We Are Your Bridge To Hear

September 25, 2019.  In the previous blog posting, I explained that a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI” gave us some seed money to make fully captioned short videos on topics of interest and value to Islanders, and non-Islanders, with hearing loss.  Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” with guest Graham Hocking of England has already had an effect beyond the island. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

CIMG3077 Aug 23 2019 Daria & Annie Lee at Pedros in Rustico

Daria (left) and Annie Lee (right) in a planning session for the YouTube video project.

People with hearing loss face many challenges, and have to learn many coping techniques to live and thrive. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in Canada, and more information needs to be made available to the general public, as well as to those who are affected.  With the wonderful assistance of our post-production editor Wendy Nattress, we now also have available on YouTube a new video, ‘We Are Your Bridge To Hear”, about our organization and a brief introduction to the hearing loss world.

 

Presentation1

Screenshot above shows a comment from Ted of ALDS on YouTube: “Fantastic video ladies! Most excellent… Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing.

After seeing the video, Brenda Graves commented that: “In my own experience, sometimes a friend says something humorous or ‘profound’. I don’t hear them so I ask them to repeat it. They think I am stupid or slow because I ‘didn’t get it’, when in fact I didn’t HEAR it.  A former US president Ronald Reagan (politics aside) was thought to be an unintelligent man because he didn’t ‘understand’ things said to him.  Like me, he was hard of hearing (more so than me actually).  And if a US president can be considered slow or stupid because of a hearing loss, what does that say for us ‘regular’ people? I wish your organization much success in its efforts to educate the ‘hearing’ public about the situations of those who are hard of hearing.

Thank you to Wendy Nattress for her excellent work in making the video so presentable, and to both Brenda Graves and Ted for their comments.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.  

 

 

Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI

September 20, 2019.  As a non-profit organization run by volunteers, we depend on grants and donations to help provide outreach and educational activities that build awareness of issues related to hearing health and hearing loss.  To extend our outreach capability, we were delighted to be awarded a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”.

Funding for this project is giving us the opportunity to make short videos on topics of interest and value to people with hearing loss, here on Prince Edward Island, and, as we are quickly discovering, outside the province.  Each video is fully captioned.

CIMG3054 Aug 1 2019 Signing of Senior Secretariat contract for you tube videos

Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald with Mary Driscoll Seniors Policy Advisor Department of Social Development and Housing (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” was filmed with guest Graham Hocking of England, who demonstrated how he could easily listen to his car radio or passengers through a hearing loop.

Photo of Wendy Nattress by Graeme Nattress

Wendy Nattress. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

We are very lucky in our post-production editor, Wendy Nattress, who volunteered to edit our footage and set us up with a You Tube account.  Wendy and her husband Graeme are the parents of four children.  One child, Eric, is a Deaf child with moderate/severe hearing loss.  Wendy explained that “using a big ‘D’ for the word Deaf is a cultural identifier that does not view hearing loss as a disability, but rather as a cultural gain.”  Because of this hearing loss connection, and the nature of our project, Wendy was interested in donating her time and knowledge in video production.

You can watch the video here:

After seeing the video, Graham, who is a trustee with the British organization Deaf Aspirations, explained that the organization would like to post the video link on their website. (See  Deafaspirations.org for more information.)  Ken Carter, Company Director, wrote that “I thought the video created in PEI was really interesting and forward thinking.

Graham’s reaction?  “Jacqueline and I were very impressed with your 1st video production. Very clear with the explanation and we do realize a lot of work and efforts went into it, even capturing cow mooing in the background. Well done.

We are very encouraged and delighted to be making a difference already with this new venture!

The Seniors Secretariat of PEI was formed in 1998 as an entry point for seniors to collaborate with government on matters relating to seniors, their issues and concerns; to act as a resource and information centre and to advise government on the development of public policy. Members come from the general public as well as various non-profit organizations that represent seniors.

Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Graham Hocking.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​: Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. ​Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.” Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? 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. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

Post Dorian….More Tips To Think Of For Future Preparations

September 15, 2019. Last month a blog posting on preparing for an emergency when you have hearing loss seemed timely, given the experience we recently had on Prince Edward Island with post-tropical storm Dorian. (See Are You Prepared For An Emergency?)

What was your experience?  Did you make use of any of the tips?  At our home the storm gave us a wild ride!  We were lucky that the only damage we had was tree and branch damage.

20190907-sep-7-2019-maple-tree-in-backyard-came-down-around-630-pm.jpg

An enormous maple tree simply pulled out of the ground and toppled over! (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Having been through an earthquake, numerous power failures, civil unrest, and several years as an education officer in an emergency management college, I considered us well prepared….and we were. However, the storm brought out a few additional tips to consider in preparing for future emergencies after we were left with no phone, no electricity, and no internet!

We had no phone, no electricity, and no internet!

We listened to the radio (battery-powered, of course) and it was disheartening at the number of references by earnest radio hosts, urging people to ‘go to this web page to find out what’s open or closed in your area, or where to go to an emergency shelter’.  It was almost the only default response, even though people were phoning in on cell phones asking questions because…. they had no internet or electricity!  Very difficult to look something up on the internet when you don’t have it! So, here are a few more tips:

Internet service may not be accessible!

Don’t depend only on the internet for information. If the power and/or internet are out, you need alternate ways to get information.  If you have phone service, you can try calling a radio station for information.  Alternatively, call someone outside of the affected area and ask if they can look up the information you need on the internet and then call you back.  Include the phone numbers of the radio station and someone who lives in a different area than you in your emergency plan, so you have them handy.  One friend told me she never bothered getting a battery-powered radio as she assumed she could access the internet to get all the information she needed.  She explained how unnerving it was to not know what was going on after her cell phone connection was lost.  In the commotion, she had forgotten that there was a radio in her car.

Arrange for someone to check that you are OK.

Pre-arrange to have someone to check up on you. This seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  If you have an extended family in the area who can visit to make sure you are OK, then perhaps it is.  Many of us don’t, and either have no family in the nearby area or no family members.  If something happens, who is going to see if you are all right?  In your emergency plan preparations, pre-arrange for a friend or family member to contact you in the event of an emergency or disaster, and ensure that person knows who to call in case you don’t answer.  Most likely, this could be a neighbour who might not mind taking a look if asked.  If your friend or family member lives in the same area as you, and might be in the same emergency or disaster situation as you, consider asking a second friend or family member to also contact you.  After our internet service was working again, we found emails from numerous friends that we didn’t even realize were aware of the storm hitting the Island, asking if we were all right.

You will be tired and under stress!

Recognize that you will be stressed and tired. We were lucky not to have major damage or injuries, so we were surprised at how tired we felt after the storm was over and we had made the necessary arrangements for the yard cleanup and removal of the downed trees.  We all are aware that when we are stressed and tired we can’t concentrate as well as we normally can. A diminished level of concentration means we don’t comprehend what we are hearing as well as we do normally.  Take time to rest and recognize that your concentration levels will recover once you are no longer stressed or tired.

Can you add to the tips in the previous posting and this one? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog.  You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker​s​: Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. ​Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.” Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? 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. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

Why Don’t Islanders With CIs Have An Audiologist With The CI Program Come To The Island?

September 10, 2019. At present, Islanders with cochlear implants (CIs) travel to Halifax for appointments with a Clinical Audiologist with the Nova Scotia Cochlear Implant Program.

With so many Islanders having cochlear implants, Joan Gallant wonders why an audiologist can’t come to the Island, instead of everyone having to travel to Halifax, a journey of several hours, for what is usually a 30 minute appointment. “I was hoping that sometime in the future, someone could come to PEI even once a year to see clients even though I know it means bringing a computer and records, etc.  but there are sound proof booths here.  It is very difficult now to go to Halifax for many of us.  The transportation part is much more complicated and for a half hour appointment, an extremely long day travelling.

Joan has put out a call for feedback from Islanders with a cochlear implant.  Here’s her request:  “I would like to try to see what we can do for those with CIs to have someone come to PEI at least once a year to service, check, make adjustments, etc. so we don’t have to go to Halifax.  I wouldn’t mind if we had to all pay something and maybe the government would help.  I had asked my audiologist how many people she thought had CIs on PEI.  She guessed about 115.  What are your thoughts?

It’s a bit puzzling why an audiologist here on the Island isn’t assigned to the program, saving hours of travelling time and expense.  Does anyone have an answer?

Thank you to Joan Gallant for bringing up this issue.  If you have a cochlear implant, please share your thoughts on Joan’s request for input.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog.  You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​:  ​Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? 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. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

Will People With Cochlear Implants Always Sing Out Of Tune?

September 3, 2019. Cochlear implants have changed the lives of so many people who otherwise would be struggling to hear the simplest sounds.  But what happens if you are a musician or singer?  A cochlear implant (CI) is not designed for music, but for speech.  The information needed to distinguish notes that sound similar, such as you’d find in music, is not programmed in current CIs, as Joan Gallant of Rusticoville discovered.

Joan explained that “I have been singing a good part of my life, including church choirs, college choir which required auditions, and in later years a seniors’ choral group.  A few months ago I was told I was not singing in tune!  I had been playing the piano and singing while reading music with someone who sings and also plays piano but by ear.  I thought maybe my piano was out of tune so invited over someone who not only plays but teaches music.  She said my piano was fine and had me play a few notes and sing those notes.  She also said I was not singing in tune.  I have since done some research and most research says a person with a CI doesn’t hear the same as others with normal hearing or even a hearing aid.  This is apparently the reason I cannot sing in tune.  I am thinking that sometimes ignorance is bliss.  Our choral director says sing anyway.

