November 15, 2018. Now that the first snow has fallen here on the island, thoughts are turning to the annual holiday shopping spree. “What can we get for our hard of hearing friends or relatives to help them be better able to communicate?” is a common query we get. Who better to ask than those of us in the same boat!
Last year’s list was popular and this year we can add to it. Here are some suggestions based on our own wish lists, or products we use and love:
Assistive Hearing Devices For Everyday Use:
- A pocket talker – (available from the PEI Chapter) – a small amplification device, suitable for one on one conversations, or for watching TV. If you, or your loved one, are reluctant to wear or are unable to wear a hearing aid, this is a great tool to take to important meetings such as with your lawyer, financial planner, or doctor. Many PEI lawyers already use this tool for better communication with hard of hearing clients.
- Vibrating alarm clock – (available from the PEI Chapter) – has a pulsing vibration alarm. You can even get one that will shake the bed to get you awake. Hmmm…. that’s good for anyone who has trouble getting out of bed in the morning!
- Vibrating pillow alarm clock – a pillow that vibrates, shaking you awake!
- Telephone with amplification and a telecoil – not only has the amplification needed for people with hearing loss, and a range of ringtones to choose from. It also has a telecoil that provides the clarity of sound that lets people enjoy conversations again. The person using it will need to have the telecoil activated in their hearing aid or cochlear implant for the telecoil to work. You can buy a phone like this in places like Staples. Look for the telecoil sign.
- FitBit – not just for those interested in exercise, but also great for those with hearing loss as you get a vibration on your wrist to let you know when you are getting a call or text on your phone! (See https://www.fitbit.com/en-ca/home) Jane Scott told us that: “I rely on it quite a bit to know when there is a message on my phone.” If you’ve missed calls or texts because your phone is stashed away in a pocket or in your purse, then a FitBit may be for you.
- A Live Caption App for a smartphone or tablet – converts speech into text. Visit livecaptionapp.com and download for under $7.
- Hard of Hearing button – (available from the PEI Chapter) imagine how nice it would be never to have to explain to someone that you are hard of hearing, when you can wear a button that says you are hard of hearing!
Hearing Loop Assistive Devices To Give You Clarity Of Sound:
With places on the island that are looped, with what we hope is only the beginning of looped facilities, and Islanders who love to travel, a hearing loop assistive device may be just what you are looking for.
Speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee wrote the following after sharing a recent blog posting with her students (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/the-sound-through-a-hearing-loop/) “I had feedback this week from people who listened to the difference between the looped and unlooped sound ….and were amazed. Even though we have talked about looping…and know that some have used it, I realized that there were those who still did not really ‘get’ it.”
The hearing loop system used on PEI is the same one used in the rest of the world. Whatever way you access the loop here on PEI, whether through a telecoil, a receiver, an app, or a pocket talker, will access the loop anywhere in the world that a hearing loop is installed!
If you have a hearing aid or cochlear implant but the telecoil is NOT yet activated, talk to your audiologist.
If you don’t wear a hearing aid or cochlear implant, or your hearing aid is not formatted for a telecoil, don’t worry. You have three ways to access a hearing loop…….
- If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can download the software for free at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/loopbuds/id1111272148?mt=8. Then you simply plug OTOjOY earbuds into your device (available from the PEI Chapter) and you will access the hearing loop. Unfortunately, at present, there is no software for Android devices.
- If you have no telecoil nor an iPad or iPhone, you can purchase a small hearing loop receiver to access the loop (available from the PEI Chapter). Then, plug earbuds or headphones into the receiver to access the hearing loop.
- If you have no telecoil nor an iPad or iPhone, one type of pocket talker has hearing loop software built into it (available from the PEI Chapter). If you already use a pocket talker, you may want to upgrade to this type of pocket talker as it does double duty.
Have you considered a chair loop pad?
Another useful device is a chair loop pad, also called a hear pad or loop pad. The pad replaces the hearing loop wire and is used where it isn’t possible or desirable to install an actual wire. The chair pad connects to the loop system. The pad can be placed underneath you so that you can sit on it or it can be placed behind the head if a stronger signal is required.
The beauty of a chair pad is that it’s portable. Simply take the system, power supply, and chair pad with you. At your destination, you connect the amp to the TV, plug in the power supply, connect the chair pad, and you are now looped!
Some people, like Graham Hocking, also use a chair pad in the car. It’s connected to the radio and plugs into the cigarette lighter.
Just because you have hearing loss doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy concerts and plays:
Here are two suggestions for those who enjoy entertainment.
- Tickets to a concert or play in a looped environment. Currently on PEI there are two churches that are looped and offer concerts. We list them on our events page (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/) As well, several places in Canada, USA, and around the world have their theatres looped.
- Tickets to a play with captioning. Currently no theatre on PEI offers captioning. You have to go off island for that. Two examples: The Stratford Festival offers several dates with captioning, with the accessibility sponsored by TD Bank. (See link https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/Visit/Accessibility) Planning a visit to some of the Broadway productions in New York? They’ve been offering captioning since 2003, and now you can access the captions on your smart phone during a production. (See https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/11/582527472/its-ok-to-look-at-your-phone-at-a-broadway-show-if-your-hearing-is-impaired)
Donations that help others with hearing loss:
Consider a donation to the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. As an organization made up of volunteers, 100% of your charitable donation is used for education and advocacy initiatives. You can donate by cash or cheque to us directly, or online at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.
Here are two suggestions made by one of our members:
- A $25 donation to fund more advocacy, outreach, and education in PEI.
- A $100 donation to build a fund to support future looping projects.
There are many more items that can be added to this list, of course. If you’ve tried any of these products, please share your experience. Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at email@example.com.
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