Hearing Accessibility Tool Now Available At Victim Services Offices in Charlottetown and Summerside

December 5, 2018.  If you’ve ever been the victim of a crime, then you know how stressful it can be to deal with all that follows….. police, maybe a court appearance, lawyers.  If you have hearing loss as well, your stress load can double or triple, depending on what happened.

We need all our faculties just to hear on a daily basis, and anything that can upset us or cause anxiety makes it very difficult to have the concentration needed to focus on hearing.

Over the past two years, a program to improve communication between the legal community and those with hearing loss was made possible by a grant from the Law Foundation of PEI.  As more and more members of the legal community learned about the program they not only willingly participated, but encouraged others to participate as well.  One of the first comments we received came from the Honourable David Jenkins, Chief Justice of PEI, who noted, “Effective sharing of legal information and opportunity for participation in legal proceedings are integral components to access to justice. This initiative to facilitate a better understanding of the law and improved communication for people who are hard of hearing is to be commended.

Navigating a world in which you have been a victim is traumatic, so we were very pleased when Victim Services heard about the program from Kelly Robinson of CLIA PEI and wanted to participate.  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 introduced staff at the Charlottetown office to a portable hearing accessibility tool to amplify sound – a pocket talker.

Susan Maynard, Provincial Manager, Victim Services, explained that “Victim Services is a program of the Department of Justice and Public Safety which assists victims in the aftermath of a crime and throughout their involvement in the criminal justice system.

CIMG2838 Nov 26 2018 Victim Services bought 2 pocket talkers

Seated, left to right: Annie Lee MacDonald; Susan Maynard, Provincial Manager, Victim Services; Darrell Gallant, Alternative Dispute Resolution; Georgina Bowness, Victim Services Worker. Standing, left to right: Daria Valkenburg; Catherine Chaisson, Office of the Childrens’ Lawyer. (Photo taken by Carolyn Peters, Victim Services Worker)

We asked what kind of assistance Victim Services provides, and Susan gave us a summary of the varied and important work done by this office. “Services include:

information about the status of your case and the criminal justice system

– short term counselling and emotional support

– referrals

court preparation

– help in preparing a victim impact statement

– assistance under the ‘Victims of Family Violence’ Act

risk assessment and safety planning

– help to recover financial losses

-coordination of services”

So, if you’re the victim of a crime on PEI and have hearing loss, you’ll be happy to know that Victim Services of the PEI Department of Justice & Public Safety has a pocket talker at the offices in Charlottetown & Summerside. All you have to do is speak up and ask to use one.  Kudos for increasing hearing accessibility!

Contact information for Victim Services: 

  • Queens and Kings Counties: 1 Harbourside Access Rd., Charlottetown, PE. Phone: 902-368-4582.
  • Prince County: Suite 19, 2nd Floor, 263 Harbour Drive, Summerside, PE. Phone: 902-888-8218.

For a list of lawyers on PEI and other members of the law community who have a pocket talker in their office, and who have agreed to have their information posted on the blog, see: https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/pei-lawyers-with-pocket-talkers/

If you would like to participate in this program for improving hearing accessibility, let us know.  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

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 more events.  (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)

© 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.

CIMG1195 Jul 24 2018 CLIA with pocket talker

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

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

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

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

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

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

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

20180709_113044 daria at CBC studio

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

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

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

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

‘They did a big public service’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hearing-loss-legal-advice-brochure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

Improving Communication Between the Legal Community and Those With Hearing Loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Daria Valkenburg

A Pocket Talker Can Open Up Your World

December 11, 2017.  Over the past year, through a grant with the Law Foundation of PEI, our Chapter has been working with PEI lawyers on improving communications with the hard of hearing.  One of the technological tools introduced to them was a simple pocket talker.  The results have been amazing and encouraging and lawyers who have tried using this small device with their clients have not only embraced it, but introduced it to many of their own clients.

Using a tool for better communication makes good business and legal sense, but letting their hard of hearing clients, especially those in seniors’ homes, and friends know about the pocket talker is a valuable community service that lawyers have provided.  We are delighted that the Law Foundation of PEI has funded the program for a second year.

CIMG9657 Dec 4 2017 Law Foundation of PEI Sheila Daria Annie Lee

Law Foundation of PEI Executive Director Sheila Lund MacDonald goes over grant details with Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald.

Several residents in seniors’ homes have since purchased a pocket talker for themselves.  One home, Geneva Villa, called us after a lawyer suggested it might be useful.  After purchasing one pocket talker and giving it to a resident to try out, they ended up buying another as the resident didn’t want to give it back.  It’s amazing what happens when people can hear again.  The world opens up!  Life becomes more interesting and fun when you are able to communicate.

CIMG9677 Dec 11 2017 Geneva Villa Liz Flack Diane McQuaid Annie Lee

Liz Flack and Diane McQuaid of Geneva Villa receive a pocket talker from CHHA PEI President Annie Lee MacDonald (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

So, with the holidays approaching, we at CHHA PEI want to thank not only the lawyers who supported and helped spread the word about tools for better communication, but also the purchasers of pocket talkers who have recommended it to their own friends and relatives.  May 2018 be the year for better hearing on Prince Edward Island!

Next Chapter meeting: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at North Tryon Presbyterian Church

Do you have a story or tip about improving communication when you are hard of hearing? Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

© Daria Valkenburg