ALDs at the Library

that Deaf Girl:

It’s amazing what can happen when you just ask and are willing to advocate for yourself.

Originally posted on SayWhatClub:

by Chelle George

In February I went on a advocating frenzy, tired of feeling left out and feeling for anyone else who felt left out. I requested CART for a writers workshop I want to attend in May, requested an ALD at the downtown library for a reading from local authors and left comments on news sites in regards to hearing loss. There’s a Paulo Coelho quote: Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” Right after I posted about my advocating adventures, life erupted and picked up speed. I had a hard time keeping track of what all I had to do, where I had to be and when. This is why I haven’t posted much in the last month. I think things are slowing down again and today I have time…

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The difference between ASL and SEE

There has been quite a bit of linguistic debate between ASL and SEE. Many people do not understand some of the fundamental differences nor do they understand the histories of these two different communication methods. Both ASL and SEE are valid communication choices, there is nothing wrong with choosing one over the other, yet parents and students alike need to understand the differences between them so they can make the appropriate choice for themselves and or their families. This blog post will go over just a few of those differences.

Before I begin explaining the differences, let me dispel one large myth about sign language in general, its universalism. Sign languages are not universal. While all sign languages have some things in common they differ greatly across the world. The same can be said about spoken languages; they share some things, and differ in many others. The only thing that is universal between sign languages is the use of the hands and facial expressions to get concepts across, just as the only thing that is universal in spoken language is the use of voice and tones to get concepts understood. even in countries who share the same base language, their sign languages will differ greatly. Take the United States and Britain. They both are predominately English speaking and use the same alphabet, but ASL and BSL (British Sign Language) are vastly different, even to the point of using different signs for their alphabet.

 

ASL Alphabet

BSL alphabet

 

Signing Exact English (SEE-II) is a manually coded English. There have been multiple different forms of SEE, the first of which was actually called Seeing Essential English (SEE-I). This is the form that generally isn’t used any longer, and instead of a single sign for butterfly, a person would sign butter and fly. SEE-I was created by David Anthony, who is a British deaf man who was born to deaf Parents. His first language is British Sign Language. He created SEE-I, which is also known as Morphemic Sign System, to attempt to solve an issue of poor English skills among deaf children, who were learning English as a Second Language. When Anthony created SEE-I he never intended it to be used as every day communication, he intended it to be used purely for Literacy instruction, as he had told me in a conversation. SEE-I seen as incomplete and inadequate, so others changed it, creating SEE-II. This manually coded English system incorporates ASL signs, English structure and some of its own. SEE-II (Commonly just referred to as SEE) uses word endings, such as –er, -ed, and -ing. It signs each and every word that would be spoken or written. Words such as Van, Car and Truck are signed differently in SEE-II using an initialized system, as are Beautiful and pretty, which in ASL are the same sign. Due to SEE being a manual system of English, it is also quite literal. In English, someone would say “Beat around the Bush”, and in SEE, this would be signed. If a person looks at it conceptually, they would see someone hitting something around a bush, and it could make very little sense to them.

American Sign Language is a distinct language on its own. It has its own complex grammar structure, idioms and phrases. It is separate and distinct from English. Many people to this day still see ASL as purely pointing this couldn’t be further from the truth. Other people see ASL as a manually coded English, this also is false. ASL doesn’t share a grammatical structure with English, the grammar used to interpret this post in ASL vs the grammar used to write this in English would be different, just as if I were to translate this post into Spanish. (in another post I will explain the difference between interpretation and translation, as these are commonly confused as well). ASL is also a naturally developing language, and a living language. What I mean by this is it is not a code that was developed, but was grown from the use by deaf individuals. ASL began its development when Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet brought OSF (French Sign Language) to the states and started teaching using it. In this way, you can say ASL is got its origins from French Sign Language, (and still currently share over fifty percent of their signs) just as English is derived from other languages. Since this time, it has grown, changed and become its own distinct language. ASL uses a time, topic, comment grammar structure, whereas English uses as subject verb object structure. Just as in English there isn’t a strict rule as to how the words must be placed, the same goes for ASL. It is also important to note, ASL doesn’t use variations of “to be” like English does, there are no signs for words such as: am, is, are, or were. Verbs are also different in ASL, there is no runnING, or teachING but rather it depends on the sign as to how you signify it is a verb, the general rule is to perform the sign twice, but there are always exceptions to the rules.

