Don’t Be Afraid To Travel If You Have Hearing Loss

August 3, 2018.  As summer races by, many of us are busy travelling.  When you have hearing loss, sometimes travel can be a bit challenging.  At our May meeting, two intrepid ladies shared travel tips from recent trips made to Malta and Australia, making us long to pack our suitcases and start on an adventure off the island.

Brenda Graves, who visited Malta and Sicily with her husband Stuart this spring, noted that “the close quarters, upholstery, and carpeting found on modern airplanes muffle sounds, making hearing what is being said difficult.”  Brenda, whose hearing loss includes high frequency sounds, found that the increasing number of male flight attendants, with their deeper voices, were easier to understand.  She went on to explain that “As a senior lady, I have found that female flight attendants will lean closer to be heard.

Brenda also stressed that not all activities require you to hear well, and showed us photos from a Good Friday pageant in Malta.  “It was quite the occasion!” she noted.

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Good Friday pageant in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

Besides flying by plane, Brenda travelled on a ferry to Sicily, to see Mt Etna.  She explained that “Modern ferries are quiet, with minimal vibration.  Sound systems are good and the crew members are quick to repeat announcements, and escort passengers on deck during rough crossings.

She also took a bus tour, and was happy to find that “Our tour bus was modern and quiet.  Our guide spoke four languages quite clearly and loud enough to be heard, even without the sound system.

In addition to the bus tour, Brenda travelled on Hop On Hop Off buses, saying they were an excellent way to get a taste of tourist spots.”  Her advice?  “If there is a guide, try to sit on the upper level near the guide at the front.  Some buses have audio earbuds with an adjustable volume.  Do not sit on the lower level at the back of the bus, as engine noise and vibration make hearing quite difficult.

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View from Hop On Hop Off bus in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

A favourite photo of her trip to Malta reinforced that travel doesn’t always require you to have perfect hearing.  “Me ankle deep in the Mediterranean Sea at St. Paul’s Bay, while back home people were ankle deep in snow!

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Brenda Graves dips her toes in the Mediterranean Sea in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

We thoroughly enjoyed the presentation Brenda Graves shared with us on Malta.  She’ll be invited back after her next trip!  But, we had more enjoyment to come, with a presentation by Brenda Porter on her trip to Australia with her partner Gerry Gray.

Brenda explained that Australia was a “once in a lifetime trip” for them, and allowed them to visit Gerry’s cousin in Adelaide, as well as see many sights in this beautiful country.  Preparation was key, and she said they “booked a hotel room in Vancouver both coming and going so that we could have a good rest before the long 15 hour flight from Vancouver to Sydney.”  At each stage she made sure that she “indicated when booking flights and guided tours that I was Hard of Hearing.  I polished up my Hard of Hearing button, and packed all the tools for cleaning hearing aids and replacement bits.

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After sharing her tips for travel preparation, we learned some good tips for how she managed en route to their destinations.  “I checked all signage in airports and public transit, and confirmed the information. Upon entering the aircraft, I let the flight attendant know that I would need to be advised of critical announcements.

Once in Australia, Brenda “advised hotel desk personnel, tour guides, waiters in restaurants, etc., that I wear two hearing aids and would require clear articulation and eye contact.  I made certain to repeat back information re times and locations to be sure that I had it right.  I always looked for a corner table or the quietest spot in restaurants and was prepared to make errors and laugh.”  This last tip is essential.  Anyone who travels needs a good sense of humour, whether they have hearing loss or not!

She noted four particular challenges during the trip:

  1. Fatigue! “My solution was to try and find rest time each day.”  Good advice.  Those of us with hearing loss know how difficult it can be to concentrate on hearing when we’re exhausted.
  2. Driving on the left side. Brenda explained that “my ‘good’ ear was away from Gerry, who was the passenger and navigator, and sometimes misunderstood the directions he gave.  The solution was to study maps very carefully in advance, keep my cool, and not panic.
  3. Noise level in Sydney. “The noise in Sydney was very tough as it’s a very busy city.  The solution was to find some quiet time in the room each day.
  4. The Australian accent.

Brenda also had some surprises during the trip…..

There were hearing loops in Sydney Opera House and on Sydney ferries.”  (For a list of places with hearing loops on Prince Edward Island, see here: Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop)

She appreciated that there was “clear signage on Adelaide and Sydney buses re next stops.”  Much better than trying to figure out an announcement!

