Higher Education: College Degrees Increasingly Worthless

by: John Tamny, Economist Editor of www.realclear-markets

Orange County Register, Apr. 24, 2011.

“If an equal proportion of people were educated at the public expense, the competition would soon be so great, as to sink very much their pecuniary reward.”   Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations”

An all-too-predictable headline blared recently from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.  Though the article was titled “India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire,” it would be easy to substitute “U.S.” or some other country with a politically correct worship of the college degree.

The opt-cited correlation between a college degree and higher income has driven politicians on the left and right to make attending university a “right” for everyone.   The fact that knowledge gained in college, on its very best day, has little to no relationship with the work performed after graduation has not deterred a mad political rush to make a college education as universal as health care.

Though politicians, educators and their media enablers would have us believe that the act of earning a college diploma makes short people tall, reality, happily, is intruding.  What’s going on in India is a good example.

As Geeta Anand reported in the Wall Street Journal, though call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd is eagerly searching for “recruits who can answer questions by phone and email,” it’s found that “so few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just 3 out of every 100 applicants.”

This is our future.

Indeed, with politicians aggressively promoting advanced education with the tax payers’ money, the inevitable result will be universities handing out more and more worthless diplomas to marginal attendees who will enter college with no skills and depart without the skills prized by employers.  Worse for the victims of this supposed compassion, many will emerge with a great deal of debt as their reward for having wasted four years.

Those who emerge debt-free won’t be much better off.  Having spent four years daydreaming through classes on Greek mythology and feminist art history, they’ll have lost four years of real work that actually teaches them how to get by in an advanced society.

Taking nothing away from the fun that is college, if it does, in fact, serve a purpose, it’s as a source of talent for private companies eager to grow.

Importantly, there’s not much learned in college or graduate school that is applicable to what’s done in the working world, so their real purpose is as a signaling device.  The thesis written senior year at Harvard is not what appeals to Goldman Sachs, Google and Microsoft, but the fact that the student got into Harvard means this person is most likely both hardworking and smart.  Companies figure they can train such individuals to do any number of productive, wealth-creating activities in the real, working world.

Some students, of course, take accounting and finance classes, for example, with an eye on working in those areas.  True, but if so, it would be even more worthwhile to skip the nosebleed tuition and simply get to work on passing the CPA and CFA exams.

Back to college education, just as over-issuance of a currency relative to demand ultimately reduces its value, the drive to make college a pedestrian right has made the diploma increasingly worthless.  Soon enough , if not already, the wage disparity between those with and without degrees will be hard to discern.

As for India, the story of untalented college graduates is a reminder that, rather than something that makes us smart, college is at best what smart people have traditionally aspired to.  Try as we might to make everyone above-average, these attempts, as revealed by the Indian experience, are vain.

End of Register Article

Maybe we need to ask ourselves some questions such as….

Was higher education set up for every single individual to increase knowledge? 

Is this our future in higher education? 

Are we spreading ourselves too thin?

Does everyone, although entitled, belong in higher education?

If everyone was a college graduate with a BA or BS and the majority of those are not fit to work in the field in which they majored, what is the purpose for this student or students to spend time in the classroom wasting teachers time?  Are they taking a seat that a deserving student should have?  It is things like this that causes dumbing down of the system.  

Why is the college system admitting students who need remedial classes?   They are not prepared nor ready and to provide these classes is a waste of tax payers funds that could be used for students who worked hard to prepare themselves and are qualified  to be there.    

If a student does not pass the SAT test, why pass him on, that is, until he can pass?

I do believe higher education should be available to all but the student must meet the requirements to attend these classes.  They must come prepared.  Would we allow a student to fly an airplane just because he has a dream to be a pilot but he can’t pass the entry test to take the course? 

We should have measurements to determine the ability for all students to go beyond the 12th grade….many of those may pass then there would be another test to go beyond the community college.  Along the way there could be tests to find different kinds of jobs for these students.   Many of them could be successful in sales such as real estate, loans, investors…the point I’m making is not everyone belongs in a classrooms for a degree that is worthless to the student once he graduates or worth the taxpayers funds.  There are many people into internet marketing who make more money than PhD’s.   This is what we need to think about.  We also need mechanics, housekeepers, maintenance, janitors and the list goes on and on.  Not everyone is qualified to be an M.D., a pilot or even a teacher.  According to the report on community college that has a 70% dropout rate and they accept students who need remedial classes.   My question is why are we accepting students who are not qualified for this level of education?   It makes sense to send them back to adult education to learn the skills needed. 

Bobbi Barras, educator


70% Community College Drop Out Rate

70% of Community College Students Statewide Drop Out

The Headlines in The Register, Orange County California reads:  2 out of 3 Don’t Finish Community College.  This is a study on local students’ graduation rates and is found to mirror the pattern statewide and nationally.

According to Scott Martindale, Register Writer, college students intending to earn a degree either drop out or do not graduate within 6 years based on research from the above study.  This study examines how elusive college success remains for many local students.

That’s just one in four community college students that transferred to a 4 year university during the 6 year period studied and Latino students were less than half as likely as their white counterparts to transfer.

The study, released this week by the Campaign for College Opportunity coalition and the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Sacramento State University, mirrors trends observed statewide and nationally.

Raul Rodriguez, chancellor of the Santa Ana-based Rancho Santiago Community College District, stated “We’ve known this for a long time.  Our students are very different from the stereotype of the college student.  They’re not all under 26, coming out of high school.  They stop for a variety of reasons and then come back to us at a future time.  They work, have families, don’t want to come out with a big debt.  Also, it’s very hard when a student comes to us 3 or 4 grade levels below college level and we have the job of bringing them up.   It seems they are doing “catch up” all the time and they get discouraged and a lot of them just give up.”

The study tracked 6,131 Orange County students who indicated upon enrollment in 2003-04 that they intended to earn a degree or certificate, finding that 6 years later, 68% of them hadn’t completed a degree and/or had dropped out.   Orange County fared only slightly better than California as a whole.

After 6 years, 70% of students statewide didn’t complete a degree or dropped out.  Community college officials emphasized that challenges are immense.  Unlike K-12 education, community colleges must allow almost anyone who walks through the doors to enroll.   “Open access is a valued part of the community college mission and there are no restrictions to enrollment.  All students are processed as if they will be full time students but some student don’t always have a pathway.  We are trying to balance access with success and find out where we can be the most successful in helping our students,”  according to Ms. Parham, a spokeswoman for the Costa Mesa-based Coast Community College District.

Only 14% of Orange County Latino students transferred to a 4 year university in a 6 year time span vs.

30% of the County’s white students for an average 24% transfer rate countywide, according to the study.   According to Genoveya, president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County, “in a county where over 34% of the population is Latino, it is unacceptable that the vast majority of degree-seeking Latino students are falling short of their career goals.  This study is a real call for action for those in the community who have the means, knowledge and ability to effect positive change for these students.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, California ranks 16th among U.S. states for its 3 year graduation rate.  That’s according to 2008 figures from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, the 6 year graduation rate is 62% nearly double the countywide average of 32 % and Amy Wheeler is not satisfied with that rate.  They are trying to improve that rate according to Wheeler.    She further states, “We really are trying to reiterate to our staff that whatever you do, keep student success in mind.”

Most Latino’s speak Spanish in the home and when they get into a classroom they are being taught in English.   English is not the easiest language to learn and it can be confusing for those who use English as a second language.  If we provided captionsverbatimpro services in all the classrooms each student could receive a complete verbatim printout in their computer in their own language or in English or both.   This service is incredible and can enhance the learning curve for all students who have language problems.  And, all without students feeling they are different, slow learning or just simply language difficulties.   This service would not only keep student success in mind it would balance access with success for all students. 

For more information contact the writer:  smartindale@ocregister.com or 949 454 7394.

Bobbi Barras

April 20, 2011


CaptionsVerbatimPro & Dyslexia

CaptionsVerbatimPro : Dyslexia

This A.M., March 30, 2011, in The Register newspaper was an article about Dannel P. Malloy, the new

Governor of Connecticut.  The headline caught my attention:  “Governor Shines Large Spotlight On His Dyslexia”.    It went on to say, “Teachers said he was mentally retarded.  Some classmates called him dummy.  Today, Dannel P. Malloy is called something else:  Governor of Connecticut!

I’m always looking for ways CaptionsVerbatimPro can help others…help themselves.   The entire purpose is to help all be independent and CaptionsVerbatimPro can do that.   I have 2 adult sons who have dyslexia.   Both experience the same educational problems Dannel Malloy talks about in his growing up years. 

Things have changed a lot in the last 20 years and people are more understanding about those with disabilities, such as dyslexia and hearing impairment,  than they were back before the 50’s when I was growing up and up through the 80’s when my boys were attending school.   Malloy is 55 years of age and my two sons are age 52 and 54 years of age.  Back in those days teachers, parents and students did not understand dyslexia or hearing impairment.   We were not as tolerant and / or as flexible and understanding as we are today.  But we still have a long way to go.  One thing I’d like to see happen is to get rid of the word, disability.   It means disabled.   Disabled is negative in the eyes of many.   Why use the word at all?  We are all different.  Why the label?  We need to get rid of labels on  people.  

I’ve had a moderate to profound hearing impairment since I was 4 years of age and it progressively became worse throughout my life.  By the age of 14 I had a severe loss of the nerve type and by the time I was 18 it was profound.  My mother had German Measles when she carried me so I was destined to be deaf, blind, mentally retarded or a combination of those.  I did not know that until my mother told my late husband when I was 56 years of age.   We took my mother out to dinner for her birthday and my late husband, Dr. Glorig, ENT/Audiologist asked my mother how I lost my hearing.   She at first said she didn’t know.  Then he asked her if she had German Measles when she carried me and she said she did.    

When I was 14 years of age my family moved to California and I enrolled in the 9th grade at El Monte High School.   I walked to school with 3 girls who lived nearby, everyday.  At school, I had 3 different guys who had asked me for dates to future dances.  I was what one might call, “popular”, in those days.   I believe that was the year schools started testing hearing at the schools. 

When they tested my hearing, they found I had a severe to profound hearing loss.  The nurse informed the teachers and the teachers announced it to all the students in my presence and assigned me a specific seat in the front middle of the classroom, in every class.  I was embarrassed.   I also noticed the classmates were no longer talking to me.

I always knew something was not right with me but I did not know I couldn’t hear normally.  Or better yet, I didn’t know others could hear better than I could.  I do remember I couldn’t understand what was being said on the radio.   I used to sing with my girlfriend in the school assembly and I always asked her to listen to the song on the radio and write the words down for me.  I could hear the melody but I couldn’t hear the words. 

My mother did not even know I couldn’t hear well.  She thought I just didn’t listen.  I made A’s, B’s in all my classes.   I was good in reading, math and spelling; and the teacher asked me to help other students with math from grade 2 up through grade 8. 

Once the students at El Monte High found out I couldn’t hear well they treated me differently simply by ignoring me, my 3 girlfriends no longer wanted to walk to school with me and the 3 guys who asked me to upcoming dances didn’t even speak to me again.  I cried myself to sleep every night for the next 3 weeks.  

