Rising To The Challenge To Hear – Adventures With Face Shields and Clear-Window Masks

June 16, 2020.  It’s been a busy time here on Prince Edward Island as we have been working with face shields and clear-window masks (See Rising To The Challenge To Hear – 3 Initiatives To Help – Face Shields, Hard of Hearing Buttons, and Clear-Window Masks), and encouraging businesses and venues to apply for the Federal Accessibility Grant for speech transfer systems and hearing loops (See Federal Enabling Accessibility Fund For Hearing Loops Available)

The face shields have proven very popular. They are simple to use, and provide a clear view of a person’s face.  They were donated by Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, and were in turn donated to the hospital by Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited.  We learned that it was Fair Isle Ford in Charlottetown that made that particular donation and reached out to thank them for making life easier for people with hearing loss.  Shawn McLernan, Chief Operating Officer, wrote to say “We were happy to help.

IMG_2923 May 28 2020 Marj Inman Beryl Fyfe photo Annie Lee

Marjorie Inman and Beryl Fyfe with their face shields.  (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

In turn, when a request from the PEI Council of People With Disabilities was received, Hear PEI donated face shields for their staff.

CIMG4097 Jun 11 2020 PEI COD

Bethany Maynard on the right with a face shield. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The PEI Council of People With Disabilities also purchased clear-window masks (see photo above) and hard of hearing buttons. (See link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PEICOD/?epa=SEARCH_BOX)  Annie Lee MacDonald and I made a delivery last week and had a chance to visit them… while respecting social distancing measures.

CIMG4099 Jun 11 2020 PEI COD Marcia & Annie Lee

Marcia Carroll, left, and Annie Lee MacDonald, right, representing two great non-profit organizations!  (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

One of the volunteers making clear-window masks here on PEI is Kay Wall, an avid quilter.  She made sure that the plastic used for the clear-window in the mask was washable.  Her masks have been received with oohs and aahs as they are not only practical, but beautifully sewn.  We owe her a debt of thanks for making these non-medical masks.

IMG_2921 May 28 2020 Kay Wall photo Annie Lee

Kay Wall at her sewing machine.  (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

Dr. Janine Verge, a Nova Scotia audiologist,  who coordinates the ‘Issues In Accessibility’ column of ‘Canadian Audiologist’ journal, notes that “I’m hoping this raises awareness about the trouble with masks from here on out…..all hospitals and clinics should have the window masks ready to use all the time – or better yet only use ones with windows!!

Brenda Porter was recently featured on CBC PEI and their news program Compass regarding the challenges faced by regular masks. You can read the article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-covid-19-masks-hard-of-hearing-1.5599775


The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is taking place in June, an initiative of Canada Helps, and offers a prize of $20,000 to one lucky charity. Every SINGLE dollar donated represents an entry into the contest. As an example, $100 gives 100 chances to win.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Hear PEI was the lucky charity to win $20,000?

Please consider a donation to help the volunteers at Hear PEI do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.

Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!You can donate at the Canada Helps page:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708


Anecdotes are being gathered for how you have been coping with hearing challenges during this time of social distancing measures.  To share your story, please send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

Please Encourage The Use Of Clear-Window Masks

May 5, 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.  Clear-window masks have been mentioned several times in this blog as one simple way to ensure that people can continue to use speechreading techniques, and it’s important that we start to look for ways to encourage use of these masks.

A few days ago, a friend from Charlottetown sent the following anecdote…. “This morning outside the supermarket I spoke for 10-15 minutes or so with a friend (at the required distance) and I only had to ask her a couple of times to repeat what something she had said. When I came out of the store she was standing there (with her mask on this time) and said something to me. It was totally useless for me – I could not understand a word. This incident validated in spades thoughts that I have had lately about the fact that cloth masks worn by others who are trying to speak with me render me essentially deaf. Given that it appears that wearing masks in public is going to become VERY normal for the foreseeable future, I think that it would be worth my/our while to raise the issue with various public officials.”  So, please, encourage the use of clear-window masks.

Normally, May is a month in which a fundraiser at the Bonshaw Hall helps provide funds for outreach activities.  Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that this event will be able to take place this year. While physical outreach activities may be limited this year, virtual activities continue, such as our YouTube videos.  If we receive enough funding, we would like to continue this project.