She noted that there was “generally greater awareness of hard of hearing than here.” Per the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, which is administered by the Department of Health, one in six Australians is affected by hearing loss, and this is expected to increase to one in four by 2050.  Given the expected growth in the demand for hearing services, the Government of Australia says it is focused on improving accessibility of hearing services. (See www.hearingservices.gov.au/)

Wondering about the percentages in Canada?  It’s already higher than in Australia!  According to  the 2012 to 2015 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), 40% of adults aged 20 to 79 had at least slight hearing loss in one or both ears.  Adults aged 60 to 79 were significantly more likely to have hearing loss (78%) compared with younger adults aged 40 to 59 (40%) and 20 to 39 (15%). Males (47%) were significantly more likely to have hearing loss compared with females (32%). (See https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2016001/article/14658-eng.htm.)

Summing up the advice by the two Brendas:

Brenda Graves:  “It’s your vacation.  Enjoy it!

Brenda Porter:  “Travel is wonderful.  Don’t wait.  Plan wisely re fatigue.  And know that people care and want to help.

Brenda’s presentation on Australia and solid tips for preparation were very much appreciated.  We hope she will share insights from future trips!

After these two enjoyable presentations, it was time to celebrate the birthday of Annie Lee MacDonald.

 

Celebrating Annie Lee MacDonald’s birthday.  (Photo credit:  Daria Valkenburg)

Summer doesn’t last forever.  Plan to join us at our September meeting:  Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church

For more tips on flying with hearing loss, see: https://search.app.goo.gl/adaCz.  Got travel tips for travelling with hearing loss to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

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Hearing Accessibility Tool Now Available At CLIA PEI

July 26, 2018.  After CBC PEI ran an article and interview about the project to help improve communication between those with hearing loss and the legal community (See CBC PEI Helps To Get The Word Out On ‘How A Project To Improve Legal Communication Is Helping Islanders To Hear Better’), we were contacted by CLIA PEI, the Community Legal Information Association in PEI.  This is a non-profit charitable organization that provides information, referrals, and support on legal issues.

Access to justice is important and the staff members at CLIA are dedicated to offering help – at no cost – in navigating the many questions people may have concerning legal issues.  Some examples include answering basic legal questions, or what to do about a particular legal problem.  They have kits available for a modest price for uncontested divorces, or for powers of attorney.  And if you do need to speak with a lawyer, they have a lawyer referral service that gives you a chance to speak with a lawyer for up to 45 minutes for a small fee (currently $25 plus tax).

So we were delighted that CLIA PEI wanted to participate in the project.  To help in our mutual goal of access to justice for all, we provided a few tips on better communication with those with hearing loss and lent them a hearing accessibility tool – a pocket talker.

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Eliza MacLauchlan, left, and Emma Chilton, right, use the pocket talker to look over materials left for improving communications with those with hearing loss. (Photo credit: Ellen Mullally)

We look forward to hearing feedback from the range of clients CLIA PEI helps!  If you have legal questions and don’t know who to ask, contact them.  And don’t forget to ask to use the pocket talker if you need a bit of help to hear better, but don’t have a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

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Left to right: CLIA Executive Director Ellen Mullally, Daria Valkenburg, CLIA Program Coordinator Kelly Robinson, CLIA Public Legal Education and Information Officer Eliza MacLauchlan. Eliza has the pocket talker, and Kelly our ‘Pardon Me What Did You Say?’ booklet. Notice the wealth of legal information available behind us? (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

For more information on the program with the legal community, which is funded by a grant from the Law Foundation of PEI, see Improving Communication Between the Legal Community and Those With Hearing Loss.

For a list of lawyers on PEI with a pocket talker in their office, and who have agreed to have their information posted on the blog, see: PEI Lawyers With Pocket Talkers.

Contact information for CLIA PEI:  Community Legal Information Association of PEI, Phone: 902-892-0853 or 1-800-240-9798 (toll-free in the Atlantic provinces).  Website:  www.cliapei.ca. Address: 111-40 Enman Crescent, Charlottetown, PE C1E 1E6. Email: clia@cliapei.ca.

If you are a lawyer who would like to participate, let us know.  If you have hearing loss and don’t have a hearing aid, and your lawyer is not part of this project, ask him or her to consider participation. If you have used a pocket talker at either CLIA or a law office, let us know! Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

CBC PEI Helps To Get The Word Out On ‘How A Project To Improve Legal Communication Is Helping Islanders To Hear Better’

July 13, 2018.  We are very lucky here on Prince Edward Island to have the support of media that help us keep the public informed on activities related to those with hearing loss.  As a volunteer non-profit organization we may not have a lot of resources, but we certainly have a lot of champions!  The ‘County Line Courier’ and ‘Summerside Citizen’ newspapers feature our articles, and CBC PEI helps us reach Islanders far and wide.

Earlier this week I was in the CBC Mainstreet studio to support my husband, in an interview he had with Angela Walker for a Cenotaph Research Project.  While there, I was invited to talk about one of our current projects, helping to improve communications between Island lawyers and those with hearing loss.

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At the CBC Mainstreet studio. (Photo credit: Angela Walker)

Here is the link to that interview:  http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15556801 and the description from the CBC website:  The PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and the Law Foundation of PEI have expanded on a project to ensure lawyers and their clients with hearing difficulties are able to effectively communicate.

CBC PEI went a step further with a web article about the project as well.  Here is the link to the CBC PEI article by Kevin Yarr: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-pocketalker-lawyers-hearing-impaired-1.4744340, with a transcription of the article below.

How a project to improve legal communication is helping Islanders hear better

‘They did a big public service’

Kevin Yarr · CBC News · Posted: Jul 12, 2018 8:00 PM AT | Last Updated: July 12

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Islanders who are hard of hearing are discovering how useful these Pockettalkers can be, thanks to a pilot project with P.E.I. lawyers. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

A project to help clients understand lawyers’ legal advice is bringing some unexpected benefits, says the P.E.I. chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.

The pilot project, launched last year, distributed 10 assistive listening devices called Pocketalkers to interested lawyers. The handheld device, which includes headphones, amplifies sounds nearby and helps users filter out background noise so they can focus on what is being said.

Association spokeswoman Daria Valkenburg said lawyers using the device have helped Islanders discover how useful they can be.

“We always knew when a lawyer was in a seniors’ home, if they had gone to visit anybody, because we’d immediately get an email or a phone call saying I want one of those Pocketalkers,” said Valkenburg.

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P.E.I.’s Hard of Hearing Association has developed a brochure for the reception areas of lawyers’ offices that will encourage people with hearing loss to ask for help. (Angela Walker/CBC)

“They did a big public service. We were getting stories from people saying, ‘I can now play cards, ‘I can now go to talk to my kids.’ I think that’s really important. It helped with different types of social isolation.”

The project received funding and support from the Law Foundation of P.E.I.

The project is continuing this year with a new feature — the association has developed a brochure for the reception areas of lawyers’ offices that will encourage people with hearing loss to ask for help.

For a list of lawyers on PEI with a pocket talker in their office, and who have agreed to have their information posted on the blog, please see here: PEI Lawyers With Pocket Talkers

If you are a lawyer who would like to participate, let us know.  If you have hearing loss and don’t have a hearing aid, and your lawyer is not part of this project, ask him or her to consider participation.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

And if you’re curious about the Cenotaph Research Project interview, you can listen to it here:  https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15556040. CBC summary:  Finding the heroic stories behind the names on a local cenotaph. Pieter Valkenburg is a Dutch Canadian who wanted to learn more about the names on the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph. So he started a research project to find the stories behind these fallen soldiers.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help fund activities not covered by a grant.  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

Report On Our June 2018 Meeting

June 27, 2018.  At the final meeting before the summer break, our guest speaker was Dr. Michael Corman, Principal Advisor of Senior’s Health at PEI’s Department of Health and Wellness. One of the roles of the Department is to provide oversight and policy direction to Health PEI.

Dr. Corman came to give an overview of PEI’s first Action Plan for Seniors, Near Seniors, and Caregivers entitled, “Promoting Wellness, Preserving Health“, released in May 2018. (See:  https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/sante-et-mieux-etre/seniors-health-and-wellness-action-plan) The Action Plan was prepared in consultation with many organizations and seniors, and Annie Lee MacDonald was our representative to ensure that those with hearing loss had a voice at the table.

We wanted ensure that, as the Action Plan becomes implemented, that hearing health and issues around hearing loss are not forgotten, and Dr Corman was presented with information about the work we have done over the past year.  The presentation generated a lot of interest and questions, and we thank Dr Corman and policy analyst Aly Inman for taking the time to meet with us.

One of the items mentioned by Dr Corman was Health PEI’s patient navigator service, which many had not heard about. Here is a link for more information: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-pei/patient-navigator and the contact information: Email patientnavigator@gov.pe.ca or call 1-844-882-3141.

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Following the tea break, Jane Scott, of Ottawa, presented a cheque to us from the CHHA Foundation, on behalf of CHHA Foundation’s President Carole Willans. This was the final payment for the grant awarded for the Let’s Loop PEI project in May, in which two churches (South Shore United Church and West River United Church) and the City of Charlottetown’s City Hall participated.  We now have two technicians who can install hearing loops to IEC60118 international installation standards.

In the presentation, Jane read out the following from Carole Willans:  “All the CHHA Foundation Board members expressed their appreciation for the way the CHHA PEI Chapter took advantage of this funding opportunity.  The Chapter demonstrated its great ability to work as a group to get the job done.  More importantly, the lives of so many hard of hearing people have been improved and that is worth every cent.  Kudos to the Chapter and its volunteers for a job well done.  You make all hard of hearing Canadians proud!

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Jane Scott on left presents grant cheque from CHHA Foundation to Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald for the Let’s Loop PEI project. (Photo credit: Brenda Porter)

Our thanks to the CHHA Foundation for helping making this project a reality.  It’s a good beginning as more venues are encouraged to make their places more accessible for those with hearing loss.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday, September 18, 2018, 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church in North Tryon.  In the meantime, you can 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 to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

So You’ve Been Invited To Speak To People With Hearing Loss

June 26, 2018.  Last year, as part of a commemoration event in Burgdorf, Germany, I was invited to give a presentation on a displaced persons camp that had been located in Burgdorf between 1945 and 1950. The Camp Ohio Research Project is one I happily volunteer for, as my father had been a resident in that camp.

However, there were many challenges to accepting this request.  As a person with hearing loss, I can easily misunderstand what someone says to me in English, let alone in German or French or Portuguese, the four languages of the audience.  There would be extensive media coverage, and the event was to be broadcast worldwide on a YouTube channel.  I said no, at first.

My husband then pointed out that my father would have wanted me to do this, and he also reminded me that I had taught adults for a living.  Just say yes.  And so I did.

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Onstage in Burgdorf, Germany, giving a presentation to a multi-national audience. (Photo credit: Joachim Dege)

Many presentation tips were drawn upon for this event to be a success.  They included the need to speak slowly.  This is so people who did understand English, but as a second language, could translate what I said in their head, and for the two people translating into German to have a chance to do their interpretation.

Because of the cameras, we had to have good lighting and a good sound system.  Everyone received a handout, in English and German, of the key points to be covered.  As this presentation included a photo slideshow, the pictures told a lot about what was being discussed.

There were many questions after the presentation, and each question was repeated in English and German, as were the answers.  Overall, it was a success.

answering questions during slide show

Ralf Gräfenstein on the left, and Tobias Teuber on the right, translated my presentation into German. (Photo credit: Bettina Wendlandt)

Many of the same tips used in addressing an international audience, or any audience for that matter, become essential tools for communication in addressing a group of people with hearing loss.

We are lucky to have many interesting presenters at our meetings, but sometimes the presenters make it difficult to follow them.  They speak too quickly.  They face the screen instead of the audience, or they wander around the room, meaning many people can’t see them.  If you can’t see someone, usually you also can’t hear them.

When Brenda Porter made the suggestion that we needed to prepare a tip sheet for presenters, everyone agreed, and 8 key points were decided upon to give to every future presenter. (See here: Tips for presenters when speaking to those with hearing loss )

Tips For Presenters When Speaking To Those With Hearing Loss

  1. Speak clearly and not too quickly, giving a natural pause between phrases/sentences.
  2. Stand in one place, rather than moving around. Face your listeners.
  3. Be sure that the lighting is good and that your face is well lit, not in shadow. In order to speech read, your listeners need to see your face clearly!
  4. Use lots of facial expression. This helps enormously in providing a context for your words and is key for speech reading.
  5. If at all possible, use a sound system. Be sure that your microphone is not directly in front of your mouth. All persons with hearing loss speech read to some extent and need to see your mouth/lips.
  6. Display the main points of your presentation in some way – whether via PowerPoint, a flip chart, or printed outline.
  7. Pause from time to time, especially following key points, and ask whether your listeners whether they need you to repeat/rephrase what you have said.
  8. Before answering, be sure to repeat any audience questions to be sure that listeners have understood them.

There are many more tips, of course, such as not using contractions.  If you don’t hear well, words like ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ sound the same!  Real-time captioning would be great, but is not affordable for a short presentation to a relatively small group.  And if you are listening to a presentation in a language you are not familiar with, contextual clues are very important.

Do you have more tips to share?  You can 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 to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

 

More Info On Hearing Loop Access at Charlottetown City Hall

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June 17, 2018.  An excellent article, ‘City of Charlottetown improves access at City Hall for people with hearing loss’ by Dave Stewart of The Guardian was recently published in the newspaper.  (See http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/city-of-charlottetown-improves-access-at-city-hall-for-people-with-hearing-loss-218999/).

