Sunday, July 27, 2008

A moment on the NYC Subway

Here I am, completely placing my faith on mass transportation to dump me approximately an hour and a half north in one piece, right into the Big Apple. A city that I have navigated at least a hundred times before. A city full of seemingly possessed cabbies complete with a touch screen GPS for our viewing pleasure. A city where you can get a massage where they whack you in the back with branches from a birch tree, takes in an over priced burlesque show and visit a Bedouin coffeehouse for a cup of the strongest java ever and a pipe full of fruity flavored Hookah all in the same night. You just cannot get this kind of action in the suburbs.

My cochlear implant just can't get this kind of stimulation in the suburbs either. New York is complete with never-ending supply of auditory stimulation from the hustle and bustle of eight million people with an influx of lord knows how many more. After two hours of being encapsulated in the good graces of the NJ Transit bus, they finally unleashed the fury of passengers in Port Authority of New York. I have been here before. The familiar smell of carbon dioxide and rotten eggs infiltrated my nostrils. I took a deep breath and sighed as I thought, "Ahh, good old New York hasn't changed it scent one bit." I hopped down the stairs, hugging the right side of the rail as I skillfully navigated myself towards the subway entrance. One needs skillful navigation to find the damn subway entrance but since I have graced just about every subway line from the 1 to the 7, the A to the G and all the others in between, I consider myself an intermediary expert in the art of understanding subway paths.

After swiping my MetroCard through the subway turnstile, I make my way through the underground sauna to catch the R train heading downtown. As I started my sweaty descent down the stairs to the subway platform, the irony of perfect timing brought a smile to my face as the R train comes rolling in with the hundreds of passengers beginning their evening commute home. I clutched my purse closely to my side and then with one swift step, I entered through the double doors of the train and scouted for an empty seat. With no such luck, I grabbed a hold the nearest pole and prepared my footing for jerky acceleration to the next stop.

Amidst the slight chatter, stench of massive BO and the metal rattling over every rail, I heard, "34th Street - Herald Square, Next stop - 28th Street"

I'm standing there perplexed, did I really just hear that? I turnaround to this young Asian girl when they started announcing the stops. She replies, "No speakie English." I apologized for bothering her. Then out of the corner of my eye, I felt this intense chemistry towards a very attractive, clean shaven man with piercing blue eyes in a grey suit with a pale blue shirt. I love a man in a suit. I figured what the hey, I tapped his shoulder and smiled coyly as I asked him when they started announcing the stops. He smiled revealing the most beautiful smile and chiseled jaw line. I decided I was in love right then and there. I had to ask him to repeat himself, not because I couldn't hear him but I was so smitten with him. He spoke with the most beautiful voice that I have ever heard, deep, smooth, and dreamy. He said, "They always have." Those three little words are forever etched in my memory. I managed to utter a thank you. My mind is running a thousand clever conversational icebreakers, and every single one of them was hindered by my timidness. He got off at the next stop. I watched my future husband walked away only to be embraced by the arms of another man. Figures, he's gay.

After I recovered from the heartbreak of my minute long unilateral love affair, I realized how astounded I was to be hearing all the stops being called out. I have never heard them! It answered so many questions of how my friends knew well ahead of time when to get off. I have cochlear implant moments every single day, but this moment was truly gratifying.

I get off Rectory Place and head towards Ground Zero to say a little prayer in memory of those that lost their lives on 9-11. After that, I walked back up towards Broadway with a little help from Google Maps application on my Blackberry Curve, I finally arrived at my destination ─ an hour and a half late. I rushed up the elevator and walked into the room. There was lovely Tina Childress standing there smiling. She asked me whether I was okay. I said, "I'm fine." I was more then fine. I was on a high about hearing the subway conductor announce the stops. There is something about the element of surprise that can really take you aback when you discover that you can hear something ─ that has always been there but not for you.

Here is others that are well on their way in having their own moments:

David went in this past Wednesday to have his other ear done. He is officially bilateral buddy! David is from Canada and they have universal health care, so bilateral recipients are rare. He really lucked out. However, because David had bacterial meningitis and the side effects can show up months or years later apparently, he had a thin membrane grow over a couple of electrodes of his first implant. Instead of 16, he is down to 11 which is fine because you only need 8 working electrodes (no matter the brand). With his past surgery, the surgeon was only able to get in 11 electrodes in due to ossification which is yet another side effect of bacterial meningitis. Please join me in wishing him nothing but the best for his upcoming activation! I love this mans attitude.

Deb, who is the owner of the CI-Clarion II Yahoo Group, had revision surgery this past Monday to replace a very old C1 implant with the latest Advanced Bionic HiRes90k implant. They had to go through the original incision, ouch! She came through like a real trooper after a six hour surgery! There weren't able to get all of the electrodes due to ossification, but she suspected that they wouldn't be able to going into the surgery. She will be activated August 4th (i think) and she will be back to being bilateral. :)

Shari has finally had her surgery this past Wednesday after being denied by United Healthcare whom is well known for denying CI surgeries. I'm glad to see they are coming around thanks to the persistence of Let Them Hear Foundation. Shari has Ushers Type 2 and a hearing loss. She actually had the hearing loss before she had Ushers. She seems to be coming along smoothly! I'm so happy for her!

Wendi had her simultaneous bilateral cochlear implant surgery this past Tuesday. She is only one of three people, Valerie being one, that I know that has opted to have them both done at the same time. Her surgery took only 2.5 HOURS for BOTH ears! That is it! It took 3 hours for one of mine! However, I am glad to report that she has no dizziness, a little bout of nauseousness and a little bit of taste disturbance. Otherwise, her recovery is a dream! I think I want her doctor next. :) Her activation is coming up on August 20th! I feel a special connection with her because our hearing loss history is so very similar that it is scary. She didn't lose her hearing altogether during a nose job surgery like I did but everything else lines up perfectly. I have a feeling she is going to do fantastic.

Karen had her surgery on Tuesday as well, just one ear though. Karen is a Type 1 Diabetic with an insulin pump. I was very happy from Laurie that she came through with flying colors. She was a little dizzy and nauseous but all of the electrodes are in! She is having a tough time recuperating but her darling husband is taking wonderful care of her! I'm not sure when her activation is. I'm so excited for her!

Amanda had her surgery on July 14th and her activation is August 12th. She is a sweet 14 year old girl that has been fighting for a cochlear implant for a very long time. She has never heard before in her life. She is going to find out just how noisy the world. Her stepmother is a former teacher of the deaf and does a wonderful job of taking videos of Amanda and captioning them. I can't wait to see how she reacts!

Jen was supposed to have her surgery last week but they had to post pone it to August 1st which is next Friday! I am sure she will be glad to get it done and over with.

Its been pretty busy around here! Gosh! :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Walk 4 Hearing Fundraiser

On October 18th of this year, I will be dusting my sneakers off to go walking 5k for the Garden State, Walk4Hearing sponsored by Hearing Loss Association of America, a non-profit corporation, whose mission is to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, advocacy, and support. The Walk4Hearing purpose is to increase awareness about the causes and consequences of hearing loss and to raise funds to provide information and support for people with hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America depends on generous volunteers to raise funds and awareness at each of our Walk4Hearing sites.

I am asking you to help support me in this important project by contributing generously. For information about this volunteer fundraiser and its programs, you can visit and to make a donation online, please visit my personal page.

It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause by making your tax-deductible donation online using the link below. If you would prefer, you can send your contribution by mail, please shoot me an email that is located on the right hand side just under my activation video.

Come join us!

Kickoff Celebration

Sunday, September 7, 2008
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Montclair State University
University Hall - 7th Floor Conference Center
1 Normal Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey
(click for directions)

Garden State, Walk4Hearing event

Saturday, October 18th, 2008
Registration - 9:00am
Walk starts - 10:00am
Mercer County Park
West Windsor, NJ
(West Picnic Area
(click for directions)

Thank you!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bluetooth Headset with your Cochlear Implant

Did you know that you use can a Bluetooth wireless headset with your cochlear implant? You know those little things that people commonly mistake cochlear implants for? A bunch of idiots even steal cochlear implants off children because they look so much like Bluetooth headsets and that goes to say a lot about the caliber of our thieves in the US.

Well, I never thought I could use that until the morning of June 12th at approximately 10:30 in the morning when I took the workshop, “Bluetooth and You” presented by the very lovely Tina Childress, who is an audiologist at Advanced Bionics. She is a late deafened bilateral cochlear implant recipient as well. It was already a standing room event when Laurie and I had arrived with people hanging out in the hallway, standing on their tippy toes and craning their necks to find out what is up with that sexy digital wireless protocol called Bluetooth. With sheer determination and our pearly white smiles, Laurie and I swiftly moved through the audience and positioned ourselves - flat against the wall of Carson Room #3.

But wait, what is Bluetooth? It is a way for electrical components to talk to one another − wirelessly. For example, let us take your standard run of the mill television remote control that used infrared technology, point that bad boy at the television, and change the channel. Heck, go crazy use any remote but providing that you have working batteries :) the channel should change demonstrating an example of how electrical components talk to one another wirelessly. Bluetooth is just another way for us to cut the cord, so to speak. Bluetooth has a limited range of around thirty feet. You can use Bluetooth to communicate with all sorts of devices including cell phones, hearing aids and headsets, earpieces, PCs and printers, cars, digital cameras and GPS’s. You can get the gist that it is getting popular. :) Back to the presentation...

Once the presentation got underway, I watched Tina as she slipped a wireless Bluetooth headset right next to her cochlear implant. If my eyes were any wider, I think they would have fallen out of my head because I was blown away that a Bluetooth headset, a device that any normal hearing person could use was snuggling right next to Tina’s cochlear implant. I walked into that workshop with over 24 years of conventional hearing aid experience that led me to think I could never use one a Bluetooth headset. That was then and this is now.

Now Tina, like myself, has an Advanced Bionic cochlear implant and they are the only one cochlear implant company that has a T-Mic microphone auxillary ear hook.This is not to be confused with T-Coil that is just a small wire that can pick up electromagnetic signals from a telephone, TV, microphone and FM systems. The T-Mic is an ear hook with a microphone at the end that is designed to be placed in front of the ear canal opening and it takes advantage of the natural curvature of the ear to collect sounds as you can see here.

With this T-Mic technology, I can pick up a phone and place it right over my ear, like everyone else and after 24 years of fiddling with T-Coil hearing aids, I was more than happy that I didn’t have to try to find that awkward T-Coil spot anymore. But, I couldn’t understand how it worked because most of the Bluetooth headsets I've seen are ear bud style meaning they go in the ear canal that look like this.
With the T-Mic, you can use the ear buds but since the sound is being driven into the ear itself and away from the T-Mic, you would hear it but not as clear because the sound is being pumped into an ear canal and that don't help because well, we can't hear that way :) To fully utilize the benefit of T-Mic, sound had to be directed right in front of it. I was determined to find out the trick to this whole Bluetooth headset/Cochlear Implant business. So I did what any inquisitive deaf technological geek would do, I cornered Tina :) who was more then happy to let me test drive her Bluetooth headset. Once I saw the style of the Bluetooth headset, I went “Ah-hah!” It was flat and then it all made sense to me.

After I listened to the weather from Tina’s Bluetooth headset, I was sold. I decided that once I got back to New Jersey that by the way has a $250 fine if you are caught talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device, I was going to get me one. After some comparison shopping, I picked up this little gem of a headset from Motorola, the H700 for $40 bucks (see picture below). If you take a look at the top right picture, you will see that it is flat so that it fits right over the T-Mic which is exactly what you want.
This is the kind of headset you want to get if you want to start looking like one of those corporate yuppies exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder while rushing to Starbucks for a venti low fat vanilla with nonfat whipped cream, two pumps of caramel, and one pump of vanilla at 145-degrees soy latte light with soy milk and a shot of cinnamon! I’m sure you’ve seen them. :)

Now since my entire body is in proportion, my ears are big just like my butt and it can handle something else hanging off my ears. However, I cannot wear my glasses along with my cochlear implant and blue tooth headset. It has to be one or the other, the glasses or the headset. If you got teeny tiny ears, then this might be a better alternative for you, for under a hundred $130 bucks, the Noizfree Beetle Bluetooth headset available with one or two earhooks. It works with all T-Coil equipped behind the ear hearing aids and cochlear implants. You can use these with Bluetooth enabled cellphones, computers and listening systems.
Or you just might want to cut the coils all together and go with the Artone Bluetooth neckloop that works with all T-Coil equipped hearing aids and cochlear implants as well as Bluetooth enabled cellphones and computers! The only downside is that it cost $165 bucks.
This particular neckloop will help people that have bilateral hearing aids or cochlear implants with T-Coil activated. They can just flip their devices to T-Coil and listen to a phone call or streaming music from their computer or Ipod.

You can use for more then just talking on the phone, if you have a MacBook, PC that comes with Bluetooth built in or a Bluetooth USB drive, you can pair your headset with your computer and listen to music or audiobooks. I was jamming to my Itunes playlist all weekend via my Motorola H700 Bluetooth headset. You know what else you can do? You can purchase a Bluetooth adapter for Ipods that will enable you to listen to music or an audiobook from your Ipod.

I bid you all good toothing.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Advanced Bionic settles with the FDA

I wanted to share with you all a copy of the press release from Advanced Bionic CEO Jeff Greiner that was posted on

Dear Patients and Professionals:

Today, Advanced Bionics agreed to settle a matter with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), resulting from a decision we made in 2003. That decision concerned a determination that no formal FDA submission was needed when we added a new vendor (Vendor B, later terminated in March 2006) to our manufacturing operation. Four years later, in 2007, the FDA filed an administrative complaint against us stating the FDA's belief that a formal submission should have been filed. We responded to the Agency, pointing out that it had already approved both vendors when it approved the system.

While we do not agree with the FDA, we do believe that accepting its terms is in the best interest of our patients, our company and our need for a long standing relationship with the Agency. So, we have decided to settle the matter, with the company paying 1.1 million dollars and me, as CEO, paying 75 thousand dollars.

Over the years, we have increased our focus on the reliability of our entire implant system. At present, our internal device (Vendor A) has a 2 ½ year CSR of 99.1%, and our external product durability leads the industry. That being said, we expect that the quality of our products will only get better in the years to come.

As we move forward, we are stronger than at any point in our history: singularly focused on cochlear implants, well funded, possessing better leadership in key positions, and having a strategic plan built around patient care.

We very much look forward to continuing our partnership in this community. Please call me if you have any questions about these or other matters.

Very sincerely,

Jeff Greiner,
President and Co-CEO

Monday, July 07, 2008

HLAA Convention Recap #3

With closing time approaching the Exhibit Hall, I managed to catch Laurie and Jennifer as they were just leaving the state leaders meeting and from the looks upon their face, nothing was accomplished. We started to gravitate to the opening session featuring the keynote speaker, Ollie Cantos. First glance, the Grand Ballroom featured the most coveted crystal chandeliers and sculpted ceiling niches that this east coaster has even seen. There were so many different layers of elegance to this room from the rich brocade carpentry to refined look of fabric upon the walls. Since my eyes are more apt to notice details in the distance, especially when you can't miss them, I noticed there was two huge screens, one was for the CART which stands for Communication Access Real time Translation. The other screen was for a power point presentation. There was a sign language interpretor bubbling around the stage as well. I noticed that the sign language interpretors out there all wore a black shirt which deviates from New Jersey interpretors, ours just slap on any old shirt of any color.

Mike, Laurie, Jennifer, and I strolled up the aisle to some grab seats as close as we could to the stage, we noticed a never-ending sea of chairs. We struck gold because once we managed to get seats in the second row right in front of the CART screen. As the hour drew closer to the commencement of open session, the sea of chairs was being replaced with people that suffer from a hearing loss, just as I do. I was not alone here. The feeling of being a minority was replaced with a signifying impression that I was among a group where people suffering from a hearing loss was a majority.

Barbara Kelly kicked off the opening session welcoming the lot of us. She introduced Brenda Battat, executive director of the HLAA and Anne Pope, President of the HLAA Board of Trustees who extended their wholesome greeting and salutations. Barbara completely blindsided Dr. Mark Ross with a surprise, the Lifetime Achievement Award. I quote Barbara when she called him the "Father of Audiology." You can read more about Dr. Ross here. When I first started reading the Hearing Loss magazine, I had read a few of his articles showcasing his expertise as an audiologist and a consumer. The May/June magazine that I appeared in, Dr. Ross wrote an article called, "Listening to Music through a Cochlear Implant." I have to admit when I was reading the other articles, most of contributors had three lovely little letters attached to the end of their names such as PhD or ESQ and I have the bookkeeper. :) At least I am in good company!

Now came for the pièce de résistance of the opening session, Mr. Ollegario "Ollie" D. Cantos VII, ESQ. (there are those three little letters again!) I am a little rusty with my Roman numerals but I think that VII means seven. Ollie is the Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice. His status of special counsel makes him one of the highest placed persons with a disability in the ranks of the federal government today. What kind of disability does he have? He was born blind. The status and the respect that he has achieved in his 37 years are truly remarkable. If you do a Google search on him, you will see a list a mile long of his accomplishments, awards, marathons. He is definitely someone you would want to rub elbows with. :)

When Barbara introduced him to the audience, we watched him make his way to the stage utilizing his white cane with such skill. Once he took his place behind the podium and began his speech, we were mesmerized with his careful and powerful dictation of motivational quips. He emphasized that there are several disability rights laws which he had no problem citing but they end up being buried and because of that, they lack in the enforcement. He stressed that it is dubiously important that those of us living with a hearing loss must reach out make the U.S. Department of Justice HEAR US to continue to enhance disability rights awareness and enforcement. He proved that he is downright serious about reaching out to us because he provided the audience with his email address and telephone number. This provided us with a way of cutting through the red tape and getting the answers that we need from the tippy top branch of government. He stressed the importance of "networking" with one another. He went one step further and said that he is staying for the entire convention he wants to talk to each and every single of us there. He wanted to hear what we had to say. When he was done talking, I think it is safe to say that he left a profound impact on us and was ready to put his tips to good use.

As he made his way to the stairs, he became dangerously close to a part of the stage that didn't have the steps. I think the entire audience leaned forward and gasped in unison. Jennifer, Laurie, and I stretched our arms out as if they were going to prevent him from taking another step forward. Next thing we see is Barbara scrambling up the steps to guide him in the right direction. Whew, crisis averted!

On Saturday, Ollie gave a workshop called, "The ADA and YOU." This was more like a lets pick Ollie's brain session. It was a full house, and questions were being fired left and right and he answered every single one of them. I've come to realize in the workshop that the issues that people with a hearing loss face with receiving simple accommodations to enable them to perform their job to the best of their abilities are very real and beyond frustrating. I knew the man was resourceful, but I had no idea that he was a walking encyclopedia and address book! This was a man that you had to develop nicknames for, Jennifer called him WikiOllie and I call him Olliepedia. The man is like the blind Einstein! Even if he weren't blind, I would still be blown away just the same by the ease of how he can just ramble off email address's telephone numbers, cites statues, and cases in milliseconds. We left with a whole sheet full of contacts. I have shared some of them with you in the bottom of this post.

Back to opening session on Thursday, we were ready to network. We were walking around networking and I noticed a man that looked as though he might have been born in my generation. I must say, I felt as though I was the youngest one there which wasn't a bad thing but I welcomed anyone that knows what wax on, wax off meant. :) Turns out his name is Zac from Denver, Colorado who is very easy on the eyes. He is the vice-president of his local HLAA chapter. We invited him to go to dinner at Johnny Rocket's with us and since we didn't scare him too much, he stuck around. :)

Left to right: Zac, Yours Truly, Jennifer, Laurie and Mike

While we were eating dinner, Jennifer decided to be mischievous and hide Mike's blackberry in her back pocket. By the time, that Mike realized that his third arm (blackberry) he started grilling us for its whereabouts. I had no idea that Jennifer cleverly disguised it until she miraculously produced Mike's blackberry from her back pocket. I finished the final bite of sandwich when Mike said to me, "Why you call me?" I looked at him as if he had three heads. I motioned his attention to my cell phone that was being suspended in midair atop a salt shaker. Unless my cell phone has a mind of it own, I didn't call him. I looked at it to appease him. It showed that I had one miss call and that miss call was Mike. So I fired back with, "You called me!" Well, it hit me and I started laughing uncontrollably, hysterically, tears streaming down my face and gasping for air. Since my name starts with A, it was a logical assumption that I might be the first entry in his address book. Somehow they managed to understand my unintelligible gibberish when I concluded, my dear readers that Jennifer's dereirre somehow navigated, quite skillfully might I add, through Mike's address book and rang my ass up. Talk about talent. :) We laughed so hard that our sides hurt.

After dinner, we all scrambled to our designated hotel rooms to get ready for BOWLING! I am not a bowler but give me a glass of rum and coke and I'll throw anything anywhere you want. :) I couldn't even recall the last time I went bowling. Laurie, Debra, Kim, and I formed a team, if you want to call it that. Jennifer opted out because she just had a manicure done. So did I but I'm a rebel, so what if I broke a nail. That was before I actually broke a nail. :) Deb was the bowler extraordinaire and tried teaching me some tips and trick. I applaud her efforts because I totally sucked, but I must say I was absolutely surprised at how horrible I was doing because I do so well on the Wii. :) She managed to get one really great throw out of me and then I bombed since I broke my nail. :) I even applied chapstick to my thumb!

Cowabowlinga dudes!

I couldn't even remember the rules because if you got a split you got a prize. I think when I had my cochlear implant surgery some of the bowling knowledge leaked out. As expected, I got a split and I had no idea I had to run to the booth and claim my prize. Everyone is yelling to go run and go get the prize and I hadn't the faintest idea of what the hell they were talking about. They were all pointing at this guy in a crazy hat and I walked gingerly in his direction. Kim came up behind me and grabbed my hand and kicked the walk up a notch. I claimed my prize and had my picture taken, again. My prize was plastic bowling ball and pin set. Was someone trying to tell me to practice? :) I walked back to my aisle thinking to myself what the hell am I going to do with this and apparently my face read the same thing. I thought that I could practice by setting up a mini bowling alley in the hotel room but in the end I gave it to housekeeping to give to one of their kids.

Then I decided to change my bowling technique and I wasn't doing too shabbily.

My expert technique.

Then I noticed Ollie was a couple of lanes down and I watched him get two strikes in a row. I took notice of my score - 8 and I walked down to see his score.

A blind guy royally beat me in bowling.

Sigh... to be continued!


Email Ollie Cantos at

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors.

Job Accommodation Network

National Counsel on Disability Youth Advisory Committee

National Youth Leadership Network

Office of Disability Employment Policy

Institute Educational Leadership

US Business Leadership Network

Americans with Disabilities Act

Google Division of Vocational Rehab – Provides services that enable individuals with disabilities to find jobs

Disability 101 - Discusses various disability benefits

Technology Act of 2004 – Support programs of grants to States to address the assistive technology needs of individuals with disabilities, and for other purposes.

Disability Abuse

Saturday, July 05, 2008

HLAA Convention Recap #2

*I N H A L E S*

*E X H A L E S*

As the sun rose from the east, the rogue Nevada rays found their way through my wafer thin eyelids somewhere around six in the morning. I bobbed up out of my bed within five seconds because I wanted to waste not a moment here! Laurie was practically ready when I tore the sheets off. Jennifer was still trying to find out which way was up, but she was not letting go of the coffee mug. I decided to hop into the shower with my eyes closed in fear that I would let out a blood curdling scream. I worked some mojo on the ladies hair and kicked up the mojo on my face a notch :) As it would turn out, all three of us were ready in no time at all and we officially started the HLAA 2008 Convention.

Jennifer ran downstairs before Laurie and I got ourselves to the elevator. It did not take long to have my firsthand experience of how bilateral CI's have better localization because Laurie had a much easier time of being able to tell which elevator opened up. Apparently they "dinged." I'll be damned if they dinged because I couldn't hear it. It didn't take any time at all for a game of "lets find the elevator" to became a running joke among us. The bilateral users beat us unilateral users every time.

After marveling over Laurie's localization skills, we met back up with Jennifer and the Nashville crew. We got some coffee and breakfast before we went to register for the convention. Of course, we had to take pictures since there were many cameras swarming all around us. Aside from the lights flashing and twinkle stars floating in front of me, there was a certain honorary photographer from Kentucky that got goosed. That left us hysterical laughing. Shortly after that, we giggled our way to register for the convention and I met Cheryl Heppner and her hearing dog Galaxy. Cheryl is the convention reporter that you see here as well as the executive director for the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons.

There, we got a snazzy blue bag to hold all our paperwork, schedule, information, and a huge name tag connected to a lanyard. Something told me there would not be a case of mistaken identity at this convention. No sirree, not here. I loved wearing name tags because that took the stress right out of introducing yourself or vice versa. I can't tell you how often I have screwed up names in those critical greeting moments that could make or break a future relationship. I want to show an example by introducing you all to my imaginary pal, Jake.

"Hi, I'm Abbie and you are?"
"Hi Abbie! I'm Jake."
"No, Jake."
"No, Jaaake."
"J - A - K - E."
"Oh! Jake. Nice to meet you!"

I have had far too many conversations like this but if Jake wore a name tag, BOOM, instant karma! The name tags won me over in a big way. :)

The exhibit hall was next on our list and boy, was I unprepared. This was Geeks-R-Us for the likes of me. I was overwhelmed with all the booths, gadgets, and toys for me to fool around with and buttons to press. There was something for everyone! Just check out this list of exhibitors!

Advanced Bionics Corporation - Cochlear Implant company. For those who do not know, I have Advanced Bionics.

Alternative Communication Services

American Academy of Audiology

American Speech and Hearing Association

Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solution (ATIS)


Canine Companions for Independence - Unbelievable program!

Clarity, a division of Plantronics and leading supplier of amplified telephones, notification systems, assistive listening devices, and other communications devices for the Hard of Hearing and Deaf communities.

Cochlear Americas - Cochlear Implant company

Comfort Audio Inc

Costco - They sell hearing aid batteries, in bulk.

Consumer Electronic Association


Dry and Store - I own one and I strongly suggest this if you live in a humid climate.

Eye Movement Integration: Theory and Practice

Fanstel Corp


Gallaudet Leadership Institute - A program to improve the quality of deaf professionals, leaders, consumers, parents, and community advocates in deaf-centric organizations.


Hamilton Captel

HARC Mercantile LTD. - Assistive listening devices

Harris Communications


Med El Corporation - Cochlear Implant company

Mobile Ear

National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID)

Oticon -
Manufacturer of hearing aids or the politically correct term is hearing instruments.

Panasonic - They have the best cordless phone that I have ever used in my life.

Phonak -
Manufacturer of hearing instruments.

Quick Caption - Provides real-time captioning, video captioning, transcription services and REMOTE real-time captioning.

Provides UbiDuo™, a portable, wireless, battery powered stand-alone communication device that facilitates a simultaneous face to face communication by two displays and two keyboards.

Siemens Hearing Instruments - Manufacturer of hearing instruments.

Silent Call Communications - Provides deaf alerting systems smoke detectors for the deaf blind alerting devices deaf-blind electronics.

Sorenson Communications - Video Relay provider

Sound Clarity - A site very similar to Harris Communication.

Sprint Relay and Sprint WebCapTel - These guys get two thumbs up from me! They provide Relay and online telephone captioning.

Teltex -
aka Serene Innovations - Specializes in amplified phones, TTY's, unique notification and Smoke Detection Systems.

T-Mobile USA - Wireless phone provider with deaf and hard of hearing plans.

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) -
Leading trade association involved in telecommunications, broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite, unified communications, emergency communications, and the greening of technology.

Ultratec Inc - CapTel phone

Verizon - Verizon center for solutions for customers for disabilities. I happen to have one solution: Lower your prices.

Each exhibitor will be updated with a description
just as soon as I can remember who is who!

You can see how that kept me busy for quite some time. I didn't have T-Coil activated but that didn't stop me from ogling blackberries and trying out the different gadgets. I was meeting so many people including the very lovely Barbara Kelly who is the deputy executive director and editor of the HLAA magazine who is a delightful and wonderful human being. I was so eager to start putting a face with all the wonderful people that I have been in contact with. I found myself in a constant flux of exchanging signs, hugs, or business cards with others. I can't remember the last time that I talked that much in a twenty-four-hour period. I talked so much that my throat became parched, but there is nothing like pink lemonade cure that :) Later on, Laurie and Jennifer decided to attend the HLAA's state chapter meeting and I was having way too much fun being a social little butterfly, so I opted to flutter around the exhibit hall some more until opening session....

To be continued!