Have you watched one of our YouTube videos?  Subscribe to our YouTube Channel:



If you would like to make a donation, here is the link: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708.  Donations are used 100% for outreach activities as everyone is a volunteer.

Thank you to the friend from Charlottetown for sharing an anecdote. Do you have an experience with trying to communicate with people wearing masks to share? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also comment on this blog, or send a tweet to @HearPEI. Stay safe!

© Daria Valkenburg

Our 2019 Hear PEI Hearing Accessibility Advocates

January 3, 2020.  Happy New Year!  As we begin a new year and a new decade, it’s a good opportunity to note that although those of us who are involved with Hear PEI are a small volunteer group, we manage to do a quite a bit with the very limited resources we have.  One of the reasons we can accomplish so much is due to the help and support for hearing accessibility awareness that we get from others.

In 2019 five Hear PEI Hearing Accessibility Advocates were recognized:

CIMG3621 Oct 29 2019 Hear PEI Accessibility Advocates Ruth & Evelyn

Daria Valkenburg, left, with Ruth Walsh, centre, and Evelyn Stewart, right.  (Photo credit: Annie Lee MacDonald)

Two women who do not have hearing loss themselves, Ruth Walsh and Evelyn Stewart, were deeply committed to gathering signatures for the petition presented to the PEI Legislature in July, a petition that asked for equal opportunity for all Islanders to apply for funding towards the cost of hearing aids.  While the petition was presented, no decision has been made as yet, but the work involved in explaining the reason for the petition and gathering support went a long way towards building awareness.  People were astounded to learn that there was an age cut-off for access to funding, and immediately agreed that it was not correct.

Over the past few years, many lawyers have participated in a project to improve communications between those with hearing loss and the legal community.  Two of these lawyers went above and beyond, encouraging their colleagues to also support hearing accessibility for their clients.  Most law firms on the Island now have a pocket talker available for clients who have mild hearing loss.  The support from Ken Clark of Key Murray Law in Summerside, and Danny Tweel of T. Daniel Tweel in Charlottetown, was a big reason this project was a success.

CIMG3737 Dec 16 2019 Award to Ken Clark by Pieter

Daria Valkenburg with Ken Clark. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

CIMG3741 Dec 19 2019 With Danny Tweel

Annie Lee MacDonald, left, with Danny Tweel, centre, and Daria Valkenburg, right.  (Photo credit: Paula Campbell)

Many of you have watched one of the YouTube videos produced in 2019.  Wendy Nattress dedicated hours in the post-production process, editing the videos, adding in the captioning, and posting on YouTube.  We wouldn’t have been able to do it without her support and guidance.

A big thank you to Ruth, Evelyn, Ken, Danny, and Wendy for their help in building awareness on hearing accessibility issues in 2019. Have you have been encouraged to use a pocket talker at a law firm, signed the petition this spring while at a community event, or watched one of our YouTube videos?  Share your experience.  You can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on this blog, or follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg


Hearing Accessibility Is Enshrined in Human Rights Legislation


Left to right: Tom Hilton, Brenda Picard, Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, John Rogers (Photo courtesy of PEI Human Rights Commission)

December 26, 2019.  December 10 is Human Rights Day. Every year, as we attend this important anniversary at an event coordinated by the PEI Human Rights Commission, we are reminded that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations, 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.

71 years ago, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed.  Tom Hilton, Education Officer for the PEI Human Rights Commission, noted that this declaration “happens to be the world’s most translated document.” 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.

Annie Lee MacDonald and I always accept an invitation to this annual event for two key  reasons:

  • Hearing accessibility is one of the rights enshrined in human rights legislation.  We need to be visible and ensure our voices are heard.
  • As part of their accessibility efforts, the PEI Human Rights Commission provides real time captioning for their event. We support this important initiative.

Over the past years, the process of providing real time captioning has improved and we had no issues with the service provided. The screen was placed near the podium, allowing us to easily see the stage, the podium, and the captioning screen.  The captioning itself was excellent, with few errors.  Well done!

It isn’t only people with hearing loss who appreciate real time captioning!

We noticed that it wasn’t only people with hearing loss following the captioning. Several parents and grandparents of children from the Stratford Elementary School Choir were avidly following the captioning.  Many of these adults spoke English as a second language, and I’m sure they were as grateful to see the written words on screen as we were!

Perhaps traffic flows of speakers to the podium can be improved next year, so that speakers do not have to cross past the screen.  It seems a no-brainer given the event, but some speakers will still stand in front of the screen, in spite of being able to see the scrolling text.  This temporary difficulty is easily fixed by seating speakers on the side of the room away from the line of vision of the screen.

Please …… Don’t block the screen!

A bigger challenge in accessibility came from the photographer sent by the media to cover the event, who persisted in blocking the screen, in spite of being asked several times not to do so by the organizers. This deliberate wilfulness showed a lack of respect to the organizers, as well as to the attendees who depended on the real time captioning, and didn’t reflect well on his employer.  Professional photographers should be unobtrusive and not interfere with the events they cover.

These were the only two points regarding hearing accessibility that hopefully can be addressed for future events.  This year’s theme for Human Rights Day was ‘youth standing up for human rights’.  While we are no longer in the first blush of youth, we still stand up and speak out for hearing accessibility.

As Her Honour The Honourable Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, said in her remarks with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?  In small places, close to home.  So close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.  Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

Several politicians were in attendance.  We had a chance to briefly speak with the Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice & Public Safety.

CIMG3733 Dec 12 2019 Human Rights Day by Sharon Lund MacDonald

Left to right:  Annie Lee MacDonald, Minister Bloyce Thompson, Daria Valkenburg.  (Photo taken by Sheila Lund MacDonald)

John Rogers, the outgoing Chair of the Human Rights Commission, noted that “We are the smallest Human Rights Commission in the country, but by no means the smallest jurisdiction in population.”  It’s a testament to the commitment that while the office may be small they have many open files to deal with, and participate in many outreach activities.

Thank you to the PEI Human Rights Commission for including us in their event, and bringing more awareness of hearing accessibility in public places. Comments? Send an email to hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

Don’t Miss YOUR Opportunity To Participate In Health PEI’s Consultation Survey

December 11, 2019.  A few weeks ago, we were invited by Health PEI to attend a Strategic Planning Session, for consultations with community groups, Islanders, patient advisors/partners, staff and physicians.  The purpose of the consultations, which were attended by Annie Lee MacDonald and myself, is to build a three‐year strategic plan for the priorities for Health PEI’s program and service development for the years 2020‐2023.

A variety of groups participated, with people from different Health PEI departments.  We were told that the strategic planning session ‘helps assess and adjust direction in a changing environment’.  The current Health Plan expires on March 31, 2020 and among the factors to consider were trends in health and current practices.

We were broken up into groups for brainstorming sessions, and each group had a similar set of messages for Health PEI:

  • Better diagnosis and education is needed for specific medical conditions.  We gave the example of how hearing loss can be misdiagnosed for other conditions, such as dementia, and how not addressing hearing loss can lead to other physical and mental conditions.
  • Initiatives for awareness sessions and education on specific conditions need to be provided to health providers, such as professional development credits offered by Health PEI, which may encourage a higher level of participation. We gave the example of the work done in improving communications in the legal community here on PEI and referenced our YouTube videos.
  • There need to be ‘champions’ in the system for various medical conditions.
  • Help equip patients to self-manage their condition.
  • Better navigation of available services is needed and patients with conditions need to increase their awareness.   In other words, self-knowledge is important.  Every resident of Prince Edward Island is able to have a hearing test, paid by Health PEI, if the patient is referred by a physician or nurse practitioner.
  • The current ‘silo’ approach of treating conditions needs to be changed to one where a person is seen as the sum total of their various medical conditions.  We explained that people with any condition can also have hearing loss.  Without the ability to communicate effectively and hear what is being said, the various programs put in place will not bring the desired results.
  • Rural health care is a priority for Islanders, who do not want or cannot travel distances to see a primary care provider.  Travel costs, access to travel for many people who are unable to travel by themselves, the time people need to take to bring someone to a health care provider…. all were points referenced over and over again.  Primary care needs to be local, was the consistent message made to Health PEI.

In the general discussions we noted that hearing loss is growing in prevalence.  According to the World Health Organization, it is the 4th leading cause of living with disability globally!  In Canada, it is the 3rd most chronic condition, after arthritis and hypertension (high blood pressure).  It affects young and old, any income group, and people with other conditions. Yet, for some reason, it is the ignored elephant in the room with medical personnel, mostly ignored or brushed off!

