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November 9, 2003

Deaf expo attracts crowds to St. Charles

From: Chicago Daily Herald, IL - Nov 9, 2003

By David sharos
Daily Herald Staff Writer Posted

Most of us would have little trouble listing the most precious sounds we have ever heard, but would find it hard to imagine never having heard them.

On Saturday at the Pheasant Run Expo Center in St. Charles, the Deaf Worldwide Expo, a national tradeshow event, attracted thousands as exhibitors displayed new products for the deaf and hard of hearing.

About 50 booths could be found at the expo, but more than just business and marketing were offered. Children's activities; including a number of jumping castles, tricks by magician Sammy Ruiz, and J.J. Jones, a professional mime, were also available.

Many of the visitors, as well as vendors manning the booths, spoke through signing or interpreters.

Sarah Stadnicki of Deaf Worldwide LLC answered questions given to her on paper.

"We have largely people who are hard of hearing or deaf coming today, and we expect over 3,000 visitors," Stadnicki wrote. "A variety of technological aids are being shown for those with disability needs, plus there are arts, crafts, and services for the hearing impaired."

Company reps included personnel from T-Mobile, Sprint, ITAC and Deaf Communications & Innovations.

Deaf author Blair LaCrosse appeared to promote his new book, "Silent Ears, Silent Heart."

His wife, Michelle, spoke about the novel and what living with a deaf husband was like.

"The book deals with a deaf person and his personality living in a hearing world family," she said. "It's a fiction book, but my husband has put some of the things from his own life into the characters to make it more real."

Michelle LaCrosse said she believes her husband's condition has made their relationship stronger over the years because communication can't be taken for granted.

"Overall, we've not had a lot of problems," she said. "I know he can't hear music like I do or other things, but his being the way he is has forced me to keep working on my signing. We don't have problems communicating."

One of the more popular vendors was Cochlear America, who offers implants. Karen Lee, who was working with her sister as a volunteer advocate, said she had the implant procedure done about a year ago.

"The implant procedure has changed my life. I regard myself now as a total hearing person. I'm not afraid to do business now on the phone and I can hear the swear words from my children in the back seat. It's changed their lives too."

© 2003 Daily Herald, Paddock Publications, Inc.