More Tips On Enjoying A Restaurant Meal When You Are Hard of Hearing

October 26, 2017.  A few days ago, three of us who are hard of hearing went out for lunch in downtown Ottawa.  Lunch was fun, but the next challenge we faced was going out for dinner in Ottawa with more people.  Disaster or success?

We planned ahead by visiting the restaurant chosen, Graffiti’s in Kanata to see how accommodating the restaurant would be with four hard of hearing people at dinner.  What did we need?  A quiet spot, with good lighting so we could see each other, and the music turned down low.  We were offered a quiet spot in the back of the restaurant with good lighting and a promise to shut off the music in that section.  Better than we expected, so a reservation was made.

On the evening in question, our party of five arrived at the restaurant – 4 who are hard of hearing, 1 with normal hearing.  Take a look at the photo of the five of us.  What do you notice?  You probably spotted that we are in a booth, one of the first criteria for an enjoyable dinner when you are hard of hearing. As promised, the music in our section was shut off as soon as we chose our spot.

CIMG9500 Oct 25 2017 Pieter Daria Myrtle Jane Don at Graffitis in Kanata

Photo: Left to right: Pieter Valkenburg, Daria Valkenburg, Myrtle Barrett, Jane Scott, Don Gribble at Graffiti’s in Kanata.

We had a selection of booths to choose from, but found that this circular booth allowed everyone to see each other easily.  Although the photo shows all of us in the booth for the photo op, during dinner four of us were in the booth and one person opted to sit on a chair in front of the table.

You probably guessed that the two men sat near each other, to be able to have a side conversation on topics of interest to them. This allowed the women to have a side chat of their own, and no one had difficulty hearing due to the spaciousness of the booth.  Otherwise, only one person spoke at a time, so that everyone could follow the conversation.

The booth had a high side on three sides for a noise barrier and there were no tables directly in front of us.  This provided optimum quiet and allowed us to concentrate on the conversations.  The person with us who had normal hearing was very grateful that we didn’t have to talk loud in order to be heard.

We had a grand evening!  It was a success.  Do you have a tip or story to share about restaurant dining?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at

© Daria Valkenburg


Upcoming CHHA PEI Meeting on Renting Your Hearing Aids

October 24, 2017.  Are You Hard of Hearing?  Do You Need Hearing Aids?  Did you know you can rent them?

Last week, Annie Lee MacDonald and I were invited by Rheal Leger, President of CHHA Moncton, to a day of presentations at Hearing Health New Brunswick.  It was very interesting to learn more about the world of the hard of hearing, and to find out some of the programs and options that are offered in New Brunswick to people who are hard of hearing.

CIMG9457 Oct 20 2017 Daniel Simone Daria Rheal Annie Hearing Health NB Moncton

At Hearing Health NB in Moncton. Left to right: Daniel Mallet, Simone Leger, Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, Rheal Leger.

One of these is the opportunity to rent your hearing aids.  Just as you might lease a car, you have an option to rent new hearing aids and have them replaced with new ones every three years.  We immediately invited someone from New Brunswick to our next CHHA PEI meeting to come and explain it to us.

So, if you need hearing aids, but are looking at different ways to pay for them, come out to learn about this affordable option and its details.  Don’t miss out on any chance to reconnect with those around you and the things you enjoy.

When:  Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Time:    9:30 to 11:30 am

Where: North Tryon Presbyterian Church

              21592 Trans Canada Hwy in North Tryon

Are you already renting your hearing aid? We’d love to hear about your experience.  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at


© Daria Valkenburg

Enjoying a Restaurant Lunch When You Are Hard of Hearing

October 23, 2017.  I love to eat out, and while in Ottawa I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy lunch with two friends who also are hard of hearing.  Ottawa is a very busy city, even more so if you are downtown at lunchtime as we were. And if you choose a trendy but noisy restaurant like Baton Rouge, as we did, you may think you are on a path to a terrible experience where you can’t hear.

Not so.  Take a look at the photo of the three of us.  What do you notice?  If you spotted that we are in a booth, you’ve got the first criteria for an enjoyable lunch.

CIMG9468 Oct 23 2017 lunch at Baton Rouge Ottawa with Daria Caarole Jane

Left to right: Daria Valkenburg, Carole Willans, Jane Scott at Baton Rouge in Ottawa.

One side of the booth is by an aisle, which means very little distracting noise on that side, perfect for someone with a cochlear implant.

You may also have noticed that there is a divider between the booth and the one on the other side, with a large plant pot as an added sound barrier.

You can’t see it in the photo, but the floor is carpeted, so noise is muffled, and the aisles are wide enough that you would have to strain to hear the conversation held by the people in the booth opposite us.

The restaurant is lit well enough that we could see each other, making it easier to follow the conversation flows.

The server knew we were hard of hearing and made sure she looked at us when speaking, making it unnecessary for us to say…… “Pardon me, what did you say?”

