Hearing Loss & Deafness - Archive

Visual skills, technology key for ad agency’s hearing-impaired co-founder

January 23, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research, Technology



Geoff Akins sees things others don’t.

The Newport Beach visual arts entrepreneur, who co-founded advertising agency AkinsParker 10 years ago, has been the creative force behind campaigns for brands like Toyota Racing Development, Tiger Woods Foundation and Lexus F-Sport.

Akins is profoundly deaf. But he says he can sense what clients and audiences are feeling and translate that into his work. He’s adept at picking up on a client’s actions in subtle visual traits.

“My hearing impairment makes me uniquely skilled at some things as well,” he said. “For example, I’m pretty in tune with body language and unspoken communication, especially interpersonal communication.”

According to research at UC Davis and UC Irvine, deaf people are quicker at recognizing and interpreting body language than those who can hear.

David Corina, professor in the UC Davis Department of Linguistics and Center for Mind and Brain and graduate student Michael Grosvald, now a post-doctoral scholar at UCI, measured the response times of deaf and hearing people to a series of video clips showing people making American Sign Language signs or “non language” gestures, such as stroking the chin.

“The real surprise was that deaf people were about 100 milliseconds faster at recognizing non-language gestures than were hearing people,” said Corina, whose work was published in the 2012 journal Cognition.

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Financial Assistance for Hearing Technology – AG Bell eNews

January 23, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



AG Bell – website

Check out this page on the AG Bell Listening and Spoken Language Knowledge Center and use it as a starting point to identify sources of financial assistance for hearing technology as well as listening and spoken language services.

Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
For residents of Virginia. The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in collaboration with community partners, provides and advocates for resources and services to improve the employment, quality of life, security, and independence of older Virginians, Virginians with disabilities, and their families.

Other sources of financial assistance for hearing technology



Prototype Retainer Could Help Hearing-Impaired ‘Listen’ With Their Tongues

January 15, 2015 in Community News, Research




Popular Science
 Loren Grush
January 14,2015

For individuals with significant hearing loss, cochlear implants have proven to be an incredible tool for regaining some sense of sound. Yet the small, electronic device, which works by stimulating an individual’s auditory nerve, requires both surgical implantation and a hefty wallet. (The combination of the device and insertion procedure can cost upwards of $40,000.)

Now, in the quest to find more practical solutions for the hearing impaired, researchers at Colorado State University are turning to an unlikely organ for help: the tongue. The three-person research team has developed a Bluetooth-enabled microphone earpiece along with a smart retainer that fits on a person’s tongue. The two devices work in tandem to strengthen a partially deaf person’s ability to recognize words.

Make no mistake: The tongue is not some magical conduit to the organs in your ear. The retainer/earpiece system works by reprogramming areas of the brain, helping them to interpret various sensations on the tongue as certain words.

Read More  . . .

Tinnitus, high-frequency hearing loss increase injury risk: study

January 15, 2015 in Research



Safety & Health
January 14, 2015

New Haven, CT – Workers with a history of tinnitus (ringing in the ear) in conjunction with high-frequency hearing loss are more likely to be injured, according to a study from Yale University.

Researchers analyzed more than 9,900 production and maintenance workers who were employed at six aluminum manufacturing plants from 2003 to 2008. Researchers adjusted for ambient noise exposure as part of the project.

The risk of acute injury was 25 percent greater among workers with tinnitus and high-frequency hearing loss. Workers with tinnitus and low-frequency hearing loss did not face the same risk of acute injury but were more likely to sustain minor injuries.

At-risk workers in noisy work environments might require an additional examination of their communication and hearing protection needs, researchers said.

The Portland, OR-based American Tinnitus Association recommends that people who believe they have tinnitus contact an audiologist, otologist or otolaryngologist for an examination. Tinnitus affects an estimated 50 million people in the United States, ATA said, but only 16 million have sought medical attention for the condition.

The study was published Dec. 30 in the International Journal of Audiology.

Read Original Article . . .

A Deaf Rabbi Breaks Down Barriers

January 15, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



Democrat and Chronicle
By James Goodman, Staff writer
December 20, 2014

The Deaf Hanukkah Celebration that will be held Monday evening in Rochester features a deaf rabbi committed to making Jewish culture accessible to members of the deaf community.

Rabbi Yehoshua Soudakoff, who lives in Brooklyn, has become not only an advocate for deaf Jews but also for removing any barriers that prevent equal treatment of deaf people.

He will light the menorah at the Deaf Hanukkah Celebration at the Chabad House on Genesee Street.

“The holiday of Hanukkah imparts us with a timeless message: to add more and more! On each night of Hanukkah, we increase in the number of flames, adding more light to the world,” Soudakoff wrote in an email describing the message he brings.

The event, he added, is a way to strengthen “our sense of Jewish Deaf identity.”

At the age of 23, Soudakoff has established a website and a nonprofit to help deaf Jews. His stop in Rochester is part of a Hanukkah tour for the deaf and hard of hearing that includes appearances in Manhattan at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

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Neto’s Tucson: Deaf pressman leaves legacy at newspaper plant

January 14, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



By Ernesto Portillo Jr.
January 11, 2015

James Krakowiak never understood the words “can’t do it.”

That’s what he was told when he sought a job in a newspaper’s pressroom, a place where huge presses, when rolling, make thunderous noise.

Krakowiak couldn’t work as a pressman because he is deaf, he was flatly told. He had to hear the presses and, if there were problems, hear the alarms.

But Krakowiak wouldn’t have any of it. When he was a student at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, on West Speedway, he took a printing class, albeit with smaller machines. He fell in love with printing — the smearing of the ink on the skin, the smell of freshly printed paper and the sight of machines spitting printed words. He wanted to work as a printer.

And he did. On Friday, Krakowiak, known as “Jimbo” to his co-workers, retires from the Arizona Daily Star pressroom after 42 years.

“I told my friends I wanted to work in a big printing facility,” Jimbo said through his interpreter, Rusty Mitchell of Z Video Relay Service, which assists hearing-impaired people communicate via video.

He would not be denied. However, Jimbo did more than stay on a job that he was not supposed to have. He brought his co-workers into his deaf world.

“There are 10 people here who have learned basic sign language,” said Jimbo, who turns 66 the day before his final day keeping the presses rolling.

Read More  . . .



Brooklyn Nets Kids dancer defies odds, performs despite of severe hearing loss

January 8, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



Elizabeth Murray
Dec. 28, 2014

Every year, more than 500 kids aged 9-14 try out for the Brooklyn Nets Kids, a dance team comprised of 15 young dancers that perform at Brooklyn Nets games at the Barclay’s Center throughout the season.

Vako Gvelesiani is heading into his second year with the team, making the cut of 15 dancers twice.

“When they told me I made it, it was the biggest moment of my life,” Vako told TODAY.

A feat that is even more amazing considering that Vako suffers from severe hearing loss, and can only hear the beats of the music he dances to.

“When I listen to music, I only hear the beat, I can’t hear the lyrics,” Vako said. “But like to me, I think, you’re not supposed to hear the music you’re supposed to feel the music.”

Vako began losing his hearing when he was only 2 years old. While suffering from a 104-degree fever, his mother, Irma said, he started asking his parents to increase the volume of the television. A trip to the doctor revealed that Vako had hearing loss. The diagnosis, Vako said, was “a shock.”

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Diversity in the Biomedical Research Work Force: Making a Place for Deaf Scientists

January 8, 2015 in Employment, Hearing Loss & Deafness



Democrat & Chronicle
By Stephen Dewhurst
December 27, 2014

Recently, I was invited down to the National Institutes of Health to visit with Dr. Hannah Valantine – the NIH’s first Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity.

I came as part of an unusual joint group from both RIT/NTID and the U of R – led by Gerry Buckley, the President of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). Dr. Valantine had specifically asked to meet with us because of Rochester’s growing reputation as a hub for innovative training and access programs for deaf and hard of hearing students – including a recently launched joint program between RIT and URthat prepares deaf students to enter Ph.D. programs in biomedical research.

This is an important issue because deaf individuals are profoundly underrepresented in the U.S. biomedical research workforce.

Rochester is in a unique position to serve as a national model for training deaf biomedical scientists, because of the combined strength of NTID’s decades of experience and innovative educational programs, and its partnership with a premier research university (UR).

Dr. Valantine wanted to know about lessons learned, and experiences gained – because of her view that biomedical research is strengthened by the different ideas and perspectives that come from a diverse scientific workforce. The challenge lies in creating the opportunities to make that happen – and to ensure that (deaf) young people interested in science get the chance to live their dream.

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Remembering The Pioneering Audiologist Who Tested Hearing At Birth

January 8, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness



DECEMBER 28, 2014
by Becky Sullivan

Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who died this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Marion Downs.i

For more than 30 years, Marion Downs pushed for newborns to be screened for hearing loss soon after birth.

Marion Downs Center

As recently as the early 1990s, if you were born deaf, nobody would know for years. Parents were left to realize that something was amiss when their toddlers were not learning to talk or communicate at a normal pace. A diagnosis that late meant many deaf children never fully developed the ability to use language.

Today, things are drastically different for hard-of-hearing children, thanks to the efforts of a remarkable woman: Marion Downs.

It was just chance that Downs ended up as an audiologist. In the 1930s, she dropped out of college to marry and have children. When her children were old enough to spend their days in school, she wrapped up her bachelor’s degree and headed to the University of Denver to register for graduate school.

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Can Deaf People Hear Voices?

January 7, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Jemima Hodkinson – Mosaic

One man experiences a voice projected in his brain “like a ghost”. A woman hears voices “shouting through her stomach” accompanied by “black, shadowy lips”; another hears her sister’s voice talking to her at night when she is in bed “like it is coming from a transmitter or a radio”.

These three people are deaf. They, along with 50 per cent of all deaf people with schizophrenia, ‘hear’ voices. It is hard to imagine an experience more strange, unsettling and counterintuitive. Research carried out recently has begun to unpick this contradictory psychological phenomenon, and may change the way that voice hallucinations are understood in hearing people too.

Trawl back through the research on voice hallucinations in deaf people and you will find plenty of case reports and studies to support their existence. Yet there is little consensus on what they actually consist of. So while plenty of psychologists supported the idea that deaf individuals – even those deaf from birth – could actually hear the voices, one researcher was unconvinced.

Joanna Atkinson is a researcher and a clinical psychologist based at University College London. She is also deaf. The idea that deaf people could really hear the voices that they hallucinated jarred with her day-to-day clinical experience. Whenever she asked a profoundly deaf person that question, she would receive the same incredulous response: “No, of course not – I am deaf.”

Yet when these same individuals were assessed by psychiatrists who could hear, using a sign language interpreter, they would describe their experience using hearing-related terms – loud, or low, or quiet – that suggested they were in fact hearing sound. What could they be experiencing?

Joanna believed that something had been lost in translation. Through her own observations and experience of deafness, she “realised they were borrowing the language of the hearing majority and psychiatric field, rather than meaning they could hear sound”. These subtle differences in language are what make this research so challenging: for a deaf person, someone could ‘shout’ at them by signing aggressively without making any sound. The inherent difficulty of explaining complex hallucinations and sensations is therefore compounded by the need to translate between different frames of reference.

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Wisconsin Woman Devotes Retirement To Hearing Loops

January 7, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



by Noell Dickmann
January 3, 2015

Juliette Sterkens spoke softly to a dozen people at the Bethel Home Chapel in Oshkosh.

“Can you hear me now?” she nearly whispered in a demonstration, papers muffling her voice. A delighted “yes” was the reply.

Sterkens was speaking at the chapel, which recently had a hearing loop installed, to educate the staff and residents on what having a loop means for them.

As the Hearing Loss Association of America Hearing Loop Advocate, Sterkens travels the country presenting to consumers, ministers, audiologists, and the public about hearing loops.

The benefits of hearing loops are something Chris Prust, HLAA vice president of the Fox Valley and state chapters, knows well — she said hearing loops have changed her life.

Born with hearing loss, Prust has a cochlear implant. She’d gone through life with captions on TV and being unable to understand the minister at her church. When she was introduced to hearing loops everything changed, she said.

Now with the push of a button Prust can connect directly to her television — no more captions. She can hear the minister speak at church and understand the words of musical performances at the Fox Valley Performing Arts Center.

“It’s made life so much better for me,” she said.

Read more  . . .

U.S. children not getting proper preventive care, report finds

January 7, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



By Stacey Cohen

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says that millions of U.S. children are not getting optimum healthcare basically because of a lack of follow-up that could prevent serious health problems.

Part of the ritual of a newborn in the hospital is screening for hearing. Only half of those that seem to have an issue get a documented audiology exam. Two to three infants per 1,000 live births are born deaf or hard of hearing . When left undetected, a hearing loss can delay a child’s speech and language development. Approximately 40% of young adults with hearing loss identified during childhood reported experiencing at least one limitation in daily functioning.

Many children don’t get proper dental treatment. In 2009, less than half of children and adolescents had a dental visit in the past year, and approximately 15% of children received sealants or topical fluoride.These low levels of dental use carried through for the next ten years.

This is just a glimpse into the 11 highlighted shortfalls of lack of follow-up in children’s health.

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Noisy Planet’s Holiday Message – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

December 23, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness

A cartoon snowman on snow skis wears earmuffs to protect his hearing. Protect your kids' hearing this holiday season, give gifts such as books, puzzles, or crafts-or gifts with volume controls.   The Noisy Planet logo is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing logo.

Management of Hearing Loss Prevention in Live Entertainment

December 19, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Robert M. Ghent Jr., AuD
December 15, 2014

Editor’s Note: This text course is an edited transcript of a live webinar. Download supplemental course materials.

Dr. Robert Ghent: Today I’m going to discuss management of hearing loss prevention in live entertainment. I’ll cover why this area has not been more recognized and what opportunities are available for audiologists. I’ll also talk about what management of hearing loss means in the live entertainment industry. Live entertainment includes sporting events, racing events, and concerts of all types, not just rock and roll, but the primary focus today is on music events.

I work for Honeywell Safety Products. Many of the pictures in your handout are of Honeywell products because I have easy access to those images, but there are other products that are included as well. The use of these images does not constitute an endorsement any of these products. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Mr. Nick Mayne of the Canterbury City Council in Kent, England, for providing me with some data from a study that I’ll be discussing. Additionally, portions of this presentation were previously presented at the 47th Conference of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), on Music-Induced Hearing Loss in 2012, as well as at the 38th Annual National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) Conference in 2013.


In 1964, the Beatles came to the United States and performed at Shea Stadium. Few fans could hear them, and the Beatles could not hear themselves well because the audience was so loud. There was a problem with getting sound distributed over a crowd of screaming people that large. In the ensuing 10 years, we significantly advanced the technology of concert sound reinforcement.

When I was a senior in high school, I got a job at Tycobrahe Sound Company. They were contracted to provide the sound for a large festival show, second only to Woodstock at the time. So, in 1974, we did The California Jam. A magazine article covering this show touted 54,000 watts of audio power. We generated 105 dB SPL a mile away, and we were awed by such a great achievement. Can you imagine how loud it had to be in front of the speaker tower in order to measure 105 dB SPL at one mile down wind?  This is how I started my career.

Problem Statement

Hearing conservation has never been a part of the live entertainment culture, despite knowledge of the problems and risks. The entertainment industry knows there are some regulations, but those typically apply to brick-and-mortar industries, and entertainment does not know how to apply them in their own industry. Fortunately, we see this starting to change, and this is a good opportunity for audiologists to do something to help this industry.

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Choir spreads joy to all — with and without hearing

December 12, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



Columbus Dispatch
Columbus, Ohio
By Ken Gordon
Dec 11, 2014

Ezra Somnitz couldn’t hear the Christmas carols on Saturday, but the 18-month-old wasn’t held back.

Just minutes into a performance by the seasonal choir Signs of Christmas, Ezra — who was born deaf — began squawking and clapping with delight while perched on his father’s lap at the Grove City Library.

He was reacting to the movements of the choir, whose holiday tunes are interpreted in American Sign Language as the lyrics are piped through a sound system.

“We thought he would enjoy it,” his mother, Melanie, said as her son squirmed in her arms afterward.

“I think he did. Can’t you tell?”

The “blended” family, of Commercial Point in Pickaway County, has attended a Signs of Christmas performance for the past few years, she said.

Like her son, her husband, Chris, is deaf; their two older children, 9 and 6, are not.

The family reflected the makeup of the audience as a whole on Saturday, with about half of the 30 people in attendance able to hear and the other half not.

“It just makes sign language and deafness seem normal and not a disability and not something that separates the community,” Mrs. Somnitz said. “It brings the communities — deaf and hearing — together.”

See Pictures & Read More  . . .