Federal Enabling Accessibility Fund For Hearing Loops Available

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June 3, 2020.  A ‘newly modernized Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) – small projects component’ has been announced by Employment and Social Development Canada.  The news release correctly noted the need for meeting the needs of persons with disabilities by “…. building more accessible communities and workplaces. The call for proposals for the EAF small projects component provides funding to organizations for small-scale construction, renovation or retrofit projects that enable persons with disabilities to live and work in more inclusive and accessible communities...” (See https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/06/newly-modernized-enabling-accessibility-fund-issues-a-call-for-proposals.html)

In previous years, places that wanted to take advantage of this fund had to provide half the money themselves.  This year, “projects approved for funding will now be 100% funded to a maximum of $100,000.

40% of Islanders have some degree of hearing loss!

The social distancing measures in place on PEI have resulted in plexiglass barriers in many businesses and offices, resulting in an additional barrier to hearing accessibility by people with hearing loss.  40% of Islanders have some degree of hearing loss.  This is an opportunity to make a change for the better, with the simple addition of a Speech Transfer System so people can hear people behind plexiglass barriers, using hearing loop technology. (See The Challenge To Hear During The Pandemic) It’s also an opportunity to install hearing loop technology in a church or theatre.

If you have hearing loss please encourage the places where you worship, shop, go for appointments – your church, workplace, place of business, doctor’s office, hospital, municipal office, etc – to have a hearing loop installed for better accessibility for those with hearing loss.  Deadline for applications is July 13, 2020. Here is the link: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/enabling-accessibility-fund.html

Currently on PEI, three churches and Charlottetown’s City Hall have installed hearing loops and these alone are making a difference to Islanders with hearing loss.  Now, there is an additional opportunity to move the Let’s Loop PEI project forward with the opportunity to apply for federal funding.  Certified hearing loop technicians on the Island can install these hearing accessibility products.

Many places are already on the wish list for a hearing loop….

  • Grocery stores, gas stations, and other places that have installed plexiglass barriers
  • Theatres around the island that offer live performances
  • Churches and church halls
  • Registration desks at the hospitals in Charlottetown and Summerside
  • Charlottetown Airport
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Pharmacy counters
  • Hotel registration desks

Please encourage the venues we all use to get in the loop! 

More looping suggestions?  Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or send a tweet to @HearPEI

Please consider a donation to help the volunteers at Hear PEI do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. During the month of June, each donation made through Canada Helps gives the charity donated to an entry to win $20,000.
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!
Canada Helps page:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

 

© Daria Valkenburg

Rising To The Challenge To Hear – Hearing Loop Technology For Videoconferences

May 13, 2020.  May is Better Hearing Month.  With social distancing and preventative measures in place for reducing the risk of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and keeping everyone safe, it’s making hearing accessibility issues more and more relevant…. not to mention frustrating….  and bringing them to the forefront.  Past blog postings have covered some of these issues and suggested solutions:

Being able to hear while participating in an online meeting….whether it’s Facetime with your family, Skype or Zoom for business meetings is more of a challenge these days when we are not able to meet in person due to social distancing.

I remember having online meetings in the past where some people were unable to hear well enough to follow conversations, and in the days before real time captioning apps were feasible solutions, we ended up having to type our comments and questions using instant messaging.  Instant messaging is great for two people communicating, but not so great for larger groups of people on a conference call. It took a lot of time, and made for some head scratching moments as comments came in on a topic while another topic was being introduced.  In the end all was sorted out, but it wasn’t an ideal way to have a meeting.

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When Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions advised that a TV room hearing loop system can also be used for computer/smartphone/tablet conference calls by using the headphone jack, it was an ‘aha’ moment for me.  Last year, two uses of a hearing loop system were featured.  One was the chair loop that Graham Hocking used in his car. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI) A second explained how Rheal Leger used a chair loop to watch TV. (See “I Love My Looping Chair”)

Both uses were also explained in two YouTube videos we produced last year:

I Love My Looping Chair:

What is a Car Loop?:

I asked Bill if Rheal could use his system by connecting the loop driver to the computer instead of the TV.  The answer was yes. I then asked if it would be simple to pull the connection out of the TV and into a laptop, and then back again to the TV. Technology challenged people like me need to have easy solutions!  Bill explained that the answer was “Yes, but it might require a different cable (1/8″/3.5mm plugs) and a volume adjustment.”  Bill noted that the cable had been included in the TV room kit that Rheal had purchased.

After trying out the new use for his chair loop, Rheal said “I sat on a chair with the looping cushion underneath and it and behold it worked!  Hallelujah! Daria, I listened to the Phantom In Quarantine link you sent… lol. The sound was very clear.”  (Phantom In Quarantine link for those who haven’t seen it yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w31L1cCoVYo)

Rheal Leger gets hearing loop quality sound through his laptop now. (Photo credit: Simone Belliveau)

Rheal 3

Rheal Leger points to where the cable needs to be plugged into the adapter. He now has hearing loop quality sound for his TV AND his laptop. (Photo credit: Simone Belliveau)

As the additional cable for access to the laptop was a bit short, Rheal has now ordered a longer cable, which will allow him to sit anywhere in the room…. on his chair loop… to access the hearing loop for his laptop.

If you already have a chair or room hearing loop, the diagram below shows exactly what to do between the computer/tablet/smartphone: Headphone out on the computer/tablet/smartphone to line in on the HLD3 amplifier.

Loop for meetings

Connecting for better conference calling!  (Diagram courtesy of Better Hearing Solutions, from an HLAA webinar presented by Richard Einhorn)

Bill explained further that “If you are currently using the optical cable to watch TV, then you will need to use the “audio patch cord” from the computer to the HLD3 amplifier (and could have both plugged in). If you are already using the “audio patch cord” for watching TV, you will then need to remove it from the TV and plug it into the computer.

If you’re like me and don’t know the difference between an optical cable and an audio patch cord, Bill was kind enough to explain they can be identified by the difference in the ends of the cable.

The “audio patch cord” has ends like this:

audio patch cord

Audio patch cord.  (Image courtesy of Better Hearing Solutions)

The optical cable has ends like this:

optical cable

Optical cable. (Image courtesy of Better Hearing Solutions)

If you still aren’t sure about hearing loops and how they can help, take a look at this explanatory poster:

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Diagram from HLAA. Hearing loops are increasingly becoming available in central and western Canada.  Why not PEI and other Maritime provinces as well?

So, if you are struggling to hear while on a conference call, or you just want better clarity of sound when you watch a YouTube video, there is a solution that could make a difference. Thank you to Bill Droogendyk for the information on a solution, and thank you to Rheal Leger who tested the instructions given and reported back that it worked.  Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also comment on this blog, or send a tweet to @HearPEI. Stay safe!

© Daria Valkenburg

The Challenge To Hear During The Pandemic

Olga by her portrait by Riana Moller

Olga Katchan of Australia shared an anecdote on trying to hear when the speaker is wearing a mask.  (Photo courtesy of O. Katchan family collection)

April 26, 2020.  After a recent posting about life during the pandemic while having hearing loss (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/2020/04/14/a-sign-of-the-times/), retired psychologist Olga Katchan of Australia, who has hearing loss, shared a story of the challenge she faced to communicate with someone who wore a mask: “I read your account with great interest and remembered one episode which reinforced your comments about problems with masks. I was having my nails done and my Vietnamese esthetician was making the most of having a psychologist client to listen to her problems. Alas, she was wearing a mask and I could not hear anything. However, having heard it once before when she had no mask, I kept smiling and nodding. However she then asked a question and I had to ask her to repeat it minus mask. She was stunned, ‘you mean you have been nodding to my problems without hearing a thing?’ I assured her that I knew what she was trying to tell me and gave her a summary of it. She was amazed. I said ‘what was the question?’ She said her question was ‘What is the most important thing in your life?’ I answered, ‘The happiness of our loved ones.’  She asked me to excuse her and before I could make my way to the reception desk to pay, she was back with a bunch of tulips for me.

Olga’s anecdote is a reminder to those who wear a mask in their work environment to  check whether your client can understand you.  Please consider using a clear-window mask to make it easier for people to see your lips and use speech reading techniques to follow what you are saying.

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And in response to the challenge of trying to hear people behind a plexiglass barrier, Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions wrote to let me know about a new Speech Transfer System kit available for ‘sneeze barriers’.  I asked him how this new product differed from the hearing loop installed at the counter at Charlottetown’s town hall.  “The amplifier is identical to what’s at the financial counter at city hall. The speakers, microphones and loop are different but still perform the same functions.” I then asked if it was a plug and play device.  Bill’s response: “While it’s almost plug and play, loop location and volume levels do need to be verified/adjusted by a certified hearing loop professional for each application.”  Luckily, we have two qualified and friendly certified hearing loop installers here on the Island who are willing to help any business or service that is interested in providing a better experience for clients with hearing loss.  Let’s Loop PEI!

The speech transfer system kit for plexiglass barriers.  (Diagrams from Contacta courtesy of Better Hearing Solutions.)

Thank you to Olga Katchan and Bill Droogendyk for contributing to the important topic of hearing challenges. Do you have a tip on hearing challenges during the pandemic to share?  Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on this blog, or send a tweet to @HearPEI. Stay safe!

© Daria Valkenburg

“I Love My Looping Chair”

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

Rheals chair loop photo by rheal

Chair loop pad. (Photo credit: Rheal Leger)

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

You can watch the video for yourself:

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

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

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

 

Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI

September 20, 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.  To extend our outreach capability, we were delighted to be awarded a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”.

Funding for this project is giving us the opportunity to make short videos on topics of interest and value to people with hearing loss, here on Prince Edward Island, and, as we are quickly discovering, outside the province.  Each video is fully captioned.

CIMG3054 Aug 1 2019 Signing of Senior Secretariat contract for you tube videos

Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald with Mary Driscoll Seniors Policy Advisor Department of Social Development and Housing (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” was filmed with guest Graham Hocking of England, who demonstrated how he could easily listen to his car radio or passengers through a hearing loop.

Photo of Wendy Nattress by Graeme Nattress

Wendy Nattress. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

We are very lucky in our post-production editor, Wendy Nattress, who volunteered to edit our footage and set us up with a You Tube account.  Wendy and her husband Graeme are the parents of four children.  One child, Eric, is a Deaf child with moderate/severe hearing loss.  Wendy explained that “using a big ‘D’ for the word Deaf is a cultural identifier that does not view hearing loss as a disability, but rather as a cultural gain.”  Because of this hearing loss connection, and the nature of our project, Wendy was interested in donating her time and knowledge in video production.

You can watch the video here:

After seeing the video, Graham, who is a trustee with the British organization Deaf Aspirations, explained that the organization would like to post the video link on their website. (See  Deafaspirations.org for more information.)  Ken Carter, Company Director, wrote that “I thought the video created in PEI was really interesting and forward thinking.

Graham’s reaction?  “Jacqueline and I were very impressed with your 1st video production. Very clear with the explanation and we do realize a lot of work and efforts went into it, even capturing cow mooing in the background. Well done.

We are very encouraged and delighted to be making a difference already with this new venture!

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.

Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Graham Hocking.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian ChurchGuest speaker​s​: Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant, will give an overview of the new 211 Information Service provided by the United Way. ​Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.” Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? 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. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

Public Awareness Campaign on Hearing Loss

April 29, 2019.  A few months ago, audiologist Peter Benstead of PEI Audiology gave a presentation at one of our monthly meeting on two topics of interest:  an ongoing campaign for Public Awareness on Hearing loss, and a discussion on telecoils.

IMG_2322 Oct 30 2018 CHHA PEI meeting Peter Benstead

Audiologist Peter Benstead of PEI Audiology with Brenda Porter. (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

Peter explained that the public awareness campaign was important as studies show that 3 million Canadians have hearing loss, but only 1 in 6 wear hearing aids.  Most people wait 7 to 11 years from the start of noticing they have hearing loss symptoms until they go for their first hearing assessment.    Indeed, Mike Smith, publisher of the County Line Courier, whose story was told in an earlier posting, told us that it took him 15 years! (See Do You Wish You Had Listened To Your Parents?)

With May designated as Speech and Hearing Month, Peter’s primary message is apt:  “Get your hearing checked regularly, especially if you, or anyone else, has noticed a change in your hearing function.

Early intervention of hearing impairment is a huge determining factor toward positive long-term hearing AND cognitive health” he explained.

Early intervention is important for several reasons, among them:

  • Hearing loss can worsen.
  • People tend to adapt to hearing aids more easily if they get them earlier.
  • Some studies show that untreated hearing impairment can affect your socioeconomic status.
  • Untreated hearing loss can lead to higher depression and anxiety rates.
  • Untreated hearing loss may increase the likelihood of dementia.

Adam Felman, an editor and writer for Medical News Today, had first-hand experience of the gradual effects of hearing loss… at the age of 29.  He wrote:Communication is a huge part of navigating this formative stageof one’s career, education, or family life.If any element of communication is lacking, it can have a significant impact on the way your personality develops, and the methods you use to connect with the outside world.

