Author Archives: Valerie Stafford-Mallis

Do you recognize these proud graduates?

Graduation Day images

Congratulations to all who are walking in their institution’s graduation ceremonies this season!  Those pictures will become some of your most cherished possessions as the years roll by.

Recently, we took a walk down Memory Lane, thinking back to our graduation days.  Do you recognize these proud ACS Team members?

Carmin & Jarod Cap & Gown


VSM HS Graduation







Do you recognize the ACS Team members in these pictures?


prom 2

TJ photo 3

Team ACS is in the midst of providing communication access for persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing at commencement exercises all over the country.  Graduation Day is a significant milestone for all of us and we are proud of the role ACS plays in making these milestones accessible to graduates, family members, and friends.  It really is about equal access and ACS salutes the school districts, colleges, and universities it serves.

How Do We Re-brand Hearing Loss?

Whisper In Ear

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.    We all have a friend or family member with hearing loss whom we think would benefit from being able to hear better than they currently hear.  Perhaps they have hearing aid(s) and refuse to wear them.  Perhaps they need to have their hearing tested but won’t go.  Perhaps they will not even enter into a conversation about it.  Why is that?  Why are people SO reluctant to avail themselves of better hearing and better communication?


Well, there a million reasons, but, think about it…do we usually broach the subject as a conversation about availing oneself of better hearing and better communication?  Do we talk about better hearing and communication as a pathway to living where and how one chooses, aging healthfully, and maintaining an independent lifestyle?  No!  We talk about needing to “do something about your hearing loss”!  Or “get hearing aids”!  Or “turn down the (bleeping) TV”!  Ugh!  And there lies the first of many barriers to better hearing and better communication that get thrown in the person’s way.  Who the heck wants to think about THAT, for crying out loud?  It is no wonder people deny or obfuscate or rationalize or otherwise run screaming in the opposite direction.


The April issue of The Hearing Review (Volume 21, No. 4, April 2014) has some wonderful reading on how to re-brand hearing loss and why we need to.  Instead of focusing on what’s been lost, or what is wrong, the focus could be on how products and services that promote better hearing and better communication (or what audiologists Douglas Beck and Curtis Alcock refer to in this edition of Hearing Review on page 16 as “achieving maximal hearing and listening”) are a pathway for people to live where they choose, age healthily, and maintain independent lifestyles.  Living independently and vibrantly is so much more attractive than doing something about a hearing loss, don’t you think?


Check out this great issue for more information on re-branding hearing loss by ascribing positive images and empowering people to achieve desired outcomes!  Click here for access to the digital edition of April 2014 Hearing Review on the website


EHDI Annual Meeting Jacksonville FL April 12-15, 2014

ehdilogo    Now in its 13th year, the EHDI Annual Meeting has built a strong reputation for bringing together a wide group of stakeholders and this year was no exception.  The goal of the annual EHDI Meeting is to enhance the implementation of state-based Early Hearing Detection Intervention programs.

# Children Failing hearing Screening Stat

Team ACS (Phil Hyssong, Mike Cano, TJ DiGrazia) was honored to assist by coordinating the speech-to-text and sign language interpreting services for this very important conference. ACS thanks EHDI for trusting its communication access needs to us.


In addition, I was honored to have had my poster on speech-to-text service advocacy selected for presentation.  I presented information that would help parents and teachers get speech-to-text services added to a student’s IEP when appropriate.  Please email me if you would like a copy of my handouts. My email address is

EHDI Poster Session

We worked hard and played hard, too.

Heavy Load Hoisted

Jacksonville is a beautiful city with an exciting nightlife: great restaurants, vibrant downtown, scenic vistas.


Hats of to all the fine folks at EHDI for the good work they do!  Make your plans to attend next year’s EHDI Annual Meeting March 8-10 in Louisville, KY!


