But when I lost much of my hearing between 1978 and 1982, I also lost touch with that voice and all I had worked so diligently and passionately to develop and perfect.
Scroll ahead to today and moving beyond the challenges I’ve faced, the news is better.
As somebody with mild/medium hearing loss, I guess wearing hearing aids are more of a choice than a necessity for me. I mean, I functioned without them for nearly 40 years. Today I wouldn’t give them up for anything in the world, of course, and I really prefer wearing them for anything resembling human interaction. But I can get by without. (An audiologist I had a chat with one day told me I’d be surprised at how people with much more hearing loss than me “get by just fine” without aids. Anyway.)
So, when do I wear them, when do I remove them? As a general rule, I wear them when I leave the house. (My cats aren’t all that talkative.) I remove them when I get home. Since I got my V90 aids though, I often forget to remove them when I get home.
It has been said that cheating is wrong, dishonorable, and hurtful towards others as well as yourself. The measurements for final scores become skewed, making the results incorrect for everyone, including you. I learned not to cheat on 99.9% of tests when I was fourteen, after I was nearly expelled from middle school for cheating on a science exam. Since that grievous mistake, I have taken honor codes very seriously and resolved to never cheat on an academic exam, even when I feared being kicked out of my major or not making graduation.
My first exposure to Venture was my boss (Tom) sharing his reactions when he was first fit. Tom was raving about the overall sound quality and “natural sound”. The most telling part regarding his Venture experience is the number of hours his aids are being worn every day. His last hearing aids would have had a very low number (I had seen 1-2 hours in the past) in the “hours per day” column of data-logging in the fitting software. He is now averaging 10 hours a day. You can imagine how happy that makes his family as well as his work family! He reports that this is specifically due to the natural sound quality and quiet chip in these products. He can put them in and forget he is wearing them.
I had a tendency of wearing new hearing aids in the past when I was working as a clinical audiologist. I liked to experience them myself for a while in order to be able to counsel effectively (and remember those little details – once you hear the low battery beep you have like 20 minutes to get a new battery in there). I function with a mild high frequency hearing loss in each ear named after the musicians who helped me acquire the pesky little notches. I find aids programmed to a flat 30dB threshold are most comfortable so that is where I set the Venture aids. The longest I wore different hearing aids before these was Spice+ for over a month. Other products (Quest, Core) and other manufacturers I tried out in my previous setting I would generally aim for a week or so for their try out.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been trying out a variety of hearing aids as part of my newly-found “guinea pig” position at Phonak. As a geek, I love playing with new technology and trying things out. As a person with hearing loss, I’m curious about how good things can get for me.
One of the challenges I’ve come upon trying out hearing aid solutions is confusion. You know what happens when you’re shopping for perfumes, and after a (short) while you can’t distinguish smells anymore? That’s a bit what it feels like with sound. Maybe it has to do with the rather strong “habituation” component there is in the way we process sound.
Some situations are clear-cut: for example, after trying out the Bolero Q90 hearing aids for a few weeks, I switched back to my Widex Clear 330 ones to see if I could spot a “reverse difference”. One situation where there was no debate was at the vet’s: I’d been going there regularly throughout my Bolero trial, and when I went back with my Widex aids in, I really struggled to understand what my vet was saying. The room is a bit echoey and she speaks quite fast. To make extra sure I wore the Boleros next time around.
Managing the late stages of a rare and fatal cancer was challenging enough, but our communication was deteriorating as well. Her voice had weakened to a whisper and my poor hearing and inadequate hearing aid could not compensate. We sat quietly in her final weeks making contact with our eyes and hands when words failed us both.
This is one of the great things about music. Not only can we make it “our own”, but we can use it to convey a magnitude of information. How many times have you heard only a couple seconds of your favorite song and you immediately thought of a time or place – or how you felt – and instantly it takes you out of your current environment and transports you to another world? So what happens when you lose your hearing? How does music sound then?