“The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”

June 30, 2019.  As volunteers for a non-profit organization dedicated to improving hearing accessibility and building awareness on hearing loss issues here on Prince Edward Island, we meet people of all ages and from all walks of life.  The number one issue of importance to anyone with hearing loss is being able to communicate.  This is one reason why the current petition being circulated that is asking for equal access to hearing aid funding for all Islanders, regardless of age, is receiving such support.

One senior who finds communication vital is 95 year old Ruth Brewer of Rustico. Although she is nearly blind and has hearing loss, she lives a very independent life.  Annie Lee MacDonald visited her this winter when she purchased a pocket talker, an affordable option as she could not afford the cost of hearing aids.

Over the past few years, Island lawyers who participated in a project to improve communications with clients who have hearing loss have been ardent supporters and advocates for removing barriers and stigma surrounding hearing loss. (See PEI Lawyers & Law Community With Pocket Talkers and Improving Communication Between the Legal Community and Those With Hearing Loss) It was through her lawyer that Ruth learned about the pocket talker, as her daughter Dede Wilson noted:  “My mum had used it in discussions with our lawyer at Stewart and McKelvey. It was wonderful for her and really changed her life. She then was able to call and order one from you.

Being able to hear brought me back from giving up on life to becoming human again.”…. Ruth Brewer

The pocket talker is my lifeline”, Ruth Brewer said.  “Being able to hear brought me back from giving up on life to becoming human again.” During another visit with Annie Lee this week,  Ruth explained that there are many seniors like her who become tired of peoples’ impatience with them when they can’t hear, especially family who refuse to accept they have trouble hearing.

Ruth is an amazing woman” says Annie Lee.  “She was an advocate for many things in her active years and especially for convincing the government to allow nurse practitioners to practise on PEI. She says it took seven years. She is also very ready to advocate for the government to supplement the cost of hearing aids for seniors over sixty five. Communication is very important to Ruth.”

Indeed, Ruth signed the petition for equal access to hearing aid funding, bringing our total of signatures to 1,848, or 74% of our goal.  (See Petition Update For Week 8 for more on this important initiative)

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Ruth Brewer signs the petition for equal access to hearing aid funding while Annie Lee MacDonald looks on. (Photo credit: Elmer MacDonald)

Individual stories of those with hearing loss are important as we build awareness of hearing issues, and encourage hearing accessibility. Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Congratulations To Spring 2019 Speech Reading Graduates

June 30, 2019.  The spring session of Speech Reading is now completed, with two Levels of classes run this time.  Instructor Nancy MacPhee reported that five students successfully completed Level 1 and another 5 successfully completed Level 2.

The Level 1 graduates are:

  • Kari Ferguson
  • Anita Matheson
  • Gail Metcalf
  • Catherine Parkman
  • Doug Hagan
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Level 1 Speech Reading graduates Spring 2019 session. Left to right: Kari Ferguson, Anita Matheson, Gail Metcalf, Doug Hagan. (Photo credit: Nancy MacPhee)

The Level 2 graduates are:

  • Ellen Kitchener
  • Hari Boggs
  • Barbara Bain
  • Sharon Beaton
  • Bob Furlotte

Congratulations to all the graduates and to instructor Nancy MaacPhee for another successful session of classes.  Thank you to Seniors Active Living Centre and Sobey’s Community Room for providing space for the two courses.

If you would like to put your name on the list for the fall session of Level 1, please send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

Have you taken a speech reading course?  We would love to hear from you.  Your comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.  We are also on Twitter @HearPEI.

 

Last Chance To Help Us Win $10,000

June 28, 2019.  An earlier blog posting discussed the Great Canadian Giving Challenge Charity Appeal, and the opportunity to win $10,000 every time an online donation was made at Canada Helps during the month of June.  Time is running out for this contest! (See The Great Canadian Giving Challenge Charity Appeal)

A big thank you to everyone who donated.  Not only did you help ensure that we have the funds to continue helping Islanders with hearing accessibility awareness and education, you gave us a chance at this prize.  If you haven’t yet donated, please consider doing so at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/gcgc/86759 

Donor Joan Gallant provided the following message with her donation:  “I appreciate all the hard work done for those of us with hearing problems. It is an important organization and thanks go out to Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg for the many hours they put in for the benefit of those who are hard of hearing.” Thank you, Joan, for your heartfelt comments.  Want to join Joan? 100% of your donation stays on the island. Here is the link again!  See https://www.canadahelps.org/en/gcgc/86759 

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All of us can identify a family member or friend whose life is restricted because of their hearing loss. We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

Petition Update For Week 8

June 8, 2019. The petition to request equal treatment for adult Islanders in the supplementation of costs for hearing aids continues to be circulated.  The petition requests the following: Supplement the cost of hearing aids for seniors by extending the AccessAbility Supports Program to include all adults, not just those up to age 65, or devise a similar program

A thank you is extended to the staff at Pizza Donair Hub in Borden-Carleton! Not only did we enjoy a delicious lunch, they were very supportive of our petition.  We also thank the elected municipal and provincial officials we met at last week’s National Accessibility Week event in Charlottetown, hosted by the PEI Council of People With Disabilities.  All supported this initiative, and all except one, a provincial Minister, signed the petition. Thank you as well to Campbell Hearing in Charlottetown.  The petition is now available in their waiting room.

As of the end of Week 8, we’ve reached 66.24% of our goal, with sheets of signed petitions returned as follows:

Petition May 30 2019

The petition is available at:

  • three PEI Council of People With Disabilities offices: Charlottetown, Summerside, and Montague.
  • office of ENT specialist Dr. Kristian MacDonald in Charlottetown
  • South Shore Actiplex in Crapaud.
  • Harvey’s General Store in Crapaud. Thank you Doug and Susan Harvey!
  • Bonshaw Post Office
  • Horizon Hearing Centre offices in Charlottetown, Summerside, and Montague (see https://www.horizonhearingcentre.ca/). Thank you Michael and Lynn Learie!
  • PEI Audiology in Charlottetown (see https://peiaudiology.ca/). Thank you Peter Benstead!
  • Campbell Hearing in Charlottetown (see http://www.campbellhearing.ca/). Thank you Krista Campbell and Derek Hughes!

We ask you to support the petition and help us reach our goal of a minimum of 2,500 signatures. If you’d like to be one of the volunteers circulating the petition amongst your family and friends, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  We welcome not only your signature, but also your letters of support. Updates will be posted on this blog and on Twitter (@HearPEI).

Awareness of hearing issues and hearing loss prevention programs are important.  Our education and outreach activities provide not only awareness, but also tips and techniques to help Islanders thrive while living with hearing loss. Please consider donating to us this month, during the Great Canadian Giving Challenge.  100% of your donation stays on the island for island-related activities. Visit our secure online donation page here to process your online donation today.  Every donation enters our organization into a draw for $10,000.

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Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

June Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speakers:  Colin MacKenzie and Nancy MacPheeColin will speak about his experience as a youth with hearing loss.  Nancy will give a report on the CHHA National Conference in Montreal that she attended.

Outreach Event: Invitation to have a display booth on June 26, 2019 at the National Human Rights Conference, at The Delta Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. Link to the agenda: https://www.cashra2019pei.ca/programme.

 

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge Charity Appeal

June 8, 2019.  Over the period that this blog has run, readers have had a chance to learn about various issues related to hearing loss and hearing health.  You’ve been able to follow the activities of volunteers here on Prince Edward Island.  And you’ve had a forum to comment and share your own information and insights.  While everyone involved with our hearing loss group here on the Island is a volunteer, funding is still needed to keep going.  So this blog posting is an appeal for you to consider making a donation to continue this good work…….

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Supporters and Friends of Islanders who have hearing loss:                                      

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is here!!   Every $1 donated to the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association in June via CanadaHelps.org, automatically enters us to win an additional $10,000 donation. The grand prize draw is on Canada Day and one lucky charity will receive the grand prize of $10,000. 

As volunteers who actively work towards increased awareness of hearing loss issues, we ask you to consider making a donation to us during the challenge.  We are dependent on your generous donation to maintain and expand advocacy, outreach, and education for Islanders with hearing loss.  Every dollar that you donate goes directly to these initiatives right here in PEI.

One in five Canadians has some form of hearing loss.  Even if you don’t suffer from hearing loss, many of you will know someone who does. Early intervention is important for several reasons, among them:

  • Hearing loss can worsen. It never gets better!
  • People tend to adapt to hearing aids more easily if they get them earlier.
  • Some studies show that untreated hearing impairment can affect your socioeconomic status.
  • Untreated hearing loss can lead to higher depression and anxiety rates.
  • Untreated hearing loss may increase the likelihood of dementia.

Our education and outreach activities tackle these issues by providing not only awareness, but also tips and techniques to help Islanders thrive while living with hearing loss.  You may have participated in one of our outreach and awareness programs, or attended a seminar or information meeting. But we can’t do it without your support – whether the donation is large or small, every dollar helps. And just imagine what we could do if we won the $10,000!

Please consider donating to us during the Great Canadian Giving Challenge during June.  Visit our secure online donation page here to process your online donation today.

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We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.    Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

June Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speakers:  Colin MacKenzie and Nancy MacPheeColin will speak about his experience as a youth with hearing loss.  Nancy will give a report on the CHHA National Conference in Montreal that she attended.

Outreach Event: Invitation to have a display booth on June 26, 2019 at the National Human Rights Conference, at The Delta Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. Link to the agenda: https://www.cashra2019pei.ca/programme.

 

 

Hearing Loss and Intersectionality

June 4, 2019.  Sometimes you have no idea that you know something!  This became clear when Annie Lee MacDonald and I were invited to participate in a focus group consultation regarding development of an intersectional accessibility training module at the PEI Council of People With Disabilities.  ‘Intersectional Accessibility’?  What was that? we wondered.  We soon found it that it was only the phrase that was unfamiliar!

The session, led by Andy J. Glydon, the Council’s Diversity Training Coordinator, was interesting and informative, leading to a lot of good discussions.  We began with an exercise.  In the photo below, you can see us holding a very long piece of string.  This is to help illustrate things we had in common.  One person began by sharing some information, until someone else found something in common with what was being said, and took hold of the string. This went on until everyone found something in common with at least one person.

CIMG2962 May 10 2019 PEI Council of Disabilities focus group

Participating in an exercise to illustrate common points of interest was a lot of fun!

This then led to an introduction to the concept of intersectionality, which refers to the way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination can combine, interact, or intersect.  The term was first used to describe the differences between what a white or a black woman might experience in terms of discrimination. (See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intersectionality or https://www.cjr.org/language_corner/intersectionality.php)

In looking at the viewpoint of disability, the discussion then led to how different groups might be perceived, even if they have the same disability.  With hearing loss issues, it got us thinking about how a child with hearing loss could be perceived, as opposed to a working person, or a senior.  Are they thought of in the same way? What if the person with hearing loss had another disability or condition to deal with? Do social factors affect perception?

Hearing loss is very inclusive in terms of who can be affected!  Young, middle-aged, or senior, wealthy, middle-income, or poor, of any cultural background or anywhere in the world, anyone can have, or be at risk for, hearing loss.

So why did I say that only the phrase was unfamiliar?  When I went to university…. a hundred years ago it seems…. women were encouraged to attend sessions on discrimination to ‘prepare you for the way you could be marginalized’ in applying for a career position or being in the workplace.  In those days, potential employers (always men!) would get around questions they were forbidden to ask (like if you were married and had children), by asking inappropriate, but not illegal, questions like “Are you on the pill?”  We were warned this was code for “Are you in a relationship?  Are you about to get pregnant?”  It was suggested we reply by pretending to misunderstand, rather than pointing out that it was not an acceptable question.

You could apply the term intersectionality in describing the differences in how men and women were treated in interviews and the workplace in those days.  If you had a surname or cultural background that wasn’t Anglo-Saxon, you had an additional challenge to deal with. Add in a disability of any kind, and you had a third layer of challenge.  The list went on.

These memories came back when we attended the launch of the Intersectional Accessibility Framework during National Awareness Week earlier this week.  It’s a great first step towards starting the conversation on making the Island more accessible for all.

During this event, it was encouraging to hear Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA and Leader of the Green Party, explain that real time captioning was introduced in the PEI legislature earlier this year.  Well done!

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.    Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

June Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speakers:  Colin MacKenzie and Nancy MacPheeColin will speak about his experience as a youth with hearing loss.  Nancy will give a report on the CHHA National Conference in Montreal that she attended.

Outreach Event: Invitation to have a display booth on June 26, 2019 at the National Human Rights Conference, at The Delta Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. Link to the agenda: https://www.cashra2019pei.ca/programme.