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.

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.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Advertisements

Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI

January 14, 2019.  As a non-profit organization run by volunteers, we depend on grants and donations to help provide outreach and educational activities that build awareness of issues related to hearing health and hearing loss.  Last year, the Seniors Secretariat of PEI awarded us a grant we’d requested for seminars.  We had a session with Dr. David Morris on cochlear implants (See Successful ‘Demystifying Cochlear Implants’ Seminar In Charlottetown), a session with Dr Heidi Eaton on Tinnitus, and were able to provide brochures on how to access a hearing loop (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop ).

With the increased number of events we’ve been invited to attend or speak at, this year we requested, and were awarded, funding for the printing of informational brochures on various topics around hearing loss. In addition to the list of topics we are already working on, suggestions for additional topics to consider are welcome.

cimg2859 nov 30 2018 with pei sr secretariat

Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald with members of the Seniors Secretariat of PEI. Seated, left to right: Alma MacDougall, Farida Chishti, Audrey Morris, Sister Norma Gallant. Standing, left to right: Paul H Schurman, Lorna Jenkins, Isabelle Christian, Elaine Campbell, Shirley Pierce, Daria, Annie Lee. (Photo credit: Shelly Cole)

The Seniors Secretariat of PEI was formed in 1998 as an entry point for seniors to collaborate with government on matters relating to seniors, their issues and concerns; to act as a resource and information centre and to advise government on the development of public policy. Members come from the general public as well as various non-profit organizations that represent seniors.

At the end of November we were able to thank the members of the Seniors Secretariat of PEI in person for the grant as they invited us to give a presentation on the project with the Law Foundation of PEI, which is now finished.  This allowed us to speak not only about the ways in which the legal community on PEI is now better prepared to communicate with clients who have hearing loss, but to give an overview on hearing loss, and give the members of the Secretariat a chance to try out a pocket talker.

law foundation presentation to sr sec nov 30 2018

Presentation made to the Seniors Secretariat of PEI on the project with the Law Foundation of PEI was very well received.

We’re still on our winter break, but spring is hopefully around the corner.  Here is a reminder of upcoming events:

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.  To register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

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

© Daria Valkenburg

2018 Advocacy and Public Relations Report

year in review blog

January 3, 2019.  With a busy year in 2018 ended and a new year beginning in 2019, this is a good time to summarize the activities and accomplishments for 2018 for our small group of volunteers who have hearing loss.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

  1. The Aural Report blog, which you are currently reading, began in 2017 and has continued. Reports are not only made on various activities in PEI, but also information on new research and new products is provided. There are also separate pages for Upcoming Events, Places on PEI with a Hearing Loop, and Lawyers Who Have Pocket Talkers. In August, a Speakers Bureau page began, with information for people wanting to invite one of us to give a presentation.
  2. In April 2018 a Twitter account: @HearPEI opened. Summaries of upcoming events or items of interest posted on the blog are tweeted.
  3. We were interviewed on CBC Radio’s Mainstreet PEI several times, reaching a wider audience, including outside the province:
  • March 29, 2018 – Annie Lee MacDonald and Nancy MacPhee on the speech reading program.
  • April 25, 2018 – Annie Lee and Daria Valkenburg on the Tinnitus Seminar in May with Dr Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology.
  • May 2018 – Several members were interviewed when West River United Church hosted the launch of the church being looped.
  • July 12, 2018 – Daria interviewed on the Law Foundation of PEI project to improve communications with the legal community.
  • November 30, 2018: Annie Lee and Daria interviewed on holiday gifts for the hard of hearing.

