A Young Man Living With Hearing Loss

July 23, 2019.  Many people are under the misconception that only older people have hearing loss.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  It’s one of the reasons why it is wrong to ignore hearing loss issues.  Ensuring that hearing accessibility supports, such as hearing loops and real time captioning, are in place should be a priority.

At a recent meeting, our guest speaker was Colin Mackenzie of Graham’s Road, who just graduated from high school. Colin is planning to go to St. Mary’s University in Halifax in the fall to study criminology and forensics. As a person with hearing loss, he will need hearing accessibility support in order to be successful in his studies.

IMG_2579 Jun 25 2019 Colin MacKenzie

Colin MacKenzie. (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

Colin explained that he became totally deaf at 2.5 months of age, but about 40% of his hearing returned shortly after that. He was fitted with hearing aids at 18 months of age and then began working with Auditory Verbal Therapist Cheryl Perry. She inspired him and his mother and gave them hope that all would be okay.

With his family’s encouragement, Colin never backed away from activities because of his disability. He played hockey for a couple of years and had inserts cut in his helmet so he could wear his hearing aids and an FM system. He participated in Canskate and Scouts and Curling.   In 2018 and 2019, he and his team represented PEI at three National Curling Championships, the Under18s, and the Canada Winter Games. Signals have been worked out in curling so he does not have to be able to hear the calls.

Colin said he also took swimming lessons but since he couldn’t wear his hearing aids, he had to follow signals. He played in the school band from Grade 8 until graduation.  Colin noted that his friends are pretty considerate, making sure that they look right at him when they are speaking because they know that he reads lips.

Over the years, Colin has attended a few conferences for youth with hearing loss, including one in Ottawa where he began making friends with others with hearing loss. (See Young Adults Can Also Have Hearing Loss)

While at school, Colin used several coping strategies including letting teachers know of his hearing loss. He always asked the teachers to be careful where they placed the FM mikes, because if they wore long jewellery, or had clothing rubbing up against the mike, it made it very painful for Colin to listen to.  Unfortunately, none of the schools he attended used hearing loop technology.  (See The Sound Through A Hearing Loop)

An engaging young man, Colin also took the time to show his support for the petition that had been circulating to request a policy change in the PEI government to supplement the availability of hearing aid funding by extending the AccessAbility Supports Program to include all adults, not just those up to age 65, or devise a similar program.  (See Petition Presented In PEI Legislature)

IMG_2577 Jun 25 2019 Colin MacKenzie signs petition

18 year old Colin MacKenzie signs the petition, while Brenda Porter looks on. (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

Colin is one of many children and youth living with hearing loss.  They are bright and innovative, and want to make their lives as close as possible to those of their friends.  Unlike many people who hide their hearing loss, they accept it as part of themselves.

Remy Eichner, a young woman from Utah, developed a helmet for people with cochlear implants. “The helmets allow people with implants to ride a bike, ride a horse or ski while protecting their heads with a helmet”, she commented in an article.  See https://www.parkrecord.com/news/student-develops-helmet-for-people-with-cochlear-implant/

Jason Trotter of the United Kingdom notes that “Hearing aids have given me so much confidence in speaking and listening to people without having to feel left out or isolated for missing what was being said.”  Read his story at https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/health/deaf-plymouth-jason-trotter-hearing-1971604

What an inspiration these young people are!  Do you have a story to share?  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

 

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Another Successful Ceilidh Raises Funds for Activities Not Covered By Grants

July 22, 2019.  The Third Annual Bonshaw Ceilidh on May 26, 2019, with half the proceeds going to help fund activities not covered by grants, was another success.  As a kick-off to the fundraising appeal we ran through June 2019, the funds help in ongoing activities.  We all may be volunteers, but there are modest costs involved for any activity we undertake.  So we are grateful to the people who organize the Bonshaw Ceilidh for ensuring that proceeds from one of their monthly events goes to support our work.

CIMG2986 May 26 2019 Bonshaw Ceilidh with Cameron McDuffee

Performer Cameron MacDuffee with, from left to right: Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, Marion Toole, Nancy Reddin.

This year, as blog readers know, we are working towards a policy change in the provincial government, for equal access to hearing aid funding programs for all adults on PEI.  (See Petition Presented In PEI Legislature)  Funds raised from the ceilidh and through donations help us in our outreach activities, to give small honorariums to guest speakers at our meetings, and to promote hearing accessibility projects that are not funded by grants.

The ceilidh was an opportunity to listen to live music and have an exceptional afternoon with talented artists who graciously volunteered their time and talent: Bill McIntyre, Joanne Gass and her daughter Emily, Cameron MacDuffee, Leonard O’Donnell, Retrofrets, and James Ranahan.  Our thanks to Marion Toole, who made the initial proposal to help our group to the organizers of the Bonshaw Ceilidh, to Ceilidh organizer Tony Reddin, and to the audience who gave so generously.  We also thank all the performers and audience members who signed the petition!  Yes, we did double duty that Sunday afternoon!

CIMG2973 May 26 2019 Bonshaw Ceilidh Bill McIntyre

Performer Bill McIntyre. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG2977 May 26 2019 Bonshaw Ceilidh Cameron McDuffee

Performer Cameron MacDuffee, currently performing in the role of Claudius in Krongborg-The Hamlet Rock Musical at the Charlottetown Festival. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG2978 May 26 2019 Bonshaw Ceilidh Leonard ODonnell

Performer Leonard O’Donnell of Brookville, Florida was in The Maritimes on vacation when he noticed the ceilidh advertised and dropped in to share a few tunes. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG2983 May 26 2019 Bonshaw Ceilidh Retrofrets

Performing group Retrofrets. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG2985 May 26 2019 Bonshaw Ceilidh James Ranahan

Singer and dancer James Ranahan. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In addition to the funds received from the Bonshaw Ceilidh, this is a good opportunity to thank the following donors:

  • Cox and Palmer Charlottetown law firm
  • Ruth Walsh
  • Marie McKenna
  • Jean Schurman
  • Sharon Beaton
  • Louise Larkin
  • Alma Nunn
  • Jane Scott
  • Nancy MacPhee
  • Joan Gallant
  • Annie Lee MacDonald
  • Pieter and Daria Valkenburg

Alma Nunn shared this message with her donation: “Thank you to our faithful and dedicated leaders who give freely of their time and knowledge to promote new ideas and technology to the hard of hearing on PEI.

Want to donate? 100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  Please visit our page on the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.

You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

 

 

 

Hearing Loss — Why Is It An Ignored Condition?

July 18, 2019.  Since April 2001, residents of PEI with hearing loss have had a non-profit volunteer organization to turn to for support and information.  Over the years, we’ve advocated for better hearing accessibility tools and programs on behalf of those with hearing loss, and encouraged hearing accessibility in public places.

The most common issue discussed is the affordability of hearing aids, particularly for seniors.  On PEI, seniors and adults under 65 are not treated equally in access to hearing aid funding.  We’ve tried to do something to change that and blog readers have been following our activities, including the petition being presented in the PEI legislature on July 9.  (See Petition Presented In PEI Legislature).

Annie Lee MacDonald notes that “the petition received support across the Island.”  Indeed it has.  The petition was supported by Islanders of all walks of life, of all ages, and from people with and without hearing loss.  One urologist told me, when I asked him to sign the petition, that many of his patients have hearing loss and he hears that hearing aid affordability is a big concern.  Of course, he signed the petition, as did every other doctor that was approached.

For Annie Lee, “it’s a matter of priorities.  We know the AccessAbility Supports Program needs money to operate and you might ask where it is going to come from.  The Government is constantly coming up with programs to enhance the lives of seniors. We feel the most important question to ask is to verify if there an issue with effective communication. Are seniors missing out on taking advantage of many of these programs because they can’t hear and can’t afford to buy hearing aids? Shouldn’t assistance to buy hearing aids be most important?