While neither of these are the one way to go when instilling language in a deaf child, the important thing is to get language. There are other manually coded systems of English, such as Cued Speech. Each of these communication strategies (or for lack of a better word, languages) have their place and appropriateness. No one is better than the other, but the distinctions are important. It is important to note, that SEE-I and SEE-II are not languages themselves, but are manual systems of English. ASL on the other hand is a language on its own. There are other systems, such as CASE (Conceptually Accurate Signed English) that attempt to combine the two even further.

For more information, you can look here (http://www.signingsavvy.com/blog/45/The+difference+between+ASL+and+English+signs) Here (http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/evolutionofsignlanguage.htm) here (http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/signedenglish.htm) and many other places.

Back to where I started (kinda)

When i started this blog in 2011, I didn’t see where it would go, what it would become. I didn’t see the people I would meet, the people who would read it, or the friends that would come from it. I only knew I needed to write again, I only knew that it would be about my life, my hopes, my triumphs, my fears, my highs and lows… And mostly about being deaf in a hearing world. Lately I have noticed it’s changed. Is become so much about my CIs and not enough about anything else.
For this reason, I’m going to start writing about all things deaf again, not just my CIs. Yes they will still play a part, but for the last year and a half they have consumed my blog… And  will  to change… So I don’t feel as if I’m loosing myself to my implants. Just a heads up to the people who read.

How the time passes, a new year

As I sit writing this, there are just over 8 hours until 2014 comes, a new year, which will bring new joys, new sorrows, new challenges, new adventures, new friends and hopefully much more of the same happiness I have had this year. I want to take this time to recap the year.

While most of 2013 was a blur, there are a few things that stand out.

In February I was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that threatened to take my precious eyesite. I was diagnosed with IIH, which I have written about here, herehere, here what it feels like, and a little bit here. And while it isn’t getting better… it is only sometimes getting worse. And the best news I could hope from with this… as of right now, my eyes are safe.

Come May… my most common thought was how to make the things in my head more appealing, how can I show them off? How can I… honestly… make them LESS BORING. And I came up with magnetic decoration! I still have, and occasionally use these.  I also, was moving. I moved from my home in Colorado to my new home in Arizona at the end of May. I am still working with the same company, but have moved locations a few times.

In August I confronted a prejudice I have, when it comes to communication, visual communication actually. I will admit, and did admit, I had seen Cued Speech as a lesser form of communication, I thought it was weird, I thought it didn’t work, I thought it was… useless. I don’t think that anymore. I feel it has its uses, I feel there are times for it. And while I will not be using it as my main method of communicaiton, I have been learning it.

In October I wrote about my Left CI failing, and while it happened at the end of August, I’m not counting that as an august post. It was hard, it was annoying, but it was replaced in November, just 2 days short of my 25th Birthday.  November also was activation which went remarkably good. And I am now doing well with my implant.

This month I have written an N6 Review and I still love it. I also have been to the dentist what feels like enough to make up for the many years I went without seeing one… something I will NOT be doing again any time soon. I will be going to the dentist for my 6 month check up just as I should.

Another very exciting piece of news… my sister is getting married June 1st!!! This will mean a trip to Colorado! It will also mean I will have to wear a dress and figure out how to keep my Cis on with an up-do.

I think this is enough for now (read back if you have to) and I will try to post more often in 2014.

Christmas 2013

My christmas was full of many ups, and just a couple downs. I had a great time with my amazing fiancé and her family. We opened a few presents at home, then headed for some fun at her parents house. So many people feel as if this season is all about the gifts that are received, but I have come to feel it is much more about relationships and time spent together. While spending time together as a family is nothing rare with these guys, its great to be able to do it on a day such as Christmas. And while we did exchange gifts, they were mostly home made, and were more than just possessions, they were gifts of each other.

 

We arrived at her parents house around 10:30 sat and chatted, made a beaded christmas tree (so they now have one for each of the girls) and I did a little bit of work that was needed for the office.  We didn’t have an actual meal, snacks were out, but it was mostly spending time together. My SIL and her family (including the most adorable almost 2 year old) arrived and the baby took a nap. More of the same continued. We opened presents, and gave little pieces of ourselves to each other. Laughed and smiled, giggled over the silly gifts, cried over the ones that touched our hearts (ok… maybe that was just me). My SIL didn’t seem to be feeling well, but she was still having fun. The last gift that was given was a calendar, full of pictures of my SIL, her husband and the beautiful baby… with one surprise… a due date. The reason for her feeling icky, a new baby was on the way!  I cant wait to meet this little bundle of joy in August, and I know that once again, they will make fantastic parents.

