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.  

 

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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

 

Bill C-81 – Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada

May 30, 2019. In 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), but no corresponding accessibility legislation was passed in Canada that specifically deals with Canadians with disabilities, other than our Canadian Human Rights Act.   (See Hearing Accessibility Is A Human Right) Bill C-81 – Accessible Canada Act is meant to address this, and has been supported by all federal parties.  The bill is currently in the final amendments for wording before coming into law. (For more information, see https://nupge.ca/content/national-accessability-week-starts-stall-bill-c-81 and https://ipolitics.ca/2019/05/29/accessibility-bill-set-to-become-law-as-liberals-prepare-to-use-cloture/)

What does the passage of this bill mean?  Per Employment and Social Development Canada’s website, “Bill C-81 would give the Government of Canada the authority to work with stakeholders and Canadians with disabilities to create new accessibility standards and regulations that would apply to sectors in the federal jurisdiction, such as banking, telecommunications, transportation industries like air and rail, and the Government of Canada itself. These new regulated standards would set out requirements for organizations to follow in order to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility.”  (See https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/accessible-people-disabilities.html)

Many of you may recall that when the Federal Accessibility Act Consultation came to Charlottetown in December 2016, we were there and presented a summary of the main barriers to accessibility faced by people with hearing loss.  We also gave recommendations on how to remove those barriers and how to change attitudes.  (See here for a copy of our submission: FAL Submission Dec 8 2016)

Since that historic day, we have been doing our best here on Prince Edward Island to improve accessibility options, remove barriers to accessibility, and change attitudes in the perception of hearing loss.  Our education and outreach activities have resulted in modest success, and perhaps it’s a good moment in time to summarize some of these accomplishments:

  • A booklet on communication tips for those with hearing loss was published.
  • The Aural Report blog was begun by me, followed by a Twitter account.
  • A project with PEI lawyers resulted in lawyers able to recognize the signs of hearing loss and improve communications with clients.  As lawyers encouraged their clients with hearing loss to try out pocket talkers, an unexpected benefit occurred.  Clients began to accept that hearing loss was not the stigma they thought it was and took steps to improve their ability to hear.
  • Hearing loops were installed in a few places on the Island, resulting in exceptional clarity of sound availability for those who attend events at those places.
  • Media coverage on hearing related topics in newspapers and on radio.

The items listed above are in addition to ongoing meetings with guest speakers on topics related to hearing health and hearing loss, speaking engagements, and outreach at various conferences and events. The speech reading classes facilitated by Nancy MacPhee are increasingly popular. Currently we are engaged in an advocacy effort related to funding access for seniors who are having difficulty affording hearing aids.

With the passage of Bill C-81, we hope to be able to do more here on the island with regards to hearing accessibility.

Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Accessibility Secretariat Survey

You can play a part in shaping future federal accessibility policy by participating in a survey conducted by Quorus Consulting Group on behalf of the Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Accessibility Secretariat. The survey is open to Canadian citizens at least 18 years of age who have had a disability in the past or are currently living with a disability, and takes about 15 minutes to complete, depending on how much feedback you want to provide.

The information you provide will be managed according to the requirements of the Privacy Act. Survey submissions are accepted from May 28 to June 28, 2019. Here’s how you can participate:

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

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

Petition Update For Week 5

May 19, 2019.  The petition to request equal treatment for adult Islanders in the supplementation of costs for hearing aids continues.  (Not sure what the petition is about?  See Petition Launched To Request Equal Treatment For Adult Islanders Re Access To Hearing Aid Subsidies) Briefly, the petition requests the following: Supplement the cost of hearing aids for seniors by extending the AccessAbility Supports Program to include all adults, not just those up to age 65, or devise a similar program

A big thank you to more organizations that have signed the petition, among them: members of the Augustine Cove Branch of the Women’s Institute of PEI, and the staff at T. Daniel Tweel Law Office in Charlottetown.  This law office participated in a project sponsored by the Law Foundation of PEI to help improve communications with those who have hearing loss, and has a pocket talker available that clients with hearing loss can use.  (For a listing of lawyers and other law community organizations that have a pocket talker available, see https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/pei-lawyers-with-pocket-talkers/)

CIMG2963 May 11 2019 Danny Tweel & Jacob Fancini

Lawyers Danny Tweel (left) and Jacob Fancini (right) of T. Daniel Tweel Law Office in Charlottetown. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The King’s County office of the PEI Council of People with Disabilities in Montague sent a photo of the petition being signed in their office.  Thank you!

Teresa MacKinnon,Community Access Worker Kings County on right watches Donna Cochrane sign the petition

Donna Cochrane (left) signs the petition in the presence of Community Access Worker Theresa MacKinnon (right). (Photo credit: Canda MacNeill)

So far, in Week 5, we’ve reached 37.8% of our goal, with sheets of signed petitions returned as follows:

Petition May 18 2019

The petition is currently available at:

  • three PEI Council of People With Disabilities offices: Charlottetown, Summerside, and Montague.
  • office of ENT specialist Dr. Kristian MacDonald in Charlottetown, who wrote to say “this is important”. Indeed it certainly is.
  • 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. Thank you Peter Benstead!

All of us can identify a family member or friend whose life is restricted because of their hearing loss. So we ask you to support the petition and help us reach our goal of a minimum of 2,500 signatures. We welcome not only your signature, but also your letters of support. Updates will be posted on this blog and on Twitter (@HearPEI).

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  Your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed.  If you think our outreach and educational activities have made a difference, please let us know. Your letters of support make a BIG difference when we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming fundraising ceilidh offered by Bonshaw Hall on Sunday, May 26, 2019, from 2 to 4 pm.  The organizers are generously sharing their proceeds with us, to help in our non-project related activities. We hope you come out and enjoy the show, while helping us at the same time.  Can’t attend?  You can donate directly to us or through our Canada Helps page at:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.

May Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Audiologist Derek Hughes of Campbell Hearing will discuss new trends in hearing aid technology and give a summation of his research findings on singing for those who have cochlear implants for his master’s thesis Several members participated in this study.

Accessibility Helps Everyone

May 14, 2019.  How many of you have heard of Vint Cerf?  He has had hearing loss since birth and has a cochlear implant.  He met his wife Sigrid at an audiologist’s office, and there they were, two people with hearing loss.  Big deal, you may be thinking.  Well, it is a big deal, because Vint Cerf decided to find a way to improve the way people like him and his wife could communicate.  And he did. He’s one of the ‘fathers of the internet’, responsible for developing the early email protocols that we still use. If you use the internet and email, you can thank people like Vint Cerf who not only improved communication accessibility for himself, his wife, and everyone else with hearing loss, but transformed the way we all communicate. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vint_Cerf and https://dhhcouncil.wisconsin.gov/dhhfiles/pdf/Cerf.pdf)

In the November 3, 2018 issue of The Economist, in an article ‘Better By Design’ by the columnist Bartleby, he quotes August de los Reyes, a designer for Google, who notes that “Disability is simply a mismatch between a person’s ability and their environment.”  Bartleby went on to say that “Disability is designed into the world.  Imagine that your home had been built by cats.  Entrances and exits would be small flaps, which is all that a cat would need.  Humans would be trapped inside, rendered immobile by a particular environment.

I thought of Mr. Cerf and Mr. de los Reyes recently, when I read that the Charlottetown Airport Authority was looking for public input into their long-term master plan.  There was a link to a survey, which I read and participated in.  To my disappointment, there was NOTHING in the survey about improving accessibility at the airport. I had to click ‘other’ in many of the options to address accessibility.   (See https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/charlottetown-airport-seeking-public-input-for-long-term-master-plan-308437/)

If you have suggestions for accessibility, such as a hearing loop at the airport counters, real time captioning screening of announcements, and the adoption of sunflower lanyards for hidden disabilities, such as is used at Heathrow Airport (See Travelling With An Invisible Disability), please consider filling out the survey.

All of us can identify a family member or friend whose life is restricted because of their hearing loss. We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  Your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed.  While our outreach and educational activities help to change perceptions, we need your letters of support as we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming fundraising ceilidh offered by Bonshaw Hall on Sunday, May 26, 2019, from 2 to 4 pm.  The organizers are generously sharing their proceeds with us, to help in our non-project related activities. We hope you come out and enjoy the show, while helping us at the same time.  Can’t attend?  You can donate directly to us or through our Canada Helps page at:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.

May Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Audiologist Derek Hughes of Campbell Hearing will discuss new trends in hearing aids and give a summation of his research findings on singing for those who have cochlear implants for his master’s thesis Several members participated in this study.

 

Travelling With An Invisible Disability

April 25, 2019.  A while ago, a woman with a cochlear implant who was travelling alone booked a flight and informed the airline that she had hearing loss.  When she arrived at the airport, she was placed in a wheelchair.  She protested, saying “I’m able bodied and can walk perfectly.  Why do I have to be in a wheelchair?”  The reply?  “Madam, you informed us you have a disability.  We realize you can walk, but the wheelchair is the only way the airline staff will know this. Please sit in the chair.”  She did, an attendant wheeled her to the gate and then onto the plane, and she arrived safely at her destination.

The problem, as you may imagine, is that she had an invisible disability.  The wheelchair didn’t help her to hear and anyone seeing her would assume she had a physical disability.  Heathrow Airport in England has taken steps to recognize the importance of recognizing invisible or hidden disabilities while travelling in the airport.  The solution?  A sunflower lanyard.  A spokesperson explained that “The sunflower lanyard is a way for customers to indicate to staff across the airport that they may need additional care and support.  The optional service is intended for customers with hidden disabilities such as hearing loss, autism or dementia.”  (See https://www.hearinglink.org/news/201808/heathrow-introduces-hidden-disability-lanyards/#lightbox/0/)

sunflower-lanyard

The sunflower lanyard is already available at several airports throughout the United Kingdom, making for a consistent approach.  So, what do you have to do?  It couldn’t be simpler.  Contact the airport if you will be travelling through Heathrow and they will mail you a lanyard ….. anywhere in the world.  So, Islanders, if you are planning a trip and will be going through Heathrow, and you have hearing loss, contact the airport by email at special_assistance@heathrow.com and provide the following information:

  • Full name (including surnames)
  • Departing / Connecting or Arriving terminal
  • Flight number(s)
  • Postal address where your lanyard should be sent to
  • Number of lanyards required

The lanyard is free of charge and you can keep it to use at any participating airport.  (See https://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/assistance-at-heathrow/hidden-disabilities)  As the airport authority explains, “Wearing a sunflower lanyard at Heathrow enables our colleagues to recognise that you have a hidden disability without you needing to declare it. This allows you to travel independently through the airport whilst knowing that if you need any additional support during your journey, any of our colleagues will be able to support.” Now, wouldn’t such a lanyard be a great idea for our Charlottetown Airport Authority to adopt?  If you like this idea, let us know.  You can comment on the blog, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or a tweet to @HearPEI.

Petition Update

In the last blog posting the petition launched to request equal treatment for all adult Islanders with regard to hearing aid subsidies was discussed.  (See Petition Launched To Request Equal Treatment For Adult Islanders Re Access To Hearing Aid Subsidies) Briefly, our 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 programResults for the first week of the petition are encouraging, and will be discussed in a separate posting. The results are updated on Twitter as they come in, and you can follow us @HearPEI.  As of April 25, 2019, here is the progress.

Petition Apr 25 2019 pm

our-goal-blogWe all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  Your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed.  If you think our outreach and educational activities have made a difference, please let us know. Your letters of support make a BIG difference when we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. CONCERT:  Phase II & Friends Concert – Here Comes Summer at West River United Church in Cornwall, May 5, 2019 at 7 pm  Fundraiser for the church.  Advance tickets may be obtained after church on April 21st and 28th, or by contacting the Church office at 902-566-4052. Tickets are $10.

Upcoming fundraising ceilidh offered by Bonshaw Hall on Sunday, May 26, 2019, from 2 to 4 pm.  The organizers are generously sharing their proceeds with us, to help in our non-project related activities. We hope you come out and enjoy the show, while helping us at the same time.  Can’t attend?  You can donate directly to us or through our Canada Helps page at:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.

Misconceptions About Telecoils

April 15, 2019.  After reading a recent blog posting about questions to ask during a needs assessment for a hearing loop (See 8 Questions To Ask When Doing A Needs Assessment For A Hearing Loop Installation), one church followed the steps and a representative was kind enough to give us a follow-up on the results…..  “We actually used many of your questions in a bulletin insert to gather information about issues related to sound. Thank you for sharing. We asked – in our survey – if you wear a hearing aid, does it have a t-coil? and none had heard that term. Also, it’s possible people under-reported problems as they would know correcting them would be costly and finances are at a low level.

It’s a sad question, in a way, as t-coils (also called telecoils) are not new.  Basically, a telecoil is a receiver that picks up signals from a hearing loop, which is an electromagnetic field.  Hearing aids or cochlear implants with an activated telecoil can convert this electromagnetic field into a sound signal.  If you want to hear the difference in sound quality, see The Sound Through A Hearing Loop.

What do I mean by an activated telecoil?  Think of your TV and pretend it is your hearing aid.  If you want to watch a specific program on TV what do you do?  You change the channel to the one broadcasting your program, ie. you have activated that particular channel.   A hearing aid can come with a number of ‘channels’, called programs, and one of these is the telecoil.  A telecoil is about the size of a grain of rice, so it is not large.

The second question the church representative said was asked by parishioners was:  “Can a Bluetooth hearing aid be used with a hearing loop? Two, who identified themselves as hearing aid users, wanted to be sure a system was not put in place that would interfere with their new Bluetooth aids.

Bluetooth is another program that is available in a hearing aid, as is a tinnitus masking program, among others.  Just as you can get more than one channel on your TV, you can get more than one program in your hearing aids.  So the answer is no, a telecoil program will not interfere with a Bluetooth program.  They are complementary programs with very different functions.  For more information, here is a link to an article written by American audiologist Juliette Sterkens: https://loopwisconsin.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/ready-to-buy-a-new-hearing-aid-be-sure-it-includes-bluetooth-and-telecoil-technology/.

Sometimes, rather than including a telecoil in a hearing aid itself, it’s included in the ‘streamers’ that come with a hearing aid.  A streamer is designed to pick up audio signals, turning a hearing aid into a wireless headset.  It’s worn around the neck and has buttons for phone, TV, and microphone applications.

A recent article by Steve Frazier outlined his frustration with audiologists who don’t give information useful to people with hearing aids…. “When I needed assistance hearing in large venues where my hearing aid microphones were simply not able to do the job, my hearing care provider at the time offered no options other than, ‘Sit close to the loudspeakers’. I wasn’t told that there were little copper coils in my hearing aids that, when activated, turn my hearing aids into a substitute headset. He didn’t say, ‘Ask if the hall is looped’, which would mean all I had to do was take a seat, touch the ‘t-switch’ on my hearing aids, and connect wirelessly to the microphone being used by the speaker. Such a ‘loop’ broadcasts a silent electromagnetic signal that the telecoils in my hearing aids pick up much like a radio picks up the signal broadcast by a radio station.  Why wasn’t I told about telecoils? That’s a question asked by too many hearing aid wearers upon first learning about the technology.

He goes on to explain that in the USA, six states have passed laws “requiring that clients be counseled on the technology prior to being fitted with hearing aids” and more states are in various stages of passing similar laws.  Some audiologists and dispensers are opposing these changes because “They want to be able to make decisions for the client rather than give the client options and let him or her make an informed decision.”  Scary, isn’t it?  To read the whole article, see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/expanded-communication-access-why-wasnt-i-told-steve-frazier

If you have hearing loss, it’s up to YOU to educate yourself on the accessibility tools available to you, so that you can ask the right questions when you go to your audiologist or specialist.  Hearing loops are available on the island and there is no reason why more places can’t have this hearing accessibility support if users of the various venues lobby for them.

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  Your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed for the provincial election and the upcoming federal election.  If you think our outreach and educational activities have made a difference, please let us know. Your letters of support make a BIG difference when we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

 UPCOMING EVENT

April Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Lisa Gallant, pharmacist and owner of South Shore Pharmacy, who will talk about ototoxic drugs (drugs that affect your hearing).

Those Annoying Tinny Computerized Voices!

March 18, 2019.  A few weeks ago, one of our friends got on the elevator in our hotel and said “Don’t you find the voice of the elevator annoying?”  I was a bit surprised.  “The elevator talks?”  There were a few other people in the elevator, and several piped in, with the general consensus that the elevator does indeed talk, supposedly telling you what floor it’s stopped on, but no one, even the ones with good hearing, gave it a positive review.  “It’s supposed to tell you that we’re on the 4th floor, but it sounds like it says 1st floor” I was told.

I was amazed.  I’ve spent part of every winter for the past seven years in this hotel and never knew that the elevator spoke!  Next time I was on the elevator by myself I listened carefully.  Our friend was correct.  It does talk, but what comes out is indeed gibberish.  Luckily, each floor is identified with a number as soon as the elevator door opens.  A digital screen appears inside the elevator, and just outside the elevator the floor you are on is marked with a number and in Braille. You wouldn’t have a clue which floor you were on if you depended on the elevator voice itself.  Unfortunately, I have a habit of tuning out gibberish.  I’m quite sure that the very first time I used that elevator, so many years ago, I couldn’t understand it, and tuned it out.  Over the years, I forgot that it had an annoyingly tinny voice that made no sense whatsoever.  I thought it was just me.  It wasn’t.

 

Digital readout on left, giving an indication of the floor the elevator is on.  On the right, as you come out of the elevator, the floor number is marked, including in Braille.  (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

I was reminded of that elevator when I read about upset customers who were forced to use a store’s self-checkout, against their will.  One of the customers, who the reporter described as ‘hard of hearing’ said that “I hate these new blasted self-checkouts, because they talk to you and I can’t figure out what they’re saying.” (See https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/shoppers-drug-mart-superstore-self-checkout-loblaw-1.5056800)  It was déjà vu for me as I had no idea that the self-checkouts spoke. Mind you, I’ve only tried it out twice.

One time I wanted to buy a birthday card for my husband before he found me and caught me buying his card.  The staffed checkout line was so long that I got lured to the self-checkout.  One item.  How difficult could it be?  It was a pain in the you know what, and if the machine spoke to me, I didn’t hear it. Meanwhile my husband had gone through a newly opened staffed checkout line and was waiting for me, perfectly aware of my surprise purchase.

The other experience was in a grocery store. There are two grocery stores near our hotel, both big chain stores.   One is a large store with a large number of cash registers, only one of which is ever in operation, and several self-checkouts.  The other store is smaller, has several staffed checkout registers, and no self-checkouts.  We were in the larger store, and the one staffed checkout line was very long.  My husband got impatient and went to the self-checkout.  We keep track of the prices, and it didn’t take him long to figure out that the self-checkout wasn’t registering the discounted prices.  There was a button to push for assistance, and by the time it was straightened out, it took us longer than if we had waited in the other line.

We now shop at the smaller store, with no self-checkouts. Hmmm…maybe if I get a robot to do my grocery shopping, it can go to the self-checkout and they can chirp away to each other.  It’s a shame that the tech geniuses can’t come up with a computerized voice that is actually understandable.

So now I’m curious. How many of you can hear and understand the computerized voices that are everywhere these days?   In your car?  The answering machine on your phone?  When you call a business and get put on hold?

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  With upcoming provincial and federal elections coming up in the near future, your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed.  If you think our outreach and educational activities have made a difference, please let us know. Your letters of support make a BIG difference when we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. CONCERT:  The Ross Family Concert at Shore Shore United Church in Tryon, April 7, at 2:30 pm. Sharing a blend of Acadian and Scottish, this high-energy trio offers an afternoon of entertainment sure to raise your spirits. Auction viewing and bidding begins at 1:45 pm. Advance Tickets $12, at the door $15. For tickets call Bev 439-2352 or Cindy 658-2863.

Spring session of Level 1 Speech reading classes begin Wednesday, April 10, 2019, and run for 10 weeks.  Two sessions are offered with speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee: a day class 1-3 pm, and an evening class 7-9 pm. Level 1 covers information to help people better understand hearing loss. Focus is on the most visible consonant shapes of speech.  There are many exercises and class interaction to work on improving your awareness and ability to interpret.  Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice! But don’t worry.  As Nancy says, “We also try to have some fun!” Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Interested in Level 2 Speech reading?  The spring class is completely full.  If you want to add your name for the next session, and you’ve taken Level 1, please send us an email.

April Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Lisa Gallant, pharmacist and owner of South Shore Pharmacy, who will talk about ototoxic drugs (drugs that affect your hearing).