A New Hearing Accessibility Tool For Your Phone Or Tablet

February 14, 2019.  When you have hearing loss, you are always looking for something to help you hear.  One of the problems so many of us have is trying to hear in a group situation.  Pocket talkers are great for one to one conversations, or for hearing the television. A pocket talker is portable and doesn’t require an internet connection.  It works on a long lasting battery and doesn’t need to be plugged in.  However, a pocket talker is not great in group situations or a noisy environment as it picks up any sounds within its range.

Voice recognition software has been around for a few years, trying to give people with hearing loss an experience similar to closed captioning as we can see on TV, or through the use of subtitles on a DVD.  Real time captioning is available for conferences and meetings, but what if you are a person on your own and want to be able to participate in a conversation?  One program many of us tried is Live Caption. (See Who Knew Technology Was Our Friend?)  It wasn’t perfect, but better than nothing.

So I was very interested when blog reader Jane Scott sent an email about a new application.  “I was reading today about Google’s new LIVE TRANSCRIBE application for android phones that seems to do a pretty decent job of transcribing live speech to text.  It looks very promising.

Jane downloaded the app on her phone and tried it out, and gave her opinion on it. “Love the attachment!  From limited use it does very well.  Once on you get real time captioning.  Easy Peasy. I do wonder whether it would work over a speaker phone.  Anyway it’s cool…..

The phrase ‘easy peasy’ did it for me, so I asked Tech Support (my husband) to download the app on my Android tablet.  Not only was it free, but it was very easy to download and even easier to use.  One of the tests I had was whether it would be able to transcribe what my husband, with his Dutch accent, said.  Not a problem, it picked up every word both of us said.

Even better, the app has a choice of over 70 languages to use, and you can choose a primary language, English in our case, plus a secondary language.  This gives you the flexibility to have a bilingual conversation.

We first tried it with English and Ukrainian, as I was curious to see if it would transcribe Cyrillic letters.  It did.  We then changed the secondary language to Dutch.  It worked perfectly, as you can see in the photo below.  One caution:  You’ll note that it transcribes in the second language, it doesn’t translate.

CIMG2906 Live Transcribe

Live Transcribe bilingual conversation in English and Dutch on my tablet. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The next test was to see how it did in a group and very noisy environment.  I didn’t have high hopes, but to my surprise, it picked up the conversation at our table for four people during breakfast in a crowded and noisy hotel lobby and ignored the background noise.  Wow! No more struggling to hear!  I could follow the conversation on my tablet.

IMG_20190214_085912559 Daria with Chuck & Ruth

Daria, centre, with Minnesota snowbirds Ruth and Chuck. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

I asked a lady with a Ukrainian accent to try it out, and it captured her speech perfectly.  Then I showed her how it worked in transcribing Ukrainian and she was amazed.  Unfortunately she had an iPhone, so couldn’t download the app.

So, now a bit about the app, as explained on the website…. “It’s powered by Google’s speech recognition technology, so the captions adjust as your conversation flows. And since conversations aren’t stored on servers, they stay secure on your device.  Live Transcribe is easy to use, anywhere you have a WiFi or network connection. It’s free to download on over 1.8B Android devices operating with 5.0 Lollipop and up.”  So, it appears that your conversations don’t go into ‘the cloud’, which is good news.  It also auto-corrects if it realizes that it has made an error.

Google explains that the app was developed in partnership with Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, “to make sure that Live Transcribe was helpful for everyday use.

My opinion? Live Transcribe is FANTASTIC!  I’m going to take my tablet to tonight’s Snowbird Valentine Dinner, another high decibel level event that makes hearing impossible.  Want to try it for yourself?  Here is the link:  https://www.android.com/accessibility/live-transcribe/.

Please share your experience by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

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

Speech reading classes begin Spring 2019.  To register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Advertisements

Tips For Enjoying Valentine’s Day

art beach beautiful clouds

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

February 12, 2019.  Valentine’s Day…. what a wonderful day to look forward to….. candlelight dinners, moonlight walks, sweet nothings whispered into your ear by your loved one.  Right?  If you have hearing loss, not right, but a recipe for a frustrating time for both you and your partner.

With my Dutch-born husband, dining by candlelight, walks in the moonlight, and whispered sweet nothings would never happen, luckily for me.  He prefers the lights on so he can see what he’s eating.  As for the rest, well, let’s just say he’d say I read one too many romance books.  As the husband of a person with hearing loss, though, he’s a treasure and truly my Valentine.

So, with Valentine’s Day approaching in a few days, here are a few of our experiences and some tips to share with you to make the day memorable and fun…..

Valentine

Valentine’s Day usually means flowers in our household!

  1. Words written down, on a card or in a note, go a lot further than whispers you can’t hear anyways. Plus, you have something to read over again!
  2. Save the candlelight for when there is a power failure, and instead enjoy the experience of being able to look at your partner in good light. You’ll not only be able to see, you’ll hear better!
  3. If you can choose a venue that is friendly to those with hearing loss, do so. Otherwise, bring a pad and pencil for emergencies and just be prepared not to hear as well as you should.
  4. Relax and enjoy yourself. If you are having fun, your partner will too.

We celebrate Valentine’s Day TWICE, once with a quiet and romantic lunch ‘a deux’ a few days before the big day.  This year we went to a Thai restaurant and had a wonderful meal in a quiet environment.  Not one pardon me, what did you say?” from me at all!

On Valentine’s Day itself, we are part of a group of snowbirds treated to a Valentine’s Dinner by the hotel we stay at.  Snowbirds and hearing loss …. you can already hear the noise level rising, can’t you? People talk a lot…and loudly… and the hotel likes to provide background music for our ‘enjoyment’.  Last year it was a violinist, the year before it was a disc jockey playing music so loudly that people were forced to shut off their hearing aids.  We’ve gently asked them to forego the music this year, so people can talk and hear each other.  Fingers crossed for this year’s event.

Do you have a story about Valentine’s Day?  Share your experience by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

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

Speech reading classes begin Spring 2019.  To register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

Do You Have A Bone Anchored Hearing System?

January 23, 2019.  One of the benefits of attending a Chapter meeting is the opportunity to not only meet other people with hearing loss, but to learn more about hearing loss and hearing health.  At our November Chapter meeting, we were delighted to welcome a guest speaker from Montreal: Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support and Business Development Manager for Eastern Canada at Oticon Medical.

Annie Lee and I met with Jessyca the evening before at Merchantman Pub in Charlottetown and had a chance to discuss her presentation on Bone Anchored Hearing Systems (BAHS).  Cochlear Canada Inc. has a similar product, called Bone Anchored Hearing Aids. Both products are a type of hearing aid, surgically implanted behind the ear, and based on bone conduction.  Unlike traditional hearing aids, which amplify sound through the ear canal, bone anchored devices transmit sound through the bone.

cimg2839 nov 26 2018 daria annie lee jessyca bedard at merchantman pub

Left to right: Daria, Annie Lee, Jessyca. Did you notice that we picked a spot with a back ‘wall’ for noise reduction, perfect for being able to hear in a busy restaurant?

slide1

In the presentation, we learned that a bone anchored hearing device is useful for people who have certain types of hearing loss related to:

  1. Conductive or mixed hearing loss
  2. Skin allergies which make a hearing aid in the ear impractical
  3. Single sided deafness

slide15

How does it work?  Sounds are converted into vibrations, which the skull transmits to the inner ear (cochlea).

slide10

A bone anchored hearing system has a sound processor which sits on the outside of the skull, with a titanium implant that won’t rust.

slide11

During a lively question and answer period, we learned that the sound processor needs to be removed to go swimming, or when you wash your hair.  A question about MRIs was answered that it was OK to be left on for that procedure.

Unfortunately, the Oticon BAHS does NOT have a telecoil, which was surprising given that Oticon is a European company.  Telecoils are standard in hearing aid systems in Europe.

