The 14th episode of the Child’s Voice Podcast was released May 15, 2019. To listen to the Podcast, please Click Here.

Show Notes

(Episode transcript below.)

In episode 14 of All Ears at Child’s Voice: A Hearing Loss Podcast, Jessica interviews Child’s Voice alum Haley Drucker. Haley uses bilateral cochlear implants and graduated from Child’s Voice when she was six back in the early 2000s. She is currently a senior at Illinois State University studying Deaf Education. She joins Jessica on the show to discuss her experience transitioning from high school to college, the work she does as the president of the Child’s Voice alumni board, and her experience advocating for herself in high school and now in college.

Tune in to hear Haley share all about her experience…

  • Getting a second implant at the age of 12
  • Transitioning from high school to college & learning to be her own self-advocate
  • Learning how to teach & work with children with hearing loss
  • Connecting with students with hearing loss as a cochlear-implant user herself
  • Meeting & connecting with other students with hearing loss
  • And more!

At the time of this episode’s recording, Tatum was with Child’s Voice staff, Dr. Michele Wilkins, Melissa Lundt, Wendy Deters, and Wendy Adler, in Tel Aviv, Israel visiting a hearing loss program similar to Child’s Voice called Beit Micha. Listen to the end of the episode to hear about this amazing experience.

Where to Find Haley

Special thanks to John McCortney & Michael McCortney for their work recording All Ears at Child’s Voice episodes. Episodes of All Ears at Child’s Voice are graciously edited by John McCortney.

Disclaimer: Child’s Voice is a listening-and-spoken-language program for children with hearing loss. All Ears at Child’s Voice: A Hearing Loss Podcast is a resource provided by Child’s Voice. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Child’s Voice. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by Child’s Voice employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of Child’s Voice.


Episode 14 Transcript

Jessica:                 Welcome to All Ears at Child’s Voice, a podcast discussing all things hearing loss. We aim to connect parents of children with hearing loss with the professionals who serve them. I’m your host, Jessica Brock. Today we will be speaking with Haley Drucker who is an alumna of Child’s Voice. She is now a senior at Illinois State University. So we will be talking with her about her experiences today. Welcome Haley.

Haley:                   Hi Jessica.

Jessica:                 Um, before we get into our interview, our listeners might be wondering where our second host is. Tatum is in Israel right now with some other Child’s Voice staff working with a listening and spoken language school called Beit Micha. So she was unable to join us for this conversation today. Haley, I’m so excited to have you on the show today. Uh, but before we start, we like asking our guests every week for a story from the past week. It can be anything, something cute, something heartwarming. Does anything come to mind?

Haley:                   Uh, yes, actually. My mom just had her birthday yesterday and over the weekend we actually went to Benihana, which is her absolutely favorite place to go to. She’s been going since she was 14 years old.

Jessica:                 Every year for her birthday?

Haley:                   Every year for 55 years.

Jessica:                 That is very funny. Did she have a good time?

Haley:                   Yeah, she had a great time. She got her favorite steak. She got her little chicken fried rice and it was just a great family gathering. Her sister came out too.

Jessica:                 Oh, has she passed on her love for Benihana to you?

Haley:                   Yes. I love to go. It’s my favorite place now because of her.

Jessica:                 So today we will be talking with Haley about her experiences as a bilateral cochlear implant user, a high school graduate, a college student, and a president, the president of our alumni board at Child’s Voice. Let’s briefly start by talking about what you’re up to now. Um, we are recording this a little bit earlier than it will be released because you’re about to go back to Bloomington-Normal to finish out your final semester at Illinois State University. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Haley:                   Yeah, since I go to Illinois State University, I have been studying deaf education. I want to be a teacher for the deaf and definitely come to Child’s Voice and be a teacher. And am definitely bring back that nostalgia I had when I was younger and as a student at Child’s Voice.

Jessica:                 Um, so let’s talk briefly about your experience at Child’s Voice. So you came here as a student. When did you first start coming here?

Haley:                   I was about three years old. I was 18 months when I got my first implant on my right side. And so I got qualified to enter Child’s Voice as a student and I graduate and graduated at six years old in 2003.

Jessica:                 Okay. Do you remember much of your time in preschool?

Haley:                   Bits and pieces, bits and pieces.I remember like a lot of fun stuff. Um, I definitely remember my former teachers. Um, Elsa, Carrie, Mr. Rollen.

Jessica:                 And you still see a lot of them now because of your involvement on the alumni board and just general involvement in Child’s Voice. How did you get started with that?

Haley:                   I was asked to help start the board of the Alumni Association of Child’s Voice and it’s my greatest honor to help find alumni and have that reconnection to what helped them start their journey, going into mainstream and going on to the real world.

Jessica:                 Has having those connections been really helpful for you socially? Just to have people who you went to school with as a young kid and often don’t follow you to the mainstream, has it been helpful to have those people still in your life?

Haley:                   Oh yeah. It definitely brings back a lot of nostalgia seeing them when we were just three years old and we were in like Halloween costumes or we were just pilgrims in the Thanksgiving musical for the holidays. It definitely brings back that memories.

Jessica:                 Yeah. That’s really cool, so I think we should plug the alumni association right now and tell any listeners out there who are alumni of Child’s Voice to get involved with Haley and the alumni association because it’s really cool. You guys do events often I feel like?

Haley:                   Oh yeah. We do our events seasonally, so we do it four times a year. We tried to look for a lot of places that are kid friendly, teenage friendly but also older alumni going all the way back to 1996. And so we get together and just reconnect. We do a lot of fun things. We grab dinner and we just like catch up and tell each other what we remember and other things that we may not remember. But we share those stories together.

Jessica:                 Yeah, and probably what you’ve been up to since.

Haley:                   Exactly. Yeah.