Felman wrote frankly about how risky socializing became for him. “The big kicker with gradual-onset hearing loss is that you are not aware of how it’s changing you until the physical symptoms have become moderate to severe.  Every pang of guilt or embarrassment after saying ‘what?’ or ‘huh?’ might lead to another night when you don’t risk going out to socialize. You end up distancing softly-spoken colleagues, friends, and even family members, simply because the effort it takes to process their speech can become draining.”  Sound familiar?

Felman reminded me of my mother when he went on to say that he used stock phrases as a coping mechanism.  My mother would always smile, nod, and say ‘yes, dear’ or ‘I’d like that’ in most conversations, even though she wasn’t sure what was being discussed.

After receiving his hearing aids, Felman noted that “even food comes alive with hearing aids” and described the joy of hearing a packet of potato chips being opened and hearing the crunch of food as it’s being chewed.  To his surprise, his balance and spatial awareness also improved.  He also described going to a concert where a hearing loop was in place.  “Using a hearing loop system for the first time at a concert was emotionally overwhelming.”  You can read the entire article at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324995.php

In the second part of his presentation, Peter Benstead gave an explanation of telecoils, which have been the subject of many blog postings since hearing loops were installed here on the Island in several venues last May.  (For the latest posting see Misconceptions About Telecoils). Peter noted that the first hearing aid with a telecoil was patented in 1938, and explained that a telecoil converts electromagnetic fields into sound.  It was initially used for improved telephone communications, providing better audio quality and no feedback.  As regular readers of this blog know, telecoil compatible phones are inexpensive and widely available today.  (See Sometimes Technology Advances Are Great)

Many people also have a Bluetooth program in their hearing aids for phone conversations, which allows them to connect with any Bluetooth-enabled electronic device.  You can have BOTH telecoil and Bluetooth programs in your hearing aid.  They are NOT the same, but complementary. They are often described as being like apples and oranges.

So what is the difference?  An article in Assist2Hear explains that “Both are wireless technologies, but Bluetooth is a short range signal that must be ‘paired’ with a phone or TV and typically requires an intermediate device to interpret the Bluetooth signal and convert it to a signal the hearing aid can accept and transmit. A loop has no range limit – one just needs to be ‘in the loop’ area, as opposed to the short range Bluetooth signal.  Loops do not require any intermediate devices since the signal is sent directly to the t-coil in the hearing aid.”  (You can read the whole article at https://assist2hear.com/ufaqs/loop-differ-bluetooth/)

Hearing through a telecoil in venues with an audio loop system gives a clarity of sound that is unbelievable.  As Peter explained, it provides:

  • Direct to ear sound
  • Removes the distance between the listener and the source of the sound.
  • A great improvement in sound quality.

Peter advises that your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser can let you know if your hearing aid has a telecoil and if it is activated.

Our thanks to Peter Benstead of PEI Audiology for taking the time to give his presentation at a recent meeting, and for answering all the questions he was asked.

A reminder that our petition requesting the PEI government to: Supplement the cost of hearing aids for seniors by extending the AccessAbility Supports Program to include all adults, not just those up to age 65, or devise a similar program is ongoing.  (See Petition Update For Week 2)  If you haven’t signed the petition, please do so.  And if you would like to help circulate the petition amongst your family and friends, at work, or an organization you belong to, please let us know.  A big thank you to Seniors Active Living Centre, located at UPEI in Charlottetown, for letting us know the petition is available in their centre!

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

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

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

May Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.

 

Misconceptions About Telecoils

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

 UPCOMING EVENT

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

8 Questions To Ask When Doing A Needs Assessment For A Hearing Loop Installation

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February 22, 2019.  We quite often get questions about hearing loops when people are looking at options to improve hearing accessibility in their public facilities, such as a town hall or church.

A hearing loop works with an existing sound system, it is not the sound system itself.  What is a hearing loop, then?  It’s a copper wire that “loops” around the periphery of a room.  It transmits an electromagnetic field within its loop, allowing a hearing aid or cochlear implant’s telecoil (also called a T-Coil) to function as an antenna directly linking the listener to the facility’s sound system.

Once a place is ready for an estimate of the costs to install a hearing loop, a site survey questionnaire is completed about the facility.  Before that step is taken, however, there is usually a basic ‘needs assessment’ process prior to getting approvals to setting aside funds for hearing accessibility.

This is perfectly understandable, but one always wonders…. would the same discussion occur if we were talking about a wheelchair ramp?  A washroom that’s wheelchair accessible?  How many people need to use a wheelchair ramp before a facility will install one?  Is a cost/benefit analysis done?  Or do you agree that the facility needs to be accessible for even one person?  Hearing accessibility is just as important.  But it’s also important for people with hearing loss to acknowledge it.

The ‘needs assessment’ can be a way to build awareness of the importance of hearing accessibility and to gain support and approval for installing a hearing loop.   Encourage decision makers and members of the organization/church to listen to the difference between what you hear through a hearing loop and what you hear through the sound system.  Ask them if they hear not only the clarity of sound, but also if they have noticed that all background noises are eliminated.

What was recorded through the microphone by the front pew of the church: 

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0013pieternonloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

What was recorded through the hearing loop:

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0012pieterloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

So, what are the 8 questions that could be included in a needs assessment?  To get the most honest answers, you may wish to make completing the assessment done anonymously.

  1. Who is having trouble hearing and understanding what is being said during meetings/concerts/services?  People may ‘hear’, but do they understand what is being said?
  2. What is the size of the venue? How many members or attendees generally attend?
  3. What is the venue used for?
  4. Who already has a hearing aid or cochlear implant? Ask them to be honest!
  5. Of those who have a hearing aid, how many have the telecoil activated? If not activated, would they be willing to speak to an audiologist and ask to have it activated?
  6. If someone has hearing loss, but doesn’t have a hearing aid, or has a hearing aid without the telecoil activated, would they use a hearing loop receiver to access the hearing loop? A hearing loop receiver would mean wearing earbuds or headphones.

Since it may not be financially feasible to loop an entire facility, it’s a good idea to have an idea of the number of potential users.  Questions 2 to 6 address that.

7. People who attend churches usually have favourite places to sit in the sanctuary. One concern some churches have is whether congregation members would be willing to move from their customary spot into a looped area, in the event that the entire sanctuary cannot be looped initially. We’ve not heard of this issue in other types of venues, but a reasonable question may be to ask if the person would be willing to sit in a looped area in the event that the entire venue can’t be looped.  Another question to ask if whether people who don’t have hearing loss be willing to move out of the looped area in order to accommodate those who need to access a hearing loop.

8. The needs assessment should be answered by all, not just those who currently have hearing loss. A sample question could be:  Would you support the installation of a hearing loop for improved hearing accessibility, even if you yourself do not have hearing loss?   You may have to explain that this would be no different than making other accessibility provisions, such as a wheelchair ramp, a wheelchair accessible bathroom, or grab bars in the bathroom, for those with physical disabilities.

Have you done a needs assessment before determining whether to install a hearing loop?  Have you installed a hearing loop in your facility?  Please share your experience, and any additional questions you may have asked, by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

An upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. Variety concert and cake auction at West River United Church, 9 Cornwall Rd in Cornwall, March 2, 2019 at 6:30 pm.  Event is to raise funds for the Rogers family’s upcoming 8 week stay in Montreal for surgery to improve mobility due to cerebral palsy.  Storm date: March 9.  Admission by donation.

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.  If you would like to register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

 

Hearing Accessibility Is A Human Right

January 27, 2019.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations and is meant to protect the rights of persons with disabilities around the world. Canada is a signatory to this Convention, which is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention on March 11, 2010 and it entered into force on April 12, 2010.

Not many of us know much about this Convention, and those that do may not realize that persons with hearing loss are included in the definition.

Article 1 says the purpose of the CRPD is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”.

Article 9 deals with accessibility and outlines the need for measures to ensure persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.” (See https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/article-9-accessibility.html)

Hearing accessibility is an important component. Hearing loss affects people of any age group, economic group, gender, and can affect anyone from any kind of background.  It’s important to realize the importance of all of us – whether we have hearing loss or not – to work together to ensure better hearing accessibility.

