Nov 2017 The Gladstone Observer
INSPIRATIONAL. Definition: Making you feel full of hope or encouraged.
That's exactly what each and every nominee made you feel at the 2018 Queensland Australian of the Year ceremony held in Brisbane's grand Old Museum Building. In particular, Seniors News was there to report on the Senior of the Year category. The four nominees came from areas ranging from science to humanity, but they all shared an overwhelming desire to make people's everyday life better. These people did not need awards, notoriety or headlines, but gained satisfaction from bettering the lives of their fellow human beings.
Dr Dimity Dornan AO claimed the Queensland Australian Senior of the Year award for her work helping deaf children learn to listen and speak. She founded the Hear and Say Centres more than 25 years ago and has since championed the advancement of bionics, including extraordinary creations such as bionic eyes, limbs, nerves and more. Dr Dornan said the Hear and Say Centre for children who are deaf/hearing impaired and their families was born on July 6, 1992. She explained the impetus came after a private group of ear, nose and throat surgeons, and a group of audiologists wanted to start a cochlear implant program in Brisbane and she was asked to join with them to take care of pre-implant preparation and post-implant habilitation. In her own words, Dr Dornan wrote: "It was about this time, the point of no return, when I chanced upon my future motivating words, those of pioneer aviator Amelia Earhardt: 'Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace’. "I took courage and set up a charity board consisting of about twenty representatives including hearing professionals, business, finance, education and medical personnel."
Dr Dornan has gone on to establish Hear and Say WorldWide, to expand the opportunities for deaf children in developing countries as well as several national and global research collaborations. As a past chair and co-founder of First Voice, she has played a significant role in raising the global profile of hearing health. Recognised internationally for her work, Dr Dornan is now building Human Bionics Interface, a global network of bionics thought leaders, researchers, clinicians, businesses, start-ups and investors to accelerate the delivery of bionic solutions that will address previously untreatable medical conditions.
Nov 2017 stuff.co.nz
Being close to her family is what matters most to Sarah Krammer. The sound of her daughter's voice over FaceTime and the crack of leather on willow at her son's cricket matches are what she desperately wanted to hear and couldn't, until now. The 51-year-old Lower Hutt nurse's hearing had been getting progressively worse since her 20s but a new hearing device that links up to her smartphone will hopefully make her life just a little bit easier.
Cochlear implants have been available for more than 20 years. However, the latest development in the technology is the Nucleus 7 sound processor which can stream sound directly from an Apple device such as an iPhone or iPad via a special app. The user's processor can connect directly with the device when taking calls or using services such as Facetime or Skype. The Nucleus 7 can also be used to listen to music, watch videos and play games.
She is already noticing improvements in her hearing. "I had no idea my car beeped when it was in reverse." She has owned the car for five years. Southern Cochlear Implant Programme audiologist Hatten Howard said Krammer was one of the first patients in the programme to get the Nucleus 7. He said the main advantage of the new technology was the ability to adjust and monitor the implant and processor from a mobile device such as a phone. The mobile device replaced the need to carry a separate remote control as used in previous versions of the Nucleus.
"It's a matter of convenience. A lot of people are put off by having to carry another gadget. It allows a listener to change settings in more challenging scenarios."
Although the implant and processor were still being fine-tuned to her needs, Krammer had been impressed by the improvement it had made. She had already tested it out by talking to her daughter, Rosina, who lives in Melbourne, on Facetime. "It's amazing to be able to talk to her. It's been quite overwhelming. She had also been able to approach her work with much more confidence. "I was a good nurse before, but with this, I'll be invincible!"
Nov 2017 New Zealand Herald
An Auckland schoolgirl is over the moon after winning a trip to Austria with her ideas to help people affected by hearing loss. Olivia Strang, 8, will join six children from other countries next year in Innsbruck, Austria, at the headquarters of MED-EL, a leading provider of hearing implant systems.
