Looping Available at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam

August 29, 2017.  After a long flight to Europe, we landed at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.  This is a busy airport!  According to the airport statistics, 6.7 MILLION passengers used this airport in July 2017 alone!  For 2017, up to the end of July, 39 million passengers used the airport.  If you add in the shops, restaurants, people meeting and dropping off passengers, and the service personnel, that’s more people than the population of Canada!

As you can imagine, with such a busy place, it’s noisy, and, as expected in an international airport, there is a variety of languages being spoken around you.  If you’re hard of hearing, you may as well give up trying to understand what’s being said.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the airport service kiosk accommodated the hard of hearing population by posting a sign advertising that it was equipped with a hearing loop.

What a wonderful sign!  Anyone hard of hearing doesn’t have to struggle to hear, and best of all, doesn’t have to explain that he or she is hard of hearing.  It’s a discreet accommodation.  I immediately pulled out my camera and asked if I could take a photo, explaining I was from Canada.  “Of course!” was the answer.

CIMG8007 kiosk Schipol AirportService Kiosk at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.

CIMG8006 hearing loop sign Schipol airport

 Hearing loop availability sign at Service Kiosk at Schipol Airport

What is a hearing loop? A hearing loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop) is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids and cochlear implants that provides a magnetic, wireless signal which is picked up by the cochlear implant or hearing aid when it is set to the ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting.  The hearing loop consists of a microphone to pick up the spoken word, an amplifier which processes the signal which is then sent through the final piece, a loop cable, which is basically a wire placed around the perimeter of a specific area such as a meeting room, or, like at Schipol Airport, at a service counter.

A hearing loop is cost effective as it can be used by anyone with a cochlear implant or a compatible hearing aid, is inconspicuous, there is no need for a headset, and any number of users within the looped area can use the system.  It’s cost effective as the technology is not expensive.

A looping system was installed in St. Pius X church in Charlottetown over 40 years ago, and still works – with no maintenance other than to check that the wires have not been pulled out!  We’ve heard that the Summerside Fundamental Baptist Church is also looped.

There is a growing movement across Canada to join Europe in looping public buildings, service counters, and meeting rooms.  Extensive looping has been done in Western Canada, and is slowly moving east. This can only happen if there is support from hard of hearing people here on PEI and in the rest of The Maritimes.

Have you used a hearing loop?  Do you know of any other places on PEI that have a looping system?  Are you interested in advancing a Let’s Loop PEI project?  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

 © Daria Valkenburg


Fall Speechreading Class Schedule

August 20, 2017.  When you’re hard of hearing, you need to be savvy about different ways to help you communicate.  If you are hard of hearing, consider this opportunity to help improve your ability to understand what others are saying and take classes in speechreading, offered by the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.  Charlottetown resident Nancy MacPhee, certified by the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association to teach speech reading, is a volunteer instructor for Levels I & II.

Level I classes run for 10 weeks, two hours per week.  In addition to teaching students how to lip read and to interpret gestures and facial expressions, the classes address coping strategies and hearing loss issues.

Two new Level I sessions begin in Charlottetown on Thursday, September 21 and run until November 23.  One session is a morning class, from 10 am until noon.  The other is an evening class, from 7 to 9 pm. Participants MUST pre-register and there is a modest fee. For more information, call Annie Lee MacDonald at (902) 855-2382 or email us at hearpei@gmail.com.  NOTE:  There will NOT be a Level II session this fall.

About the Level I Speechreading Course

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.

Have you taken a speechreading class?  Help Nancy and future students by letting us know about the experience and what you’ve learned.   Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

Visitors with Hearing Loss on Our Island

CIMG7859 Aug 2 2017 Don Jane Daria Annie Lee at White Gables

Photo:  We visited a roadside stand in Hope River.  Left to right:  Don, Jane, Daria, Annie Lee.

August 12, 2017.  Summer is the time when we see a lot of visitors to the island.  This year we had the pleasure of seeing friends from Ottawa, Jane Scott and Don Gribble.  Jane and I were on the CHHA National board together, and currently serve on the CHHA Foundation board.  Annie Lee and I spent a great afternoon discussing hard of hearing issues with them, and doing a bit of touring.

Jane and Don were great hosts when I was in Ottawa in November and my husband and I were more than happy to return the favour of showing them a good time.   Besides the normal tourist sights, they got to see the “Knickers older than Canada” display at the Alberton Visitors Centre.   (See http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/undergarments-1800s-alberton-welcome-centre-delaney-mchugh-1.4230807)

CIMG7855 Aug 1 2017 Jane and Daria at underwear exhibit in Alberton.JPG

One of the nicest things about travel when you are hard of hearing is that you get to see how other places address our needs.  Jane shared this photo of a sign found in the women’s washroom of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic when they were in Lunenburg (see https://fisheriesmuseum.novascotia.ca).


Jane and Don were in Lunenburg to visit the Tall Ships.  One of the ships, Lord Nelson, was fully equipped to handle disabled crew, up to 8 in wheelchairs, and they had special equipment and markers on the boat for the blind.  As Jane commented, “Rather neat!”  There are elevators to take wheelchairs and disabled between decks, and a rope and pulley system to bring wheelchairs up the gangplank. The hard of hearing haven’t been forgotten as the ship is equipped with a hearing loop!!  Thinking about volunteering to crew?  (See http://www.classic-sailing.co.uk/vessels/tall-ship-lord-nelson)

Thanks Jane and Don, for sharing those stories!  Do you have a tip or story to share about your travel adventures?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.


© Daria Valkenburg

Bonshaw Ceilidh Fundraiser A Success!

CIMG7547 May 28 2017 Bonshaw Ceilidh Annie Lee Karen Graves Marion Toole

Photo:  PEI Chapter President Annie Lee MacDonald at Bonshaw Hall with violinist Karen Graves and PEI Chapter member Marion Toole.  Admission to the ceilidh was by donation.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

August 4, 2017. The afternoon of Sunday, May 28 was the sound of music for the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and the audience at a benefit ceilidh at Bonshaw Hall. Part of the proceeds went to the Chapter for its advocacy and outreach work, and the performers generously donated their time and considerable talent.

CIMG7548 May 28 2017 Bonshaw Ceilidh Fresh Air Inspectors.JPG

Photo:  Fresh Air Inspectors. From left to right:  Gary Torlone, Emily Ross, Kevin Yarr, and Marcus Lutterman. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG7549 May 28 2017 Bonshaw Ceilidh Andrea Corder.JPG   CIMG7550 May 28 2017 Bonshaw Ceilidh Olivia Blacquiere and Emma Bowers.JPG

Photo left:  University of PEI music student Andrea Corder played and sang her own composition.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Photo right:  Maritime Idol winners Olivia Blacquiere and Emma Bowers.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG7553 May 28 2017 Bonshaw Ceilidh Nathan Simmons and Karen Graves.JPG  CIMG7555 May 28 2017 Bonshaw Ceilidh Anna Ney.JPG

Photo left:  Nathan Simmons and professional violinist Karen Graves, who plays with the P.E.I and New Brunswick Symphony Orchestra, played two pieces by Bela Bartok.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Photo right:  German-born singer-songwriter Anna Ney from New Brunswick.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Proceeds from this benefit and other donations received are used by the non-profit PEI Chapter for:

  • Engaging in advocacy and outreach issues for the hard of hearing
  • Holding regular meetings with guest speakers on hearing related issues
  • Fostering speech reading classes
  • Speaking engagements on hard of hearing topics
  • Encouraging hearing accessibility in public places

All donations to the Chapter are tax deductible as we are a non-profit charitable donation.  If you have a hearing loss, or know someone who does, consider making a donation.  We have no employees, and all our work is done by dedicated volunteers.

The next meeting of the PEI Chapter is on Tuesday, September 26 at 9:30 am, at the North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  For more information, contact hearpei@gmail.com .

© Daria Valkenburg