‘A Pocket Talker Changed My Life’

October 2, 2019.  Thanks to a grant from the Seniors Secretariat of PEI for the project “Social Media for Hearing Losses on PEI”, and the brilliant assistance of our post-production editor Wendy Nattress, we have been able to make fully captioned short videos on topics of interest and value to those with hearing loss.  Our first project, “What Is A Car Loop?” with guest Graham Hocking of England has already had an effect beyond the island. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI)

The video also stimulated interest in hearing loops, as noted by Brenda Graves, who sent the following feedback: “Very informative. Too bad banks don’t have loops available for ‘in branch meetings’ or ‘transactions’.”  Perhaps as more people learn about the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop, they will ask more businesses and services for that accommodation.

Our second video, “We Are Your Bridge To Hear” (See We Are Your Bridge To Hear) gave a brief introduction to some of the issues related to hearing loss.

IMG_20190930_083547 Wendy at work on video

Post-production editor Wendy Nattress hard at work with our raw video footage. (Photo credit: Graeme Nattress)

Our third video, “A Pocket Talker Changed My Life” features a dynamic and articulate 95 year old Ruth Brewer was interviewed about her experiences with a pocket talker.  A meeting with Ruth had been the subject of an earlier blog posting.  (See “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

This third video has had a lot of feedback already, which we had expected given the popularity of pocket talkers on the island….

Comment from Brenda Porter: “Excellent video. Very well done. Congrats!

Comment from Nancy MacPhee:  “Great video! Well done, ladies.

Comment from Jane Scott: “I loved it.  Ruth is a gem and what a heart-warming story.

Comment from Ted at ALDS: “WOW actually a double WOW WOW – that is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.  This is a wonderful video. Can I please share this with my rep at Williams Sound, Mike would be thrilled to see this video.  Fantastic!

Teds comment with frame

Screenshot above shows Ted’s additional comment on YouTube: “What a fantastic video and demonstration.  Thank you for sharing.

It was a leap of faith to try doing YouTube videos, but the feedback has been so encouraging we are planning another one!  Please keep the comments coming!  Thank you to Wendy Nattress and Ruth Brewer. As always, you can email us at hearpei@gmail.com,  comment on our blog, and follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

October meeting:  Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 11:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. NOTE: This is a luncheon meeting! Brenda Porter will lead a discussion entitled “Our Stories Matter: Helping Others to Understand….An informal, mini-workshop on sharing our own voices.  

 

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MORE ON…. What Do YOU Do With Your Hearing Aids At Bedtime?

August 29, 2019.  A recent posting summarized a discussion a number of us had regarding the question “Do you take out your hearing aids overnight?”  (See What Do YOU Do With Your Hearing Aids At Bedtime?) Feedback from readers was invited and a few people added their voice to the commentary.  The responses:

By Twitter:

Jen: “Take them out! Behind the ear with large molds are not that comfortable to sleep with.

Jane: “Cats love the taste of earwax. Learned the hard way that I MUST put my hearing aids in a container or inside a drawer on my bedside table or it’s a cat toy!!!. Twice.. chewed earbuds not covered by warranty!

By Email:

Julie: “Hearing aids ALWAYS come out at night and most nights are put into the dehumidifier that came with my hearing aids. They simply cost too much to risk getting them damaged not to mention how sore you ears are (just falling asleep in an upright position during a quick nap). The safety hazard that comes from being without them when they need to be sent away for maintenance (e.g. Such as damage from laying in them) is far greater than the risk of falling asleep without them in my ears in my home or anywhere else.

Intriguing question though…..anyone I know who is worried about night time security has installed special alarms systems in their home. I know one family where all three family members are deaf and that was the solution they found worked best.

Another thought…. if you don’t remove your hearing aids at night your brain probably is not resting enough and lack of good quality sleep can make daytime hearing more difficult and stressful….just my two cents.

Thank you to those who responded.  Julie brings up an excellent point between lack of sleep and one’s ability to hear!  And thanks to Jane, we now know cats love earwax and can see your hearing aids as a toy!  It’s not too late if you want to tell us what YOU do with your hearing aids at bedtime, and if  your normal practice changes if you travel. Let us know!

In the meantime… I recently read an interesting article on how hearing aids are being partnered with artificial intelligence (AI) to tell if:

  • You are actually using your hearing aids, or if they are sitting in your purse or bedroom drawer!  How does AI know?  It can tell if you are actively listening!
  • You’ve fallen.  If so, a message can go out to request help to contacts you have pre-selected, along with your location.  Yes, these new hearing aids will know where you are!
  • You’re getting enough exercise.  If you are interested in tracking how many steps you take in a day, you no longer will need to wear a wrist device.  Your hearing aid can tell you, apparently with more accuracy too.
  • You are listening to a foreign language and need simultaneous translation.  Boy, I could sure use that when visiting my husband’s Dutch relatives!

For more information, please read the article at: https://inews.co.uk/news/worlds-first-ai-enabled-hearing-aid-goes-on-sale-in-the-uk-livio-ai/

Would you wear a hearing aid with AI?  Email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

September Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church.  Guest speaker​s​:  ​Brenda Porter, who will lead a discussion on taking responsibility for dealing with your hearing lossAnnie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg will introduce you to some of the Tinnitus Relaxation Therapy techniques they learned this summer.

Fall Speech Reading Classes: Level I will run Tuesday afternoons, from 2 to 4 pm in Charlottetown, beginning September 24, with popular speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee, and will run for 10 weeks. Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.   What will you learn? 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. Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice, but it’s also fun!

 

 

Pocket Talkers Available At ALL Stewart McKelvey Offices In Maritimes

August 5, 2019.  Regular readers of this blog are aware of an ongoing project to improve hearing accessibility in legal offices here on the island.  Lawyers who participated in this project, which was made possible through a grant from the Law Foundation of PEI, received tips on communicating with people who have hearing loss, and were invited to try out a pocket talker.  By the end of the trial period, every firm ended up purchasing at least one.  And they used them, to the delight of many clients with hearing loss, who bought their own pocket talkers.  (See “The Pocket Talker Is My Lifeline”)

The law office of Stewart McKelvey in Charlottetown was one of the first firms to participate in the project.  As of this summer, the other 5 offices of this firm now have a pocket talker available. These additional officers are in: Halifax (Nova Scotia), Fredericton (New Brunswick), Moncton (New Brunswick), St. John (New Brunswick), and St. John’s (Newfoundland).

Thank you, Stewart McKelvey, for taking this step in making legal communications between lawyers and clients with hearing loss easier to handle!

For a list of law firms and organizations within the legal community that have pocket talkers, see https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/pei-lawyers-with-pocket-talkers/.

Have a story about your visit to a law office to share?  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Are You Prepared For An Emergency?

August 4, 2019.  This past week the Canadian Red Cross mailed their ‘Be Ready’ pocket guides to Islanders.  (If you didn’t get one, see https://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/emergencies-and-disasters-in-canada/be-ready-emergency-preparedness-and-recovery).  The key steps identified are:

  1. Know the risks in your community
  2. Make an emergency plan
  3. Get an emergency kit

If you haven’t read the booklet, you should as it gives excellent tips for preparing in advance for any emergency.  However, the booklet doesn’t address specific tips for those with hearing loss.  So that’s the subject of today’s posting.

911PEI - blogIn the event of an emergency we may need to call 911.  On PEI, protocols are in place for people with hearing loss on how to reach 911 by phone or text (See Calling 911 when you are hard of hearing and 911 Pamphlet Outlines Protocols for the Hard of Hearing).

There is a possibility that in an emergency you will be sent to a shelter.  These can be very noisy and chaotic places.  Not only are people stressed from the emergency at hand, people with hearing loss hear less, not more, in times of stress.  Do yourself a favour and make sure that your emergency kit includes the following:

  • Pen and a notebook!  These two low-tech tools mean you can ask to have important information written down.
  • Hard of Hearing button….. and wear it.  This lets people know that you have hearing loss.  If they don’t notice, you can point to the button.  Staff and volunteers at an emergency shelter are very busy and have to deal with many tasks.  Make everyone’s life easier by being upfront with your hearing loss.

