In Memory of Ruth Brewer

CIMG3106 Sep 3 2019 Ruth Brewer with Annie Lee

Left, Ruth Brewer with her pocket talker, and Annie Lee MacDonald. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

December 28, 2019.  Ruth Brewer, a delightful woman who loved using her pocket talker to help her communicate, became a shining and exuberant example of the difference that hearing accessibility can make in a person’s life. She stated that the pocket talker was her lifeline as it enabled her to hear well enough to get out of bed and become socially active instead of socially isolated. (See The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline).

Engaging and articulate, she was interviewed in our recent YouTube video ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’ (See ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’)

Sadly, Ruth passed away on Christmas Eve.  (For more information see https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/obituaries/ruth-brewer-32008/)  She will be missed, but hopefully will remain an inspiration to all with hearing loss!

If you have been encouraged to use a pocket talker after reading about Ruth or watching the YouTube video, please send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation in Ruth’s memory.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

Hearing Accessibility Is Enshrined in Human Rights Legislation

HRC_HearPEI2

Left to right: Tom Hilton, Brenda Picard, Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, John Rogers (Photo courtesy of PEI Human Rights Commission)

December 26, 2019.  December 10 is Human Rights Day. Every year, as we attend this important anniversary at an event coordinated by the PEI Human Rights Commission, we are reminded that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations, meant to protect the rights of persons with disabilities around the world. Canada is a signatory to this Convention, which is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention on March 11, 2010 and it entered into force on April 12, 2010.

71 years ago, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed.  Tom Hilton, Education Officer for the PEI Human Rights Commission, noted that this declaration “happens to be the world’s most translated document.” In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 as Human Rights Day, to bring attention to “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

Annie Lee MacDonald and I always accept an invitation to this annual event for two key  reasons:

  • Hearing accessibility is one of the rights enshrined in human rights legislation.  We need to be visible and ensure our voices are heard.
  • As part of their accessibility efforts, the PEI Human Rights Commission provides real time captioning for their event. We support this important initiative.

Over the past years, the process of providing real time captioning has improved and we had no issues with the service provided. The screen was placed near the podium, allowing us to easily see the stage, the podium, and the captioning screen.  The captioning itself was excellent, with few errors.  Well done!

It isn’t only people with hearing loss who appreciate real time captioning!

We noticed that it wasn’t only people with hearing loss following the captioning. Several parents and grandparents of children from the Stratford Elementary School Choir were avidly following the captioning.  Many of these adults spoke English as a second language, and I’m sure they were as grateful to see the written words on screen as we were!

Perhaps traffic flows of speakers to the podium can be improved next year, so that speakers do not have to cross past the screen.  It seems a no-brainer given the event, but some speakers will still stand in front of the screen, in spite of being able to see the scrolling text.  This temporary difficulty is easily fixed by seating speakers on the side of the room away from the line of vision of the screen.

Please …… Don’t block the screen!

A bigger challenge in accessibility came from the photographer sent by the media to cover the event, who persisted in blocking the screen, in spite of being asked several times not to do so by the organizers. This deliberate wilfulness showed a lack of respect to the organizers, as well as to the attendees who depended on the real time captioning, and didn’t reflect well on his employer.  Professional photographers should be unobtrusive and not interfere with the events they cover.

These were the only two points regarding hearing accessibility that hopefully can be addressed for future events.  This year’s theme for Human Rights Day was ‘youth standing up for human rights’.  While we are no longer in the first blush of youth, we still stand up and speak out for hearing accessibility.

As Her Honour The Honourable Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, said in her remarks with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?  In small places, close to home.  So close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.  Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

Several politicians were in attendance.  We had a chance to briefly speak with the Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice & Public Safety.

CIMG3733 Dec 12 2019 Human Rights Day by Sharon Lund MacDonald

Left to right:  Annie Lee MacDonald, Minister Bloyce Thompson, Daria Valkenburg.  (Photo taken by Sheila Lund MacDonald)

John Rogers, the outgoing Chair of the Human Rights Commission, noted that “We are the smallest Human Rights Commission in the country, but by no means the smallest jurisdiction in population.”  It’s a testament to the commitment that while the office may be small they have many open files to deal with, and participate in many outreach activities.