Health care settings, such as hospitals, are difficult places to hear due to constant noise – alarms beep, sound insulation in rooms is poor, there are competing conversations if you are not in a private room.  Many patients refuse to use earplugs when they watch TV in a hospital, adding to noise levels.  (See Doctors with pocket talkers, lawyers with pocket talkers)

Miscommunication can be problematic, affecting care and understanding by patients of conditions and treatments.  We explained that contractions as used in every day speech can be a nightmare.  It’s difficult to distinguish between ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ as an example.  Accents can be hard to understand at first.  Many healthcare providers speak too quickly, not giving time for our brains to process what is being said.  Others speak too softly, or face a laptop instead of the patients, making it seem like they are mumbling.  We explained that people with hearing loss use speech reading to help figure out what is being said, whether they have taken a formal class or not, and so they need to SEE the person who is talking.

We noted that hearing loss can lead to other conditions if not addressed.  We gave the example of people tending to isolate themselves when hearing becomes a challenge.  It becomes a pain to comprehend what is being said, particularly in group situations, such as weddings, parties, etc.  (See Holiday Dinners and Parties – Fun or a Nightmare? for some of the comments that have been made about holiday get-togethers.)  Social isolation leads to mental health conditions such as depression.  People tend to be at increased risk for falls.  A question asked every time you go to a clinic or hospital is “Have you fallen recently?” Why not a question about hearing loss? we asked.   Increasingly, studies are showing that if hearing loss is not addressed, there is an increased risk of dementia.

We concluded by pointing out that mental health, fall risks, depression, and dementia are all issues of concern to Health PEI.  Wouldn’t addressing hearing loss help in preventing these issues becoming a concern for many Islanders?

There were nods of agreement and acknowledge all around the tables, but did the message get through? A recent survey sent as a follow-up doesn’t seem to indicate that anyone was really paying attention.  So now, it’s YOUR turn to try and get Health PEI to listen…..

The follow-up to the consultations, which gives YOU a chance to participate:

We did our best to have Health PEI incorporate hearing accessibility into the planning and now have now received a survey to be distributed to Islanders with hearing loss and their family members.  Please don’t ignore this opportunity to draw attention to the needs of those with hearing loss in improving communications with our health providers, but to add your voice and opinion by filling out this short survey.

One key message suggested to include is:  A person’s ability to communicate is #1.  We need to be able to hear and comprehend a medical professional.  Better hearing accessibility is crucial.  Please pay attention to hearing loss and ask for advice in how to communicate with us.” If you may have more messaging ideas, please share them, so that we can include them in the next round of consultations.

For those in the South Shore area, who are without a doctor, this is also your opportunity to say you want a health centre in rural areas, such as Crapaud.

You will see in the questionnaire that there are some suggestions made for priorities, but hearing accessibility is NOT one of them.  Did you know that according to current research, for every person who needs a wheelchair ramp, there are 29 people who need better hearing accessibility in public places?  And this figure is growing!


The questionnaire can be submitted anonymously, if you wish. You do not need to provide your name, age or gender; however, you will need to enter your postal code which will let Health PEI know your general geographic location. The survey will be open until December 29, 2019.

Here is the link to the survey: www.healthpei.ca/StrategicPlanFeedback

If you prefer to fill out a paper copy, please see health_pei_strategic_planning_public_consultation_2020-23_form.  You can download it, print it, fill it out, and return it to one of the health centres identified on page 2.

If you know someone who would like to fill out the survey, but does not have email, please do an act of kindness and print out a copy for the person and bring it to them to fill out.

As always, you can send an email to hearpei@gmail.com, comment on the blog, and send a tweet to @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

2019 Hearing Health Day In New Brunswick

December 1, 2019.  I love outreach events!  It’s a chance to talk with people about hearing loss issues and hear their concerns and points of view.  Last month Annie Lee MacDonald and I made a trip to Moncton for the 4th annual Hearing Health New Brunswick event, hosted by Avenir Hearing.

CIMG3608 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

2019 Hearing Health NB Day in Moncton.  Left to right: Dr Denis LeBlanc, Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, Ian Hamilton, Simone Belliveau, Rheal Leger.

The gift bag with an Avenir Hearing calendar had a wonderful caption on it:

“Life is full of wonderful moments.  Hear all of them.”

This year the day was split in two, with sessions in English in the morning, which we attended, and French sessions in the afternoon. Instead of one room where the various presentations were held, as in previous years, there were four rooms, each with different presentations. We were split into 4 groups, with each smaller group rotating between the various rooms.

CIMG3611 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

Janice Daley on the left, and Andrea Neilson on the right, both of Phonak, demonstrate the Roger Select microphone. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The first session we attended included two demonstrations by Phonak.  One demonstration explained how their Roger Select microphone worked.  This is a transmitting microphone designed to be worn by the speaker, not the listener, and is designed for people who are socially active.  It has a speaker that transmits automatically to a hearing aid, and, in answer to a question asked, the microphone will work with hearing aids other than Phonak.  However, it will not work with a pocket talker, only with hearing aids.

A short YouTube video by Phonak gives a demonstration, but be forewarned that it is not captioned.  You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg72TTVGupU.

The second Phonak demonstration was on their e-solutions, showing how a smart phone or tablet can be used to change volume and tone on a Phonak hearing aid, and provide remote support.  While these are great options, you do need an internet connection to access the programming offered.  For more information, you can watch this YouTube video, which is captioned, in both English and French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpiLAbCSHD8.

CIMG3612 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

Phonak’s e-solutions demonstration.

In the second session Dr. LeBlanc talked about the hearing aid rental program offered by Avenir Hearing, a program that is available here on Prince Edward Island as well as New Brunswick.  (See Exploring The Option of Renting Your Hearing Aids)

This is the 7th year of the Hearing Aid Rental Program in New Brunswick, and Dr LeBlanc mentioned he had gotten the idea for an affordable solution to hearing aid access from an HVAC firm! 75% of private pay clients (as opposed to those whose hearing aids are covered by programs such as through Veterans Affairs) opt to rent their hearing aids in New Brunswick.  The program provides:

  • a simple monthly payment solution
  • peace of mind
  • all inclusive experience, including batteries, visits, and repairs
  • eligibility for an upgrade after 36 months

The third session was a presentation by audiologist Joline Coomber on the Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss.  Among the points summarized in this discussion were that hearing loss can affect a person’s physical health, relationships, and mental well-being.

Physical health can be impacted by hearing loss through:

  • increased risk of falls, due to balance issues
  • the brain, with an example given of trying to cope with speech discrimination: cat, sat, bat, rat can sound the same.

Relationships and mental well-bring can be impacted by hearing loss when:

  • the connection to family and friends is reduced by people avoiding social gatherings due to strain of not hearing well.
  • stress is put on partners who have to constantly repeat themselves or complaining about the TV volume being too high.
CIMG3615 Oct 22 2019 Hearing Health NB in Moncton

The relationships between hearing loss, brain health, and mental wellness.

The fourth and last session was ‘Ask An Audiologist’. The transition from an authoritarian figure to a consultative one was discussed.  Originally the audiologist told a person what they needed. Now the audiologist asks about our life style which helps to determine what might be best.

Annie Lee pointed out that, in general, people who see an audiologist for the first time don’t know what they want. Information sessions, such as the Hearing Health NB Day, were one way to help increase awareness.

Education was a key component, everyone agreed, and more interaction is needed between support groups, such as our own group here on Prince Edward Island, and audiologists.

It was an interesting morning, and we are grateful to Dr LeBlanc of Avenir Hearing for extending an invitation to us to attend.

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

© Daria Valkenburg


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” will be 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.



Outreach At The PEI Legislature

November 27, 2019.  As one of the organizations that received a community grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI this year, we were invited to attend the PEI Legislature on November 21 for a House Statement by the Hon. Ernie Hudson, Minister of Social Development and Housing and Minister Responsible for Seniors,  announcing the Grant Program and grant recipients in the Legislative Assembly.  The invitation explained that “This statement is part of our Department’s activities to increase awareness of the Grant Program, and the important and innovative work of your projects and organizations to improve lives of seniors in our communities across the province.

CIMG3671 Nov 21 2019 PEI Legislature Sr Sec Grant Recipients with Minister Hudson

Group photo of grant recipients at the J. Angus MacLean building. Minister Hudson is 4th from the left. Next to him in front is Daria Valkenburg and beside her is Annie Lee MacDonald.

As the gallery in the Legislature was full with a school visit, we were invited to gather across the road from the Legislature in the J. Angus MacLean building.  A viewing room was set up for us, with a live feed, and it worked well.  We were very appreciative that the Hon. Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, specifically welcomed Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg in his opening remarks.  (Blog readers may recall that a petition for equal access for all Islanders to hearing aid funding through the AccessAbility program was presented in the PEI Legislature in July by Peter Bevan-Baker.  We are still working to get that passed in the Legislature.)

Minister Hudson, in his remarks, noted that 23 groups had been awarded community grants, and afterwards he dropped by for a group photo and to chat with us.  Of course, we reminded him about our petition.  He told us he had not forgotten it!

Our grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI was to produce fully captioned YouTube videos on topics of interest and relevance to those with hearing loss. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI).  Thanks to that grant we were able to set up our own YouTube Channel and produce six short videos with the funding received:

The YouTube videos have been an integral part of our outreach activities, and have attracted an audience on three continents….that we are aware of:  North America, Europe, and Australia.

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

© Daria Valkenburg


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” will be 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 loss. If you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning: 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.


Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy Techniques

October 26, 2019.  In the series about tinnitus earlier this year, an overview on tinnitus and some of its causes was given (See Is The Water Running Or Is It Tinnitus?), plus a brief explanation of what can increase tinnitus symptoms (See What Will INCREASE Your Tinnitus Symptoms?), and some suggestions for treatment. (See What Are The Treatment Options For Tinnitus?)

As someone who has had tinnitus for over two decades, I’m always looking for ways to reduce the sound effects going through my ear!  So when we heard that Jacqueline Hocking, a retired hearing and balance specialist from England, was willing to share some tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques, we invited her to stop by and visit when she and her husband Graham were on the Island.

CIMG3052 Tinnitus relaxation therapy

Standing, left to right: Barbara Bain, Annie Lee MacDonald, Graham Hocking. Seated, left to right: Daria Valkenburg, Jacqueline Hocking. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

We had a lot of fun trying out the tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques demonstrated by Jacqueline, and appreciated her list of things that she found will aggravate tinnitus symptoms.  These include:

  • Silence – you can hear the tinnitus noises more in a quiet environment
  • Stress – increases the noise levels
  • Lack of stress – if you have nothing to worry about, then your body responds by giving you something to think about!
  • Certain foods, such as:
    • Caffeine
    • Cheese
    • Salt
    • Alcohol
    • Chocolate

I’m out for the count with these no-nos, as I do like a jolt of caffeine in the morning.  Being married to a Dutch guy means we always have cheese in the house.  And who can get through a stressful situation without chocolate? Not me!  Luckily, Jacqueline assured us that chocolate in moderation was ok, preferably dark chocolate.

In addition to the tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques she showed us, Jacqueline noted that yoga and tai chi are good for reducing stress.

People with tinnitus need support from family and friends“…. Jacqueline Hocking

One final point she made…. and it was a big one… was that people with tinnitus need support from family and friends.

If you have tinnitus and would like to try out the techniques demonstrated by Jacqueline, watch our YouTube video:

Jacqueline also was kind enough to provide a PDF of the techniques, which you can access here:  (See Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy Tips from Jacqueline)

After seeing the video, Brenda Graves commented: “Wow! So cool. I have started doing it. Will let you know in a few months if it works, LOL.

This video was part of a series we were able to make thanks to volunteer participation and a grant from the Senior Secretariat of PEI.  After seeing the video, Mary Driscoll, Senior Policy Advisor for the Secretariat wrote us to say:  “Thank you for sharing this. You did a great job with this video, and I found myself practicing the exercises as I watched.  Well done, and thanks again.  I really hope to have opportunity to share this with members of our Seniors Secretariat during a monthly meeting!

This is the fourth Hear PEI YouTube video which has been posted on our YouTube Channel.  For more information on the videos, see these previous postings:  ‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’, Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI, and We Are Your Bridge To Hear)

Thank you to Jacqueline Hocking for providing the tinnitus relaxation therapy techniques, and to post-production editor Wendy Nattress. Thank you also to Brenda Graves and Mary Driscoll for sharing feedback on the video.  As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg


October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting!



211 Is Coming To PEI

October 23, 2019.  I love our information and support meetings as they are an opportunity not only to meet and talk with others who have hearing loss, but also to learn about new initiatives and ideas from our guest speakers.  At a recent meeting our guest speaker was Patsy Beattie-Huggan, Community Engagement Consultant for the new 211 Information Service, which is provided by the United Way, that will be launched on PEI in January 2020.

CIMG3181 Sep 24 2019 211 Community Navigator

Patsy Beattie-Huggan describes the upcoming 211 Information Service at a recent meeting. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

211 is a community service program that is operated out of Nova Scotia during the week, with the call centre in Toronto handling calls on the weekend. PEI is in the process of training people to run this service. What is it?  It’s a free confidential 24/7 information and referral service for community and social services that is intended to link Islanders to the services that best meet their needs by phone, text, or using the online database.

This number is not for emergencies but if a  caller has an emergency, someone will immediately connect them to 911. At present, United Way PEI has been contracted by the PEI Government to develop and implement 211 across PEI. The government of PEI was interested in the service as part of PEI’s poverty reduction strategy.  The service is intended to address gaps in information and be multilingual in offering support in 150 languages.  211 has been in use in Nova Scotia since 2013, and feedback indicates that more and more professionals are using the service, as opposed to solely individuals seeking information.

The first stage in the project is to develop the database for PEI related information. Organizations were invited to participate in the creation of the database by contributing their information and encouraging others.  This is how we first learned about 211 this past summer. We were one of the groups asked to provide information, which we did.

Our concern for this information service is the lack of knowledge among call centre staff in being able to communicate with people with hearing loss.  Many of us find it challenging to speak with people with accents, or those who speak too quickly, or too softly.  In addition, would call centre staff know where to direct calls related to hearing loss issues?  Asking the Community Engagement Consultant to give a presentation was a way for us  to learn more about the service and for Patsy to have a better idea of the concerns and challenges faced by those with hearing loss who might call the 211 Information Service.

We thank Patsy Beattie-Huggan for coming out to our meeting.  For more information, please refer to the frequently asked questions sheet: 211 Frequently Asked Questions As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com, comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg


October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting!


‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’

October 2, 2019.  Thanks to a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”, and the brilliant assistance of our post-production editor Wendy Nattress, we have been able to make fully captioned short videos on topics of interest and value to those with hearing loss.  Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” with guest Graham Hocking of England has already had an effect beyond the island. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

The video also stimulated interest in hearing loops, as noted by Brenda Graves, who sent the following feedback: “Very informative. Too bad banks don’t have loops available for ‘in branch meetings’ or ‘transactions’.”  Perhaps as more people learn about the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop, they will ask more businesses and services for that accommodation.

Our second video, “We Are Your Bridge To Hear” (See We Are Your Bridge To Hear) gave a brief introduction to some of the issues related to hearing loss.

IMG_20190930_083547 Wendy at work on video

Post-production editor Wendy Nattress hard at work with our raw video footage. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

Our third video, “A Pocket Talker Changed My Life” features a dynamic and articulate 95 year old Ruth Brewer was interviewed about her experiences with a pocket talker.  A meeting with Ruth had been the subject of an earlier blog posting.  (See “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

This third video has had a lot of feedback already, which we had expected given the popularity of pocket talkers on the island….

Comment from Brenda Porter: “Excellent video. Very well done. Congrats!

Comment from Nancy MacPhee:  “Great video! Well done, ladies.

Comment from Jane Scott: “I loved it.  Ruth is a gem and what a heart-warming story.

Comment from Ted at ALDS: “WOW actually a double WOW WOW – that is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.  This is a wonderful video. Can I please share this with my rep at Williams Sound, Mike would be thrilled to see this video.  Fantastic!

Teds comment with frame

Screenshot above shows Ted’s additional comment on YouTube: “What a fantastic video and demonstration.  Thank you for sharing.

It was a leap of faith to try doing YouTube videos, but the feedback has been so encouraging we are planning another one!  Please keep the comments coming!  Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Ruth Brewer. As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com,  comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg


October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.