Jessica:                 So you mentioned just a minute ago that you got your first cochlear implant when you were 18 months old. When did you get your second cochlear implant?

Haley:                   I got my second cochlear implant in 2008. So 11 years ago. It was definitely a huge difference because coming from my left side in that 10 years, 11 year difference, I was completely deaf on that side from birth till the age of 12. And so it definitely changed my life because it made my hearing a lot more easier and clearer that I have both of my ears. And so, it’s definitely different today now.

Jessica:                 So Tatum, the other host and I both work in early intervention and a lot of all of our children are babies and toddlers. And so a lot of our families ask us, what is it like for my baby to get a cochlear implant? And you were old enough to probably remember and talk about what it was like to get that second implant. Do you want to share a little bit about..

Haley:                   Yes. It’s very different than what, babies today get receiving both sides of implants. It’s definitely different because it’s not up to the level where my right side is, which is my great side. The side I rely on the most than my left. Um, and I use both more than the individual one or the other. And so it’s, I hear more like environmental sounds on my left side and I’m getting there but I still have to do a lot of speech therapy and work to get that um strong hearing

Jessica:                 on the left side

Haley:                   on the left side

Jessica:                 specifically because that’s the one you got later.

Haley:                   Yes.

Jessica:                 Gotcha. A lot of people ask me like, what does it sound like? And it probably sounds different in both ears. And you don’t know any difference, so it probably just sounds normal to you, but is there a way for you to describe or do you just say, it just sounds normal to me when people ask you?

Haley:                   That’s definitely a hard question because it’s definitely hard to explain, especially coming from yourself cause like how do you hear what other people hear?

Jessica:                 Right.

Haley:                   And so I try to do research on that. Try to go on Youtube. I try to go to cochlear implant websites, or different companies besides Advanced Bionics, the one that I go to, and some say that it’s like screeching sounds because it’s a computer device, it’s like technology that is made by scientists. And so I try to tell them like I hear words I hear sounds just the same way a normal hearing person would. And so I don’t know how it would be any different.

Jessica:                 Yeah. That’s a good answer. Especially because you don’t know any different. It just I’m assuming sounds normal to you. I have a twin sister and sometimes people will ask me like, what was it like growing up with a twin sister? And I’ll just say it was just my life. Like I don’t know any different. It’s similar, I feel like to that.

Jessica:                 Do you have a most favorite and least favorite parts about being a cochlear implant user?

Haley:                   Ohh.

Jessica:                 That’s sort of a broad question. So I kind of want to hear what…

Haley:                   That’s a very broad question. I have a lot of favorites. There’s a lot of like pros and cons. Definitely. A pro of mine, is that I can take my implants out whenever I want, if I don’t want to listen to somebody or if there is a noise that it’s just kind of bothering me and I can just take it off and have my peace for whatever I’m doing. A con is my batteries for sure because I mean they’re rechargeable, which is the benefit of it, but it does wear out a lot. And so it wears down from 12 hours to four hours.

Jessica:                 Oh my goodness.

Haley:                   Yes. Because I use them so much. So.

Jessica:                 So do you always have extras on you? Yeah, cause if it, if it dies then you don’t have anything — do you sign it all?

Haley:                   No, I actually just started learning how to sign my senior year of high school and just for the interest of it. And then I declared my major, it’s deaf education and so there was more sign classes assigned. And so I got to learn more and I became proficient but not fluent.

Jessica:                 I just asked that because without your cochlear implants, you don’t really have a way to communicate. So you do have to have — well now you do cause you know some sign but you do have to have those batteries on you probably all the time, which is why–

Haley:                   Oh well I lip read if I like even before I learned sign language, I lip read a lot and I look really lip read all the time.

Jessica:                 I feel like that probably helps you with listening fatigue. Like it must be exhausting to have to listen all day through your implants so that probably helps. Does that help you at all? Do you get tired?

Haley:                   It kinda takes on an equal balance. It’s exhausting to lip read. Just as exhausting to listen. So at the end of the day it’s definitely exhausting sometimes.

Jessica:                 Yeah. Um, is taking your implants off at the end of the day relaxing? Nerve wracking?

Haley:                   It’s actually kind of relaxing cause then I can just have that mental break from what I have been doing all day and what I’ve been hearing every day. It’s the same thing, same routine that I do every day. So I just get that nice break and I even take them off when I sleep, so I get that time as well.

Jessica:                 Let’s talk about your college experience. So you are in your fourth year of your bachelor’s degree in deaf education. How’s it going so far?

Haley:                   Oh, it’s going great. I just finished my junior practicums, which I was the first semester of clinical and I got to work with one student and it was the best experience in my life because he graduated from an LSL program. And so I applied my experiences to that experience and we connected and it just made me really happy that it showed me something that I can actually do. And so I’m very excited to continue on. My senior practicum is this spring and then student teaching in the fall.

Jessica:                 Oh my goodness. That’s a lot going on

Haley:                   It’s a lot going on. I’m nervous to go back, but I’m excited to finish.

Jessica:                 It’s cool when you start realizing that you can make an impact in people’s lives. I remember feeling really, really nervous about my first clinical placement as a speech therapist. But then once you’re in it and doing it and you realize that what you’ve learned in class actually applies to what you’re doing and that this is going to be what you’ll be doing for a long time it’s really exciting.

Haley:                   Yeah, I’m very excited.

Jessica:                 Yeah. Um, why, how did you decide on ISU?

Haley:                   It was definitely the hardest decision because I had another college I was looking at, but at the time I wasn’t sure what major I wanted to declare yet. And so I was between Central Michigan for early childhood and ISU, but didn’t know that they had Deaf Ed. And so I wasn’t looking deeper into it at the time. And so I was committed to Central Michigan. And then when I did more research and because I was very hesitant that it was far away, it was in a town that I’m not familiar with because ISU is where my sister went for school for her marketing degree. And so then I looked at the major and they had Deaf Ed so it was like, you know, I’m going to switch to ISU and so here I am.

Jessica:                 Are you happy with that decision?

Haley:                   Very happy. The best decision I ever made.

Jessica:                 Good. Was it hard moving away from home?

Haley:                   It was at first because it was definitely a new environment. Definitely a new change. It was a little hard of an adjustment first with classes. Extracurriculars, trying to find clubs to make new friends away from home. It was kind of like a new leaf that I had to start over.

Jessica:                 Were your parents nervous for you?

Haley:                   No, they weren’t, they knew that I was going to do this well. They were a little bit for sure, but they knew that I will succeed because of how hard I’ve been working all my life. Especially coming from a very hard challenging experience with hearing loss.

Jessica:                 How do you feel like that prepared you?

Haley:                   I think Child’s Voice is the main reason that prepared me for college. I mean for elementary school, middle School, high school and college for sure.

Jessica:                 You probably are able to see that a little bit more since you spent so much time as a young adult here, since you probably don’t remember a ton of it, but what do you think specifically about Child’s Voice prepared you for your educational career?

Haley:                   I think it prepared me a lot of self-advocacy and making sure that I’m putting myself out there and that let people know that I have a hearing loss. I’m deaf with bilateral cochlear implants but I made sure that there are things that I know could affect me, but I have to make sure that there are accommodations, there are ways to adjust to that environment or the classroom kind of thing.

Jessica:                 Yeah let’s talk a little bit about that. As an elementary school student and a middle school student and even in high school you had a team of people, parents and teachers and yourself guiding you through the things that you needed in high school, the accommodations that you needed in high school to help you be successful. But now it’s really sort of all on you. How has that been?

Haley:                   It’s definitely a big transition when I left high school because I relied on that team of professionals and my parents to help guide me through that process of just schooling and like making sure that I have all the resources I need. High school definitely taught me how to advocate myself as well as Child’s Voice because they’re the ones that know how to prepare you right when you enter college and Child’s Voice helps you advocate for yourself that for like a lifelong journey kind of thing. So there was that balance I had a transitioning to college.

Jessica:                 what has that looked like for you, you’re three and a half years into college, you have sort of figured out what accommodations you need. What was that process like? What did you have to go to? What accommodations do you have? Do you not have any? Talk us through that.

Haley:                   During my freshman year, like right when we had orientation, I just went straight to the Student Access and Accommodation Services that is right on campus. Very easy to get to. And I just told them what I had in high school, all my accommodations I had all my life really. And they just provided me with what I’d been used to and already had. I use captioning for sure for videos. And for whenever lectures, I used to be in 700 people lectures.

Jessica:                 Oh my goodness.

Haley:                   Yeah. 500 to 700 people, and then it downsized to at least five people now that I’m in practicums, which is more focused on deaf ed coming from General Ed classes.

Jessica:                 Did you use an FM or anything in those large settings or did they have, they probably had microphones. I went to a really small college so I can’t even imagine.

Haley:                   For ISU they had very different FM system than I had in high school. It was more antiquated, very old. And so they had like big headphones. And like speaker box that I used to have like from first grade and it was definitely kind of a change of pace for me because I did not want to use that. It was  just a very intimidating moment when they handed that to me. But now they offer newer devices to make sure that you have that access. But at the time I did not use an FM system and I stopped using the FM system like sophomore year of high school. That way for me, I always sat in front of the class. I always make sure I got notes from other peers. I very advocate of myself during high school.

Jessica:                 That probably set you up for a lot of success in college. Do you talk to all of your professors like at the beginning of class about your hearing loss or do you sort of set everything up for yourself in advance?

Haley:                   I talk to my professors. I set everything up in advance and also talk to my professors. I do believe in that student-professor relationship to make sure that the professor knows that I’m not being lazy. This is not me making excuses. This is actually because I’m deaf, this is what I need help in. But I do know how to succeed, take notes, I know how to pay attention, that kind of thing.

Jessica:                 That’s awesome. That’s got to take a lot of  awareness and bravery. We spoke with Anna Tess on an episode last season and she said that she was just naturally like a pretty shy person and so it was hard for her in college at first to go up to professors and tell them that this was what she needed. But you have to do it. There’s no way around.

Haley:                   Yeah. Especially for General Ed classes that ranges from 500 to 700 people in a lecture is definitely intimidating. That was where I was shy, but as I started taking more classes that were relevant to my major, I started becoming more comfortable because those the professors in special education that understood and knew what I really needed. So like General Ed professors and special ed professors are very different. So I want to make sure that everyone has that awareness of what I need.

Jessica:                 How has your hearing loss impacted your social transition to college? What was that like?

Haley:                   It didn’t really have any effect. I was roomed with a really awesome person. She was great and we clicked, got along and then we our, um, social group expanded a lot more, especially on the floor of our dorm. And then I joined a sorority and then it was the same sorority that my sister joined in. So it was a lot of familiar people and they knew that I had this and they did not care and they accepted that.

Jessica:                 That’s really cool. I think that’s so important for honestly like anybody going to college is to find a group of people that share values with you and like learn who you are and accept everything you know about you. When I went to college, I joined the cross country team and that was really helpful for me. So it sounds like we had like similar experiences in that way. Like once you find your group then you’re pretty like set.

Haley:                   Exactly and they even had Deaf Redbird, so it was like awesome connecting with people who actually has either hearing loss or a major in deaf education. They’re becoming teachers for the deaf that want to learn from a deaf person’s experience or um, just people from campus, just the community that wants to know more about deaf awareness kind of thing. It was pretty cool.

Jessica:                 Is that like a club, Deaf Redbird?

Haley:                   Yeah, it’s an organization on campus.

Jessica:                 Okay, cool. Were you pretty involved in that?

Haley:                   Yes, from the beginning and then I started becoming more busy, which I do feel bad about, but I like focusing on school first.

Jessica:                 Totally. No, I’m not judging your level of involvement with Deaf Redbird. I was just curious. What about studying, going back to your classes, what about studying deaf education has surprised you?

Haley:                   It was definitely eye opening because I did not realize that all the things actually made me remember how I was learning from my former teachers at Child’s Voice and that it made me realize that I’m going to be the teacher and the student that used to be me will be my student. And so it’s definitely eye opening for me to realize that.

Jessica:                 It probably forces you to dig through your memories a little bit and learn more about what it took for you to get where you are today, which is cool. You must be so excited to work with students who are going to be small versions of you.

Haley:                   I cannot wait because the faces of the reactions are priceless because when they look in, my ears are like the like flip through my hair because they see something shining or over the ear and they be like, ah, what do you do, do you have an implant? What? It’s priceless because then they know that I am the one to understand and not that other teachers who have normal hearing, but still having that experience of kids that will realize there’s someone that they can look up to or that they can model from.

Jessica:                 Did you have people, teachers or older people in your life who had cochlear implants growing up? Can you think of any?

Haley:                   No, I’m the only one in my family that’s deaf with cochlear implants. I have gone to Camp Lions in middle school and that’s when I first realized that there are people around me that do have implants or hearing aids.

Jessica:                 What was that like? That must have been wild.

Haley:                   My jaw was dropped when I first walked on to that campsite, I was like, there’s people signing, there’s people just talking and even sharing their experiences of hearing loss. And it was amazing. I was like, there’s more people like me!

Jessica:                 That’s amazing.

Haley:                   Yeah. And then from then on I been so passionate about researching about deaf awareness and that I’m not the only one. And it was a great feeling to have more of a relief because I thought I was the only one when I was a kid.

Jessica:                 Yeah. There weren’t any other children with hearing loss in your like elementary school or middle school?

Haley:                   There was one other student but he had hearing aids but he was more on the mild to moderate side.

Jessica:                 Yeah. It’s different.

Haley:                   Yeah. But it was still nice to share with someone that understands.

Jessica:                 What advice do you have for high school students with hearing loss looking into colleges?

Haley:                   My advice would be is get excited for a whole new experience for sure. It’s definitely going to be a hard adjustment, but you adjust so well and so fast. Definitely look for the resources you have that is on campus and find the accommodations that you’ve been using from high school or look into options of accommodations if you were to. And like definitely build those relationships with your professors so that they are aware that you’re there, that you are present in class and wanting to learn and not making excuses. Just, just you need some assistance and that they will be there for you.

Jessica:                 That’s great advice. This thought just occurred to me and it’s not really related to anything else we’ve talked about, but a lot of my parents, a lot of the parents of the children that I work with have asked me about sports and cochlear implants. Do you play sports by any chance?

Haley:                   I used to in middle school going into freshman year of high school, I played soccer.

Jessica:                 Cool. Yeah.

Haley:                   I played soccer from when I was a kid all the way till freshman year. There was never really a problem. Just a few times where I bumped heads with other people my implant with fall off. Other than that, it was, there was no problems I’ve had. I actually love soccer.

Jessica:                 That’s awesome. I play soccer too. I don’t know if you know this. I still play. I played all growing up and I still play. That’s a good one because you don’t like need a helmet. Do you know if they make helmets for implants?

Haley:                   I’ve heard some people can make adjusted helmets for kids with implants or hearing aids.

Jessica:                 But soccer, you don’t need them so you would probably never come across that. Very cool. Sorry for that tangent. Going back to advice cause you gave great advice to our high school students. So let me ask you what advice you have for parents of high school students with hearing loss. How did your parents support you in your transition to college?

Haley:                   They reminded me that everything’s going to be fine. They just need to share more, more support than ever because college is definitely a huge change, a huge transition. And that there’s nothing to be scared about. You’re meeting new people, which is definitely a great thing. And that you’re going to be starting a career after four years and a career that you’re passionate about. And for parents just share that love and encourage them to look deeper within themselves for what they’re going to prepare themselves for.

Jessica:                 I think just in general having, I don’t have hearing loss but having gone to college, I think it’s important to remember that like everybody is transitioning and nobody has ever done this before. And so knowing that you’re not alone, finding people, like you said, to connect with as you guys like journey through the first year and the second year and now you’re in your fourth and ready to move on out.

Haley:                   Fourth and final year, yeah.

Jessica:                 Fourth and final!

Haley:                   Even my dad, as a former board president of the board of directors for Child’s Voice, he would push me to like make sure that I have all the information I need. I’m looking for schools. He even sends me texts, to links of other colleges like, well they have this or they have that for certain majors or even trying to find colleges with deaf education when I was looking at the time and like he would just push me like making sure that I have all the information, all the resources that colleges offer and even that is like the greatest push I’ve had.

Jessica:                 Your parents sound great. Is there anything else that you would like to share? We kind of briefly touched over various parts of your educational experience and social experience. Is there anything else that you want to share, kind of hone in on?

Haley:                   Definitely look into the child’s Voice Alumni Association  because we have a lot of great events coming up and it’s a great opportunity to reconnect, especially for if you ever want to volunteer at Child’s Voice, it’s really great to see familiar faces, especially for former teachers who have taught you guys as alumni and as former students.

Jessica:                 We have a lot of listeners who are involved in Child Voice’s and then we have a ton of other listeners who aren’t from the Chicago area. And this just makes me think that hopefully this conversation inspires someone to get involved in their own alumni association or to start one or to just in general, like reach out for support, especially as their kiddos transitioning into a high school or into college or something like that and just reminding people out there that support is so important for all people. But especially for people with hearing loss because you guys have such a unique experience and there aren’t a ton of people like you as you said in your world. So reaching out to people and finding that support, it seems to be like a huge message that you’re supporting.

Haley:                   Yeah and even if there are some alumni that aren’t sure of transitioning into college or just having some questions about like high school or any accommodations or any questions about themselves or the transitions, they can reach out to me, I’d be more than happy to help and share my experiences.

Jessica:                 Yeah that’s so kind of you, we’ll get your email address in a second. I think you are such a testament to what people with hearing loss can do. You are living your life and being really successful and you have goals and you’re working towards them and you I think are such an inspiration to people. And I hope that parents listening to this feel  hope and excitement for what’s to come if they have younger kiddos. And then other people who are your age, who are listening to this, who have hearing loss feel inspired by you, but also people who don’t have hearing loss can learn a little bit from your experience about people who are different from them. So I am so appreciative that you spent time sharing your story with us today.

Haley:                   Thank you for having me.

Jessica:                 You’re very welcome. Thanks for joining us. Haley, you mentioned that people can reach out to you. What’s the best way to do that?

Haley:                   You guys can email me at haleycdrucker (with a d) []

Jessica:        We will put that information into our show notes. Listeners, we would love to hear your reactions from today’s episode. You can email us at and you can find episode show notes and archived episodes at our child’s voice website. You can also find us on Twitter and Instagram. I’m @jessicabrockSLP, our other host who is not here today is @TatumFritzSLP. And if you’re interested in learning more about Child’s Voice, Child’s Voice is on Facebook. (We’re almost done) as well as Twitter and Instagram with the handle @childs_voice, no apostrophe. Thank  you Haley so much for joining us, this wraps up our season, so we hope that our listeners have enjoyed season 2 of the podcast and that you tune in for season 3 in the fall. Thank you so much. We’ll see you guys next time. Bye.

Haley:                   Bye.

Tatum:                  Hi everyone, this is Tatum speaking. I hope you all have enjoyed listening to Jessica’s conversation with Haley. As Jessica mentioned at the start of this episode, I missed this recording because at the time I was in Tel Aviv, Israel visiting a program for children with hearing loss, one that is similar to Child’s Voice, called Beit Micha with some of Child’s Voice’s other staff. We had the amazing opportunity to visit Beit Micha in order to collaborate with their staff and some of Beit Micha’s staff will be visiting us this summer to continue this collaboration. I wanted to share about our experience with our listeners so while we were there I recorded part of our trip and after we returned to Chicago, Jessica and I also checked in with the staff who went on the trip about what they had learned. I personally learned a lot on this trip. I was just reading the other day about the value of working with diverse groups and being able to learn from people with different cultural backgrounds and different perspectives and I definitely experienced this firsthand while observing, learning, and talking with Beit Micha’s staff. This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience and has already had an impact on how I interact with the families I serve. So keep listening to hear all about our amazing experience at Beit Micha.

Tatum:                  But before then, I wanted to let everyone know that this is the last official episode of season two of All Ears at Child’s Voice. We will have a short hiatus over the summer months and return for season 3 in late August. We do plan to release a bonus episode this summer showcasing some of our 2019 Child’s Voice graduates. They will be graduating this May and we will be recording some of their graduation speeches for a short bonus episode. So many of our podcast guests have talked about how much the graduation means to them so we wanted to be able to share it with all of you. So look out for that sometime in June. And now, I hope you enjoy listening about my experience with Child’s Voice staff, Dr. Michele, Wendy Deters, Wendy Adler, and Melissa Lundt, in Israel.

*Sounds of ocean waves in the background, street noise, cars honking*

Tatum:                  So we have officially arrived in Tel Aviv and checked into our hotel after 20 hours of traveling and we’re listening to the waves of the Mediterranean Sea.

Tatum:                  It’s really pretty. We should definitely go for a walk.

Wendy D. :          Yeah.

Tatum:                  So far, we’ve just talked about how we’ve arrived. So how has the trip been so far?

*sounds of hotel lobby & restaurant noise, chatter, utensils and plates clanking in background*

Dr. Michele:       Hi, this is Dr. Michele speaking to you from Tel Aviv. We’re sitting here at the Renaissance restaurant, Renaissance Hotel. Absolutely gorgeous. It’s on the beach here. Okay. Don’t be jealous. We are here to work so we’ll be in Biet Micha for the next three days sharing and collaborating with their team there. So Go Tel Aviv, go Child’s Voice Hashtag…

Melissa:               Israel 2019

Dr. Michele:       Israel 2019

*some restaurant noise, plates/cutlery clanking, chatter in background*

Tatum:                  Okay, we are at breakfast at our hotel and Wendy Adler is going to share about our day from yesterday.

Wendy A.:           Hi, yesterday was a great start to our collaboration with both…and we learned a lot about both Beit Micha and Child’s Voice. It was interesting to know that we may be worlds away, but we’re all doing the same thing with the same objectives. I’m really excited to see what days two and three bring. Thank you.

Tatum:                  Where are we?

*men’s voices and laughter in background*

Wendy D. :          We are in the Arab village of Kfar Kasem. We just had some amazing um, desserts is this little shop and now we’re in a coffee shop and there are people, a bunch of men sitting in the other room drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and playing rummy cube game.

Tatum:                  How did you like all the desserts, Melissa?

Melissa:               The desserts were amazing. I am an extremely picky eater for anyone and everyone who knows me and everything was like smothered in cheese. It was pure heaven. We had a little bit of everything. I couldn’t tell you what we had, but it was all incredibly delicious

Wendy D. :          And some very nice man, um, paid for all of our desserts. He must have…Clearly we are not locals.

Tatum:                  Yeah, a man we did not know at all came into the shop and paid for all of our desserts.

Melissa:               Potentially because we saw the desserts and started inhaling them as quickly as possible.

Tatum:                  Like vultures.

Wendy D.:           Yes. American vultures.

Everyone:           *laughter*

*wind in the background*

Tatum:                  Okay. Wendy, where are we today?

Wendy A.:           Hi, today we’re going to Jerusalem and we’re going to be taking a tour of the Old City and the Western Wall. But before that, our tour guide was nice enough to stop and let us do some shopping in, at famous Ben Yehudah Street, which is just a famous kind of touristy, but also, uh, a lot of locals come here and hang out. A very pedestrian, fun local place to hang out and shop.

Tatum:                  Yes. So we can all get sweaters because we did not pack warm enough clothes.

*sounds of the shook (market place) in background; men’s voices, shouting in background; Arabic & English in background*

Melissa:               Hi. We are currently walking the streets of the shook and there are lots and lots of different little shops. Um, right now we’re walking past where we can buy a bunch of shoes. There’s some jewelry, some dresses. Um, we are looking for sweatshirts because it is currently freezing outside and pouring rain.

*background noises of the shook continue*

Tatum:                  Wendy, can you share what you’ve been buying?

Wendy A.:           Oh, what have I been buying? I bought some delicious tea that is watermelon tea and is delicious. And I bought some halvah which is a, um, Israeli delicacy, it’s a sweet snack. I also bought some fun pants, Bohemian pants for my daughters and um, some jewelry for my daughters and a t-shirt for my son.

*background noise disappears*

Tatum:                  So we have just made it back to our hotel after a long day of site seeing. Today we went to the Dead Sea and we also got to go to Masada. Wendy Deters, Melissa, and I climbed Masada and met everyone at the top and we were able to learn about this important piece of history and then we got to float in the Dead Sea. Now we’re hurrying to get ready to go to dinner with the staff of Beit Micha to talk about the week.

*Sound of a door opening*

*Tali’s voice speaking a short phrase to Roi in Hebrew*

Tali:                        So, oh, oh, real chairs. Thank you. Here’s what’s on. [Speaks in Hebrew for approximately a sentence] I’m used to sitting on small chairs.

Tatum:                  Yeah, me too

Tali:                        Yeah.

Tali:                        That’s the…

Tatum:                  Roi, you should sit here.

Tatum:                  Okay. Um, so will you introduce yourself and then maybe just tell us what you’ve learned this week?

Tatum:                  So I’m Tali Greenstein. I am pediatric audiology and I teach a lecture at the university and I am counseling the health ministry about hearing aids for children. And I learned a lot every day and I found colleagues that think like me and do like me. And I think it’s a start of a great collaboration.

Tatum:                  And then, Roi will you introduce yourself?

Roi:                        Hi. So we have already met. You’ve been introduced me a few months ago, so I’m Roi Pilpel and I’m the executive director of Beit Micha and I’m very, very, very happy to be here today after three days of intensive seminar and I’m looking forward for the future. I think that as Tali said, we have so many similarities. I think that there is a chance of a very good collaboration here. We actually collaborating right now and uh, so it’s good. I think that we’ve learned many new things this week. I think that it’s also good to opportunity for you coming from Chicago and learning about us and learn about our methods and uh, yeah.

Tatum:                  Um, was anything surprising about this week?

Roi:                        I’m not surprised. I think that that today we kind of celebrated the changes that we even have inside Micha. You, if you listen well you could hear that, uh, a few streams inside the house of Micha, ehhh, you heard, uh, eeh [Hebrew aside], Hagit who’s the sign language philosophy and Hagit represents Hagit. But she also works, she’s a Micha worker and she is also one of our ambassadors to the community and she works at the preschool division and things need to be combined. And you’ve heard Tali, which eh, eh,

Tali:                        On the other side

Roi:                        On the other side, represent the different attitudes. So Micha we say in Hebrew is [HEBREW WORD], we offer all streams and it’s for the parents to choose what kind of education, what kind of stream they want to eh, they want to fee…, they want to be part of.

Tali:                        I think, I wasn’t surprised, but the last three days gave me an opportunity to stop working and just looking at what we did, what we are supposed to go and how much we developed and changed. And it was really something that doesn’t happen every day. We don’t have the time. And your coming here, gave us the, the time to sit together to talk, to think, to see that there are lots of streams around and we live together at the same house with all kinds of professionals expertising in each, eh, eh, path and it’s okay and it’s working and it’s moving forward. And I think it was a great, great, great opportunity for all of us.

Tatum:                  Yeah, I agree. Anything else to add?

Roi:                        One of the things that I was very happy to hear from you guys from Chicago is all the data collection and all the things that uh, all the information that you collect and uh, to see the actual results that you have with mass amount of kids. Eh, um, I think that we have to give it a thought and uh, see how can we improve our systems. Definitely the things that we can learn from you guys and this is something that I will take back to my team and to implement to see what, what, what’s good for us. What are the things that we’re going to duplicate? What are the things that, uh, we’ll have to think about it. And, uh, so yeah, definitely very, um, um, I’m very excited for the next step for Beit Micha.

Tali:                        New directions. And I think it’s time to computerize everything. And even though it’s not clinically uhhh, but I think we have a lot of information and we have to do something with it and it’s a thought and we have lots to do.

Tatum:                  Okay, um, and then can you guys say bye in Hebrew?

Roi:                        Shalom.

Tali:                        Bye is also used in Hebrew. Lehitraot is better than shalom. Because lehitraot in Hebrew is see you.

Tatum:                  Oh okay.

Roi:                        So we’ll see you. Lehitraot and shalom.

Tatum:                  Perfect. Thanks guys.

Jessica:                 So we have Wendy Deters here. Wendy, tell us about your role at Child’s Voice.

Wendy D. :          I am the EI and school professional development coordinator and I’m technically just a speech-language pathologist. So I see kids in Early Intervention for therapy and evaluations. And then I help out with professional development in EI and the school program.

Jessica:                 Wendy does a lot of things and she was on the first season of the podcast, so she was our very first episode. So if you guys want to go back and listen to it, that’s our first one. But you also recently went to Israel. Tell us what you learned in Israel.

Wendy D. :          Oh, it was an incredible experience. I’m so grateful that we were able to have, it was really amazing. I think the biggest thing that I learned was, well, number one, I learned about the Israeli culture more than I ever have, which was really fascinating. And then I really learned how that culture sort of informs their practice and how they work with families. It was a very different environment in terms of the level of intensity. And that’s not to say that they’re not very passionate and intense about their level of instruction or how they work with the children, but just an overall more laid back approach to life in general that then translated into how they work with families. It was really great.

Jessica:                 That sounds fascinating. Was that the most surprising piece or were there any other surprising pieces?

Wendy D. :          Some of the other surprising pieces, were just about how the government worked to provide services. Just their whole political structure and how that sort of trickled down into how they provide services to families and the availability of services to families. I understand that that’s much easier to do in a country as small as Israel, but if you compare that to the state of Illinois, it was interesting to just see how the resources were allocated for kids

Jessica:                 Were there a lot more?

Wendy D. :          It seemed that the services were just a lot more automatic. The systems were just in place that when a child has a hearing loss, these are the next steps and these are the services that they receive. And it didn’t seem like the families had to fight very hard for the services they received and they also seemed very consistent throughout the country, which I know in Illinois and across the country here is something that we struggle with is consistency and availability of services.

Jessica:                 That does sound really surprising and interesting. What are your takeaways or hopes for the future?

Wendy D. :          I think one of the things that the staff kept saying, and again I think this goes back to the cultural differences was that they always keep in mind and meet families where they are. And I think that that’s something really important for us to keep in mind as professionals. And again, I think it goes back to the intensity that we as Americans bring to the table, which is great and I think serves us very well. But to balance that a little bit with meeting everybody where they are and sort of going on a journey together as opposed to expecting families to be where we are right off the bat.

Jessica:                 That sounds like a wonderful experience, that’s so cool.

Wendy D. :          It was amazing. It was really great. And hopefully, you know, we continue to collaborate with the team at Beit Micha and learn with them and from them. It was just a really great experience to go, you know, halfway around the world, meet people that are doing something very similar but in a totally different culture and language. And see all the similarities that that we had. So I look forward to continuing to work with them.

Jessica:                 Thanks Wendy.

Wendy D. :          Thank you.

Jessica:                 We have Melissa Lundt here. Melissa, why don’t you tell our listeners what you do at Child’s Voice?

Melissa:               Yes, I am the Special Services Coordinator here at Child’s Voice. So my position is once the kiddos graduate from Child’s Voice and go into their home schools in their neighborhoods, I go into those schools and observe the kiddos for five years. I interact with the teachers and the parents. I report back to the parents and the team. It’s a great opportunity for me to actually see our kids once they leave and, you know, return to the staff and explain how successful the kids are once they leave us.

Jessica:                 That’s perfect. Yeah. And I, and Tatum see them when they’re itty bitty, so you’re on opposite end of the spectrum.

Melissa:               Yeah.

Jessica:                 Okay. And you recently went to Israel with Child’s Voice’s team. Tell us what you learned in Israel.

Melissa:               Yes. First of all, it was an amazing experience. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience. But while, one of the biggest things that I really appreciated from when we were there, was we were able to actually listen to a father speak, a father of a graduate from Beit Micha speak about their experience. So when they were there, and then once they transitioned into their mainstream schools and that being my position, that was just, I mean that was huge for me and it was really cool to hear him say that he and his wife really needed to be the advocate for their daughter. And it just really, that really resonated with me because that’s what we tell our parents all the time. But to hear it from another school similar to us, it was just, it was huge for me. It’s like it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you as a parent really need to be your number one advocate for their, for your own kid.

Jessica:                 Yeah, that’s wonderful. That probably aligns so closely with a lot of the experiences that you have here.

Melissa:               Yeah. And it, it really, I’ve actually shared that with some current, you know, some of the kids that are out in the mainstream, their parents to say like, look, we’re asking you to do this here, but if you were in Israel, that’s what they’re asking of their families as well.

Jessica:                 Yeah.

Melissa:               So it just means a lot to them.

Jessica:                 Yeah. Very cool. Um, what was most surprising about your trip to Israel?

Melissa:               Jet lag. It is a thing is it is a thing. My body did not react well to it. I think by the time I got back to the states, I was finally used to being in Israel and then it started all over again. Um, and for those of you who know me quite well, you know, I’m an extremely picky eater and I was really worried about that before we went. I said I was either going to lose a lot of weight or gain a lot of weight from eating junk and I experienced everything. I tried everything, I, and…most of it was amazing and I’m not as picky eaters. I apparently thought I was.

Jessica:                 What did you like? What food did you like?

Melissa:               I don’t even know what half of it was. Really Wendy Adler was the one that was like, just try it, just try it, she would like pile stuff on my plate and I would, I tried.

Jessica:                 Pick a little bit at it and at it was okay. It was good.

Melissa:               Yeah. I guess I, I ate well.

Jessica:                 Good. Um, and then what were your takeaways or hopes for the future after visiting?

Melissa:               Yeah, well I can’t wait for our Beit Micha friends to come here to Child’s Voice. When I was there, I presented on the database that we use here at Child’s Voice in the states and the looks on all of their faces was amazing, they really were interested in it. And I presented on it and then we kind of had some side conversations after the fact. They had some amazing questions, some concerns, which were legit concerns and how would it work for them and you know, how would they implement it? And it was really just kind of touching the surface of it. So I can’t wait for them to come back and really dive deeper into it. And have further discussions on either helping them or helping them develop something or help them work with the university to develop something.

Jessica:                 So for our listeners, what is this database?

Melissa:               Yeah, so it’s called the listening or the listening and spoken language data repository is the long word for it. Um, it is a database through Vanderbilt university that literally collects every piece of information that you can think of. It’s, you know, some demographic information, um, speech and language testing, audiology, devices, all of that information is housed in this, in this database. And then we can run reports on our children. So it’s only, it’s for all of the options schools, which Child’s Voice is a member of, but we only can see the data for our kids and we have so much data that is, you know, on computers or it’s in files and it’s just one central location and Beit Micha has just as much data as we have probably more, but they’re working on putting it in one central location.

Jessica:                 Very cool. That’s so exciting. Awesome. Okay. Well, we look forward to hearing more about how they implement it and what you learn from it. Yeah, I’m excited for them to come here too. It should be fun.

Melissa:               Yeah me too.

Jessica:                 All right. Thanks Melissa.

Melissa:               Thank you.

Jessica:                 All right, so we have Wendy Adler here. Wendy, do you want to start by telling us what you do at Child’s Voice? Sure.

Wendy A.:           I’m the principal of the school program, so I run the program that is for the three to eight year olds.

Jessica:                 Awesome. And you recently went to Israel with some other members of Child’s Voice. Why don’t you tell us what you learned that, why don’t you tell us what you learned in Israel?

Wendy A.:           Sure. So one of the most fascinating things I learned in Israel is the fact that we have these two programs who are very similar, yet they’re are a world apart yet. And we have the same, we have the same challenge. We both face the same challenges and we both have the same successes. We both programs have produced children who are successful. They have strong language skills. Um, they’re able to go into their mainstream environments and then, but yet we have the same challenges, whether it’s working with schools, working with parents, uh, transportation, language barriers, we have the same challenges, which is just really fascinating.

Jessica:                 That is fascinating. Was that most surprising or was, was there anything else that was surprising about your trip there?

Wendy A.:           Um, I think the biggest surprise is that they even existed, living here in the states my whole life, you know, you hear about all of the options schools and all of the programs here in United States and maybe some in Canada and a couple in Europe. I didn’t even know they existed. So when I found out over the summer that Beit Micha even existed, and I had the opportunity to visit them this summer when I was in Israel. It was, it was amazing. And I think that was a thing I was most surprised about, that they were there and they’ve been there for a very long time. So that was really surprising to me.

Jessica:                 Yeah. And then to see that they’re so similar to us in so many ways must’ve been really interesting.

Wendy A.:           Exactly.

Jessica:                 So what are your takeaways or hopes? Let me start that over cause I think you were laughing. Um, So what are your takeaways or hopes for the future following that trip?

Wendy A.:           So the trip itself was amazing. We formed some really great collaborations and friendships and some bonds. They’re going to be coming out here in July and just continuing that collaboration, continuing to learn from each other, taking those next steps and, and you know, building upon what we’ve started in the summer is, is what I’m really most looking forward to.

Jessica:                 Thanks Wendy.

Wendy A.:           You’re welcome.

Tatum:                  So I have Dr. Michele with me here. Um, before we get started, Dr. Michelle, do you want to say what your role is here at Child’s Voice?

Dr. Michele:       Sure. Thanks Tatum. So I’m Dr. Michelle Wilkins, the executive director of Child’s Voice. I’ve been here actually for the past 20 years, so that’s pretty exciting. We will be celebrating our 23rd. Hmm. Maybe our coming 24th anniversary next February.

Tatum:                  And then we know that you’ve recently been in Israel back in January. What did you learn while you were on that trip at Beit Micha?

Dr. Michele:       Oh my gosh. The trip back in January, it seems like so long ago. But again, it seems like it was just yesterday. I think I mentioned in our first recording, what I found most interesting and probably most surprising is how small the world really is. And so what we do here at Child’s Voice is what they do there at Beit Micha. They just do with a lot more kids than what we do here. But the same concerns, the same values, the same parent wants and needs, the same professional development and growth amongst the staff. So similar yet so different and yet so far away.

Tatum:                  It sounds like it was a little bit surprising for you to learn how small the world is. Was there anything else?

Dr. Michele:        Just that like minds are kindred spirits and so you were able to travel this whole distance and come into a room meeting all these new people and you were like best friends instantly. Conversation was easy, it flowed. Cultures are very different yet again, this difference is kind of the same what we’re, what we’re looking at achieving and knowing the success children with hearing loss can have.

Tatum:                  Yeah, I definitely agree with how easy it was to talk to everyone and how we were all kind of just on the same page from day one. What are your hopes for the future of the collaboration?

Dr. Michele:       Yes, future collaboration. So our first step was Roi came out to do, he is the executive director, to do strategic planning with us, gosh, last August, September. Then we traveled in January and now next steps is their leadership team will join us here at Child’s Voice in July. So again, the collaboration continues. We’re really looking at research that’s been taking place in the United States and what can be shared and gleamed for them to take back to Israel with them. Also, what we’re looking at is data collection and the use of evidence-based curriculums, methods, techniques, strategies that can be shared across the water. So we’re looking at three days of onsite collaboration and putting our brains together for the greater, the greater good. We’re out, we’re out to change the world. And by George I know we can do it.

Tatum:                  Yeah. Um, yes. I’m very excited for this summer. I think it will be amazing. Thank you Dr. Michele.

Dr. Michele:       Very good, no very good.

Child’s Voice Students: BYE THANKS FOR LISTENING



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