Around HEAR
The online newsletter for families and friends of the Children's HEAR Center
Issue: # 1 Spring 2010
Welcome to the first issue of our online newsletter!  We look forward to bringing you news and information your family will find helpful.  In honor of our new format, this issue you will find articles relating to computers and technology.  Please give us your feedback on ideas for future stories, general suggestions, or any other comments.
News and Information
Bring on the Blogs
By: Val Blakely with
Mandy Mahalak, Au.D.
Back in 2007 when I created my first blog, Cochlear Kids, I must have stared at the blank post for thirty minutes before I finally thought of something to say. I typed in
one sentence that was vague and general. I didn't introduce myself to the world of people who could possibly be reading. I said nothing about my purpose for creating a blog. I only announced my presence and that I would help anyone I could. Luckily, a blogger can delete posts at any time so that poor lonely sentence is no longer there.

Over the years, my blog has changed in appearance. I keep current photos and videos of the children up.  I post at least twice a week on current events with the kids such as audiology appointments, school related stories, who's been naughty or nice.  The general purpose of the blog has not changed. I wanted people to know that there are kids out there in the world who are happy but get sad sometimes, who excel but struggle at times, who have special needs but are average kids in so many ways. 

Last year, another local mom and I decided to branch out and create a community blog called Bama Ears.  The blog not only features our own kids but hearing impaired children from around the state of Alabama. We feature fundraisers, local events, and family stories.  We even spotlight special parents who are making a difference. Even if you don't have time to keep a personal blog yourself, you can still contribute your story by emailing us at

 Val's Top Reasons for Blogging:
1. I can update family and friends no matter how far away they live.
2. I get issues off my chest when I feel worried, proud, nervous...
3. I've found a camaraderie with other bloggers with similar subject matter - check out
CI Circle and Deaf Village for starters. 
4. I receive comments under moderation so I have control of what is visible from readers. I simply approve or reject comments based on what I
feel is appropriate.  You can make a blog public or private-access to control who views your blog.
5. It's all FREE !!! And it's easy once you
get started.
CHS logoHi-Tech Hearing Aid Accessories
 by: Ashley Freeman, Au.D

Children of all ages want to connect to electronic devices, which can be difficult for children wearing hearing aids.  Recent advances in Bluetooth™ technology and hearing aids now enable children to get connected.  Many electronic devices such as iPods, MP3 players, cell phones, landline phones, TV, computers, and video games can now be used easily and wirelessly by hearing impaired children.  Hearing aid manufacturers offer Bluetooth compatible hearing aids and Bluetooth-enabled pairing devices (i.e. Oticon's Streamer/Connect Line and Phonak's iCom) which allow the child to connect their hearing aids wirelessly to many devices.  Benefits of connecting via the hearing aids include: watching TV with family and friends at a volume comfortable for the child and for everyone else; talking on the telephone with hearing aids using both ears allows the child to hear more clearly; allows for hands-free use of cell phones; listening to music via iPod/MP3 player without having to remove hearing aids.  Ask your audiologist for more details! 

Therapy Corner
Tips for Teens
By:  Susan Farrell, Cert-AVT

Listening activities aren't only for children.  There are many ideas and resources available for teens as well. 

  1. Many teens have the need to improve listening through the telephone.  An easy home exercise would be to instruct your teen that they will be listening through the telephone for specific words from a list.  This list might include names of U.S cities, subjects at school, popular musicians, etc.  Call your teen from a phone in another room, read the list one word at a time, and have them identify what you say.  If this is too difficult, give your teen the list to follow along as you present each word. Have them then turn the list over and repeat the task.
  2. Another telephone activity might include giving directions over the phone.  Provide the directions over the phone to a "mystery" place.  See if your teen listener can follow the directions and "name that place."
  3. Books on tape provide teens a great way to follow printed text while listening. Personal audio cables plugged into ipods or other audio components can be used to enhance the auditory signal. Check out your local library for a nice selection of books and books on tape.
  4. Cochlear Americas has an interactive listening program for adults and teens called "Sound and Way Beyond". This is a self-paced rehabilitation tool which includes exercises for listening in challenging environments as well as developing an increase in music appreciation.  "Sound and Way Beyond" is available for purchase through Cochlear Americas @ 800.523.5798.
  5. Advanced Bionics has an interactive website available at no charge, and you don't have to be a recipient of an AB device to use the site.  Go to the following website, click on "The Listening Room," and log in.  Click on the tab for teens and adults, and go to the "Listening Gym".  In the listening gym you will find listening exercises to use on the computer or an MP3 player.  Printed material is also available to download and use with a listening coach. 
Quick Links
CHS logo
In This Issue
Bring on the Blogs
Hi-Tech Hearing Aids
Tips for Teens
Research Opportunity
CHS logo
Charity League Cookbooks:  On Sale Now!
By: Wendy Piazza, Cert-AVT 

Tired of cooking the same old stuff?  Need to spruce up your menus at home?  The Charity League Cookbook is just the answer.  The Charity League is a major contributor to the HEAR Center and provides scholarship money to many families every year.  So here's a great way to get some new recipes and help support the HEAR Center. 


Cookbooks can be ordered online by visiting
the Charity League website

Click on "Cookbooks" and scroll down to "Click here to order cookbooks" to open a new ordering window.


You may also contact Wendy Piazza to obtain a cookbook order form.  Thanks so much for your support and happy cooking!

Rhinestones and Wranglers
mp3 clipart
Family 2 Family Tip
Hadley, a hearing aid user from Auburn, recommends Loud Enough Earbuds for your iPod.  The earbuds, available at electronics stores, are designed to limit the dangerous decibels that can be given off by personal audio players.  Both children with hearing loss and those with normal hearing should protect their ears from loud noise.  Thanks for the tip to help us keep our ears safe!
Do you have a tip to share? Email us to be featured in a future newsletter.  All contributors will receive your choice of a stuffed koala or monkey!
Does Your Child Have  Balance Problems?
by: Emily Rector, M.S.

Many children who have hearing loss also have difficulty with motor development and balance, which can cause delays in walking and problems participating in physical exercise or sports.  To address these issues, the Department of Physical Therapy at UAB is recruiting patients from the HEAR Center to participate in a research study to determine which clinical tests are valid to examine inner ear balance function.  They are testing normal hearing children and hearing-impaired children in order to obtain normal values.


The researchers of the study are looking for children between ages 3 and 12 years with a history of hearing loss.  The children will be asked to perform "exercises," such as walking over foam and spinning in a chair.  The testing will take approximately 1 hour and can be coordinated with your child's regularly scheduled appointment at the HEAR Center.  If you would like for your child to participate, please contact Jennifer Braswell, PT, PhD by email or at 205-934-5903.