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Archive for May, 2020

10 MayMary Ann Payonk – her story on acquired deafness

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As Deaf Awareness Week 2020 comes to an end and as proud sponsors of the campaign being led by United Kingdom Council on deafness UKCOD, we are delighted to have our friend and long-time BIVR advocate Mary Ann Payonk share with us her experience of acquired deafness.

Mary Ann is a realtime stenographer from the United States, and with many years’ experience under her belt, she is not only at the top of her stenography game but she consistently champions all things relating to stenography. Here at BIVR, we have had the pleasure of her presence over on this side of the pond at our last two BIVR Awareness Weeks in 2017 and 2019 where she closed the events in her inimitable style.

We thank you for sharing your experiences with acquired deafness, Mary Ann. This proves to us all that stenographers are able to continue to be guardians of the record and also captioners if they, too, experience a similar situation. And, more importantly, that we should all have regular hearing tests.


From Mary Ann:

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Is there a court reporter out there who hasn’t offered their non-medical opinion gleaned from the tiny bit of knowledge we gain covering all manner of subjects in our work? I did, and thank goodness I didn’t follow my own advice!

A decade ago, I checked myself into the hospital for an Executive Health Screening, a full day of examinations from head to toe done all in one day for the busy executive who doesn’t have time to schedule many tests over several weeks.

A routine hearing test was included, and at the end of the day, everything was pretty much normal; however, one result came back that was somewhat concerning to the clinician: I’d reported a slight ringing in my ear, and the test revealed a 10% hearing loss on the left side. Because there was no apparent cause, they sent me for a brain scan.

Having done plenty of medical malpractice work in my 30-year career, I felt certain that surely it was caused by listening to music with headphones, but I reluctantly went into the tube. The results were reported immediately, and immediately I had a few new terms to add to my stenographic dictionary: vestibular schwannoma, acoustic neuroma, and CyberKnife.

A schwannoma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves leading from the inner ear to the brain — and of all places for a court reporter to develop a problem, one that involves our hearing is most concerning!

For me, the very best thing to do at the time was simply to monitor the growth until other issues arose. As years went by, yearly MRIs revealed slow growth, but there came a point in time when treatment was indicated.

My treatment came in the form of a course of CyberKnife. I was fitted with a mask that would hold my head perfectly still for pinpoint radiation treatment that lasted two weeks. The goal was not to eradicate the tumor but simply stop the growth. The good news is that yearly tests prove I’ve met that goal. The bad news is that the side effect of CyberKnife treatment is complete loss of hearing on the treated side.

Today, I am still very happily working as a realtime court reporter. I have no problem taking the record, as I listen to the testimony through the videographer’s feed. In recent days of quarantine due to COVID-19, I’ve been working remotely and still wear headphones to ensure the best record.

My one-sided deafness, discovered almost by accident, was reluctantly acquired deafness, but I’ve adapted well. Several years ago I worked on a huge case with 30 lawyers in the room. When one mentioned his own hearing loss, I offered up a short version of my story and we discovered that three of us in the room had been treated for acoustic neuroma that caused our hearing loss!

Deaf Awareness is not limited to promoting and raising awareness of organizations that support those who are deaf. Deaf Awareness also means that everyone should have their hearing checked yearly and follow up on any unusual results. And do something that I wish I’d done through the years, even before my diagnosis, and that’s to learn sign language!

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09 MayInspiration during Deaf Awareness Week

“I don’t know where to start with the difference tennis has made to my life!” – GB Deaf Tennis Player Phoebe Suthers

This weekend GB deaf tennis star Phoebe Suthers from Yorkshire should have been flying to Slovenia in a bid to try and retain the women’s singles and doubles titles she won at the Slovenia Deaf Tennis Open in 2018. The event is held every two years and would have coincided with this week’s annual Deaf Awareness Week. Here, Phoebe looks back on her tennis journey and we hear how she is handling life during lockdown.

Born deaf, Phoebe’s love for tennis began at the age of eight in school PE lessons, with her school subsequently suggesting she attend ‘Come & Try’ sessions at Huddersfield Lawn Tennis and Squash Club to further nurture her talent.

The Elland youngster was already part of junior squads at her home tennis centre when, in 2013, her mum saw an advert about deaf tennis. Together they attended an LTA (former Tennis Foundation) Deaf Tennis Camp and later that year Phoebe competed in her first National Deaf Tennis Championships, where she met Catherine Fletcher, the LTA’s National Deaf Tennis Coach.

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08 MayAction Deafness

Great to see people using our posters as important part of #DAW2020 ! Thank you so much for sharing! Happy #DeafAwarenessWeek and #VEDayAtHome everyone!!


07 MayNational Association of Deafened People

NADP represents all people with a hearing loss who use English as their main language, not just deafened people. We are voluntary led by people with a hearing loss and provide support to individuals, both directly and through our extensive network of key decision makers. We live hearing loss and that is the unique angle we provide to discussion and debate.

Since the COVID 19 outbreak we have provided key information to support our membership recognising the changing environment we are in. This includes information they may need if they need to visit hospital along with regular updates on sources of information to assist them during lockdown. Through our president Lilian Greenwood MP we have reached out to government and MPs to state what we believe needs to be done to ensure people with a hearing loss are not left out in decision making.

Our recent drop in at Parliament, prior to lock down, in support of World Hearing Day, was received by nearly 50 MPs, who expressed support for the needs of people with a hearing loss, particularly within their constituencies. NADP provided a hand out stating what MPs could do to support people with a hearing loss, for them to take away. NADP is currently following up and extending this network of support with MPs.

NADP fully supports Deaf Awareness Week and in particular, the theme of Acquired Hearing Loss, which in our view is so often ignored or simply misunderstood by policy and decision makers in government and industry. Yet Acquired Hearing Loss can have a significant impact on an individual’s social and mental well being, as well as their confidence and self esteem at work. We welcome the opportunity to help support people with an Acquired Hearing Loss.

07 MayHappy Awareness Week!


AVSTTR’s Gill Croft has been speaking to Sandra Norburn about her acquired deafness:

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First of all I hope you’re ok. Isolating is hard for everyone but can be even harder if you’re deaf.

The theme this year is ‘Acquired Deafness’ which simply means you lost your hearing at some point during your life, rather than being born deaf.

This is a lot more common than people might think. It happens to older people, but it may happen to people all through their lives and often there isn’t any explanation for it.

It happened to me in my 30s. I was a busy working mum with two teenage children.  First of all, I noticed when they would shout to me from another room I wouldn’t be able to understand what they were saying. I could hear their voices, even some of the words, but not enough to make sense of it.

Later, I noticed that if I was at home with the TV on or music playing – the kids would come in and complain it was really loud.

Then at work I started having difficulty on the phone. It seemed as if everyone mumbled! If only they would speak up! And slow down!  Read more of this article