OUTREACH

  1. As part of our outreach activities, members provided the following presentations:
  • February 27, 2018 –invited by Charlottetown Airport Authority to give seminar on best practices for transportation service providers who deal with customers who have a hearing loss of any kind. Annie Lee, Nancy, and Debra Leuty participated.
  • June 7, 2018 –invited by Andrews of Charlottetown to give a presentation on the ‘Pardon Me What Did You Say?’ booklet. Brenda Porter, Nancy, and Daria participated.
  • June 23, 2018 – invited by the Law Society of PEI to report on the project with the Law Foundation at the Law Society’s Annual General Meeting. Annie Lee and Daria participated.
  • October 2, 2018 – invited by Donagh Community School to be guest speakers at a Speaker-A-Night course. Annie Lee and Daria participated with a presentation on “Living and Thriving With Hearing Loss”.
  • November 30, 2018: Annie Lee and Daria invited by Senior Secretariat of PEI to give a presentation on the Law Foundation of PEI pocket talker project with lawyers.
  1. As another part of our outreach activities, we participate by hosting an information booth or table at various conferences:
  • April 20, 2018 – invited by Prince Edward Gerontological Nursing Association to have a table at their Annual Education Day in Charlottetown. Annie Lee, Daria, Brenda, and Nancy participated.
  • June 22-23, 2018 – invited by Law Society of PEI to have a table at their professional development day and annual general meeting. Annie Lee and Daria participated.
  • October 27, 2018 – invited by Senior Secretariat of PEI to have a table at their Learning and Caring For Ourselves conference in Montague. Annie Lee and Daria participated.
  1. Another of our outreach activities is to recognize community members who help in furthering hearing accessibility in one way or another.
  • March 21, 2018 – Annie Lee and Daria were judges for our specialty prize, the “Listen To This” Award, which comes with a $25 prize, at the PEI Science Fair. This year’s prize was awarded to Grade 10 Bluefield High School student Ahnais Young, of Bonshaw, for her project “Auditory and Cerebral Hemispheric Lateralization in Relation to Handedness”.

EDUCATION

  1. As part of our education activities, we try to host seminars or information evenings.
  • May 12, 2018 – THERE IS HOPE: Understanding & Managing Your Tinnitus”, presented by audiologist Dr. Heidi Eaton at the Seniors Active Living Centre in Charlottetown.
  • 3 MED-EL related seminars in May were advertised but had to be cancelled due to insufficient enrollment.
  • May 2018 – held an info session on hearing loops for audiologists, presented by Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions.
  1. Additional educational/information materials were developed this year:
  • Info brochure on hearing loops and how to access a loop
  • Info sheet for audiologists on how to activate a T-coil
  • Info brochure for clients in law offices explaining a pocket talker is available
  • Info brochure for general public with tips for communicating with professionals and explaining about the pocket talker option
  • Tip sheet for presenters who speak to those with hearing loss – this was originated and developed by Brenda
  1. Articles by Daria were published in County Line Courier, with some also in Summerside Citizen:
  • April – “Listen To This” Prize Awarded At 2018 PEI Science Fair
  • April – Hope and Help for Those Afflicted With Tinnitus
  • May/June – The Let’s Loop PEI Project
  • July – The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop
  • August – Kudos For Let’s Loop PEI Project
  • October – How I Wish I Had Listened To My Parents!
  • December – Thinking Of A Holiday Gift For Someone With Someone With Hearing Loss?
  • December – I Can’t Hear You If I Can’t See You

FUNDRAISING AND GRANTS

Fundraising is important as there are many outreach activities we are asked to participate in that are not covered by grants.

  • May 27, 2018 – Bonshaw Hall hosted a ceilidh fundraiser, at the request of Marion Toole.
  • In May, thanks to Jane Scott of Ottawa, we now have a Canada Helps donation page, which allows people to donate by credit card from the comfort of their home and from anywhere. This is in addition to accepting cash or cheques.

Grants applied for and awarded in 2018:

  • $5,000 from CHHA Foundation for the Let’s Loop PEI Project
  • $3,200 from Law Foundation of PEI for the pocket talker project with law community
  • $1,000 from Senior Secretariat of PEI for publications (not yet received)

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

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Congratulations To Fall 2018 Speechreading Grads

December 2, 2018.  The fall session of Level 1 Speechreading is now over, with 8 graduates.  This session was held at the Seniors Active Living Centre, and was very successful, with a lot of interest in Level 2 and another session of Level 1.

Class photo Fall 2018 SALC Level 1

Fall 2018 Speechreading graduates, from left to right: N. Bondt, H.W. Boggs, N. Smith, B. Bain, N. Gorman, E. Kitchener, S. Beaton, M. Dempster. (Photo credit: Nancy MacPhee)

Evaluation comments were overwhelmingly positive:

  • Completely enjoyed this course.
  • This course met my expectations and I learned a lot, not just about speechreading but information about hearing loss.
  • I was totally amazed at what was available for the hard of hearing.
  • A most worthwhile course. Very informative and educational.
CIMG2835 Nov 26 2018 Nancy & Annie Lee sign speechreading certificates

Every graduate received a certificate of completion, signed by Nancy MacPhee (left) and Annie Lee MacDonald (right). (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Instructor Nancy MacPhee provided the following report:  “During the summer of 2018, Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg had a discussion with the Seniors Active Living Center (SALC) in the Bell Aliant Center about using a room there for speechreading classes.   After further conversations and giving details of the speechreading program to manager Debbie Hood, Debbie presented the information to the SALC board of directors. They unanimously approved the idea of allowing the use of a room to run classes.

Speechreading Level 1 at SALC started September 25th, with eight students enrolled, all of whom successfully completed the course November 27th. This was the largest class to date, and they were a very engaged and dynamic ensemble.  It was a tremendous and very interactive ten weeks.

There was also an evening class (for people who are not free during the day), as well as a Level 2 offered, at the Sobeys Community Room, but there was not enough enrollment.  All those who applied are on a waiting list and will be contacted for the Spring 2019 sessions.  If you would like to put your name on the list, please send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

For more information about the speechreading program please see: https://www.chha.ca//sren/description.php  or https://www.chha.ca/resources/speech-reading/

Congratulations to all the graduates and to Nancy for another successful session.  Our thanks go to Seniors Active Living Centre for providing space for the course. If you’ve taken this course and would like to add to the evaluations already posted above, please do so.  Your comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.  We are also on Twitter @HearPEI.

Don’t forget! Next Speechreading session begins in the spring of 2019. 

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

  • Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING CONCERT: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 7, 2018.  “The Shepherds Were the First to Hear”, held in the sanctuary. Lunch and a time for Christmas socializing will follow the concert. Admission is a freewill offering which will be donated to the Church Building Fund. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing lossIf you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.
  • Event in Venue with Real Time Captioning and a temporary hearing loop: The PEI Human Rights Commission & Town of Stratford are hosting Human Rights Day 2018 at Stratford Town Hall, Monday, December 10, 2018, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. This year’s event is to celebrate 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to introduce the new vertical $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond of Nova Scotia.  This event will have real time captioning available for the benefit of those with hearing loss, as well as a temporary hearing loop so you can experience the clarity of sound We will be there to answer any questions as well.

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

Do You Wish You Had Listened To Your Parents?

October 5, 2018.  At a recent meeting, our guest speaker was Mike Smith, publisher of the County Line Courier, who shared his hearing loss story.

CIMG2650 Sep 25 2018 CHHA PEI meeting Mike Smith with Annie Lee

Mike Smith, Publisher of County Line Courier, with Annie Lee MacDonald. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

An avid guitarist, Mike followed the path of many musicians who have hearing loss after exposure to loud music. (Huey Lewis made this announcement earlier in the year: https://www.today.com/health/huey-lewis-announces-hearing-loss-cancels-2018-performances-t127072. A list of 12 musicians with hearing loss is discussed at https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52318-Hear-this-12-celebrity-musicians-with-hearing-loss).

While we hear of rock stars from the 1960s now coming forward, classical musicians can suffer even more damage to their ears.  Why? They tend to practice more often, and longer, so have more exposure! (See http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/04/30/musicians-hearing-loss)

Mike Smith with guitar

Mike Smith wishes he had listened to his parents!

Mike told us how he wished he had listened to his parents “when they kept telling me ‘If you keep playing that loud music, you’re going to go deaf!’ Who knew they were right?”  Anyone who grew up in the 60s can relate!

My own father kept telling me “turn down that noise!” and if I didn’t, he’d shut off the stereo.  Poor man didn’t understand that rock music HAD to be listened at full volume!  These were the days before earbuds.  Parents could keep some control.

But for Mike, these lessons learned came too late.  He explained that he first realized he had a hearing loss while in his mid-30s.  “I kept turning the TV louder, twice as loud as the rest of the family members did.

To offset problems hearing music, he bought a new stereo.  “I couldn’t hear voices on the one I had, and it was no different with the new stereo.  I took it back to the store.

Eventually he went for a hearing test.  “I learned that the high end frequency of my hearing is missing”, meaning higher pitched sounds are no longer heard.  It took 15 years, though, before he took the step of getting a hearing aid. One regret?  “I don’t remember my parents’ funerals as I couldn’t hear the service.   This was pre-hearing aid.

Even with a hearing aid, Mike explained that he still faces challenges.  “The office is hard to work in, as it’s a noisy environment. I can’t really hear the editor, who sits not far from me.  Nor can I hear what is going on in the printing area, which is in a separate room.  I have to go to them when I need to communicate.”  Everyone present at the meeting could relate to that!  “In business, people don’t understand”, he explained.  “I have 6 grandchildren, and they don’t really understand why I can’t always hear what they are saying. Luckily, hearing loss hasn’t affected my ability to play guitar.

Now Mike wants to warn young people about listening or playing music too loud.  “At the age of 17, I thought I knew everything.  I didn’t.”  He isn’t alone.  Today’s youth are at risk from sound going directly into the ear through earbuds, which sit closer to the ear drum. The louder music is played, the more damage can be caused. (See http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/earbud-generation-hearing-loss-1.4658336

We appreciated Mike’s frankness in telling his story.  Do you have a hearing loss story to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Don’t miss our upcoming events: 

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

Don’t Be Afraid To Travel If You Have Hearing Loss

August 3, 2018.  As summer races by, many of us are busy travelling.  When you have hearing loss, sometimes travel can be a bit challenging.  At our May meeting, two intrepid ladies shared travel tips from recent trips made to Malta and Australia, making us long to pack our suitcases and start on an adventure off the island.

Brenda Graves, who visited Malta and Sicily with her husband Stuart this spring, noted that “the close quarters, upholstery, and carpeting found on modern airplanes muffle sounds, making hearing what is being said difficult.”  Brenda, whose hearing loss includes high frequency sounds, found that the increasing number of male flight attendants, with their deeper voices, were easier to understand.  She went on to explain that “As a senior lady, I have found that female flight attendants will lean closer to be heard.

Brenda also stressed that not all activities require you to hear well, and showed us photos from a Good Friday pageant in Malta.  “It was quite the occasion!” she noted.

DSC_0089

Good Friday pageant in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

Besides flying by plane, Brenda travelled on a ferry to Sicily, to see Mt Etna.  She explained that “Modern ferries are quiet, with minimal vibration.  Sound systems are good and the crew members are quick to repeat announcements, and escort passengers on deck during rough crossings.

She also took a bus tour, and was happy to find that “Our tour bus was modern and quiet.  Our guide spoke four languages quite clearly and loud enough to be heard, even without the sound system.

In addition to the bus tour, Brenda travelled on Hop On Hop Off buses, saying they were an excellent way to get a taste of tourist spots.”  Her advice?  “If there is a guide, try to sit on the upper level near the guide at the front.  Some buses have audio earbuds with an adjustable volume.  Do not sit on the lower level at the back of the bus, as engine noise and vibration make hearing quite difficult.

P1000861

View from Hop On Hop Off bus in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

A favourite photo of her trip to Malta reinforced that travel doesn’t always require you to have perfect hearing.  “Me ankle deep in the Mediterranean Sea at St. Paul’s Bay, while back home people were ankle deep in snow!

P1000874

Brenda Graves dips her toes in the Mediterranean Sea in Malta. (Photo courtesy of Graves family collection.)

We thoroughly enjoyed the presentation Brenda Graves shared with us on Malta.  She’ll be invited back after her next trip!  But, we had more enjoyment to come, with a presentation by Brenda Porter on her trip to Australia with her partner Gerry Gray.

Brenda explained that Australia was a “once in a lifetime trip” for them, and allowed them to visit Gerry’s cousin in Adelaide, as well as see many sights in this beautiful country.  Preparation was key, and she said they “booked a hotel room in Vancouver both coming and going so that we could have a good rest before the long 15 hour flight from Vancouver to Sydney.”  At each stage she made sure that she “indicated when booking flights and guided tours that I was Hard of Hearing.  I polished up my Hard of Hearing button, and packed all the tools for cleaning hearing aids and replacement bits.

CIMG7617 Jun 27 2017 HOH buttons for sale

After sharing her tips for travel preparation, we learned some good tips for how she managed en route to their destinations.  “I checked all signage in airports and public transit, and confirmed the information. Upon entering the aircraft, I let the flight attendant know that I would need to be advised of critical announcements.

Once in Australia, Brenda “advised hotel desk personnel, tour guides, waiters in restaurants, etc., that I wear two hearing aids and would require clear articulation and eye contact.  I made certain to repeat back information re times and locations to be sure that I had it right.  I always looked for a corner table or the quietest spot in restaurants and was prepared to make errors and laugh.”  This last tip is essential.  Anyone who travels needs a good sense of humour, whether they have hearing loss or not!

She noted four particular challenges during the trip:

  1. Fatigue! “My solution was to try and find rest time each day.”  Good advice.  Those of us with hearing loss know how difficult it can be to concentrate on hearing when we’re exhausted.
  2. Driving on the left side. Brenda explained that “my ‘good’ ear was away from Gerry, who was the passenger and navigator, and sometimes misunderstood the directions he gave.  The solution was to study maps very carefully in advance, keep my cool, and not panic.
  3. Noise level in Sydney. “The noise in Sydney was very tough as it’s a very busy city.  The solution was to find some quiet time in the room each day.
  4. The Australian accent.

Brenda also had some surprises during the trip…..

There were hearing loops in Sydney Opera House and on Sydney ferries.”  (For a list of places with hearing loops on Prince Edward Island, see here: Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop)

She appreciated that there was “clear signage on Adelaide and Sydney buses re next stops.”  Much better than trying to figure out an announcement!

She noted that there was “generally greater awareness of hard of hearing than here.” Per the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, which is administered by the Department of Health, one in six Australians is affected by hearing loss, and this is expected to increase to one in four by 2050.  Given the expected growth in the demand for hearing services, the Government of Australia says it is focused on improving accessibility of hearing services. (See www.hearingservices.gov.au/)

Wondering about the percentages in Canada?  It’s already higher than in Australia!  According to  the 2012 to 2015 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), 40% of adults aged 20 to 79 had at least slight hearing loss in one or both ears.  Adults aged 60 to 79 were significantly more likely to have hearing loss (78%) compared with younger adults aged 40 to 59 (40%) and 20 to 39 (15%). Males (47%) were significantly more likely to have hearing loss compared with females (32%). (See https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2016001/article/14658-eng.htm.)

Summing up the advice by the two Brendas:

Brenda Graves:  “It’s your vacation.  Enjoy it!

Brenda Porter:  “Travel is wonderful.  Don’t wait.  Plan wisely re fatigue.  And know that people care and want to help.

Brenda’s presentation on Australia and solid tips for preparation were very much appreciated.  We hope she will share insights from future trips!

After these two enjoyable presentations, it was time to celebrate the birthday of Annie Lee MacDonald.

 

Celebrating Annie Lee MacDonald’s birthday.  (Photo credit:  Daria Valkenburg)

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

For more tips on flying with hearing loss, see: https://search.app.goo.gl/adaCz.  Got travel tips for travelling with hearing loss to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© 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!

LoopPEI_logo-P2

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

 

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

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

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

20180709_113044 daria at CBC studio

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

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

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

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

‘They did a big public service’

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

annie-lee-macdonald-with-pocketalker sarah macmillan cbc

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

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

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

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

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

hearing-loss-legal-advice-brochure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg