Hearing Accessibility Tool Now Available At CLIA PEI

July 26, 2018.  After CBC PEI ran an article and interview about the project to help improve communication between those with hearing loss and the legal community (See CBC PEI Helps To Get The Word Out On ‘How A Project To Improve Legal Communication Is Helping Islanders To Hear Better’), we were contacted by CLIA PEI, the Community Legal Information Association in PEI.  This is a non-profit charitable organization that provides information, referrals, and support on legal issues.

Access to justice is important and the staff members at CLIA are dedicated to offering help – at no cost – in navigating the many questions people may have concerning legal issues.  Some examples include answering basic legal questions, or what to do about a particular legal problem.  They have kits available for a modest price for uncontested divorces, or for powers of attorney.  And if you do need to speak with a lawyer, they have a lawyer referral service that gives you a chance to speak with a lawyer for up to 45 minutes for a small fee (currently $25 plus tax).

So we were delighted that CLIA PEI wanted to participate in the project.  To help in our mutual goal of access to justice for all, we provided a few tips on better communication with those with hearing loss and lent them a hearing accessibility tool – a pocket talker.

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Eliza MacLauchlan, left, and Emma Chilton, right, use the pocket talker to look over materials left for improving communications with those with hearing loss. (Photo credit: Ellen Mullally)

We look forward to hearing feedback from the range of clients CLIA PEI helps!  If you have legal questions and don’t know who to ask, contact them.  And don’t forget to ask to use the pocket talker if you need a bit of help to hear better, but don’t have a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

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Left to right: CLIA Executive Director Ellen Mullally, Daria Valkenburg, CLIA Program Coordinator Kelly Robinson, CLIA Public Legal Education and Information Officer Eliza MacLauchlan. Eliza has the pocket talker, and Kelly our ‘Pardon Me What Did You Say?’ booklet. Notice the wealth of legal information available behind us? (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

For more information on the program with the legal community, which is funded by a grant from the Law Foundation of PEI, see Improving Communication Between the Legal Community and Those With Hearing Loss.

For a list of lawyers on PEI with a pocket talker in their office, and who have agreed to have their information posted on the blog, see: PEI Lawyers With Pocket Talkers.

Contact information for CLIA PEI:  Community Legal Information Association of PEI, Phone: 902-892-0853 or 1-800-240-9798 (toll-free in the Atlantic provinces).  Website:  www.cliapei.ca. Address: 111-40 Enman Crescent, Charlottetown, PE C1E 1E6. Email: clia@cliapei.ca.

If you are a lawyer who would like to participate, let us know.  If you have hearing loss and don’t have a hearing aid, and your lawyer is not part of this project, ask him or her to consider participation. If you have used a pocket talker at either CLIA or a law office, let us know! Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

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Billing Counter at City of Charlottetown City Hall is Looped!

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July 25, 2018.  Yesterday another step forward for accessibility for those with hearing loss was made.  The City of Charlottetown has been active in ensuring hearing accessibility at City Hall.  The reception area and council chambers have had a hearing loop installed (See Charlottetown City Hall is Looped). With the help of our PEI based Let’s Loop PEI technicians, the city has now also looped the billing counter in their accounts receivable area on the main floor.

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With Phil Pater, left, and Tom Barnes, right, outside City of Charlottetown’s City Hall. (Photo credit: Brett MacFadyen)

The installation happened early in the morning, just as City Hall opened.  Phil Pater and Tom Barnes, two well known sound technicians on the island, are certified to install hearing loops according to IEC60118 international installation standards.  We’re delighted that these professionals are willing to add hearing loop installations to the list of services they offer.

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Tom Barnes (by counter) and Phil Pater (behind counter) ensure the counter loop is installed properly. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Once the hearing loop was installed it was time to test it.  Can you see the delight on Phil’s face when he realizes the counter loop is ‘activated’?

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Phil Pater checks out the hearing loop while Tom Barnes speaks to him from behind the counter. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

My turn was next, and Phil was quick to catch my ‘aha’ moment, when I could hear Tom, who sat behind the counter.

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Wow! What clarity of sound! (Photo credit: Phil Pater)

Once we knew the hearing loop worked, the staff members behind the accounts receivable department counter were invited to test it out.  Summer student Brett MacFadyen had his own ‘aha’ moment.

CIMG1188 Jul 24 2018 Ctown city hall summer student Brett MacFadyen has an aha moment

Summer student Brett MacFadyen, who works at the billing counter, tries out the hearing loop. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We applaud the City of Charlottetown for their initiative in bringing accessibility for those with hearing loss to City Hall.  We encourage more places to join them. Counter loops are affordable and easily installed. If you have a venue that uses a counter or booth with a glass barrier, please consider the benefits of making your venue more accessible!

Have you tried out one of the loops installed at City Hall?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

List of places on PEI with a hearing loop: https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/places-on-pei-equipped-with-a-hearing-loop/

© Daria Valkenburg

 

CBC PEI Helps To Get The Word Out On ‘How A Project To Improve Legal Communication Is Helping Islanders To Hear Better’

July 13, 2018.  We are very lucky here on Prince Edward Island to have the support of media that help us keep the public informed on activities related to those with hearing loss.  As a volunteer non-profit organization we may not have a lot of resources, but we certainly have a lot of champions!  The ‘County Line Courier’ and ‘Summerside Citizen’ newspapers feature our articles, and CBC PEI helps us reach Islanders far and wide.

Earlier this week I was in the CBC Mainstreet studio to support my husband, in an interview he had with Angela Walker for a Cenotaph Research Project.  While there, I was invited to talk about one of our current projects, helping to improve communications between Island lawyers and those with hearing loss.

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At the CBC Mainstreet studio. (Photo credit: Angela Walker)

Here is the link to that interview:  http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15556801 and the description from the CBC website:  The PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and the Law Foundation of PEI have expanded on a project to ensure lawyers and their clients with hearing difficulties are able to effectively communicate.

CBC PEI went a step further with a web article about the project as well.  Here is the link to the CBC PEI article by Kevin Yarr: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-pocketalker-lawyers-hearing-impaired-1.4744340, with a transcription of the article below.

How a project to improve legal communication is helping Islanders hear better

‘They did a big public service’

Kevin Yarr · CBC News · Posted: Jul 12, 2018 8:00 PM AT | Last Updated: July 12

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Islanders who are hard of hearing are discovering how useful these Pockettalkers can be, thanks to a pilot project with P.E.I. lawyers. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

A project to help clients understand lawyers’ legal advice is bringing some unexpected benefits, says the P.E.I. chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.

The pilot project, launched last year, distributed 10 assistive listening devices called Pocketalkers to interested lawyers. The handheld device, which includes headphones, amplifies sounds nearby and helps users filter out background noise so they can focus on what is being said.

Association spokeswoman Daria Valkenburg said lawyers using the device have helped Islanders discover how useful they can be.

“We always knew when a lawyer was in a seniors’ home, if they had gone to visit anybody, because we’d immediately get an email or a phone call saying I want one of those Pocketalkers,” said Valkenburg.

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P.E.I.’s Hard of Hearing Association has developed a brochure for the reception areas of lawyers’ offices that will encourage people with hearing loss to ask for help. (Angela Walker/CBC)

“They did a big public service. We were getting stories from people saying, ‘I can now play cards, ‘I can now go to talk to my kids.’ I think that’s really important. It helped with different types of social isolation.”

The project received funding and support from the Law Foundation of P.E.I.

The project is continuing this year with a new feature — the association has developed a brochure for the reception areas of lawyers’ offices that will encourage people with hearing loss to ask for help.

For a list of lawyers on PEI with a pocket talker in their office, and who have agreed to have their information posted on the blog, please see here: PEI Lawyers With Pocket Talkers

If you are a lawyer who would like to participate, let us know.  If you have hearing loss and don’t have a hearing aid, and your lawyer is not part of this project, ask him or her to consider participation.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

And if you’re curious about the Cenotaph Research Project interview, you can listen to it here:  https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15556040. CBC summary:  Finding the heroic stories behind the names on a local cenotaph. Pieter Valkenburg is a Dutch Canadian who wanted to learn more about the names on the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph. So he started a research project to find the stories behind these fallen soldiers.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help fund activities not covered by a grant.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

Improving Communication Between the Legal Community and Those With Hearing Loss

July 13, 2018.  A 2017 posting featured a project funded by the Law Foundation of PEI, which allowed us to work with PEI lawyers to help improve communications between lawyers and those with hearing loss.  (See Pocket Talker Pilot Project With PEI’s Legal Community).  The project, “Understanding the Law: Improving Communication for the Hard of Hearing in Our Legal Spaces”, was very successful and renewed for this year.  (See A Pocket Talker Can Open Up Your World)

As Law Foundation of PEI Chair Gary Scales explained in an interview, “This project promotes ways to improve communications with clients requiring legal services who have hearing difficulty.”

On June 23 we were invited to give an overview of the project at the Annual Law Society of PEI meeting.  We met many of the lawyers who participated last year and invited more lawyers to participate this year.

CIMG0886 Jun 23 2018 Annie Lee & Daria by booth at Crowbush Annual Law Society meeting

Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg at the Annual Law Society of PEI Annual General Meeting at Crowbush.

We were able to publicly thank the Law Foundation of PEI and the Law Society of PEI for supporting this project and explained how we were part of an active group that encourages hearing accessibility in public spaces, provides information on hearing related topics, and tries to build awareness.

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Susan Robinson, Q.C., Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Director of the Law Society of PEI, with Annie Lee MacDonald at Crowbush. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

An overview of the project’s objective to improve communication between the legal community and its clients with hearing loss was given, why it was important, and how lawyers could participate.

In the presentation given by Daria Valkenburg, she noted Last year, all of the lawyers in active practice ended up buying their pocket talker as they found it so useful. So what did we learn after a year?  The project exceeded our expectations, and was a win-win for both lawyers and for those with hearing loss.  Participating lawyers were very receptive and gave us some good tips as well, which were incorporated into a brochure for clients with hearing loss.  Every lawyer who participates in the project gets a number of brochures to have in the office. This was an excellent suggestion made by one of the participants.

One of the challenges identified is hard of hearing clients who do not self-identify. Since a reluctance to self-identify is an ongoing issue with many people with hearing loss, the tip sheets and discussions help you, as lawyers, to identify some of the ways to detect hearing loss informally.

One of the unexpected benefits of this project was that lawyers began informing seniors’ homes and seniors about the pocket talker.  This community service has had a ripple effect as once a lawyer was in the facility, we got contacted so that the seniors homes and seniors could purchase their own pocket talkers.  This helps improve their quality of life and reduces social isolation by being better able to communicate.

This year, lawyers who purchased a pocket talker for their office were invited to have their information posted on our blog as a public service to those with hearing loss, and most said yes.

The project was expanded with a brochure placed in the offices of lawyers with pocket talkers, in the hope that it will encourage people with hearing loss to self-identify in order to provide the best legal experience possible. Removing the stigma that many feel is a challenge hopefully will be more easily met now that there are legal firms who have participated in the project and begun to build awareness within their own client base.

Lawyer Daniel Tweel of Charlottetown represented last year’s participants, and explained that participation in the project was both useful and practical.

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Charlottetown lawyer Daniel Tweel with Daria Valkenburg at Crowbush. (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

For a list of lawyers on PEI with a pocket talker in their office, and who have agreed to have their information posted on the blog, please see here:  PEI Lawyers With Pocket Talkers

If you are a lawyer who would like to participate, let us know.  If you have hearing loss and don’t have a hearing aid, and your lawyer is not part of this project, ask him or her to consider participation.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help fund activities not covered by a grant.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

A Sad Goodbye To Carol Connick

July 3, 2018.  We were saddened to learn of the passing of friend and member Carol Connick last week.  Her funeral is on Thursday morning.  For more information, please see: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/obituaries/carol-jean-connick-5879/.

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Carol Connick on far left in October 2016, when we celebrated Annie Lee MacDonald receiving a Senior Islander of the Year Award. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

In addition to being part of our hard of hearing group, Carol was a member of the Women’s Institute, and was their representative on the board of the PEI Seniors Secretariat.  Our condolences to her husband Keith MacKinnon and their family.

If you have memories you’d like to share about Carol, please email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation in Carol’s memory.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

How Open Are We To Accessibility?

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July 1, 2018.  In the previous blog posting, a link to a federal accessibility grant was included, with a note that the deadline for applications was July 26, 2018.  Acceptable criteria for the federal accessibility grant includes ways to improve accessibility for those with hearing loss, such as the installation of hearing loops and counter loops with telecoils.  Here is the link: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/enabling-accessibility-fund-small-projects.html.

A few of you noted that while you would like to see your church looped, you had doubts that the parish council would be willing to consider applying for a grant for a hearing loop.  Accessibility doesn’t happen by magic. It’s up to the individual parishioners to express their wishes and advise what accessibility accommodations they need.

PEI isn’t alone in the challenge of hearing accessibility.  A recent article in a Catholic magazine discussed the issue of accessibility and how attitudes can make the difference between embracing all who wish to attend a service or continuing to maintain barriers. This article has been making its way through Twitter and Facebook accounts. Take a look:  http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jenfitz/are-people-with-disabilities-welcome-at-your-parish.

In contrast, some places get very creative in finding ways to ensure accessibility.  A Honda dealership in New Jersey installed a hearing loop in its showroom and service departments to make vehicle purchases and maintenance more accessible for those with hearing loss. Read here:  https://www.tapinto.net/towns/hillsborough/categories/press-releases/articles/clinton-honda-installs-hearing-loops-to-enhance.

Accessibility only happens if we all work towards it.  Our thanks to Joan Gallant for letting us know that she has given her local Lions Club the information needed to apply for a federal accessibility grant to install hearing loops.  The finance committee of her church is next on her list.

More looping stories or suggestions?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg