Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ian Michael Smith on his cochlear implant

Carl Fink, who has a knack for finding and forwarding interesting stories about hearing, deafness and cochlear implants to me, sent me a link to this great interview Roger Ebert did with the remarkable Ian Michael Smith, a former actor (he starred in Simon Birch) and currently an MIT student, just after Smith's cochlear implant was activated. At 3'2" tall, Smith is a very impressive guy, and that's no joke.

What makes the interview all that much more interesting is that when it occurred, Birch could barely hear and Ebert couldn't speak (he had a post-surgical trachea tube inserted at the time of the interview); they IM'd (instant-messaged) each other on two laptops, essentially conducting a face to face interview electronically. Just another example of how technology is changing the lives of people with disabilities.

There is also an update to this interview; Ebert has posted a note from Smith's father about Smith's progress, which is apparently remarkable! I liked the comment about his father being unaware that Ian was listening to music on his iPod and simultaneously holding a conversation with him. Ian Michael Smith chose the same model CI that I did, and can plug his iPod directly into his implant, as I can; and you can hear music in your head that no-one else ever can, while also simultaneously hearing the world through your external mic. It's amazing.

So, for an actor who made his mark on film in a fictional feel-good story, here's to his genuine feel-good story in real life. He is overcoming some significant challenges to pursue his goals with a great attitude.

Thanks to Carl for pointing it out.




Blogger Brian Fies said...

I hail the arrival of my cyborg overlords. When the time comes, please remember my loyalty and consider me for a modest position in your coming conquest of the planet. For example, I could administer the Bahamas for you.

10:41 p.m.  
Blogger Carl said...

Um, you're welcome.

9:35 p.m.  
Blogger Brian Fies said...

More seriously (it would be hard to be less serious; my apologies), I came back to read that article and you're right, it's really remarkable. Ebert is one of a small number of writers I'll read regardless of his subject just because I like how he uses words, and this is a good interview. Thanks for it.

2:16 a.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Brian sez:
"... writers I'll read regardless of his subject just because I like how he uses words..."

Do you read Chris Clarke's blog? He used to be a regular on racs. He is one of the finest writers going, I think, and I read his stuff just because he writes it, no matter what the topic.

He's the only writer -- 'net or print -- for whom that's the case for me, by the way. Given my age and my academic background, modesty jettisoned, that should count for something.

4:06 a.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Aww, gee, Bri, I wish I'd read your first comment before I shut down for the long weekend. We had the Cyborg Overlord Cabal Meeting on Sunday afternoon, and I'm afraid that your name came up as just the sort of level-headed, smart guy who could tidy up what'll be left of Iraq...

Carl, you're welcome!

Sherwood, do you have any aversion to warm temperatures? Any allergies to tropical plants, animals or insect bites? And how difficult would it be for you to relocate?

9:45 a.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...


Y'all are sending me to tidy up South Carolina?

3:16 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

"Y'all are sending me to tidy up South Carolina?"

Well, no, we were going to have you administer the Bahamas for us. However, on second thought, if the southeastern US is on your mind, we put our heads together and decided to deploy you to take care of that nagging Katrina business.

Then we took 20 minutes to get our heads apart (all those magnets!).

10:44 a.m.  

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