ACS Attends NHCA Meeting In Las Vegas – Stop Gambling With Your Hearing


Do you know about the National Hearing Conservation Association?  The NHCA is passionate about hearing preservation.  It is composed of audiologists, physicians, industrial hygienists, safety specialists, engineers, occupational health nurses, equipment manufacturers, hearing conservationists, and students.  All are united in their mission to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.  This is a wonderful group to join for access to resources, publications, tools, and professional development that will improve skills, practices and services as they relate to hearing conservation.

Visiting Caption Call Exhibit

I just returned from presenting a workshop at the National Hearing Conservation Association 2014 Annual Conference.  My session was titled “Empowering Your Clients Who Already Have Hearing Loss – Helping Them Make the Most of Their Residual Hearing”.  In my workshop we discussed methods that help people with hearing loss thrive in the workplace.  We took a look at rights and responsibilities as they relate to hearing loss in the workplace.  We also talked about assistive listening devices and alternative communication technology such as real-time captioning and video remote interpreting.  We had a very interested and interactive group of folks.  If you would like a copy of my PowerPoint, please email me at

Friends Nancy and Theresa

It was a great conference!  There were a lot of very informative workshops and a lot of fun social activities.  Some highlights for me were seeing a friend from last year’s NHCA Conference, Industrial Hygienist Nancy Hall from Northrup Grummond, get recognized for her efforts in hearing conservation.  Nancy was one of three people awarded the prestigious Safe-in-Sound Award. Under her leadership, Northrup Grummond enrolled record numbers of employees in its Hearing Conservation Program, and realized significant gains in the appropriate selection and proper fit of employee hearing protection.  This will pay big dividends down the road in hearing conservation.

Casino Night NHCA 2014

A standard feature of each year’s conference is a full-day of Hearing Loss Prevention Basic Principles. It contains everything you would ever want to know about noise-induced hearing loss.  I attended the session last year and found it to be very interesting and informative. Next year’s conference will be in New Orleans February 19021, 2015.  For more information, please check out

Joint Defense Veterans Audiology Conference

According to a presentation I just attended at JDVAC Joint Defense Veterans Audiology Conference in Las Vegas, approximately 60% of returning veterans have tinnitus and/or hearing loss. Source: Kathy E. Gates, Au.D., COL (Ret.) USA and  Col. Mark Packer, MD. Comprehensive Hearing Health Program (CHHP),  Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence.  Fortunately, all branches of the armed forces are committed to doing something to change this statistic through assessment, education, and support.  This was but one amazing seminar on today’s program!

Bay Pines Preso Screen Shot

Fun abounds, too, from ice cream socials in the exhibit hall to the Concha Bowl, a type of Trivial Pursuit for hearing health professionals.  I do not mean to brag but my team, Shift Happens in Las Vegas, won first place!  How did we do that?  I’ll never tell.  What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Cochlear Americas Exhibit JDVAC

JDVAC began as a collaborative effort between the Military Audiology Association (MAA) and the Association of VA Audiologists (AVAA).  Now in its sixth year, the conference has grown in both size stature.  In addition to top drawer presentations I will find very useful in making the spoken word accessible to veterans and active duty persons with hearing loss, cutting-edge technology was on display from the following exhibitors:

  1. Siemens Hearing Instruments
  2. Interacoustics
  3. Natus Medical
  4. MAICO Diagnostics
  5. Honeywell Safety Products
  6. Silynx Communications, Inc.
  7. MED-EL Corporation
  8. Bernafon, LLC
  9. AudSoft, Inc.
  10. Phonak, LLC
  11. Grason-Stadler
  12. Ototronix
  13. Sonitus Medical, Inc.
  14. Oticon Medical
  15. Oticon, Inc.
  16. VARTA Microbattery, Inc.
  17. ReSound
  18. Iron Bow Technologies
  19. GN Otometrics/Audiology Systems, Inc.
  20. GN Otometrics/Audiology Systems, Inc.
  21. Heroes with Hearing Loss (Hamilton Captel)
  22. Ear Technology Corporation
  23. Starkey Hearing Technologies
  24. NCRAR
  25. CaptionCall
  26. Moldex-Metric, Inc.
  27. Neuromonics
  28. Unitron, Inc
  29. Vivonsonic, Inc.
  30. Cochlear Americas
  31. Oaktree Products, Inc.
  32. Benson Medical Instruments
  33. Sound Pillow
  34. 3M Peltor

Make your plans to attend this exciting conference next year in Orlando FL March 2-5, 2015.

Music Appreciation for Persons With Hearing Loss

Did you know March is Music in Our Schools Month? I would like to celebrate the music in our lives, even for those of us who have hearing loss.

Music is a wonderful adjuvant to the traditional three “Three R’s” and its benefits are often overlooked in these days of high-stakes testing and heavy emphasis being placed on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  Here’s to finding a place for music in the curriculum and for keeping it there!

Persons who are deaf and hard of hearing have their relationship with music altered dramatically. They may experience everything from a mild muting of the sharps and flats they once enjoyed so much to only being able to perceive music by feeling the vibrations it produces in the air and on the musical instruments themselves.  And everything in between.

For those of you who are interested, I would like to share a couple of resources I have found to be helpful, in honor of March being Music in Our Schools Month.  I am a late-deafened adult who uses bi-lateral cochlear implants.  I have definitely had to change my musical expectations to fit what my cochlear implants are capable of giving me, and the change has not always been seamless. Smile.

I gained much very no-nonsense, tough-love information and encouragement from an article audiologist Brad Ingrao, Au.D. wrote that appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. The magazine is published by the Hearing Loss Association of America. The article is available now for free download. Please copy the following URL into your web browser and it should take you to the article

I have found listening and watching musical videos, with captions, of popular songs I remember enjoying before my hearing loss became profound to be very enjoyable.  The visual image coupled with my pitch memory sometimes fools my brain into believing my auditory nerve is recognizing pitch again.  I have been led to believe this is actually a pretty good way of training my brain to recognize the pitches my cochlear implants can reproduce.  The captions are an important part of the wakeup call for me, since I am used to reading sheet music.

The Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss is a diverse group made up of people with all degrees of hearing loss of such significance that it now impacts on how they perform (or no longer perform) music.  They offer educational webinars, meet-ups, and concerts.  I attended an AAMHL webinar this past fall and it was excellent. Please copy the following URL into your web browser and it should take you to the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss website

So, check out these resources and see if they bring you an enhanced listening experience.  And have fun as you celebrate March being Music in Our Schools Month!


National Court Reporting and Captioning Week is February 16-22, 2014

SDS Opening Lisa Johnston 6-26-13

Caption writers do wonderful work to help better the lives for millions of Americans who are deaf and hard-of-hearing by providing captioning in real-time for live sporting and theater events, church services, movie houses, and many other venues.

Did you know:

  • Capturing the record of important proceedings dates back to the fourth century B.C.
  • The ampersand (&) is one of the earliest forms of shorthand.
  • There are official court reporters that are employees of the court, freelance court reporters, broadcast caption writers, and CART caption writers — Communications Access Realtime Translation – (often employed in classroom settings to assist students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing).
  • In an emergency situation, broadcast caption writers can provide vital information to 48 million Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Court reporters and caption writers use cutting edge technology to bring the spoken word accurately to text in real time.
  • The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics considers court reporting a career that will have an increasingly high demand for jobs well into the future and estimates a growth rate of 14 percent between now and 2020.
  • Annual salaries of court reporters and caption writers can reach upwards of $80,000.
  • Court reporting and captioning does not require a traditional four-year degree, so students of this career choice are often out in the workforce quicker than their collegiate counterparts.

For a free demonstration of how caption writers can make your organization’s meetings, conference calls, training classes, and web-based meetings accessible to persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, please send an email message to

For more information, please visit the National Court Reporters’ Association website, and for more information.

Why Derrick Coleman Inspires Me

Derrick Coleman Photo - Life Is On

Is there a person in the United States who has not heard the amazing story of Derrick Coleman?

I am not a sports fan, I don’t watch a lot of television, and I am not plugged in to YouTube or Twitter very much.  But, when a friend sent me a YouTube link to the amazing Duracell commercial, it stopped me in my tracks.

