Sometimes Technology Advances Are Great

August 29, 2018.  I’m not a big fan of much technological advances as usually it means life becomes more complicated or something that used to be simple to use becomes harder.  One example is a telephone.  At one time, a telephone was just that – a phone.  It didn’t have any bells or whistles, and was simple to use.  I must admit that I don’t miss the childhood days of rotary dialling, however.

Then they invented cordless phones.  At one time, the phone was in a fixed location, attached to a jack in the wall.  If you wanted to move it around, you needed a long extension wire to move it from a location far away from the jack.  I remember we had one long wire so we could have a phone outdoors on the patio. Cordless phones removed that headache as you could pick up the receiver and take it anywhere you wanted.  However, if you had hearing loss, the sound quality was not great.

Between cordless phones and cell phones, I grew to intensely dislike talking on the phone.  So, when our cordless phones finally gave up the ghost I rejoiced.  Yeah, no more phones.  We had one old phone with a very good quality speaker and I figured that’s all we needed.  After all, we don’t use a phone very much.

My husband, aka Tech Support in our household, had other ideas.  He bought new portable, inexpensive phones.  Of course, I griped for quite a while about the waste of money and pointed out it was useless to me.  He ignored me and proceeded to set up the phones.

Which ringtone can you hear best?” was his first question.  There were 10 choices and there was one I could hear from anywhere in the house, to my surprise.

After setting up the phones he then called me from his cell phone and asked me to test if I could hear him.  I could, loud and clear, another surprise.  And it wasn’t at the highest volume!

The phone was even easy to use, a third surprise.

But the biggest surprise came when he showed me the box.  These inexpensive phones were telecoil compatible!  Telecoils have moved into the mainstream!


Inexpensive cordless phones, bought at any office supply store, have a telecoil. Look on the bottom right hand corner of the box for the telecoil sign. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)


Brief explanation from the user guide.

I love our new phones now, even the ringtone! At the same time as we got our new phones, I read about a new type of headphone that adjusts the sound according to your hearing ability.  Yes, a headphone that gives a mini hearing test, then automatically adjusts itself so that your experience is enhanced.  (See

The third piece of technology I’ve read about is for people with iPhones and hearing aids.  There is now an app which turns an iPhone into a directional microphone to help the user hear sounds around the user via the phone, sending sound directly into the user’s hearing aid.  (See

I give the new cordless phones a thumbs up.  If anyone has tried the new headphone or iPhone app, let us know!  Email us at



Sad News:  Our condolences to Annie Wood on the recent death of her husband. For more information, see

 © Daria Valkenburg

Speakers’ Bureau

August 27, 2018.  On our blog we now have a number of dedicated pages, such as:

  • Places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop
  • Lawyers and law information offices on PEI that have a pocket talker available
  • Upcoming events

Now we have added a Speakers’ Bureau page (See  We get several speaking requests, but on an ad hoc, informal basis. With so many options for speaking engagements amongst our talented volunteers, we try to fulfill whatever requests we receive.

So, if you require a speaker on an issue related to hearing loss, hearing health, hearing loops, or speech reading, let us know!  Email us at


© Daria Valkenburg

Did You Hear That Diet Can Help Protect Your Hearing?

August 23, 2018. I’m always up for an excuse to socialize with friends, in spite of hearing loss.  When a group of us go out we do our best to pick a place that will optimize our ability to hear each other.  My ideal restaurant has:

  • No background music…. if I want to go to a concert I’ll do so. If I dine out with my friends I don’t really enjoy the distraction of background music.
  • A booth or walls to help block out sound.
  • A menu, so I don’t have to rely on what a server says.
  • No rattling dishes, scraping chairs, etc to make it even harder to hear.

Recently, three of us went to Mia’s in Ottawa for a lovely dinner.  All of us have hearing loss and we had a great time, and heard each other perfectly well.   This was important as we had a lot to catch up on!

CIMG2422 Aug 10 2018 Dinner at Mias

Left to right: Carole Willans, Daria Valkenburg, Jane Scott at Mia’s in Ottawa.

Take a look at the photo above.  You’ll notice we are by a window, in the corner, with a wall on two sides.  The table had a tablecloth to muffle sound from dishes.  Service was done quietly and there was no background music.

Now, if you are wondering what the title of this posting has to do with eating out, it’s because Mia’s is an Indian restaurant.  All summer there has been article after article, explaining how diet can help protect your hearing.  Suggestions have been made for ideal foods, and we made sure to get a good sample of those in the dishes we chose.  I don’t know if it’s true that food choices can affect your hearing, but as the three of us like Indian food, it seemed a good excuse!

According to the articles, eating a Mediterranean style diet or a salt reduced diet, such as for reducing high blood pressure, helps with hearing health. (See and One article even specifies four foods to improve hearing:

  1. Potassium rich foods to regulate the fluid in your inner ear.
  2. Foods that contain folic acid help maintain circulation, which in turn help keep the hair cells of the inner ear working properly.
  3.  Zinc rich foods to boost your immune system, which will help reduce the risk of ear infections.
  4. Magnesium rich foods to help protect against noise-related hearing loss.

If you want more information and to see the list of recommended foods, read here:

So, go out and enjoy those social occasions!  Got more tips?  Email us at or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Summer doesn’t last forever.  Plan to join us at our September meeting:  Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. 

Fall Speech Reading Classes

Nancy MacPhee, our speech reading instructor, has notified us that the fall schedule of classes will soon be underway.  It’s worth repeating that studies show that speech reading can have a beneficial effect on your brain and your ability to hear, especially with a cochlear implant.  (See

Level I will run Monday evenings, from 7 to 9 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, and will run for 10 weeks. What’s covered in Level I?  Nancy advises that “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.

If you have taken Level I and are interested in Level II, let us know. If there is sufficient enrollment, Nancy may be persuaded to do a Level II session.

© Daria Valkenburg

Don’t Be Afraid To Travel If You Have Hearing Loss

August 3, 2018.  As summer races by, many of us are busy travelling.  When you have hearing loss, sometimes travel can be a bit challenging.  At our May meeting, two intrepid ladies shared travel tips from recent trips made to Malta and Australia, making us long to pack our suitcases and start on an adventure off the island.

Brenda Graves, who visited Malta and Sicily with her husband Stuart this spring, noted that “the close quarters, upholstery, and carpeting found on modern airplanes muffle sounds, making hearing what is being said difficult.”  Brenda, whose hearing loss includes high frequency sounds, found that the increasing number of male flight attendants, with their deeper voices, were easier to understand.  She went on to explain that “As a senior lady, I have found that female flight attendants will lean closer to be heard.

Brenda also stressed that not all activities require you to hear well, and showed us photos from a Good Friday pageant in Malta.  “It was quite the occasion!” she noted.


Good Friday pageant in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

Besides flying by plane, Brenda travelled on a ferry to Sicily, to see Mt Etna.  She explained that “Modern ferries are quiet, with minimal vibration.  Sound systems are good and the crew members are quick to repeat announcements, and escort passengers on deck during rough crossings.

She also took a bus tour, and was happy to find that “Our tour bus was modern and quiet.  Our guide spoke four languages quite clearly and loud enough to be heard, even without the sound system.

In addition to the bus tour, Brenda travelled on Hop On Hop Off buses, saying they were an excellent way to get a taste of tourist spots.”  Her advice?  “If there is a guide, try to sit on the upper level near the guide at the front.  Some buses have audio earbuds with an adjustable volume.  Do not sit on the lower level at the back of the bus, as engine noise and vibration make hearing quite difficult.


View from Hop On Hop Off bus in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

A favourite photo of her trip to Malta reinforced that travel doesn’t always require you to have perfect hearing.  “Me ankle deep in the Mediterranean Sea at St. Paul’s Bay, while back home people were ankle deep in snow!


Brenda Graves dips her toes in the Mediterranean Sea in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

We thoroughly enjoyed the presentation Brenda Graves shared with us on Malta.  She’ll be invited back after her next trip!  But, we had more enjoyment to come, with a presentation by Brenda Porter on her trip to Australia with her partner Gerry Gray.

Brenda explained that Australia was a “once in a lifetime trip” for them, and allowed them to visit Gerry’s cousin in Adelaide, as well as see many sights in this beautiful country.  Preparation was key, and she said they “booked a hotel room in Vancouver both coming and going so that we could have a good rest before the long 15 hour flight from Vancouver to Sydney.”  At each stage she made sure that she “indicated when booking flights and guided tours that I was Hard of Hearing.  I polished up my Hard of Hearing button, and packed all the tools for cleaning hearing aids and replacement bits.

CIMG7617 Jun 27 2017 HOH buttons for sale

After sharing her tips for travel preparation, we learned some good tips for how she managed en route to their destinations.  “I checked all signage in airports and public transit, and confirmed the information. Upon entering the aircraft, I let the flight attendant know that I would need to be advised of critical announcements.

Once in Australia, Brenda “advised hotel desk personnel, tour guides, waiters in restaurants, etc., that I wear two hearing aids and would require clear articulation and eye contact.  I made certain to repeat back information re times and locations to be sure that I had it right.  I always looked for a corner table or the quietest spot in restaurants and was prepared to make errors and laugh.”  This last tip is essential.  Anyone who travels needs a good sense of humour, whether they have hearing loss or not!

She noted four particular challenges during the trip:

  1. Fatigue! “My solution was to try and find rest time each day.”  Good advice.  Those of us with hearing loss know how difficult it can be to concentrate on hearing when we’re exhausted.
  2. Driving on the left side. Brenda explained that “my ‘good’ ear was away from Gerry, who was the passenger and navigator, and sometimes misunderstood the directions he gave.  The solution was to study maps very carefully in advance, keep my cool, and not panic.
  3. Noise level in Sydney. “The noise in Sydney was very tough as it’s a very busy city.  The solution was to find some quiet time in the room each day.
  4. The Australian accent.

Brenda also had some surprises during the trip…..

There were hearing loops in Sydney Opera House and on Sydney ferries.”  (For a list of places with hearing loops on Prince Edward Island, see here: Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop)

She appreciated that there was “clear signage on Adelaide and Sydney buses re next stops.”  Much better than trying to figure out an announcement!

She noted that there was “generally greater awareness of hard of hearing than here.” Per the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, which is administered by the Department of Health, one in six Australians is affected by hearing loss, and this is expected to increase to one in four by 2050.  Given the expected growth in the demand for hearing services, the Government of Australia says it is focused on improving accessibility of hearing services. (See

Wondering about the percentages in Canada?  It’s already higher than in Australia!  According to  the 2012 to 2015 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), 40% of adults aged 20 to 79 had at least slight hearing loss in one or both ears.  Adults aged 60 to 79 were significantly more likely to have hearing loss (78%) compared with younger adults aged 40 to 59 (40%) and 20 to 39 (15%). Males (47%) were significantly more likely to have hearing loss compared with females (32%). (See

Summing up the advice by the two Brendas:

Brenda Graves:  “It’s your vacation.  Enjoy it!

Brenda Porter:  “Travel is wonderful.  Don’t wait.  Plan wisely re fatigue.  And know that people care and want to help.

Brenda’s presentation on Australia and solid tips for preparation were very much appreciated.  We hope she will share insights from future trips!

After these two enjoyable presentations, it was time to celebrate the birthday of Annie Lee MacDonald.


Celebrating Annie Lee MacDonald’s birthday.  (Photo credit:  Daria Valkenburg)

Summer doesn’t last forever.  Plan to join us at our September meeting:  Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church

For more tips on flying with hearing loss, see:  Got travel tips for travelling with hearing loss to share?  Email us at or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg