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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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.

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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.

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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

How Open Are We To Accessibility?

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July 1, 2018.  In the previous blog posting, a link to a federal accessibility grant was included, with a note that the deadline for applications was July 26, 2018.  Acceptable criteria for the federal accessibility grant includes ways to improve accessibility for those with hearing loss, such as the installation of hearing loops and counter loops with telecoils.  Here is the link: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/enabling-accessibility-fund-small-projects.html.

A few of you noted that while you would like to see your church looped, you had doubts that the parish council would be willing to consider applying for a grant for a hearing loop.  Accessibility doesn’t happen by magic. It’s up to the individual parishioners to express their wishes and advise what accessibility accommodations they need.

PEI isn’t alone in the challenge of hearing accessibility.  A recent article in a Catholic magazine discussed the issue of accessibility and how attitudes can make the difference between embracing all who wish to attend a service or continuing to maintain barriers. This article has been making its way through Twitter and Facebook accounts. Take a look:  http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jenfitz/are-people-with-disabilities-welcome-at-your-parish.

In contrast, some places get very creative in finding ways to ensure accessibility.  A Honda dealership in New Jersey installed a hearing loop in its showroom and service departments to make vehicle purchases and maintenance more accessible for those with hearing loss. Read here:  https://www.tapinto.net/towns/hillsborough/categories/press-releases/articles/clinton-honda-installs-hearing-loops-to-enhance.

Accessibility only happens if we all work towards it.  Our thanks to Joan Gallant for letting us know that she has given her local Lions Club the information needed to apply for a federal accessibility grant to install hearing loops.  The finance committee of her church is next on her list.

More looping stories or suggestions?  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 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

More Info On Hearing Loop Access at Charlottetown City Hall

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June 17, 2018.  An excellent article, ‘City of Charlottetown improves access at City Hall for people with hearing loss’ by Dave Stewart of The Guardian was recently published in the newspaper.  (See http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/city-of-charlottetown-improves-access-at-city-hall-for-people-with-hearing-loss-218999/).

Brenda porter small

Rachel McPhee, left, receptionist at City Hall in Charlottetown, talks to Brenda Porter, a member of the city’s board of persons with disabilities, about the new looping technology installed in the building. (Photo credit: Dave Stewart of The Guardian)

You can see in the above photo that the sign for disability access includes the universal symbol indicating that there is a hearing loop installed.  The ‘T’ on the bottom right stands for ‘telecoil’.

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As word spread of the city’s initiative, a wish list for more hearing loop access in public venues began, with the airport, hospital, and theatres top of the list.  Joan Gallant commended Charlottetown’s Mayor: “Congratulations to Clifford Lee for seeing the importance of looping City Hall. Next I would like to see Homburg Theatre looped!! The more public places looped, the more those of us who are hard of hearing will be able to take part and contribute to our communities.”  We can only hope that interest in hearing loop access will grow!

If you do not have a telecoil activated in your hearing aid or cochlear implant, talk to your audiologist.  As Brenda Porter noted in the interview with Dave Stewart “…the sound is clear and crisp. It’s as if I didn’t have any hearing loss. You can come in (to council chambers) and as long as you have a certain component in your hearing aid activated, you don’t have to put on a headset or put on a necklace or do anything that announces to the world that ‘Hey, I’m hard of hearing’.’’

If you have hearing loss, but don’t wear a hearing aid or have a cochlear implant, you can still access a hearing loop by other assistive listening devices.  See our previous posting The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for more information.

Have you used a hearing loop?  Share your experience and help build awareness so more places on PEI can be looped. 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.  This is your opportunity to ask questions and make your voice heard as the Action Plan for the Seniors Strategy is developed.

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

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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.

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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

 

An Information Session On Hearing Loops With Audiologists

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June 1, 2018.  At part of the launch of the Let’s Loop PEI Project, made possible due to a grant from the CHHA Foundation, Island audiologists were invited to an informal session to introduce the project and to discuss hearing loops with Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions.

We were delighted at the response.  Five professionals from PEI, from 4 firms, attended:  Peter Benstead of PEI Audiology, Krista Campbell of Campbell Hearing, Derek Hughes of Connect Hearing, Michael and Lynn Learie of Horizon Hearing.  In addition, Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology in New Brunswick made the trip over the Confederation Bridge to attend this session.

CIMG0066 May 17 2018 Audiologists session on hearing loops at Holiday Inn Express Ctown Christa Derek Peter Michael

Left to right: Krista Campbell, Derek Hughes, Peter Benstead, Michael Learie. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

It was a chance to network, as well as to learn more about hearing loops.  One issue we had run into was discussed.  Two people told us that their audiologists had told them that they could have BlueTooth OR a Telecoil in their hearing aids, but not both.  We weren’t sure if that was a miscommunication, but since we’d read in various articles that in fact a person can have all kinds of programs in their hearing aids, including BlueTooth, Telecoil, and Tinnitus Masking, it was a good opportunity to bring it up and have it confirmed.  For more information on this subject, 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/

Heidi Eaton also let us know that a telecoil is usually 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.

Everyone sat around a table that was inside a temporary hearing loop, and each person had a chance to try out a hearing loop receiver to test the clarity of sound.  After letting us know that he’d written an article on hearing loops that had been published in Canadian Audiologist magazine, Bill later shared it with us.  (See http://canadianaudiologist.ca/breaking-the-2-meter-hearing-bubble/)

We shared our pamphlets on various initiatives we’re involved in, including on hearing loops, plus the tip sheet on activating a telecoil in a hearing aid, which was shared with blog readers in a previous posting.  In case you missed it: audiologists info on t-coil connectivity

CIMG0065 May 17 2018 Audiologists session on hearing loops at Holiday Inn Express Ctown Heidi

Photo: Heidi Eaton. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

A day after the session for audiologists, Dr Heidi Eaton emailed us, explaining that she had planted a seed for hearing loops in Moncton.  “I attended the State of the City of Moncton address today.  There were approximately 150 in attendance, including a number of city councillors. The mayor talked a lot about a Youthful City, low cost of housing, quality of life, downtown Center and growth, proximity to beaches. 

During question period, I discussed the Senior Friendly initiative of the city and asked how the city plans to ensure all of the population is able to enjoy the flourishing downtown culture.  I specifically asked, as an audiologist, the plan for accessibility for the Hard of Hearing population.  I asked about loop systems (i.e at the new Events Center and the Capital Theatre) that are, on the large scale, inexpensive.

After the meeting, the Mayor asked me for information at which time I was able to hand over the loop information pamphlets.  The mayor introduced me to the city manager.  I handed him the same material and offered to connect him with those in the know and to offer support.  There was discussion of sitting on accessibility committee.  The mayor asked to have lunch and discuss this further. All in all, positive.”  Well done, Heidi!  How exciting that the City of Moncton is also considering hearing loops for their public facilities! We wait to hear more about her initiative.

We thank these hearing professionals who took time out of their busy lives to attend this session.  Meanwhile, our Let’s Loop PEI story continues.  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

 

 

West River United Church is Looped

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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)

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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