Another question concerned the availability of colours for the sound processor.  Jessyca had come prepared for that with a case of various colour options!

cimg2848 nov 27 2018 bahs colour choices

Colour choices for the BAHS sound processor. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Nancy Reddin has had a BAHS for 4 years and shared her experience.  “I am almost completely deaf in my right ear because of an auditory-vestibular neuroma diagnosed in 2009, and was fitted with an Oticon Ponto bone-anchored sound processor in 2014. Because the hearing in my left ear is almost 100%, I don’t use the Ponto at home (although I probably should!). I do find it useful in situations with a lot of background noise or where I can’t always be in a good position, such as a noisy restaurant or family party; it helps to balance out the background. It is very easy to use and I am glad that this technology exists for me.

cimg2845 nov 27 2018 nancy reddin with bahs

Nancy Reddin with her BAHS. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Jessyca explained that “Hearing loss puts an extra strain on the brain, which has to work harder.”  This is so true, and why it’s wonderful that technology is helping in reducing the effects of hearing loss.

Do you have a bone anchored hearing system or a bone anchored hearing aid?  Share your experience by commenting on this blog, or sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

We’re still on winter break but here is a reminder of upcoming events this spring:

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

Speech reading classes begin Spring 2019.  To register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI

January 14, 2019.  As a non-profit organization run by volunteers, we depend on grants and donations to help provide outreach and educational activities that build awareness of issues related to hearing health and hearing loss.  Last year, the Seniors Secretariat of PEI awarded us a grant we’d requested for seminars.  We had a session with Dr. David Morris on cochlear implants (See Successful ‘Demystifying Cochlear Implants’ Seminar In Charlottetown), a session with Dr Heidi Eaton on Tinnitus, and were able to provide brochures on how to access a hearing loop (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop ).

With the increased number of events we’ve been invited to attend or speak at, this year we requested, and were awarded, funding for the printing of informational brochures on various topics around hearing loss. In addition to the list of topics we are already working on, suggestions for additional topics to consider are welcome.

cimg2859 nov 30 2018 with pei sr secretariat

Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald with members of the Seniors Secretariat of PEI. Seated, left to right: Alma MacDougall, Farida Chishti, Audrey Morris, Sister Norma Gallant. Standing, left to right: Paul H Schurman, Lorna Jenkins, Isabelle Christian, Elaine Campbell, Shirley Pierce, Daria, Annie Lee. (Photo credit: Shelly Cole)

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

At the end of November we were able to thank the members of the Seniors Secretariat of PEI in person for the grant as they invited us to give a presentation on the project with the Law Foundation of PEI, which is now finished.  This allowed us to speak not only about the ways in which the legal community on PEI is now better prepared to communicate with clients who have hearing loss, but to give an overview on hearing loss, and give the members of the Secretariat a chance to try out a pocket talker.

law foundation presentation to sr sec nov 30 2018

Presentation made to the Seniors Secretariat of PEI on the project with the Law Foundation of PEI was very well received.

We’re still on our winter break, but spring is hopefully around the corner.  Here is a reminder of upcoming events:

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).

Speech reading classes begin Spring 2019.  To register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

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

© Daria Valkenburg

Accessible Hotel Rooms For Those With Hearing Loss

January 10, 2019.  When you travel and you have hearing loss, you need to have a lot of patience and a good sense of humour, as all kinds of adventures await you.  Staying in a hotel has its own challenges.  Will you hear someone knocking on the door?  What happens if you want a wake-up call so you can catch an early flight?  What if there is a fire and you don’t hear the alarm?

Everyone with hearing loss has a story to tell! One time, at an airport hotel in Winnipeg, I requested a wake-up call so I could catch an early morning flight.  Unfortunately I slept in and didn’t hear the phone ringing.  When I didn’t answer after several tries, the hotel staff came banging on the door.  I didn’t hear that either.  Finally, they opened the door with a master key and that finally woke me up.  If I hadn’t let them know the evening before that I was hard of hearing when I checked in, I don’t know what they would have done!  Luckily, I made my plane connection on time!