Thank you to the PEI Human Rights Commission for including us in their event, and bringing more awareness of hearing accessibility in public places. Comments? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

“Our Stories Matter”

December 22, 2019.  One of the tendencies so many of us with hearing loss have is to withdraw from conversations and situations that involve groups of people…. it becomes too difficult to hear. This can be especially challenging during holidays and important family celebrations.  (See Holiday Dinners and Parties – Fun or a Nightmare?) 

We long for people to understand what we need so we can more easily participate in conversations, but on the other hand, we can be just as guilty at forgetting to practice better hearing strategies ourselves.  Oh, I’m so guilty of that!  My husband, who has great hearing, can get so frustrated with me.  I have a tendency to talk to him….while he’s in another part of the house.  One of two things happen….  Either he didn’t hear me…. (my beloved tells me his hearing is good but not supersonic!)…. or he hears me and answers…. and then I get upset because I didn’t hear him!  So either he’s ignored as I really heard nothing, or I ask him why he’s talking to me when he knows I can’t follow what he’s saying when he’s in another room.  Hmm…. I’m then indignantly reminded by him as to who started the conversation!

So, I was all ears when Brenda Porter led an interesting discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.

CIMG3675 Brenda Porter Our Stories Matter presentation Nov 26 2019

Brenda Porter facilitated the “Our Stories Matter” workshop.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We expend so much energy trying to hear that we become mute and silent in conversations”, Brenda commented.  “It’s easy to forget that others WANT to hear us and we forget that our opinions matter. It’s important to share our voices.

Brenda then went right to the heart of a practice so many of us are guilty of….. “We know what others need to do, but often forget to practice those same strategies ourselves.

We then broke up into smaller groups and each person was tasked with telling a short anecdote to the others in the group, using the strategies we wished everyone would use with us, such as:

  • Speak clearly
  • Face your listeners so they see what you are saying (ie. speech read)
  • Avoid contractions where possible

Afterwards, we were asked for feedback.  What did we learn?  Were there surprises?  Louise Larkin summed up the experience we all had…. “Our group was happy to learn we weren’t alone.  We ALL have trouble with background noise.  We had to snuggle together and strive to use contact and speak clearly.

Thank you to Brenda Porter for facilitating the workshop and encouraging all to share their voices. She brought out important and relevant points to take to heart anytime, but especially at this time of year. Comments? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

Think Science Fair!

December 20, 2019.  Last month a blog posting about noisy restaurants included a link to a nifty app called Soundprint (see https://www.soundprint.co/) that measures decibel levels (See Would You Dine Out In A Noisy Restaurant Or Pub?).  Not long after the article was written, CBC’s Marketplace did a program on excessive noise levels and also featured the same app (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHa3OMdO1mc).

It got us talking about the noise levels in our everyday lives, not just restaurants.  And this led to thoughts of the upcoming PEI Science Fair.  Every year, Hear PEI sponsors the ‘Listen To This‘ specialty prize at the PEI Science Fair, coming up on April 2, 2020.

So this year, we are encouraging Island students to research decibel levels and the effects of sound on health, using the Soundprint app. For more information see PEI Science Fair: Ideas http://peisciencefair.ca/p/links.html

If you are a teacher, or have children or grandchildren looking for a PEI Science Fair project, let them know about these project ideas.  We hope that participating students will share their findings, and help everyone to build more awareness of the impact that sound levels have on our health.

Comments or more project ideas can be emailed to hearpei@gmail.com or sent as a comment on this blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

 

© Daria Valkenburg

A Sad Farewell To Fran Salsman

December 17, 2019.  We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of friend and member Fran Salsman.  Visitation is at the Davison Funeral Home in Kensington on Saturday, December 21, 2019 from 1 to 4 pm.  Her funeral is on Sunday afternoon, December 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm at Kensington United Church.  For more information, please see: http://www.davisonfh.com/obituaries/143054/

Fran Salsman Alma Nunn and Joan Gallant

Photo from 2016: Frances ‘Fran’ Salsman, left, Alma Nunn, centre, and Joan Gallant. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Fran was one of three women with cochlear implants who shared their experiences for a newspaper article in 2016, bringing much needed awareness on a condition most people know nothing about.  (To read the article see County Line Courier re cochlear implant article Page 20)

Annie Lee MacDonald noted that Fran’s cat acted as an extra pair of ears.  “She depended on the cat to alert her for different things.”  What an innovative partnership!

If you have memories you’d like to share about Fran, please email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation in Fran’s memory.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

Don’t Miss YOUR Opportunity To Participate In Health PEI’s Consultation Survey

December 11, 2019.  A few weeks ago, we were invited by Health PEI to attend a Strategic Planning Session, for consultations with community groups, Islanders, patient advisors/partners, staff and physicians.  The purpose of the consultations, which were attended by Annie Lee MacDonald and myself, is to build a three‐year strategic plan for the priorities for Health PEI’s program and service development for the years 2020‐2023.

A variety of groups participated, with people from different Health PEI departments.  We were told that the strategic planning session ‘helps assess and adjust direction in a changing environment’.  The current Health Plan expires on March 31, 2020 and among the factors to consider were trends in health and current practices.

We were broken up into groups for brainstorming sessions, and each group had a similar set of messages for Health PEI:

  • Better diagnosis and education is needed for specific medical conditions.  We gave the example of how hearing loss can be misdiagnosed for other conditions, such as dementia, and how not addressing hearing loss can lead to other physical and mental conditions.
  • Initiatives for awareness sessions and education on specific conditions need to be provided to health providers, such as professional development credits offered by Health PEI, which may encourage a higher level of participation. We gave the example of the work done in improving communications in the legal community here on PEI and referenced our YouTube videos.
  • There need to be ‘champions’ in the system for various medical conditions.
  • Help equip patients to self-manage their condition.
  • Better navigation of available services is needed and patients with conditions need to increase their awareness.   In other words, self-knowledge is important.  Every resident of Prince Edward Island is able to have a hearing test, paid by Health PEI, if the patient is referred by a physician or nurse practitioner.
  • The current ‘silo’ approach of treating conditions needs to be changed to one where a person is seen as the sum total of their various medical conditions.  We explained that people with any condition can also have hearing loss.  Without the ability to communicate effectively and hear what is being said, the various programs put in place will not bring the desired results.
  • Rural health care is a priority for Islanders, who do not want or cannot travel distances to see a primary care provider.  Travel costs, access to travel for many people who are unable to travel by themselves, the time people need to take to bring someone to a health care provider…. all were points referenced over and over again.  Primary care needs to be local, was the consistent message made to Health PEI.

In the general discussions we noted that hearing loss is growing in prevalence.  According to the World Health Organization, it is the 4th leading cause of living with disability globally!  In Canada, it is the 3rd most chronic condition, after arthritis and hypertension (high blood pressure).  It affects young and old, any income group, and people with other conditions. Yet, for some reason, it is the ignored elephant in the room with medical personnel, mostly ignored or brushed off!

Health care settings, such as hospitals, are difficult places to hear due to constant noise – alarms beep, sound insulation in rooms is poor, there are competing conversations if you are not in a private room.  Many patients refuse to use earplugs when they watch TV in a hospital, adding to noise levels.  (See Doctors with pocket talkers, lawyers with pocket talkers)

Miscommunication can be problematic, affecting care and understanding by patients of conditions and treatments.  We explained that contractions as used in every day speech can be a nightmare.  It’s difficult to distinguish between ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ as an example.  Accents can be hard to understand at first.  Many healthcare providers speak too quickly, not giving time for our brains to process what is being said.  Others speak too softly, or face a laptop instead of the patients, making it seem like they are mumbling.  We explained that people with hearing loss use speech reading to help figure out what is being said, whether they have taken a formal class or not, and so they need to SEE the person who is talking.

We noted that hearing loss can lead to other conditions if not addressed.  We gave the example of people tending to isolate themselves when hearing becomes a challenge.  It becomes a pain to comprehend what is being said, particularly in group situations, such as weddings, parties, etc.  (See Holiday Dinners and Parties – Fun or a Nightmare? for some of the comments that have been made about holiday get-togethers.)  Social isolation leads to mental health conditions such as depression.  People tend to be at increased risk for falls.  A question asked every time you go to a clinic or hospital is “Have you fallen recently?” Why not a question about hearing loss? we asked.   Increasingly, studies are showing that if hearing loss is not addressed, there is an increased risk of dementia.

We concluded by pointing out that mental health, fall risks, depression, and dementia are all issues of concern to Health PEI.  Wouldn’t addressing hearing loss help in preventing these issues becoming a concern for many Islanders?

There were nods of agreement and acknowledge all around the tables, but did the message get through? A recent survey sent as a follow-up doesn’t seem to indicate that anyone was really paying attention.  So now, it’s YOUR turn to try and get Health PEI to listen…..

The follow-up to the consultations, which gives YOU a chance to participate:

We did our best to have Health PEI incorporate hearing accessibility into the planning and now have now received a survey to be distributed to Islanders with hearing loss and their family members.  Please don’t ignore this opportunity to draw attention to the needs of those with hearing loss in improving communications with our health providers, but to add your voice and opinion by filling out this short survey.

One key message suggested to include is:  A person’s ability to communicate is #1.  We need to be able to hear and comprehend a medical professional.  Better hearing accessibility is crucial.  Please pay attention to hearing loss and ask for advice in how to communicate with us.” If you may have more messaging ideas, please share them, so that we can include them in the next round of consultations.

For those in the South Shore area, who are without a doctor, this is also your opportunity to say you want a health centre in rural areas, such as Crapaud.

You will see in the questionnaire that there are some suggestions made for priorities, but hearing accessibility is NOT one of them.  Did you know that according to current research, for every person who needs a wheelchair ramp, there are 29 people who need better hearing accessibility in public places?  And this figure is growing!

 

The questionnaire can be submitted anonymously, if you wish. You do not need to provide your name, age or gender; however, you will need to enter your postal code which will let Health PEI know your general geographic location. The survey will be open until December 29, 2019.

Here is the link to the survey: www.healthpei.ca/StrategicPlanFeedback

If you prefer to fill out a paper copy, please see health_pei_strategic_planning_public_consultation_2020-23_form.  You can download it, print it, fill it out, and return it to one of the health centres identified on page 2.

If you know someone who would like to fill out the survey, but does not have email, please do an act of kindness and print out a copy for the person and bring it to them to fill out.

As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

Holiday Dinners and Parties – Fun or a Nightmare?

December 2005.  Christmas glasses on dining room table.

Preparing for a holiday get-together.  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

December 6, 2019.  The holidays…. family dinners, cookie exchanges with your friends, get-togethers with friends and neighbours…What a fun time! Don’t you love it when people are enjoying themselves? Wait… not so fast… a lot of people with hearing loss say. Some candid comments shared recently perhaps can best be described as people with hearing loss thinking out loud and wishing that others could appreciate the feelings of those who face the challenges of hearing in difficult situations.

One woman said, “It’s not fun at all!  The TV is blaring, music is playing in another part of the house, kids are making noise with their toys, and everyone is talking at once. My husband and I love our family, but we wish they weren’t so noisy.

Family dinners are a nightmare” I was told by one woman.  “Everyone has side conversations and I’m left out.  I can’t follow anyone as everyone is talking over each other. I feel more alone with them than when they are not around.

Another woman quietly confessed that “I resent family dinners.  I work hard to provide the meal and invite everyone over. Then they all talk to each other and I’m sitting there wondering why I’m not just sitting with my feet up, watching a nice movie.

I was with a group of women, and was talking to my neighbour.  We were seated at a long table.  A woman to my left told me to be quiet as she wanted to hear what was being said at the far right of the table.”  The hurt in this woman’s voice was unmistakable.  “If she was interested in what was going on at the other end of the table, why didn’t she go and sit there?

My friends at my club show me a lot of consideration.  They have a rule that one person speaks at a time so that I, and everyone else, can follow the conversation.  My family doesn’t treat me with that same respect.  It’s a free-for-all.

Wow! Frustration, loneliness while among a group of people, resentment, hurt feelings, lack of enjoyment.  While there are plenty of tips and assistive listening tools to help navigate holiday get-togethers, you first have to deal with these negative feelings that are taking away your enjoyment of the holidays.

One thing to realize is that whether your hearing is good or bad, if you are at a large table, you are NOT going to hear every conversation. That’s one reason why there are so many side conversations.  People tend to talk to who is near them.

During holiday get-togethers, people are excited and often they are with family and friends they don’t often see, particularly if some live far away.  Yes, the noise levels rise with the number of people, and there are many more side conversations.

So, what can you do to make these events more enjoyable?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a rest BEFORE everyone arrives, or before you go out to an event.  Don’t work all day preparing a meal and cleaning the house, then expect to hear well when you are already exhausted.  You won’t.
  • Shut the TV and music off during mealtimes!  Take a good look at those Christmas movies on TV….no one is watching TV during dinner!
  • Instead of one long table, consider setting up several smaller tables.  Everyone will find it easier to concentrate and listen to a smaller group of people at a time. Ask some of the people to rotate from one table to another between courses, so that there is more interaction.
  • Pick a spot at the table and in the room where you can hear the best.  Most of us have one ear that we can hear better with.  Position yourself so that’s the ear facing your dinner companions.
  • Choose an ‘escape’ room.  When the noise level gets to be too much, simply go to a quiet room and have a few minutes break to give your ears a rest.  If the event is in your house, or at a friend’s place, that’s easily done.  Otherwise, you can always excuse yourself to go to the washroom!
  • Recognize that a holiday get-together is not the same as a small gathering.  Don’t worry that you can’t hear everyone.
  • If you are really interested in a conversation that you can’t hear, perhaps at another part of the table, get up and move there.  That’s what the woman who told another one to ‘be quiet’ so she could hear what was being said at the other end of the table should have done.

Got more suggestions? As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

More Holiday Gift Ideas For People With Hearing Loss

December 3, 2019.  Last month we posted our YouTube video ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ for people with hearing loss and did a blog posting. (See Holiday Gift Ideas Video For Those With Hearing Loss)  Then we posted another YouTube video ‘I Love My Looping Chair’ and did a blog posting about that. (See I Love My Looping Chair”)

In answer to questions we’ve received, yes, some of the products featured in the ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ video are available here on the Island, including:

  1. POCKET TALKER (without telecoil)
  2. HARD OF HEARING BUTTONS
  3. CLARITY AMPLIFIED CORDLESS PHONE
  4. WAKE ASSURE JOLT ALARM CLOCK
  5. AMPLIFIED TV LISTENING SYSTEM
  6. RUNPHONES HEADPHONE BAND

SPECIAL HEARING LOOP ACCESS DEVICES

  1. OTOjOY EARBUDS (works with an iPhone app)
  2. HEARING LOOP RECEIVER (comes with headphones)
  3. POCKET TALKER WITH TELECOIL

Ideas and suggestions for more items to make the life of someone with hearing loss easier continue to come in.  One idea I hope will be adopted by medical and dental personnel are the new clear-window surgical masks.  For those of us who use speech reading techniques to assist in communication, hearing someone with a surgical mask is a challenge! (For more information, see https://www.hearingtracker.com/news/clear-window-surgical-masks-are-a-lifesaver-for-patients-with-hearing-loss)

Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions let us know about another hearing assistive device, a Comfort Duett pocket talker, which he’s described as a ‘pocket talker on steroids’.  It comes with a telecoil so you can access a hearing loop. (A YouTube demonstration, with closed captioning, can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUZPYrU8wDc)

Got more ideas? Have you tried any of these products?  As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.

 

 

2019 Hearing Health Day In New Brunswick

December 1, 2019.  I love outreach events!  It’s a chance to talk with people about hearing loss issues and hear their concerns and points of view.  Last month Annie Lee MacDonald and I made a trip to Moncton for the 4th annual Hearing Health New Brunswick event, hosted by Avenir Hearing.

CIMG3608 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

2019 Hearing Health NB Day in Moncton.  Left to right: Dr Denis LeBlanc, Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, Ian Hamilton, Simone Belliveau, Rheal Leger.

The gift bag with an Avenir Hearing calendar had a wonderful caption on it:

“Life is full of wonderful moments.  Hear all of them.”

This year the day was split in two, with sessions in English in the morning, which we attended, and French sessions in the afternoon. Instead of one room where the various presentations were held, as in previous years, there were four rooms, each with different presentations. We were split into 4 groups, with each smaller group rotating between the various rooms.

CIMG3611 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

Janice Daley on the left, and Andrea Neilson on the right, both of Phonak, demonstrate the Roger Select microphone. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The first session we attended included two demonstrations by Phonak.  One demonstration explained how their Roger Select microphone worked.  This is a transmitting microphone designed to be worn by the speaker, not the listener, and is designed for people who are socially active.  It has a speaker that transmits automatically to a hearing aid, and, in answer to a question asked, the microphone will work with hearing aids other than Phonak.  However, it will not work with a pocket talker, only with hearing aids.

A short YouTube video by Phonak gives a demonstration, but be forewarned that it is not captioned.  You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg72TTVGupU.

The second Phonak demonstration was on their e-solutions, showing how a smart phone or tablet can be used to change volume and tone on a Phonak hearing aid, and provide remote support.  While these are great options, you do need an internet connection to access the programming offered.  For more information, you can watch this YouTube video, which is captioned, in both English and French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpiLAbCSHD8.

CIMG3612 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

Phonak’s e-solutions demonstration.

In the second session Dr. LeBlanc talked about the hearing aid rental program offered by Avenir Hearing, a program that is available here on Prince Edward Island as well as New Brunswick.  (See Exploring The Option of Renting Your Hearing Aids)

This is the 7th year of the Hearing Aid Rental Program in New Brunswick, and Dr LeBlanc mentioned he had gotten the idea for an affordable solution to hearing aid access from an HVAC firm! 75% of private pay clients (as opposed to those whose hearing aids are covered by programs such as through Veterans Affairs) opt to rent their hearing aids in New Brunswick.  The program provides:

  • a simple monthly payment solution
  • peace of mind
  • all inclusive experience, including batteries, visits, and repairs
  • eligibility for an upgrade after 36 months

The third session was a presentation by audiologist Joline Coomber on the Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss.  Among the points summarized in this discussion were that hearing loss can affect a person’s physical health, relationships, and mental well-being.

Physical health can be impacted by hearing loss through:

  • increased risk of falls, due to balance issues
  • the brain, with an example given of trying to cope with speech discrimination: cat, sat, bat, rat can sound the same.

Relationships and mental well-bring can be impacted by hearing loss when:

  • the connection to family and friends is reduced by people avoiding social gatherings due to strain of not hearing well.
  • stress is put on partners who have to constantly repeat themselves or complaining about the TV volume being too high.
CIMG3615 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

The relationships between hearing loss, brain health, and mental wellness.

The fourth and last session was ‘Ask An Audiologist’. The transition from an authoritarian figure to a consultative one was discussed.  Originally the audiologist told a person what they needed. Now the audiologist asks about our life style which helps to determine what might be best.

Annie Lee pointed out that, in general, people who see an audiologist for the first time don’t know what they want. Information sessions, such as the Hearing Health NB Day, were one way to help increase awareness.

Education was a key component, everyone agreed, and more interaction is needed between support groups, such as our own group here on Prince Edward Island, and audiologists.

It was an interesting morning, and we are grateful to Dr LeBlanc of Avenir Hearing for extending an invitation to us to attend.

As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019.  “Christmas Dreams” will be held in the sanctuary. Refreshments and a time for socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: Human Rights Day 2019, hosted by the PEI Human Rights Commission.  Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Jack Blanchard Hall, 7 Pond St. in Charlottetown.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss.