Celebrating Our Super-HEAR-os

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All About Evan
Evan is a 5th grader at Hillcrest Elementary School in Antioch. Playing sports is his favorite hobby and when he is at home his favorite thing to do is play baseball, football  and basketball with his siblings. Evan was excited to share that he will play for Phenom Baseball’s 2021 season. He also loves watching professional sports and is always glued to the team and player stats.  His favorite team is the Chicago Cubs! Evan’s other hobbies include reading, drawing and hanging out with his dog, Theo. 

What Makes Evan a Super-HEAR-o?
After getting to know Evan and all that he has accomplished, many are surprised to learn that he has a hearing loss. He has normal hearing in his right ear and a moderate sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear. At school, Evan uses a Phonak Roger Touchscreen Mic with a receiver (a receiver is an earpiece that looks like a hearing aid) in his right ear to allow him to hear and understand his teacher who is wearing the microphone better.

Because Evan has normal hearing in one ear, many people assume that his “good ear” will compensate for the hearing loss. This is not so. Evan’s distorted hearing in his left ear only enables him to hear up to 72% of words in the presence of typical classroom background noise. While 72% word recognition may seem good, it is not sufficient enough for Evan to fully understand his teacher or classmates. Word recognition for people with normal hearing typically ranges from 92-100%.

Being a Super-HEAR-o at School
Evan says that the hardest thing about using his Phonak Roger Touchscreen Mic at School is having to explain the device to new peers. However, after educating others about his device a few times, it has become much easier and he is more comfortable explaining how it works. Another difficult part about having a hearing loss is being the only 4th or 5th grader in his school that has a hearing loss. 

One benefit of Evan’s hearing loss is that with the DM system (Phonak Roger Touchscreen Mic), teachers know to speak up for him when they see it. Because of this visual cue, he doesn’t have to remind teachers that he has a hearing loss. Evan’s DM system has also given him an increased sense of appreciation for his teachers.

Evan has been a fantastic role model to other students with hearing loss at his school. Earlier this year, Evan realized that there wasn’t an ideal way for those with hearing loss to hear the presenters or speakers at the school’s Monday morning assemblies. Poor acoustics in the gym created an unfavorable listening environment for anyone with a hearing loss. Evan brought this problem up to his hearing itinerant teacher, who then worked with his school’s teachers and principals to work out a system to help students with hearing loss hear better at assemblies. By using an audio cord that connects to the gym’s sound system, Evan can connect his Phonak Roger Touchscreen Mic to the sound system. This allows what’s being played through the speakers to play directly to the receiver in Evan’s ear, enabling him to clearly hear what is being played through the speakers at the assembly. Additionally, every Monday morning before assemblies, Evan volunteers to visit the other students in his school who use Hearing Assistive Technology to connect their devices to his. This allows the other students to hear what’s being played through the speakers just like Evan. It was important to Evan that other students with hearing loss also have equal access to hearing the speakers during assemblies. 

Evan’s advice to anyone else who has a hearing loss is, “You shouldn’t try to hide your hearing loss. When other kids see your DM system, after a while it becomes normal.” Evan believes that a hearing loss is simply a part of who he is and not his defining characteristic. With this positive attitude, Evan does not let his hearing loss hold him back academically. He is currently in the accelerated math class and gifted program for English/Language Arts.

Evan’s Fun Facts About Hearing Loss

  •  I like that I can sleep in more. If my siblings wake up early and are being loud, I can roll over with my “bad” ear up and can continue sleeping.” 
  • “I get to learn about the parts of the ear and see my hearing itinerant teacher each week too.”
  • “My PE class shares the gym with other kids who are still eating lunch. When it’s super loud, I can probably hear my PE teacher better than any of my classmates.”
  • “The DM system [Phonak Roger Touchscreen Mic] at school helps me so much! When I’m not at school it is tougher, since I don’t have that.”

Evan’s Tips for Remote Learning with Hearing Loss

  • When using Google Meet with your class, be sure to turn on Closed Captions at the bottom of the screen just like he does when he watches TV.
  • Make sure to do all work in a quiet place, to limit outside noise and distractions, while also making it easier to hear anything from the ipad.