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Rachel McPhee, left, receptionist at City Hall in Charlottetown, talks to Brenda Porter, a member of the city’s board of persons with disabilities, about the new looping technology installed in the building. (Photo credit: Dave Stewart of The Guardian)

You can see in the above photo that the sign for disability access includes the universal symbol indicating that there is a hearing loop installed.  The ‘T’ on the bottom right stands for ‘telecoil’.

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As word spread of the city’s initiative, a wish list for more hearing loop access in public venues began, with the airport, hospital, and theatres top of the list.  Joan Gallant commended Charlottetown’s Mayor: “Congratulations to Clifford Lee for seeing the importance of looping City Hall. Next I would like to see Homburg Theatre looped!! The more public places looped, the more those of us who are hard of hearing will be able to take part and contribute to our communities.”  We can only hope that interest in hearing loop access will grow!

If you do not have a telecoil activated in your hearing aid or cochlear implant, talk to your audiologist.  As Brenda Porter noted in the interview with Dave Stewart “…the sound is clear and crisp. It’s as if I didn’t have any hearing loss. You can come in (to council chambers) and as long as you have a certain component in your hearing aid activated, you don’t have to put on a headset or put on a necklace or do anything that announces to the world that ‘Hey, I’m hard of hearing’.’’

If you have hearing loss, but don’t wear a hearing aid or have a cochlear implant, you can still access a hearing loop by other assistive listening devices.  See our previous posting The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for more information.

Have you used a hearing loop?  Share your experience and help build awareness so more places on PEI can be looped. You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop: Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Don’t forget about our upcoming meeting, the last one before the summer break:  Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker:  Dr. Michael Corman, Principal Advisor Senior’s Health at PEI’s Department of Health and Wellness, will give an update on the new Seniors Strategy for PEI.  Our chapter participated on the consultation committee for this strategy.  This is your opportunity to ask questions and make your voice heard as the Action Plan for the Seniors Strategy is developed.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

 © Daria Valkenburg

 

Spring 2018 Level I Speechreading Graduates

June 16, 2018.  The Spring 2018 Level I Speechreading course was successfully completed by 5 participants, who received their certificates:  David Bruce, Gerry Gray, Gillian Hutchings, Louise Larkin, and Wayne MacNeill.  Congratulations to them, and to instructor Nancy MacPhee for a successful session.

Speechreading Level 1 Spring 2018 graduates

Spring 2018 Level I Speechreading graduates. Left to right: Gerry Gray, Gillian Hutchings, David Bruce, Wayne MacNeill (missing: Louise Larkin) (Photo credit: Nancy MacPhee)

Did you know that speech reading can have a beneficial effect on your brain and your ability to hear, especially with a cochlear implant?  (See https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-brain-responses-lip-reading-benefit-cochlear.html)

This session’s participants were asked for their comments on the course.  Here is a sample:

  • I think this is a valuable course even for someone who hears.  It helps one understand those who do have a hearing problem.
  • Excellent program.
  • Amazing teacher.  Well designed course and well designed classes – lots of variation.

David Bruce shared his impression of the course and was frank about the challenges he faced in learning the new skill of speechreading:  “Instructor Nancy MacPhee can only be considered exceptional.  The delivery of the course from someone with her knowledge of this subject was a plus for me from Day One.

My hearing aid provider informed me during my last visit that that she could not do much more for my right ear and that my left one was getting weaker.  She suggested that I consider taking a speechreading course in the near future, and down the road to look into a cochlear implant. 

The presentations and supplied material provided me with a much expanded understanding of hearing problems and how to personally cope with it.

I found speechreading very difficult.  I gained many clues but see a difficult learning period ahead.  More practice and more courses to come.

I can and will recommend this course to all hearing concerned individuals.”

We all use speechreading to some extent in our daily lives, whether we have hearing loss or not.  Try your own skills with the video included in this article from Great Britain….. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/features/the_lip_reading_challenge.shtml!

The next session of speechreading Level I begins this fall.  If you are interested in being on the contact list, send us an email at hearpei@gmail.com.  What will you learn?  Nancy MacPhee advises that “Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered.

Have you taken a speechreading class?  Share your experience and help encourage others to learn this valuable skill. You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

A few places on PEI now have a hearing loop installed.  Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop: Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Several lawyers on PEI have a pocket talker on hand as a convenience for their clients with hearing loss.  Follow this link for a list: PEI Lawyers With Pocket Talkers

Don’t forget about our upcoming meeting, the last one before the summer break:  Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker:  Dr. Michael Corman, Principal Advisor Senior’s Health at PEI’s Department of Health and Wellness, will give an update on the new Seniors Strategy for PEI.  Our chapter participated on the consultation committee for this strategy.  This is your opportunity to ask questions and make your voice heard as the Action Plan for the Seniors Strategy is developed.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

 

© Daria Valkenburg

 

The ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’ Presentation At Andrews of Charlottetown

June 9, 2018.  On June 7, 2018, we were invited to give a presentation on the booklet ‘Pardon Me, What Did You Say?’, giving tips on better communication with people who have hearing loss, at Andrews of Charlottetown, a seniors home that offers independent living, community care, and nursing care options.

The booklet was a project from last year, funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons For Seniors Program, written by members of our Chapter, and illustrated by artist Wayne Wright.

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Brenda Porter addresses audience at Andrews of Charlottetown. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Five residents came to the presentation, along with a staff complement of 14.  This was the first time staff had attended a presentation.

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Some of the staff members at Andrews of Charlottetown that attended the presentation. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

After the presentation, one of the residents commented that he never could understand what was being said in his church in Cornwall but now he can hear everything clear as a bell.  He was referring to West River United Church, which had been looped a few weeks earlier as part of the Let’s Loop PEI project.  (See West River United Church is Looped).  He was accessing the hearing loop using a hearing loop receiver, and said he was planning to speak with his audiologist to have a telecoil activated in his hearing aids.  Good for him!

This got people talking about how difficult it was to hear presentations at Andrews, as there is a coffee are adjacent to the room, and people have difficulty hearing over the background noise.  A hearing loop would solve that problem, as anyone listening to the presenter in an area that has been looped would hear only what comes out of a microphone.

A hearing loop is a great solution that would allow everyone in a noisy room to hear and focus on activities such as bingo, a performance, play, or speech.  One never knows how many ripple effects this resident’s positive experience at his church will have!

Our thanks to Kathy Ready, Program Coordinator at Andrews of Charlottetown, for inviting us.  Thanks also to Brenda Porter, Nancy MacPhee, and Daria Valkenburg for volunteering at this event.

Have you tried out a hearing loop?  Please share your experience.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop:  Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Don’t forget about our upcoming meeting, the last one before the summer break:  Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker:  Dr. Michael Corman, Principal Advisor Senior’s Health at PEI’s Department of Health and Wellness, will give an update on the new Seniors Strategy for PEI.  Our chapter participated on the consultation committee for this strategy.

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

 © Daria Valkenburg

 

West River United Church is Looped

LoopPEI_logo-P2

May 30, 2018.  The second church that participated in the week long Let’s Loop PEI Project, made possible due to a grant from the CHHA Foundation, was West River United Church in Cornwall, which decided to loop the entire sanctuary.  Like South Shore United Church, West River United Church had volunteers to help and they went through the same steps:

Step 1: The Field Survey

The church did its own field survey.

Step 2: The EMI Test

I did the EMI test, with assistance from Doug Aitken, who could explain any anomalies in the readings, such as where fluorescent lights were located in the basement.

Step 3: The Site Evaluation

Three volunteers participated in the site evaluation: Doug Aitken, Phil Pater, and Tom Barnes, under the watchful eye of Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions.

CIMG0043 May 15 2018 site survey West River United Church Tom & Doug loop wires

Tom Barnes on left and Doug Aitken on right loop wires around the perimeter of the sanctuary for the temporary hearing loop. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

cimg0045-may-15-2018-site-survey-west-river-united-church-phil-with-wire.jpg

Phil Pater with the spool of wire used in the temporary loop. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG0046 May 15 2018 site survey West River United Church Bill Phil Tom

Discussing the best loop driver to be used in West River United Church. Left to right: Bill Droogendyk, Phil Pater, Tom Barnes. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 5:  Wiring The Sanctuary

The dedicated volunteers at West River United Church decided to wire the sanctuary a few hours after the site evaluation.  They too were very careful in making sure the job was done correctly.  The sanctuary is carpeted, and Doug Aitken explained that after the wiring was put in, hours were spent ensuring that the wires were folded under the carpet so that no wiring was exposed.  They did a brilliant job.  You can’t see any trace of wiring!

Step 6:  Hooking the Loop Driver to the Sound System

After the wiring was done, the loop driver (amplifier) was hooked to the church’s sound system and calibrated to the IEC60118 standard for a compliant hearing loop.

