The Cochlear Implant Support Group, started in Ottawa in 1998, was the brainchild of Christiane Seguin, the lead audiologist at the Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus. Christiane recognised the need for a support system for deaf people who had been implanted with a cochlear implant device, and who were learning to hear again with a new, and different, hearing system. She invited three implantees, including Elisabeth Lumsden to form a group and meet regularly. Today, Elisabeth remains at the core of the group's vision and activities.
Typically, the surgeon, Dr. Schramm, had performed the surgery, and an audiologist would continue programming the device on an individual basis and provide support to the patient. However, a forum for open communication between cochlear implant patients would give them the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from each other.
The Support Group would also be available to those who had not yet decided on a cochlear implant and needed more information and encouragement from those already implanted.
The Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus provides the Room and AV equipment and an Audiologist to monitor the equipment and deal with any technical questions that may arise, without charge. The meetings are held one Saturday a month, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm.
Over the years, the Group grew exponentially. Originally note-taking was in longhand, done by a volunteer. Fundraising eventually allowed us to hire a real time captioner for the monthly meetings, which now fulfills the dual purpose of enabling all present to participate in the meeting, since every word spoken is captured and printed instantly on a screen. This text is forwarded to a volunteer editor, who condenses it into a manageable form and sends it out to an email list of more than one hundred names, so that those who cannot attend the meetings are still included. This list is being added to all the time.
To offset the cost of real-time captioning at each two hour meeting, and since we hold meetings every month, (except for December and the summer months of June, July and August), we continue to fundraise.