Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cleo's Pool Party

Cleo's pool party is an annual ALDA Chicago tradition dating back to 1987. I consider it one of our group's signature events. There are three gatherings each year that our members really come out in force for - the holiday party in December, the birthday party in the spring, and Cleo's pool party in the summer. Last year I missed out on it, so I was bound and determined to make it this year.

Pool during one of the rare moments it was empty.
The morning of the pool party, the Chicago area received heavy rains. Not a good sign, but the party is on rain or shine. Fortunately, the storm moved off by early afternoon. But I didn't realize that because I had dozed off while waiting for the storm to pass. As a result, I got to the party rather late so the socializing was in full swing when I arrived. I filled a plate of food and started mingling. It sure felt good to be around my deaf and hard of hearing friends again, giving and receiving hugs, sharing stories, and signing as best as we can.

My dear friend Cleo and me
I got to know Cleo when I was brand new to ALDA Chicago through working on a project together. Cleo is one of the charter members who got the group going 25+ years ago. Cleo and I are email buddies and my day is always brightened when a message from her comes to my in-box. She likes to include bright yellow smiley-face emoticons in her notes. I am so blessed to know her and just want to take a moment to say publicly: 

Thank you, Cleo, for all of your hospitality and friendship to ALDA Chicagoans over the years. We love you, Cleo!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frustrated by Hearing Loss? 5 Keys to Communication Success

Today, it is my pleasure to tell you about this outstanding book by Dusty Ann Jessen, Au.D. Oh, how I wish I had received a copy of this book from my audiologist when I got my first pair of hearing aids eight years ago. It would have made such a difference as I adjusted to life with hearing aids. I think every new hearing aid buyer ought to go home with her list of common sense hearing aid expectations (see p. 17).

After getting my first pair, I had a coworker cross the room stopping at intervals to whisper "Can you hear me now?" like he was the Verizon Guy. Ugh. Another time while eating in a restaurant, someone asked if I could eavesdrop on a conversation at the next table. As if! I've had other people tell me "just turn them up" when I missed something they said. Most people see my hearing aids as the answer to all my hearing problems. I felt validated by Dr. Jessen when I read, "Hearing aids do not give people 'super human' hearing! But often times this what is expected of them."

I really liked that Dr. Jessen said her book is "less about hearing loss, and more about communication.” I had to nod my head in agreement when I read "we tend to communicate least effectively with those we are with the most." To address the communication breakdowns we experience in our daily life, Dr. Jessen provides tips for communicating better during normal activities such as spending time at home, riding in a car, eating at a restaurant, talking on the telephone, and attending a public event. For each of these situations, she applies her five keys of communication success: environment, speaker, listener, technology, and practice.

Featured on the cover of the book, Henry, the healthy hearing hound, appears in light-hearted illustrations throughout the book. Available in paperback, as well as for Kindle, iPad, and Nook, the book is 72 pages and includes a few pages for you to make your own notes on challenging communication situations you encounter.

You can order it online at Dr. Jessen's website Cut to the Chase Communication where you can also sign up for Henry's Weekly Successful Communication eTips delivered to your email. If you are an audiologist who wants to purchase multiple copies of the book to distribute to your patients, a discount price for bulk orders is available.

Friday, July 11, 2014

HLAA Convention: Day Four

On the final day of the convention, which is on Sunday, HLAA provides an accessible Christian worship service for all who wish to participate. This gathering had been one of the highlights of my convention experience in Milwaukee and I was happy to be able to attend again.

I was one of the first to arrive and I saw Ahme Stone getting our church bulletins ready. Ahme is the widow of Rocky Stone who founded Self Help for Hard of Hearing (SHHH) which later became the Hearing Loss Association of America. You could tell this special time set apart for prayer, songs, and worship meant a great deal to her. She was assisted by a man named Max McCarthy who led the singing. There was also a CART writer typing everything said onto a large screen. According to Max,  she "had the Spirit in her fingertips that morning". The worship service uplifted me and set the right tone for my day. Later on, I had the chance to quietly express my thanks to Ahme Stone. I'm grateful I had the chance to tell her how much her tradition means to me too.

The final event of the convention was an Awards Breakfast and Ceremony. Being new to HLAA, I was curious to learn more about the people who had contributed to the organization's success. One of the highlights for me was seeing Jacob Landis being honored with the Service Award. Last summer Jacob began a coast-to-coast 11,000 mile bike ride to visit every ball park in the U.S. Jacob, who has a cochlear implant, did this to raise funds for those who could benefit from a cochlear implant but cannot afford one. Unfortunately, he was hit by a semi truck and seriously injured on the way to his final stadium. Once he healed, he completed his trip this spring. What an inspiring young man! You can read more about him on the Jacob's Ride website.

Jacob Landis gives his acceptance speech
while emcee Michael Eury looking on
Many awards were given out, but eventually the program was over. Or so our emcee thought until a woman in a cowboy hat rushed onto the stage. As he stepped aside from the mic, he said, "This wasn't in the script." The woman announced there was one final award to present. She called Anna Gilmore Hall, Executive Director of HLAA, to the platform. When she arrived, the woman representing Texas HLAA, said with a drawl, "I'm looking forward to next year's convention in St. Louis so it's time for me to give you the boot!" Then she handed her a crystal cowboy boot with a bottle inside. What a great line and closing to the convention.

Anna Gilmore Hall gets the "boot"
Before I finish this post, I want to mention that it was my great pleasure to have met Alan Kutner, who organized the Show Us the Captions campaign participation in Pennsylvania and Jim DeCaro, board member of both HLAA and Discovering Deaf Worlds. I want to thank Jim Saunders, board member of HLAA, for helping me meet Anna Gilmore Hall and thank Anna for the time she made for me in her busy schedule at the convention. I also want to give a shout out to the new friends I made who weren't mentioned in these convention posts: Carolyn, Cynthia, Gloria, KarenMarcy, Patricia, and Vicki. I also want to share photos of two special ladies I met, Elise De Papp and Nancy Williams. I plan to stay in touch with all of you!

Elise De Papp and me
Me and Nancy Williams
Finally, I'd like to conclude my convention coverage with the message of Rocky Stone and HLAA that was included in our program books: Hearing loss is a daily challenge you can overcome. You do not have to hide your hearing loss. You do not have to face hearing loss alone.

Become a member or make a donation to HLAA at