 

Later that night, I started feeling ill, so I took a little nap as they watched a movie without captions (we couldn’t get them to turn on sadly). A little while later, my love came up to me asking for us to go home, she wasn’t feeling well either… we must have caught something the night before at her aunts house. By the time we got home… we were sick… and not just feeling icky sick, but SICK. Sicker than I have been in quite a while, and we both had to work the next day… which was no fun for either of us.

Adventure at the Dentists

The same day I had my left CI activate, I also made a visit to… the dentist. If there is one thing I’m scared of, its dentists. I had called ahead a week and scheduled the appointment, informed them I would need an ASL interpreter, and was told that would be no problem. Making the call was hard for me, and I was imagining how difficult it would be actually going. With my CI’s, although I can hear and understand fairly well, when I am nervous, upset, scared, hurt or otherwise indisposed, my comprehension goes from good to absolutely pitiful. For this reason I needed and wanted an ASL interpreter.

 

I was able to muster the courage to go to the dentist, it was only because a friend of mine was going with me. When I arrived, signed in, I was then informed, there would be no ASL interpreter for the first visit… because… “there was no communication” in that first visit. Not only was I scared, but now… I was livid. The one thing I was counting on to make this visit at least a little bearable was that I was finally going to be able to understand what was said, 100%… That didn’t happen. The dentist was a jerk, he talked down to me like I was a child, I only understood about 30-50% of what was said… and that was only because my friend was helping me. I decided to show him why an ASL interpreter was necessary, I turned my voice off, and started just signing, he looked petrified. He told me that they didn’t schedule interpreters for this appointment because about 50% of them didn’t happen. I informed him of other options than a live interpreter for appointments where they don’t know if it is going to happen, such as VRI from companies like Purple or ZVRS. Then I got xrays that hurt like heck and scheduled a second appointment to review. I was mad, and I was very close to not going back.

 

When I talked with my partner, who had visited this office, I was told, I saw the wrong doctor… so I called and changed the appointment to the right dentist, and hoped for the best. I told them I would REQUIRE an ASL interpreter, and informed them of the law.

 

Well, Monday I went, and… there WAS an interpreter… I have to say being able to take my Cis off, and not having to hear the drill like I did before my hearing took a complete nose dive, and not wearing my hearing aids during the appointment to attempt to understand, but being able to SEE what was said… made the appointment much much less evil. I have to go back and have a bit more done, but I finally got my front tooth fixed I damaged when I was young, it seems it was damaged to the point where it needed a root canal.

 

I have to say… it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. The best thing was being able to understand everything, and STILL be in complete silence. When I didn’t have to use my HA’s to attempt to understand what was being said while he was in my mouth, but instead could take my CI’s off and see everything that is being said, I felt much more comfortable.

 

I have another appointment next Thursday… and thankfully with this dentist at Comfort Dental, Dr. Abe Miller, was nothing like this… which is how I picture all dentists.

 

N6 Review

Cochlear has recently released their Nucleus 6 processor. There are due to be many advancements with this processor. With my recent revision surgery, I was able to receive 2 N6’s, one for the right (original implant) and one for the left (revision). While there is still much that hasn’t been approved for it, even though it has the capabilities within the processor, I have to say I do see an improvement.

First let us see what Cochlear has to say about the processor.  Nucleus 6 Features  (I’m only going to be posting what is new with the N6, and doesn’t have to deal with the internal piece.

  1. Better than a Hearing Aid -

Because all a hearing aid does is amplify sound. It makes everything louder, including background noise. This is where a cochlear implant can really seem like a miracle worker. It’s designed to not only make sounds louder, but clearer.

  1. Sound can change quickly. Now your sound Processor can, too. -

Every place is different. With different sounds. One minute you’re walking down a quiet street, the next you’re stepping into a crowded restaurant. You go from a concert hall filled with music to a stadium filled with cheers. And now, thanks to synchronized microphones and SmartSound® technology, you’ll hear your best in all of them.

Unlike most sound processors, the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor has synchronized microphones that focus on the direction the sounds are coming from, filtering out what you don’t want to hear and tuning in to what you do.

Then the innovative SmartSound technology optimizes the sound to enhance your hearing in any environment, including ones filled with music or background music.