Recently I’ve been travelling in the USA and noticed that each hotel I stayed at had hearing accessibility rooms.  Sometimes there were just a few rooms, and these tended to also be the rooms with handicapped access for those with physical disabilities.   So I was surprised to see a large number of rooms only for hearing accessibility in a recently renovated Fairfield Inn in Christiansburg, Virginia.

intl sign explanation hoh

The international sign of a broken ear is on the door of the accessible rooms, with a button to push instead of knocking.  This sets off flashing lights in the room.  When I went down to the front desk to commend the staff, the hotel desk proudly told me that “We also keep a list at the hotel desk, in case of an emergency.

img_20181229_172918284-1 dec 29 2018 sign on hoh accessible room at fairfield inn christiansburg

Sign on hotel room door in Christiansburg, Virginia, indicating the room is accessible for those with hearing loss. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

In West Knoxville, Tennessee, at another Fairfield Inn, we noticed several hearing accessible rooms here too, and when I went to the front desk to commend them on having these rooms available, the hotel’s General Manager, Trent Walker, came out to speak with me.

cimg2889 dec 31 2018 trent walker mgr of fairfield inn west knoxville

Trent Walker, General Manager of the Fairfield Inn in West Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Mr. Walker explained that alterations to the Americans With Disability Act meant that 10% of the ‘inventory’ (ie rooms) of a new hotel or a renovated hotel had to be accessible for those with disabilities. In accordance with these regulations, most hotels now have each hotel room identified in Braille for those with vision loss. There are rooms accessible for those with physical disabilities, identified with a wheelchair sign on the door.  And there are now rooms with accessibility for those with hearing loss, identified by the international broken ear sign.  Some rooms do double duty as being accessible for those with physical limitations, as well as with hearing loss.  As with the hotel in Christiansburg, there is a button on the door, which sets off flashing lights in the room to alert the person that someone is at the door.

img_20181231_093541246 dec 30 2018 hearing accessible door sign in fairfield inn west knoxville

A room that is accessible both to those with physical disabilities and those with hearing loss. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

As well, he explained that the hotel has two kits available to those with hearing loss.  Each kit has a bed shaker alarm, a visual smoke alarm, and a phone that connects to the regular room phone and allows you to receive messages by text.  “Did I want to see a kit?”  I was asked.  Of course I did!

cimg2888 dec 31 2018 kit for hoh at fairfield inn west knoxville

Accessibility kit for those with hearing loss, available to guests at Fairfield Inn in West Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Mr. Walker explained each item in the kit and invited me to ask for one next time I’m in the hotel.  Now that I know about it, you can bet that I will.

And finally, we noticed hearing accessible rooms at a Residence Inn in Miramar Beach, Florida.  Each room in the hotel also has the number listed in Braille.  Note the button for the audiovisual door alert to trigger flashing lights in the room to let the occupant know someone is at the door.

A hearing accessible room at a Residence Inn in Miramar Beach, Florida. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Kudos to these hotels for making accessibility easier for people with hearing loss.  If you travel and are in a hotel with this accommodation, please make sure you let the hotel staff know how much it is appreciated …. even if you don’t stay in one of these rooms yourself.

This experience has made me wonder if any hotels on Prince Edward Island have made accommodation for those with hearing loss! Does anyone know? If you’ve tried out one of the kits on your travels, please share your experience. Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Winter Has An Effect On Your Hearing Aids

December 18, 2018. With our warm houses and cars, we can easily forget (at least I can) how hard winter can be, not only on us, but also on our devices.

IMG_20181218_075605098 Dec 18 2018 view out the living room window

Who’s dreaming of a White Christmas? Our view this morning from the living room window. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

In the days before smart phone cameras and even digital cameras, we had to take photos using film. One cold December day in Winnipeg, with a temperature of at least -45oC during an exceptional cold snap, my husband and I set off to take photos at a special event.  We had a few stops to make before that, and being a big city girl, I made sure the camera was in the trunk, not visible in the car.  If you come from a cold climate, then you can guess what happened when I took the camera inside for the big photo op after it had been in the trunk for two hours.  It wouldn’t work.  The camera was frozen, as was the film.  No photo op.  Luckily, the camera and film survived, but the moment was lost.  I never made that mistake again.  The camera sits in my purse these days!

I was reminded of that event after Dr Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology in Moncton shared some tips for protecting your hearing aids in winter in the graphic below.  Who knew?