The Wai o Taiki Bay local had bilateral cochlear implants after completely losing her hearing when she was about 18-months-old. Her submission for MED-EL's Ears for Ideas competition was one of seven winning entries worldwide. The competition challenged children aged 6 to 15 to create a piece of artwork showing a creation to improve life for people living with hearing loss.
Olivia's entry had four ideas, including a hat with a solar panel to charge her processors. Another invention included a gadget to connect her implants to the smoke alarms in her home, when she removed her processors at night. Olivia said she was "really, really excited" about the win. The family had helped her brainstorm, she said, and she had wanted to come up with ideas to help people with hearing difficulties in instances like a house fire. "Because what if there's a fire, then how would you wake up, or how would you wake to an alarm in the morning?” Olivia's father Richard Strang said a house fire had stressed his daughter in years gone by.
For Strang, finding out his daughter was one of the competition winners was a proud moment.
The 8-year-old was still catching up from two years without hearing as a baby but he her father described her as "relentlessly positive”. "She entered the submission months and months ago so we had been trying to downplay it. But she kept asking about it.” Strang said he or his wife Alice would head along on the trip at the beginning of April next year. The winners would have the opportunity to see how MED-El's inventors produced the company's gadgets at the Austrian headquarters. They would also get the chance to learn about the science of hearing loss. "It'll certainly be a great adventure and i think she's old enough to really learn from it," Strang said.
Nov 2017 Daily Mail Australia
The mother of a child born with significant hearing loss in both ears due to a genetic disorder has revealed how therapy and surgery have transformed her daughter's life.
Mel, of Gymea, is mum to Charlie, a bright, bubbly three-year-old who was born with profound hearing loss.
Tests just days after baby Charlie was born revealed she was deaf. Follow-up testing at Sydney's Children's Hospital confirmed Charlie was hearing impaired. 'The day we were told Charlie was deaf, our whole world was turned upside down. We had no knowledge or experience of deafness but we knew instantly that will would have a huge impact on our lives,' Mel said. 'It was so shocking and devastating. We didn't know anyone who had been through this. It was all very different to anything we'd experienced.'
Mel and her partner Ben, are carriers of the Connexin 26 gene, a recessive gene which is the most common cause hearing impairment. 'My husband and I are both carry the gene but because we both have the good copy as well, the good always over-rides the bad copies, which is why our hearing is fine. 'Charlie was born with both our faulty copies.'
Within weeks of Charlie's diagnosis she was given her first set of hearing aids, and at three months old she started audio verbal therapy to help teach her to listen and speak at the Shepherd Centre in Newtown. Despite weekly sessions, the family realised Charlie wasn't doing as well as she could have been and a decision was made for her to have the first of her two cochlear implant surgeries. Her first surgery was at 16 months, and her last just after she turned three.
Though Charlie continues to have regular therapy, her mum Mel said her progress has been nothing short of 'astounding'
'It's been such a long journey and finally it's all coming together and we are seeing really great progress. Charlie, who will turn four this December, is now a confident girl 'that will just walk into a room and want to make friends’ 'Whereas before she was a little bit unsure and would stand back, now she just sort of runs to join in and it's amazing to see.'
Now Charlie will bring a little hope to others who may be affected by hearing loss as the new face for the Shepherd's Centre 2017 Christmas Appeal. 'They do that for all the families,' she said.
'You have your little baby and you just want them to be perfectly healthy so when something happens its quite unknown and scary.'
The centre is aiming to raise $150,000 to provide support services for families with deaf or hearing impaired children. While the Shepherd Centre is NSW-based, funding will help children who are deaf and hearing-impaired develop spoken language skills in ACT and Tasmania. 'There are so many ups and downs with the journey, and they've always been there for us,' Mel said of the centre's work The charity, which was founded in 1970, has since helped more than 2000 children.
Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre said many people don't realise it costs nearly $20,000 per child a year to provide services. 'Sadly, we know that currently only 50 per cent of Australian children with hearing loss are being supported by specialised early intervention services.
'Every child deserves the chance to reach their full potential regardless of disability.'