Upcoming Event – Ceilidh to Benefit CHHA PEI

April 26, 2017.  You may be surprised to learn that hard of hearing people tend to love music.  Many of us took music lessons as children, learning to play instruments.  Others were members of choirs or musical groups.  Or maybe we just were music aficionados.  And some of us still are active musicians.  Whatever the reason for a musical connection, the love is still there, even if our hearing isn’t quite what it once was.

This love of music is one reason why we were excited when we heard that Bonshaw Hall was having its May Ceilidh as a fundraiser for CHHA PEI.  The fun begins on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm, on May 28, 2017 in Bonshaw, as per the poster…..Ceilidh at Bonshaw Hall May 28 2017

Join us in celebrating the love of music, island style, and at the same time you’ll be helping CHHA PEI raise some funds to continue our outreach and advocacy activities.  See you there!

Calling 911 when you are hard of hearing

April 12, 2017.  If you’ve ever had to call 911 in an emergency, you know how stressful that is.  You try to stay calm so the 911 Operator will be able to understand you and send help.  You have to concentrate on the questions being asked so that you get the right sort of help – whether you need an ambulance, a fire truck, or the police.  In an emergency, you need to focus on giving out the right information, sometimes in a panic situation, or in the midst of a lot of noise and commotion.

How do you deal with a 911 call if you are hard of hearing?  Sometimes you are the only person able to make the call!  Luckily, technology has helped to improve 911 protocols for the hard of hearing.  Since December 1, 2016, a pan-Canadian wide system called Text 911, or T-911, is available in many (not all) Canadian localities.  Only P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have this service province-wide, though.

Recently, the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, the Province’s 911 Service, and Island EMS tested the protocols for 911 access by the hard of hearing to ensure it works.  It does!  You have two options: to dial 911 or to use the new Text 911, also called T-911.

Step by step instructions for both options are available here: Dial 911 text 911 guidelines

During the exercise to test the system, a few suggestions for better communication emerged:

  • Let the 911 Operator know if you are alone, or if someone is in the house with you. For example, if you are babysitting a grandchild, or you have a family member who is asleep or ill and may not be aware of your call, it’s important to pass along that information.  You wouldn’t want to be taken to the hospital and leave someone behind!
  • If you call from a cell phone or an internet based phone system (such as Ooma), tell the operator your location! Otherwise, 911 will not know where you are.
  • Let the operator know of any allergies, or if there are animals in the house. Always keep a list of medications on hand.
  • Make sure you have a plan in place to let emergency responders into the house.

Do you have further tips for Dial 911 or Text 911?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

© Daria Valkenburg

“Listen To This” prize awarded at PEI Science Fair

April 7, 2017.  On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, we were honoured to judge a specialty prize at the PEI Science Fair, the “Listen To This” Award, which comes with a $25 prize.  This is presented annually to a student whose project best demonstrates awareness of hearing loss and associated issues, in an effort to encourage young scientists in the making to consider issues of concern to the hard of hearing.

CIMG7409 Apr 4 2017 PEI Science Fair Can Shapes Be Produced by Sound entry

PEI Science Fair project by Mariana Reyes Mejia (Photo: Daria Valkenburg)

This year, the award went to Grade 6 Parkdale Elementary School student Mariana Reyes Mejia for her project “Can Shapes Be Produced By Sound?”  Mariana’s project tested whether one could actually see sound.  The project drew upon the principle of cymatics (the study of periodic and symmetrical patterns caused by vibrations).  Using a PVC tube and pipe, with a balloon for a membrane that went over the tube, she poured salt onto the balloon.  Experiment in place, she made various sounds over the other end of the tube.  With sound, the balloon vibrated, and the salt formed different shapes.  To her delight, she was able to prove that shapes could be produced by sound, and found that the best frequency for seeing shapes was at higher sound frequencies,” notes Mariana.

You may be wondering what this project has to do with hearing loss.  Modern pocket talkers, technological tools to help amplify sound for the hard of hearing, have a tone function in which sound can be altered to resonate at a higher or lower frequency, depending on the hearing loss one has.  Mariana’s project is a simplified version of this.  She found that shapes were best seen at higher sound frequencies.  Similarly, changes in frequency can make hearing more audible.

There is lots of potential for innovative scientific studies on hearing loss, and Mariana’s project could be enlarged upon and studied further.  Did you know that, according to the Stats Canada 2012 and 2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), 20% of adults aged 19 to 79 years had at least mild hearing loss in at least one ear?  Hearing loss is more common as we get older, and results show that 47% of those 60 to 79 having hearing problems.  (See http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2015001/article/14156-eng.htm).

© Daria Valkenburg

Upcoming Event – Sound Off on Hearing Issues

April 5, 2017. Here’s an upcoming event you may find of interest.  Join members of CHHA PEI at the Crapaud Library on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 between 5:30 and 6:30 pm and bring any questions/issues you might have on topics and issues dealing with hearing loss, such as:

  • Technology
  • Speechreading
  • Communication tips
  • Improving your hearing environment

We look forward to meeting you.  Bring a friend or family member, they are also welcome. See attached poster: Sound Off On HOH Issues Apr 19 2017

Introduction to this blog

April 5, 2017.   As a tool to help promote the Public Relations and Advocacy activities of Hear PEI and document my own experience with hearing loss, this new venture into blogging about life when one is hard of hearing, and about the work of a small non-profit Island organization, is an adventure and a journey into the unknown.

First, here is a short summary about the organization, which has been in existence, in one form or another, since 2001.  It:

  • Engages in advocacy for the hard of hearing
  • Holds regular meetings with guest speakers on hearing related topics
  • Fosters speech-reading classes
  • Encourages hearing accessibility in public places

Second, a bit about me…  My hearing loss began in October 1997 on my way to the airport from Winnipeg to give a presentation in Vancouver.  At first I thought I had a head cold, but the symptoms worsened.  Maybe it was from the pressure in my ears as the plane descended?  I could hear as if from a deep fog, with echoes, and easily got confused as to where sounds were coming from.

When the symptoms didn’t go away, I went for a hearing test, and then for an MRI.  I had an acoustic neuroma, which caused deafness in my right ear due to nerve damage.

Although my father had been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma a few years earlier, it was still a shock to learn that I too had permanent hearing loss!

Because the damaged nerve also affected balance, I had to relearn how to keep my balance, as well as how to compensate for reduced hearing.   My husband was in the diplomatic service, with many social events and to deal with languages I was not fluent in.  It took a lot of practice, but I was able to manage successfully.

The blog will let you know about some of the activities – as they happen, rather than waiting for the semi-annual newsletter.  It will also let you know about upcoming events.  And it gives readers a chance to know more about the challenges, successes, tips, and activities regarding hearing loss faced by us and our ability to lead active and happy lives.

© Daria Valkenburg