The official testing of the hearing loop was done during a public information session, led by Rick Burger, Chair of the Worship Committee.  Members of the congregation were invited, as were members of our Chapter, and South Shore United Church.  Two members of the PEI Seniors Secretariat attended, at our invitation, as the Secretariat had sponsored the printing of information pamphlets.

The pamphlet explains the four ways you can access a facility that has a hearing loop installed – anywhere in the world. One way is to have a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a telecoil that’s been activated.  Second, special earbuds called OTOjOY work with a free app you can download on your iPhone.  Third, you can use a hearing loop receiver with headphones or earbuds.  Lastly there is a pocket talker with a telecoil built into it.  (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for this same information.)

During the information session, people could test the hearing loop in a short program that included both speech in the form of words of welcome from the church and our Chapter, plus music with singing and piano accompaniment.

The hearing loop worked well.  The audience included people who had telecoils activated in their hearing aids, as well as people with cochlear implants with the telecoils activated.  For one man, it was the first time the telecoil had been used since he received his hearing aids. The increase in sound volume was quite a shock for someone not used to hearing well.

Those without the luxury of hearing aids or cochlear implants with telecoils activated tried the hearing loop through receivers, OTOjOY earbuds, or pocket talkers, as we had brought a selection for people to try.  Unfortunately for the people who tried the pocket talkers, they didn’t have the best experience at first due to operator error.  We’d plugged the headphones into the microphones instead of the receivers!

CIMG0082 May 18 2018 West River United Church public info session Rick Burger sings

Rick Burger sings a solo during the public information session at West River United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Angela Walker of CBC Radio’s Mainstreet also attended, and afterwards interviewed a number of people.  Here is the link to the radio interview.

http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15546716

Step 7:  Post Signage

The last step in the installation was to post signs advising that the hearing loop was installed.

Our thanks to the volunteers, CHHA Foundation, PEI Seniors Secretariat, and to Bill and Wilma Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions for making this installation possible.

Do you have an old hearing loop in your church?

Many PEI Churches were previously looped decades ago.  Several people commented that their church had an “old hearing loop” that either didn’t work, or no one knew what to do with, and asked if we could help get the hearing loops working again.  Many years ago, hearing loops had been installed by a group of volunteers, the Aliant Pioneers.  These loops were not done to international standards, because at the time there were no standards.  In some cases, the hearing loops are still in existence.  In other cases, they were torn out during renovations.

Churches in PEI with hearing loops done decades ago may wish to have their venues tested to see if they can meet the international IEC60118 standard for a compliant hearing loop. Hearing loops that meet the IEC60118 standard offer much greater sound clarity and uniform loudness throughout the looped area.

New technology for accessing the hearing loop means more people with hearing loss can benefit from a hearing loop.

Our Let’s Loop PEI story continues in the next blog posting.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events

Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop:  Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

 © Daria Valkenburg

 

 

South Shore United Church is Looped

LoopPEI_logo-P2

May 24, 2018.  When the Let’s Loop PEI Project began, we had no idea what was needed to loop a building.  We only knew that hearing loops worked and would be of use to a number of people.  Not surprisingly, churches were receptive to the idea of a hearing loop.  Many have parishioners with hearing loss who have either stopped making the effort to come to church due to difficulties in hearing, or do come to church but are unable to follow the service.

Many churches have excellent sound amplification systems.  Sadly, for people with severe hearing loss, the best sound system still won’t help with clarity and the ability to understand what is being said. Louder doesn’t mean better!  Some churches provide copies of the sermon to those with hearing loss, others have presentations on a screen.  There had to be a better solution, thought a number of churches.

After we received a grant from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) Foundation to pay the travel costs of bringing in expertise to train volunteers in how to loop their facility to an international standard IEC60118 compliant hearing loop’, we contacted a few places to gauge their interest in participating, willingness to provide volunteers to do the work under supervision, and willingness to pay the installation costs of the materials needed to loop a venue.  Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions agreed to provide the expertise.

South Shore United Church in Tryon was willing to participate, had two volunteers – Jack Sorensen and Pieter Valkenburg – and the funding to pay their installation costs.  This posting summarizes the steps taken from conception to completion.

Step 1: The Field Survey

The church was sent a sheet in which questions about the site were asked, including the floor plan, building dimensions, building construction information, ceiling height and construction, whether seating was fixed or moveable, location of sound system, and types of microphones used.

On a cold day in March, the two volunteers and I met to complete this survey.

CIMG9889 Mar 18 2018 view of pews from stage proposed loop area is on right SSUC sanctuary

Daria Valkenburg with Jack Sorensen in South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Step 2: The EMI Test

A test for electromagnetic interference (EMI) was next, and done twice in April.  Bill explained that “EMI is essentially noise, typically heard as a hum that just sits in the background. If it’s excessive (> -32dB), it’s annoying and causes the hearing loop installation to not comply with the IEC standard. In such cases, the loop itself would be quite fine but the facility itself fails to meet the standard.

First, Brenda Porter, whose hearing aids have activated telecoils, came and checked whether she heard any hums or other noises when the electrical equipment and sound system were turned on.  No noise, which was a good sign.

CIMG9949 Apr 10 2018 Jack and Brenda at SSUC testing T switch

Jack Sorensen with Brenda Porter during the EMI test using the telecoils in her hearing aids. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Bill sent us a device for a more accurate test of electromagnetic interference, so a few weeks later, volunteer Pieter Valkenburg tested the church.  The test confirmed Brenda’s experience of no sound interference.

cimg9975-apr-24-2018-emi-test-ssuc-pieter-in-central-aisle.jpg

Pieter Valkenburg doing EMI test at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 3: The Site Evaluation

In May, Bill Droogendyk arrived on the island, and did the formal site evaluation with a group of volunteers. Wires were temporarily strung in the area to be looped, while testing was done.  Bill explained that the site evaluation is “done to determine physical measurements, usage (seating arrangements), EMI, loop performance constraints (largely due to metal loss) for uniform sound volume and sound frequency – all with view on how to design an IEC60118 compliant hearing loop” Metal absorbs sound and, if not taken into account, can lead to a ‘dead zone’ for sound.

A decision was then made on the type of loop driver (amplifier) needed for the best sound.  As the church hosts a number of musical events, a loop driver capable of providing clarity for music was chosen.

CIMG0015 May 14 2018 Site survey SSUC

Pieter Valkenburg (left) and Jack Sorensen (right) loop wire between the pew rows during the site survey at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG0026 May 14 2018 Site survey SSUC

Left to right: Tom Barnes, Jack Sorensen, Bill Droogendyk, Phil Pater, Pieter Valkenburg. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 5:  Wiring The Sanctuary

Based on the loop design determined by the site evaluation, Jack and Pieter spent hours on the floor of the sanctuary South Shore United Church, stapling wires under pews and then burying any visible wires between the floorboards so that no wires were exposed.  By the way, if you were wondering, they made sure the staples didn’t go through the wire.  They did it right the first time.  And the wiring is basically invisible, as you can see from the photo below.

CIMG0062 May 16 2018 can you spot the wire between the floorboards at SSUC

The loop wire went into a crack between two floorboards in the exposed areas of the sanctuary. Can you spot which crack the wire went in? (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 6:  Hooking the Loop Driver to the Sound System

After the wiring was done, the loop driver (amplifier) was hooked to the church’s sound system and calibrated to the IEC60118 standard for a compliant hearing loop.

CIMG0059 May 16 2018 Bill and Jack hook up the loop driver and calibrate

Bill Droogendyk (left) and Jack Sorensen (right) calibrate the loop driver after it’s been hooked up to the church’s sound system. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

After the technicians said everything worked, it was time for someone with hearing loss to give a verdict.  As no one had tested a pocket talker that had a telecoil built in it, that was chosen for a test of the hearing loop.  I tried it in various parts of the looped area and it worked perfectly.

CIMG0058 May 16 2018 Daria tests the hearing loop at SSUC

Thumbs up for a successful hearing loop installation at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

CIMG0056 May 16 2018 Jack Pieter Bill at SSUC post installation

Smiles all around for a job well done! Left to right: Jack Sorensen, Pieter Valkenburg, Bill Droogendyk. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 7:  Post Signage

The last step in the installation was to post signs advising that the hearing loop was installed.  Stickers were placed on the pews in the looped area, and a notice with the universal logo indicating a telecoil was installed was given to the Church secretary for inclusion in the weekly bulletins.

Hearing Loop System Installed At

A brochure on the ways to access a hearing loop was printed, with publication costs for the brochures paid for by a grant from the PEI Seniors Secretariat.  (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for this same information.)

This was an amazing experience and everyone learned a lot about hearing loops.  Our thanks to the volunteers, CHHA Foundation, PEI Seniors Secretariat, and to Bill and Wilma Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions for making this installation possible.

Our Let’s Loop PEI story continues in the next blog posting.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events

Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop:  Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg