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

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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

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.

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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

Spring 2018 Level I Speechreading Graduates

June 16, 2018.  The Spring 2018 Level I Speechreading course was successfully completed by 5 participants, who received their certificates:  David Bruce, Gerry Gray, Gillian Hutchings, Louise Larkin, and Wayne MacNeill.  Congratulations to them, and to instructor Nancy MacPhee for a successful session.

Speechreading Level 1 Spring 2018 graduates

Spring 2018 Level I Speechreading graduates. Left to right: Gerry Gray, Gillian Hutchings, David Bruce, Wayne MacNeill (missing: Louise Larkin) (Photo credit: Nancy MacPhee)

Did you know that speech reading can have a beneficial effect on your brain and your ability to hear, especially with a cochlear implant?  (See https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-brain-responses-lip-reading-benefit-cochlear.html)

This session’s participants were asked for their comments on the course.  Here is a sample:

  • I think this is a valuable course even for someone who hears.  It helps one understand those who do have a hearing problem.
  • Excellent program.
  • Amazing teacher.  Well designed course and well designed classes – lots of variation.

David Bruce shared his impression of the course and was frank about the challenges he faced in learning the new skill of speechreading:  “Instructor Nancy MacPhee can only be considered exceptional.  The delivery of the course from someone with her knowledge of this subject was a plus for me from Day One.

My hearing aid provider informed me during my last visit that that she could not do much more for my right ear and that my left one was getting weaker.  She suggested that I consider taking a speechreading course in the near future, and down the road to look into a cochlear implant. 

The presentations and supplied material provided me with a much expanded understanding of hearing problems and how to personally cope with it.

I found speechreading very difficult.  I gained many clues but see a difficult learning period ahead.  More practice and more courses to come.

I can and will recommend this course to all hearing concerned individuals.”

We all use speechreading to some extent in our daily lives, whether we have hearing loss or not.  Try your own skills with the video included in this article from Great Britain….. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/features/the_lip_reading_challenge.shtml!

The next session of speechreading Level I begins this fall.  If you are interested in being on the contact list, send us an email at hearpei@gmail.com.  What will you learn?  Nancy MacPhee advises that “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.

Have you taken a speechreading class?  Share your experience and help encourage others to learn this valuable skill. You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

A few places on PEI now have a hearing loop installed.  Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop: Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Several lawyers on PEI have a pocket talker on hand as a convenience for their clients with hearing loss.  Follow this link for a list: PEI Lawyers With Pocket Talkers

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

 

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

 

Summer/Fall 2017 Newsletter for CHHA PEI

September 29, 2017. With the first meeting of the fall season over, it’s time to look ahead at upcoming events and to reflect on the activities of the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association over the past months.   You can read the newest edition of our newsletter, The Listening Post, here…..CHHA PEI Newsletter Summer Fall 2017

In the coming months we will:

  • Tour the province with presentations related to our newest publication “Pardon Me, What Did You Say? A Guide to Navigating in the Hard of Hearing World”.
  • Host a seminar on “Demystifying Cochlear Implants” on October 14, a special event with Dr. Morris of Halifax. A modest fee of $20 is charged for this session to help pay for real time captioning.
  • Continue building awareness with the legal community in improving communications with the hard of hearing.

Fundraising:

  • We have pins for sale for $2 each.  See our newsletter for more details.
  • Charitable donations are always welcome to help fund the activities of the chapter. We have no employees, and all work is done on a volunteer basis.

Other upcoming events:

  • With the help of a grant from the Senior Secretariat we are planning a seminar next spring on “Living With Tinnitus”. If you have ideas for other topics of interest to the hard of hearing community, please let us know either by commenting on this blog or by sending an email to us at hearpei@gmail.com.
  • Our neighbours in Moncton are hosting the second Hearing Health New Brunswick day on October 20 at Casino New Brunswick. This is a free event.  For more information and registration, see https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/hearing-health-new-brunswick-2017-tickets-37369421947.
  • Next meeting of CHHA PEI is October 31 at the North Tryon Presbyterian Church in North Tryon, starting at 9:30 am.

Please note that there will NOT be speech reading classes this fall, due to insufficient enrollment.  If you are interested in enrolling in the next available session, let us know.

Do you have a tip or story to share?  Let us know!  Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com.

 © Daria Valkenburg

 

Pocket Talker Pilot Project With PEI’s Legal Community

July 22, 2017.  A few days ago, CHHA PEI Chapter President Annie Lee MacDonald and I were interviewed for CBC’s Island Morning radio broadcast on the pocket talker project for lawyers to improve communication with the hard of hearing, a project funded by the Law Foundation of PEI.  Lawyer Robin Aitken, one of the project participants, was also interviewed.  To access the radio interview, the link is below, as is an accompanying article on the CBC website that follows our blog entry explaining the project.

Radio interview:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1005563459560

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

Photo: Annie Lee MacDonald with pocket talker.  (Photo credit: Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

When you are hard of hearing and have to deal with professional services, such as a lawyer, it can be difficult. The voices are unfamiliar to your ear, terminology may be a barrier, and no one goes to a lawyer just to socialize. Do you admit you can’t really hear what is being said? Should you take along a friend or family member to act as your pair of ears?

With financial support from the Law Foundation of PEI, CHHA PEI is helping to remove some of the stress and barriers to communication when dealing with the legal community, through a pilot project of using assistive listening devices, commonly known as pocket talkers. This device makes it easier for the hard of hearing to communicate.

Lawyers across the island are volunteering to participate in the pilot project, and actively encourage hard of hearing clients to help test this technology. “Confidentiality is very important,” noted several lawyers. Other positive (there have not been any negative ones) comments include: “A technological tool that helps us to communicate better is important.” “It’s a great idea. I can see the need.”

One lawyer noted that he uses the pocket talker himself, as well as for his hard of hearing clients. “I never realized that I myself had a hearing loss!” Another lawyer commented, “I had stopped going to hospitals and nursing homes to see clients, because of the lack of privacy and me having to shout to be heard. Now that my clients in hospitals and nursing homes can put on the pocket talker and we can have a quiet conversation, I am holding meetings there again.”

So far, this has been a win-win project for Island lawyers and for the hard of hearing. As the Chief Justice of PEI notes, “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.”

TIP!  Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions gave us this tip for using a pocket talker: “If you use the Pocketalker with a Neckloop (https://www.williamssound.com/catalog/nkl-001, instead of headphones), then you can hear the Pocket Talker through the hearing aid telecoils – for better sound!”  Thanks Bill!

Do you use a pocket talker?  Have you taken it to a meeting with your lawyer or doctor? Are you a lawyer who has participated in the project?  Let us know!  We need your feedback.  You can comment through this blog, or send us an email to hearpei@gmail.com .

See below for the text of a CBC article that accompanied the radio broadcast:

CBC website article:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-pocketalkers-lawyers-1.4215474

Hard of hearing clients get help talking with lawyers

Pilot project offers lawyers trial with assistive device

By Kevin Yarr, CBC News

Some Island lawyers now have a tool to help them better communicate with people who have hearing loss.

As part of a pilot project, the P.E.I. Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association has distributed 10 assistive listening devices to interested lawyers.

‘This is a very important time in a person’s life.’ – Annie Lee MacDonald

The Pocketalkers allow a person to wear a headset, and amplify a person’s voice.

“If you’re hard of hearing, which I am, you have to depend on assistive devices to ensure that you have the best communication possible when you are chatting with different people,” said P.E.I. Chapter president Annie Lee MacDonald.

“We saw a need there, because this is a very important time in a person’s life, when they’re making some personal decisions regarding the future of their estates, or future of their lives.”

The lawyers will get to use the devices for about three months, and then decide if they would like to buy one.

MacDonald said she has received a lot of positive feedback, and several lawyers have already decided to buy a device. She hopes eventually all Island lawyers will have a Pocketalker.

© Daria Valkenburg