A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Posts Tagged ‘traveling’

How to Ride a Bike with Hearing Loss!

In Cochlear Implants, deaf, Deafness, Hearing Loss, Partially Deaf, SWC convention, Travel, Uncategorized on March 21, 2017 at 11:13 pm

By Robyn Carter

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I was implanted back in 1993.  I was the 8th adult in New Zealand to receive the implant. As there were not many others and no support group back then, I started looking online for some hearing loss/cochlear implant support group to join.  I also was the editor of our NZ Cochlear Implant Newsletter so I was looking for articles to share to our recipients and would-be recipients here in New Zealand.

And so I found the SWC – in fact, I found Bob’s email first. Bob had written an article for the ALDA about faking it, when you don’t really hear something, but are too embarrassed to admit it, or too tired so you nod your head, laugh and pretend you knew anyway. This article resonated with me as I was such a good faker. So when I found Bob’s email address, I flicked him an email to tell him how much I enjoyed his article.   The result of this was that he just subscribed me to the SWC.  That was in 1995. And I’m still here.

There was only one email list back then – SWCForum. It was a busy list full of controversial conversation, often heated, often hilarious, and from there I forged many friends – many whom are still my friends today. Some of them are long gone from SWC, but there’s a good many still on the listserv with me today.

The list enabled us to converse like we never had before. We could write our feelings, what was happening, we were lifted when we were down, and in turn shared our experiences so that others may grow. There were fights, indignation, jokes, laughter and sometimes even tears, but most of all there was acceptance.  It’s the feeling that we have finally found a niche where we could be what we were without fear of ridicule for being hard of hearing.

I was the only one with a cochlear implant back then, and I was careful not to emphasise it too much as many people were still very anti implants.  Gradually I watched people accept the technology and embrace it, and I’ve seen many who swore they never would get one, actually have one.  I chuckle quietly, but secretly I’m thrilled they have the gift of hearing somewhat restored so they can enjoy life again. And I’m overjoyed, that this hasn’t meant that they left SWC, in fact most stayed and the list is richer for their experiences that they share.

I’ve watched the list grow – from a single list – SWCForum, to Six lists, 3 Facebook pages, a blog, and we even have a twitter account somewhere!  Each list, although similar because we all share the trait of hard of hearing, is different because of the personalities on each list.

SayWhatClub is now an incorporated society run by volunteers. At the top we have the Board of Directors who meet monthly and take responsibility for the club’s growth, putting in place improvements and try and keep up with the ever changing technology over the years.

We have a number of committees that ensure the smooth daily running of the organisation, from the website, to welcoming new members, and to ensuring the lists don’t stagnate, and for organising our yearly conventions.

We have a convention every year in a different part of America each time. These involve workshops, socialising, and loads of fun. You get to meet in person the people you’ve been talking to for years. I’ve been very lucky to attend three of these – one in Philadelphia, one in San Antonio, and one in Boise, Idaho. The friendships that I had forged over the years, were now cemented in person.

SWCers come from all over the world. We have USA and Canadian members, but also Australia, Netherlands, Finland, the UK, and India to name but a few.  We are a diverse group, from different backgrounds, different religions,  but our hearing loss binds us together.

SWC for me has helped me grow as a person. It’s given me opportunities that I never have been given otherwise. It’s helped my confidence, it’s made me more patient, it’s taught me about American Politics (although I’m not sure I’m richer for that!), it’s taught me about different cultures, but most of all it has taught me that valuable friendships can be made across oceans, across cultural divides, across political divides, and no matter what we say – we’re still friends.

It’s now 2017.  I’ve now been a member of the SWC for 22 years.  I’m still here. My implant is now 24 years old and I’m starting to feel old!

Check out the SWC Website, and if it’s what you’re looking for, click “Join”. You won’t be disappointed.

You can also join our Facebook Groups, we have two – one for people between 18 and 40, SWC Gen-Y. The other  for everyone, Say What Club, Friends With Hearing Loss.  We also have a public Facebook page, SayWhatClub, A Worldwide Forum for People with Hearing Loss where we share many hearing loss-related articles, videos, news items, and useable information.

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Vacation with a Hearing Loss

In Assistive Listening Devices, Hearing Loss, Life, Lip Reading, Travel on December 17, 2011 at 3:45 am

The airplane

A few weeks ago I went to Maui with my aunt and her grand daughter. After having so much trouble hearing on the plane from Chicago to Salt Lake, I warned my aunt right away about not hearing well at all on planes.

“I’m basically deaf on the plane,” I tell her. “The engines take away all my hearing.”

“You told me before,” she said.

I had? Oh, good. That must have been on my mind for awhile.

We take off in the plane and when we hit the correct altitude, the stewardess came down the isle. I could smell food so I correctly assumed it would be the food cart coming first and not the drink cart. I studied the menu to make sure there would be no other choices I’d have to make with my meal.

The stewardess parked her cart near me and I ordered my food using prediction instead of hearing when she came to me. I did good on that part then she asked me a question that didn’t relate to food. Her mouth moved and I heard nothing, not a single sound except the roar of the engines. I asked for a repeat and her mouth moved again. I still didn’t have a clue. I looked to my aunt for help and she tried repeating it for me. Still nothing.

“I’m sorry,” I told the lady, “I’m deaf and I can’t understand what you are saying.”

She tried one more repeat and I shrugged with a goofy smile.

Clearly, I wasn’t going to get it so she shook her head and I think she said, never mind. (Now how come I know those words so well?) She pushed a button on her credit card machine and handed me a receipt.

Oh!!! Was that all? Did I want a receipt… how silly. What a stupid thing to haggle over. She should have just printed the damn thing and gave it to me to begin with. Ugh! OK, I’ll be nice.

When the drink cart came I went with a soda and when it returned later I kept it simple with water. Another stewardess later came down the isle asking another question. I don’t remember what it was but instead of playing the repeat game, I told her I was deaf so she nodded her head and went onto a mime. Wonderful! I liked her best of the three.

My aunt and me, not long after getting off the plane.


I went on a couple of tours while on the island and of course all tours come with lectures, bits of information being tossed out and others asking questions I never hear. For the most part I won’t ask others with me to repeat unless it’s something I really want to know because I don’t want to intrude on their experience. I suffer quietly or I get irritated because I want so much to know what’s being said and I can’t or I accept it graciously. I never know which emotion I’ll get until the time comes. Too often I psyche myself up to not hear so I’m not so disappointed when I can’t.

The first tour was a boat ride out toward another island for snorkeling. We were hoping to see a few whales along the way, and we did, and dolphins, we saw them too. On this boat there were multiple speakers. Luckily, they happened to be near enough to me that I could use speech reading to get more out of the lectures than I thought I would. I was pleasantly surprised I could understand a good portion of it. It took a lot of concentration but I did it. We were on the boat for about 5 hours so I did come home from that trip tired and worn out from concentrating so much. I took a nap afterward and still felt tired the rest of the day.

The next tour was a trip around the island, the road to Hana. We, myself and my aunt’s grand daughter, rode with 8 others in a large, airy van with comfortable seats. As we approach the bus I think I will snag a front seat for better hearing and seeing but as we get on I see we are the last to be picked up so it’s the back of the bus babe. Our Hawaiian driver, Joe, had a microphone on and started giving us history right away about the island as we drove to our continental breakfast. I brought my FM system but forgot to ask him if he would wear it when I got on. It’s hit and miss without the FM so I sort of kick myself for that 20 miles. He named monkey pod trees, I heard mesquite trees and banyan. He said one of them (the banyan?) had the ability to lay down when it got tired. A tree getting tired? I wish I had heard more about that.

We arrive at the golf club which hosts the continental breakfast and he tells us to be sure we get on the right bus when we come back because they all look alike. He says the name of the bus and I miss it but I do hear him say it’s on both fenders. Joe tells us to hurry before the other buses come and it’s gets crowded. Then he says something about door and bathrooms and I miss the rest so instead I follow the others, being careful to check the fender of the bus, and they lead me to the breakfast.

The name of the bus, Pa'a Mo'olelo... I never would have understood the name anyway.

I eat only a little and I eat it fast so I can get back to the bus before the others and talk to Joe about my FM system. He readily agrees to wear it. I feel better.

So we get going again and though Joe’s voice comes through richer and louder but I still miss a lot of what he says. If I really focus, I can understand a lot of what he says but this is almost a ten hour tour and I don’t want to wear myself out like I did the day before. Sometimes I focus on him and sometimes I enjoy the lush green scenery. Oh well, I tried and at least I remembered to bring the FM system which did help a little.

He stops at one point while I am enjoying the scenery instead of focusing on his words, and I hear, “wah wah wah pineapple trees, wah wah wah.” It’s almost like listening to the Charlie Brown adults. I look around to see if I can pick out the pineapple trees but there’s so many other trees that I can’t tell. It takes me another 3 hours on a small hike to figure out which ones are the pineapple trees and that’s because I stop to take a picture of some funky little trees and see a pineapple growing on one. Oh, those are pineapple trees and I have been seeing them all along.

The pineapple tree, at last!

That’s how a lot of my tour went but I did enjoy the trip, the scenery, the waterfalls and small hikes that were offered. Probably because I missed things he said about each hike, I found different paths and some new sites. I knew going in I wouldn’t hear much so I wasn’t too worked up about what I missed. The scenery made up for it all anyway.

Back on the Airplane

On the flight home, I plugged into my iPod. If I’m not going to understand any voices, I might as well enjoy my music. This time I get three barely nice stewardesses. I let them know I’m deaf but I follow their eyes to my iPod. They don’t say anything but clearly they don’t believe me. How can tell them the earbuds (evil things that they are) block out the jet engine noise so I can hear my music better than her. I don’t think there’s any possible way to have her talk to me while filtering out jet noise.

So that’s a piece of what vacationing in like with hearing loss.