DiversityNursing Blog

Did An Irregular Heartbeat Help Make Beethoven a Music Legend?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 14, 2015 @ 01:45 PM

By: ActiveBeat Author

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Several researchers believe that a significant heart problem could represent a critical factor in determining Ludwig van Beethoven’s success in music.

Many people are aware that, when he died in 1827, Beethoven was deaf. But he also struggled with a serious heart condition known as arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat. (It’s also worth noting that experts suspect Beethoven was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, lead poisoning, and syphilis when he passed away.)

Joel D. Howell, an internal medicine specialist, says he believes this irregular heartbeat can be detected in Beethoven’s work. “When your heart beats irregularly from heart disease, it does so in some predictable patterns,” Howell says. “We think we hear some of those patterns in his music.”

The researchers also point to Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major (Opus 130), which they say features “a short paroxysm of atrial tachyarrhythmia.” Beethoven even wrote that the song should be played with a “heavy heart”.

Howell and the other researchers recognize that their findings will encounter skepticism. However, they feel that, “in highly charged passages of certain pieces, the possibility of cardiac arrhythmia can lend a quite physical aspect to one’s interpretation of the music in question. These passages can seem, in an unexpected literal sense, to be heartfelt.”

Source: www.activebeat.com

Topics: music, researchers, deaf, heart disease, Beethoven, heart, heart beat

Toddler giggles when implant lets him hear mom's voice for the first time

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 15, 2014 @ 04:41 PM

By Terri Peters

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When 2-year-old Ryan Aprea had cochlear implant surgery in November, his mom, Jennifer, says she wasn’t sure what to expect when the device was activated a month later.

Aprea shared the moment last week in a video that has now gone viral. In the clip, the Huntington Beach, California, mom says, “Hi, Buddy,” to her son, and is rewarded with a reaction she calls “amazing” — a fit of giggles from her little boy.

Born as a micro preemie at only 25 weeks gestation, Aprea says Ryan began his life with a seven-month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, where she and her husband learned that he was deaf shortly before his discharge.

But a cochlear implant offered hope.



 

“We went into the appointment not knowing if he would respond at all. Throughout this process, they had informed us that while sound would enter his brain, every child has a different response. We weren’t sure if his brain would process the sound, but we wanted to give him a chance to hear us and communicate because he is also visually impaired,” said Aprea.

Aprea, who has posted frequently about the cochlear implant process on the Facebook page of her cloth diaper supply company, tells TODAY Parents that since the activation, Ryan has been doing great — exploring toys that make sounds for the first time and taking in his surroundings with his newfound ability to hear.

“He’s been interacting with us and giving us more intentional eye contact just in the few days since he’s had it turned on. My heart melts every single time he looks at me,” said Aprea.

As for future plans for Ryan’s treatment, Aprea says she and her family are taking things one day at a time. The mother of two says she’s looking forward to taking her son for a drive to look at holiday lights while listening to Christmas music — a tradition her family shares every year, but one that will have new meaning this season.

Aprea says she is shocked that her video has gone viral, adding that she looks forward to seeing more people learn about cochlear implants as videos and articles about stories like Ryan’s become more prevalent.

She’s heard a lot of strong opinions about cochlear implants from online commenters — including some negative ones — and offers some advice to parents dealing with big decisions about their child’s health care.

“You know your child better than anyone — I learned that one in the NICU. You need to do what’s best for him or her and give them every opportunity available to succeed in life. I would say, do a lot of research, talk to people who have been through it with their own kids, and then go with your heart,” she said.

Source: www.today.com

Topics: ICU, child, deaf, hearing, cochlear implant, first time, technology, nurses, doctors, medical, hospital, patient

New Tablet Case Recognizes Sign Language and Translates It Into Text

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 22, 2014 @ 11:20 AM

BY ISSIE LAPOWSKY

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When you’re deaf, finding a job isn’t easy.

The trickiest part, explains Ryan Hait Campbell, is the interview. “You’re not required to tell an employer you’re deaf until the interview, but sometimes, they’re a little shocked,” says Campbell, who has been deaf since birth. “They don’t know how to handle it.”

Because of things like this, he says, unemployment rates are staggeringly high among the deaf. Hard numbers are tough to come by, but some figures estimate that around half of people with hearing disabilities are unemployed.

But Campbell wants to change this. He’s the co-founder and CEO of MotionSavvy, an Alameda, California-based startup that’s developing a case for tablet computers that can serve as a virtual interpreter for the deaf. Known as UNI, the case uses gesture recognition technology developed by Leap Motion to translate sign language into audible speech. It then merges this with voice recognition technology to convert spoken word to text. Because there are a variety of signs for any given word, users can upload new signs using a feature called Sign Builder. The system learns how individual users sign, while also distributing each new sign to every UNI device.

‘THIS COULD REALLY GIVE DEAF PEOPLE THE POWER TO LIVE THE LIFESTYLE THEY WANT TO LIVE. WE THINK THAT IS VERY POWERFUL.’

On Tuesday, MotionSavvy launched an IndieGoGo campaign for UNI to raise money and recruit beta testers to help build its dictionary of signs. For $499, a discounted rate, 200 selected backers will get a tablet and UNI case to try at home. “This could really give deaf people the power to live the lifestyle they want to live,” Campbell says, “and we think that is very powerful.”

Such technology would have seemed a distant dream not long ago. But the past decade has brought a wave of investment and interest in both gesture recognition technology and voice recognition technology, driven by companies like Apple and Microsoft, as well as smaller players like Nuance and Leap Motion. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by those who want to improve the lives of the deaf community. MotionSavvy is one of several players trying to capitalize on the convergence of these trends.

Just last week, Transcense, launched an IndieGoGo campaign for an app that provides real-time voice recognition so deaf people can follow a conversation. But unlike UNI, it doesn’t give deaf people who haven’t mastered speech a clear way to talk back. For MotionSavvy, that is the final—and most important—puzzle piece.

“It’s kind of like solving a quadratic equation at this point. It’s figuring out the right variables and stacking things together in such a way that they’ll all perform efficiently,” says Stephen Jacobs, associate director of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Media Arts, Games Interaction, and Creativity.

Jacobs introduced Campbell to MotionSavvy CTO Alexandr Opalka when both were studying at RIT. Opalka, who also is deaf, had been working on similar technology as a student in RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. They teamed up with four other deaf students, and in 2012, launched MotionSavvy.

The technology is in its earliest stages. UNI recognizes only 300 signs, and its voice recognition component remains unreliable, though Opalka says UNI will come equipped with new and improved voice recognition for beta testers. And yet, during a demo of UNI at WIRED’s New York City office, it wasn’t hard to see just how transformative a technology like this could be. Campbell used it to sign a few common phrases to Opalka, such as “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” Yes, it was wonky, but still it struck me as sort of magical.

‘I BROUGHT THIS TO A TABLE OF OLDER DEAF PEOPLE, AND THEY ALL FREAKED OUT.’

Campbell says that reaction’s not entirely unique. “I brought this to a table of older deaf people, and they all freaked out,” he says.

But it’s not just the deaf and hard of hearing who are excited about UNI. Campbell says the FCC has gotten in touch. For many low-income deaf people, translators, video relay services, and other communication tools are prohibitively expensive. So the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program picks up the tab. When the commercial version of UNI launches in 2015, it’ll cost $799, plus a $20 monthly subscription for Sign Builder. It’s not cheap, but it’s better than the alternative.

Campbell acknowledges the product is a “moonshot,” and admits it may never replace human interpreters. In fact, he and Opalka hope that it does the opposite. If UNI can achieve its intended purpose—facilitating one-on-one communication— then it could become easier for deaf people to get decent jobs. And who typically pays for interpreters? Employers. “If you can’t communicate during an interview, you’re not getting the job,” Opalka says. “With UNI, we predict more people who are deaf will be able to get jobs and stay working, and that’s how we’ll get more people to hire interpreters. There will be more people in the workforce.”

Source: www.wired.com

Topics: deaf, tablet, sign language, translate, virtual, technology, healthcare, health care, patients

Android App That Helps The Deaf Have A Conversation On The Phone

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 10:57 AM

By Federico Guerrini

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I just had a Skype chat with entrepreneur Olivier Jeannel about his new product. It was a text chat, as Olivier – just like roughly 70 million people in the world (of which approximately 26 million of Americans) – suffers from profound hearing loss. If he has his way, soon this is no longer going to be a problem. Together with his associate Sidney Burks and product manager Pablo Seuc-Rocher, he’s working on the launch of RogerVoice, an Android app that has been designed from the ground up for those who cannot hear on the phone.

With RogerVoice, the deaf or hard-of-hearing person starts a call and receives on his smartphone instant live transcriptions of what the other speaker is saying, regardless if he is speaking in English or another of the many other languages recognized by the system (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Greek and Japanese top the list).

While the idea, generally speaking, is brilliant, there are still some hurdles to overcome. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology is still far from flawless; also, unlike other softwares (Dragon and friends) that can be trained to recognize a single voice, improving this way the recognition rate, RogerVoice has to work with any kind of voice, so don’t imagine you can have a long, complex conversation without any trouble.

“You might use it to confirm an appointment with a doctor – Olivier says – or tell a plumber to come”. Basic stuff, but enough to significantly improve the quality of life of a deaf person, allowing he or she to rely less on other people’s intervention. It’s also up to the hearing person to make a better effort to enunciate, to help the voice recognition software’s performance. So you could in fact have a long and articulate conversation, provided that the counterpart is a relative, a friend, or someone that’s kind enough not to speak in a rush.

I asked Jeannel if – when the problem is not too severe – an hearing aid wouldn’t work as well, and the answer was quite interesting, because it pointed to the social implications of suffering from hearing loss.

“The interesting fact is – he says – that most deaf people don’t wear hearing aids, only 1 in 5 apparently bother to get equipped. This is because wearing hearing aids is often associated to a kind of social stigma. Also, of the profoundly deaf population, most manage to speak, but understanding a conversation without visual cues is difficult, if not impossible. In my case, impossible without lip-reading. More and more profoundly deaf use cochlear implants, which is a revolution: it helps a lot to understand speech, but it’s still quite difficult over a phone”.

The app is designed to be Bluetooth compatible, meaning that the RogerVoice app could connect directly to a Bluetooth-equipped hearing aid for a better listening experience and, after the launch of the Android version, the team will start working on the iOS and Windows ones.

The business model will be based on subscriptions, with one year of unlimited calls priced at $59 for those that will contribute to the Kickstarter campaign that’s currently running to support the product’s development. As for the time to market, if the $20,000 is reached on Kickstarter, founder hope to release the product by the end of the year. “Hopefully for Christmas – Jeannel says”.

Source: http://www.forbes.com

Topics: deaf, hearing, hearing loss, voice, technology, medical, patients, app

‘Deaf people have unique care needs that nurses must understand and help address’

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 @ 03:22 PM

Issues of diversity enjoy a high profile in nursing today, from the RCN’s continuing emphasis on the importance of valuing diversity, to training in this area in both pre- and post-graduate contexts. Defined as ‘the state or quality of being different or varied’ in Collins English Dictionary, the word has accumulated various different interpretations, not all true to the original.

I asked several colleagues what ‘diversity’ meant to them. ‘Respecting people of different races,’ said one. ‘Being aware of other people’s religions and faiths,’ said another. Still another commented that it was ‘to do with treating each patient as an individual’.

These are examples of applying the term constructively and, typically of nursing, in a wholly practical manner. Yet by restricting our definition to matters of race or creed, we risk isolating the term and omitting cultural groups that fall under neither heading.
When I was asked to take on the role of diversity link nurse in my department, I was intrigued by the potential of the role. You see, there was no precedent, no shoes to fill. The role was entirely new.

Our trust had a comprehensive policy relating to the different spiritual beliefs of patients, and I had no desire to replicate what had been written. But I had read about Deaf culture – and there did not seem to be a great deal of awareness about it.

Deaf people are not always perceived as a specific cultural group. Indeed, there is confusion about the terms related to an absence of hearing. What, for example, is the difference between a patient being deaf and Deaf? Between being deafened and hard of hearing? Information is both scarce and sparse. Terms may be used interchangeably and research can be confusing.

It is common practice to capitalise the ‘D’ in ‘Deaf’ when writing about the culture and the children and adults that make up its members. The term ‘deafened’, or ‘deaf’ with a small ‘d’, or ‘hard of hearing’ is frequently used to describe someone who has acquired hearing loss. This may also be referred to as being ‘post-lingually deaf’, meaning those whose loss developed after the acquisition of spoken language.

Anecdotally it has been noted that terms can be used inconsistently, and sometimes incorrectly, even by healthcare workers.

Yet, when such a lack of clarity exists, it is unsurprising that confusion regarding dealing with patients with hearing loss should follow.

The term ‘Deaf community’ has demographic, linguistic, psychological and sociological dimensions, and this is underlined by the description of sign language as ‘a minority language’. It therefore seems wholly appropriate to include the needs of people who identify themselves as culturally Deaf when discussing diversity issues.

As nurses and midwives we are bound by the code of conduct set down by the NMC. Thus, we are – or should be – aware not only of the need to respect each person within our care as an individual but also to be wary of discriminating against them. Yet discrimination can take many forms. Direct discrimination is defined by the government as when a person is treated ‘less favourably because of, for example, their gender or race’. Indirect discrimination is when ‘a condition that disadvantages one group more than another is applied’.

By being ignorant of the discrete needs of culturally Deaf patients we risk indirectly discriminating against our own patients, whether by not providing an interpreter when one is required, or by assuming that a pre-lingually Deaf patient will be able to lip-read fluently.

We are not expected to be fluent in British sign language, nor to be fully au fait with the finer nuances of Deaf culture. But, in view of a 2004 RNID statistic suggesting that 35% of Deaf and hard of hearing people have been left unclear about their condition because of communication problems with a GP or nurse, neither can we afford to be lackadaisical. Awareness of these issues is the key to individualising care – and that is something that we are required to do.

Topics: deaf, nurses, health care, care

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