And all three of us sat in spots so that our good ears were focused on each other.

So, go out and enjoy those restaurant meals!  We did!  Do you have a tip or story to share about restaurant dining?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at

© Daria Valkenburg


How Well Do You Hear?

October 21, 2017.  The other day I heard that it takes, on average, 7 years for someone who has been diagnosed with hearing loss to do something about it.  It’s strange, in a way.  If you can’t see well, you go to an optometrist and have an eye test.  Depending on the outcome, you likely will purchase glasses or contacts.  Would you wait 7 years?  Unlikely.

What if you have a toothache?  Would you go to the dentist?  Or hope that it will magically go away? OK, maybe that’s not a good example.  I don’t like going to the dentist, so I might wait…..but not 7 years.

A snowbird friend of mine has a medical condition that affects her balance.  She’s supposed to use a rollator to keep her stable and reduce the risk of falls.  A very proud woman, she refuses to let anyone see her with a rollator or a cane, so it is only used in her apartment.  “It makes me look old” she said.  Well, she is of ‘a certain age’, but it’s the lurching about unsteadily that gives the appearance of being aged.  “It makes me look like I have a disability” was another reason she gave.

The end result?  She stopped going out.  She stopped going on holidays, including a winter holiday.  She stays in most of the time, except on special occasions to see her family.  Most of the time, her family must go to her.  This would be OK if she was happy, but she’s not.  She’s miserable and is somehow unable to accept that the world as she knew it has changed forever.

I thought of her when I read the article ‘Hear me out: Why people avoid checking out hearing loss’ by Dr. Gifford-Jones, about his own experience in coming to terms with his hearing loss, that was recently in newspapers.  If you missed it, here, courtesy of Jane Scott, is the link:

The sad reality is that over the years we will all have challenges that affect our lives.  Whether we have hearing loss, vision loss, or have to walk with a cane or be in a wheelchair, it’s how we deal with the challenge that determines how others perceive us.

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven started losing his hearing in 1798.  By 1801, at age 31, he had lost 60% of his hearing.  Of course, like many of us, he tried to keep it secret.  A composer who can’t hear his own compositions?  Who would take him seriously?  His career would be over! He once wrote to an acquaintance that he avoided social gatherings for two years, because he couldn’t bring himself to let anyone know about his condition.

As his hearing deteriorated, his compositions changed too.  He composed using lower notes that he could still hear.  Have you heard his ‘Moonlight Sonata’? (See  Did you know that he also wrote an opera and 6 symphonies while he still had limited hearing?

By 1816 he was completely deaf.  Did it stop him composing?  No.  Whether you like classical music or not, his 9th Symphony, better known as ‘Ode To Joy’, is familiar to almost everyone.  By the time this symphony was written, Beethoven had accepted his condition and returned to using higher notes in his compositions, imagining how they might sound.  When the composition, which he conducted, premiered on May 7, 1824, he had to be turned towards the audience so he could see people applauding. He couldn’t hear them.  (See )

We can’t fool anyone that we can hear when we can’t.   A few weeks ago, Annie Lee MacDonald and I heard an ENT doctor give a presentation at a conference.  In trying to explain the differences between normal hearing, mild hearing loss, severe hearing loss, etc., he showed a cartoon that got everyone’s attention.  See for yourself in this brief Flintstones video:

So, why is it that we resist getting help to improve our hearing?  Is it the cost?  The perceived stigma?  Do we think it’s a temporary condition that will go away?  I don’t know the answer, and maybe the answer is different for all of us.

Do you have a tip or story to share?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at

 © Daria Valkenburg


Two Stories From ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’

October 15, 2017.  Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, and written by Chapter members, the large-print booklet “Pardon Me, What Did You Say?  A Guide to Navigating in the Hard of Hearing World” is designed to help improve communications between hard of hearing seniors and their family, friends, and caregivers.

NHSP Booklet Front & Back

Artist Wayne Wright, whose cartoons are in The Journal Pioneer, volunteered his time and considerable artistic talent to illustrate the personal stories in the booklet, after Annie Lee MacDonald asked for his help.

IMG_1769 Aug 18 2017 Wayne Wright in Summerside

Artist Wayne Wright signs the illustrations for the booklet. (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

How many of you can relate to this story from the booklet?  ….Not long ago, my husband (AKA “my ears”) and I travelled by plane together.  The so-called public announcements at the airport and on the plane are an exercise in frustration for me.  When queried, my husband, who quietly reads while I fuss and fume, said “Ignore it.  No one understands what they say on those announcements.”…..

CHHA PEI W Wright Illustration P

The airport announcement story was illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

Would you be embarrassed if this story from the booklet happened to you? ….. One time, at an airport hotel, I requested a wake-up call so I could catch an early morning flight.  Unfortunately I slept in and didn’t hear the phone ringing.  When I didn’t answer after several tries, the hotel staff came banging on the door.  I didn’t hear that, either.  Finally, they opened the door with a master key and woke me up.  If I hadn’t let them know I was hard of hearing when I checked in, I don’t know what they would have done!  Luckily, I made my plane connection on time!

 CHHA PEI W Wright Illustration T

The sleeping in story was illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

Do you have a tip or story of your own to share?  Have you read the booklet?  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at

© Daria Valkenburg

Positive Reception to Booklet On Improving Communications with Hard of Hearing

October 15, 2017. On October 11, 2017, the first official presentation introducing our Chapter’s newest publication, “Pardon Me, What Did You Say?  A Guide to Navigating in the Hard of Hearing World” was held at Stratford Community Centre, as part of the Women’s Institute Fall Workshop.  Over 40 women heard the presentation by Brenda Porter, and received copies of the booklet.  Based on the comments and evaluations, this was positively received, with many saying “how I wish I’d known this information before”.

IMG_0149 Oct 10 2017 Brenda Porter by slideshow presentation at Stratford CC

Brenda Porter during the presentation introducing the publication Pardon Me, What Did You Say? A Guide to Navigating in the Hard of Hearing World” at Sherbrooke Community Centre in Summerside. (Photo credit: Gerry Gray)

Besides giving presentations, the Chapter has begun publicizing the booklet, which was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, at conferences. Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg were invited to showcase the booklet at a booth at the “Making the Connection Conference” in Summerside, a conference with 200 participants that focused on the care of older adults.  Participants from long term care, community care facilities, hospitals, and home care that included nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians, administrators, and social workers gave a positive response to the booklet.

NHSP Booklet Front & Back

Copies of the booklet were also given to participants at the October 14, 2017 seminar ‘Demystifying Cochlear Implants’, with copies given to Dr. David Morris and his staff at the Maritime Lateral Skull Base Clinic in Halifax, where many islanders go for treatment related to their ears, as well as to seminar sponsors present at the event.

 Additional presentations are booked for November as follows:

  • Charlottetown Seniors Active Living Centre – Wednesday, Nov. 1, 10:30 am
  • Souris Silver Threads Seniors Club – Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2:00 pm
  • North Rustico Seniors’ Club – Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2:00 pm
  • Alberton Arts and Heritage Centre – Monday, Nov. 20, 1:30 pm
  • Cornwall West River United Church – Monday, Nov. 27, 2:00 pm

At the request of PEI’s Seniors’ Secretariat, Chapter members will be answering questions about the booklet on November 22 during the Secretariat’s ‘PEI Party Line’.  Never heard of the PEI Party Line?  It’s a free, telephone-based program that offers information and a chance to talk with others. Each week, a 45-minute telephone call, between 10:00 am and 10:45 am, is hosted with different topics and guest speakers.

Do you have a tip or story to share?  Have you read the booklet?  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at

© Daria Valkenburg


911 Pamphlet Outlines Protocols for the Hard of Hearing

October 15, 2017.  An emergency is not a good time to test whether a system is working properly.  Therefore, this past spring, members of our Chapter, in cooperation with Pat Kelly, Acting 911 Coordinator from PEI’s Department of Justice and Public Safety, and Island EMS, held boardroom and live exercises to test the two protocols available for the hard of hearing on PEI.  These two protocols are ‘Dial 911’ and ‘Text with 911’.

CIMG7663 Jul 7 2017 Annie Lee and Brenda with 911 pamphlet

Annie Lee MacDonald and Brenda Porter of the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association with pamphlets outlining protocols for the hard of hearing. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Following the exercise, a pamphlet was written outlining the protocols, which is available from us.  One side of the pamphlet tells you the steps to take if you call 911, but can’t hear what the operator is saying.  Those who have smart phones may find texting easier than calling, and the other side of the pamphlet tells you the steps you must take to do that.

Dial 911 and Text with 911 pamphlet

Pamphlet outlining protocols for Dial 911 and Text with 911 for the hard of hearing.

Since many people do not hear well enough to have simple conversations on the telephone, let alone one in a stressful situation, technology is helping address that.  A pan-Canadian wide system called Text with 911, or T-911, is available in many (not all) Canadian localities.  However, only PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have this service available province-wide.

To use Text with 911, your cell phone number must be registered with your cell phone provider BEFORE you ever have an emergency. (Go to Once registered, if you dial 911, your call automatically goes to an operator who responds with a text call in either French or English, depending on the language preference you chose when registering. Note that it can take up to 5 days for your phone to be registered.

Although you can’t initiate a 911 call using text messaging, once the operator sends a text, you can TALK to the 911 operator, and receive a text message back. If you are able to speak, this may speed up the call, an important timesaver in a life or death situation.

Copies of the pamphlet are available at Chapter meetings, or at one of our speaking engagements.  Our next meeting is on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.

Do you have a tip or story to share?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at

© Daria Valkenburg