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April 26, 2006

Interview Opportunity: Survivor Winner and Other AG Bell Families Share Unique Perspectives about Raising Children with Hearing Loss

From: AGBell - Apr 26, 2006

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Washington, DC, April 26, 2006 - Children who are born deaf or hard of hearing are learning to listen and talk, yet studies have shown that 60 percent of families do not receive information that listening and talking are possible when their child is screened or diagnosed with a hearing loss. That means the majority of families choosing spoken language for their children are finding that information on their own.

In celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is offering the opportunity to speak with several parents about raising children with hearing loss to learn to listen, talk and thrive in the mainstream:

* Tom Westman, best known as the New York City firefighter who claimed the grand prize on Survivor: Palau, is also the father of a 9-year-old daughter, Meghan, who lost her hearing to meningitis as an infant. The Westmans feared that Meghan wouldn’t learn to talk or have the same opportunities as other children – then they talked to a little girl with a cochlear implant. Meghan Westman received a cochlear implant at age 2 and is now an avid reader excelling in a mainstream classroom.

* Carissa Michele Hackman, 13, of Sierra Madre, Calif., started wearing hearing aids shortly after being diagnosed with hearing loss at age 18 months. Carissa’s hearing loss progressively worsened, and she received a cochlear implant at age 2 years, 10 months. Today, Carissa’s mother, Michelle, credits the many therapy and educational choices available in the area for preparing Carissa to succeed as a budding artist, snowboarder and basketball player.

* Alexander Voth giggles with delight as he chases bubbles near his Arlington, Va., home, yet every time he says “bubble” his parents are amazed. Alexander was quickly diagnosed with a severe-to-profound hearing loss and wore hearing aids for nine months before receiving a cochlear implant in May 2005. Now, Alexander’s vocabulary exceeds 75 words and he’s taken an interest in learning about nature. He also enjoys playing with other children in his neighborhood school.

Find out how these families are helping lead the way for other parents who want their children with hearing loss to have the opportunity to learn to listen and talk.


Jessica Ripper
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
Alexander Graham Bell Association
for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Office: (202) 337-5220
Direct Dial: (202) 204-4680

Plan to attend the AG Bell 2006 Convention "Building Bridges, Connecting Voices" in Pittsburgh, Pa., June 23-27, 2006. Register online at