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First Deaf Miss America to Share Her Experience with Cochlear Implantation at 2004 AG Bell Conference

DENVER - June 2004 - Heather Whitestone McCallum, the first deaf woman to be crowned Miss America and recent Cochlear Nucleus 24 Contour' recipient, will share her experience with cochlear implantation at the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 2004 Convention in Anaheim, CA, June 25-29, 2004. The biennial international conference, which attracts more than 1,500 people, is the worlds largest gathering of adults who are deaf or hard of hearing, educators, parents and professionals. Ms. McCallum will speak at an evening reception, hosted by Cochlear' Americas, on June 27th, and will be available during the day at the Cochlear Americas booth for both photographs and autographs.

Heather's Story

At 18 months of age, Heather was rushed to the hospital with a dangerously high fever from the Haemophilus influenza virus. She was only hours from death when the doctors administered powerful antibiotics. But several months later, Heather tested profoundly deaf in both ears. The doctors concluded that this was a result of the virus, the antibiotics or both.

Heather had been inspired by her family to work hard and never stop trying. Without an interpreter, she attended public school until she was 12 years old, and then enrolled in the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis. In 1991, she graduated from public high school and went on to attend Jacksonville State University.

Heather received her cochlear implant two years ago because she wanted to hear her family's voices, make further strides in achieving her goals and experience the hearing world. With the implant, Heather has been raising awareness of the opportunities available for improving speech and language among individuals with hearing loss.

Since she was crowned Miss America, Heather has been traveling across the country giving motivational speeches to corporations, schools and government agencies about overcoming challenges to achieve your dreams. She served as a former executive board member on the Presidents Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, and the National Institutes of Healths National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Advisory Council. She also spearheaded the nations largest multimedia public service campaign to identify early hearing loss, and was a spokesperson for the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education. In addition, Heather has authored three books, Listening With My Heart, Believing The Promise and Let God Surprise You.

About Cochlear Americas

For more than 20 years, Cochlear' Americas has been focused on bringing the miracle of sound to those individuals who live in silence. To date, more than 50,000 profoundly deaf individuals have benefited from Cochlear's Nucleus line of cochlear implants. The Company's promise of Hear now. And always. exemplifies its commitment to advancing hearing technology and customer support, which has resulted in numerous awards including the 2001 Medical Design Excellence Award for its design of the Nucleus 24 Contour cochlear implant and the FDA Commissioner's Special Citation for the development and commercialization of the Nucleus 24 Multichannel Auditory Brainstem implant. 

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