In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 as Human Rights Day, to bring attention to “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”

The PEI Human Rights Commission invited us to attend the 2018 Human Rights Day event at Stratford Town Hall to commemorate the new $10 bill honouring civil activist Viola Desmond.  Desmond refused to give up her seat in the ‘whites only’ section at a Nova Scotia movie theatre in 1946, and was jailed for her act of defiance.  Thank goodness this type of discrimination no longer exists in Canada!

cimg2874 dec 10 2018 human rights day stratford town hall new $10 bill viola desmond

Envelope containing the new $10 Viola Desmond bill. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Last year, the PEI Human Rights Commission began using real time captioning, in recognition of the need to accommodate people with hearing loss. (See Tips For Using Real Time Captioning)  It was a gesture that was much appreciated, and we were delighted to see that our suggestions for improvement of this accessibility were adopted.  Annie Lee and I attended this year’s wonderful event, which was very accessible.  We were delighted to learn that the Law Foundation of PEI, which has supported our efforts to improve communications between those with hearing loss and the legal community, sponsored the cost of the real time captioning.

cimg2867 dec 10 2018 human rights day stratford town hall real time captioning

Real Time Captioning Screen ensures all can follow what was said by the speakers. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

cimg2869 dec 10 2018 human rights day stratford town hall

Annie Lee and I with members of the PEI Human Rights Commission. Left to right: Joanne Ings, Commissioner; Annie Lee; Daria; John Rogers Chair; Deborah Gross, Commissioner; Brenda Picard, Executive Director; Jonathan Greenan, Human Rights Legal Officer; Lorraine Buell, Mediator and Intake Officer; Tom Hilton, Education Project Officer. (Photo credit: Tom Barnes)

With so many people attending from government and business, we hope that real time captioning will be used more in meetings and conventions.  This year, in addition to the real time captioning at the event, the room had a temporary hearing loop installed by Phil Pater and Tom Barnes.  Attendees were able to access the hearing loop with a loop receiver and this helped generate awareness of how clear and crisp the sound from a hearing loop is like.  Fingers crossed that it will encourage more public venues to provide this important component in hearing accessibility.

cimg2868 dec 10 2018 human rights day stratford town hall with lt gov antoinette perry

Daria Valkenburg, left, and Annie Lee MacDonald, right, with the Lt Governor of PEI, the Honourable Antoinette Perry. (Photo credit: Tom Barnes)

Thank you to the PEI Human Rights Commission for including us in their event, to the Law Foundation of PEI for sponsoring the real time captioning, and to Phil Pater and Tom Barnes for contributing the temporary hearing loop.

If you’d like to learn more about how the CRPD supports the rights of people with hearing loss, watch the 7 minute video put out by the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH), available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=G35rLmCobrY.  Don’t forget to turn on the closed captioning (CC) option!

Have you tried out a hearing loop or been at an event with real time captioning?  Share your experience by commenting on this blog, or sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

valentineJust in time for Valentine’s Day!….. an upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. CONCERT:  Phase II & Friends Valentine’s Concert at West River United Church in Cornwall, February 10, 2019 at 3 pm. Songs of love will make you laugh, cry and feel like dancing. Doors open at 2:30. Tickets are $10 and are available in the church office or at the door.

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.

 

 

The Sound Through A Hearing Loop

November 8, 2018.  Quite often, we’re asked what the difference is in what someone hears within a hearing loop and outside of a hearing loop.  We’ve sent links that others have shared with us, and encouraged people to visit venues on the island that have a hearing loop installed.  During a sound and equipment check for a presentation last week at South Shore United Church in Tryon, Jack Sorensen of the church made a recording for us.  He recorded the presenter, Pieter Valkenburg, as heard through a microphone by the front pew of the church, and as heard through the hearing loop.

Jane Scott and Don Gribble were kind enough to transfer the audio files to a website, which allowed us to provide the links you see below. Can you hear the difference in sound quality?

looped vs non looped

What was recorded through the microphone by the front pew of the church: 

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0013pieternonloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

What was recorded through the hearing loop:

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0012pieterloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

Several blog postings have been written on hearing loops and there is a site page on this blog for places on the island where a hearing loop has been installed (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/places-on-pei-equipped-with-a-hearing-loop/).

While we are at the beginning of looping projects on the island, other places have been very creative in making sure accessibility for those with hearing loss is a priority.  Previous postings have mentioned a number of places around the world.  This time, here is a link to a story about shoppers in one store in Maryland who can choose the ‘hearing loop lane’ when it’s time to pay!  See http://www.baltimoresun.com/bs-bz-wegmans-hearing-loops-20160116-story.html

Thank you to Jack, Jane, and Don for their help with the sound files.  Do you have a hearing loss issue you’d like to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

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