Holiday Gifts For The Hard of Hearing Featured On CBC

December 7, 2018.  We’ve been busy for the past few weeks preparing for the holidays.  The house has been filled with the aroma of Christmas cookies, as I’ve been neglecting many things in order to have my annual baking frenzy.  My bemused husband keeps saying, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy the cookies?”  Poor guy just doesn’t get it.  Baking is part of the fun, at least for me.

In between baking sessions, Annie Lee and I found time to visit the CBC studio in Charlottetown to share some gifts of interest to those with hearing loss with Angela Walker of Mainstreet PEI.

CIMG2855 Nov 30 2018 at CBC with Angela Walker

Daria Valkenburg, left, and Annie Lee MacDonald, right, at CBC studio in Charlottetown with Angela Walker, standing. (Photo credit: Lee Rosevere)

If you missed the blog posting on holiday gift ideas, you can click here: What Someone With Hearing Loss Might Like For A Holiday Present…..

IMG_2585 Annie Lee and Daria with santa hats

Of course, we got in the spirit of the holidays with Santa hats! (Photo credit: Angela Walker/CBC)

CBC posted the link to the interview with this summary:  “Our friends Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg from the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association drop by the studio with some holiday gift suggestions that could really provide some clarity for loved ones who might have some difficulty hearing.”  See https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/mainstreet-pei/segment/15644737

And CBC posted a web article with 5 gift suggestions, taken from the interview:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-5-things-hard-of-hearing-x-mas-1.4933522

IMG_2583 gifts for the hard of hearing

A selection of holiday gifts ideas for those with hearing loss. (Photo credit: Angela Walker/CBC)

One of the items mentioned in the interview, and in the earlier blog posting, is a chair loop pad.  After treating himself to an early Christmas present, Rheal Leger wrote us about his experience:  “My goodness it works. I hear in both ears – genius device. We have a hideaway bed. I installed the device underneath the cushion. Then I plugged it into the TV and voila. Very easy to install. I could have also put the device under the sofa. For it to work you need to be seated where the device is.  Forgot to mention the TV volume is only at 6 and it’s loud enough trust me. This is a gem. Now I’m looking forward to try it in the car.”  Clarity of sound.  You can’t beat that!

Rheals chair loop photo by rheal

Chair loop pad. (Photo credit: Rheal Leger)

If you have a favourite gift idea for someone with hearing loss, let us know.  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Here is one suggestion for those who love goodies to eat, or for a homemade gift, but don’t have the time or interest in baking…..  CLIA (Community Legal Information Association of PEI) is selling homemade plum puddings as a fundraiser, with half the proceeds going to CLIA and half to the Humane Society.   Annie Lee purchased one, and it arrived beautifully wrapped.  What a great service!   If you want one, contact Pat at 902-566-4388, or send an email to plumpudding@eastlink.ca.

CIMG2850 Nov 30 2018 Annie Lee buys plum pudding from CLIA

Annie Lee MacDonald, left, with Kelly Robinson, Program Coordinator at CLIA. Kelly’s mother Pat Robinson makes the plum puddings. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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 loss. If 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

 

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

The Sound Through A Hearing Loop

November 8, 2018.  Quite often, we’re asked what the difference is in what someone hears within a hearing loop and outside of a hearing loop.  We’ve sent links that others have shared with us, and encouraged people to visit venues on the island that have a hearing loop installed.  During a sound and equipment check for a presentation last week at South Shore United Church in Tryon, Jack Sorensen of the church made a recording for us.  He recorded the presenter, Pieter Valkenburg, as heard through a microphone by the front pew of the church, and as heard through the hearing loop.

Jane Scott and Don Gribble were kind enough to transfer the audio files to a website, which allowed us to provide the links you see below. Can you hear the difference in sound quality?

looped vs non looped

What was recorded through the microphone by the front pew of the church: 

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0013pieternonloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

What was recorded through the hearing loop:

https://soundcloud.com/user-82887253/zoom0012pieterloopedmp3?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email

Several blog postings have been written on hearing loops and there is a site page on this blog for places on the island where a hearing loop has been installed (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/places-on-pei-equipped-with-a-hearing-loop/).

While we are at the beginning of looping projects on the island, other places have been very creative in making sure accessibility for those with hearing loss is a priority.  Previous postings have mentioned a number of places around the world.  This time, here is a link to a story about shoppers in one store in Maryland who can choose the ‘hearing loop lane’ when it’s time to pay!  See http://www.baltimoresun.com/bs-bz-wegmans-hearing-loops-20160116-story.html

Thank you to Jack, Jane, and Don for their help with the sound files.  Do you have a hearing loss issue you’d like to share?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

November Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids).  The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.

Presentation:  Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.

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

 

© Daria Valkenburg

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

LoopPEI_logo-P2

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

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

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

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

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

Events in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop

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

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

PRESENTATION: Senate of Canada 150 Medal recipient Pieter Valkenburg will speak about the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7 pm on Friday, November 2, 2018 This event is co-hosted by South Shore United Church and Tryon & Area Historical Society.

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

We’d like to hear from you if you’ve tried a hearing loop.  And we’d like to know what places on PEI you’d like to see looped.  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on our blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

Don’t miss our upcoming events:   

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

We will be in Montague on October 27, 2018!  We will have a table at the 7th Annual Learning and Caring for Ourselves Conference, an event hosted by the Seniors Secretariat of PEI on Saturday, October 27, 9 am-3 pm at Montague Regional High School.  See https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/event/learning-and-caring-ourselves-conference-0 for more information on this event.

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

© Daria Valkenburg

Congratulations to Nancy MacPhee on her 2018 Inclusion Award

October 19, 2018.  Last Sunday, the City of Charlottetown gave out the 2018 Inclusion Awards, which recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses who try to be inclusive and in that way contribute to the city.  Recipients are chosen based on nominations and selections by the city’s Civic Board for Persons with Disabilities.

Among this year’s recipients was speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee.  The citation for her well deserved award explained why she had been nominated:

Nancy MacPhee volunteers her time and expertise as a speech reading instructor, teaching speech reading courses for members of the public. Over the past three years, Nancy has taught several 10-week courses, and has improved social interaction and self-confidence for all of the participants. She is a passionate advocate for those who have hearing loss and has been a member of the leadership team for numerous workshops and training sessions for workers and the general public. She also coaches Special Olympics curling in Charlottetown.

IMG_0980 Nancy MacPhee receives 2018 Inclusion Award blog

Councillor Mitchell Tweel, left, chairman of the city’s Civic Board for Persons with Disabilities, and Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee, right, presented Nancy MacPhee, centre, with her Inclusion Award. (Photo courtesy of City of Charlottetown)

Thank you to Jennifer Gavin for sharing the photo of Nancy receiving her award. Congratulations to Nancy!

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.  See https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/event/learning-and-caring-ourselves-conference-0 for more information on this event.

Upcoming Event in a Looped Venue: 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.  Note: this venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss.  If you haven’t experienced the clarity of sound that you hear through a hearing loop, this is your opportunity.  Email dariadv@yahoo.ca for more info.

© Daria Valkenburg

Would You Wear Glasses?

October 18, 2018.  Glasses have been in the news lately.  Do you wear glasses?  I do, and since I love to see where I’m going, I wouldn’t be without them.  So what’s new with glasses?

If you enjoy going to the movies, then you may have noticed that on PEI they have a closed captioning system you can ask for when you buy your ticket.  This little device sits in the cup holder and you can then swivel your head back and forth between what’s on the big screen and then down to the cup holder to see what is being said.  It works.

In many other places, there are closed captioning screens on either side of the big screen.  If you go to an opera, then you know what I’m talking about.  The opera is sung in one language, with surtitles displayed in the language of the audience (ie English) so you know what the singers are saying.

Now you can borrow Smart Caption Glasses that operate like 3-D.  You look at the big screen at the movies, and the closed captioning is displayed right in front of your very eyes.  No need to swivel your head, as the captions are right in your line of vision!  See https://hackaday.com/2018/10/14/glasses-for-the-hearing-impaired/ for more information and watch a short video (which has closed captioning).  Absolutely fascinating!

That’s the future, and it’s an exciting one that makes the world become more inclusive.  However, there is a long way to go, as I found out in an article I recently read in The Economist.  In parts of Asia, there are many people who earn their living not by receiving a wage, but by doing piecework.  One example used is that of people working in a garment factory who are paid by each piece successfully completed.  My maternal grandmother worked in a garment factory, so the article caught my attention.

Here’s what the gist of the article was about…..Older adults, whose vision is no longer as good as it once was, are not able to be as productive because they can’t see well.  The solution? Give them a pair of glasses.  For those who accepted the glasses, productivity increased by 39%.  A no-brainer, you’d think, right?  If being able to see increases your earnings, wouldn’t you want a pair of glasses?

The problem?  Many people don’t want to wear glasses!  They think it makes them look ‘ugly’! Some countries have regulatory hurdles, where glasses can only be provided by licenced practitioners. No going to the local pharmacy or dollar store for a pair of ‘readers’.  Read the article for yourself at https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2018/08/02/wear-glasses-earn-more.

The Economist article made me think of how many of us avoid dealing with hearing loss.  We pretend we can hear fine, we avoid going out as often, and we can find it difficult to adjust to the fact that hearing aids and other assistive listening devices are now part of our lives.  With all the new tools and research coming out, we should be embracing how lucky we are to be living at a time when so many people are trying to help and find solutions!

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.  See https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/event/learning-and-caring-ourselves-conference-0 for more information on this event.

Upcoming Event in a Looped Venue: 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.  Note: this venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss.  If you haven’t experienced the clarity of sound that you hear through a hearing loop, this is your opportunity.  Email dariadv@yahoo.ca for more info.

Event in Venue Equipped With A Hearing Loop:  UPCOMING PRESENTATION: Sorensen Christmas Concert at South Shore United Church in Tryon, 7:30 pm on Friday, December 7, 2018.  Freewill offering, beneficiary will be South Shore United Church. This venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss. If you have never heard the clarity of sound through a hearing loop, this is an opportunity to try it out.

© Daria Valkenburg

“Living and Thriving With Hearing Loss” Presentation

October 12, 2018.  Whenever possible, we accept speaking engagements as it’s a chance to participate in outreach events and let people know that anyone with hearing loss can have a wonderful life, even if you don’t hear every word.

Last week, we were invited to be guest speakers at the Speaker-A-Night class at Donagh Regional Community School.  This was a great opportunity, as not everyone in the class had hearing loss. We shared our own hearing loss journeys, gave some tips for better communication, and a general awareness of how people can have their hearing affected.  And we introduced the class to the pocket talker, an assistive listening tool that helps amplify sound.

Living & thriving with hearing loss presentation

Presentation made by Daria Valkenburg and Annie Lee MacDonald

The class of 16 participants was engaged and a delight to be with.  The evening just flew by.

CIMG2659 Oct 2 2018 Donagh Community School presentation

Participants at the Speaker-A-Night class at Donagh Regional Community School. Annie Lee stands at the back of the classroom. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The evening was very successful, and everyone enjoyed themselves, including the presenters!  Our thanks go to Theresa Laverty, who sent us feedback, saying “Everyone in the class thought you ladies did a great job and we all commented on how much information you brought us that we were unaware of.”  And we received the note below from Barb MacFarlane, the Community School Coordinator at Donagh Regional School:

CIMG2660 Oct 2 2018 note from Donagh Community School re presentation

Thank you note from Barb MacFarlane, Community School Coordinator.

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.

Upcoming Event in a Looped Venue: 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.  Note: this venue is equipped with a hearing loop for the benefit of those with hearing loss.  If you haven’t experienced the clarity of sound that you hear through a hearing loop, this is your opportunity.  Email dariadv@yahoo.ca for more info.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

South Shore United Church is Looped

LoopPEI_logo-P2

May 24, 2018.  When the Let’s Loop PEI Project began, we had no idea what was needed to loop a building.  We only knew that hearing loops worked and would be of use to a number of people.  Not surprisingly, churches were receptive to the idea of a hearing loop.  Many have parishioners with hearing loss who have either stopped making the effort to come to church due to difficulties in hearing, or do come to church but are unable to follow the service.

Many churches have excellent sound amplification systems.  Sadly, for people with severe hearing loss, the best sound system still won’t help with clarity and the ability to understand what is being said. Louder doesn’t mean better!  Some churches provide copies of the sermon to those with hearing loss, others have presentations on a screen.  There had to be a better solution, thought a number of churches.

After we received a grant from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) Foundation to pay the travel costs of bringing in expertise to train volunteers in how to loop their facility to an international standard IEC60118 compliant hearing loop’, we contacted a few places to gauge their interest in participating, willingness to provide volunteers to do the work under supervision, and willingness to pay the installation costs of the materials needed to loop a venue.  Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions agreed to provide the expertise.

South Shore United Church in Tryon was willing to participate, had two volunteers – Jack Sorensen and Pieter Valkenburg – and the funding to pay their installation costs.  This posting summarizes the steps taken from conception to completion.

Step 1: The Field Survey

The church was sent a sheet in which questions about the site were asked, including the floor plan, building dimensions, building construction information, ceiling height and construction, whether seating was fixed or moveable, location of sound system, and types of microphones used.

On a cold day in March, the two volunteers and I met to complete this survey.

CIMG9889 Mar 18 2018 view of pews from stage proposed loop area is on right SSUC sanctuary

Daria Valkenburg with Jack Sorensen in South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Step 2: The EMI Test

A test for electromagnetic interference (EMI) was next, and done twice in April.  Bill explained that “EMI is essentially noise, typically heard as a hum that just sits in the background. If it’s excessive (> -32dB), it’s annoying and causes the hearing loop installation to not comply with the IEC standard. In such cases, the loop itself would be quite fine but the facility itself fails to meet the standard.

First, Brenda Porter, whose hearing aids have activated telecoils, came and checked whether she heard any hums or other noises when the electrical equipment and sound system were turned on.  No noise, which was a good sign.

CIMG9949 Apr 10 2018 Jack and Brenda at SSUC testing T switch

Jack Sorensen with Brenda Porter during the EMI test using the telecoils in her hearing aids. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Bill sent us a device for a more accurate test of electromagnetic interference, so a few weeks later, volunteer Pieter Valkenburg tested the church.  The test confirmed Brenda’s experience of no sound interference.

cimg9975-apr-24-2018-emi-test-ssuc-pieter-in-central-aisle.jpg

Pieter Valkenburg doing EMI test at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 3: The Site Evaluation

In May, Bill Droogendyk arrived on the island, and did the formal site evaluation with a group of volunteers. Wires were temporarily strung in the area to be looped, while testing was done.  Bill explained that the site evaluation is “done to determine physical measurements, usage (seating arrangements), EMI, loop performance constraints (largely due to metal loss) for uniform sound volume and sound frequency – all with view on how to design an IEC60118 compliant hearing loop” Metal absorbs sound and, if not taken into account, can lead to a ‘dead zone’ for sound.

A decision was then made on the type of loop driver (amplifier) needed for the best sound.  As the church hosts a number of musical events, a loop driver capable of providing clarity for music was chosen.

CIMG0015 May 14 2018 Site survey SSUC

Pieter Valkenburg (left) and Jack Sorensen (right) loop wire between the pew rows during the site survey at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

CIMG0026 May 14 2018 Site survey SSUC

Left to right: Tom Barnes, Jack Sorensen, Bill Droogendyk, Phil Pater, Pieter Valkenburg. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 5:  Wiring The Sanctuary

Based on the loop design determined by the site evaluation, Jack and Pieter spent hours on the floor of the sanctuary South Shore United Church, stapling wires under pews and then burying any visible wires between the floorboards so that no wires were exposed.  By the way, if you were wondering, they made sure the staples didn’t go through the wire.  They did it right the first time.  And the wiring is basically invisible, as you can see from the photo below.

CIMG0062 May 16 2018 can you spot the wire between the floorboards at SSUC

The loop wire went into a crack between two floorboards in the exposed areas of the sanctuary. Can you spot which crack the wire went in? (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 6:  Hooking the Loop Driver to the Sound System

After the wiring was done, the loop driver (amplifier) was hooked to the church’s sound system and calibrated to the IEC60118 standard for a compliant hearing loop.

CIMG0059 May 16 2018 Bill and Jack hook up the loop driver and calibrate

Bill Droogendyk (left) and Jack Sorensen (right) calibrate the loop driver after it’s been hooked up to the church’s sound system. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

After the technicians said everything worked, it was time for someone with hearing loss to give a verdict.  As no one had tested a pocket talker that had a telecoil built in it, that was chosen for a test of the hearing loop.  I tried it in various parts of the looped area and it worked perfectly.

CIMG0058 May 16 2018 Daria tests the hearing loop at SSUC

Thumbs up for a successful hearing loop installation at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

CIMG0056 May 16 2018 Jack Pieter Bill at SSUC post installation

Smiles all around for a job well done! Left to right: Jack Sorensen, Pieter Valkenburg, Bill Droogendyk. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Step 7:  Post Signage

The last step in the installation was to post signs advising that the hearing loop was installed.  Stickers were placed on the pews in the looped area, and a notice with the universal logo indicating a telecoil was installed was given to the Church secretary for inclusion in the weekly bulletins.

Hearing Loop System Installed At

A brochure on the ways to access a hearing loop was printed, with publication costs for the brochures paid for by a grant from the PEI Seniors Secretariat.  (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for this same information.)

This was an amazing experience and everyone learned a lot about hearing loops.  Our thanks to the volunteers, CHHA Foundation, PEI Seniors Secretariat, and to Bill and Wilma Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions for making this installation possible.

Our Let’s Loop PEI story continues in the next blog posting.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events

Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop:  Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop

Like the work we do?  Consider a donation to help us do more.  100% of your donation stays on PEI to help Islanders.  We now have a page at the Canada Helps website: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708

© Daria Valkenburg

We Try Out The Loop Access Devices

LoopPEI_logo-P2

May 15, 2018.  The Let’s Loop PEI project officially launched yesterday with the first day of an informational workshop, led by Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions, on what a hearing loop actually is and how it works, followed by a site survey at South Shore United Church in Tryon.

CIMG0015 May 14 2018 Site survey SSUC

Pieter Valkenburg (left) and Jack Sorensen (right) loop wire between the pew rows during the site survey at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

A temporary loop was set up in the classroom where the workshops are being held, and I had a chance to try out the hearing loop receiver.  It didn’t work for me, so I was a bit disappointed. That’s when it was confirmed that I have no technological brain!  In order for the receiver to work, you have to first turn it on (duh!) and, second, the receiver has to be in an upright, not a horizontal position.  Once those two points were corrected, it was UNBELIEVABLE!  How do you describe a reaction that’s both astonishment and delight?  The clarity of sound was indescribable!

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

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

We were getting excited about the possibilities and eager to try out more of the ways to access a hearing loop.  Annie Lee MacDonald, who has an iPhone, had downloaded the app (see https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/loopbuds/id1111272148?mt=8).   Bill had brought along the special earbuds, OTOjOY, needed to access the hearing loop with the iPhone app.  The telecoil is in the earbuds.  Success!

Loop buds for iPhone (2)

Next, Brenda Porter, whose hearing aids have an activated T-coil switch, tried the hearing loop.  Another success!

We still have to try out the special pocket talker, something to look forward to in today’s workshop. Stay tuned!

Check our upcoming events page for information on a public information session coming up on Friday, May 18, 2018 at 7 pm at West River United Church in Cornwall, where you can experience the hearing loop, have any questions answered, and if needed, purchase a receiver, pocket talker, or the OTOjOY earbuds. You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events

© Daria Valkenburg

The Let’s Loop PEI Project

April 26, 2018. One of the objectives of the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association is to encourage hearing accessibility.  Let’s Loop PEI is a project to encourage the installation of hearing loops in public places.  Over the years, people with hearing loss had experienced them at conferences off the island and found they made an enormous difference in what was heard.

What is a hearing loop?  How do you explain something you’ve never installed?  “Well, it’s a wire that goes around an area that feeds from the speaker system and sends the sound signal through the wire to create a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by a cochlear implant or hearing aid when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting, or through a listening device.  It’s magical.

photo of looping system

Diagram of a basic hearing loop system

If you went Huh? after reading that, here it is in a nutshell:  A hearing loop is like having WiFi for people with hearing loss. With WiFi, you are connected anywhere in the world, through your electronic device, as long as you are in the WiFi designated area.  You don’t need special cords to access, you only turn the setting on your device to access the WiFi offered.  The same technology for WiFi is available here on Prince Edward Island as it is anywhere in the world.

A hearing loop works on basically the same principle, although of course it’s not an internet.  Like WiFi, a hearing loop is inconspicuous, and any number of users within the looped area can use the system. People can discreetly adjust a setting on their hearing aid or cochlear implant to access the looped area, much like you would access a WiFi setting.

To give you an idea of the difference in sound with a hearing loop, here are two YouTube videos that demonstrate what a person with hearing loss experiences with or without a looping system.  Check it out for yourselves:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahbz0VvlZF0 (Asking for directions at a subway booth in the New York Subway System)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3XoVrUjfaY (Listening to a hymn in church)

Per the 2012 to 2015 Canadian Health Measures Survey, 40% of Canadians have some degree of hearing loss!  (See https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2016001/article/14658-eng.htm)  As of April 23, 2018, the population of Canada is 36,892,069, based on United Nations estimates.  (See http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/canada-population/).  40% of that figure is 14,756,827.  That’s the potential number of people who can use a hearing loop in Canada.

In PEI, the population as of July 1, 2017 was estimated at 152,021. (See https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/publication/pei-population-report-2017.) 40% of the province’s population is 60,808.  And this doesn’t take into account the number of tourists with hearing loss who visit and attend various events during the summer months.

Several places were interested in the project, but with no one having international certification on the island, the project sat on the back burner for a few years.  While members had used a hearing loop, no one had a clue how it worked or what was needed to properly install one.  Hearing loops are not new on the island.  A number of places had installed them several decades ago, but then either removed them or forgot about them.

The project moved forward this year when the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association Foundation (CHHA Foundation) gave a grant to bring in looping expertise to train a few volunteers and have a few places looped so that people could have tangible proof of the difference a hearing loop can make.  Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions was asked if he would be willing to help make the Let’s Loop PEI project a reality, and he said yes.

The Let’s Loop PEI project begins in May, starting with the South Shore United Church in Tryon.

Mar 18 2018 Pieter Jack Karen in sanctuary

Volunteers for the Lets Loop PEI Project at South Shore United Church in Tyron: Pieter Valkenburg and Jack Sorensen with Rev. Dr. Karen MacLeod-Wilkie. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In the next blog entry, we’ll go through some of the questions and answers about hearing loops and the installation of a looped system in a public space.  In the meantime, if you’d like to read further on this topic, here is a link to an article written by social psychologist David Myer about why he feels churches should be installing hearing loops in churches: https://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/david-g-myers-on-hearing-loss-in-worship-an-invisible-disability

Have you been in a place with a hearing loop?  Please share your experience!  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

Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events

© Daria Valkenburg