Captioning Glasses Make Going To The Movies An Enjoyable Experience!

January 23, 2020.  I haven’t been in a movie theatre since 2013, mostly due to the stress of trying to understand what is being said in a movie.  It just didn’t seem worth the effort. Many theatres on the Island have a captioning screen that fits into the cup holder by your seat.  That’s a good hearing accessibility solution but I didn’t like to have to look up at a movie, then down at the cup holder to see what had been said.  So I waited until the movie came out on video and watched it at home with subtitles.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, while our husbands talked sports, some of us discussed how we’d read Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ as children.  After a nostalgic trip down memory lane, we decided to see the current film ‘Little Women’ one weekday afternoon.

Tuesday afternoon was a cold and miserable day, perfect for going to the movies.  After paying for my ticket, I asked about hearing assistive devices. “We have two kinds” I was told.  “One is headphones which amplify sound.  The other is captioning glasses.” I chose the captioning glasses, as that matched how I normally watch a program.  After waiting a few minutes, the glasses arrived.  “We’ve set it for the theatre you’ll be in, so you’ll have captions for that movie.

I was a bit bemused as I was unfamiliar with captioning glasses.  They look like sunglasses and come attached to a small receiver box.  I noticed it had a number of very small windows on one side and sure enough, the fifth window was lit up.  Our movie was in theatre #5.

Now, you may be wondering what I looked like with these glasses.  Just as we had gone to the theatre to see a movie about a story we’d read in childhood, the glasses reminded us of the days when you saw cartoons, instead of advertisements, before the previews and feature presentation.  In the city where I grew up, there was always a ‘Mr. Magoo’ cartoon, and, if the movie was for children, there usually was a ‘Fearless Fly’ cartoon.  Those glasses reminded me of ‘Fearless Fly’. (If you’ve never heard of ‘Fearless Fly’, you can watch a brief cartoon here: https://youtu.be/9brdv8ci39o)

20200121_144239 Jan 21 2019 Daria with captioning glasses

Captioning glasses with receiver box.  (Photo credit: Moira Robertson)

The glasses have a tiny projector that displays a holographic image of the captions in green colour at the bottom of one’s eyesight. The text is sent via a wireless system to a receiver that feeds the data to the glasses.  (For more information, see https://newatlas.com/sony-closed-caption-glasses/23376/ or https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/sony-subtitle-glasses/ or  https://hearingmojo.com/sony-movie-caption-glasses/)

The glasses are lightweight, and fit easily over my own glasses.  I had to keep my head steady, as the text moved as my head moved.  Turn your head to one side, and the text goes in the same direction!  After figuring that out during the previews of upcoming features, I was able to watch the movie in comfort, and not have to strain to figure out what was being said.  Everything was displayed right in front of me, as you can see above.

It was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun watching the movie and being with my friends Susan and Moira.  This is a wonderful example of a hearing accessibility tool made available in a public place!  Some of you may be wondering if there was a fee to use the glasses.  The answer is No.  Another question someone asked me was if I had to reserve the glasses in advance. I didn’t.  I only had to wait a few moments while the glasses were programmed to the particular theatre the film was playing in.  A third question I was asked is if this was a special theatre for people with hearing loss.  It wasn’t.  The glasses can be used in any of that cinema’s theatres (there are 10).

Are the glasses are available in movie theatres where you live?  If you’ve used captioning glasses please share your experience!  Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also comment on this blog, or follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Reminder: If you haven’t already taken our 10 question survey, Do Others Mumble Or Might You Have Hearing Loss?, please do so.  Here is the link to the survey….. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FZ2ZD6K.  Thank you to all who have already done the survey! (For more information, see Do Others Mumble Or Might You Have Hearing Loss?)

© Daria Valkenburg

Our 2019 Hear PEI Hearing Accessibility Advocates

January 3, 2020.  Happy New Year!  As we begin a new year and a new decade, it’s a good opportunity to note that although those of us who are involved with Hear PEI are a small volunteer group, we manage to do a quite a bit with the very limited resources we have.  One of the reasons we can accomplish so much is due to the help and support for hearing accessibility awareness that we get from others.

In 2019 five Hear PEI Hearing Accessibility Advocates were recognized:

CIMG3621 Oct 29 2019 Hear PEI Accessibility Advocates Ruth & Evelyn

Daria Valkenburg, left, with Ruth Walsh, centre, and Evelyn Stewart, right.  (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

Two women who do not have hearing loss themselves, Ruth Walsh and Evelyn Stewart, were deeply committed to gathering signatures for the petition presented to the PEI Legislature in July, a petition that asked for equal opportunity for all Islanders to apply for funding towards the cost of hearing aids.  While the petition was presented, no decision has been made as yet, but the work involved in explaining the reason for the petition and gathering support went a long way towards building awareness.  People were astounded to learn that there was an age cut-off for access to funding, and immediately agreed that it was not correct.

Over the past few years, many lawyers have participated in a project to improve communications between those with hearing loss and the legal community.  Two of these lawyers went above and beyond, encouraging their colleagues to also support hearing accessibility for their clients.  Most law firms on the Island now have a pocket talker available for clients who have mild hearing loss.  The support from Ken Clark of Key Murray Law in Summerside, and Danny Tweel of T. Daniel Tweel in Charlottetown, was a big reason this project was a success.

CIMG3737 Dec 16 2019 Award to Ken Clark by Pieter

Daria Valkenburg with Ken Clark. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

CIMG3741 Dec 19 2019 With Danny Tweel

Annie Lee MacDonald, left, with Danny Tweel, centre, and Daria Valkenburg, right.  (Photo credit: Paula Campbell)

Many of you have watched one of the YouTube videos produced in 2019.  Wendy Nattress dedicated hours in the post-production process, editing the videos, adding in the captioning, and posting on YouTube.  We wouldn’t have been able to do it without her support and guidance.

A big thank you to Ruth, Evelyn, Ken, Danny, and Wendy for their help in building awareness on hearing accessibility issues in 2019. Have you have been encouraged to use a pocket talker at a law firm, signed the petition this spring while at a community event, or watched one of our YouTube videos?  Share your experience.  You can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on this blog, or follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

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

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.

 

 

“I Love My Looping Chair”

November 25, 2019.  Every year we get asked about holiday gift ideas that would be of interest and use to people with hearing loss.  A few gift ideas were featured in a YouTube video (See Holiday Gift Ideas Video For Those With Hearing Loss) and you were invited to let us know about your favourite items.

Rheals chair loop photo by rheal

Chair loop pad. (Photo credit: Rheal Leger)

Rheal Leger went above and beyond, sending us a video clip of him demonstrating the chair loop pad, which he calls his looping chair, that he uses to watch TV.  After purchasing it a year ago, he wrote us about his experience:  “My goodness it works. I hear in both ears – genius device. We have a hideaway bed. I installed the device underneath the cushion. Then I plugged it into the TV and voila. Very easy to install. I could have also put the device under the sofa. For it to work you need to be seated where the device is.  This is a gem. It is the best listening device that I have ever owned.”  Clarity of sound.  You can’t beat that!

You can watch the video for yourself:

After seeing the video, Graham Hocking, who was featured in our YouTube video “What Is A Car Loop?” wrote: “Excellently presented and explained by Rheal and very clear. Am sure many of your viewers will be interested in purchasing one for home.” (See https://youtu.be/Ca5cnPPCW64)

Thank you Rheal, and a huge thank you to Wendy Nattress, our post-production editor!  Do you have any favourite products you wish someone would consider giving as a gift item?  Let us know!  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

November meeting:  Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices. This will be followed by the Annual General Meeting, and will be the last meeting until April 28, 2020.

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”, 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.

 

I Miss Closed Captioning!

October 8, 2019.  One of the challenges faced by those of us with hearing loss is understanding what we are hearing.  This can be difficult when watching TV or a movie.  Although we tend to gripe about the sometimes poor quality of the closed captioning available on TV programs, it is a service that someone like me increasingly relies on.  This was brought home to me recently while in The Netherlands.  Very few programs have closed captioning, and if they do, they are Dutch translation subtitles of foreign language programming. The Netherlands broadcasts programs in the original language, but will provide Dutch subtitles.  So it is surprising that programming in Dutch is not commonly captioned.

In Germany, by contrast, most programs have closed captioning (in German, of course), but the bonus was that programs on BBC had closed captioning in the original language, in this case English.  While we were in Germany I could watch TV in comfort.  In The Netherlands, all I could do is look at the pictures, in spite of the large number of English language programming available.

I thought of this recently as I compared it to our current project of providing videos on topics of interest to those of hearing loss.  Each video, posted on our own YouTube Channel, is fully captioned.  We are in The Netherlands for a commemoration event and when we made a short video explaining how this event came to be, we made sure that even this video, unrelated to hearing loss, was captioned, with the help of the amazing Wendy Nattress, who kindly provided the post-production editing and captioning.  Take a look:

 

On September 24, 2019, Angela Walker of CBC PEI news ran a very short news clip about our YouTube project, and was kind enough to provide the script from this interview:

Hear PEI is launching a series of You Tube videos in an effort to reach more people. The group advocates for and supports people who have hearing loss. Public education is a large part of its mandate. Daria Valkenburg is the vice-president and secretary.

The grant is for $900. The videos cover topics ranging from the benefits of using car loops and pocket talkers .. to some of the challenges that people with hearing loss face and how those challenges can be met. So far five…. five minute videos have been locally produced…with two of them already released. The hosts and guests in the videos are all seniors. Valkenburg says response has already been positive and if funding allows…they hope to produce more videos in future.”

Quoting me: “The challenge we had is that when we watch something on TV or in the movies we don’t always understand what we are hearing. So one of the reasons that we asked for a grant from the Senior Secretariat of PEI was not only that we could make these YouTube videos but that we could make each video have closed captioning.”

Since the interview ran, a third Hear PEI YouTube video has been posted.  For more information on the videos, see these previous postings: ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’ We Are Your Bridge To Hear and Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

One benefit of not watching TV is finding time to write during a busy vacation!  But I miss watching TV and the closed captioning that allows me to understand what I am hearing!  Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Angela Walker. 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.  

 

Pocket Talkers Available At ALL Stewart McKelvey Offices In Maritimes

August 5, 2019.  Regular readers of this blog are aware of an ongoing project to improve hearing accessibility in legal offices here on the island.  Lawyers who participated in this project, which was made possible through a grant from the Law Foundation of PEI, received tips on communicating with people who have hearing loss, and were invited to try out a pocket talker.  By the end of the trial period, every firm ended up purchasing at least one.  And they used them, to the delight of many clients with hearing loss, who bought their own pocket talkers.  (See “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

The law office of Stewart McKelvey in Charlottetown was one of the first firms to participate in the project.  As of this summer, the other 5 offices of this firm now have a pocket talker available. These additional officers are in: Halifax (Nova Scotia), Fredericton (New Brunswick), Moncton (New Brunswick), St. John (New Brunswick), and St. John’s (Newfoundland).

Thank you, Stewart McKelvey, for taking this step in making legal communications between lawyers and clients with hearing loss easier to handle!

For a list of law firms and organizations within the legal community that have pocket talkers, see https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/pei-lawyers-with-pocket-talkers/.

Have a story about your visit to a law office to share?  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also 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

“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)

IMG_2610 Jun 29 2019 Ruth Brewer & Annie Lee MacDonald

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