Once a week, inside the small apartment he shares with his parents and two siblings in a rural California farming town, two-year-old Dylan has a standing appointment with an iPad. Born deaf, the toddler received cochlear implants seven months ago. He and his mother use FaceTime video chat to have hour-long sessions with a speech therapist. Skipping the three-hour commute to see a therapist is a huge help for the family, both financially and psychologically. Immigrant farm laborers from Mexico, the boy’s mother can’t drive and his father doesn’t get paid for any time he takes off work. The family is one of 25 taking part in a free program that uses iPads to connect children under three who have or are getting cochlear implants with a remote support network of professionals. Called BabyTalk, the innovative program is part of a joint partnership between Stanford University and the Weingarten Children’s Center for the deaf and hard of hearing.  The therapists have had to change their approach with the different medium. Usually, a child would be in an office, going through structured activities. Instead, these kids are in their own homes where they’re more relaxed. It can mean therapists get a clearer picture of how the child is progressing, but the kids can also be more distracted and difficult to pin down. The therapists rely much more on the parents to act as teachers themselves. They train them to act like radio commentators, constantly narrating and commenting on things that happen. To keep the children from depending on lip reading, the parents are instructed to stay out of view when talking. Telemedicine has been bounced around as the future of medicine for years. Its spread has been slowed by regulations, license limitations, expensive equipment and poor Internet connections. BabyTalk is exploring the practicality of telemedicine, especially for high-risk, low-income families who live far from specialized medical professionals.

A man killed by a freight train while listening to headphones had hearing loss, and often turned up the volume to full blast, his girlfriend said.  Jacob Allen Davis, 30, had been on his way home from work.  Police said he was walking just to the left of the rails.  The freight train conductor saw Davis, dressed in black, and sounded the train whistle several times. Davis did not react. The crew hit the emergency brakes but a cattle guard forced Davis off the track.  The train did not stop until it was eight car lengths past him. Davis suffered massive trauma to his skull but still had a pulse when firefighters loaded him into the ambulance. He died shortly thereafter at the hospital.

Helen Court has dedicated almost half her life to giving others the gift of sound but the whole time, she was struggling to hear. The audiologist at Sunshine Coast Neurosensory recently did for herself what she has always felt "lucky" to do for others - switched on her own cochlear implant.

It was, she said, "pretty cool" but a "bit weird". Helen was in her early 20s when she discovered she had Meniere's Disease - an inner ear disorder that causes deafness, vertigo and tinnitus - in her left ear.  She considered her diagnosis "quite ironic", given she had only recently completed her Masters in Audiology. "I was working in my first job in St George's Hospital in London," she recalled. "And I thought the equipment was faulty. Then I realised it wasn't the equipment, it was me." While many might despair at losing one of their senses, Helen has always looked on the bright side and used her experience to help others who struggle with hearing disorders.  Her life has improved dramatically and she is enjoying the things others may take for granted - she can hear her phone ring - and find where it is; and strangers no longer think she is ignoring them when she didn't know they were there. 

He only bedgrudgingly started to wear a hearing aid in public a few months ago. But Prince Philip is already making adjustments for it in other areas of his life. The 93-year-old royal has just started using a special mobile phone especially designed for people suffering from hearing loss.  While his new mobile is short on smart phone-style gimmicks, it can be up to 80 times louder than regular mobiles. It also has a powerful vibrating alert  and ringtone. The phone also boasts a voice-assisted operating system, a large keypad and screen and an SOS emergency button linked to five pre-selected numbers. Despite his age, Philip is also something of a silver surfer who regularly uses the internet and was one of the earliest users of a mobile communication device when he had one fitted in his car back in 1953.  He will, therefore, no doubt be delighted with the phone’s one touch 2megapixel camera and video recorder. The phone was sent as a gift by Hearing Direct, a firm set up by a close friend of Prince William and Prince Harry, millionaire businessman Jamie Murray Wells.