Michelle Tjelmeland of Springfield, Illinois is profoundly deaf, but you’d never know it by looking at the 32-year-old Web designer and mother of two daughters. With the exception of a headset-like device behind her left ear, Tjelmeland exhibits no signs of her disability. The device, which transmits to an actual computer chip in her brain called a cochlear implant, miraculously restored her hearing. If you ask her about the device, she’ll proudly pull it off and tell you all about cochlear implants – in fact, she wants to tell the whole world.
To create awareness about this life-changing technology, Tjelmeland wears a vibrant green, black and white wristband with the phrase “From Silence to Sound” on it. Produced by the Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation, a non-profit foundation that Tjelmeland started in 2005, these CIAF awareness wristbands serve as a reminder that hearing is a gift. Thanks to the miracle of cochlear implants, more children and adults are experiencing life in a new way. CIAF strives to create awareness about the use of cochlear implants as an aid in hearing loss; raise grant money for families affected by hearing loss; and eventually lobby the legislature to change laws regarding insurance coverage for cochlear implants.
The awareness bracelets were inspired by Tjelmeland’s daughter, Ellie, who was born profoundly deaf and who also received a cochlear implant as a toddler. Among Ellie’s prized possessions are her 63 colorful wristbands, which she wears all the way up to her 7-year-old elbows.
Case sponsorships will allow CIAF to distribute wristbands to medical centers around the country to cochlear implant patients and their families
Additional wristbands are being sold to the public in sets of 10, 100 or 1,000 at a cost of $3 per wristband. The wristbands are available in children and adult sizes. All proceeds from wristband sales will support awareness activities and family grants.
To order CIAF wristbands, or to learn more about CIAF, visit http://www.ciafonline.org.