Fortunately, we moved to Redondo Beach, Ca. and I enrolled in Redondo Beach High School.  I made a beeline to the nurse office and asked her not to tell anyone I couldn’t hear.  I begged her to just let me deal with it.  It seemed when others knew, then I had 2 problems:  my problem plus now I had to deal with how others looked at me and / or ignored me.  I asked her to just let me deal with this on my own.

 She suggested I go to Riverside School for the Deaf and learn Sign Language.  I refused because I couldn’t figure out why I should learn another language to understand the language I already knew and I didn’t know I was lipreading but I was doing just fine.  She finally agreed to allow me to stay at RUHS if I could keep a C average.  That was no problem. 

I finished all 4 years of high school there and had many wonderful friends and memories who accepted me as I was without any discussion of my problem.  It was never brought up and I never mentioned it to any of them.  It was my dark secret from that time on until I was 29 years of age, married and 3 children aged 10 yrs., 8 yr, and 6yrs of age. 

I could live with the knowledge of knowing now what my problem was but I couldn’t live with being treated shabbily by others who didn’t understand.  I married my husband when I was 18 without bringing up the topic.  I couldn’t bear to lose him  In today’s world that sounds like I didn’t come clean as they call it today.  But I’m not talking about covering up something I did wrong…I did nothing wrong.  I believe if anyone had gone through the pain of losing 3 girlfriends and the friendship of 3 guys overnight simply because they found out I couldn’t hear, and being treated shabbily by the teachers at the school, the very people who were there to protect the students,  I think they’d do the same. 

There was no one for me to discuss this with.  The counselors, if there were any at the time, would not be any more understanding than the teachers who announced it and the teacher even treated me badly after that point.  It was a night mare for me.  I couldn’t talk to my mother because she was involved with a separation in her marriage and was not very understanding of my problems.   I learned early that it was my problem and I not only had to deal with it I chose to do it comfortably.

Those were different days.  But my experience at El Monte High School forever made an indelible impression on my mind.   And, it took me many years to get past that.  I couldn’t admit I had hearing loss to anyone in fear of losing their friendship.   I didn’t even tell my children.   I’ll talk more at a later time on how I finally came around to admitting my problem.   I was in denial stage for many years.   I know the pain that others have experienced with the label of disability and we need to get rid of that label.  We all have talent and we all learn differently and we all strive to find our niche in life.   We don’t need labels.

 As Malloy states he experienced a lifelong struggle not only with dyslexia but the added problem of non acceptance in the classroom and being labeled as a “dummy” and / or “mentally retarded”.   That kind of damage to a small child self esteem, who is in a vulnerable stage of life, can sometimes last a lifetime and / or it will teach him/her to reach deep inside and find the strength to get through this and become stronger.    To help those who are weaker and can’t seem to shake it off in later life is another entire writing and we can talk about that in another blog.

In the last few years more and more people, specifically parents, are talking more about dyslexia and also writing books.   As a result, it is opening the door to the fact that a person with dyslexia is an intelligent person in other ways such as having strong listening skills, high vocabularies and excellent communication skills and a good memory.   They learn by listening. 

Parents today are not accepting the labels of the past on their children’s back.  They are doing something about it and more people are listening.    They are not accepting the old idea that their child cannot be educated and have a fruitful and normal life.    They will not stand idle if their child is called a dummy and / or mentally retarded.  There are many people in the celebrity field that have dyslexia and they have found their niche.  That is the secret in life:   Finding your niche.   Whatever it is….yet, that’s the goal for everyone, is it not?  Everyone has something they can do as well or better than others.  

So many words we use in our daily vocabulary have no meaning to someone with dyslexia.   Those words are words that have no picture.  For example when we talk about a house they can see a picture of a house…lots of houses.  When we talk about the ocean they can see lots of water in an ocean in their head.  When we talk about a table they can see a table in their mind.   Those are picture words.  

When we use words such as, this, that, those, these, them, and, an, a, what, when, where, why, which, the, all, if, about, also, however, for, to, too, have, had, like, on, of, etc. ….all these words have no picture attached so they have no meaning.  They are just filler words to complete a sentence and it’s called grammar.  That is why they struggle with writing.  When they hear these words…they have no picture. 

In short, most who have dyslexia hear a word and they see a picture.  If the word has no picture…it has no meaning to them.   There are numerous words that have no picture.   They cannot process something they cannot see.   It’s not there and it has no picture…therefore it has no meaning.   If it has no meaning it can’t be remembered or translated.   If there is no picture there is nothing to translate or interpret.

My son, Bryan, attended a seminar a few years ago that helped him understand all this.   When he hears the word, “boat”, for example…he can see a boat in his mind and he can see the top of the boat, the bottom, and all sides of that boat in his mind.   He does not see the actual word, “boat”…he sees a picture of a boat and sometimes lots of boats.  Both my son’s, Tony and Bryan, are very intelligent.  They both have excellent memories, broad vocabularies, beyond par communication skills and many wonderful friends and relationships.  They are very understanding about life, themselves and others; but, they can’t write, they can’t spell and they don’t read books.   They do listen to audio books and CD’s.   They can spell words phonetically.  And, that brings up a great thought.   I just got an Aha! feeling we’ll talk about in the final paragraph.

Most normal people I have spoken to have no difficulties reading, writing,  and when I ask them what they see in their mind when I say or hear  the word “boat”, they tell me they see the word, “boat”, in their mind and they also see a boat but they say they do not see all sides, top and bottom of the boat.  What we see in our mind when we hear a given word is our interpretation of that word based on what we understand.   If a person with dyslexia cannot see a picture then there is nothing to interpret because they cannot see words…they only see pictures.

In Japan there is no such thing as dyslexia!   That’s because their alphabet is in pictures.  Our alphabet is 26 individual letters and someone with dyslexia may not see any of those letters in their heads.  That is, unless you attach the letter to something that is a picture.  For example…A is for Apple then there is a picture of an Apple.  They see the Apple but not the word “Apple”.   B is for “Boy”  …then there is a picture of a boy.   In the mind of someone with dyslexia, s/he might be seeing all these pictures for the alphabet.  He sees a picture of an  Apple, Boy, Cat, Dog, Elephant, Farmer, Girl, and etc. 

In the U.S. according to the International Dyslexia Association as much as 20% of the population has a language based disability such as dyslexia.  That’s a lot of people considering the Census 2006 reported 303,763,031 total population in the U.S.   If 20% has language based disabilities that equates to almost 61 million people within the dyslexia category.   We have to do something about that. 

Let’s get back to the thought that most who have dyslexia can spell and read phonetically.   If this is a true fact then there is no reason why CaptionsVerbatimPro cannot have a button to translate a classroom lesson to phonetic.   If we have the ability to translate English to another language, then we can also  translate to phonetic.  The word, “thought” would be spelled, “thot”.    The word, “would”, could be spelled, “wood”.  The goal is to teach and to teach all students in a way s/he can understand; and, if it means changing the spelling then so be it!  We can do that with the click of a button in the classroom with CaptionsVerbatimPro.  

The English language is a difficult language to learn especially for those with dyslexia.  These are the times of learning to be more tolerant to the needs of others who learn differently.  As a teacher, we are supposed to be flexible to that need.  I can’t help but wonder how great it would be for CaptionsVerbatimPro to provide the entire lesson in audio if the student preferred.   Translating to phonetic is just a thought at this time but certainly worth trying and let the student tell us what works for them.  At least it should be available.  In talking to my sons, they both say they would learn more simply by listening by audio.  But we need to be ready to offer options to meet the need of every student and get rid of the label of disabled. 

Bobbi Barras


Education Needs To Be Reformed

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Warns of Failures by 2014!

This a.m. I was reading The Register over a cup of coffee when I came across this timely article.   When the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, admits we need to make a change in education it gets my full attention.  

Los Angeles.  U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said Tuesday, March 22, that virtually every school in Los Angeles Unified School District will be classified as failing by 2014 if the “No Child Left Behind Act” is not urgently reformed.

Duncan told about 1200 educators and business leaders at a United Way education summit that the law now is too focused on test scores on core subjects.  That, he said, has led to a narrow focuses on those subjects at the expense of the well-rounded education every child needs.  “No Child Left Behind is fundamentally broken,” he said.   “We want to fix it before we go back to school this fall.” 

Duncan, the former head of Chicago’s public schools, and presently the Secretary of Education stationed in Washington, D.C., said he wants the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act to measure schools on year-to-year improvement, rather than on a specific test score.  “We should be far more concerned about levels of growth than proficiency,” he said.  On other topics, the secretary came down hard on the dismal performance of LAUSD, the nation’s second-largest school district.  Although he said district leaders are working to fix underachieving schools, he said the 50 percent graduation rate is the lowest among big-city districts.  “L.A. is a world-class city but does not have world-class schools,” he said.  

I Believe Every Parent Agrees We Need To Change How We Educate Our Students and Hire our Teachers

I believe we are doing the wrong kind of testing.   We ought to be testing all students at the entry level, grade 1 and again prior to middle school and prior to high school.   The purpose of this testing is to find out 2 things:
• The interests of the student, and;
• How the student learns best.

The interests of each student needs to be nurtured throughout school.   The individual interest may change as a student moves through the grades all the way into college and sometimes beyond.  And, then we need to think about forced change as a result of economy changes.  The student needs to be ready for a change if needed.  The one thing that remains constant is ….change.   We have to teach flexibility and adaptability throughout life.  In other words, college students need to major in two topics to be ready for a change if and when needed. 

We need to respect the fact that not all students belong in college.   There are other ways to become educated in life that does not require a degree but can be as resourceful to an individual.
It seems college may prepare some students to make a living but there are other resources out there that can provide a lifestyle.  There is a difference.

We need to find out how a student learns best.   I’ve talked about this throughout my blogs.   Some students learn better by auditory, meaning some students learn better by listening.   Others learn more using the visual sense, meaning s/he learns more by reading.   Still others need both.  In fact, most remember more when they have both.  It is the auditory system that puts it in the memory box.   That’s why it’s important to teach children to read aloud when they study.  They need a quiet room to do that without disturbances.

Remember the days we learned to read by reading.   It all starts when a parent reads to a small child before putting them to bed or taking them to libraries where they have readers who read to children.  In school, I can remember how I learned to read.

The teacher gave an assignment for reading homework.  The child was to read the chapter at home, look up words in the dictionary, write the meaning of the word and proceed to the end of the chapter.  This required having a parent assist the child in understanding what the story was about and to encourage vocabulary development.   The child was to try to use the new word 3 times in discussion at home and thereafter.

The next day, the teacher had  each student in the classroom read one paragraph or parts of a paragraph…aloud, in the chapter for the day, while all students listened and followed along.   Note here… that it is not the teacher who is reading to the students…it is the students who read.  And, they read aloud.   That is the key.  If a child came upon a word s/he couldn’t pronounce s/he could ask for teacher support and keep reading.  

The teacher did not start with the student sitting in the front row and then go down the line.    Instead, the teacher would call on different students unexpectedly to read.   This kept the students on their toes because they didn’t know when their name would be called and, as a result, they had to be ready to stand up and perform when called upon.   That is how a teacher teaches reading.   A student may never learn to read if s/he doesn’t read and/or read aloud in private.  Reading aloud is the best way to learn to read because it involves both the visual and the auditory system.   When we involve both it is easier to remember what one is reading.

When I was teaching adult education I had many interesting adult students in my classroom.   This particular student, Marion Cox, actually Dr. Marion Cox, was the psychologist for the development of Dick and Jane Reading Series.     That is a series of reading books back in the 1940’s and maybe beyond that decade.   She was now in her ’80’s.  What an interesting woman!

I asked her to talk about those books because they were banned in later years.  I wanted to hear it from her as to how these books were created and why were they banned later.   Dr. Cox had a crystal clear memory as she spoke and I gave her the floor.  She said when these books were created, they were pictures only.   There were no words at the bottom of the page.   They were to be used in kindergarten and first grade only at that time.  

The teacher was to sit down on a small stool with the children gathered around in front of her on a rug on the floor.   She would show the picture to the children and ask them what they think is happening in the picture.   Then one by one each child made his/her statement about what s/he thought was happening on that page.  The children used their own words. 

The teacher would write those words spoken by each child on a separate sheet of paper with the name of the child at the top.   At the end of the story she had several different stories written in the words of the different children.  Then she would let each child read his/her own story what s/he actually said using his/her own words presented as his/her own interpretation of the picture.  

The teacher then asked each child what s/he wanted the title of the story to be and each child created their own title by discussion of their story with the teacher.   This taught socialization and communication skills.   Then came the writing session.  Each child could copy all the words they used in their own handwriting…printing.   And, each child was allowed to keep his/her own hand written story they told.   They could take it home and read it to the parents.   That was how the books were supposed to be used. In doing so, it was the children who actually created the story by looking at the picture.    And, each story took a different direction and they created a different title.  

I’m sure each child could not wait to get home and tell his/her parents about this wonderful experience in writing their own book and it had a title.   Not only that….s/he could read the story to his/her parent. 

Now let’s break this apart and look at what the children learned:
• The children created their own story by looking at a picture and talking about what s/he saw in the picture;
• The children learned to respect their own ideas by using their own imagination;
• The children learned to print their own words used in the story;
• The children learned to complete the project by adding a title to the story; and,
• It taught them pride. 

I can visualize the excitement was blowing through the roof with this method of teaching.   And, the most important thing it did was it kept the children’s attention because each child was a part of the development of his/her own story.   The child felt important.  S/he wrote a story s/he could read in his/her own words!   And, Dr. Cox added one more thing:   She had each child write the publishing date on the first page with the title. 

That idea was beyond brilliant!

We then asked, when did the words come about at the bottom of the page and she said they were later added by a writer who felt the book was not complete without words.   The writer who added the words was trying to teach by rote which is why the words were repeated often throughout the books.  Learning by rote is part of learning to read, however.   But do we need one word repeated 5 times in a row?    “Run, Jane, run.  Run. Run. Run.”   There are only 2 different words used in that entire statement to show Jane was running.  

The writer who added the words suggested a teacher read the book to the children.   It didn’t create an interest, the children were no longer writing the story, they were no longer involved and it destroyed the children’s creativity.  There was no more excitement. And the books were banned because of boredom.  In thinking about this, I don’t see the children running home to show the parents how excited they were with the project for the day.  It was passive teaching.  Easy for the teacher.  Nothing learned and nothing gained.

Dr. Cox is the kind of teachers we need in our schools today.   Unfortunately, we have too many teachers like the one who killed these books!  That, in itself, should explain the difference between a teacher with passion and one who just has a job.

Even a child in kindergarten could add more words to the story than the writer who added the words on the bottom of the page!

Bobbi Barras


How Do We Change Education?

According to Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D. Reform American Education – Reform America?, September 27, 2010, The calls to alarm in the U.S. focus primarily on declining world rankings in student performance, particularly in science and math, and declining high school graduation rates, particularly for minorities. The word most often used by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan and other leaders inside and out the educational world to describe these trends is “unacceptable.”  What does that mean?  If this state of affairs is so “unacceptable,” how did it come to be?  Keep in mind that calls for educational reformation and improvement are a constant in American public policy – remember when the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957, spurring a national outcry to improve science education?  Fifty years later the United States has drifted into the third tier of nations internationally in science and math.  Unacceptable!

According to a study by the Second International Mathematics Study, one common thread of opinion, is educational reform.  The Economist says the reform must “overhaul the curriculum…and must deliver better quality education.”

I’ve been doing research and one thing I found was that the United States, compared with other countries worldwide, has fallen to the 17th & 18th in Reading, Math and Science.  (You can read more about this at my website.) What a shock that is!   This is the United States of America supposedly the greatest country in the world and has been a leader for many years in just about everything as it relates to education and lifestyle.  How did this happen?  Well…the more research I did the more I found where the problems may be.

Not every student learns easily or the same way.   And, not every teacher should be teaching.   We need teachers who teach because they have a passion for the topic they teach.   The schools say if we are credentialed to teach, then we are expected to teach any topic we are assigned.   That is the biggest mistake one could ever even consider.   Why would a teacher teach tennis if he never played before and had no interest in the game?   Put another way….if a teacher hates math and scored low in testing in college, why would s/he teach math?    The old saying is, “If you want to learn a subject….just teach it.”   That works for the layman.  It doesn’t work for a teacher who is credentialed to teach.  We need teachers who can come to class without a book and teach the topic and supplement the book.   Instead we have teachers who actually, in high school, who read the book to the students.   That is not a teacher that needs to be teaching.   That is a teacher who doesn’t prepare for a class in advance to arriving in the classroom.  It’s a teacher who just wants a job and has nothing to offer a student.   As a teacher for 25 years in the school system and Community College I can attest that there are many teachers who “read” to their students.   That is totally unacceptable unless it’s the kindergarten, first grade, and second grade and maybe even the third grade. 

 In my research I found students stated they were bored in class, students who stated their mind wandered while the teacher was teaching, and students who created problems within the classroom making other students laugh and many other disturbances within the classroom.   All it takes is one domino to fall and the entire class is out of control.  What causes boredom?  Well, the simple answer is a lack of interest.  But there is more to it than a lack of interest.   It falls on the shoulder of the teacher when there is a lack of interest. 

 I have also seen students sitting on the edge of their seats when a teacher was teaching a class.   A teacher who has a passion for the topic can weave stories and jokes into the learning lesson that keeps the students attention.   That is a teacher we need. 

I actually started out by doing research mainly for the purpose of finding a way to enhance the learning of those who have hearing impairment of the nerve type.   These are regular people who simply lost some hearing… they can hear sound but cannot comprehend what is being said and most lost their hearing as a result of environmental noises after birth or after the age of 20.   Oh, yes I hear you…I know you’re thinking they can put on a hearing aid/s.   As a Hearing Specialist I would recommend that as well.   However, nerve loss is not the same as conductive loss.   The latter can be fitted to an aid/s easily as his/her problem is in the middle ear and/or the high success rate of the stapes surgery can take care of that and hearing is restored almost to it’s preexisting state.   Not so with nerve impairment.

 Nerve impairment is in the inner ear where the cochlear organ is located and that organ is about the size of your thumb nail and holds your entire decoding system within.  This organ consists of tiny little hair cells that wave back and forth in the fluid.   Once a hair cell or group of hair cells become damaged s/he will no longer hear that specific sound the hair cell or group of hair cells generated.  That’s why you hear people say, “I can hear sound.  I just cannot understand speech.”   Or, they say, “Everyone mumbles today!”   I’m sure you’ve heard the latter many times.   That’s a person who’s still in the denial stage.

These are people who have lost their hearing in early life, midlife or later life.   We once thought of hearing impairment as being age related but it is no longer true.   We have teens losing their hearing as a result of all the loud music and sounds they listen to, not just from a distance but from the plugs they place in their ears and pump the sound up beyond what the cochlear can handle.  As a result these little hair cells snap.    This loss is mainly caused by environmental noises.  And, more people under the age of 60 have hearing impairment of the nerve type than ever before in history!   We have over 77 million baby boomers becoming senior citizens and these people went through the 70’s loud rock music period.  That’s something to think about.   Back in the ’80’s I believe we had less than 20 million senior citizens in the U.S.  

There is definitely a way to enhance the education of those who have nerve impairment.  I found this by accident.

The deaf have been using this for several years but the hearing impaired are still not aware of this method.  I started out by trying to get the word out.   But the more I researched and wrote, the more I found this method would also enhance the learning for all students in every classroom.  

 So what am I talking about?    In the world of deaf it’s called CART services.  The word CART doesn’t make sense to the outside world of deafness.   If you knew to google CART then you’d find out.  But who would google CART without knowing what the word means?   If you googled hearing impairment it would bypass CART.  It’s being used in the colleges along with note taking and sign language for the deaf.   But for the hearing impaired individual with a nerve impairment, CART services is all that is needed to enhance their learning.    We all know there is captions/subtitles provided on TV, DVD’s, CD’s, and I was a part of that development of captions on TV, but what most don’t know is that it can be provided in every learning environment throughout life.  Why?   Because learning is a life time endeavor in today’s world.   And, we have all kinds of people with different needs and most will not tell you what their needs are, still others don’t know what their needs are and most don’t know CART services is even available or what it does.

 When I found this method I thought I discovered hearing all over again!  I was floating on a cloud.  I was attending a seminar on real estate and the company provided that service for me as an individual in a group of over 400 students.  At break time I was surrounded by others with hearing loss asking me where I got the balls to ask for this service.  When I asked them if they let the company know their needs….they said they didn’t tell anyone they have hearing impairment.  Still others said, “I cannot write fast enough to take notes and this would really solve my problem and free me up to just listen.”   The fact I had this service for myself created a huge scene during every break and lunchtime.   They all wanted to sit around me and asked if the font could be enlarged so they could all see.  

 So what is CART services?   Well, it’s a court reporter (CR) who works with a stenography machine.  S/he types every single word being spoken!  It’s a typewriter on hotwheels!  And, the average CR can type 225 words per minute.  Simple wouldn’t you agree?   That’s actually simple and is the same method used for captions and subtitles.   Why didn’t we think about this before?  

 During my research, I started thinking about all the students who have difficulties in class….I’m now talking about the average student who can hear.   Additionally, students  have different ways of learning.  Some of us are auditory oriented and others are visually oriented.  Some of us learn more by hearing what is being said and others learn more from reading.   Some need both.  Still others are need to include their muscles to learn.   Remember, years ago how we learned to spell?   Writing the word 10 times or more until we could spell the words without looking at them.   Then, when we had the test, we heard the word spoken and we put the pencil to the paper and followed the pencil.   That’s called muscle memory tied to auditory.   Did you ever watch Tiger Woods golf?   That’s real muscle memory tied with visual orientation.  Oh yes, and the ability to block out any meaningless noise …called concentration.   And that, in itself, is another skill to learn.  So now you can see, we all learn differently and that has to be taken into account in order to teach students.

 Therefore, we need to do 3 things to begin with and that is….

1.    test students in the lower grades and find out what each student need may be;

2.    hire only teachers who have a passion to teach the topic provided; and,

3.    provide CaptionsVerbatimPro services in every classroom.

 Why CaptionsVerbatimPro services?   Because the captioner would be in every classroom and every word being spoken by the teacher would be on record.  Students would not have to take notes unless they wanted to.  Their time could be better spent listening to the teacher and absorbing the information.  At the end of each class, the record would be sent to every student’s computer for study and reference.  For students who desire the print out to be in another language …it’s just a click of a button and it’s done.  

 This would eliminate “he said, she said”.  It’s on record.  The counselor, school principal and or director of studies, even the superintendent could tune in to any classroom at any given moment to watch a teacher performance.  Teachers can be graded more accurately in that manner.

 Teachers will come to class prepared every single class time.  There will be no room for a teacher who wants to come to class when s/he’s not feeling his/her best.   A student deserves the teacher’s best every single class time.

This would, in itself, increase the salary of a teacher who has the passion to teach the topic!

I’m sending this out to everyone on my address book.  Please critique and let me know what you think.  Be sure to go to my website at:  www.captionsverbatimpro and get back with me.  I would relish your thoughts.   I plan to take this nationwide.  I will be applying for grants and the plan is to reach out to those who are dedicated to education in America and that is people like:  Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Forbes, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil, Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas, Steve Wynn, Donald Trump, Donald Bren, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America and many others who feel as dedicated to education as most American’s.  We need to get back to being Number One not just by score but by education and knowledge to back up that score.  We can do that. 

Thank you,

Bobbi Barras

www.barrashomesinc.com  (past experiences)

www.captionsverbatimpro.com  (future dreams for improving education)

We still have some work to do on the CVP website and I welcome your input


Creating Jobs

The Vanishing Court Reporter:  Off the Record

By:  LawCrossing

Most stenographers’ machines these days are tricked out with fancy screens, but at their core the devices are essentially hot rod typewriters.  Still, it can take 3 years of training to learn how to pluck the 24 keys at the requisite 225 words per minute.  And right now, there aren’t enough nimble fingers to go around.

Across the country, the legal profession is suffering a severe shortage of court reporters.  According to Marshall Jorpeland, director of communications for the National Court Reporters Association, the clamor for reporting services has increased as the number of stenographers has plummeted.  In the past decade, the number of NCRA-accredited training programs has dropped from 102 to 72.   Of the nearly 45,000 court reporters in the U.S. today, less than a third actually toil in a courtroom, the rest opting for lucrative closed-caption-TV work or freelance jobs for law firms.  “People are wondering where the next generation is going to come from,” says Jorpeland.

Many stenographers who haven’t sought the flexible hours and higher earnings of private practice..a typical freelancer’s income is more than $60,000 annually, and top reporters can clear 6 figures…are losing their jobs to budget cuts.  Courts in Oregon and Colorado have ordered considerable layoffs, a round of cuts is planned for some Florida courts as well.  “I’ve waited a couple of years for trial transcripts,” says Michael Bogdanow, a litigator at Boston’s Meehan, Boyle, Black & Fitzgerald.  “Everything slows down as a result.  You can’t pursue an appeal without the transcript, which is one big reason why appeals take so long.”

Meanwhile, reporters whose positions have been spared must scramble to keep up.  In Florida, a murder conviction was overturned because the jury selection process had not been accurately recorded.  In North Carolina, judges routinely delay trials and hearings as they wait for a spare reporter.

Some states have addressed the deficit by installing sensitive digital recording systems to tape proceedings for later transcription.  Most stenographers, however, say this is a poor alternative.  “If you’re representing someone accused of a crime, and you plan to file an appeal, do you want to rely on a transcript that’s filled with “inaudible” and that was prepared by a peson who wasn’t at the original proceeding?”  says R. Douglas Friend, a partner at the Portland, Oregon, court reporting firm Beovich Walter & Friend.

The industry should improve over the next few years as broadcasters strive to provide closed-captioning on virtually all new television programming by 2006, and on older programming by 2008, as the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires.  Writing those captions requires largely the same skills as recording legal proceedings, so the NCRA is promoting a bill that would create $60 million in educational grants.  The funding, if approved, could lift the entire profession.

The anemic economy may prove to be an obstacle to legislative approval of the funding, but Jorpeland and his colleagues find solace in the fact that when jobs are scarce, professional schools usually get a boost.  “Last fall, enrollment in reporter training programs was up 19% over 2001,” he says.  “And we have evidence indicating this year is at least as strong.”

If court reporters are losing their jobs in the court room, CaptionsVerbatimPro will be happy to provide them a job doing the same work but for a different group where captions is sorely needed.   That’s technology working and it provides a solution to the court reporters dilemma.   The other thing that is happening based on what I have seen in scattered statements on the internet is that the court reporters are taking a 30% cut in pay and that is not be acceptable to most.   They are refusing to work for the court unless they pay their regular rate of pay which runs anywhere from $90/hour to $125/hour for the top reporters.    That’s is about the same rate the CART services are charging.   There is a real war going on between the courts and the court reporters regarding their rate of pay.


Building Education, It’s a Starting Point: Getting Back to Basics

Building Education…It’s a Starting Point: Getting back to Basics

Students Are Not Equally Able or Willing To Learn: Why?  The following is an excellent article every parent should read:  According to Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune Columnist, Dec. 22, 2010 America’s primary and secondary schools have many problems, but an excess of excellence is not one of them.   Not only do our weak students fare poorly in international comparisons, so do our strong students.  Mediocrity is the national norm.

The very best students are the ones most likely to do things of great benefit to the rest of us such as, cure malaria, devise revolutionary inventions, start the next Apple or plumb the secrets of the universe.   But we don’t always put much importance on helping them to realize their full potential.

A case in point is Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill., a racially and economically mixed suburb of Chicago that is home to Northwestern University.  It recently decided to eliminate a high honors freshman English course aimed at challenging the top students.

Henceforth, these youngsters will be grouped with everyone else in a regular “honors” class in humanities.   Next year, the same may be done with biology.   Your kid is an honor student at ETHS?  Heck, everyone is an honors student at ETHS.

It’s hardly the only school in America where grouping students according to their ability is in disrepute.   There is a widespread impulse is to treat all kids as equally able and willing to learn.   But the results often fall dismally short of the hopes.

When the Chicago public schools scrapped remedial classes for ninth graders and put everyone in college-prep courses, “failure rates increased, grades declined slightly, test scores did not improve and students were no more likely to enter college,”  according to a study by the Consortium on Chicago School REsearch at the University of Chicago.   Among average and above students, absenteeism rose.

The danger in putting the brightest kids in general classes is that they will be bored by instruction geared to the middle.   But their troubles don’t elicit much sympathy.   Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless told The Atlantic magazine, “The United States does not do a good job of educating kids at the top.  There’s a long-standing attitude that, “Well, smart kids can make it on their own.”

But can they?   Only 6 percent of American kids achieve advanced proficiency in math, lower than in 30 other countries.   In Taiwan, the figure is 28%.

School administrators in Evanston insist the change is aimed at making the curriculum more demanding, even as they make it less demanding for some students.  Thanks to the abolition of this elite course, we are told, “high-achieving students” will profit from “experiencing multiple perspectives and diversity in their classes to gain cultural capital.”

In other words, racial balance will take priority over academic rigor.   Blacks and Hispanics make up nearly half of all students but only 19 percent of those in advanced placement courses and 29 percent of those in honors courses.

This is because minority students at Evanston, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000, generally score lower on achievement tests.  Putting all students together is supposed to give everyone an equal opportunity.

But if you have a fever, you don’t bring it down by breaking the thermometer.  The low numbers of black and Hispanic students are a symptom of a deeper problem, namely the failure of elementary and middle schools to prepare them for the most challenging course work.  Evanston has had a big racial gap in academic performance for decades, and there is nothing to gain from pretending it doesn’t exist.

Schools that group (or “track”) kids by ability generally get better overall results.  Chester Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, notes in a recent report, “Middle schools with more tracks have significantly more math pupils performing at the advanced and proficient levels and fewer students at the needs improvement and failing levels.”

Why would that be?  Teaching is not easy and teaching kids with a wide range of aptitude and interest is even harder.  Grouping students by ability allows the tailoring of lessons to match the needs of each group.  Putting them all together is bound to fail one group or another.

Shortchanging gifted teens creates the risk of another unwanted effect:  inducing their parents to leave.  Families in Evanston can always move to neighboring suburbs with good schools, or they can opt for several fine private and parochial alternatives.   Average students don’t gain from being in the same classes as exceptional ones if the exceptional ones are not there.

We as a society have not been very successful at turning average students into high achievers.   Maybe we’ll have better luck doing the opposite.

What a great article!  Well said!  By Steve Chapman.    Please read how CaptionsVerbatimPro can improve all levels of learning.   Separation into 3 groups can be a good thing and everyone’s scores will increase.  There is no such thing as one size fits all for the same reason we can’t buy a size 7 shoe to everyone!  However, and additionally, having 3 separate groups may set up competition for students to increase their scores to get into the higher level of learning.   When each group has all the notes verbatim they have something to work with.   Once they leave the classroom and go into another class for a different course, they lose too much information in their memory box of the former class.  It appears the student who excels has a stronger memory box than most and is able to go back in his/her head and recant what the instructor said at any given time, and, can even use that method when taking a test weeks later. 

I have a son and a grandson (father and son) who are both walking encyclopedia’s but they both learn differently.   They can recant verbatim most anything they heard when the subject arises weeks or months and even years after.  Not everyone has that kind of memory.  My grandson uses both reading and listening.  My son only needs to listen and he never forgets what was said.  He says, “All I have to do is roll my mind back to the time I heard the lesson and I can provide a verbatim account of what was said.”  Others can do the same once they read a topic.   And, still others may need both.   We’re talking about our senses here.   Some are more inclined to auditory.   Others remember more when they read.   And, still others, need both.   Once we understand what our student needs are, then we solve a huge problem in learning.  It’s easily tested to determine how the student learns best.  These are the kind of tests we need to have in our schools at the very beginning and perhaps every other year to determine any changes as they grow.

For some subjects, such as spelling, muscles need to be involved.   Remember the days when we actually wrote the word 10 times or more until we could spell  the word without looking at it?  When one writes the word several times s/he’s using his muscle memory.  When s/he hears the word for the test all s/he needs to do is put the pen to the paper and follow the pen. 

So many students coming out of high school, community colleges, universities and even some of the instructors at the universities cannot spell.  They relied on computers to learn spelling and there is no muscles involved to learn spelling.   The computer simply asks, which word is spelled correctly?   Well, that is nothing more than a guessing game. 

It works very much like a golfer.  The golfer uses his muscles to hit that ball and send it where he wants it to go.   He does that with practice over and over again.  It’s very similar to learning how to spell. 