If you prefer to have more control over your hearing, you have the choice of using the sound processor or the remote assistant to make simple modifications to your hearing so you hear your best in any situation.

  1. Our Most powerful Microchip yet -

The heart of the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor is a chip that’s 5 times more powerful than our previous sound processor. It’s powerful enough to take advantage of an entirely new concept called data logging. And it will let you use future innovations, including advanced wireless technology. As the breakthroughs come, you’ll be ready.

  1. A Processor so smart, it can tell you where its been

It can be hard to remember what happened yesterday, let alone the last month. With data logging, you don’t have to. It records exactly how your sound processor is being used every day. It fills in all the gaps, so your audiologist gets a more complete picture of your hearing experiences, and makes any necessary adjustments so you can hear your best.

For parents, the data logging functionality provides added confidence that your child is hearing their best at all times. For the first time ever, key information about your child’s Nucleus® System can be downloaded by your audiologist for evaluation. This is a minute-to-minute, comprehensive record that lets the audiologist know how your child is using the system and if it’s being used correctly, especially when you cannot be with them.

  1. It’s a whole new wireless world. And you’ll be ready

Just being able to use the phone like everyone else is life-changing. That’s why our Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor comes with a telecoil so you can talk on the phone without plugging anything else in. But that’s just the beginning. The Nucleus 6 Sound Processor has a chip that’s 5 times more powerful than our previous sound processors. And soon, you’re going to be able to put all that processing power to good use.

With a simple software upgrade that’s under development, your Nucleus 6 Sound Processor will directly connect to an incredibly wide range of 2.4GHz wireless devices . You’ll use Bluetooth-enabled music players and some hearing aids without any wires, ear buds or additional accessories hanging around your neck. The audio signals from your TV, stereo and GPS will broadcast right to your sound processor, just like it was an extra speaker. Whatever wireless wizardry they come up with, you’ll probably be able to connect to it.

  1. Built to be strong and Durable

To truly experience a world of sound, you have to get out there and explore the world around you. That’s exactly what the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor was designed to handle. With a special water-repellant nano-coating, the Nucleus 6 is resistant against water, sweat and humidity all the time.And, built on a titanium foundation – the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal – it’s strong enough for whatever adventure life has in store for you. For even more peace of mind, it’s backed up with a 5-year warranty that’s just as strong.*

  1. 5-Year, No quesitons Asked Warranty

You can worry less with the most comprehensive warranty out there. In keeping with our promise to Hear now And always, your Nucleus® 6 System comes with a no questions asked 5-year warranty.*

The 5-year warranty covers your:

✓ Sound processor ✓Magnet
✓ Coil ✓Remote
✓Cable ✓Battery Holder & Cover
  1. Convenent Remote Assistants

To help you feel confident your hearing is optimized and your Nucleus® System is working properly, we designed the Nucleus 6 with another industry first, our two-way remote assistants.You have two to choose from.The advanced remote assistant puts you in control of monitoring and managing your hearing with built-in diagnostics, simple navigation and troubleshooting features.

The pocket-size remote control allows you to adjust your settings without touching the sound processor.

  1. Accessories that let you hear just the way you want

COLOR!!

Whether you want to be discreet or live out loud, the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor allows you to do both. With a wide range of colors and sound processor covers to choose from, you can have a different look every day.

The Nucleus 6 Sound Processor is small and fits securely and discreetly behind your ear.And with our range of soft earhooks that have been ergonomically designed, it’s as comfortable as it is discreet.

In addition, the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor comes with disposable batteries that last for up to 60 hours of life, so you can wear it all day without worry.*

*Rechargeable batteries for the Nucleus 6 Sound Processors are not yet available, pending FDA approval.

That’s a lot to Live up to… so lets look at each feature quickly.

  1. Better than a hearing aid

Yes, My implants are better than my Hearing Aids were, but you have to remember that 1. Cochlear implants don’t work for everyone. 2. Not everyone qualifies for a Cochlear implant. 3. A cochlear implant doesn’t replace normal hearing.

  1. Sounds Can change quickly. Now your sound processor can, too (SmartSound iQ)

Unfortunately… I can’t comment on SmartSound iQ yet, as it isn’t FDA approved. I must say I am excited to try it though.

  1. Most powerful Microchip yet

Can’t argue, but I can’t say for sure

  1. A processor so smart it can tell you where its been

This is very cool. I went back for my one week checkup, and was able to see how my progress was made, and how much time I spent on each program, and with what accessories. This is very exciting as it will help both myself and my audiologist plan for what will need to happen in the future with my CI and what programs will be appropriate for me.