Before the Duracell commercial went viral, very few people knew Coleman was deaf.  His coach and team mates made no special accommodations for his hearing loss as he went about his business of being the very best Special Teams player he knew how to be.  His integrity, determination, and will to win impressed his Seattle Seahawks coaches during the 13 games he played at Seattle prior to the Super Bowl.  Coach Pete Carroll put the second-season player in the Big Game.  Coleman made the first tackle of the Super Bowl during the game’s opening kickoff.  and the rest, as they say, is history.

What is so intriguing to me is how Coleman’s world has become large enough to impact others and to make their world a better place.  It is not all about Derrick Coleman.  It is about using celebrity for the greater good.   “Any opportunity I get, I always cherish it,” the 6-foot, 233-pound Coleman recently told the New York News.  “You only get so many opportunities in a lifetime.  This is one of them that I definitely don’t want to squander, I definitely don’t want to pass up.”

Colman and the Starkey Foundation teamed up to hand out hearing aids to 100 New Yorkers at Yankee Stadium the day before the Super Bowl.  New Yorkers with hearing loss came from all over the city and were fitted by hearing healthcare professionals at the stadium!    Coleman even got some new hearing devices for himself!  Coleman reached out to the family of a young girl who wrote a letter to him after seeing the Duracell Commercial.  The young girl and her identical twin both had hearing loss.  Not only did they get to meet their hero on Good Morning America, but their hero presented them with Super Bowl tickets for them and their entire family!

I am inspired by this.  Coleman’s hard work and perseverance has paid off handsomely for him.  And yet, he has not forgotten where he came from and what he went through to get there.  As a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community, I am thrilled and proud, and oh-so-happy for what Coleman is doing with his newly-found celebrity.  He is showing the world that persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing can do everything except hear.  His rising tide is lifting all of our boats.  Thank you, Derrick Coleman!

ACS Business Develoment Manager Writes Article for Employers

 Hiring Employees with Hearing Loss – What’s in it for Employers?
By Valerie Stafford-Mallis

I was honored to recently have an article I wrote published in the January 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. Hearing Loss Magazine is published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America.  Hearing Loss Magazine is available online in digital format. Current issues are available to HLAA Members as a membership benefit.  For more information, go to


My article, Hiring Employees With Hearing Loss – What’s In It For Employers? discusses some really good reasons why an employer should consider hiring someone with a hearing loss. It dispels some of the common myths that prevent employers from being more open to hiring persons with hearing loss, and provides resources to create the win-win situation everybody wants.  I have been in the workforce for 30+ years, all of them while dealing with hearing loss.  I have learned first-hand what works and what does not work.

There is a wealth of low-tech and high-tech hearing assistive devices and services out there today that make workplace access an exciting reality.  For instance, did you know that captions can be inserted into a webcast so that a person who is deaf or hard of hearing can follow every word in real-time?  Or, did you know that conference calls can be captioned remotely, simply by having a caption writer listen in on the call and convert the speech into text? At Alternative Communication Services, we routinely do these miraculous things every day.

For more information about hiring and supporting employees with hearing loss in your place of business, you can email me at


Communication Strategies for Surviving the Workplace or Job Market

Finding a job and keeping a job is tough for anyone in today’s dog-eat-dog workplace, But, it can be especially for the worker or job seeker with hearing loss.  I conducted a webinar last week (January 15th, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM Eastern Time) for the Hearing Loss Association of America that provided information on:

1. Low tech and high tech options that support effective communication in the workplace and job market

2. Individual communication needs and strategies that will improve on-the-job communication

3. An individual’s rights and responsibilities as they relate to getting what they need in the workplace.

4.  Ways to effectively self-advocate

5. Web-based and community-based resources to support the worker or job seeker with hearing loss.

This webinar is accessible to all members of the Hearing Loss Association of America through its On-line Webinar Portal.  To join the Hearing Loss Association of America, please copy this URL into your web browser:

Please feel free to reach out to me for more information, as well: