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How my Phonak Roger connected me with my hearing peer

Phonak Roger
For the first time in my life, I had a hearing peer relate to my deafness and use hearing technology. And while it wasn’t a 100 percent accurate or complete representation of my day, understood.

Everything she observed during the experience was new to me or were things I didn’t realize I was feeling or experiencing. She put words to what I had not been able to – my hearing friend did this. That is something I never thought to be possible! But she did it, she made the impossible possible, and it all started with curiosity.

For me, the best part about this experience was that I did not ask Alexis to try this out. She initiated this trial! She took the initiative to ask our choir director if she could use the Phonak Roger accessories, then she went on the ask some other teachers if they could help her to use this system to the highest potential. I just gave her the technology, showed her how to use it, and let her go on with her day!

Not only did this trial allow Alexis to better understand why using a system like Roger may be essential to me at times, but she also learned about more of what it’s like for me to go through school as a deaf individual with a cochlear implant and a Phonak CROS hearing aid.

How Could Alexis use Roger?

The Roger Focus, which looks like a small hearing aid, acts as a receiver to the Roger systems, allowing hearing people to use Roger. This was originally intended for kids with ADD and ADHD, so they can use an FM system in school. Though I’ve been using it for the purpose of showing parents of young CI candidates and recipients, or spouses what Roger sounds like. I’ve had a few friends at school try this out to gain some insight. But these 48 hours with Alexis were different.

Roger Taught Alexis the Empathy and Pride Which I Couldn’t

I was not expecting Roger to give Alexis this additional understanding of some of my experiences as a deaf individual. Alexis understood how hearing can be exhausting for me because I can’t turn off or naturally tune out all those small hints of background noise. During choir, I often experience the opposite of what Alexis did. Without Roger, I can have a harder time with my blend and pitch. For Alexis, using Roger made it difficult for her to hear her own pitch. I absolutely loved watching Alexis walk around school with Roger Select and the Roger Pen.

Phonak Roger

She wore and used that technology with such pride, more than I may have ever done! Even during transitions, she still had Roger out. When the listening situations got tough, she still kept Roger with her so she could get the full experience of what it’s like for me. She could have chosen to disconnect from Roger and fall back onto her natural hearing for ease, but she didn’t.

“She wore and used that technology with such pride, more than I may have ever done!”

And when she did disconnect the one time during lunch, I loved the insight it gave her – she realized and understood why I like to take my ears off when I have the opportunity to. Sometimes it’s just too loud and too overwhelming, that to be able to resolve that issue on my own, right then and there, it’s extremely helpful!

This was such a memorable experience for me. I’ve never had a hearing peer truly understand certain aspects of my life as a deaf individual, and I certainly never thought it was possible. Not only did it give me the validation and unique support, but it gave Alexis the knowledge and awareness that she can now pass on to others. Watching Alexis during this trial was inspiring for me. The pride which she had while using the Roger systems taught me how to take more pride in my own technology!

“I’ve never had a hearing peer truly understand certain aspects of my life as a deaf individual, and I certainly never thought it was possible.”

Phonak Roger

How Roger taught me more about my deaf friend’s daily life

Written by Emmy’s friend Alexis

Ever since meeting Emmy, a whole new world has been brought to my attention: the deaf/hard of hearing community. Having already suffered from rare conditions of my own, it was easy to be sympathetic to the situations others go through. But being able to truly grasp the day-to-day lives of these individuals was difficult. I could imagine, yes, but to live through the ears of a deaf person was something I never imagined possible.

I would try to associate myself with the community as much as possible by trying to learn sign language myself even before meeting Emmy.  In addition, I want to become a Specialized Pediatrician in the future, so I knew I would come across children throughout my life who were in similar situations. Not only do I want to give them the best care, but I want to be empathetic to their situation and walk with them as they grow up. So, when I first saw Roger, I wanted to learn as much as I could about it. How it works, what the sound quality is like, and how the sound is processed were all questions that popped into my head. So, you could only imagine my excitement when the possibility to get answers to my questions arose.

Using Roger at school

When I first turned on Roger in class it was like every noise in the room was suddenly hitting me like a train. I could hear every pencil tap, every squeak of a chair, every single conversation in class. It was like everything I was hearing was almost too much. It actually took some time to get used to the new sounds. Playing around with Roger, I was able to “turn off” sounds in different directions of the room using the microphone selection feature on Roger Select. This allowed me to mute out sounds while better being able to focus on the sounds I wanted/needed to hear. However, I couldn’t really ever “turn off” all the background noise. It was difficult to concentrate. With my “normal” ears, I was able to drown out the extra noise and concentrate on my work, friends, teacher, etc., but I couldn’t this time.

“When I first turned on Roger in class it was like every noise in the room was suddenly hitting me like a train.”

Read more: Ask Anna: What is a Roger Pen and how does it work?

In choir, I found it hard to stay on pitch and keep my voice at the correct volume level. Having perfect pitch before, I never would have imagined this being difficult, yet now I see why it could be such a struggle for someone who may be deaf/hard of hearing. My teachers liked using the Roger Pen and Roger Select, and I found it helpful too. I was able to focus in on what I was hearing and was actually able to hear better than when I would normally have.

My friends and other classmates actually wanted to learn about Roger too! I would tell them all that I knew and why I was supporting the cause. Some of the students found this really interesting and I both believe and hope they will look more into it in the future.

Have you ever let your hearing friend try your technology? Let us know in the comments!

Emmy Cartwright
Emmy Cartwright
Emmy is a Phonak Teen Advisory Board member and wears an Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant and Phonak CROS.