Sept 2017 Ear Science and Wanneroo Times

Jane Goodfellow was used to living with only one hearing ear, having been born with large vestibular aqueduct syndrome. However, her life changed dramatically in 2011 when she suddenly lost hearing in her good ear. “I experienced dizzy spells for a few days and everyone sounded like they were talking underwater,” Ms Goodfellow explained.  “After a couple of days, I decided to stay home from work thinking I was coming down with something.  After lunch I heard my mobile ring, answered it and had a conversation. An hour later I realised the home phone had been ringing and I hadn’t heard it.  My son came home from school and shouted ‘Can you hear me?’ I replied, ‘Not really.’ That was the last natural sound I heard.”

Ms Goodfellow was referred to Professor Marcus Atlas at Ear Science. “I told him I had two fears in life, being eaten by a shark and going deaf. He told me to stay out of the water as my hearing would not return,” Jane says. “He said he could restore the hearing in my left ear with a cochlear implant. A month later I had surgery to receive the implant which changed the course of my life forever.  Ms Ronel Chester-Browne, Ear Science senior audiologist, has been amazing with a capital A!   All the staff at Ear Science have been wonderful and nothing is too much trouble for them.”

Jane GoodfellowMs Goodfellow’s family and friends have been very supportive and helped her adjust to life with a cochlear implant.  “Before the implant, my youngest son Ayden became very protective of me,” Ms Goodfellow said. “If I was crying, he would bundle me in his little arms and stroke my back - no words needed. He would boldly speak on my behalf to other people when we were out and he quickly learned to sign so we could communicate. He also became a master of charades! Since the implant he is not as protective and he doesn’t have to sign much any more.” She says the kids also “had a bit of fun with the fact I had a magnet in my skull.  They would stick magnets to the side of my head and not tell me. Going through takeaway drive-through can be a challenge. I get my kids to help me - and in the beginning they would tell me to say yes, and when I got to the window to pay I would find I had said yes to things like extra fries and soft drinks I normally wouldn’t allow!” 

Ms Goodfellow is also fortunate to have very supportive and accommodating work colleagues, whose thoughtful efforts have often brought tears to her eyes.  “They went out of their way to make my life easier and showered me with love,” Ms Goodfellow said. “When I first went deaf I was shocked and depressed and my work colleagues adapted how they communicated with me. I’m so grateful they thought me important enough to make personal changes just to accommodate my new needs.”  Ms Goodfellow works full time at West Coast Institute of Training in Joondalup, where she has worked for 16 years as a senior lecturer in education. She is also a qualified primary and early childhood teacher and does relief teaching with children with autism. “I love this work; teaching the kids is such a pleasure,” Ms Goodfellow said. “The children are mostly non-verbal, so it is a perfect teaching environment for me. Without my cochlear implant, I wouldn’t have been able to continue teaching.”

When asked the best thing about her implant, Ms Goodfellow said, “The first night I had my processor turned on, I put my youngest son to bed. He reached up and said ‘I love you, mum.’ It was the first time I had heard anyone tell me they love me in three months. Priceless.  “With the implant I have the choice of whether to listen or not. I know some hearing people would be very jealous of my ability to turn sound on and off. Noisy screaming kids, TV blaring, dog barking, car alarms, boring work meeting, school kids’ violin concert – I can switch them all off if I want to, and I often do!” Ms Goodfellow is more than delighted with her cochlear implant and would recommend it to anyone who struggles with deafness. “I found the isolation from people very difficult,” she said.

“The implant bridges the gap between the hearing and non-hearing worlds, and believe me, they are very different worlds. I love the freedom the implant gives me to participate in all areas of daily life. I’d say go for it, if you are thinking about getting an implant. You won’t regret your decision."

 

Jane’s passion for training earned her the title of WA trainer of the year. The North Metropolitan Tafe lecturer received the award at the WA Training Awards in September  for her work in education support and early childhood training. Mrs Goodfellow said she had been a lecturer for 21 years, and was a trained primary, early childhood, and special needs teacher. As well as lecturing, she currently teaches at Joondalup Education Support Centre as a special needs teacher in pre-kindy one day a week. Judges commended her ability to make a positive difference in students’ lives including innovative training methods to match the context of situation or environment.

“I use QR Code treasure hunts, on-line portfolio apps where I upload photographs of students during class activities for them to comment on, texting games in class and lots of hands-on games,” Mrs Goodfellow said. “I also enjoy using singing, and even juggling, to get students involved but probably the one strategy the students like the best is the ‘cake policy’, where we have a rotation to supply cakes for afternoon tea.”

The Kallaroo resident said she hoped the award would open up more professional opportunities, including public speaking roles and conference presentations. “I hope that my training inspires my students to enter the education field and do the best they can do to influence children’s lives for the better,” she said. “I also love that I get to help people achieve their life goals; it’s a very rewarding job.” Mrs Goodfellow acknowledged the support of her Tafe colleagues and her husband Steve, who is also a lecturer at North Metropolitan Tafe. The Department of Training and Workforce Development and the State Training Board presented the WA Training Awards. Each winner received $5000 and Mrs Goodfellow will compete in the Australian Training Awards in Canberra this November.

Sept 2017 The Border Mail

Abi Thompson and Tony Smith

SWEET SOUNDS: Artist  of the Murray Conservatorium ring the Federation Handbells.

Wodonga residents joined the 750,000 people who have experienced the Federation Handbells when music workshops were held there. The bells, now with the Melbourne Museum, were created to mark the 2001 Centenary of Federation and have since been played across Australia and internationally. The collection – more than 30 in total – has been brought to Wodonga to complement the Arts Space exhibition Soundscapes.

Gallery and cultural development team leader Josephine Harkin said the idea to hold a bell workshop came about when discussing the exhibition with the artist, Abi Thompson. “I had done a workshop in Melbourne with Susan Bamford Caleo, the caretaker of the bells … when taking to Abi about the program, I thought of the bells and that it would work well,” she said. Thompson, who has a cochlear implant, said the workshop fit with the exhibition, exploring sound as an important sensory element of everyday settings. “Bells have symbolism and resonance – the sound really travels through the landscape,” she said.

Murray Conservatorium music tutor Tony Smith helped teach, and while the bells have visited Wodonga before, it was the first time participants got to experience the instruments to such an extent. “We learned some techniques and the highlight is a human carillon – people form a circle and play,” he said.

Sept 2017 Stuff.co.nz

There was no magic moment when young Apii Pukeiti's first cochlear implant was turned on.

Unlike popular YouTube clips of other children hearing sound through the medical devices for the first time, his mum, Tofi, says it wasn't like that for the three-year-old. Born severely deaf, learning to hear was, instead, a gradual process for Apii, who received his second implant six months later.

Apii PukeitiApii PukeitiApii's mum, Tofi Pukeiti, says she's never wished he wasn't deaf, it's just an obstacle for them to push through. That was 2015, and the youngster's come a long way since then. He happily chats away to his mum at any chance he gets, loves singing, and has no problem greeting new people.

Pukeiti, who lives in south Auckland, couldn't imagine a different life for her bubbly son. "When we were first given his diagnosis I burst into tears and then I stopped and thought 'thank God that's all it is'," Pukeiti says. "He doesn't have something like a heart defect, it's nothing really.

"We've never wished he wasn't deaf, we've just taken the situation for what it is and we've just got to keep going."

Diagnosed when he was one after failing newborn hearing screenings, Pukeiti says it would take something like the sound of a chainsaw or a jet plane to get Apii's attention. The family was immediately referred to the Hearing House, a charity which helps deaf and hearing-impaired children by providing things like audiology therapy and hearing aids. It also funds for kids to receive cochlear implants. Pukeiti is thankful for the support of the Hearing House, her family wouldn't have been able to afford the cochlear implants otherwise, she says.

Apii also attends Joyce Fisher Preschool, a specialised centre run by Hearing House with staff specially trained in language stimulation to help gear children up for school. Pukeiti says Apii's speech is getting clearer and it will take a while before his hearing age reaches his real age, but she's positive he'll get there. "It can be a guessing game what he's talking about. His speech is there but when he's excited he turns to babbling," Pukeiti says. "I've noticed a difference in what he's picked up and what he's understanding. Before I would get a blank look because he didn't know what I was saying.”

Sept 2017 CAJ News Africa 

School for the Deaf

In one of the most tragic incidents in South Africa’s North West province in recent memory, three teenage girls were burnt to death and 23 injured when they jumped from a building at a school for the deaf during a chilly winter morning. The death of the minors aged between 16 and 18 at the School for the Deaf in Leeudoringstad, attributed to the fact that they did not hear the evacuation alarm because of their hearing disability, sent shockwaves across the country.  It has proven an inspiration to a young man, born in the most impoverished Eastern Cape, to create an invention that is set to change the lives of the deaf members of the community worldwide.

“In August 2015, I read the terrible story of three deaf pupils who died while they were sleeping at the North West School for the Deaf. The pupils didn’t hear the safety evacuation alarm because of their hearing condition,” Zuko Mandlakazi (32) said.  He also recounted the ordeals of a hearing-impaired aunt. “I was always concerned whenever she visited Johannesburg and was alone in the flat when my cousins were all at work. I always asked myself, ‘what if the flat catches fire, then she doesn’t get to hear a safety evacuation alarm and it’s too late for her to smell fire smoke to exit the flat?  I then started doing some research on the assistive devices and the deaf community and I learnt that there were millions of other people with the same situation as my aunt. I decided to do something about it and that’s how I ended up here.”

That has given birth to Senso (R) is a wrist wearable that connects hearing impaired with lifesaving sounds and other important sounds needed in order to manoeuvre daily lives. The product picks up sounds, communicate these sounds to the user through vibration and LED lighting. It seeks to dismantle the communication gap that exists between normal hearing people and deaf or hard of hearing people. For example, if the wrist armband detects a sound that’s important to the user, the vibration on the wrist will alert the user to a sound that corresponds to a specific colour coded LED.

“If a user programs a sound made by a child who is crying to a pink color, the wrist armband will vibrate, then the LED colour on the wrist will be pink, when the child cries,” Mandlakazi explained.

“If the user programmes the red colour to a forced entry sound, when there is a forced entry sound in the house, the wrist armband will detect it, the user will feel the vibration, the red LED colour will light up to alert the user  of an intruder.”

It is inconceivable that the South African innovator who is on the cusp of global prominence with the invention that once sought refuge at a mobile laboratory to save on travelling costs to help realise his invention. Naturally, one would expect an inventor to emerge from a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics background but Zuko Mandlakazi’s tale unfolds differently as he has a background in commercial subjects. Not to mention he was only exposed to a mobile phone aged 19, growing up in the country’s most impoverished province of the Eastern Cape, he spent his entire childhood in rural settings with radio and television the closest he ever got to technology. “I hope my story  serves as a testament to a young person reading this that one doesn’t have to be a scientist or come from a strong engineering background to be innovative,” the innovator stated.

The invention has been endorsed and earned him awards in such countries as Austria, Sweden and Switzerland while locally, accolades include the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Award and the Gauteng Accelerator Programme ICT Award. It also was recognised at the 2014 Social Innovation Awards. “Through the assistance by the SAB Foundation, Senso (R) has been able to produce the proof of concept, which has led to access to additional funding. This in turn ensured that they could produce prototypes, file patents and have a market-ready product,” said Mariska Henning, SAB Foundation Programme Coordinator.