I have also read that children with two CIs at the same time are more able to enjoy music and apparently more able to sing in tune.  Another comment was that there is an app which a person can use to help him or her get the correct pitch.  I have spoken to a singing teacher and asked if he ever taught anyone with a CI and he said no.  He thinks it may be doable.  Apparently if I start doh with the right pitch I can sing the scale correctly but singing anything else I am on and off pitch.  I am hoping to take a few singing lessons to see if I can learn to once again sing in tune.  I was never a soloist but always enjoyed singing in a group or by myself.

Since Joan has a CI from MED-EL, Jodi Ostroff, Clinical Account Manager, Canada, MED-EL Corporation, Canada was contacted to see if she knew of an app or knew someone who could help Joan.  Jodi replied by saying that “that there are lots of music training apps, which can be fun and helpful for music training. Johanna Boyer is a music researcher who works for MED-EL and is a CI recipient. She wrote an article regarding such music training apps, which can be found on the MED-EL Blog at https://blog.medel.com/our-music-specialist-ci-user-johanna-shares-her-secret-tips-for-the-best-music-training-apps/”  An invitation was extended for Joan to contact Johanna.

So what does music sound like through a CI?  Sean Mills and Mark Fletcher of the University of Southampton in England explain in an article that for people with CIs “music can be hard to enjoy. Smooth melodies become harsh buzzes, beeps and squawks. Much of what they used to love about music is now absent. The implant is poor at conveying the pitch of voices and instruments, as well as the quality (timbre) of the music. This can make it hard to follow the melody, understand the lyrics, or separate one instrument from another.”  Their article includes an example of what people with CIs actually can hear in a simulation, noting thatalmost all of the raw, untrammelled emotion that Ed Sheeran brings to his performance of Thinking Out Loud is lost, leaving the music abrasive and flat.”  To read the whole article and listen to the simulation, see https://theconversation.com/heres-what-music-sounds-like-through-an-auditory-implant-112457

Joan was one of the participants in a 2014/2015 study done at the University of Prince Edward Island by audiologist Derek Hughes of Campbell Hearing, for his thesis towards a Masters in Science (Audiology).  The study asked participants to perform tasks from the AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills in Persons with Cochlear Implants.  (AIRS refers to Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Singing.  For more information see https://www.airsplace.ca/).

All participants were put in a sound proof booth with a computer and followed 11 components as shown below:

Components

The components tested in a study at UPEI. (Slide courtesy of Derek Hughes)

Two of the components focused on the children’s song ‘Brother John’, or, for those of us who grew up watching Chez Hélène on CBC, ‘Frère Jacques’.  Don’t know the song?  Watch the You Tube video, in both English and French:  https://youtu.be/pa_iTP5kL3g.

This deceptively simple song has five sections and ten tonic notes, as identified below:

Component 2 Brother John

The 5 sections and 10 tonic notes of the song ‘Brother John’. (Slide courtesy of Derek Hughes)

A tonic note is the first note in any piece of music.  If the key is C major, then C is the tonic. If the key is in A-flat major, then A-flat is the tonic.  The melody itself has a range of tones, like going up and down a ladder, but in 10 spots, the same note should be reached, as you can see below:

10 tonic notes

The 10 tonic notes of the song ‘Brother John’. (Slide courtesy of Derek Hughes)

None of the participants could hit the 10 tonic notes.  Their pitch tended to go down, not up.  All the participants in the UPEI study conducted by Derek Hughes had some daily involvement in music.  Some had been musically trained before losing their hearing.  This led to the conclusion that musical ability wasn’t the issue, but the cochlear implant.  The study confirmed that CIs are not designed to process music.

CIMG2991 May 28 2019 Derek Hughes Fran Salsman Joan Gallant Alma Nunn

Left to right: Derek Hughes, Fran Salsman, Joan Gallant, Alma Nunn. All three women have CIs, and used to sing in choirs before their hearing loss. Joan continues to sing after receiving her cochlear implant. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Joan Gallant did get in contact with Johanna Boyer, and continued with singing lessons for a short period. “Although I am making extremely small improvements, I have a very long way to go and I find this extra concentration and focus very exhausting.  I guess I really want to be able to sing in tune.”  After getting a singing app to test her pitch she stopped her singing lessons to concentrate on pitch.  “My pitch is all over the place. My friend says I’m singing in the cracks between the keys.   I can’t seem to hold the note.

Joan has been invited to participate in a MED-EL study in Durham, North Carolina in October and hopes this will help give her what is needed to be able to sing in tune.

Thank you to Joan Gallant for sharing her story, to Jodi Ostroff, and to Derek Hughes for sharing the results of his study. Do you have a cochlear implant?  What is your experience with music?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog.  You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​:  Brenda Porter, who will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? 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. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!