November 5, 2018. Last week four of us travelled from the island to Moncton, at the invitation of our colleagues there, to attend Hearing Health New Brunswick, an educational event put on by Avenir Hearing. We had a chance to meet with people we don’t see often, and meet new friends, such as Jacqueline and Graham Hocking of England.
It was also an important event as it was a chance to socialize with other people with hearing loss and learn from their experiences and tips. As this was an event put on by an audiology firm, we expected that there would be a focus on the goods and services provided by audiologists and their suppliers. This was the case here, and there were a few very interesting products we might not have seen otherwise on the island.
However, I found it a bit disappointing that much of the focus was on what they could sell, not what could benefit a person with hearing loss, but might not cost a lot. For example, there was no initial mention of telecoils, which can be activated in hearing aids at no additional cost. Telecoils and hearing loops didn’t enter the discussion until some people from the audience asked about them. Even if you are in an area with no venues equipped with a hearing loop, many electronic devices come with a telecoil. For example, you can buy an inexpensive phone with a telecoil in a store like Staples.
One audiologist told about being on a bus tour in Ireland and telling the people behind him that he and his wife, who both wear hearing aids, couldn’t hear because of the background conversation behind them. This was a bit puzzling as most tour buses in the European Union have a hearing loop. The audiologist and his wife could have switched their hearing aids to the T-switch and heard the guide easily, without any background noise. It was surprising that he did not seem to know much about telecoils.
A number of audience members commented that the international symbol for hearing loss was not displayed or explained. The audiologist responding to the comment incorrectly said it was a symbol developed by a Canadian group and wasn’t widely used or recognized. Several people corrected this misconception about the symbol’s origin, and asked why the audiology firms themselves didn’t display the sign.
The audience was told that it was up to those who have hearing loss to advocate for its use, which was correct. However, no mention was made of the role that audiologists should play in building awareness. The international symbol is used to identify places that that have had awareness training in communicating with people with hearing loss, or where there is an assistive listening device in place. It was a reminder that we need to do more to build awareness of the international symbol here on the island.
So those were the not so great points from the day, but there were a number of positives as well. There was a lot of very interesting and helpful information, which was summarized by Brenda Porter:
- Lip reading provides 40% of info. Need to see lips.
- Remember that there is a difference between hearing and understanding.
- New technology for group conversation increases understanding by 61%.
- Hearing loss is a team sport. Partners and friends have to take part, work together and understand.
- For group conversation and at meetings say “I would love to participate fully in this conversation but you have to help me to do that”.
- Hearing aids are like false teeth. They don’t work when they are in the drawer.
Communication and Aging
- So important to enhance and maintain everyday conversation.
- Maintaining social role is very important. When there is a decrease in communication and a decrease in motivation, mood and general health are affected. Your roles of influence in the community- as leaders, providers- can diminish.
- Decrease in communication leads to cognitive disorders.
- Let others know about your disability. Be up front.
- Develop strategies.
- Use sensory aids. Don’t be embarrassed.
- Demand access to better communication- hospital, community centre, church.
- Try to make your environment communication friendly.
- Ask for assistance if you need it. Talk to your doctor, physiotherapist, etc.
- Believe in your abilities. Your family and friends need you. Your community needs you.
You may lose your sight or your hearing but don’t lose your voice.
In the car going back home, we discussed whether the day had been worth it. Yes, was the consensus. While there is both information and misinformation in events such as these, it’s important to get out and hear what messages people are getting, meet people, and to have a chance to try out new technology. We thank the people at Avenir Hearing for organizing this event.
Do you have a hearing loss issue you’d like to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our blog. You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.
Don’t miss our upcoming events:
November Chapter meeting: Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids). The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.
Presentation: Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.
Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events. (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)
© Daria Valkenburg