Would You Wear Glasses?

October 18, 2018.  Glasses have been in the news lately.  Do you wear glasses?  I do, and since I love to see where I’m going, I wouldn’t be without them.  So what’s new with glasses?

If you enjoy going to the movies, then you may have noticed that on PEI they have a closed captioning system you can ask for when you buy your ticket.  This little device sits in the cup holder and you can then swivel your head back and forth between what’s on the big screen and then down to the cup holder to see what is being said.  It works.

In many other places, there are closed captioning screens on either side of the big screen.  If you go to an opera, then you know what I’m talking about.  The opera is sung in one language, with surtitles displayed in the language of the audience (ie English) so you know what the singers are saying.

Now you can borrow Smart Caption Glasses that operate like 3-D.  You look at the big screen at the movies, and the closed captioning is displayed right in front of your very eyes.  No need to swivel your head, as the captions are right in your line of vision!  See https://hackaday.com/2018/10/14/glasses-for-the-hearing-impaired/ for more information and watch a short video (which has closed captioning).  Absolutely fascinating!

That’s the future, and it’s an exciting one that makes the world become more inclusive.  However, there is a long way to go, as I found out in an article I recently read in The Economist.  In parts of Asia, there are many people who earn their living not by receiving a wage, but by doing piecework.  One example used is that of people working in a garment factory who are paid by each piece successfully completed.  My maternal grandmother worked in a garment factory, so the article caught my attention.

Here’s what the gist of the article was about…..Older adults, whose vision is no longer as good as it once was, are not able to be as productive because they can’t see well.  The solution? Give them a pair of glasses.  For those who accepted the glasses, productivity increased by 39%.  A no-brainer, you’d think, right?  If being able to see increases your earnings, wouldn’t you want a pair of glasses?

The problem?  Many people don’t want to wear glasses!  They think it makes them look ‘ugly’! Some countries have regulatory hurdles, where glasses can only be provided by licenced practitioners. No going to the local pharmacy or dollar store for a pair of ‘readers’.  Read the article for yourself at https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2018/08/02/wear-glasses-earn-more.

The Economist article made me think of how many of us avoid dealing with hearing loss.  We pretend we can hear fine, we avoid going out as often, and we can find it difficult to adjust to the fact that hearing aids and other assistive listening devices are now part of our lives.  With all the new tools and research coming out, we should be embracing how lucky we are to be living at a time when so many people are trying to help and find solutions!

Do you have a hearing loss story 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: 

October Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker will be audiologist Peter Benstead of PEI Audiology, to let us know about the firm’s public information campaign for hearing health.  With hearing loops now being available at venues on PEI, Peter will also let you know how you can have a telecoil activated to your hearing aid.

We will be in Montague on October 27, 2018!  We will have a table at the 7th Annual Learning and Caring for Ourselves Conference, an event hosted by the Seniors Secretariat of PEI on Saturday, October 27th, 9am-3pm at Montague Regional High School.  See https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/event/learning-and-caring-ourselves-conference-0 for more information on this event.

Upcoming Event in a Looped Venue: Senate of Canada 150 Medal recipient Pieter Valkenburg will speak about the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7 pm on Friday, November 2, 2018.  This event is co-hosted by South Shore United Church and Tryon & Area Historical Society.  Note: this venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss.  If you haven’t experienced the clarity of sound that you hear through a hearing loop, this is your opportunity.  Email dariadv@yahoo.ca for more info.

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING PRESENTATION: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 7, 2018.  Freewill offering, beneficiary will be South Shore United Church. 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.

© Daria Valkenburg

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“Living and Thriving With Hearing Loss” Presentation

October 12, 2018.  Whenever possible, we accept speaking engagements as it’s a chance to participate in outreach events and let people know that anyone with hearing loss can have a wonderful life, even if you don’t hear every word.

Last week, we were invited to be guest speakers at the Speaker-A-Night class at Donagh Regional Community School.  This was a great opportunity, as not everyone in the class had hearing loss. We shared our own hearing loss journeys, gave some tips for better communication, and a general awareness of how people can have their hearing affected.  And we introduced the class to the pocket talker, an assistive listening tool that helps amplify sound.

Living & thriving with hearing loss presentation

Presentation made by Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald

The class of 16 participants was engaged and a delight to be with.  The evening just flew by.

CIMG2659 Oct 2 2018 Donagh Community School presentation

Participants at the Speaker-A-Night class at Donagh Regional Community School. Annie Lee stands at the back of the classroom. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The evening was very successful, and everyone enjoyed themselves, including the presenters!  Our thanks go to Theresa Laverty, who sent us feedback, saying “Everyone in the class thought you ladies did a great job and we all commented on how much information you brought us that we were unaware of.”  And we received the note below from Barb MacFarlane, the Community School Coordinator at Donagh Regional School:

CIMG2660 Oct 2 2018 note from Donagh Community School re presentation

Thank you note from Barb MacFarlane, Community School Coordinator.

Do you have a hearing loss story 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: 

October Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker will be audiologist Peter Benstead of PEI Audiology, to let us know about the firm’s public information campaign for hearing health.  With hearing loops now being available at venues on PEI, Peter will also let you know how you can have a telecoil activated to your hearing aid.

We will be in Montague on October 27, 2018!  We will have a table at the 7th Annual Learning and Caring for Ourselves Conference, an event hosted by the Seniors Secretariat of PEI on Saturday, October 27th, 9am-3pm at Montague Regional High School.

Upcoming Event in a Looped Venue: Senate of Canada 150 Medal recipient Pieter Valkenburg will speak about the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7 pm on Friday, November 2, 2018.  This event is co-hosted by South Shore United Church and Tryon & Area Historical Society.  Note: this venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss.  If you haven’t experienced the clarity of sound that you hear through a hearing loop, this is your opportunity.  Email dariadv@yahoo.ca for more info.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Did You Hear That Diet Can Help Protect Your Hearing?

August 23, 2018. I’m always up for an excuse to socialize with friends, in spite of hearing loss.  When a group of us go out we do our best to pick a place that will optimize our ability to hear each other.  My ideal restaurant has:

  • No background music…. if I want to go to a concert I’ll do so. If I dine out with my friends I don’t really enjoy the distraction of background music.
  • A booth or walls to help block out sound.
  • A menu, so I don’t have to rely on what a server says.
  • No rattling dishes, scraping chairs, etc to make it even harder to hear.

Recently, three of us went to Mia’s in Ottawa for a lovely dinner.  All of us have hearing loss and we had a great time, and heard each other perfectly well.   This was important as we had a lot to catch up on!

CIMG2422 Aug 10 2018 Dinner at Mias

Left to right: Carole Willans, Daria Valkenburg, Jane Scott at Mia’s in Ottawa.

Take a look at the photo above.  You’ll notice we are by a window, in the corner, with a wall on two sides.  The table had a tablecloth to muffle sound from dishes.  Service was done quietly and there was no background music.

Now, if you are wondering what the title of this posting has to do with eating out, it’s because Mia’s is an Indian restaurant.  All summer there has been article after article, explaining how diet can help protect your hearing.  Suggestions have been made for ideal foods, and we made sure to get a good sample of those in the dishes we chose.  I don’t know if it’s true that food choices can affect your hearing, but as the three of us like Indian food, it seemed a good excuse!

According to the articles, eating a Mediterranean style diet or a salt reduced diet, such as for reducing high blood pressure, helps with hearing health. (See https://www.health24.com/Medical/Hearing-management/News/healthy-eating-may-protect-your-hearing-20180813-3 and https://www.hearinglikeme.com/study-a-healthy-diet-can-decrease-risk-of-hearing-loss-for-women/) One article even specifies four foods to improve hearing:

  1. Potassium rich foods to regulate the fluid in your inner ear.
  2. Foods that contain folic acid help maintain circulation, which in turn help keep the hair cells of the inner ear working properly.
  3.  Zinc rich foods to boost your immune system, which will help reduce the risk of ear infections.
  4. Magnesium rich foods to help protect against noise-related hearing loss.

If you want more information and to see the list of recommended foods, read here:
https://search.app.goo.gl/SjozH

So, go out and enjoy those social occasions!  Got more tips?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

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

Fall Speech Reading Classes

Nancy MacPhee, our speech reading instructor, has notified us that the fall schedule of classes will soon be underway.  It’s worth repeating that studies show that speech reading can have a beneficial effect on your brain and your ability to hear, especially with a cochlear implant.  (See https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-brain-responses-lip-reading-benefit-cochlear.html)

Level I will run Monday evenings, from 7 to 9 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, and will run for 10 weeks. What’s covered in Level I?  Nancy advises that “Level 1 introduces the most visible spoken consonants, as well as thematic groups, such as colours and numbers. Students practice with phrases in class groups as well as with the instructor. General info on hearing loss, as well as coping and communication strategies, are covered.

If you have taken Level I and are interested in Level II, let us know. If there is sufficient enrollment, Nancy may be persuaded to do a Level II session.

© Daria Valkenburg

Hearing Accessibility Tool Now Available At CLIA PEI

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

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

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

IMG_2652 Eliza MacLauchlan and Emma Chilton Photo by Ellen Mullally

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

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

CIMG1195 Jul 24 2018 CLIA with pocket talker

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

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

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

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

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

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

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

20180709_113044 daria at CBC studio

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

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

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

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

‘They did a big public service’

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

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)

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

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

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

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

hearing-loss-legal-advice-brochure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help fund activities not covered by a grant.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

Improving Communication Between the Legal Community and Those With Hearing Loss

July 13, 2018.  A 2017 posting featured a project funded by the Law Foundation of PEI, which allowed us to work with PEI lawyers to help improve communications between lawyers and those with hearing loss.  (See Pocket Talker Pilot Project With PEI’s Legal Community).  The project, “Understanding the Law: Improving Communication for the Hard of Hearing in Our Legal Spaces”, was very successful and renewed for this year.  (See A Pocket Talker Can Open Up Your World)

As Law Foundation of PEI Chair Gary Scales explained in an interview, “This project promotes ways to improve communications with clients requiring legal services who have hearing difficulty.”

On June 23 we were invited to give an overview of the project at the Annual Law Society of PEI meeting.  We met many of the lawyers who participated last year and invited more lawyers to participate this year.

CIMG0886 Jun 23 2018 Annie Lee & Daria by booth at Crowbush Annual Law Society meeting

Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg at the Annual Law Society of PEI Annual General Meeting at Crowbush.

We were able to publicly thank the Law Foundation of PEI and the Law Society of PEI for supporting this project and explained how we were part of an active group that encourages hearing accessibility in public spaces, provides information on hearing related topics, and tries to build awareness.

cimg0888-jun-23-2018-susan-robinson-annie-lee-at-crowbush.jpg

Susan Robinson, Q.C., Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Director of the Law Society of PEI, with Annie Lee MacDonald at Crowbush. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

An overview of the project’s objective to improve communication between the legal community and its clients with hearing loss was given, why it was important, and how lawyers could participate.

In the presentation given by Daria Valkenburg, she noted Last year, all of the lawyers in active practice ended up buying their pocket talker as they found it so useful. So what did we learn after a year?  The project exceeded our expectations, and was a win-win for both lawyers and for those with hearing loss.  Participating lawyers were very receptive and gave us some good tips as well, which were incorporated into a brochure for clients with hearing loss.  Every lawyer who participates in the project gets a number of brochures to have in the office. This was an excellent suggestion made by one of the participants.

One of the challenges identified is hard of hearing clients who do not self-identify. Since a reluctance to self-identify is an ongoing issue with many people with hearing loss, the tip sheets and discussions help you, as lawyers, to identify some of the ways to detect hearing loss informally.

One of the unexpected benefits of this project was that lawyers began informing seniors’ homes and seniors about the pocket talker.  This community service has had a ripple effect as once a lawyer was in the facility, we got contacted so that the seniors homes and seniors could purchase their own pocket talkers.  This helps improve their quality of life and reduces social isolation by being better able to communicate.

This year, lawyers who purchased a pocket talker for their office were invited to have their information posted on our blog as a public service to those with hearing loss, and most said yes.

The project was expanded with a brochure placed in the offices of lawyers with pocket talkers, in the hope that it will encourage people with hearing loss to self-identify in order to provide the best legal experience possible. Removing the stigma that many feel is a challenge hopefully will be more easily met now that there are legal firms who have participated in the project and begun to build awareness within their own client base.

Lawyer Daniel Tweel of Charlottetown represented last year’s participants, and explained that participation in the project was both useful and practical.

CIMG0895 Jun 23 2018 Danny Tweel & Daria at Law Society of PEI meeting Crowbush

Charlottetown lawyer Daniel Tweel with Daria Valkenburg at Crowbush. (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

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

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

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help fund activities not covered by a grant.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders. See our page at the Canada Helps website:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

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

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

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

CIMG0612 Jun 7 2018 Andrews of Ctown presentation

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

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

CIMG0614 Jun 7 2018 Andrews of Ctown presentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 © Daria Valkenburg

 

Charlottetown City Hall is Looped

LoopPEI_logo-P2

June 6, 2018.  The Let’s Loop PEI Project, made possible due to a grant from the CHHA Foundation, had a third site participating – the City of Charlottetown.  The city decided to loop the public portion of its council chambers, as well as the reception desk.  Also on the list for hearing loop access is the billing counter.

Mayor Clifford Lee commented in a recent press release. “We are proud to be involved in the Let’s Loop PEI project, becoming the first municipality in the province to take this step and make the public spaces at City Hall more accessible to people with hearing loss,” said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. “Our Civic Board for Persons with Disabilities, which we created in 2005, has been working with us each year to find more ways to provide equal service and access to all. On behalf of City Council, I commend them for the work they do and would like to thank them for encouraging us join forces..

We are grateful to the city for stepping forward immediately upon hearing of this project.  It’s never easy to be first!

The City of Charlottetown went through the same steps as South Shore United Church and West River United Church:

Step 1: The Field Survey

The City of Charlottetown did its own field survey.

Step 2: The EMI Test

Pieter Valkenburg did the EMI (electromagnetic interference) test of the council chambers, carefully noting placement of every microphone and TV connection, anything that might cause interference.

CIMG9990 Apr 30 2018 Pieter by wall with high EMI City of Ctown Council chambers

Pieter Valkenburg at Charlottetown city hall council chambers. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 3: The Site Evaluation

Phil Pater and Tom Barnes, along with Bill and Wilma Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions, did the site evaluation. John Donahoe, the city’s IT consultant was an interested observer and participated in some of the training sessions.

cimg0034-may-15-2018-site-survey-city-of-charlottetown-council-chambers-tom-barnes-john-donohue-in-back.jpg

Tom Barnes, with John Donahoe in the background. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

 CIMG0033 May 15 2018 Site survey city of Charlottetown council chambers John Donohue Bill Wilma

Left to right: John Donahoe, Bill Droogendyk, Wilma Droogendyk. Careful measurements spell success! (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
CIMG0042 May 15 2018 Site survey city of Charlottetown council chambers Phil & Wilma

Testing testing testing! Phil Pater and Wilma Droogendyk. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 5:  Wiring The Council Chambers

As Charlottetown’s city hall is a historic building from 1888, designated as a National Historic Site of Canada on November 23, 1984, it was important to ensure that no trace of the wiring showed, and none does.  It’s hidden under the carpet.

CIMG0071 May 18 2018 loop installation at City of Charlottetown town hall Phil & Tom in council chambers

Phil Pater and Tom Barnes wired the council chambers. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 6:  Hooking the Loop Driver to the Sound System

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

An informal testing was done by members of the Civic Board for Persons with Disabilities.  Brenda Porter, who is on this board, and has hearing aids with telecoils, commented on the clarity of sound and that there was no background noise to interfere with what was being said.

The city notes that “The next public meeting of Council is on Monday, June 11 at 4:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend, including anyone interested in trying the new hearing loop.” (See https://charlottetown.ca/news/current_news/access_improved_at_city_hall)

Step 7:  Post Signage

The last step in the installation was to post signs advising that the hearing loop was installed.  A brochure on the ways to access a hearing loop was provided.  (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for this same information.)

The Counter Loop

The City of Charlottetown went further than looping the council chambers, by deciding to install a counter loop at the reception desk and billing desk.  While work is still progressing on the counter loop at the billing desk, the counter loop at the reception desk is installed.

CIMG0040 May 15 2018 Site survey city of Charlottetown council chambers Bill shows counter loop to John & Jennifer

ohn Donahoe and Jennifer Gavin of the City of Charlottetown look at a sample counter loop for the billing desk with Bill Droogendyk. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG0078 May 18 2018 loop installation at City of Charlottetown town hall reception desk Annie Lee tests loop

Annie Lee MacDonald tests out the counter loop at the reception desk, using OTOjOY earbuds and an app on her iPhone. Tom Barnes, Bill Droogendyk, and receptionist Darlene Rice wait for her reaction. Success! (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Our thanks to the volunteers, CHHA Foundation, City of Charlottetown, and to Bill and Wilma Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions for making these installations possible.

You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

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

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

 © Daria Valkenburg

 

West River United Church is Looped

LoopPEI_logo-P2

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

Step 1: The Field Survey

The church did its own field survey.

Step 2: The EMI Test

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

Step 3: The Site Evaluation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 5:  Wiring The Sanctuary

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

Step 6:  Hooking the Loop Driver to the Sound System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 7:  Post Signage

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

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

Do you have an old hearing loop in your church?

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

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

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

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

Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events

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

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

 © Daria Valkenburg

 

 

South Shore United Church is Looped

LoopPEI_logo-P2

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

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

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

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

Step 1: The Field Survey

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

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

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

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

Step 2: The EMI Test

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3: The Site Evaluation

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

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

CIMG0015 May 14 2018 Site survey SSUC

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

CIMG0026 May 14 2018 Site survey SSUC

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

Step 5:  Wiring The Sanctuary

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

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

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

Step 6:  Hooking the Loop Driver to the Sound System

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

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

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

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

CIMG0058 May 16 2018 Daria tests the hearing loop at SSUC

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

CIMG0056 May 16 2018 Jack Pieter Bill at SSUC post installation

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

Step 7:  Post Signage

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

Hearing Loop System Installed At

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

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

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

Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg