Songwriter Tell Future Child about Hearing Loss in a Song

Woman sings I won't hear you crying when you're born (captions)
Screenshot from Zoë Nutt’s video, “Like You.”

Singer, songwriter, and musician Zoë Nutt recently released a song, “Like You,” telling the story of her progressive hearing loss.

At the beginning of the Tennessee native’s open captioned official video, Nutt says, “I lost all of my hearing in my right ear. I now have progressive hearing loss in my left ear. Along with tinnitus, which is this high-pitched ringing that’s just there all the time.’

“That change in my life led me to write a song addressed to my children—whenever I have those children. And it basically says that no one will ever sound like you. Even if I can’t hear you…no one will ever be just the same.”

Woman plays guitar with captions And it basically just says that no one else will sound like you.
Screenshot of Zoë Nutt’s video, “Like You.”

According to an HLAA report, Nutt says, “But releasing this music video has been more than just a letter to a possible future. It’s most importantly the start of a conversation I’ve been longing to have with others. I am going deaf, but I will not let it stop me from making music.”

The song’s lyrics describe beauty and meaning beyond sound: “I won’t ever hear you say you love me / I’ll never know whether you can sing. / But I can’t wait to watch your lips speak wonders / ‘cause no one else will ever sound like you.”

100 percent of the artist’s tip proceeds from downloads of “Like You” at Noistrade will go to The Hearing Loss Association of America.

According to a review from Vents Magazine,”Nutt’s very deliberate vocal style never clashes with her effortless ability to convey sensitivity in every line. Like You, as a whole, is more than just one of the year’s best full length debuts. Instead, it heralds the arrival of a major new voice who will only follow an upward trajectory from here.”

You can order Nutt’s album on iTune’s or in physical CD here.

Download “Like You” for free here.

 

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Man floats anti-gravity and sign says, Deaf Difference + Space Survival ... the exhibit is now open

How 11 Deaf Men Catapulted the American Space Program Forward

On July 16, 1969, the United States’ Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Man floats anti-gravity and sign says, Deaf Difference + Space Survival ... the exhibit is now open
How would people travel through space without spending most of their time sick? Deaf research participants would be key to finding the answers.
Picture of men sitting on an airplane and ABC post saying they are just now getting attention for their contributions.
Media has recently acknowledged G-11’s efforts, which for many decades went unrecognized.

The Apollo 11 flight may never have been possible if it hadn’t been for the contributions of 11 Deaf men who were Gallaudet College (now University) alumni.

From 1958-1968, and ending the year before men would land on the moon, 11 Deaf men volunteered to participate in a joint research program with the U.S. Naval School of Aviation Medicine and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, according to an article in Knowridge Science Report.

Since they were Gallaudet alumni, they were called the Gallaudet Eleven, or G-11.

All but one of G-11’s members had become deaf early in their lives due to spinal meningitis, which damaged their inner ears in a way that prevented them from getting motion sickness. As far as space travel was concerned, motion sickness was a serious concern.

G-11 members took part in a variety of activities, including flying in airplanes performing parabolic arcs that created weightlessness, rough seas experiments, spinning room experiments, and more.

Did the experiments hurt?

According to a NASA article, participants didn’t get sick.

Man hangs upside and says I feel fine.
Researchers expected G-11 participants to not get sick, but they needed to understand how that happened.

“The only discomfort was in the pullouts after steep dives when we experienced from 4 to 6 G—if you tried to lift your arms, they weighed a ton,” said G-11 participant Robert Greenmun.

According to the G-11’s timeline, Greenmun never got sick, but had to nurse hearing Navy aides.

G-11: the envy of astronauts and doctors

Space wasn’t comfortable for people who could hear.

Astronaut and Senator John Glenn said he envied the G-11 because he got motion sickness in space, but they didn’t.

Even Earth’s Atlantic Ocean challenged hearing doctors, when Deaf volunteers didn’t get motion sickness on the rough ocean, but their doctors became sick and had to cancel the tests, according to the timeline.

Man signs that he and other program participants didn't have good balance because of the meningitis that had caused their deafness.
G-11 members enjoyed their participation and the challenges they faced.

“We always looked forward to seeing new experiments. It was an adventure for us,” said G-11 participant Harry Larson.

Larson had poor balance due to deafness from spinal meningitis, as did 9 other G-11 participants.

When being different makes the difference

The experiments helped improve the understanding of how our senses work normal cues for the ear aren’t there, as is the case with weightlessness, during gravitational forces, and at sea.

“We were different in a way they needed,” said Harry Larson, one of the volunteer test subjects.

G-11: NASA’s secret sauce

According to a WJLA report, Harry Larson said, “We were the only Deaf group to ever be involved in the history of the space program.”

Russia and the Untied States had competed to see which country would have a man set foot on the moon first.

Since Russia’s second cosmonaut got sick during flight, G-11 may have contributed to the the American program’s ability to land people on the moon before its Russian competitor, according to the report.

59 years ago and counting

Today, only five of the 11 test subjects are still alive.

2018 will celebrate 60 years since the G-11’s historic contribution to the U.S. Space program.

The Gallaudet Eleven’s roster:

  • Harold Domich
  • Robert Greenmun
  • Barron Gulak
  • Raymond Harper
  • Jerald Jordan
  • Harry Larson
  • David Myers
  • Donald Peterson
  • Raymond Piper
  • Alvin Steele
  • John Zakutney

From space history to museums

Some of G-11’s participants share their story in sign language.

On Apr. 11, 2017, Gallaudet University opened a museum exhibit, “Deaf Difference + Space Survival.”

Three of the 11 former study participants attended the exhibit’s opening: Harry O. Larson, Gallaudet class of ’61, Barron Gulak, class of ’62, and David O. Myers, class of ’61.

“Deaf Difference + Space Survival” is currently on display at Gallaudet University’s Jordan Student Academic Center, open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Experience their story

See the open captioned and partial sign language video, “Deaf Difference + Space Survival” on YouTube.

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Get Awesome Materials to Raise Hearing and Speech Awareness

Two groups have created a variety of useful materials about communication disorders that are free to use and distribute.

To raise awareness about communication disorders, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association observe Better Hearing and Speech Month each May.

This month, they are holding a social media contest and providing an inforgraphic and a quiz about hearing loss, as well as other communication disorder information in press releases, information sheets, posters, and more.

May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Communication: The Key to Connection. National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders logo. Side profile of a woman’s face as she is speaking. Letters float out of her mouth and into the air.

According to the institute’s website, 48 million Americans have a form of communication disorder, while 37.5 million of us have hearing loss–that’s 15 percent of Americans.

NIDCD Hearing Loss and Hearing Aid Use Infographic

Want to use the infographic above? The institute has created a version you can upload to your website or blog here.

Currently, the institute supports research for promoting accessible health care and urges people who think they have hearing loss to have their hearing tested.

Since only 25 percent of Americans who could benefit from hearing aids have used them, there are potentially people who might want them who haven’t had access to them, or who may need them for safety or work-related issues.

On their website, you may take a quiz in the right-hand column to determine if you should have your hearing tested.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is promoting a social media contest to raise awareness. The association will award points for sharing information on social media and issue prizes for those earning the most points. Prizes will include Amazon gift cards and association promotional materials.

Learn what people with communication disorders, audiologists, speech-language pathologists are doing to raise awareness on this interactive, international map.

The association has also provided many press release materials and patient information handouts about hearing loss–in English and Spanish.

Sign Shares, Inc./International educates society about awareness issues concerning communication disorders through this blog and also on our website, including answering questions people ask about using sign language interpreters and information about how to empower communities by providing communication access.

Request sign language services from Sign Shares here.

 

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Join a Texas Emergency Management Webinar

Are you prepared for when an emergency strikes?

The Texas State Independent Living Council will host a webinar/virtual conversation, “Conversations on Independent Living: Emergency Preparedness,” on May 5, from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. (CT).

Color-enhanced picture of clouds over the ocean, showing golden and pink hues against black storm clouds.
If floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, or other disasters strike, are you ready? (license)

The guest speakers will be Ron Lucey, Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, and Danielle Hesse with the Texas Disability Task Force on Emergency Management of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The session will discuss:

  • best practices for emergency communications with members of the disability community;
  • including individuals with disabilities’ needs in emergency management processes; and
  • increasing emergency preparedness in the disability community.

    Picture of trees and a bridge, with high strong water forcefully crossing under it as if from a recent flood.
    Flooding presents a challenge to most Texans with a disability. Are you prepared? (license)

This discussion is open to all members of the public.

Register for the webinar here.

(They will send you an e-mail with call-in information after you complete registration.)

Accommodations: If you need accommodations to join the meeting, contact the Texas SILC by Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

For more information, contact Ashley Fry at 512-371-7353 or ashley@txsilc.org.

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Congressional Bill Challenges the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) allows people with disabilities the right to go to court if they can’t find satisfaction regarding their civil rights under this law and other disability rights laws.

American flag shines in the sunlight.
Will Congress reduce the power of one of its greatest laws? photo credit: docoverachiever VOTE via photopin (license)

However, a new Congressional Bill, H.R. 620, seeks to change the way people with disabilities may seek redress, or resolutions, to the inaccessible world they encounter. You can read the bill here.

According to a newsletter from the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the bill will take away some rights that now exist under the ADA.

According to bill H.R. 620, it is designed “to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to promote compliance through education, to clarify the requirements for demand letters, to provide for a notice and cure period before the commencement of a private civil action, and for other purposes.”

The fund opposes the bill. “We must counter the business lobby, which wants to make it much more difficult to attain accessibility when businesses such as stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. disregard their ADA responsibilities,” according to the fund’s newsletter.

Black and white photo of an empty wheelchair at the bottom of some stairs.
Stairs are an example of an architectural barrier for someone who uses a wheelchair, scooter, or cane. But what if they block access to a doctor, lawyer, or school? (license)

Two problems in particular will affect people whose rights are violated under the ADA under H.R. 620, and according to the newsletter, it:

  • “Requires a person with a disability who encounters an access barrier to send a letter detailing the exact ADA provisions that are being violated;” and
  • “Rewards non-compliance by allowing businesses generous additional timelines, even though the ADA’s reasonable requirements are already over 25 years old!”
Gavel with a book in the background
How many actions must a U.S. citizen take before they can bring an action to court? (license)

If a person with a disability encounters an architectural barrier, according to the bill, they must do three things before they can take civil action:

  • “Provide to the owner or operator of the accommodation a written notice specific enough to allow such owner or operator to identify the barrier;” and
  • “Specify in detail the circumstances under which an individual was actually denied access to a public accommodation, including the address of property, the specific sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleged to have been violated, whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier to access was made,” and
  • Specify “whether the barrier to access was a permanent or temporary barrier.”

The amendment language also calls for the creation of a “model program with … an expedited method for determining the relevant facts related to such barriers to access and steps taken before the commencement of litigation to resolve any issues related to access.”

H.R. 620 seems to contradict the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Since lawsuits allow U.S. citizens to “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” or for a remedy for their problems, then requiring people with disabilities to take additional steps before they can bring a lawsuit would hinder that freedom and cause them to have an additional burden unlike other U.S. citizens.

The fund recommends that individuals let their representatives in Congress know if they don’t wish the ADA to be limited by the amendments that H.R. 620 brings.

To find out who your state’s representatives are, you can type your Zip Code in at https://contactingcongress.org. Contacts include phone numbers, emails, and social media of your representatives.

Picture of the domed White U.S. Capitol building.
U.S. legislators will vote whether amendments are made to limit the ADA. (license)

You may also contact your legislators via phone by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You may ask them to help you locate your representatives if you don’t know them.

 

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Doctors with Blindness and Vision Loss Break Attitudinal Barriers

Dr. Jeffrey Gazzara, DO, is a resident in neuromusculoskeletal medicine at Mercy Health Muskegon in Muskegon, Mich. According to an article in DO, from the American Osteopathic Association, Dr. Gazzara is legally blind.

A three-dimensional white figure wears glasses, walks with a white cane, and has a yellow arm band with three black dots.
What preconceptions do you have about what a person who is blind or has low vision can or can’t do? Do you believe they can be doctors? If you don’t believe they can, are you basing that on your experience with sight, or on your experience with blindness?

Dr. Jeffery Gazzara, DO

As with doctors with blindness before him, Dr. Gazzara says that treating the patient is easiest. Adapting to existing medical systems is more difficult for a doctor with vision loss.

“During my clinical years,” he said, “I was rotating in a different hospital every month. That was difficult because I use a special computer system and I had to reconfigure it to access each hospital’s electronic medical record system.”

Dr. Jacob Bolotin

Dr. Gazzara is among other doctors influenced by the success of Dr. Jacob Bolotin, who became the world’s first fully licensed medical doctor, and who was blind since birth.

this picture is a graphic of two hands forming a heart and showing a heart beat pattern. The heart also makes multiple hearts as a representation of beats.
Together with captions for pictures, Sign Shares’ blog posts include Alternate Text for people who use screen readers. That way, they will know that this picture is a graphic of two hands forming a heart and showing a heart beat pattern. Photo credit: geralt, pixabay

According to a National Federation of the Blind article, Dr. Jacob Bolotin “fought prejudice and misconceptions about the capabilities of blind people in order to win acceptance to medical school and then into the medical profession. He was one of the most respected physicians in Chicago in the early twentieth century, particularly well known for his expertise on diseases of the heart and lungs.”

Commenting in 1914 on Dr. Bolotin’s accomplishments, the Philadelphia Inquirer observed, “It is one of the most amazing instances of mind triumphant over physical handicaps that the world has ever known… [Dr. Bolotin] will rank with Helen Keller as one of the wonderful blind persons of history.”

Dr. David Hartman

According to a Gettysburg College article, Dr. David Hartman, a psychiatrist and author, was the first blind person to complete medical school in the U.S.

Dr. Hartman lost his sight at age 8 to glaucoma, according to the article. Though he earned a bachelor’s degree with highest honors and distinction, he was rejected by nine medical schools.

Dr. Hartman wrote a story of his medical experiences, White Coat, White Cane: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Blind Physician, which was published in 1978, and is the subject of a television movie, Journey from Darkness.

Dr. Timothy Cordes, MD

Dr. Timothy Cordes, MD, has progressive vision loss and is on staff at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Dr. Cordes is a psychiatrist who specializes in Addictive Behaviors.

According to an article in The Braille Monitor, Dr. Cordes  interviewed at a residency in the northeast. His interviewer asked, “You know, I just don’t get it. How are you going to know what’s going on with a patient?”

He said, “Well I know you’re reading your email right now as you are talking to me.” Dr. Cordes attributed his sense of humor to part of his success.

Graphic shows a three dimensional model of the bones of the lower part of the spine, hips, and pelvis.
Anatomical models are one of many tools people with low vision or blindness can use during medical education.

Dr. Cordes did things many people with sight might find extraordinary, such as operating: “I scrubbed in, holding that retractor for hours on end. I reached into live people’s bellies and identified organs and blood vessels. I caught babies. In pediatrics I examined kids. One of the children’s parents was a guy I knew. He said, after they finished the exam and walked out, his son said, ‘That was fine, Dad, but who was the dog for?'”

For an Eyeway.org article, Dr. Cordes was asked if there were people who were skeptical about his wanting to study Medicine.

He said, “Everybody but the University of Wisconsin! All the other places just said, ‘No, thanks.'”

According to an NBC News report, “In a world where skeptics always seem to be saying, stop, this isn’t something a blind person should be doing, it was one more barrier overcome. There are only a handful of blind doctors in this country. But Cordes makes it clear he could not have joined this elite club alone. ‘I signed on with a bunch of real team players who decided that things are only impossible until they’re done,’ he says.”

Sign Shares Logo of hands and slogan, Interpreting Your WorldAt Sign Shares, we believe in exploring our potential and horizons and not putting limitations on what a person can do.

If you’re a person who is Deaf-Blind and you need interpretive services to make your dreams a reality, have your college or business contact us here to learn more!

Deaf and Interpreter Physicians Open Doors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

Doctor sitting at desk reaches out hand for a handshake.
Who determines which qualified candidates will still be rejected at medical school because of a disability? Is it still happening? How many doctors with disabilities do you know?

While many doctors with hearing only worry about earning good grades in their classes–doctors with deafness worry about admission to medical school after the good grades. In the past and perhaps in the present–doctoral candidates who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing wondered if they would be admitted at all, despite their other abilities.

Some pursued their profession past all advice and against the rejection from myriad medical schools. Another crossed the communication barrier and became a Certified ASL Interpreter to meet the needs of patients who wanted to openly communicate with their physician.

The following doctors are pioneers that have opened doors to medical school for people with hearing loss or deafness, and to the Deaf Community. They opened the minds of a Hearing Community that didn’t understand their abilities were less by the ability to hear than by the societal attitudes that believed they couldn’t achieve.

DEAF DOCTORS WHO OPENED DOORS
TO MEDICAL SCHOOL

Picture of a door with punch number code
These physicians with deafness unlocked doors that were closed to them by physician and medical school gatekeepers.

Dr. Judith Ann Pachciarz lost her hearing as a toddler, according to Celebrating America’s Woman Physicians. She believes she may be the first deaf person in history to earn both a Ph.D. and an M.D. She is also the “first profoundly deaf woman physician.” Dr. Pachciarz served as doctor at the 1985 World Games for the Deaf in the Los Angeles area.

Dr. Pachciarz advocated for the right to study to be a doctor when they were considering Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

A pile of keys of different sizes and colors
There are many keys to open access to careers, including education, advocacy, and communication tools.

“In 1963 I met all the qualifications for medical school admission as I did in 1979. In 1977 I wrote Health Education and Welfare Secretary [Joseph] Califano, who was considering the provisions of Section 504: ‘I am a thirty-five year old deaf woman who has wanted to be a doctor of medicine since early childhood. I have encountered resistance and discrimination at every step from grade school through graduate work to a Ph.D…thus the enthusiasm, expertise, and dedication I could provide to health care…is denied…When will our equal educational opportunities be protected under the law? Fifteen years—how much longer do I have to wait?’ Secretary Califano signed Section 504 after concerted collective action, and I was accepted into medical school two years later,” she said in the article.

At the time of the article, Dr. Pachciarz was a hospital pathologist and director of the blood transfusion service at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.

Picture of an older man in a suit with the words...Deaf doctor makes patients feel heard.
A screen shot of Dr. Phillip Zazove on CNN.

According to a CNN report, Dr. Phillip Zazove, who is deaf, “makes patients feel heard.” Zazove, who has profound hearing loss, was the third if American physician. Not only does he serve the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, but he also mentors doctors who are deaf.

According to the article, Dr. Philip Zazove is an author, physician and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Drs. Pachciarz and Zazove were both told as children not to expect much for careers. They chose to be pioneers and advocates, instead of giving up.

DR. AND INTERPRETER WHO RAISES THE BAR FOR DOCTORS

Hands using sign language spell A, S, L.
A-S-L, The hands spell the abbreviation for American Sign Language, a tool that enable doctors to communicate with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community in one of their languages.

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Deborah Gilboa is “one of the few doctors in the nation who is fluent in American Sign Language.”

While completing prerequisites for medical school, Galboa became a certified ASL interpreter.

Pencil eraser over notebook paper with pieces of the eraser on the paper.
Many people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing wish doctors would erase communicating with them using pencil and paper and begin using sign language or having interpreters. Photo credit: Hometown Beauty via photopin (license)

“People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are said to be one of most under-served disability populations in terms of health care. Lack of sign language interpretation is the most frequent subject of Department of Justice cases regarding compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in health care settings, according to the website ada.gov,” according to the article.

Dr. Galboa said doctors need to step up and meet the Deaf Community’s needs, “The deaf community puts up with uncertainty about their health care that leaves them poorer for it, and I don’t mean financially. As doctors, we want to know what’s really going on. The deaf community’s expectations of doctors is very low. We need to raise those expectations.”

FROM THERE TO WHERE?

How will societal attitudes limit future physicians with deafness or hearing loss? How many physicians will opt to learn ASL, or at least adopt methods of communication that are suitable for truly understanding procedures and conditions?

Have times changed?

COMMUNICATION ACCESS FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS OR PROFESSIONALS

  • Are you a person with deafness or hearing loss who wants to become a medical professional?
  • Do you want to provide communication access to medical students?
  • Are you a medical professional who needs more communication access?

Woman with unreal blue eyes and black hair and background, reads, Sign Shares, Interpreting Your WorldSign Shares, Inc. can help! We provide services for people with deafness, hearing loss, and deaf-blindness, as well as foreign language translation for people with hearing.

Request Services here!

 

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Adapting to Usher Syndrome and Deafblindness

Molly Watt is a young speaker, vlogger, and author who is Deaf-Blind and advocates for people who have Usher Syndrome, the condition she has. Watt has created an awareness video about the syndrome, as well as an open-captioned vlog about technology she uses daily to assist her with both hearing and vision loss that comes from having Usher Syndrome.

Young woman walks down street using a guide dog. Words at bottom of slide "and the worst case scenario for any deaf person is to lose their sight"
Molly Watt describes how Usher Syndrome is a worst case scenario for someone with hearing loss in one of her awareness videos. http://www.mollywatt.com/keynote-speaking

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Usher Syndrome is a genetic disease or disorder that affects both hearing and vision and is one of the leading causes of deaf-blindness.

Symptoms of the syndrome include:

  • deafness or hearing loss,
  • balance problems,
  • retinitis pigmentosa, which causes night-blindness, and
  • a loss of peripheral vision (side vision) through the progressive degeneration of the retina.
Screen shot from a video showing tunnel vision and the words Steps can be quite disorientating.
Molly Watt portrays the tunnel vision she has in an awareness video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq6rRQTIoqM

Retinitis pigmentosa eventually causes “tunnel vision,” where a person can only see straight ahead.

There are three types of Usher Syndrome, ranging from Type 1, where children are born profoundly deaf, have problems with balance, and eventually become legally blind, to Type 3, where children may have normal hearing at birth, and gradually lose hearing, vision, and balance.

Picture of cell phone with message that it's connecting to hearing devices. At the bottom fo the slide text asks how she hears music if she can't hear and the response is Hearing Aids-duh!
Watts wears hearing aids that she pairs with her cell phone. The direct connection between her cell phone and hearing aids provides better quality sound. She also pairs her hearing aids with a smart watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-yrqbaN1II

According to the institute, early diagnosis of Usher syndrome is important so parents can enroll their children in training programs to manage hearing and vision loss.

Frame from a vlog that shows a black guide dog and says "Occupation: guide dog for the blind my mobility aid."
Molly Watt’s vlogs often include her guide dog, which is a vital tool for her independence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-yrqbaN1II

Typically, treatment will include:

  • hearing aids,
  • assistive listening devices,
  • cochlear implants,
  • communication methods such as American Sign Language;
  • orientation and mobility training;
  • communication services; and
  • independent-living training that may include Braille instruction, low-vision services, or auditory training.

Sign language can be a vital tool for communication for people who have advanced Usher Syndrome, since people without hearing or sight may choose to communicate using Deaf-Blind Tactile with an interpreter. This process allows the person with deafblindness to feel the interpreter’s hands as they sign.

Sign Shares, Inc./International provides services for people who are Deaf-Blind, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing, as well as for people who are Foreign Language Hearing.

You may book an interpreter with Sign Shares using this link.

Download the fact sheet on Usher Syndrome at this link.

Learn more about Molly Watt and her mission to educate others about Usher Syndrome at http://www.mollywatt.com/.

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Disability News Update: Advocacy Resources

The beginning of a new year is a great time to begin collecting valuable information and resources for advocacy. Below, you’ll find resources for:

  • workplace accommodations,
  • disability inclusion,
  • accessible signage, and
  • pre-school inclusion.
Woman in wheelchair interacts with a dog.
Is your workplace accessible? If not, JAN has a guide for you! photo credit: Bennilover Benni, the Christmas Elf, making friends via photopin (license)

Do you need a Great Workplace Accommodation Resource?

The Job Accommodation Network, or JAN, has updates its resources to provide a Toolkit to help businesses build an inclusive workplace.

The kit provides streamlined access to its resources that can assist employers and their staff with workplace accommodations for people who have disabilities.

Included in the toolkit are tools for:

  • Employers, employees, co-workers and others in the workplace, and
  • Reasonable accommodations.

Do you understand Disability Inclusion?

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion, or EARN, has created a captioned video, “Primer on Disability Inclusion.”

“John Kemp, President and CEO of the The Viscardi Center, explains the benefits of fostering a disability-inclusive culture in your organization.”

To begin with, employers should make sure that people with disabilities are present and included in all levels of employment.

Does your place of business have accessible signage?

The U.S. Access Board has created an animation demonstrating accessible signage.

“The 15-minute animated film reviews and illustrates requirements in the standards for signs and clarifies common sources of confusion. It covers provisions for visual access, tactile signs, required access symbols and other pictograms.”

Adults and small children make paper crafts in classroom.
Preschools should also be a place where children of all abilities are included.

Did you know pre-school needs to be inclusive too?

According to the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” on Least Restrictive Environment for preschool age children.

The letter “provides information on why it important to offer educational programs for our youngest learners with disabilities from the start, and how states and districts can achieve this goal and meet their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”

According to the letter, OSEP wishes to “reaffirm our commitment to inclusive preschool education programs for children with disabilities” because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act applies to children of all ages—including those in pre-school.

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Work and Home Technology for Hearing Loss

Technology provides many solutions, but some people with hearing loss, or their employers or loved ones, aren’t aware of devices that could assist the person with hearing loss at work, home, or during recreation.

Harris Communications has created a downloadable and online Free Guide to Assistive Technology that will help people who have hearing loss, or their employers or family members to explore creative solutions.

Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)
Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)

It includes newer resources, such as vibrating smart watches, and personal listening devices similar to hearing aids that don’t require a prescription, as well as old standbys, such as vibrating alarm clocks and flashing light signalers for many sounds in the home or office. For businesses, they have ADA kits ready with a combination of products.

Why Don’t People with Hearing Loss Know about These Already?

If a person grows up with a strong network of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing who provided them with information about tools they could use to make daily living easier, they often know about this equipment. At least, they know about most of it, since new technology is developed often.

If a person gradually experiences hearing loss, they may or may not have resources to teach them about available technology to solve many problems they may encounter.

When a person loses hearing, if they have sight, they will use their sight and residual hearing to assist them.

Living with Less Sound: Using the Other Senses

When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)
When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)

In some cases, both vision and hearing are affected, and a person may use a variety of light or sound products to use their remaining senses as much as possible. The sense of touch is another option.

Signaling sounds with light is one of the first ways a person can get a visual cue for a sound. For example, their door bell may ring, and they may set up their home to have a light flash.

Vibration is another tool. A person may arrange it so that when their cell phone would normally ring, instead it vibrates so they can feel it. They may need other options for when they don’t have their phone on them, such as a flashing light.

Picture of sounds system's adjustment knobs.
Just like in a music studio they alter certain sounds, so do products for people with hearing loss so they can make the most of what they have. photo credit: Sergiu Bacioiu Audio Mix via photopin (license)

Sound may be a tool for people with hearing loss too, and this is much more specific to the person. Each person has a unique hearing range. One may hear in a high frequency range, another may hear medium frequency, and yet another only low frequency. There also many be deficits within those ranges.

People who are Hard of Hearing have learned from experience whether they hear higher women’s voices, or lower men’s voices–or if some sounds are out of their range, such as fire alarms, perhaps.

Many hearing loss products offer superior amplification, clarity, and a variety of ranges so that a person can set them to sounds they may hear. For example, a person with high frequency hearing loss may set their amplified alarm clock to a low tone that will wake them up.

Sound may not be enough of a wake up cue, and people with hearing loss may also use a vibration disc under their mattress to ensure they wake up. Alarms with this ability also often have flashing light function. Sound, light, and vibration are all three available in many alarm clocks for the consumer segment with hearing loss.

Picking the Right Product

Flashing police car light.
Flashing lights aren’t everyone’s friend and may trigger seizures in those with Epilepsy, and migraines in others. photo credit: T.H. Images Police Light Moments via photopin (license)

People may have several disabilities at once. Epilepsy  can be seriously impacted by flashing lights. So may migraines, for those that experience them, so flashing light models are for many, but not all people, and this should be part of determining the right product for the right person.

Where to Purchase Products for People with Hearing Loss or Deafness

Businesses such as Harris Communications have great value within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, since they provide specialized products that are difficult to find, and all in the same place. They also provide free shipping.

More Vendors

Hearmore.com has thousands of products and provides free shipping.

Teltex has many products and you can subscribe to their email to receive discounts and special offers.

iAccessibility.com provides iOS solutions for people who have Apple products. It’s powered by Teltex.

You can see a selection of hearing loss products at Amazon here.

Independent Living Aids, LLC provides vision, hearing loss, and mobility products.

If you live or shop in the UK, here is a good technology resource from Action Hearing Loss.

You May Receive Financial Assistance to Pay for the Products

People with hearing loss or deafness may receive assistance purchasing products that assist them with work or daily living. They should contact their state office of Health and Human Services to see which agency may assist them in their state.

Map of the United States on asphalt
photo credit: dalioPhoto SURFACE LINES via photopin (license)

Find your state’s department of Health and Human Services here.

Getting Assistance in Texas

In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission assists people with Vocational Rehabilitation. This is for people who are going to school or are planning to work.

If you’re new to hearing loss, are no longer working, or can’t work right now, it may be easiest to contact Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist to assist you in finding resources you can use. They understand hearing loss and will connect you to the right people and products.