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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.com. You 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