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).

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Those Annoying Tinny Computerized Voices!

March 18, 2019.  A few weeks ago, one of our friends got on the elevator in our hotel and said “Don’t you find the voice of the elevator annoying?”  I was a bit surprised.  “The elevator talks?”  There were a few other people in the elevator, and several piped in, with the general consensus that the elevator does indeed talk, supposedly telling you what floor it’s stopped on, but no one, even the ones with good hearing, gave it a positive review.  “It’s supposed to tell you that we’re on the 4th floor, but it sounds like it says 1st floor” I was told.

I was amazed.  I’ve spent part of every winter for the past seven years in this hotel and never knew that the elevator spoke!  Next time I was on the elevator by myself I listened carefully.  Our friend was correct.  It does talk, but what comes out is indeed gibberish.  Luckily, each floor is identified with a number as soon as the elevator door opens.  A digital screen appears inside the elevator, and just outside the elevator the floor you are on is marked with a number and in Braille. You wouldn’t have a clue which floor you were on if you depended on the elevator voice itself.  Unfortunately, I have a habit of tuning out gibberish.  I’m quite sure that the very first time I used that elevator, so many years ago, I couldn’t understand it, and tuned it out.  Over the years, I forgot that it had an annoyingly tinny voice that made no sense whatsoever.  I thought it was just me.  It wasn’t.

 

Digital readout on left, giving an indication of the floor the elevator is on.  On the right, as you come out of the elevator, the floor number is marked, including in Braille.  (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

I was reminded of that elevator when I read about upset customers who were forced to use a store’s self-checkout, against their will.  One of the customers, who the reporter described as ‘hard of hearing’ said that “I hate these new blasted self-checkouts, because they talk to you and I can’t figure out what they’re saying.” (See https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/shoppers-drug-mart-superstore-self-checkout-loblaw-1.5056800)  It was déjà vu for me as I had no idea that the self-checkouts spoke. Mind you, I’ve only tried it out twice.

One time I wanted to buy a birthday card for my husband before he found me and caught me buying his card.  The staffed checkout line was so long that I got lured to the self-checkout.  One item.  How difficult could it be?  It was a pain in the you know what, and if the machine spoke to me, I didn’t hear it. Meanwhile my husband had gone through a newly opened staffed checkout line and was waiting for me, perfectly aware of my surprise purchase.

The other experience was in a grocery store. There are two grocery stores near our hotel, both big chain stores.   One is a large store with a large number of cash registers, only one of which is ever in operation, and several self-checkouts.  The other store is smaller, has several staffed checkout registers, and no self-checkouts.  We were in the larger store, and the one staffed checkout line was very long.  My husband got impatient and went to the self-checkout.  We keep track of the prices, and it didn’t take him long to figure out that the self-checkout wasn’t registering the discounted prices.  There was a button to push for assistance, and by the time it was straightened out, it took us longer than if we had waited in the other line.

We now shop at the smaller store, with no self-checkouts. Hmmm…maybe if I get a robot to do my grocery shopping, it can go to the self-checkout and they can chirp away to each other.  It’s a shame that the tech geniuses can’t come up with a computerized voice that is actually understandable.

So now I’m curious. How many of you can hear and understand the computerized voices that are everywhere these days?   In your car?  The answering machine on your phone?  When you call a business and get put on hold?

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  With upcoming provincial and federal elections coming up in the near future, 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:  The Ross Family Concert at Shore Shore United Church in Tryon, April 7, at 2:30 pm. Sharing a blend of Acadian and Scottish, this high-energy trio offers an afternoon of entertainment sure to raise your spirits. Auction viewing and bidding begins at 1:45 pm. Advance Tickets $12, at the door $15. For tickets call Bev 439-2352 or Cindy 658-2863.

Spring session of Level 1 Speech reading classes begin Wednesday, April 10, 2019, and run for 10 weeks.  Two sessions are offered with speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee: a day class 1-3 pm, and an evening class 7-9 pm. Level 1 covers information to help people better understand hearing loss. Focus is on the most visible consonant shapes of speech.  There are many exercises and class interaction to work on improving your awareness and ability to interpret.  Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice! But don’t worry.  As Nancy says, “We also try to have some fun!” Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Interested in Level 2 Speech reading?  The spring class is completely full.  If you want to add your name for the next session, and you’ve taken Level 1, please send us an email.

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

LoopPEI_logo-P2

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.

 

A New Hearing Accessibility Tool For Your Phone Or Tablet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CIMG2906 Live Transcribe

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

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

IMG_20190214_085912559 Daria with Chuck & Ruth

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

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.

 

 

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

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

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

Assistive Hearing Devices For Everyday Use:

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

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

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

Brief explanation from the user guide.

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

CIMG7617 Jun 27 2017 HOH buttons for sale

Hearing Loop Assistive Devices To Give You Clarity Of Sound:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loop buds for iPhone (2)

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

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

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

    Pocketalker PKT2B (PKTD2.0) from Williams Sound

     

Have you considered a chair loop pad? 

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

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

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

CIMG2757 Oct 29 2018 Grahams chair looop

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

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

Here are two suggestions for those who enjoy entertainment.

Donations that help others with hearing loss:

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

Here are two suggestions made by one of our members:

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

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

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

 

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

Let’s Loop PEI – Clarity Of Sound Is Available Through A Hearing Loop

LoopPEI_logo-P2

October 24, 2018.  Have you tried out a hearing loop?  This spring two churches and the City of Charlottetown’s town hall all installed hearing loops, an excellent accessibility tool for those who have hearing loss.  If you haven’t yet taken advantage of the opportunity to hear the clarity of sound received through a hearing loop, you should.  You’ll be wondering why hearing loops aren’t available in every public venue.

Hearing loops are widely available in Europe and Australia, and a wave of hearing loop installations have occurred in the last few years in the USA and western Canada.  Every day you can read about venues in North America that have been looped.

In previous postings, you’ve had a chance to read about some of the looped areas.  Here are two more:  the Eiffel Tower in Paris (See https://www.ampetronic.co/Entertainment/eiffel-tower-ampetronic-hearing-loop-technology/24275) and Buckingham Palace. (See https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-royal-mews-buckingham-palace/ddeaf-or-hard-of-hearing#/)

Recently I read that the first hearing aid with a telecoil was made in 1936, to make it easier to hear on the telephone!  While the physics involved hasn’t changed, technology has improved.  In a recent article on hearing loops, a good explanation was given on why it’s so popular with those who have experienced it:  “Hearing loop systems take sound straight from the source and deliver it right into the listener’s hearing aid without extraneous noise or blurring. To them, it sounds like the speaker is right in their head. It turns their hearing aids into wireless earphones that broadcast sound customized for their hearing loss.” (See http://otojoy.com/loopsandiego.org/faq.html)

If you don’t have a hearing aid or cochlear implant, you can still access a hearing loop through a receiver.  (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for more information.)

Events in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Two upcoming events at looped churches give you a chance to experience a hearing loop.

CONCERT:  Men of the Harvest’ Concert at West River United Church in Cornwall, Sunday, October 28, 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm (Doors open at 2:30 pm).  Admission: $10 at the door. ‘Men of The Harvest’ is a multi-denominational men’s choir formed in the fall of 2013, under the direction of Bonnie LaFrance. Since that time, ‘Men of The Harvest’ has shared the unique strength and power of the male voice with audiences throughout PEI. Old favourites and contemporary pieces laden with harmony have warmed the hearts of the appreciative audiences.

PRESENTATION: 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.

To learn more about hearing loops, see previous blog postings: The Let’s Loop PEI Project and The Let’s Loop PEI Project – Some Questions and Answers We’ve Encountered. Other blog postings have documented the steps that were involved in ensuring that their hearing loop was installed according to IEC60118 international installation standards.

We’d like to hear from you if you’ve tried a hearing loop.  And we’d like to know what places on PEI you’d like to see looped.  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 27, 9 am-3 pm at Montague Regional High School.  See https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/event/learning-and-caring-ourselves-conference-0 for more information on this event.

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

© Daria Valkenburg

The World of Star Trek…..Coming To a Hearing Aid Near You

September 17, 2018.  As a child I watched the original Star Trek program faithfully, completely fascinated by a world that didn’t exist in my time.  Communicators?  Today we have smart phones!  Letters sent and received from outer space?  Today we have email and text messaging. Talk to a computer and get a verbal response?  Our snowbird friends use ‘Alexa’.  You won’t catch them typing into a smart phone when they can speak into it instead. A screen showing the person we’re talking to?  Today we use Skype, Face Time, etc.  Space travel?  In the days before the Moon landings and the International Space Station, this was mere science fiction. These and more examples from Star Trek seem common place today.

I’m still waiting for the transporter to get me from place to place and save the hassle we currently have in making long distance travel! Another Star Trek tool I wished I had was the Universal Translator (See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_translator).  If you saw the show, you know that the intrepid crew of the Enterprise had no difficulty in understanding any member of their international crew or those they met on their space exploration because of a device that instantly translated, sort of a portable simultaneous translator.

I grew up in a city where people spoke many languages and I sure wished I could easily understand what was being said.  Of course I was a bit lazy as I had to go for second and third language courses after school, and this seemed an ideal shortcut.  And now that I travel a bit internationally, I could really use one of those universal translators.  With my hearing loss, it’s difficult sometimes to understand people even in a language I’m familiar with.

universal translator

Captain Kirk holds a Universal Translator in his hand. Source: https://goo.gl/images/RTD2Zd

So I was astonished and delighted to learn that a new hearing aid promises to do the translating, in one of 27 languages, for its user.  Imagine.  You’re on vacation in a foreign country, and have no idea what’s being said as the language is not one you speak.  No problem, your hearing aid whispers what is being said, directly into your ears!  How cool is that?  While you do need an internet connection for this translation function to work, it’s still very useful as so many places have WiFi.

But this new hearing aid says it can do more to make life easier for those with hearing loss.  It can “do an environmental scan” and block out “noise” you don’t want to hear, so you can concentrate on what you do want to hear.  I don’t know about you, but that might make going to restaurants and wedding receptions more enjoyable.

The new hearing aid also claims to help monitor those who might be socially isolated.  It tracks your steps (no more pedometers to wear, your hearing aid can do it for you!), how much time you spend interacting with others, and recognize if you’ve fallen down.  A planned software update would even call your emergency contact for you, to advise you need help.

To read more, see https://www.wired.com/story/this-hearing-aid-can-translate-for-you.  The world is becoming more accessible than we ever thought.  Would you buy such a hearing aid?  Let us know!

Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT THESE UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  DATE CHANGE: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Mike Smith, Publisher of County Line Courier and Summerside Citizen, who will share his personal and business life experiences in living with hearing loss.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: The Tuesday afternoon class of Level I is full, but there is still space available for the Level I class that will run Monday evenings, from 7 to 9 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, and will run for 10 weeks.  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.

© 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

Billing Counter at City of Charlottetown City Hall is Looped!

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July 25, 2018.  Yesterday another step forward for accessibility for those with hearing loss was made.  The City of Charlottetown has been active in ensuring hearing accessibility at City Hall.  The reception area and council chambers have had a hearing loop installed (See Charlottetown City Hall is Looped). With the help of our PEI based Let’s Loop PEI technicians, the city has now also looped the billing counter in their accounts receivable area on the main floor.

CIMG1191 Jul 24 2018 Ctown city hall Phil Daria Tom

With Phil Pater, left, and Tom Barnes, right, outside City of Charlottetown’s City Hall. (Photo credit: Brett MacFadyen)

The installation happened early in the morning, just as City Hall opened.  Phil Pater and Tom Barnes, two well known sound technicians on the island, are certified to install hearing loops according to IEC60118 international installation standards.  We’re delighted that these professionals are willing to add hearing loop installations to the list of services they offer.

CIMG1183 Jul 24 2018 Ctown city hall Tom & Phil installing loop at billing counter

Tom Barnes (by counter) and Phil Pater (behind counter) ensure the counter loop is installed properly. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Once the hearing loop was installed it was time to test it.  Can you see the delight on Phil’s face when he realizes the counter loop is ‘activated’?

CIMG1185 Jul 24 2018 Ctown city hall Phil has aha moment when trying out the loop

Phil Pater checks out the hearing loop while Tom Barnes speaks to him from behind the counter. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

My turn was next, and Phil was quick to catch my ‘aha’ moment, when I could hear Tom, who sat behind the counter.

CIMG1186 Jul 24 2018 Ctown city hall Daria has an aha moment

Wow! What clarity of sound! (Photo credit: Phil Pater)

Once we knew the hearing loop worked, the staff members behind the accounts receivable department counter were invited to test it out.  Summer student Brett MacFadyen had his own ‘aha’ moment.

CIMG1188 Jul 24 2018 Ctown city hall summer student Brett MacFadyen has an aha moment

Summer student Brett MacFadyen, who works at the billing counter, tries out the hearing loop. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

We applaud the City of Charlottetown for their initiative in bringing accessibility for those with hearing loss to City Hall.  We encourage more places to join them. Counter loops are affordable and easily installed. If you have a venue that uses a counter or booth with a glass barrier, please consider the benefits of making your venue more accessible!

Have you tried out one of the loops installed at City Hall?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.comYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

List of places on PEI with a hearing loop: https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/places-on-pei-equipped-with-a-hearing-loop/

© Daria Valkenburg