Learning about listening

| September 21, 2010

As vuvuzelas and screams spurred Spain on to win the 2010 Soccer World Cup, a group of mixed hearing students – part of Hear the World’s Global Explorers – explored the Amazon jungle. Their mission was to debunk the myths around hearing loss. Says team leader Bill Barkeley – who lost most of his sight and hearing after contracting Usher syndrome – a further goal was to encourage the young travellers both to rediscover their voices and their ability to listen.
With the help of two cochlear implants, a variety of microphones and technical devices, including a night vision scope, Barkeley catches almost everything a person with perfect hearing can hear, and ‘sees’ a great deal. Wanting to extend these opportunities to his young charges, he brought with him a suitcase of remote listening devices.
So what does the jungle sound like? So many things, say the students. “It sounds like katydids telling each other where to look for food, the smoky jungle frog bellowing for a mate, mosquitoes hungry for blood, piranhas leaping out of the muddy brown Amazon and flopping into a dugout canoe, machetes striking a yucca root and a wayward parrot who screams, ‘Quiero Comer!!’ (‘I want to eat’) in the middle of the night.” Says another: “We’re quiet because we’re trying to listen. You don’t
want to miss it unless you have something really important to say.”

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Category: Spring 2010 Edition

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