In my opinion, it’s a question of opportunity costs. By helping people with hearing loss to maintain the ability to communicate effectively, through a program like AccessAbility Supports and other programs to address hearing accessibility in public places, we avoid the enormous social and monetary costs, plus health care resources, that unaddressed hearing loss can lead to, such as depression, social isolation, and dementia.  The choices are to pay a bit now through a support program or pay a lot more later when conditions worsen.

As has been mentioned in this blog before, of the three most common chronic conditions in Canada, arthritis is #1, hypertension (high blood pressure) is #2, and hearing loss is #3.  Hearing loss is a chronic condition that can lead to more serious issues and health problems if hearing accessibility tools are not available and affordable.

In the last blog posting, you were invited to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper, with a copy of your letter sent to your MLA, and to consider sending a copy to the Minister of Health.  A copy to hearpei@gmail.com would be helpful for us in tracking the support for this initiative.

The first person to accept this invitation was Brenda Porter of Charlottetown.  Her letter to the editor was published in both The Guardian and the Journal-Pioneer on July 15, 2019.

Brenda Porter Letter to Editor - blog

Thank you, Brenda, for writing this important letter!  In order to have the policy changed, we need the public to show continued support for this initiative and to help keep the issue fresh in the media.  Blog readers, will you help?

Our education and outreach activities provide not only awareness, but also tips and techniques to help Islanders thrive while living with hearing loss. Donations gratefully accepted at:   https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708  And please remember, 100% of your donation stays on the island for island-related activities.

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 Presented In PEI Legislature

July 13, 2019.  The petition that has been in circulation for the past three months was presented in the PEI Legislature by Leader of the Official Opposition, and Green Party Leader, Peter Bevan-Baker, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. 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

Annie Lee MacDonald and I delivered the petition sheets, plus letters of support that we had received, to Peter Bevan-Baker, and learned a bit about the process.  We were told that although the petition would be recorded in the legislature’s official record, there would not be any discussion about it on the day it was presented.  If we want to have the policy changed, it is up to us and the public to show continued support for this initiative and to keep the issue fresh in the media.

CIMG2998 Jul 8 2019 Meeting re petition Annie Lee Peter Daria

Annie Lee MacDonald, Peter Bevan-Baker, and Daria Valkenburg with the petition binders and letters of support that were presented in the PEI Legislature on July 9, 2019. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Just before the petition was presented a few late sheets were returned, bringing our final total to 2014, or 80.56% of our original goal.  Our thanks as well to the Long River Women’s Institute for their support.

Petition Jul 9 2019

Alma Nunn sent a message of thanks to Peter Bevan-Baker:  “Thank you for supporting our petition for change in the PEI seniors’ hearing aid subsidies. It is most appreciated by all members who worked so diligently to prepare it and everyone who signed it.”

On the day of the presentation, Annie Lee MacDonald and Bob Furlotte attended the session.  Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed in the session, but Annie Lee noted that “Peter presented each binder separately to the clerk and did what he was allowed to do. It is hard to get a reading because no one comments. The minister assured him he will be taking a serious look at it. Politicians were very friendly, shaking hands as we were lined up in the corridor waiting for the politicians to parade in.” Annie Lee was subsequently interviewed by CBC. (See https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-seniors-hearing-aid-assistance-1.5206463)  She handed out the press release we had prepared. (See Hear PEI re petition being presented in legislature)

After the CBC article was published, a comment was made by Judith Bayliss, who has given permission for us to include it here. Thank you Judith.

IMG_2496 Comment by Judith Bayliss

So, the next steps over the summer are up to us and to YOU, if we want to effect a change in policy.  What can you do?  Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper.  Send a copy of your letter to your MLA and consider sending a copy to the Minister of Health.  Please also send a copy to hearpei@gmail.com While the legislature is not in session over the summer, the work of government continues and your advocacy support is needed.

Our education and outreach activities provide not only awareness, but also tips and techniques to help Islanders thrive while living with hearing loss. Donations gratefully accepted at:   https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708  And please remember, 100% of your donation stays on the island for island-related activities.

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 12

July 7, 2019.  The petition to request equal treatment for adult Islanders in the supplementation of costs for hearing aids is nearing the end as we finished Week 12.  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

Petition will be presented in the PEI Legislature on July 9, 2019 by Peter Bevan-Baker.

We are honoured that Leader of the Official Opposition, and Green Party Leader, Peter Bevan-Baker, will be presenting the petition in the PEI Legislature on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 9, 2019. Peter commented that “I am happy to present this petition on behalf of Hear PEI and look forward to the department’s response to the concern that the group has brought to our attention through this petition.”  Thank you Peter!

Anyone interested in attending the legislature on Tuesday afternoon is welcome to come and show support.  Here is what we have been advised for those wishing to attend: “It’s difficult to predict with accuracy what time, but likely between 3 and 3.30 on Tuesday. People who wish to attend should come to the Coles building (where the legislature sits) and enter through the accessible entrance in the basement (it is marked clearly). I would suggest showing up prior to 2 pm as it is occasionally full for question period and you may not get in for 3 pm.”  For those unfamiliar with the Coles Building, the address is 175 Richmond Street in Charlottetown.  Here is a link to driving directions:   https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/building/coles-building

This week we also thank Ralph and Valerie Muttart for their support in circulating the petition.  “My sister wears hearing aids” Valerie explained.

Another volunteer, Lynda Sudsbury, said that “I placed the petition by the counter at the mechanics shop, Alleymar, where I work and let customers read the petition.  If anyone asked about it, I explained that I had received help for my $1,700 hearing aid through the AccessAbility Supports Program.  I wouldn’t have been to easily able to afford it otherwise.  I was lucky as I am under 65 and knew I could get help.  I just want to make sure someone over 65 has the same access to help, if they need it.  No one hearing my explanation ever refused to sign.”  Thank you for sharing that story, Lynda, and for circulating the petition.

As of the end of Week 12, we’ve reached 79.64% of our goal, with sheets of signed petitions returned as follows:

Petition Jul 6 2019

While it’s a disappointment that we didn’t achieve our goal of 2,500 signatures, we are very pleased that support came from across the island, from people of all ages and walks of life, and from both people with and without hearing loss.  We believe this represents a good cross section of Islanders.  Perhaps more petitions will still be returned to help bump up this number.

Hearing loss is the #3 chronic condition in Canada!

Awareness of hearing issues and hearing loss prevention programs are important.  Hearing loss can happen to anyone, and it is the #3 chronic condition in Canada! Arthritis is #1 and hypertension (high blood pressure) is #2.  We don’t hide from having arthritis and high blood pressure, but unfortunately, many people hide their hearing loss.

Our education and outreach activities provide not only awareness, but also tips and techniques to help Islanders thrive while living with hearing loss. If you missed donating during the Great Canadian Giving Challenge in June, please note we have a Canada Helps page for donations all year long.  Donations gratefully accepted at:   https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708  And please remember, 100% of your donation stays on the island for island-related activities.

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 11

July 1, 2019.  The petition to request equal treatment for adult Islanders in the supplementation of costs for hearing aids continues to be circulated as it heads into Week 12.  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

During Week 11, supporters of the petition came from both sides of the age spectrum, from age 18 to age 95!  Thank you to Colin MacKenzie and Ruth Brewer (Read about Ruth at “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”).

IMG_2577 Jun 25 2019 Colin MacKenzie signs petition

18 year old Colin MacKenzie signs the petition, while Brenda Porter looks on. (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

IMG_2600 Jun 29 2019 Ruth Brewer

95 year old Ruth Brewer signs the petition for equal access to hearing aid support. (Photo credit: Elmer MacDonald)

Thank you also to Joan Gallant for reaching out to her MLA, Brad Trivers, about the petition, who responded by writing her that “Hearing aids are such a critical support for people – regardless of age.

As of the end of Week 11, we’ve reached 74% of our goal, with sheets of signed petitions returned as follows:

Petition Jun 29 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 letters of support. Updates will continue to 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.

If you missed donating during the Great Canadian Giving Challenge in June, please note we have a Canada Helps page for donations all year long.  Donations gratefully accepted at:   https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708  And please remember, 100% of your donation stays on the island for island-related activities.

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