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!


Anonymous said...

Your article is so long. Anyway, thanks for our sharing. Good luck...

Laurie said...

Another wonderful post! I still need to write my updates and am currently composing them! I love reading everyone's different versions of the convention!

Get your t-coil activated. . . I'm listening to my iPod with the new Bluetooth neckloop that I bought at the convention and it is great!

I miss you! Hugs! Laurie

elizabeth said...

Abbie, you crack me up with the disucssion of localization and elevator "dings" -- that was my thought EVERY TIME we changed floors during the AG Bell convention. With a bank of six elevators, it was like swimming in a sea of localization tests! The best is the 360 degree localization (or not) spin -- don't know which one rang? Do a twirl and try them all!

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Abbie! It makes me feel like I was there. :)

I was wondering, what do you mean by having your T-coil activated? My only experience with the T-coil was on my hearing aids, which had a switch that I toggled to T-Coil. (When it was on, I didn't hear anything but what was coming through the T-Coil -- on the phone, for instance.)

How does it work with the CI? Is it something the audiologist has to turn on, or is it a special earhook or something? I'm just curious, since I'll be joining the CI world by the end of the summer. (yay!)

Take care,

Abbie said...


I'm so sorry that it is so long, a lot of it is the exhibitor listing though. I am trying to keep it as condensed as possible for your reading pleasure!

Abbie said...


There is so much to write about and not enough time! LOL

Abbie said...


It was a mess, we were constantly on our toes like footballers during scrimmage :) It was so weird that we heard the elevator doors open but not the stupid dings. I was doing plenty of pirouettes when the elevator was involved. It is so odd how a simple thing as an elevator cracked all of us up :)

Abbie said...


I want to congratulate you again on your surgery date! I am so bogged up with reading blogs, I haven't forgotten you but I promise you I will get around to it!

I was a lifetime user of the T-Coil on the hearing aid. I thought I couldn't live without it. With AB Harmony processor, it has a built in T-Coil that has to activated by the audiologist as a part of one of your three programs.

The Harmony processor has a T-Mic ear hook that has a microphone at the end of it that can be bent gently into the ear canal. It takes advantage of the natural curvature of your ear to collect sound. When I was finally ready to tackle the phone, I had the audiologist turn on the T-Coil on my "telephone" program and I hated it. After 24 years of using the T-Coil, I hated finding that awkward spot. The only thing that was different was that I could hear my own voice whereas with my hearing aids, I didn't. I had them turn off the T-Coil in two minutes and just use my T-Mic that allows me to pick up a phone and place it on my ear just as anyone else does.

With the telephone program and the T-Mic, I found that whenever I was talking on the phone, as long as the person or I was talking, the background noise faded tremendously. If the conversation got quiet, the background noise came back into the foreground. If someone said something to me, the background noise disappeared. It is a very cool feature.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for explaining the T-Coil/T-Mic, Abbie! It makes sense to me now. :-)