I Miss Closed Captioning!

October 8, 2019.  One of the challenges faced by those of us with hearing loss is understanding what we are hearing.  This can be difficult when watching TV or a movie.  Although we tend to gripe about the sometimes poor quality of the closed captioning available on TV programs, it is a service that someone like me increasingly relies on.  This was brought home to me recently while in The Netherlands.  Very few programs have closed captioning, and if they do, they are Dutch translation subtitles of foreign language programming. The Netherlands broadcasts programs in the original language, but will provide Dutch subtitles.  So it is surprising that programming in Dutch is not commonly captioned.

In Germany, by contrast, most programs have closed captioning (in German, of course), but the bonus was that programs on BBC had closed captioning in the original language, in this case English.  While we were in Germany I could watch TV in comfort.  In The Netherlands, all I could do is look at the pictures, in spite of the large number of English language programming available.

I thought of this recently as I compared it to our current project of providing videos on topics of interest to those of hearing loss.  Each video, posted on our own YouTube Channel, is fully captioned.  We are in The Netherlands for a commemoration event and when we made a short video explaining how this event came to be, we made sure that even this video, unrelated to hearing loss, was captioned, with the help of the amazing Wendy Nattress, who kindly provided the post-production editing and captioning.  Take a look:

 

On September 24, 2019, Angela Walker of CBC PEI news ran a very short news clip about our YouTube project, and was kind enough to provide the script from this interview:

Hear PEI is launching a series of You Tube videos in an effort to reach more people. The group advocates for and supports people who have hearing loss. Public education is a large part of its mandate. Daria Valkenburg is the vice-president and secretary.

The grant is for $900. The videos cover topics ranging from the benefits of using car loops and pocket talkers .. to some of the challenges that people with hearing loss face and how those challenges can be met. So far five…. five minute videos have been locally produced…with two of them already released. The hosts and guests in the videos are all seniors. Valkenburg says response has already been positive and if funding allows…they hope to produce more videos in future.”

Quoting me: “The challenge we had is that when we watch something on TV or in the movies we don’t always understand what we are hearing. So one of the reasons that we asked for a grant from the Senior Secretariat of PEI was not only that we could make these YouTube videos but that we could make each video have closed captioning.”

Since the interview ran, a third Hear PEI YouTube video has been posted.  For more information on the videos, see these previous postings: ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’ We Are Your Bridge To Hear and Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

One benefit of not watching TV is finding time to write during a busy vacation!  But I miss watching TV and the closed captioning that allows me to understand what I am hearing!  Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Angela Walker. As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.  

 

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‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’

October 2, 2019.  Thanks to a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”, and the brilliant assistance of our post-production editor Wendy Nattress, we have been able to make fully captioned short videos on topics of interest and value to those with hearing loss.  Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” with guest Graham Hocking of England has already had an effect beyond the island. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

The video also stimulated interest in hearing loops, as noted by Brenda Graves, who sent the following feedback: “Very informative. Too bad banks don’t have loops available for ‘in branch meetings’ or ‘transactions’.”  Perhaps as more people learn about the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop, they will ask more businesses and services for that accommodation.

Our second video, “We Are Your Bridge To Hear” (See We Are Your Bridge To Hear) gave a brief introduction to some of the issues related to hearing loss.

IMG_20190930_083547 Wendy at work on video

Post-production editor Wendy Nattress hard at work with our raw video footage. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

Our third video, “A Pocket Talker Changed My Life” features a dynamic and articulate 95 year old Ruth Brewer was interviewed about her experiences with a pocket talker.  A meeting with Ruth had been the subject of an earlier blog posting.  (See “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

This third video has had a lot of feedback already, which we had expected given the popularity of pocket talkers on the island….

Comment from Brenda Porter: “Excellent video. Very well done. Congrats!

Comment from Nancy MacPhee:  “Great video! Well done, ladies.

Comment from Jane Scott: “I loved it.  Ruth is a gem and what a heart-warming story.

Comment from Ted at ALDS: “WOW actually a double WOW WOW – that is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.  This is a wonderful video. Can I please share this with my rep at Williams Sound, Mike would be thrilled to see this video.  Fantastic!

Teds comment with frame

Screenshot above shows Ted’s additional comment on YouTube: “What a fantastic video and demonstration.  Thank you for sharing.

It was a leap of faith to try doing YouTube videos, but the feedback has been so encouraging we are planning another one!  Please keep the comments coming!  Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Ruth Brewer. As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com,  comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.  

 

We Are Your Bridge To Hear

September 25, 2019.  In the previous blog posting, I explained that a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI” gave us some seed money to make fully captioned short videos on topics of interest and value to Islanders, and non-Islanders, with hearing loss.  Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” with guest Graham Hocking of England has already had an effect beyond the island. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

CIMG3077 Aug 23 2019 Daria & Annie Lee at Pedros in Rustico

Daria (left) and Annie Lee (right) in a planning session for the YouTube video project.

People with hearing loss face many challenges, and have to learn many coping techniques to live and thrive. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in Canada, and more information needs to be made available to the general public, as well as to those who are affected.  With the wonderful assistance of our post-production editor Wendy Nattress, we now also have available on YouTube a new video, ‘We Are Your Bridge To Hear”, about our organization and a brief introduction to the hearing loss world.

 

Presentation1

Screenshot above shows a comment from Ted of ALDS on YouTube: “Fantastic video ladies! Most excellent… Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing.

After seeing the video, Brenda Graves commented that: “In my own experience, sometimes a friend says something humorous or ‘profound’. I don’t hear them so I ask them to repeat it. They think I am stupid or slow because I ‘didn’t get it’, when in fact I didn’t HEAR it.  A former US president Ronald Reagan (politics aside) was thought to be an unintelligent man because he didn’t ‘understand’ things said to him.  Like me, he was hard of hearing (more so than me actually).  And if a US president can be considered slow or stupid because of a hearing loss, what does that say for us ‘regular’ people? I wish your organization much success in its efforts to educate the ‘hearing’ public about the situations of those who are hard of hearing.

Thank you to Wendy Nattress for her excellent work in making the video so presentable, and to both Brenda Graves and Ted for their comments.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.  

 

 

Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI

September 20, 2019.  As a non-profit organization run by volunteers, we depend on grants and donations to help provide outreach and educational activities that build awareness of issues related to hearing health and hearing loss.  To extend our outreach capability, we were delighted to be awarded a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”.

Funding for this project is giving us the opportunity to make short videos on topics of interest and value to people with hearing loss, here on Prince Edward Island, and, as we are quickly discovering, outside the province.  Each video is fully captioned.

CIMG3054 Aug 1 2019 Signing of Senior Secretariat contract for you tube videos

Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald with Mary Driscoll Seniors Policy Advisor Department of Social Development and Housing (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” was filmed with guest Graham Hocking of England, who demonstrated how he could easily listen to his car radio or passengers through a hearing loop.

Photo of Wendy Nattress by Graeme Nattress

Wendy Nattress. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

We are very lucky in our post-production editor, Wendy Nattress, who volunteered to edit our footage and set us up with a You Tube account.  Wendy and her husband Graeme are the parents of four children.  One child, Eric, is a Deaf child with moderate/severe hearing loss.  Wendy explained that “using a big ‘D’ for the word Deaf is a cultural identifier that does not view hearing loss as a disability, but rather as a cultural gain.”  Because of this hearing loss connection, and the nature of our project, Wendy was interested in donating her time and knowledge in video production.

You can watch the video here:

After seeing the video, Graham, who is a trustee with the British organization Deaf Aspirations, explained that the organization would like to post the video link on their website. (See  Deafaspirations.org for more information.)  Ken Carter, Company Director, wrote that “I thought the video created in PEI was really interesting and forward thinking.

Graham’s reaction?  “Jacqueline and I were very impressed with your 1st video production. Very clear with the explanation and we do realize a lot of work and efforts went into it, even capturing cow mooing in the background. Well done.

We are very encouraged and delighted to be making a difference already with this new venture!

The Seniors Secretariat of PEI was formed in 1998 as an entry point for seniors to collaborate with government on matters relating to seniors, their issues and concerns; to act as a resource and information centre and to advise government on the development of public policy. Members come from the general public as well as various non-profit organizations that represent seniors.

Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Graham Hocking.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​: Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. ​Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.” Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

Post Dorian….More Tips To Think Of For Future Preparations

September 15, 2019. Last month a blog posting on preparing for an emergency when you have hearing loss seemed timely, given the experience we recently had on Prince Edward Island with post-tropical storm Dorian. (See Are You Prepared For An Emergency?)

What was your experience?  Did you make use of any of the tips?  At our home the storm gave us a wild ride!  We were lucky that the only damage we had was tree and branch damage.

20190907-sep-7-2019-maple-tree-in-backyard-came-down-around-630-pm.jpg

An enormous maple tree simply pulled out of the ground and toppled over! (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Having been through an earthquake, numerous power failures, civil unrest, and several years as an education officer in an emergency management college, I considered us well prepared….and we were. However, the storm brought out a few additional tips to consider in preparing for future emergencies after we were left with no phone, no electricity, and no internet!

We had no phone, no electricity, and no internet!

We listened to the radio (battery-powered, of course) and it was disheartening at the number of references by earnest radio hosts, urging people to ‘go to this web page to find out what’s open or closed in your area, or where to go to an emergency shelter’.  It was almost the only default response, even though people were phoning in on cell phones asking questions because…. they had no internet or electricity!  Very difficult to look something up on the internet when you don’t have it! So, here are a few more tips:

Internet service may not be accessible!

Don’t depend only on the internet for information. If the power and/or internet are out, you need alternate ways to get information.  If you have phone service, you can try calling a radio station for information.  Alternatively, call someone outside of the affected area and ask if they can look up the information you need on the internet and then call you back.  Include the phone numbers of the radio station and someone who lives in a different area than you in your emergency plan, so you have them handy.  One friend told me she never bothered getting a battery-powered radio as she assumed she could access the internet to get all the information she needed.  She explained how unnerving it was to not know what was going on after her cell phone connection was lost.  In the commotion, she had forgotten that there was a radio in her car.

Arrange for someone to check that you are OK.

Pre-arrange to have someone to check up on you. This seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  If you have an extended family in the area who can visit to make sure you are OK, then perhaps it is.  Many of us don’t, and either have no family in the nearby area or no family members.  If something happens, who is going to see if you are all right?  In your emergency plan preparations, pre-arrange for a friend or family member to contact you in the event of an emergency or disaster, and ensure that person knows who to call in case you don’t answer.  Most likely, this could be a neighbour who might not mind taking a look if asked.  If your friend or family member lives in the same area as you, and might be in the same emergency or disaster situation as you, consider asking a second friend or family member to also contact you.  After our internet service was working again, we found emails from numerous friends that we didn’t even realize were aware of the storm hitting the Island, asking if we were all right.

You will be tired and under stress!

Recognize that you will be stressed and tired. We were lucky not to have major damage or injuries, so we were surprised at how tired we felt after the storm was over and we had made the necessary arrangements for the yard cleanup and removal of the downed trees.  We all are aware that when we are stressed and tired we can’t concentrate as well as we normally can. A diminished level of concentration means we don’t comprehend what we are hearing as well as we do normally.  Take time to rest and recognize that your concentration levels will recover once you are no longer stressed or tired.

Can you add to the tips in the previous posting and this one? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog.  You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker​s​: Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. ​Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.” Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

Why Don’t Islanders With CIs Have An Audiologist With The CI Program Come To The Island?

September 10, 2019. At present, Islanders with cochlear implants (CIs) travel to Halifax for appointments with a Clinical Audiologist with the Nova Scotia Cochlear Implant Program.

With so many Islanders having cochlear implants, Joan Gallant wonders why an audiologist can’t come to the Island, instead of everyone having to travel to Halifax, a journey of several hours, for what is usually a 30 minute appointment. “I was hoping that sometime in the future, someone could come to PEI even once a year to see clients even though I know it means bringing a computer and records, etc.  but there are sound proof booths here.  It is very difficult now to go to Halifax for many of us.  The transportation part is much more complicated and for a half hour appointment, an extremely long day travelling.

Joan has put out a call for feedback from Islanders with a cochlear implant.  Here’s her request:  “I would like to try to see what we can do for those with CIs to have someone come to PEI at least once a year to service, check, make adjustments, etc. so we don’t have to go to Halifax.  I wouldn’t mind if we had to all pay something and maybe the government would help.  I had asked my audiologist how many people she thought had CIs on PEI.  She guessed about 115.  What are your thoughts?

It’s a bit puzzling why an audiologist here on the Island isn’t assigned to the program, saving hours of travelling time and expense.  Does anyone have an answer?

Thank you to Joan Gallant for bringing up this issue.  If you have a cochlear implant, please share your thoughts on Joan’s request for input.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog.  You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​:  ​Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

Will People With Cochlear Implants Always Sing Out Of Tune?

September 3, 2019. Cochlear implants have changed the lives of so many people who otherwise would be struggling to hear the simplest sounds.  But what happens if you are a musician or singer?  A cochlear implant (CI) is not designed for music, but for speech.  The information needed to distinguish notes that sound similar, such as you’d find in music, is not programmed in current CIs, as Joan Gallant of Rusticoville discovered.

Joan explained that “I have been singing a good part of my life, including church choirs, college choir which required auditions, and in later years a seniors’ choral group.  A few months ago I was told I was not singing in tune!  I had been playing the piano and singing while reading music with someone who sings and also plays piano but by ear.  I thought maybe my piano was out of tune so invited over someone who not only plays but teaches music.  She said my piano was fine and had me play a few notes and sing those notes.  She also said I was not singing in tune.  I have since done some research and most research says a person with a CI doesn’t hear the same as others with normal hearing or even a hearing aid.  This is apparently the reason I cannot sing in tune.  I am thinking that sometimes ignorance is bliss.  Our choral director says sing anyway.

I have also read that children with two CIs at the same time are more able to enjoy music and apparently more able to sing in tune.  Another comment was that there is an app which a person can use to help him or her get the correct pitch.  I have spoken to a singing teacher and asked if he ever taught anyone with a CI and he said no.  He thinks it may be doable.  Apparently if I start doh with the right pitch I can sing the scale correctly but singing anything else I am on and off pitch.  I am hoping to take a few singing lessons to see if I can learn to once again sing in tune.  I was never a soloist but always enjoyed singing in a group or by myself.

Since Joan has a CI from MED-EL, Jodi Ostroff, Clinical Account Manager, Canada, MED-EL Corporation, Canada was contacted to see if she knew of an app or knew someone who could help Joan.  Jodi replied by saying that “that there are lots of music training apps, which can be fun and helpful for music training. Johanna Boyer is a music researcher who works for MED-EL and is a CI recipient. She wrote an article regarding such music training apps, which can be found on the MED-EL Blog at https://blog.medel.com/our-music-specialist-ci-user-johanna-shares-her-secret-tips-for-the-best-music-training-apps/”  An invitation was extended for Joan to contact Johanna.

So what does music sound like through a CI?  Sean Mills and Mark Fletcher of the University of Southampton in England explain in an article that for people with CIs “music can be hard to enjoy. Smooth melodies become harsh buzzes, beeps and squawks. Much of what they used to love about music is now absent. The implant is poor at conveying the pitch of voices and instruments, as well as the quality (timbre) of the music. This can make it hard to follow the melody, understand the lyrics, or separate one instrument from another.”  Their article includes an example of what people with CIs actually can hear in a simulation, noting thatalmost all of the raw, untrammelled emotion that Ed Sheeran brings to his performance of Thinking Out Loud is lost, leaving the music abrasive and flat.”  To read the whole article and listen to the simulation, see https://theconversation.com/heres-what-music-sounds-like-through-an-auditory-implant-112457

Joan was one of the participants in a 2014/2015 study done at the University of Prince Edward Island by audiologist Derek Hughes of Campbell Hearing, for his thesis towards a Masters in Science (Audiology).  The study asked participants to perform tasks from the AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills in Persons with Cochlear Implants.  (AIRS refers to Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Singing.  For more information see https://www.airsplace.ca/).

All participants were put in a sound proof booth with a computer and followed 11 components as shown below:

Components

The components tested in a study at UPEI. (Slide courtesy of Derek Hughes)

Two of the components focused on the children’s song ‘Brother John’, or, for those of us who grew up watching Chez Hélène on CBC, ‘Frère Jacques’.  Don’t know the song?  Watch the You Tube video, in both English and French:  https://youtu.be/pa_iTP5kL3g.

This deceptively simple song has five sections and ten tonic notes, as identified below:

Component 2 Brother John

The 5 sections and 10 tonic notes of the song ‘Brother John’. (Slide courtesy of Derek Hughes)

A tonic note is the first note in any piece of music.  If the key is C major, then C is the tonic. If the key is in A-flat major, then A-flat is the tonic.  The melody itself has a range of tones, like going up and down a ladder, but in 10 spots, the same note should be reached, as you can see below:

10 tonic notes

The 10 tonic notes of the song ‘Brother John’. (Slide courtesy of Derek Hughes)

None of the participants could hit the 10 tonic notes.  Their pitch tended to go down, not up.  All the participants in the UPEI study conducted by Derek Hughes had some daily involvement in music.  Some had been musically trained before losing their hearing.  This led to the conclusion that musical ability wasn’t the issue, but the cochlear implant.  The study confirmed that CIs are not designed to process music.

CIMG2991 May 28 2019 Derek Hughes Fran Salsman Joan Gallant Alma Nunn

Left to right: Derek Hughes, Fran Salsman, Joan Gallant, Alma Nunn. All three women have CIs, and used to sing in choirs before their hearing loss. Joan continues to sing after receiving her cochlear implant. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Joan Gallant did get in contact with Johanna Boyer, and continued with singing lessons for a short period. “Although I am making extremely small improvements, I have a very long way to go and I find this extra concentration and focus very exhausting.  I guess I really want to be able to sing in tune.”  After getting a singing app to test her pitch she stopped her singing lessons to concentrate on pitch.  “My pitch is all over the place. My friend says I’m singing in the cracks between the keys.   I can’t seem to hold the note.

Joan has been invited to participate in a MED-EL study in Durham, North Carolina in October and hopes this will help give her what is needed to be able to sing in tune.

Thank you to Joan Gallant for sharing her story, to Jodi Ostroff, and to Derek Hughes for sharing the results of his study. Do you have a cochlear implant?  What is your experience with music?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog.  You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​:  Brenda Porter, who will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

 

Hansard Record of the Petition Presented In the PEI Legislature on July 9, 2019

August 31, 2019.  The petition that requested the members of the PEI Legislature to supplement the cost of hearing aids for seniors by extending the AccessAbility Supports Program to include all adults, not just those up to age 65, or devise a similar program was presented in the PEI Legislature by Leader of the Official Opposition, and Green Party Leader, Peter Bevan-Baker, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.  (See Petition Presented In PEI Legislature and Hearing Loss — Why Is It An Ignored Condition?)

How many of you are aware that an official government record of the proceedings is recorded in video and transcribed in the Hansard Record of the PEI Legislative Assembly for July 9, 2019?  See http://archives.assembly.pe.ca/archives/?file=20190709&number=2&year=2019 to watch the proceedings on video.

The Hansard Record of the PEI Legislative Assembly on July 9, 2019 recorded the following discussion about the petition.  The page numbers refer to the pages in the official record.  If you read the transcription below, you will notice that Peter Bevan-Baker brings up the key points about hearing loss and then asks the Minister of Health and Wellness, James Aylward, about the discrepancy based on age.  The Minister of Social Development and Housing, Ernie Hudson, also makes a comment about hearing loss and the need to look into the programs available.

Page 770:

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the three most common chronic health conditions in Canada, arthritis is number one, hypertension/high blood pressure is number two and hearing loss is number three. Hearing loss is a chronic condition that can lead to more serious issues and health problems if hearing and accessibility tools are not available or affordable.

Hearing loss serious issue for Islanders

A question to the hon. Minister of Health and Wellness: Does government consider hearing loss to be a serious issue for all Islanders?

 Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health and Wellness.

Mr. Aylward: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, hearing loss is definitely a concern to this government and that’s why we have campaigns in place to help educate people, especially around worksites, to wear the proper ear protection and to our youth as well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

 Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Indeed, prevention is a very important aspect of this, but later today I will be presenting documents from an organization called Hear PEI, including a petition with over 2,000 signatures calling for government to extend coverage for all Islanders suffering from hearing loss.

Here on PEI, seniors and adults over 65 are not treated equally in access to hearing aid funding. Those under 65 apply through the accessibility supports program and applicants qualify based on their net income, and almost everybody qualifies. Those over 65 have to apply through the income

Page 771:

supports program, and applicants qualify based on their assets. Currently, anybody with assets over $2,500 becomes ineligible.

Accessibility to funding for hearing aids

To the same minister: Why are there two different measures for accessibility to funding for hearing aids?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health and Wellness.

Mr. Hudson: Mr. Speaker?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Social Development and Housing.

Mr. Hudson: Yes, and I do appreciate the question that the hon. member is bringing forward.

Hearing loss is a challenge for anyone at any age group and is more prevalent in seniors.