Now let’s talk about math.   Years ago we learned math with a book, paper and a pencil.   Muscles were involved.   Today the student has a hand held calculator right on his/her phone.  And, if they enter 3 X 3 and the answer comes up as 12….they believe it!  

When I was teaching math, I also insisted the student transfer the problem from the book to paper with their pencil.   At first they balked.  Some said, “That’s outdated!”   I said, “It could be.”    However, we know that part of learning math has to do with organization skills or one gets lost in the middle of solving a problem.   I taught them to work from left to right and show me how they got the answer.   Once students learn this basic skill then it’s ok to go to a calculator or computer.   There is no substitution for learning basic skills when it comes to math and spelling.

Thoughts to ponder.  This brings up some questions: 

  • Why are we not teaching Basic Skills in the lower grade?
  • Why are we not testing our students to determine how they learn best?

The 6 Stages of Adjustment to Hearing Loss of the Nerve Type

The 6 Stages of Adjustment to Hearing Loss of the Nerve Type

Of the many problems and conditions that can affect the human body, hearing loss of the nerve type is one of the least detectable and the most communicationally segregating and psychologically devastating.

Segregating because it fractures and warps the ability to communicate effectively if one cannot speechread and/or is not assertive enough to speak up and tell others s/he has this impairment.

Devastating because it changes present relationships, places a barrier on new relationships and often strips the individual of his/her dignity, pride and independence.

It is not easily and/or readily recognized as blindness or mobility impairments. It only becomes noticeable to self and others when the individual tries to communicate or to understand a speaker and the words sound garbled.

An individual with a moderate to profound hearing loss of the nerve type may have no difficulties getting where s/he is going but once s/he arrives at his/her destination, the problem begins. His/her problem goes completely unnoticed by others.

Unnoticed for 2 major reasons:

It is not easily detectable by others, and

The individual is not about to admit s/he has hearing loss of the nerve type to others and chance a negative reaction. People don’t have any problem admitting they can’t see and they have no difficulties wearing glasses. The interesting thing I have personally witnessed are those who wear hearing aids will not change their battery in front of other people. Instead they go to the bathroom to do that. While those who wear glasses have no problems whatsoever removing their glasses, holding them up to a light and cleaning them, then putting them back on right wherever they may be.

Why is it so difficult for us to admit we have a hearing loss?

I can provide 4 reasons based on my students answer to that question. The following are the most frequent reasons. And, every individual who has developed hearing impairment of the nerve type can relate to one or all these reasons or a combination of them. In this paper we are talking only about those who have NERVE impairment.

1. The person who has acquired hearing impairment yet continues to hide the problem may be exposing his own pre-biased deep seated feelings about deafness. Unknowingly, by “covering up” the problem… he is keeping the stigma attached. S/he’s ashamed of having this problem or feels ashamed. That feeling is based solely on what s/he has heard others say about it and/or what reactions they have demonstrated. Like anything else if it’s hidden away, and brought out into the open it will create negative reactions. After thousands of years of this vicious cycle of defeat it is still playing its old game of “cover up.”

At one time I collected antique books of any title. One day a friend gave me a book wrapped up beautifully with a nice bow for my birthday. It was well worn hard back copy published in 1648. What a treasure! The title: Deaf and Dumb. And, I think you already know what it talks about. That was in the mid 1600 yet in 2011, although we’ve advanced in technology the social attitudes are still way behind. I don’t think we’ll ever see a book that is titled: Blind and Dumb.

What’s interesting here are similar words by Helen Keller who had both deafness of the nerve type and blindness. This was her statement:

“I have both deafness and blindness and of the two deafness is the worst because it has to do with communication and without communication we have nothing. With blindness I do not see thing’s but with deafness it separates me from others.”

2. Those of us who have had normal hearing and developed a hearing impairment later in life are accustomed to helping others less fortunate; and this may make it difficult to accept anything less than perfect in ourselves. Whereas, we were once in a position to help others, we are now in the position “to be helped”. That, in itself, is the difference between independence and dependence. America is not only youth-oriented but good-health oriented; and, we all want to be a part of that. This attitude has been reinforced by the audio visual media even more so in the latter few years than ever before in history.

3. We have noticed how others treat those who have hearing loss and we don’t like what we see. (This one was the most frequently mentioned)

4. That leads us to believe that people are not very understanding about this problem and even if we admitted it they soon forget and we are back to zero again.

If we, who have hearing loss of the nerve type cannot accept and understand this disability, we cannot possibly expect others to comprehend it. Maybe the answer is within our own attitude and how we viewed hearing impairment in others. In order to get past this problem we need to ask ourselves some questions and the answer will roll to the front of our mental cupboard. The following are some questions and you can ask yourself other questions as well to get to the bottom of why we are so sensitive about our impairment.

Before I developed hearing loss…..

1. how did I view others who had hearing impairment?

2. what did I do to help others who had this impairment?

3. how did I repeat a statement when that someone didn’t hear it the first time said?

4. how many times did I laugh at a joke being told and then told my friend who had hearing impairment and missed the punch line … “He just told a joke.”

5. how much time did I spend with an older individual who couldn’t keep up with the conversation at the Holiday family dinner table?

You don’t have to share your answers with me. The purpose of these questions is to help you find how caring you were with those around you who had hearing impairment. If you find you were not as caring as you’d like someone to be to you, forgive yourself right now because you can’t change something that happened years ago. But you can change what you would do now and in the future. That’s the key. Don’t look back. That’s what we call “learning” and seeing things from a different light.

More people today have hearing impairment than ever before in history and the teenagers are now being tested for hearing loss due to the musical radios they listen to all day long…directly into their eardrums and it’s louder than the cochlear can handle. Once the hair cells in the cochlear break…one will never hear that sound again….not even with a hearing aid/s. The aid amplifies sound…all sounds but technology has so greatly improved these last few years and I recommend anyone who has hearing impairment in both ear to wear 2 hearing aids. It is also a safety net so one can hear the noises around him/her an should be worn every time one drives a vehicle.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1969) the author of Death and Dying, developed the 5 stages of dying. This development gave us a tremendous insight into the different emotional stages when an individual suffers a major loss. These stages apply equally well to any significant change in a person’s life. The stages developed by Kubler-Ross are as follows:

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

And, I have chosen to add one more stage for those who develop hearing impairment of the nerve type……stage 6. Rehabilitation

Like those who are faced with dying, those with progressive nerve loss face the same life threatening problems…..loneliness and rejection and the unknown. The difference between the person dying and the individual who has developed progressive nerve loss is the latter lives on but with a devastating disability.

The degree of reactions to the development of this problem is not necessarily in direct proportion to the degree of loss in hearing. However, the intensity of the reaction is directly related to several factors such as:

1. How much one needs and uses communication his/her daily life;

2. The attitude about self and others;

3. How others relate to them;

4. The ability to be flexible to the need and adaptable to change;

5. The ability to build a strong support system within the social circle s/he is accustomed to;

6. The tolerance level with self and others;

7. Length of time it takes one to admit to self that s/he has this problem;

8. Length of time it takes one to seek professional help;

9. The personal status level; and,

10. Personal communication skills.

Let’s take a look at my favorite American Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow’s hierachy of needs theory. (1970).

Maslow’s hierachy of needs demonstrates as the individual fulfills his /her needs on one level, s/he arrives at the next higher level. As Maslow’s chart below illustrates, the first 2 levels are the most basic in the human hierarchy chain of events!

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

6. Desire to Know and Understand

5. Need For Self-Actualization

Self-mastery, desire to help others, ability to direct one’s own life, rich

Emotional experiences, a sense of meaning to one’s life.

4. Esteem Needs

Self-esteem, esteem of others, achievement, recognition, dignity,

Appreciation, self-confidence, mastery of oneself and one’s environment.

3. Belongingness and Love Needs

Love, affection, belongingness need for family, friends, group,

Clan, territorial imperative, and community.

2. Safety Needs

Security, stability, dependency, protection, freedom from fear,

anxiety, chaos, need for structure, order, limits, etc.

1. Physiological Needs

Homeostasis, specific hungers such as sex, food, water, air,

Shelter and general survival.

Adapted from Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality. (New York; Harper, 1970).

Although the needs on the levels 1 & 2 are necessary to survival they are not sufficient to maintain a satisfactory lifestyle and enable the individual to fit in with society especially if he is a product from a higher level.

I bring this information to your attention only so you can focus on the “why” an individual experiences panic and much difficulty upon acquiring moderate to profound hearing loss of the nerve type. How well one arrives on the higher levels has much to do with his/her ability to communicate with others. When the communication has been severed his/her very psychological well being is threatened and creates panic and sometime full blown panic. If the loss is sudden and severe such as over night or within a few weeks…it can be psychotraumatic!

Stress seems to affect people more profoundly if they feel powerless to control the situation. Thus, the reason more stress is involved for those whose hearing loss is sudden and severe. There is no time to develop a compensatory system. That’s why those who lose hearing in mid life of the nerve type have a difficult time as they are in their prime of life.

Some scientists such as Hans Selye appear to believe that some periodic doses of stress may have some lasting benefits. It may help an individual learn how to deal with the environment from a different perspective and help them find deep in their lowest gut something they didn’t know they had. And, as a result find the strength to survive.

People don’t just grieve over a loved one or a dear friend or favorite pet who has passed away, however, which is a major loss; they also grieve over losing a major sense and losing one’s hearing is an absolute major loss that most cannot possibly comprehend….until it happens. It can be a very painful experience. Looking at it from another standpoint, it can also be very rewarding….that is, if one can find themselves at that point.

I did. It became my life work. I loved teaching Psychology of Hearing, Solutions to Hearing Impairment Social Psychological Aspects and Speechreading which included teaching Body Language, Facial Expression. If I had my life to live over again, I’d teach the same thing.

I can remember when I was very young…4 years of age…I had no idea I couldn’t hear. I thought everyone else was just like me. When I played the gossip game with my friends, I learned the story always changed when it got to me. I solved that problem by being the one that starts the gossip game. No one was pointing their finger at me anymore. But I didn’t know it’s because I couldn’t hear a whisper. A whisper is very high pitch.

My mother was in the hospital most of the time from the time I was 4 to 7. She had cancer of the uterus. And, she wasn’t always feeling her best so she just thought I didn’t listen a times. She was not expected to live beyond 6 months and that was in 1945 but she lived to be 79 and passed away on Easter Sunday in 1994.

She had German measles when she carried me so I was destined to be deaf, blind, mentally retarded or any combination of those. As I got older and had high fevers from childhood diseases, chickenpox, measles, mumps, my hearing got worse. It was the high fever that caused the loss as per the diagnosis in later life. I didn’t know I couldn’t hear so I didn’t have a problem.

But I had an older brother and I took the attitude of anything he could do, I could do better or at least as good. He was 3 years older than me. I can remember he learned to spell the word, “people” and got loads of attention and praise from the family at a holiday dinner. I was watching that closely. And, I got that “aha” feeling. He was 7 and I was 4. I had a nickel saved in my drawer and I made a bee line for that nickel and off I went to buy a tablet. In those days you could buy a whole tablet for 5 cents. I already had a pencil that was about 3 ” long and I sharpened on the sidewalk.

Then off I went in search for a long word. Just any word would not do…it had to be a long word! Apparently, I was walking past a travel agency because across the entire window was a nice long word and I dropped to the hot cement sidewalk, spread out and copied letter by letter….C Z E C H O S L O V A K I A…..then, all the way back home I skipped and memorized that nice long word visualizing the attention and praise I would get for that…I was really going to outshine my brother. When I got home I was ready and I walked up to my mother and my Aunt Lucille and said, “I can spell a word, too.” My brother laughed and said, “what can you spell? Maybe “I” or “Me”….maybe “Cat” and he scrunched his nose up when he said, Cat. He was bent over laughing and holding his willy to keep from peeing his pants. And, my Aunt Lucille said, “What can you spell?” Now that was a hard question because I had no idea what I could spell. But I stuck to my guns. And I said, “I can spell a long word!” My mother said, “Ok, let’s hear it.” And, I started…. C Z E C H O S L O V A K I A. Then I smiled and waited for all the praise. But instead they all started laughing. I never forgot that. I was so hurt… I ran to my bedroom crying. I didn’t realize that no one knew what I spelled and I didn’t know either. But it wasn’t the last time I challenged my brother. I challenged him to the bottom of the hill on a bicycle. I got to the bottom before he did which was my goal, but I wasn’t on the bicycle when I got there! You win some and you lose some and sometimes it depends on how we look at it.

When I was 14 years of age we moved to El Monte ,California and that was the first year the school tested hearing. That was when I found out I had a moderate to severe loss. But, by that time I had developed some very strong compensatory skills. My grades were good…mostly A’s and B’s. By the time I was 18, when I got married, my hearing dropped to a severe to profound level. I dated my husband for a year and 9 months before getting married and my hearing loss was never discussed.

And, each time I had a baby it dropped some more. Anytime one goes into surgery and is given a spinal, or whatever medication they use to put you to sleep, your hearing may be directly affected. I had weak hair cells in my cochlear due to my mother’s German measles. I was very lucky nothing else was affected. After having 3 babies I became profoundly hearing impaired of the nerve type. And, based on my ENT it was more than likely a nerve loss from the very beginning. Most of my hearing loss was in the high pitch range so that means I couldn’t hear most or all of the consonants. Have you ever tried to read a book with all the consonants missing?

Let’s get back to grieving now…..It’s important to understand the process of grieving over hearing loss and to allow yourself the privilege of expressing and feeling the pain to yourself and others. Sometimes it is in the suffering that brings us to a climax where more understanding of ourselves and others take place. The true lesson in learning about empathy may be accomplished during this process. For it is within this personal experience where we reach deep down inside ourselves and tap natural reserves we never dreamed we had.

Not everyone travels through these stages in the exact same pattern; some people skip stages or get stuck in a stage for a long time and / or repeat stages. Each person travels through these stages at a different speed. But one thing every person who suffers a hearing loss has in common is s/he will find him/herself in one or more of these stages at one time or another prior to arriving at rehabilitation. When you understand these stages you can tell almost exactly where you, your family member or friend is in these stages.

Let’s talk about the different stages and let’s begin with Stage 1: Denial

A person enters this stage at about the time he has acquired a mild to moderate loss. If he/she has a sudden severe loss he will not enter this stage, instead he enters somewhere between stages 2 and 3. S/he moves at a faster speed and simply bypasses this stage. If the hearing loss is sudden and severe one may experience acute panic, suffer from anxiety and become nervous and frustrated when others don’t cooperate or forget you have a loss of hearing, and if you don’t find any immediate effective solutions.

Unlike those who have progressive hearing loss over a long period of time, this individual more than likely will seek help immediately. He has no time for denial of the problem or time to develop any sophisticated compensatory skills. S/he may admit s/he has hearing impairment to him/herself and others but it hurts deeply. S/he’s in mourning.

It hurts because s/he is being forced involuntarily to admit something is amiss about him/herself. S/he has found no options and not enough time to recover from the initial shock of the loss of a major sense. S/he feels the impact with far more intensity than the individual with a progressive loss over a long period of time.

S/he may even skip right past the Anger stage (or experience it lightly) and head straight for hte bargaining stage and depression. S/he moves through these stages faster but on a more profound level of intensity.

The Denial stage provides a useful function in that it allows you to buy more time to recover, blame others why you can’t hear…everyone mumbles…, from the initial shock of learning that your hearing is no longer “perfect”. It is the longest stage for most people. And too many people actually wallow in that stage. They refuse to admit something is wrong with them.

It is within this stage where one may begin developing a highly sophisticated compensatory response system. This system serves the individual so well it not only makes it more difficult for others to notice the hearing loss, but it also eventually convinces the individual that s/he just needs to be more attentive to details and that s/he does a splendid job.

• The compensatory response system may include:

• Looking at the speaker more;

• Asking for repeats but pretending a distraction was the cause of not hearing;

• Guessing at and assuming what was said;

• Watching gestures and body language;

• Acting too busy and/or feigning illness and tiredness to cover up when s/he didn’t hear; and,

• Accusing everyone of mumbling.

In this stage you’re very much aware of the problem but you hide the truth from yourself and others for as long as possible. You are buying time.

If your hearing never gets worse than mild to moderate loss then you may never experience the following 3 stages….that is, if you don’t have nerve loss.

If you don’t have nerve loss then you may skip to the acceptance stage. But for the person with nerve loss, then it becomes noticeable worse and you might enter the next stage. With family and friends now telling you more often that you have hearing loss may create anger and enter a battle with them through arguments that set up stress in a relationship.

Stage 2: Anger

This stage serves as a vent and is a “non-cooperative” time during the adjustment period.l Anyone who expresses anger is expressing a dissatisfaction of a personal need and in this stage anger is expressed in all directions:

• externally ; and

• internally.

Feelings fluctuate between resentment of others and frustration with self. At this point, hearing loss has been admitted to self only but not accepted and it certainly has not been admitted to others. You now acknowledge you have a hearing problem but it is not your fault. You are now angry at the world and may find yourself ….

• asking other to repeat in a rude way; or

• accusing others of mumbling or speaking too softly; or

• leading others to think it is their fault you don’t hear…they don’t speak up or don’t articulate; or

• acts very indignant when someone suggests you try an aid/s…heavens forbid; or

• does most of the talking so you don’t have to listen.

Do you know anyone like that? It’s easy to identify people with hearing loss by their habits and it’s easy to locate what stage they are in as a result.

As one loses faith in others to help him, he begins desperately seeking ways to make a change, to help himself without having to admit to others he has a hearing loss. But with every turn he gets the same external response that clearly confirms the problem again. In the process he becomes…

• disappointed in self; and,

• loses his self esteem; and,

• loses his sense of humor; and,

• then becomes angry with himself.

The realization of the problem has now been supported by the family, friends and self.

This is a period of turmoil, like a fox chasing his tail. e runs in circles but as a result he eventually makes a break to move on. And, some move is better than no move at all. The decision to move on opens the door to new experiences. Unlike indecision, which keeps you in a no growth pattern.

Stage 3: Bargaining

This stage may go on for years. He has finally recognized the presence of the loss but still may not be willing to do anything about it. it’s become like a boil…it hurts too much to touch. The individual becomes desperate and despondent. He begins bargaining with God, self and others and usually in that sequence.


1. “God, if you give me back my hearing I’ll never ask for another materialistic thing.”

2. “God, if you give me back my hearing I’ll never have another extramarital affair again…I’ll be faithful to the end.”

For those of you who remember Danny Thomas a TV entertainer of the ’50’s – ’70’s I believe. He was losing his popularity and he bargained with God that if God would bring him back to where he was before, he’d build a hospital for sick children.” He regained his popularity and built St. Jude Hospital for children. What a bargainer he was! But his word was good!


1. “If I stop smoking and drinking maybe that will improve my hearing.”

2. “Maybe if I change my diet and lose some weight it will take the pressure off my ears.”


1. “If you would just stop mumbling, I could understand you better!”

2. “If you would just speak up I culd understand very well!”

3. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with me…the problem is out there.”

And, after the bargaining comes the excuses:

1. “I know I don’t hear perfectly…but it’s not that bad …yet!”

2. “I’m not old enough to wear a hearing aid!”

3. “I have a nerve impairment and aids will not help my problem.”

4. “I don’t know anyone who likes to wear an aid/s.”

5. “I get along just fine without an aid/s.”

6. “Hearing aids cost too much money.”

7. “My friend has a hearing loss and he gets along just fine without an aid. And, I can do the same!”

He continues to buy more time with compromises and excuses and as long as he continues to negotiate he will find himself regressing slowly back to sate 2, Anger. He’s now angry and disappointed in God, Self and Others. Angry because what he’s doing doesn’t seem to be working in his favor. This time his anger becomes profound and internalized. Internalized anger leads to depression.

Stage 4: Depression

This is the most difficult period. a time when he reaches his lowest ebb in the process of the adjustment. He probably has even lost more hearing by now. He may listen to what others have to say but he’s not sure he wants to do anything about it anymore. He is now in limbo. It’s the grieving period. A period of negativity where he feels some or all of the following at one time or another during this stage:

• A feeling of inner emptiness;

• Life seems hopeless;

• Withdrawal from family and friends;

• A feeling of giving up …so what’s the use?

• A feeling of being left out of the fun by family and friends;

• The inability to sleep or would rather sleep all the time;

• A loss of appetite or compulsive eating habits;

• A loss of self esteem and poor self image;

• Becomes emotional (cries a lot and easily);

• Thinks and talks about all the things he can’t do; and,

• in worse cases….

• Nothing to live for anymore; and

• Suicidal feelings which may include writing notes or even attempts.

In his deepest level of depression and introspection…this is where he does most of his real deep thinking and observing ….he’s at his lowest ebb and begins to ask himself questions and providing his own answers.

• Why me?

• Of all the millions of people out there….why me?

• What did I ever do to deserve this?

• How did I get in this lonely boat anyway?

• Why aren’t people more understanding?

• Why doesn’t someone help me?

It is in answering that final question and attempting to answer that he realizes that he, himself, is someone and he can help himself. Even though he may not have an answer to all those questions, he is asking the right questions that lead him to that final question and his answer. He is now learning to adjust. It is within this step that he begins to accept his fate. And, so quietly slips into the 5th stage…tired and worn out physically, but he has a whole new set of tools to work with now.

Stage 5: Acceptance

This is the stage of mixed emotions and the body is in somewhat of a shock. He feels trapped. It’s a highly progressive stage, however…when he finally realizes that to help himself he must take appropriate steps and follow through with action. He must do it himself. He may still feel that residue of his past experiences from anger, stage 3, to depression, stage 4, but they will be short lived now.

• He may still get the poor me’s occasionally but not as profound or as long in duration;

• He may still feel guilty about how he handled himself, expressed his rage, accusations of others “inadequate speech…mumbling, etc.”;

• He may feel guilty about having put his family and friends through all this;

• He may even feel embarrassed about having the loss in the first place;

• He may feel humiliated by not doing something about it sooner to help himself; and,

• He may even ask himself why he didn’t do this in the first place!

He kicks and licks himself throughout this period. He’s reached deep inside and he found more answers and strength to cope as well as empathy for others who may have problems. He’s put his false pride aside now and he no longer feels the same about the problem. His attitude is more positive now about himself, the problem and others. It is about this time when he decides to enter a rehabilitation program, a speechreading class or a self-help group. He may even decide to see an Ear Specialist or an Audiologist.

Stage 6: Rehabilitation

The higher degree of acceptance, the more effective his effort will be in creating opportunities to lead a near normal life. In this stage he begins investigation of the options available to him and this may include the following:

1. Seeing an Ear Specialist, ENT and with an open mind believing what he has to say and following up on his recommendations; and,

2. Seeing the Rehabilitation Specialist to develop coping skill, awareness of options available, and understanding the problem. Learning how to regain, retain and maintain the comfortable lifestyle he once took for granted.

As acceptance is slowly acknowledged it becomes a part of the person’s existence. The strength to fulfill his life, independence and dignity by following through the newly learned strategies. The need to view himself as in control of his own life is great.

Even after the arrival at this stage, there may be more periods of regression. Having the present knowledge and skills will assist the individual in working himself back to this level at a more rapid pace. Once he realizes that his liberation lies in acquiring the knowledge of understanding the disability, learning precisely what his needs are and how to fulfill and maintain those needs he will finally accept the fact that, although he may always have the disability, but the handicap can be overcome.

These stages are normal growth patterns when an individual acquires a major loss. Anyone who acquires hearing loss should be able to progress through these stages that are necessary to his needs within a year. In the past many people have taken as long as 25 years or more to work through these stages and thereby, prolonging the cure. The longer it takes to go through these stages the more intense and profound the feelings. And the more stress it places on the body. This is not to mention what it does to close family members and friends.

Although it’s important to experience these emotions it’s also equally important to keep the duration period at a minimum to relieve stress. This can be done if the individual would see his ENT immediately after the first sign of a loss, hoever slight. This would be in the Stage 1 level. It is during this period when the individual should consider entering a rehabilitative program and learn as much as possible about the problem before it becomes progressively worse and before being stressed out. A well-structured program would provide the individual with the following:

1. Development of realistic expectations for what can be gained from rehabilitation;

2. To stimulate the patient to move from his present level of message perception to a higher level;

3. To encourage the individual to compensate and work through his social-psychological and communicational problems more effectively;

4. To provide the individual with an understanding of hearing loss and how he hears;

5. To assist the individual in the acceptance of and responsibility for the disability on a comfortable level with self and others;

6. To assist the individual in learning independent and interdependent skills;

7. To acquaint the individual with resources available for follow-up upon completion of the program;

8. To motivate the individual to follow-up on these available resources to improve communication skills; and

9. To encourage effective supportive skills by family members and friends.

Another check up may be forthcoming 6 months to a year later while still in Stage 1 or advancing to the final stage and bypassing all the painful stages one puts themselves through unnecessarily.

Although the rehabilitation program will not prevent the loss from getting progressively worse. In a sense, it is a true alleviation and it will serve as a “bridge” and shorten the duration periods and intensity in Stages 1 through stage 3 and partially eliminate the intensity of Stages 4 & 5. People with acquired hearing loss of the nerve type must take responsibility for their own rehabilitation. And, I believe most are willing to do so. That’s what the Rehabilitation program is all about. Trying to solve the problem by oneself can be a long and painful experience. One does not need this much pain and suffering to find his way back to an acceptable lifestyle.

I believe by looking at the Maslow hierachy one can see why the individual with nerve type loss loses so much of his/her lifestyle and this sets up stress. They feel the loss of friendship, chit chat, belonging to a group equally, conversation that bounces back and forth. It is all these things that pull friendships together and binds them.


Helping Others…Help Themselves as it Relates to Hearing Impairment

Suggestions for Family Members and / or Friends of those who have Hearing Impairment:

I write first about family members and/or friends support because one who has a severe hearing impairment of the nerve type needs this support before s/he can help him/herself.  No one can truly understand what it’s like to have hearing impairment of the nerve type.   Oh, they can read books and learn a lot but after they read books they’ll only understand it in their head.  They can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have hearing impairment from the heart.

It’s like blindness.   One who is not blind can only understand it through his/her thought processes and experiences with those who do have blindness; but, they cannot understand it from the heart.   This write is going to attempt to help you understand hearing impairment so you will be in the position to provide support in the best way possible for your family member and / or friends who have hearing impairment. 

Hearing impairment is a mental and emotional strain on the entire system.   If the person speechreads his/her eyes will get tired and the body feels the exhaustion involved.   That’s because the eyes have muscles.   The ears don’t have muscles.   And, they work even when you are sleeping.    In short, your ears is your security system and always on alert.  

Hearing aids and speechreading can help relieve the strain but true alleviation comes when s/he has the full support of his/her family members and/or friends even coworkers.  The following may be helpful in that endeavor:

Don’t shout.   In fact, don’t raise your voice at all.  speak as naturally as possible but just a bit slower.  Pause between thoughts in long statements.   If you speak rapidly…slow down but without exaggerated enunciation.   If you need to repeat a statement, do so, but use the same level of voice sound.  Again, don’t raise your voice.   If the individual still does not understand what is being said, then rephrase it.   Use longer words that have the same meaning as it gives them more to work with.  For example it is easier to see the word elephant but the word cat is invisible.  The point I’m making is use words with more than one syllable.   Another example is don’t use contraction words such as “can’t” , instead use the word “cannot”.  Why?  Because you cannot see the difference between “can’t”  and the word “can”.    When I was a little girl I was always in trouble because I could not tell the difference between “You can”  and “You can’t”.   They both look exactly alike on the lips.  So I just did what I wanted to do.   That didn’t mix well with my mother needless to say.  She just thought I didn’t listen.   Some words are totally invisible and so many words look the same that it’s easy to respond inappropriately  unless you ask someone to please spell the word used.

I remember when I was in college taking a course in Audiology in 1980.   Every book I picked up on the topic I found Dr. Aram Glorig being quoted.  It was so frequent and I admit I loved the things he said because he spoke so clearly in his writings that one day I told myself, if I see his name one more time I’m going to look this guy up and go meet him.   Then I turned the page and there he was again!   It was almost as if he was talking about me in some of his writings.  And, sometimes I felt he was there to tantalize me by reminding me constantly about my hearing impairment.  But I kept my word.   The teacher gave us an assignment to do research that day, so I started calling around to find out where he worked and lo and behold he had an office in Los Angeles at the House Ear Clinic where my personal ENT worked, Dr. Howard House.   I called Dr. Glorig and made an appointment to meet him and to ask if I could go through his research files.   The day of my appointment I  dressed very nicely I wanted to be sure he’d share his papers with me, a student.   When I arrived I went to the desk and asked for him or directions to his office.   I was escorted there and he was waiting for me, sitting behind his desk with his glasses drooped down over the tip of his nose.  He stood up when I walked in and he offered me a chair.  We talked a bit and I asked if I could kind of roll through his files for a research paper I was writing and he handed me the keys to his file and escorted me to the file room and told me to pull whatever I wanted.  Then he left the room.   I spent about an hour going through his writings, chose a few papers, closed the file and locked it.  Then, I quietly made my way back to his office.   He was still sitting there with his glasses on and he ask me to take a seat which I did.   I did ask him if he wanted me to return these papers or would he prefer I copy them before I leave and he told me to just take the originals and return them at my convenience; and if I could understand his writings I would know more than all the professors at Long Beach State University in the Audiology department. 

I thanked him and as I started to stand up he reached across the desk and took my hand and said, “Bobbi, of all the doctors you know, why did you come to me?  And, I said, “Because you’re an old master!”   He looked me in the eye and said, “Please spell those last 2 words!   And, we had the best laugh over that and we never forgot it.   So why was that so funny?   Well, the 2 words “old master” look the same on the lips as “old bastard”.   

I knew immediately that he understood homophenous words.   Those are words that look the same but sound differently if only you can hear!   Three years later he tracked me down and asked me out to dinner.   And, that’s another story for later.   But I married the man in 1983 and lost him to cancer in the summer of 1998.  This man was one of the most famous M.D./Audiologist/Researcher’s in the world.  He wrote textbooks, papers and more papers and presented them to the best journals for M.D.’s and Audiologists and to all the conventions where he not only presented his papers he was always the drawing card and the last speaker at the final banquet meeting.  He traveled to meetings all over the world and had friends on every continent.

Everything that has happened for hearing aids today is a direct result of his research.   And, it was Dr. Glorig who made the statement that everyone with hearing impairment in both ears, regardless how little or how much, should wear 2 aids.  Why?   Because we have 2 ears and they were both meant to be used for a purpose.  If one wears 2 aids s/he can locate where sound is coming from.   One cannot do that if one wears only 1 aid.  

That one statement at a banquet dinner got a 10 minute standing ovation.  The room was full of Audiologists, hearing aid manufacturer’s, and hearing aid sales people from around the world, and from that point on it doubled the sale of hearing aids across the country and around the world.   He was a king to the manufacturer’s of hearing aids and the Audiologist who sold hearing aids.   He was a most interesting man.  He didn’t talk much but when he did, he said something worthwhile but everyone may not like what he had to say because her really spoke his mind.   He never hesitated to speak up if he disagreed with a statement made by others who were presenting papers.   He was a man from the old world.   He was a powerful man and sometimes he could also be a very charming English gentleman. 

Let’s get back to helping others …help themselves….

Pronounce your words distinctly.  Do not cut word endings.   And, the less jargon used the easier they understand.  Look at the person and develop eye contact.   Avoid smiling or laughing while speaking as it changes the lip formation and makes it even more difficult to speechread.  If you smoke, remove the cigarette from your mouth while speaking.   Please don’t put pencils in your mouth or cover your mouth while speaking.  His/her ability to speechread you when speaking depends greatly upon how well you articulate and form your words.  No one can read lips that don’t move.   For an exercise….try to read Donald Ducks lips in a cartoon.   Believe it or not, some people do talk that way. 


If you have a family member and/or friend who you suspect has hearing impairment, it’s best not to confront the individual.   If s/he hasn’t told you then s/he is not ready to admit it….s/he is still in denial.   If one is denying the impairment exists, confronting will only add to the frustration and even anger.   Give it time.  S/he will eventually admit the problem, but s/he has to admit it first to himself before it can be admitted to others.   Respect his/her space.   The closer you are to this person and the more respect you show him/her, the more likely that s/he will choose you to share his problem with and it’ll probably be the first time it’s been shared and/or admitted.   That’s the time to really let him/her just talk and pour it all out.  

 Be Patient

Talk with the person with hearing impairment the same way you would anyone else.  If you need to repeat something, do so, but don’t cut it short and please don’t say, “Oh never mind.” or, “Oh, it was nothing!”   Give him/her the full account of what was previously presented.  It take a lot of courage for a person with hearing impairment to venture forward and ask someone to repeat.   Consider it a compliment that he cares enough about you to want to know what was said. 

Be Aware of Your Expressions

Anyone who has suffered a hearing impairment has become super sensitive to the feelings of others.  Since s/he no longer hears well s/he relies very much on what s/he can see.  S/he is constantly searching the face for ay possible clue to what you are saying.  In the process of this search, over a period of time s/he develops some reliable insight and if you don’t want to repeat a statement, it’s going to show up in your eyes.  

Don’t talk in the 3rd Person

Speak directly to him/her ….not about him/her in his/her presence.  It’s embarrassing and strips the individual of his dignity.   If you don’t want someone to hear something, then maybe it’s best to be unsaid.   Never underestimate their mentality.  They are sharp …they just can’t hear.  Their mental capacity is still in optimal operation.

Don’t Ever Answer For the Individual

Never respond for a person with hearing impairment.  If you truly want to be of support then kindly tell the individual what was meant for his/her ears and let him/her respond for him/herself under all circumstances.   Act as an interpreter, not as a mother.  S/he can respond and his/her dignity is left intact.

Inappropriate Response Support

If a person with hearing impairment responds inappropriately, take it upon yourself to get the correct message across…use humor…do something …don’t just leave it hanging in the air.  Be the strong supporter but don’t place the person in a bad position or make him/her feel badly…s/he’s already in a bad position.


Find a Quiet Corner Wherever You Are

At a social event the conversational background noise is unbearable for those with hearing impairment and especially if they wear an aid/s.  Suggest to find a quiet corner or someplace where there are fewer people in back of the person who wears an aid/s such as in a restaurant.   The aid/s is usually behind the ear/s and it picks up everything in back of the person but it won’t pick up the conversation in the front of  the wearer.   If the person has too many bad experiences in a large social event s/he’ll eventually just shy away and stay home alone where it’s nice and quiet…but lonely.   The hearing aid/s does one thing…it amplifies sound…all sounds.  When one wear an aid/s  s/he hears from the inside out whereas the normal hearing person hears from the outside in.    The newer aids are much better today and they are improving greatly all the time. 

Getting the Person’s Attention

If you want the individual’s attention simply reach out and touch him/her.  S/he’ll respond by turning towards you and will appreciate the gesture. Don’t use flashing lights, stomp on the floor, bang on the wall or wave a handkerchief for his/her attention.   There is no reason to tell everyone in the room .   If s/he is sleeping and you need to wake him/her to give a message, just put your hand on his/her arm and hold it there quietly for a moment until s/he wakes up, opens the eyes and let him/her focus for a few minutes before you begin to talk.  People with hearing impairment use their eyes to hear and sometimes the eyes don’t respond that quickly

after waking up from a deep sleep.



Never, never introduce a person with hearing impairment and making that statement within the introductory.  Simply introduce your friend as you would others.   There is no need to bring up the topic of hearing impairment at that moment.   Introducing someone and saying, “This is my friend, Sue.   She has hearing impairment. ”   That is the equivalence of saying, “This is my best friend Tom.  He has hemorrhoids.”    Allow your friend to share his/her impairment her/himself.   That is his/her responsibility to share at his/her own speed.

Hearing Aid Limitations 

Keep in mind that the aid/s have limitations depending upon the type of loss each individual may have.   In most cases, the individual  with nerve impairment may need more communication support even though s/he wears 2 aids than the person who has a conductive impairment.   The new aids are a great improvement over aids of the past.   However, the aid amplifies sound…it does not clarify words spoken.   With all the new technology the aids of the future may do just that.  But we are not there yet.

With Your Knowledge and Support S/he can Overcome More Rapidly

Almost every individual who acquires hearing impairment of the nerve type and on the level where it hinders his/her communication skills feels uncomfortable, embarrassed and often times confused in social events, family gatherings and / or in a situation of more than 2 in the group.   Some can handle 3 – 4 in a group but when it gets beyond that, s/he will either withdraw and become very quiet or find a reason to leave early.

This partially sets up the denial state and, in turn, creates frustration internally and externally.   Once the individual realizes that his liberation lies in acquiring the knowledge of understanding the disability, learning precisely what his/her needs are and how to maintain those needs s/he will finally arrive at  a reasonable acceptance of his/her disability and the fact that s/he can overcome the handicap. 

Your acquired knowledge, support at the right time and in the right way, and your care factors will play an important role in how fast s/he arrives at that level of rehabilitation.   How one deals with any major situational change in life is directly influenced greatly by the evaluation of it and his/her family and friends reaction to the hearing impairment.  If considered a problem it may seem overwhelming; whereas, the same situation, considered a challenge may assist the individual to reach deep down inside and tap unsuspected internal reserves in rising above it and accepting the disability and embracing it.   That is the first goal to achieve.



Understanding the Terms regarding Hearing Impairment

Understanding the Terms

Let’s begin by defining terms.  We all need to understand what each of these terms mean.  Then we’ll talk about family and /or friends much needed support as the first step in assisting in acceptance of self and the disability. 


The ability to read words on the lips of a speaker.   Everyone reads lips naturally.  That’s why we look at our speaker when s/he is speaking.  Most don’t know they are reading lips because if they have normal hearing they depend mostly on listening.  It’s only when they start losing hearing that one starts noticing lips more. 


The ability to understand what is being said by watching the lips, facial expression, body language, gestures and having command of a broad vocabulary.  That is the key and the difference.

While everyone may lipread, not everyone speechreads.  It’s two different skills.  Admittedly, one begins with lipreading like one begins in kindergarten.  It’s a starting point and it comes natural just by observing the speaker.  It takes a lot more effort, study, expertise, knowledge and the ability to laugh at oneself to accomplish the skill of speechreading.  And, it takes something else:  A positive attitude and the ability to get people in your corner without cornering them as well as ongoing family and close friends  who provide valuable support as needed.   Generally speaking, how well one accomplishes speechreading also depends greatly upon how well the speaker moves his/her lips.  We cannot speechread lips that don’t move.   That’s why most deaf or profoundly hearing impaired children don’t watch cartoons, that is, before they learn to read the captions.   


Those who are born without hearing and/ or having a profound loss of the nerve type prior to learning the language at the tender age of around 2 or 3.   That age varies with the child.   Very few children are born with total deafness.  Most have some hearing that can be amplified if they chose to wear an aid/s to bring them into the world of sound.   Many turn to Sign Language only and prefer the quiet world without the aid/s.  Just as many believe there is nothing wrong with them that they are whole as they are and resent being considered handicapped; and many also believe that they just speak a different language and that it should be accepted as it is. 

While some choose to have or the parent chooses for a young child to have the Cochlear Implant early in life there are just as many deaf who believe the Cochlear Implant should be banned and that they should be accepted just as they are.   That’s just part of the controversy involved in what is best for the deaf child.   I’m not going to discuss much about this topic, Cochlear Implant, because I believe that should be left to the M.D. to present as s/he has the research results on this matter.  

I can discuss my personal experiences of some of my students who had this Cochlear Implant and also my girlfriend who has a grandchild born with a profound nerve loss.   But that is a discussion on its own and I will cover it at a later date in another email as it is a broad topic and new things are happening in the field of technology that may change everything as we know it today.  

Challenges of those who are Deaf:

The challenge is derived from having to fit into a way of life which they have little auditory knowledge and experience.  To achieve normal development with abnormal hearing ability  may be a tremendous challenge because the problems are developmental. 

Hearing Impairment or Hearing Loss…both terms are used:

Having lost hearing after learning the language.  It could be early in life, teens, and anytime thereafter.   It is no longer considered age related.   Mostly people lose their hearing as a result of environmental noises.  Loud rock music stole the hearing of many of the rock stars as well as those who loved their music.   The 60’s & 70’s produced the largest group of people with hearing loss than ever before in history….they are the baby boomers.   Additionally, more teenagers are now being fitted to aid/s as a result of all the music they listen that is pumped directly into their ear drums and cochlear with ear pieces they wear constantly.   We know from research that 8 hours of listening to loud noises can create nerve impairment which is the worse type of hearing loss one can have and the most difficult to overcome.

Challenges of those who have Hearing Impairment of the Nerve Type (Sensori Neural Loss):

The challenges arise in that they no longer understand  what is being said in small groups and certainly the larger the group the more difficulty in understanding.   As a result they feel they are being left out of a world they were once a vital part of and their lifestyle is fading into the distance.  Whereas most were always in the position of helping others they feel now they are in the position to be helped and they are very uncomfortable.   The result creates a deep feeling of isolation within a group and if they don’t have the proper support it can become a psychotraumatic concern and even may have suicidal tendencies.  

So Let’s Define the Difference Between the Two:

The natural habitat of those who are deaf is a world without sound, whereas, the natural habitat of those with hearing impairment is the wonderful world of sound.   One does not miss what one never had.   Those with hearing impairment know what they are missing and they don’t like the way it feels.  If left alone for too long without support it may send them into a downward spiral.

Those who are deaf don’t care who know they can’t hear.   In fact, they are “out of the closet” and into total acceptance with the disability  almost from day one.   The fact they are so comfortable with living with the disability or living in the soundless world is the first step in acceptance of self and in removing the stigma attached.  

Those with hearing impairment live in fear of anyone finding out.  They not only cannot admit to others, they can’t admit it to themselves.   They live in a world of denial sometimes for many years.  They actually mourn the loss much like they mourn for the loss of a loved one.  It is like losing a piece of yourself because they miss the chit chat, the jokes, the fun, the laughter and knowing what is being said around them.  Be sure to read the ebook, “The 7 Stages of Overcoming Hearing Impairment.”   This ebook will help those who have hearing impairment work themselves through to acceptance and helps those who are normal hearing understand what his/her family member and/or friend is going through and why it’s so painful.

Men and women who have hearing impairment and climbing the ladder cringe at the thought of their boss or associates finding out s/he has hearing impairment.  It sets them apart from life as they once knew it, it puts them in a bad position in board meetings and when they are nervous they understand even less than if they could just relax.  They get left out of the loop.  They can’t hear the questions or statements made from the back of the room nor the answers from the front of the room.  They miss out on all the fun stuff going on around them during break  and over coffee.  They are afraid to give input or to respond for fear of giving an inappropriate response that puts them in a bad position.  They are afraid of being treated less than and being left out of conversations as well as power lunches and /or the 5 pm cocktail party scene.  This creates a feeling of isolation and loneliness in a room of several people they may have worked with for many years.

Why do those with Hearing Impairment feel such fear and embarrassment?   I can answer that question easily.   They have observed how others with normal hearing treat those who have hearing impairment and they don’t like what they see.   This, in itself, prevents those with hearing impairment from accepting the disability openly.   Some remain “in the closet” for many years before they can even admit it to themselves.  They don’t want to be treated differently.   As a teacher and professor who worked with adults with hearing impairment of the nerve type for 30 years, that was the most frequent response given when asked that question.  

I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to decide who you believe has the most challenging lifestyle between the two.   So what can we do to provide support for those with hearing impairment?  Let’s move on to the next section.


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