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Cochlear Implants, hearing loss and more! I carry an interesting perspective: someone who had normal hearing growing up, lost it all slowly as an adult, then regained it with cochlear implants. So I'm deaf, but I can hear - a true miracle. If you'd like to know more about me and my bilateral cochlear implant experiences right away, my two books have a wealth of information - see the links below. Check out the list of upcoming events too - perhaps one day we'll get to meet!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cochlear Implant Realities - even in elevators

This week I attended the New Jersey Governor's Conference for Women, held in the Atlantic City Convention Center.  It was my third time attending this event, and I looked forward to it. The focus of this conference is to empower, with a full schedule of networking receptions, workshops and inspirational speakers.  With my bilateral cochlear implants, I'm much better equipped to "work a room" at the networking receptions - something impossible to do if you can't flit from one person to the next seamlessly and confidently.  I could also function quite well at the workshops, but used an assistive listening device at the huge plenary sessions in the cavernous convention hall with 1000 other women.

One of the workshops really struck a chord with me - "Creating Your Personal Elevator Pitch" - a how-to of making a good first impression in 30 to 60 seconds.  As the panel presenters gave their helpful tips, it dawned on me that all of them were making a big assumption - being able to hear.  I'm not shy at these events, so I jumped at the chance to explain to the packed room that "elevator speeches" had particular relevance for me.  I wrote about talking to people in elevators in my first book, Hear Again.  When my hearing was at the profound level, whenever I entered an elevator, I would hope that people wouldn't talk to me, simply because I wouldn't be able to understand them and respond.  I would actually avert my eyes away from the people in the elevator, as I tried to avoid communication - and embarrassment.  My cochlear implants changed that - with my first one bringing me back to communicating with people, and then my bilateral CIs, allowing me to connect to the people around me.  No "better side" anymore, and that, too, is empowering.

I felt obligated to bring my personal perspectives to the attention of that roomful of hearing people.  I'm sure they all probably take their normal hearing for granted, but perhaps I opened their eyes a bit.  I also described my books and advocacy - and got a round of applause.  As usual, someone came over to me after the session, asking for help in coping with her own hearing loss - a perfect example of networking and empowering.

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