Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wrongly convicted deaf man freed after 20 years

Not the type of stories I usually post, but it was in the newspaper and caught my eye. Thought it was interesting, and wanted to share!

Stephen Matthew Brodie, 39  lost his hearing to meningitis at 18 months, and communicates using ASL. He was convicted of sexually assaulting a five year old girl in 1990. Turns out, he didn't actually do it. The following quote from the article really struck me, and I wonder if this sort of thing still occurs today. It wouldn't surprise me, but it's still upsetting.
"After 18 hours of questioning over eight days – much of it with no sign language interpreter present – Brodie had pleaded guilty[.]"  ADA, anyone?! 

Ironically enough, his deafness was the very thing that led a lawyer to further investigate his case, leading to his freedom. His father wrote a letter to a paralegal, Jena Parker. "Parker said that when she first read the letter from Brodie's father, two things stood out to her: If a deaf person had committed the crime, he would have had no gauge of how loud he was as he went through things in the house; and how did the child victim understand Brodie's instructions when his voice is often unintelligible?" I'm sure someone will manage to find offense with that quote, but it is what ultimately got him released!

Read the article here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sweet Sixteen

I turned 16 on Monday, then got my license on Thursday. As great as it was having the day off of school (since my birthday also happened to fall on Labor Day), being sick put a bit of a damper on things. I went to the DPS on Thursday, since it was a Jewish holiday and I didn't want to have to miss school twice. Stood in line for 2 hours (starting at 7 AM..way too early!), and then made an appointment to take my driving test at noon. While in line, we chatted with a guy who was a year or two older than me (he was getting his license renewed) who also had hearing aids. I don't know know of his hearing background, but as far as I know he is completely oral, and if his hearing aids hadn't been visible I probably would have had no idea he had a hearing loss. We discussed whether or not to get hearing-related restrictions on my license, and he said that he didn't put anything about his hearing loss on the form when he went to get his. In the end, we told the person who was creating my license (which only flustered the poor lady further-it was her first time giving a license and it took her forever to figure out how to work everything on the computer!)

When I came back later to take the driving test, I was terrified.  All of the people who were taking the driving test had to line up in their cars in a certain spot, and the person testing would come out to you. There were about 6 of us in line, and I was 2nd. The first instructor/testing person came out, a jolly large old man who seemed quite friendly, and walked over two the first car. I thought to myself,  "Maybe it's not that bad!" Then, another person walked out and began making her way out towards my car. An audible gasp could be heard from my mother's mouth- this woman looked miserable, and I'm pretty sure if I'd been in a movie, they would have played that haunting music they play when the villain reveals herself! It didn't help that she insisted in speaking in her one-step-above-a-whisper voice. The test itself didn't last longer than 15 minutes, and I ensured that I didn't fail for "Not following directions" by repeating every single direction she gave me to verify I heard her right. I wouldn't say it was a joyride, and I wasn't quite flawless, but I passed and did well and I now have a license, so I have no complaints!

 On Friday I had my birthday part. It was a "sweets" party (get it? "Sweet Sixteen" Clever, right? ;)) and we spent 2 of the 3 hours in 2 teams "competing" by having a cake decorating competition. I was actually surprised at how artistic some of my friends are! There was no winner or prize, but it was a lot of fun.  Instead of gifts, I told my friends that I would love donations for the Dallas Hearing Foundation. We raised $300, and I know it was for a great cause! Here are some pictures:
This was a cake we ordered, we're not quite that talented at decorating. Isn't it beautiful?!
This was the table of sweets. Not all of the food was out yet, but I still think it's so pretty!
Cake decorating supplies

Team 1's cake

Team 2's Cake
Hearing is great! At the beginning of my party I began to regret having 16 already loud and hyper girls, who were also now on a sugar rush, all decorating and talking in one room, since it began to get so noisy that even my friends had  to ask for more repeats than usual. I then gestured my mom for my remote, quickly put it on the Zoom setting, and was able to hear fine for the rest of the evening!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

FM with the N5 *EDITED*

I've found that my blog has had multiple searches about how to use the FM with the N5 processor. Currently, I use the MyLink neckloop instead of a boot (using T-coil) and the SmartLink Transmitter, both shown.

 Recently, I went to look at the Cochlear store's newest items, in search of the microphone covers (I had a mishap in putting mine on, which resulted in needing another set. Cochlear just sent me some more for free. Details in another post!). I came across an exciting discovery..

"The Euro Accessory Adaptor is designed to create a convenient interface for connecting a wireless FM receiver, such as the Phonak MLxS, to the Cochlear Nucleus CP810 Sound Processor. Wireless FM receivers allow the voice of a speaker, often times a teacher, to be transmitted wirelessly to the listener for easier listening in noise." Cost: $90

For those of you  curious of what it looks like while being worn, I found some pictures that someone posted on a Dutch CI Forum. To see more pictures and, I guess if you read Dutch, read more about it, check out
This is not me, see above link for source.
See above link for source
I was worried about it being awkward looking. I'm not sure what I think of it, but it certainly adds bulk at a bit of a strange angle. It could be much worse, though. I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts (or experiences) on using the Euro Adapter. How do you think it looks? My biggest concern is the decrease in battery life that I will more than likely experience.

*EDIT as of  9/9*: Cochlear has information posted on their website about the new Euro Adaptor, and the site says that N5 users will be able to get the adaptor for free by filling out a form (which is supposedly on the website, but I can't seem to locate it). Check it out, plus tons of other info about using the FM here. Also, Cochlear has released an improved version of their Snugfit for the N5, which is pretty much the same as that of the Freedom (except shaped to the N5), so it's no longer transparent but much easier to bend to fit your ear shape. In addition to that, they've released Compact Rechargeable Battery Covers. This is good news for the parents of younger kids who like to use the covers and the smaller rechargeables. All of the items mentioned are for sale on the Cochlear Online Store under Nucleus 5 Accessories, which can be found here

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hearing Loss, Confidence, and my Second Week of School

Week 2 was also successful! The homework load has increased, and there has been an annoying amount of "busy-work" but it has certainly been bearable. It was pretty uneventful (except for a bunch of other sophomores unofficially declared on Tuesday "Scrub Day" which I find to be terrifying and cruel. If you don't know what it is, I'll leave it up to your imagination. Hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with wearing scrubs or cleaning). Since there's not much to say about that, I thought I would talk about confidence and how it has impacted me.

Over the summer I volunteered at a nearby pediatric hospital. While I had done it the summer before, this year they placed me at the front desk as opposed to being in the back filing papers. I was really excited about this, as it's obviously more a lot more interesting to get some interaction with patients and parents. I was in charge of giving directions and walking people to their destinations in the hard-to-navigate hospital. I certainly feel like it taught me quite a bit about speaking up for myself, as you can't exactly bluff when you mishear the location you're supposed to be bringing someone! As time went on, I also built up the confidence to go up and ask people who seemed to be wandering and lost if they needed help. People view you  completely differently when you act like you know what you're talking about.

This brings me to the school year. The (semi-)confidence to talk to complete strangers has proved essential for yearbook, since we have to ask people permission before taking their pictures. This also means getting shot down over and over (and over!) again, but I guess that's just another life lesson! It has also transferred over to my other classes, such as when I asked my teacher to change my seat since I was facing the wall instead of the front of the room. She was more than happy to move me, but I don't think the girl I traded with was too crazy about having to strain her neck for 50 minutes every day. Not sure why they position the desks like that anyway...

I also  built up the confidence to run for an officer position of my school's French Honor Society. To back up a bit, I had never been in the officer position of a club before until I decided to run for my school's Red Cross Club. My friends and I were pretty much the only freshmen in it last year, so this year all 5 of us are officers since there wasn't really anyone to run against.  We're hoping to get more students involved! Anyway, running for FHS officer was the first thing where I'd actually have to compete against other people for the position. Luckily for me, the winner is chosen by having an interview with my French teacher instead of having to give a speech and have members vote (baby steps!) To be completely honest, I wavered back and forth about whether I wanted to interview, and wasn't going to do it until the tutorial session I was going to attend before school was canceled, and I was already at the school so I had nothing better to do but to go and interview for the position. I hadn't prepared at all, but I managed to win the position I wanted, so that was pretty exciting!