IMG_3288 Winter tips for your hearing aid

Winter tips for your hearing aid. (Photo credit: Courtesy of Argus Audiology and found on https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/445082375667375216)

While on the subject of hearing aids, you may be interested to know that researchers in China are working on a camera connected to a hearing aid that can see where your attention is focussed and not only block out background noises, but also see what the speaker’s mouth movements are and predict what vocal sounds will be made and have the hearing aid adjust the frequencies accordingly.  The research team leader at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Dr Andrew Abel, notes that “When we talk to each other, we don’t just rely on sound. We look at each other’s faces, we look at each other’s body language, and we all lip-read to an extent.” You can read the article at https://newatlas.com/cognitive-hearing-aid/57621/

Hearing aids use batteries.  How many of you have put in a new battery, only to find out it wouldn’t work as long as you expected?  Or maybe you can’t remember which battery is old, and which one is new?  Our thanks to Oticon Canada for posting this tip:

“To test to see if your batteries are new, simply drop them on a table from a height of 10-15cm. New batteries will land without bouncing, while old batteries will bounce several times.”

See the video at:  https://www.facebook.com/oticonaus/videos/735600169964718/

If you try this test and your battery does bounce, it doesn’t mean it’s dead, just that it isn’t new.  In an article about whether a bouncing battery has lost it’s charge, found at https://www.princeton.edu/news/2015/03/30/battery-bounce-test-often-bounces-target, Daniel Steingart, assistant professor of mechanical aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment explains that “The bounce does not tell you whether the battery is dead or not, it just tells you whether the battery is fresh.

Thanks to Heidi Eaton and Oticon Canada for sharing these interesting tips.  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Holiday Gifts For The Hard of Hearing Featured On CBC

December 7, 2018.  We’ve been busy for the past few weeks preparing for the holidays.  The house has been filled with the aroma of Christmas cookies, as I’ve been neglecting many things in order to have my annual baking frenzy.  My bemused husband keeps saying, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy the cookies?”  Poor guy just doesn’t get it.  Baking is part of the fun, at least for me.

In between baking sessions, Annie Lee and I found time to visit the CBC studio in Charlottetown to share some gifts of interest to those with hearing loss with Angela Walker of Mainstreet PEI.

CIMG2855 Nov 30 2018 at CBC with Angela Walker

Daria Valkenburg, left, and Annie Lee MacDonald, right, at CBC studio in Charlottetown with Angela Walker, standing. (Photo credit: Lee Rosevere)

If you missed the blog posting on holiday gift ideas, you can click here: What Someone With Hearing Loss Might Like For A Holiday Present…..

IMG_2585 Annie Lee and Daria with santa hats

Of course, we got in the spirit of the holidays with Santa hats! (Photo credit: Angela Walker/CBC)

CBC posted the link to the interview with this summary:  “Our friends Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg from the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association drop by the studio with some holiday gift suggestions that could really provide some clarity for loved ones who might have some difficulty hearing.”  See https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15644737

And CBC posted a web article with 5 gift suggestions, taken from the interview:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-5-things-hard-of-hearing-x-mas-1.4933522

IMG_2583 gifts for the hard of hearing

A selection of holiday gifts ideas for those with hearing loss. (Photo credit: Angela Walker/CBC)

One of the items mentioned in the interview, and in the earlier blog posting, is a chair loop pad.  After treating himself to an early Christmas present, Rheal Leger 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.  Forgot to mention the TV volume is only at 6 and it’s loud enough trust me. This is a gem. Now I’m looking forward to try it in the car.”  Clarity of sound.  You can’t beat that!

Rheals chair loop photo by rheal

Chair loop pad. (Photo credit: Rheal Leger)

If you have a favourite gift idea for someone with hearing loss, let us know.  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Here is one suggestion for those who love goodies to eat, or for a homemade gift, but don’t have the time or interest in baking…..  CLIA (Community Legal Information Association of PEI) is selling homemade plum puddings as a fundraiser, with half the proceeds going to CLIA and half to the Humane Society.   Annie Lee purchased one, and it arrived beautifully wrapped.  What a great service!   If you want one, contact Pat at 902-566-4388, or send an email to plumpudding@eastlink.ca.

CIMG2850 Nov 30 2018 Annie Lee buys plum pudding from CLIA

Annie Lee MacDonald, left, with Kelly Robinson, Program Coordinator at CLIA. Kelly’s mother Pat Robinson makes the plum puddings. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Don’t miss our 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 7, 2018.  “The Shepherds Were the First to Hear”, held in the sanctuary. Lunch and a time for Christmas socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church Building Fund. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss. If 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 and a temporary hearing loop: The PEI Human Rights Commission & Town of Stratford are hosting Human Rights Day 2018 at Stratford Town Hall, Monday, December 10, 2018, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. This year’s event is to celebrate 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to introduce the new vertical $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond of Nova Scotia.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss, as well as a temporary hearing loop so you can experience the clarity of sound.  We will be there to answer any questions as well.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Congratulations To Fall 2018 Speechreading Grads

December 2, 2018.  The fall session of Level 1 Speechreading is now over, with 8 graduates.  This session was held at the Seniors Active Living Centre, and was very successful, with a lot of interest in Level 2 and another session of Level 1.

Class photo Fall 2018 SALC Level 1

Fall 2018 Speechreading graduates, from left to right: N. Bondt, H.W. Boggs, N. Smith, B. Bain, N. Gorman, E. Kitchener, S. Beaton, M. Dempster. (Photo credit: Nancy MacPhee)

Evaluation comments were overwhelmingly positive:

  • Completely enjoyed this course.
  • This course met my expectations and I learned a lot, not just about speechreading but information about hearing loss.
  • I was totally amazed at what was available for the hard of hearing.
  • A most worthwhile course. Very informative and educational.
CIMG2835 Nov 26 2018 Nancy & Annie Lee sign speechreading certificates

Every graduate received a certificate of completion, signed by Nancy MacPhee (left) and Annie Lee MacDonald (right). (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Instructor Nancy MacPhee provided the following report:  “During the summer of 2018, Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg had a discussion with the Seniors Active Living Center (SALC) in the Bell Aliant Center about using a room there for speechreading classes.   After further conversations and giving details of the speechreading program to manager Debbie Hood, Debbie presented the information to the SALC board of directors. They unanimously approved the idea of allowing the use of a room to run classes.

Speechreading Level 1 at SALC started September 25th, with eight students enrolled, all of whom successfully completed the course November 27th. This was the largest class to date, and they were a very engaged and dynamic ensemble.  It was a tremendous and very interactive ten weeks.

There was also an evening class (for people who are not free during the day), as well as a Level 2 offered, at the Sobeys Community Room, but there was not enough enrollment.  All those who applied are on a waiting list and will be contacted for the Spring 2019 sessions.  If you would like to put your name on the list, please send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

For more information about the speechreading program please see: https://www.chha.ca//sren/description.php  or https://www.chha.ca/resources/speech-reading/

Congratulations to all the graduates and to Nancy for another successful session.  Our thanks go to Seniors Active Living Centre for providing space for the course. If you’ve taken this course and would like to add to the evaluations already posted above, please do so.  Your comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.  We are also on Twitter @HearPEI.

Don’t forget! Next Speechreading session begins in the spring of 2019. 

Don’t miss our 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 7, 2018.  “The Shepherds Were the First to Hear”, held in the sanctuary. Lunch and a time for Christmas socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church Building Fund. 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 and a temporary hearing loop: The PEI Human Rights Commission & Town of Stratford are hosting Human Rights Day 2018 at Stratford Town Hall, Monday, December 10, 2018, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. This year’s event is to celebrate 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to introduce the new vertical $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond of Nova Scotia.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss, as well as a temporary hearing loop so you can experience the clarity of sound We will be there to answer any questions as well.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg

What Happens When The Audiologist Becomes A Patient?

November 20, 2018.  Most of us with hearing loss are used to going to an audiologist for ongoing hearing tests.  We’re told it takes about 7 years from the time someone is told they have hearing loss for that person to actually take steps to do something about it.  It’s brought up over and over again by audiology professionals that this is a bad thing to do.  Your hearing health is important, they will tell you, and of course that’s absolutely correct.

But, what happens when the audiologist becomes the patient or client?  Last month, while in Moncton, I had coffee with Dr Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology.  If you attended our Tinnitus Seminar this spring, then you would have met Dr Eaton.

CIMG2693 Oct 9 2018 Daria with Heidi Eaton in Moncton

Daria, left, in Moncton with Dr Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

I now have two hearing aids”, she mentioned.  I asked what had changed since we’d met a few months ago. “I noticed I was very sensitive to noise.”  Sensitivity to loud sounds even has a term: hyperacusis.  As an audiologist, Dr Eaton knew that “sensory hearing loss, caused by the death of hearing cells in the hearing organ called the cochlea, leads to hearing loss, ringing in the ears and can also lead to sensitivity to loud sounds.”  Hearing loss runs in her family, but she was hoping there was another explanation.

She went for a hearing test and learned she had hearing loss.  As she explained, “I was so surprised by the results I asked my Audiologist to retest me. The results were the same.”  It was the moment she realized what her patients must go through:  “denial before acceptance”.  It gave her more empathy for the journey that patients must take before realizing that hearing loss is now their reality.

Dr Eaton’s candour in relating her experience was very much appreciated.  If you wish to read about her experience in her own words, here is the link:  https://www.dochearing.com/blog/from-audiologist-to-patient.

Dr Eaton’s explanation on sound sensitivity went a long way to finally explaining to me why certain high pitched sounds sound like I’m being stabbed.  The high pitched sounds made by over-excited or upset children in a restaurant, or in an enclosed space like a plane, can make me physically ill.    I get the same reaction from the smoke alarm in our house.  I used to have a similar reaction from our phone, but now we use a ringtone that doesn’t make me cringe.

If you’d like to read more about how the organization of cells in your inner ear enables the sense and sensitivity of hearing, see this link to an article from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary:  https://search.app.goo.gl/kezVc.  The first paragraph gives an excellent summary of the role cells play in our hearing.  “The loss of tiny cells in the inner ear, known as “hair cells,” is a leading cause of hearing loss, a public health problem affecting at least one out of three people over the age of 65. Of the two varieties of hair cells, the “outer hair cells” act as micromotors that amplify incoming sound, and the “inner hair cells” act to sense and transmit information about the sound to the brain. Hair cells do not regenerate on their own in human ears, and they can die away from a variety of factors including excessive noise exposure, certain medications, infection and as part of the natural aging process….

Have you had sensitivity to sounds?  If so, please share your experience. Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

  • November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids) and other Oticon products. The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.
  • Presentation: Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg

What Someone With Hearing Loss Might Like For A Holiday Present…..

November 15, 2018.  Now that the first snow has fallen here on the island, thoughts are turning to the annual holiday shopping spree.  “What can we get for our hard of hearing friends or relatives to help them be better able to communicate?” is a common query we get.  Who better to ask than those of us in the same boat!

Last year’s list was popular and this year we can add to it.  Here are some suggestions based on our own wish lists, or products we use and love:

Assistive Hearing Devices For Everyday Use:

  • A pocket talker(available from the PEI Chapter) – a small amplification device, suitable for one on one conversations, or for watching TV. If you, or your loved one, are reluctant to wear or are unable to wear a hearing aid, this is a great tool to take to important meetings such as with your lawyer, financial planner, or doctor.  Many PEI lawyers already use this tool for better communication with hard of hearing clients.
annie-lee-macdonald-with-pocketalker sarah macmillan cbc

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)

  • Vibrating alarm clock(available from the PEI Chapter) – has a pulsing vibration alarm. You can even get one that will shake the bed to get you awake.  Hmmm…. that’s good for anyone who has trouble getting out of bed in the morning!
  • Vibrating pillow alarm clock – a pillow that vibrates, shaking you awake!
  • Telephone with amplification and a telecoil – not only has the amplification needed for people with hearing loss, and a range of ringtones to choose from. It also has a telecoil that provides the clarity of sound that lets people enjoy conversations again.  The person using it will need to have the telecoil activated in their hearing aid or cochlear implant for the telecoil to work. You can buy a phone like this in places like Staples.  Look for the telecoil sign.
CIMG2540

Brief explanation from the user guide.

  • FitBit – not just for those interested in exercise, but also great for those with hearing loss as you get a vibration on your wrist to let you know when you are getting a call or text on your phone! (See https://www.fitbit.com/en-ca/home)  Jane Scott told us that: “I rely on it quite a bit to know when there is a message on my phone.”  If you’ve missed calls or texts because your phone is stashed away in a pocket or in your purse, then a FitBit may be for you.
  • A Live Caption App for a smartphone or tablet – converts speech into text.  Visit livecaptionapp.com and download for under $7.
  • Hard of Hearing button (available from the PEI Chapter) imagine how nice it would be never to have to explain to someone that you are hard of hearing, when you can wear a button that says you are hard of hearing!

CIMG7617 Jun 27 2017 HOH buttons for sale

Hearing Loop Assistive Devices To Give You Clarity Of Sound:

With places on the island that are looped, with what we hope is only the beginning of looped facilities, and Islanders who love to travel, a hearing loop assistive device may be just what you are looking for.

Speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee wrote the following after sharing a recent blog posting with her students (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/the-sound-through-a-hearing-loop/) “I had feedback this week from people who listened to the difference between the looped and unlooped sound ….and were amazed.     Even though we have talked about looping…and know that some have used it, I realized that there were those who still did not really ‘get’ it.

The hearing loop system used on PEI is the same one used in the rest of the world.  Whatever way you access the loop here on PEI, whether through a telecoil, a receiver, an app, or a pocket talker, will access the loop anywhere in the world that a hearing loop is installed!

If you have a hearing aid or cochlear implant but the telecoil  is NOT yet activated, talk to your audiologist.

If  you don’t wear a hearing aid or cochlear implant, or your hearing aid is not formatted for a telecoil, don’t worry.  You have three ways to access a hearing loop…….

  • If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can download the software for free at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/loopbuds/id1111272148?mt=8. Then you simply plug OTOjOY earbuds into your device (available from the PEI Chapter) and you will access the hearing loop. Unfortunately, at present, there is no software for Android devices.

Loop buds for iPhone (2)

  • If you have no telecoil nor an iPad or iPhone, you can purchase a small hearing loop receiver to access the loop (available from the PEI Chapter). Then, plug earbuds or headphones into the receiver to access the hearing loop.
PLR-BP1-Williams-Sound-Loop-System-Body-Pack-Rece

PLR-BP1-Williams-Sound-Loop-System-Body-Pack-Rece

  • If you have no telecoil nor an iPad or iPhone, one type of pocket talker has hearing loop software built into it (available from the PEI Chapter). If you already use a pocket talker, you may want to upgrade to this type of pocket talker as it does double duty.
    Pocketalker PKT2B (PKTD2.0) from Williams Sound

    Pocketalker PKT2B (PKTD2.0) from Williams Sound

     

Have you considered a chair loop pad? 

Another useful device is a chair loop pad, also called a hear pad or loop pad.  The pad replaces the hearing loop wire and is used where it isn’t possible or desirable to install an actual wire. The chair pad connects to the loop system.  The pad can be placed underneath you so that you can sit on it or it can be placed behind the head if a stronger signal is required.

The beauty of a chair pad is that it’s portable. Simply take the system, power supply, and chair pad with you. At your destination, you connect the amp to the TV, plug in the power supply, connect the chair pad, and you are now looped!

Some people, like Graham Hocking, also use a chair pad in the car.  It’s connected to the radio and plugs into the cigarette lighter.

CIMG2757 Oct 29 2018 Grahams chair looop

Graham Hocking shows his chair loop pad. Normally his wife sits in the passenger seat, but for the photo he placed it on her seat. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Just because you have hearing loss doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy concerts and plays:

Here are two suggestions for those who enjoy entertainment.

Donations that help others with hearing loss:

Consider a donation to the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing AssociationAs an organization made up of volunteers, 100% of your charitable donation is used for education and advocacy initiatives.  You can donate by cash or cheque to us directly, or online at:   https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.

Here are two suggestions made by one of our members:

  • A $25 donation to fund more advocacy, outreach, and education in PEI.
  • A $100 donation to build a fund to support future looping projects.

There are many more items that can be added to this list, of course.  If you’ve tried any of these products, please share your experience. Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

  • November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids). The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.
  • Presentation: Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© Daria Valkenburg