Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Test To Better Understand Cause Of Childhood Deafness Within A Year

A new genetic test has been piloted by scientists at the University of Antwerp that will ultimately make it possible to rapidly screen all known deafness genes to give a far more accurate diagnosis of the cause of a hearing loss.

The new test will help parents of a deaf child understand the chances of future siblings also being born deaf. The findings, published today in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, show that by screening just 34 known deafness genes, an accurate diagnosis could be given in roughly half the cases.

The majority of childhood deafness is inherited and knowing the gene responsible can be incredibly important for parents who want to know the likelihood of subsequent children inheriting deafness. Knowing the cause of a child's deafness can also make it easier to predict how their hearing loss may change over time and help choose the most appropriate treatment or method of communication. More here.

Sound and Vision 2012

We are proud to present this captioned video of our hearing research community at San Diego's ARO meeting: Capita Foundation: Sound and Vision 2012.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Free student tickets to ASL Tour at the Museum of Photographic Arts!

The Capita Foundation is sponsoring 25 tickets for students interested in attending the American Sign Language (ASL) Tour this Saturday, January 26 from noon-1PM at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

The following galleries will be showcased during the ASL Tour:

Ruud van Empel: Strange Beauty

Photo|Synthesis: 7th Annual Youth Exhibition.

Soapbox! The Audience Speaks

Please contact us at if you are interested in attending.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Article: Alzheimer's Drug Dials Back Deafness In Mice

By Jon Hamilton
Published January 9, 2013 NPR

If you've spent years CRANKING YOUR MUSIC UP TO 11, this item's for you.

A drug developed for Alzheimer's disease can partially reverse hearing loss caused by exposure to extremely loud sounds, an international team reports in the journal Neuron.

Before you go back to rocking the house with your Van Halen collection, though, consider that the drug has only been tried in mice so far. And it has never been approved for human use.

Loud noises cause hearing loss by injuring or killing hair cells, cells in the inner ear that transform sounds into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. Read more here. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Indomitable Spirit of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Siegel

At the heart of the Kennedy Center’s efforts to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities is Betty Siegel, nationally recognized leader for accessibility to the arts. Betty Siegel’s three-person staff has a broad variety of responsibilities as part of the education program.

The Kennedy Center keeps its policy simple and to the point. “The Kennedy Center welcomes persons with disabilities.” Betty thinks it needs no further explanation.” That says it all!” she states emphatically. It also gives her the ability to widen the scope of her office in creative and practical ways that achieve this objective.

"Patron needs, including the facility's accessibility, are a large part of our focus," says Siegel. "For instance, five of my eight volunteers do nothing else but work on Braille and large print programs, which is one of our most utilized service."

"But we are also concerned with representing the disability population onstage, sharing our knowledge and experience with other arts organizations, and offering internships in the arts to students with disabilities." To this end, the Kennedy Center has just begun a unique program of arts management internships for persons with developmental and/or cognitive disabilities. The three-year-old program, called Experimental Education Initiative, accepts three students per quarter who serve as interns in various areas of the Kennedy Center. Students gain exposure in many areas of arts administration, the finance office, the National Symphony library, and the Youth and Family Performance Office, among others.

The Center often partners with local and national community organizations who are focusing on the artistic ability of members. For instance, the Center has strong ties with the deaf community and during Deaf Way II last summer showcased the talents of deaf actors and artists.

The Kennedy Center’s Accessibility Office has become one of the nation’s primary resources for cultural institutions in the area of disabilities. They are able to provide solutions for technology challenges in theaters, direction for incorporating individuals with hearing loss and other disabilities in the arts, and understanding of the legislation that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities who attend public cultural institutions.

Scott J. Bally’s article, The Indomitable Spirit of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Siegel, was featured in the November/December 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. More here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

TED Talk: Charles Limb Building the Musical Muscle

Listen to Charles Limb's TED talk, posted in December of 2011, on "Building the Musical Muscle." Charles Limb is a doctor and a musician who researches the way musical creativity works in the brain.

He's a hearing specialist and surgeon at Johns Hopkins who performs cochlear implantations on patients who have lost their hearing. And he plays sax, piano and bass.

In search of a better understanding of how the mind perceives complex auditory stimuli such as music, he's been working with Allen Braun to look at the brains of improvising musicians and study what parts of the brain are involved in the kind of deep creativity that happens when a musician is really in the groove.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Just announced! 2012 Capita Grant Recipients

Congratulations to Capita Foundation 2012-2013 Grant Recipients!

Allison Coffin, Ph.D.
Washington State University, Vancouver
Project:  “The effects of estrogen on hair cell survival and efficient hearing:  A next - generation
mRNA - sequencing approach”

Claus-Peter Richter, M.D., Ph.D.
Northwestern University
Project:  Non-auditory cortical centers help speech processing”

Fuxin Shi, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School
Project:  A Molecular Signaling Approach To Treatment of Deafness in Infants”

Joe C. Adams, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School
Project:  Inner Ear Lymphatics and Cochlear Inflammatory Responses”

Ruth Van Nispen, Ph.D.
VU University Medical Center Amsterdam
Project:  Evaluating cost-effectiveness of a Dual-Sensory Loss treatment protocol in vision and hearing impaired older adults”

Sabrina Yum, Ph.D.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and The University of Pennsylvania
Project:  Defining the role of ER stress associated with deafness GJB2/Cx26 mutations”

Valeriy Shafiro, Ph.D.
Rush University Medical Center
Project:  Environmental sound and speech perception in relation to language development in children with cochlear implants”

Andrew Sabin, PhD
Ear Machine
Project:  Hearing Aid Genome Project”

Article: Deaf Officers Step in Where Police Work Counts on Eyes More Than Ears

By Randal C. Archibold
Published in the New York Times on December 18, 2012

Deaf officers keep watch of crime in Oaxaca.
OAXACA, Mexico — When the police officer spotted the man acting suspiciously, pacing erratically with an odd look on his face, he immediately called for backup. That is, he spun around in his chair at the police command center here and rapidly motioned to a colleague in sign language.

The officer, Gerardo, 32, is part of a cadre of 20 deaf officers formed several months ago to help keep an eye on this tourist hub. The suspicious man that he spotted on a security camera turned out to be a prime suspect in a murder. Officials here concede that getting units quickly to the scene is only part of the struggle. Crime victims often decide not to file complaints, lacking faith in the justice system.

Though Oaxaca is not known for high crime, tourists can be targets for purse-snatchers and pickpockets, and the more working-class neighborhoods have their share of drug dealing, auto thefts, fights and violent crime.

The state refurbished its police command center this year, but found it needed extra help monitoring the 230 cameras, a time-consuming, monotonous task. There was another problem: because the images lack sound, officers had trouble determining what people were saying.

He said their heightened visual attention had enabled the deaf officers to see trouble developing on the screens faster than other officers who can hear and speak but are frequently distracted by the buzzing of phones, police scanners and chatter in the command center.

Mr. Villalobos said the deaf officers — “our silent angels,” he called them — had helped solve or assisted in several cases, though he declined to provide specific data, pending a future evaluation of the program. He called the murder case, from last summer, the biggest success. Read full article here.