Friday, May 23, 2008

"Equilibrium"- journey of a bilateral CI user

Adrean Mangiardi, a bilateral CI User who directed this film, grew up oral but learned ASL when he was a film student at RIT.

Although this film is not in ASL, it is purely visual/symbolic with no dialogue except the end where it is captioned. The film called "Equilibrium" is a great experimental film and shows what it's like being bilateral.

"The purpose of this film is to express the director's perspective on cochlear implants and what's like to wear them. It is focusing on the struggle to balance between the old cochlear implant in the right side vs the new cochlear implant in the left side." (source from D-PAN website,

This film was featured in the PBS documentary, "Through Deaf Eyes", and was featured in March 2007. Congratulations, Adrean!

To watch another film created by Adrean: "Paper Airplane"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

First Steps on the Road to ASL Fluency

As I have said before, we started out using Signing Exact English, with a Total Communication methodology (TC/SEE) when our daughter first became deaf. She got a cochlear implant just after her first birthday. She went to a TC/SEE private school through first grade, and then was mainstreamed with a SEE interpreter for two years. She doesn't have an interpreter this year.

Our goal for her was that she be able to communicate with as many people as possible, and to keep as many doors open for her as we could. We have always intended for her to learn ASL, and this summer she will begin to learn ASL. We have talked to a private ASL teacher (she is Deaf), and she will begin meeting with our daughter once a week. The teacher is also helping to introduce her to various ASL social get-togethers. We have also signed her up for a Deaf summer camp. Hopefully, between the ASL community events, summer camp and the weekly instructions, she will have a good introduction to ASL.

I will keep you updated as to her progress. Maybe by the fall she can do a vlog on her progress.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gallaudet Offers Spoken & Sign Language Workshop for working with Children with CI's

Spoken Language and Sign: Optimizing Learning for Children with Cochlear Implants

25 - 26 Jun 2008 2-Day Workshop (1 PST) Price: $150
Workshop participants will learn about and discuss highlights of the latest research, principles to guide planning, cochlear Implant technology updates, and planning and implementing a comprehensive educational program. Other focus areas will include developing spoken language skills and integrating spoken language and sign language in school. Presenters will offer information on the best practices in the field.

Debra Nussbaum, MA, CCC-A, is coordinator of the Clerc Center's Cochlear Implant Education Center. She has developed many resource materials on auditory and speech skills for deaf children who also use sign language and on educational considerations for students with cochlear implants. Nussbaum is an adjunct professor at Gallaudet University where she co-teaches Family-Professional Collaboration in Early Communication Planning and an on-line course, Cochlear Implants: Considerations for Decision Making and Educational Planning.

Susanne Scott, MS, CCC-A, is an outreach specialist in the Office of Outreach and Partnerships at the Clerc Center. She has given presentations at national conferences and written articles and books related to habilitation with deaf and hard of hearing individuals from birth through adulthood. She has taught graduate students at Gallaudet University in the area of aural rehabilitation. Contact:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Sometimes we agree. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we cry. But always, we work to raise our children the best way we can. To all the other moms out there, Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hear and Now

Hey-out of curiosity-did anyone see "Hear and Now"? I watched it tonight and am curious as to what the viewers think!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

When did you learn ASL?

There are lots of discussions about language options here on DeafRead. This blog supports both ASL and spoken/written English. The age of acquision of language is critical to the fluency of that language. So my question this morning is, when did you learn ASL, was it your first or second language, and how did your age affect your ability to learn it?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Difference between Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

I’ve seen many references on various blogs/comments that say that hearing aids are non-invasive, so they are a better choice than the cochlear implant. The implication is that the cochlear implant works the same as hearing aids. That is like comparing camels and horses. You can ride both of them. But horses work better on solid ground, and camels work better on sandy ground. They each have different strengths and weaknesses.

Hearing aids work by amplifying sound. The idea is that the few working hair cells in the cochlea will then work harder, and send more sound signals to the auditory nerve. Hearing aids work best if the hair cells in the cochlea are evenly distributed. Newer digital hearing aids work better, because they can separate out different frequencies, and add more or less amplification at a given pitch range, depending on what the audiogram shows. The problem occurs when there are simply not enough hair cells in the cochlea in a given frequency for the amplified sound to work. If there are no hair cells, there is no sound sent to the auditory nerve, no matter how much amplification occurs.

This is where the cochlear implant comes in. Hearing aid trials are required before the implant can even be considered as an option. If you receive adequate amplification across the frequency range then you are not a candidate for the implant. You are only a candidate for implantation if hearing aids do not support reasonable hearing across the speech “banana” on an audiogram. The implant works by turning sound into digital signals, transferring them via radio type signals to the internal implant, which in turn transmits them directly to the auditory nerve via a transmitter electrode array implanted into the cochlea. This allows for the full spectrum of frequencies to reach the auditory nerve. As long as the entire electrode array is inserted into the cochlea, and the auditory nerve is healthy, sound IS getting to the brain. The key is how the brain handles the signals. If the brain is able to fully integrate the sound signals to understandable information, then the implant is considered a “success”. If the brain is unable to interpret the signals then the implant is considered a “failure”. But the truth is much more complicated than that. Partly it depends on what the implanted person expects to get from the implant. Part of it depends on how hard the person is willing to work to make their brain learn how to understand the implant. Part of it depends on how much sound the person was exposed to prior to implantation, and how well their brain understood that sound. And part of it depends on how old you are at the time of implantation.

The people who seem to do best at making sense of the implant signals are those who had the most hearing prior to becoming deaf, and those who have had the shortest period of deafness prior to getting implanted. Among that group are babies and toddlers. Even though they may not have had any hearing prior to implantation, their brains are so flexible (plastic) that they have no problem interpreting the signals. The older they get, the harder they have to work to make sense of sound.

If you have a mild to moderate loss, hearing aids are the answer. If you have a severe to profound loss, and hearing aids are not enough, then that is where implants can be considered.