Will we look at this? Can we look at this on a go-forward basis? I would say yes, absolutely. Can I give a guarantee or would I give a guarantee today? I’m not in a position to do that for the hon. member or for this House.

At this point in time, Island seniors − the hon. member is correct – Island seniors who are low income do qualify on an annual basis for up to $1,500 per hearing aid, so which would be, if my information is accurate, would be $3,000 per individual senior.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you.

That’s true for seniors under 65, but those over 65 it’s means tested and if you have $2,500 in your bank account you qualify for zero dollars.

Untreated hearing loss has been associated with a number of other conditions, including depression, social isolation, increased risk for falls and accidents, and it often contributed to a misdiagnosis of dementia. All of these result in increased health care expenditures to government, and hearing almost always, of course, deteriorates as we get older, resulting in the demographic most in need of supports being the one where funding is most lacking.

To the same minister, or to the Minister of Health and Wellness, I don’t really mind: Why is government prepared to fund the cost of issues that often result from hearing loss, such as depression and dementia, but is not seriously looking at ways to help those with hearing loss be able to afford hearing aids?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Social Development and Housing.

Mr. Hudson: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I thank the hon. member for the question.

I think on a go-forward basis, as I had said, hon. member, previously, I’m not in a position to stand here today that I would give any commitment with that. I think that it is a very pertinent question that you have raised – suggestion that you have brought forward and as we move forward as a government, certainly one that I personally would be willing to take under consideration.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Page 777:

Tabling of Documents

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

By leave of the House, I beg leave to table a document entitled 2019 Advocacy Action Regarding Increased Funding for Senior’s Needing Hearing Aids on PEI, signed petition book No. 1 and I move, seconded by the Honourable Member from Charlottetown-Brighton, that the said document be now received and do lie on the Table.

Speaker: Shall it carry? Carried.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Page 778:

By leave of the House, I beg leave to table a document entitled 2019 Advocacy Action Regarding Increased Funding for Senior’s Needing Hearing Aids on PEI, signed petition book No. 2 and I move, seconded by the Honourable Member from Charlottetown-Brighton, that the said document be now received and do lie on the Table.

Speaker: Shall it carry? Carried.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

By leave of the House, I beg leave to table a document entitled 2019 Advocacy Action Regarding Increased Funding for Senior’s Needing Hearing Aids on Prince Edward Island, law postings, letters to politicians, letters of support received and a copy of the petition.

With your indulgence, I feel I need to explain to the House why these are being presented as documents rather than being tabled by a petition.

The group HearPEI collected over 2,000 signatures for this petition, that’s an unusually large number for this House and it was a very well-worded and a very powerful petition but there was one tiny problem with it. The prayer of the petition asked the Legislative Assembly to supplement the cost of hearing aids and in that action involves disbursement of public funds and that’s not something by the rules of this House that is allowed in a petition.

But despite this, I feel that there is a great benefit in presenting this petition even if it is under the portion of the House business, tabling of documents.

I specifically want to thank the organizers Daria Valkenburg, a lady who’s already been witnessed here in the House today and Ilene (sic. it should be Annie Lee) Macdonald who is sitting behind me, they put a huge amount of work to bring this petition forward to the House, supported as it is and I know signed by at least four members of this House; myself, Cornwall-Meadowbank, the Leader of the Third Party and the minister for climate change and all those various other things.

Anyway, thank you for that indulgence Mr. Speaker. I move seconded by the Honourable Member from Charlottetown-Brighton, that the said document be now received and do lie on the Table.

Speaker: Shall it carry? Carried.

This was a very interesting and informative look into how government works.  In previous postings people interested in changing government policy were asked to write to their MLA, to the newspapers, and to send us a copy.  Not many did.  Does this mean it’s not a priority for Islanders anymore?   Without more vocal support this issue will go no further in the legislature.  (Click here to read an article published in the County Line Courier CLC Jul 24 2019 p21 Hearing Loss Why Is It An Ignored Condition)

Thank you to Peter Bevan-Baker for sending the Hansard Record and video link of the July 9, 2019 proceedings, and for the tremendous job he did in articulating the issues involved regarding the hearing aid subsidies.  You can always email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker​s​:  Brenda Porter, who will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

MORE ON…. What Do YOU Do With Your Hearing Aids At Bedtime?

August 29, 2019.  A recent posting summarized a discussion a number of us had regarding the question “Do you take out your hearing aids overnight?”  (See What Do YOU Do With Your Hearing Aids At Bedtime?) Feedback from readers was invited and a few people added their voice to the commentary.  The responses:

By Twitter:

Jen: “Take them out! Behind the ear with large molds are not that comfortable to sleep with.

Jane: “Cats love the taste of earwax. Learned the hard way that I MUST put my hearing aids in a container or inside a drawer on my bedside table or it’s a cat toy!!!. Twice.. chewed earbuds not covered by warranty!

By Email:

Julie: “Hearing aids ALWAYS come out at night and most nights are put into the dehumidifier that came with my hearing aids. They simply cost too much to risk getting them damaged not to mention how sore you ears are (just falling asleep in an upright position during a quick nap). The safety hazard that comes from being without them when they need to be sent away for maintenance (e.g. Such as damage from laying in them) is far greater than the risk of falling asleep without them in my ears in my home or anywhere else.

Intriguing question though…..anyone I know who is worried about night time security has installed special alarms systems in their home. I know one family where all three family members are deaf and that was the solution they found worked best.

Another thought…. if you don’t remove your hearing aids at night your brain probably is not resting enough and lack of good quality sleep can make daytime hearing more difficult and stressful….just my two cents.

Thank you to those who responded.  Julie brings up an excellent point between lack of sleep and one’s ability to hear!  And thanks to Jane, we now know cats love earwax and can see your hearing aids as a toy!  It’s not too late if you want to tell us what YOU do with your hearing aids at bedtime, and if  your normal practice changes if you travel. Let us know!

In the meantime… I recently read an interesting article on how hearing aids are being partnered with artificial intelligence (AI) to tell if:

  • You are actually using your hearing aids, or if they are sitting in your purse or bedroom drawer!  How does AI know?  It can tell if you are actively listening!
  • You’ve fallen.  If so, a message can go out to request help to contacts you have pre-selected, along with your location.  Yes, these new hearing aids will know where you are!
  • You’re getting enough exercise.  If you are interested in tracking how many steps you take in a day, you no longer will need to wear a wrist device.  Your hearing aid can tell you, apparently with more accuracy too.
  • You are listening to a foreign language and need simultaneous translation.  Boy, I could sure use that when visiting my husband’s Dutch relatives!

For more information, please read the article at: https://inews.co.uk/news/worlds-first-ai-enabled-hearing-aid-goes-on-sale-in-the-uk-livio-ai/

Would you wear a hearing aid with AI?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker​s​:  ​Brenda Porter, who will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

 

 

What Do YOU Do With Your Hearing Aids At Bedtime?

August 14, 2019.  Not long ago, a few of us were having a casual conversation when the subject of hearing aids came up.  Specifically, the question was asked “Do you take out your hearing aids overnight?

Hearing aid manufacturers recommend that you remove your hearing aids at night to allow your ear to breathe and reduce the chance of an aid coming out and getting lost in the bedclothes.  It may also be uncomfortable to sleep with aids in your ears.

Removing your hearing aids and opening the battery door at night, or using a hearing aid dehumidifier, helps to extend the life of your hearing aid batteries.  (See https://www.starkey.com/blog/2017/11/Hearing-aid-batteries-longer-life-tips for more tips.)

Based on recommendations, you might expect the answer to the question posed to be YES, but the resulting discussion revealed that the answer was not as cut and dried as you might believe.

One said “Yes, if I’m at home, I remove my hearing aids before going to bed.”   However, safety was definitely a concern. One responded frankly by saying “It depends if my husband is with me.  If he is, I can relax, and so yes, I take them off.

Travelling or care giving responsibilities indicated changes to normal patterns, as was explained by a person who normally removed her hearing aids at night.  “I travelled with an elderly lady and left in my hearing aids.  In case she needed me at night, I wanted to hear her.”  Another explained that, “If I travel and am in a hotel room overnight, then I always sleep with one hearing aid in my ear.

It was a fascinating discussion.  Now we’re curious.  What do YOU do with your hearing aids at bedtime?  Does your normal practice change if you travel?  Let us know!  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENT

An upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. CONCERT:  Phase II & Friends Happy Days Concert at West River United Church in Cornwall, Sunday August 25, 2019 at 7 pm. Music to warm your heart and soul. Tickets are $10 and are available in the church office or at the door.