May 30, 2010

Detailed Description Of My Deafness (Audiogram Included)

One question I am frequently asked is, "What can you hear? How do you hear?"

I noticed that in my blog, I have not gone into details about my deafness. I thought it would be interesting, to those who really want to know, for me to provide the most detailed description of my deafness that I possibly can.

Basically, I have moderately severe-profound sloping deafness in my left ear (moderately severe-severe in frequencies lower than 1000 Hz and profound deafness in 1000 Hz and higher) and moderate-severe deafness in my right ear only in the high frequencies (higher than 750 Hz). I have typical hearing in the lower frequencies, 250 Hz-750 Hz.

I can't hardly hear anything in my left ear (I can feel vibrations and hear low and loud booms). For example, I am unable to talk on the phone using my left ear. I have always talked on the phone using my right ear.

I can hear fairly well with my right ear except in the high frequencies; I have trouble hearing whispering, water running, certain high pitch tones, voices of children, everyday speech, etc.).

From my most recent audiological examination from 2006:

The results of that examination revealed her hearing on the right side fall within normal limits only to 750 Hz. Thereafter, there was a rapid decrease in thresholds to 1500 Hz, with stabilized thresholds in the moderate loss range to the higher frequencies. 
On the left side, there was a moderate to profound sloping sensorineural loss to 1000 Hz, with no recordable thresholds at the higher frequencies. 
Tympanograms were normal. 

My audiologist's informal analysis of my deafness was, "Wow! You weren't kidding! You really can't hear too well!" 
Here are my results graphed on an audiogram:

(The red markings symbolize my right ear, and the black markings symbolize my left ear)

*dB means decibel (loudness or intensity of sounds)
*Hz means Hertz (pitch or frequency of sounds)

Here is a blank audiogram with pictures: 


If there is anyone reading this who could perhaps explain my hearing loss a little better or in a clearer way (based on the audiogram), please feel free to email me or leave a comment.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of how I hear and how I can't hear.


*Useful audiogram information from

May 29, 2010

Hearing Aid Shaped Tan Mark! (Oh, The Things I Do For My Blog)

Summer is here! 

I took an old hearing aid and made a special hearing aid tan mark on my leg to celebrate. : )

Disclaimer: Do NOT do the same with your current hearing aid. Direct sunlight is not good for hearing aids. I used an old one I no longer use. Also, I do not advocate tanning. I avoid it like the plague. This will be the only time I will spend time "tanning" which is to create a hearing tan mark for this post. 

Bizarre, I know. I also think it is hilarious. 

 (Picture in 'contrast' to show more of the tan mark)


Never Tell A Child That He or She Is Wrong

I got one of the greatest advice from a professor at graduate school (who was not in the deaf education program, unfortunately).

About working with a student, he told us, "Never tell a child that he or she is wrong."

He explained that instead we should say, "This is how most people do it." Or "Let me show you another way you can solve this."

There were several reasons he gave us for why we should not tell a child that she or he is wrong. First, it is dismissive and most children will see this as an attack and will lose the confidence and interest in working on the problem. Secondly, maybe they have seen their parents do the same thing (whatever it is that they are "wrong" in) and therefore you are basically telling that child their parents are wrong. For example, if a child pronounces a certain word in a certain way, keep in mind that maybe her parents pronounce it at home this way. Therefore it is better to say, "This is how we say this word at school." Thirdly, telling a child that he or she is wrong is simply a lie. The child is not wrong, perhaps you are not teaching it or explaining it in a way that he or she can learn.

Now, of course with little things like if a child says that 2 + 2 = 5, then you can say "That's not the right answer. Try it again. Not yet."  I do not think it would be so terrible to say the child has the wrong answer then. 

This is what I often think about when arguing with people or when I see the many debates and fights that happen all over DeafRead. Most people attack each other, screaming "Wrong!" rather than just simply state their points and ask reasonable questions. The ones who scream "Wrong!" with no good reasons are the ones who are not being taken seriously, I notice. There are a few bloggers who are able to maintain their cool and simply state, "Well this is another way we can look at it. This is what I see and understand. What do you think?"


May 28, 2010

Teaching Deaf and HOH Students To Be Independent

My job, as an itinerant teacher for deaf and hard of hearing students, is to make sure I give my students the support they need. I come in to fix their hearing aids or amplification devices, provide a shoulder for them to cry on, scold them for not doing their work, cheer them on when they give a class presentation, tell the teacher once again that the student should not be sitting right next to the noisy air conditioner vent during class, and such.

But, what I find myself doing the most is really getting onto my students about advocating for themselves or being more responsible for themselves. I am not going to be there all of the time to hold their hands. They will have to learn how to take care of themselves. Part of it is also educating the parents and teachers about helping them become independent. My ultimate goal is for my students and their parents not to need me as much.

Eventually, it would be great if one of my students was able to say to his teacher, "Listen here buddy, my hearing aid is not working and yet again you have put me right next to the loud air conditioning vent. I am going to have to move to a better location in the class. Capisce?" OK, well maybe I don't want them to be that brazen. But there are several effective ways to self-advocate and this is what I try to work with them on. For example, I may suggest that the teacher and the student to come up with some visual cues and signs in the classroom (signs or cues for "I can't hear you" "My hearing aid is not working" "Repeat, please"). Then I taught this to the whole class so that she is not the only one using these signs and cues (some classes use the "bathroom" sign for "I need to go to the bathroom").

I cannot stand it when some of my students pity themselves, make up lies, or use excuses for not speaking up or taking care of the situation when they are more than capable of doing so. Now, I am sensitive to the ones who are new to this or who are painfully shy. But, they have got to learn how to take care of themselves. I do work with the parents on this. Reminding them that they are not babies, and that we can't use deafness as reason for why you are still helping them put on their hearing aids even though they are not in preschool anymore. I am sensitive to the parents. But, I am very honest too.

Another thing about encouraging independence, I do not want my students to feel as if they are entitled to getting help and benefits all of the time. I feel that because they are "special" we can tend to their needs a little too much instead of teaching them how to do it themselves. I cringe when I hear about adults receiving certain benefits they don't need because they feel entitled to them because of their deafness.

One thing I do with my older students when I am called for some non-issue that they could have dealt with themselves is ask them before going back in the class, "Do you want me to hold your little hand and help you get back to your desk?" Usually they smile and cry, "No! Go away!"


May 18, 2010

I am currently helping one of my students put together a class presentation about successful and/or famous people with deafness. Finding a good resources to get an extensive list of such is hard. Many books I found in the library are outdated. There are plenty of websites that will provide lists of famous deaf and hard of hearing people, but prove to be uninteresting and just that, a list (I am so sick of seeing Helen Keller!).

I found a great website called It contains an interesting collection of various famous and successful deaf people (from past and present). The website seems to contain mainly culturally Deaf or people with severe-profound deafness.

More exposure to successful deaf people should help make the notion, that just about all deaf people will graduate high school with a 4th grade reading level, go away or seem meaningless.

My student and I have yet to find a good website about hard of hearing people or people with mild-moderate deafness like us. There are plenty of information out there, but I like's website. It would be great to have something like My student suggested that we start one. Not a bad idea. He is one smart cookie.

Perhaps people with mild-moderate deafness do not have to overcome as much as people with bilateral severe-profound deafness, so it is not as impressive. However, it would be nice to have a website of successful people who wear hearing aids or who are mild-moderately deaf, like most of my students. I would just like to see more role-models for my students. Maybe if Hannah Montana wore a hearing aid, my teenage student would not be going through so much trouble hiding her hearing aid.


Link cited:

May 17, 2010

What About Children With Mild-Moderate Hearing Loss?

When I went to school to get my Masters degree in Deaf Education, I was disappointed with the lack of emphasis on how to work with and teach children with mild-moderate deafness and non-signing deaf children. Most of the emphasis was on ASL (American Sign Language) and severe-profound deafness.

What about the kids who are in between (deaf and hearing)? I think they are equally as important as children with severe-profound deafness.

I am currently working with a young girl who has mild-moderate deafness. I am teaching her how effective it is to look at people talking to her. She did not know about lip reading or reading visual cues in people's faces. She is starting to understand how much she misses when she is not looking at people talking to her. "Oh, I can hear better using my eyes," she realized.

I feel that students with mild-moderate hearing loss are often not paid attention to as much because they seem "fine." As long as they can communicate using spoken language, they are okay. Just because someone talks well does not mean that they can hear "just fine."

It would be beneficial for these students to be taught how to communicate effectively, how their mild-moderate deafness impacts them, how to advocate for themselves, how to take care of their hearing aids or cochlear implants, and how not to further damage their hearing. I would even experiment with incorporating sign language, visual phonics, and cued speech. Just because their deafness is not severe or profound does not mean we should not consider some sort of visual communication system or language.

You can't just stick a cochlear implant or hearing aid on them and expect them to be "fine." There's a lot more to it than that. It would have been nice if the Deaf Education program I attended paid more attention to mild-moderate deafness and self advocacy.


May 16, 2010

Cricket Chirping (For Those With Deafness Turn Up The Volume)

Someone suggested that I find a sound clip of a cricket chirping and turn up the volume. I had to turn the volume all the way up to hear it, without my hearing aid. With my hearing aid on, I did not have to turn the volume completely up. The sound is so annoying! No wonder the teacher was hell bent on finding the cricket in her classroom.

Within close proximity, it is easier to hear it. But, if you expect me to find a cricket in a room, forget it.


(via CedarFox)


The Cricket

A few weeks ago, I was in an empty classroom speaking with a teacher. She suddenly interrupted our conversation with, "Do you hear that?"

I looked around and all I heard was the air conditioner humming. 

"What is it?" I asked

"It's a cricket! It is so loud!" she exclaimed.

I wanted to hear it. I got up and walked all over the room listening for it. The teacher told me it was coming from the back corner of the room. I walked over to the area straining my neck, cocking my head to the right, cupping my good ear with my hand desperate to hear the cricket. I pushed the buttons on my hearing aid changing the settings to see if it helped. But, I still could not hear it. Apparently, it was very loud. Even random people walking in heard it.

I was jealous. 

You know how when you are told that you can't do something, you suddenly want to do it badly? This was how I felt. I wanted to hear that cricket! What does it sound like? I needed to know terribly!

They eventually found it hiding in a trash bag apparently still chirping away.


It Is Clarity, Not Volume, That Matters

To some strangers or people who don't know me (a person with moderate-severe deafness, depending on the situation) very well:
  • When you talk to me, you don't have to raise your voice. It is clarity, not volume that matters. 
  • Talk to me how you would to everyone else, except use clear speech. Don't look away or cover your mouth. And don't mumble. 
  • Ask me before you decide to blast the TV or radio for the purpose of helping me hear what is being said. A lot of times, volume is not the answer. I prefer captions or subtitles.
    • Don't get so freaked  out when I stand close to you or look at your face with the look of intense fascination. I am only trying to read your lips or understand what you are saying.
    • Do not whisper in my left ear. Just don't whisper in my either of my ears period. Most likely, I will not hear what you have to say. 
    • If you have a foreign accent, it may take me a while to get used to the way you talk. Be patient with me, I am going to ask you to repeat yourself several times most likely.

    May 15, 2010

    Oh, You Have A Hearing Loss? OK, WELL, AS, I, WAS, SAYING . . .

    I had an encounter with a guy at a gas station near the school district I work at.

    The first thing he asked was, "Where are you from?"

    I told him and he seemed surprised my my answer (I was born and raised in the south).

    "Sounds like you have an accent."

    I told him that I get that all the time. Some people think I am from the north, mostly New York or Boston. Sometimes they can't quite figure out where I could be from.

    I then told him that my unique accent was due to my hearing loss that I've had since I was two at least.

    He started asking me questions about what I do and where I teach. I noticed that his voice grew louder and he talked at a slower rate. Then it was almost as if he was shouting. He meant well. He may not even realize he was doing it. I did not have the heart to tell him that he did not need to shout. But, I heard everything he said, for sure! Loud and clear.

    Usually, this never happens. I do not often come across strangers or acquaintances, who speak louder once they learn that I have some deafness.  If this happened all the time, then I would have to say something.


    May 14, 2010

    How Hearing Aids Are Made

    Interesting video about how some in the ear hearing aids are made. I apologize, I could not find a captioned video.

    (via chillyboarder)


    May 13, 2010

    I Can Hear This and That!

    My 3rd grade student yesterday (moderate-severe deafness) finally got her hearing aid back. It has been a little over a week since she wore it. A piece broke off and her mother sent it off to get fixed. As soon as she saw me she put up her hair and showed me her little pink hearing aid. She was beaming. "I can hear now.", she said. I smiled and responded, "You mean you can hear better. That's great!"

    When she was not wearing her hearing aid it was so obvious that it affected her tremendously. Her voice was quieter, she did not seem as confident. She said she felt 'funny a lot' meaning she did not feel like herself. She did pretty well communicating, but I had to remind her that she needed to be extra mindful of her surroundings. Using ASL helped a lot. Thank goodness for her interpreter.

    Now her confidence is back and her voice is louder. She walks with a tall upright posture. She kept telling me how she can hear this and that.

    When we were working together, one on one, she stopped and asked, "What is that sound?" The AC came on, buzzing and whirring. After I tried to have her figure it out herself (by localizing the sound, giving her clues, "Feel the cool air?") I told her it was the AC. With a puzzled look, she told me, "I no hear before."
    I responded, "You mean you have not heard it before. But, really I think you mean that you have not noticed it before."

    I think it is so interesting how when you go without your hearing aid for a long time and when you wear it again, you instantly notice sounds you did not really notice before. Even if you have been wearing the hearing aid for a year or so, not wearing it for a while and then wearing it again is always an odd and new experience. You start to notice certain sounds more. The same happens when you get a new hearing aid. I remember when I got my new hearing aid, I could not get over how unnecessarily loud everything seemed.  For example, my cat eating his food sounded like a giant pig snorting and crunching on some slop.



    Link to this post:

    May 12, 2010

    Dealing With Ignorant 'Hearies'

    The next time you ostracize or attack a hearing person for being ignorant, consider this. I met quite a few people in their 60s and above who have never met or experienced a signing deaf person first hand. Maybe their only experience with Deaf culture or deaf people are from the one or two times they are shown on television or in the movies. Maybe they have seen deaf people in various places from a far. Or maybe they have encountered only deaf peddlers trying to sell their sign language cards, unfortunately. For most hearing people, encounters with deaf people are extremely rare.

    So how are they suppose to know that you are not supposed to use the term 'hearing-impaired'? How are they supposed to know that some deaf people have good speech?  That sign language is in fact a language? That not all deaf people can lip read? And yes, that deaf people can drive?

    Sure, getting asked 'stupid' questions can be annoying. But, it is good to be asked. This is your chance to educate in a positive light. Do not scowl, roll your eyes, or laugh. And please, do not cry, "Audism!"

    Take the time to spread awareness. Don't attack the person asking the question. Don't cower in online Deaf forums making fun of hearing people; making unnecessary cruel jokes about 'stupid hearies'.

    Until we see more deaf and hard of hearing people and deaf awareness in the media and the general public, we have to deal with ignorant comments and questions from hearing people.

    By the way, I have heard and read plenty of deaf people asking ignorant questions about other people with other disabilities (such as little people, people with visual impairments, people who use wheelchairs, people with intellectual disabilities, etc.). Their questions are very similar to the questions deaf people get asked.

    Think about it. Do you really know everything there is about everyone else in the world who are not deaf?

    We are all ignorant about a lot of things.


    May 11, 2010

    Neat Way To Teach Young Children Colors In Sign Language

    I thought of what might be a fun and simple way of teaching or reinforcing the signs for various colors to very young children. I was inspired by the creator of Signing Time and by Dr. Jean.

    The activity would involve wearing different colored gloves (red, green, yellow, blue, etc.).

    First, I would select a color, let's say red.
    I would put the red glove on my dominant hand and hide it behind my back.
    With my gloved hand behind my back, I would sing and/or sign,
    "Where is red? Where is red?" (to the tune of frere jacques).
    Then I would bring out my red gloved hand and sign and/or say,
    'Here I am! Here I am!"
    Looking at your gloved hand, "What do you say red? What do you say red?" 
    Then you sign and say, "Red, red, red. Red, red, red."

    You keep doing this with the other colors you want to teach or go over. 

    When you are finished, you can ask your child or student do the song wearing the gloves.

    There are many other ways you can do it.
    I would like to hear from you if you have any other ideas or how you would modify this. 

    In one of her books, Dr. Jean has an activity which teaches the alphabet in signs by doing the same song and motions focusing on the letters of the alphabet. This is where I got the idea for the song. I thought the gloves would make it more visually pleasing and helpful in learning the signs for different colors. I got the idea of using colored gloves from watching the Signing Time creator put different colored tape on her fingers.

    I am going to make my own gloves using felt. I will try it with my student tomorrow.

    I hope he likes it.



    Link to this post:

    May 9, 2010

    Feeling the Music While Driving

    Because I have been in such a good mood lately, I have been blasting high energy music while driving. One thing I do a lot is put my hand on the side of the driver door's armrest and feel the vibrations. I think it really adds to the music listening experience. It is interesting, because I notice that I can feel certain beats that I was not aware were there. It amazes me that no matter how loud the music is, there will be some frequencies I will not hear or perhaps notice. But, I can feel them. It's neat.

    Anyone else do this while driving? I notice that throughout the documentary, Hear and Now (2007), a deaf woman would listen to her music while driving by feeling the beats through her hand resting on the driver door's armrest; smiling and bopping her head to the music. I loved that!

    You can see her do this somewhat at the :43 mark in this trailer (I am sorry, could not find a captioned trailer):

    (via Tomomachi)

    This is a great documentary, by the way. I highly recommend it!



    Link to this post:

    May 7, 2010

    30 Stickers + Hearing Aid = Happy Birthday To Me!



    Link to this post:

    May 2, 2010

    My First Job On A Student Film

    When I was studying film in college I took a film production course. For the final project, we had to make a film together as a class. The first job assigned to me was to put on a set of headphones and listen to the dialogue to make sure they were saying their lines correctly or following the script. I also had to make sure it sounded right, because what I hear on the headphones would most likely be what it will sound like on film. I forgot the name or title for this job.

    I looked at the teacher and thought, "Really? You think I would be the best person for this job? Really?"

    The trooper I am, I went ahead and gave it a try. I held up the right portion of the headphone to my right ear, being that my left ear is useless in hearing dialogue or anything really. Their voices going directly in my ear while background noises were blocked out, helped tremendously. I experimented with looking at the actors and reading their lips and looking solely at the script, reading along. Reading along helped the most. I did not hear all of the nuances of their speech sounds, and I could only assume that they were saying their lines correctly by matching their speech sounds with the written words on the script. It was pretty obvious when they forgot their lines or if they did not sound right. I had to stop them at one point because I thought one of the actors sounded too quiet.

    I did pretty well. It was not so bad.

    The point is, don't opt out of certain opportunities because of your deafness. You might surprise yourself. 


    *Check out this interesting blog about deaf women in film:

    Link to this post:


    May 1, 2010

    Why I Like My BTE Hearing Aid

    1) Obviously, it helps me hear better. With my hearing aid, my hearing is not perfect, but it is definitely better.

    2) I can decorate it with
    different stickers.

    3) I can choose the color and design of my ear
    mold. I currently sport a blue and white ear mold.

    4) Whenever I want to escape irritating noise, I can turn off my hearing aid or press a button to block out the noise. It acts as an instant ear plug. I do this often when I have to sit in on a horrible school band or sit in a
    noisy school cafeteria.

    5) It can be a conversation starter. "Are you deaf?" "What is that thing in your ear?" "Are those stickers?"

    6) I think it looks cute. Like a little plastic shrimp.

    7) It helps others be more aware that I have trouble hearing, especially since it is more visible now with the blue and white ear mold.

    What do you like about your hearing aid?


    *BTE - Behind-The-Ear