  1. It’s a whole new wireless world. And you’ll be ready

Again, not FDA approved.

  1. Built to be strong and Durable

The N6 is lighter than the N5. It feels a little less durable… but I think only time will tell.

  1. 5-Year, No quesitons Asked Warranty

It is important to note, this is only with new surgeries. For upgrades / replacements it is still a 3 year warranty.

  1. Convenient Remote Assistants

I do have both remotes, and will cover that a little later. The size difference is amazing.

  1. Accessories that let you hear just the way you want

The earhooks are much more comfortable, as is the snug fit, I will again make more comments on this later down. I LOVE the processor covers, and the fact my coil can now be colorful! Exactly what I wanted! (I really do like color!)

So as for their claims, so far it seems like they aren’t making any false claims, just a few that haven’t been approved from the FDA yet.

The first thing I noticed with the N6, was how light it was. The weight difference doesn’t seem like it would be much, but it really does make a difference. When you have a device sitting on your ear for 10+ hours a day, especially right after surgery, the new ounces makes a HUGE difference.

Once I put the N6 on, and it was turned on, the other thing I noticed with my right (older) ear, was how much… quieter it was. It wasn’t that I couldn’t hear things, it was that the background noise was much quieter. It was almost as though the volume for the background noise was turned down, while the speaker’s voice was turned up. It was wonderful. Before with the N5, I would have to struggle to hear if there was any background noise, with the N6 it is much easier. Now, it is also important to note, there is new software that hasn’t been applied yet, because it hasn’t been approved by the FDA, this includes the SmartSound iQ, the Noise Reduction and the Wind Noise Reduction software. Even saying this… background noise is MUCH better. I can’t say why this is, I’m curious if it has to do with the 5x more powerful microchip or because the microphones are in different locations than before. The everyday program, or what is now called the “Home” program on the N6, is better than the noise program on the N5, yet without sacrificing clarity or access to sound.

The ear hooks are also much more comfortable, and while 99% of the earhook I do like, including that it is much easier to take on and off, and it doesn’t break nearly every time it is removed, the issue I have with it… it falls off a bit more often than I would like. This morning for example, I went to put my processors on and one of the earhooks was missing… thankfully I had my snugfits with me, and was able to use those. I guess I will have to purchase more earhooks just in case. Everything else about the earhook I love. Much more comfortable, more pliable, and holds onto my ear much nicer.

The remotes are very nice. I’m very happy I was able to get both remotes. The remote assistant has a different user interface than the remote assistant for the N5. You have more options, and it is much more colorful. You can also access things, such as volume and sensitivity in a much nicer manner. You also don’t have to quickly turn the remote off in order to switch between advanced and simple mode for controlling the processor. The remote control is so much smaller than the remote assistant. It is about the size of a processor. It is nice, and in order to pair the remote to a processor, you just have to touch the processor to the back of the remote. The remote control does have a much more limited ability to control things when compared to the Remote Assistant. You can choose between volume and sensitivity, you can’t control both. You can change programs, you can turn on and off t-coil… other than that, there is nothing more you can do. I have used the Remote Assistant much more often than the Remote Control.

The new case that comes with the processor is also much nicer, with more room. The coil covers are beautiful, even if they are limited. The processor covers don’t quite fit, but I’m wondering if that has to do with the batteries not being approved yet (which will be shipped to me free once they come available) or if it has to do with there being two models of the processor, one with an accessory port and one without.

Another important aspect, battery life. While I am using the disposables, the rechargeable are theoretically suppose to work with it, but I admit, I am leery of trying it. With my N5’s, the disposables would last me about a day and a half at most, without changing my map on my right side, my N6 disposables are now lasting me 3 full days. This is extremely exciting. I’m hoping that when I get the rechargeable this may mean that I will be able to use the smaller battery, and not the standard battery.

All in all, I am extremely impressed with my new n6’s, and I am excited for the features that will come with the FDA approval of things such as SmartSound iQ and the wind noise reduction programs. If you have the chance to upgrade, I would suggest you look into it. I know it isn’t a cheap process, but if you have the insurance coverage and the spare cash, It will be very worth your while. Although… you may want to wait until the wireless portion of the software has been approved, because then you will be able to choose wireless accessories with your upgrades. As I get farther along with my N6’s I will be adding more to the review.