CIMG7617 Jun 27 2017 HOH buttons for sale

  • Extra batteries for your hearing aids and other hearing assistive tools.  It may be hours or days before things return to normal.  Don’t forget a sealed container to put your hearing aids in, should it be necessary to remove them.
  • A flashlight.  When it’s dark, a flashlight can be very useful in providing enough light for speech reading, or to follow any notes that have been written down.  Don’t forget batteries for the flashlight, either!
  • Consider a pocket talker.  If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, a simple pocket talker is a low-tech tool that helps you navigate a one on one conversation with someone.  A pocket talker uses a battery and does not depend on an internet connection.
  • If you have a smart phone or tablet, you should have a real-time captioning app installed on it.  The app requires an internet connection, which may not be available in an emergency shelter, but it’s a useful app for places with Wi-Fi. (See A New Hearing Accessibility Tool For Your Phone Or Tablet)

These are just a few suggestions for additional items to have in your emergency kit.  If you have more tips, please share them.  You can email us at hearpei@gmail.com or comment on this blogYou can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI

© Daria Valkenburg

 

Misconceptions About Telecoils

April 15, 2019.  After reading a recent blog posting about questions to ask during a needs assessment for a hearing loop (See 8 Questions To Ask When Doing A Needs Assessment For A Hearing Loop Installation), one church followed the steps and a representative was kind enough to give us a follow-up on the results…..  “We actually used many of your questions in a bulletin insert to gather information about issues related to sound. Thank you for sharing. We asked – in our survey – if you wear a hearing aid, does it have a t-coil? and none had heard that term. Also, it’s possible people under-reported problems as they would know correcting them would be costly and finances are at a low level.

It’s a sad question, in a way, as t-coils (also called telecoils) are not new.  Basically, a telecoil is a receiver that picks up signals from a hearing loop, which is an electromagnetic field.  Hearing aids or cochlear implants with an activated telecoil can convert this electromagnetic field into a sound signal.  If you want to hear the difference in sound quality, see The Sound Through A Hearing Loop.

What do I mean by an activated telecoil?  Think of your TV and pretend it is your hearing aid.  If you want to watch a specific program on TV what do you do?  You change the channel to the one broadcasting your program, ie. you have activated that particular channel.   A hearing aid can come with a number of ‘channels’, called programs, and one of these is the telecoil.  A telecoil is about the size of a grain of rice, so it is not large.

The second question the church representative said was asked by parishioners was:  “Can a Bluetooth hearing aid be used with a hearing loop? Two, who identified themselves as hearing aid users, wanted to be sure a system was not put in place that would interfere with their new Bluetooth aids.

Bluetooth is another program that is available in a hearing aid, as is a tinnitus masking program, among others.  Just as you can get more than one channel on your TV, you can get more than one program in your hearing aids.  So the answer is no, a telecoil program will not interfere with a Bluetooth program.  They are complementary programs with very different functions.  For more information, here is a link to an article written by American audiologist Juliette Sterkens: https://loopwisconsin.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/ready-to-buy-a-new-hearing-aid-be-sure-it-includes-bluetooth-and-telecoil-technology/.

Sometimes, rather than including a telecoil in a hearing aid itself, it’s included in the ‘streamers’ that come with a hearing aid.  A streamer is designed to pick up audio signals, turning a hearing aid into a wireless headset.  It’s worn around the neck and has buttons for phone, TV, and microphone applications.

A recent article by Steve Frazier outlined his frustration with audiologists who don’t give information useful to people with hearing aids…. “When I needed assistance hearing in large venues where my hearing aid microphones were simply not able to do the job, my hearing care provider at the time offered no options other than, ‘Sit close to the loudspeakers’. I wasn’t told that there were little copper coils in my hearing aids that, when activated, turn my hearing aids into a substitute headset. He didn’t say, ‘Ask if the hall is looped’, which would mean all I had to do was take a seat, touch the ‘t-switch’ on my hearing aids, and connect wirelessly to the microphone being used by the speaker. Such a ‘loop’ broadcasts a silent electromagnetic signal that the telecoils in my hearing aids pick up much like a radio picks up the signal broadcast by a radio station.  Why wasn’t I told about telecoils? That’s a question asked by too many hearing aid wearers upon first learning about the technology.

He goes on to explain that in the USA, six states have passed laws “requiring that clients be counseled on the technology prior to being fitted with hearing aids” and more states are in various stages of passing similar laws.  Some audiologists and dispensers are opposing these changes because “They want to be able to make decisions for the client rather than give the client options and let him or her make an informed decision.”  Scary, isn’t it?  To read the whole article, see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/expanded-communication-access-why-wasnt-i-told-steve-frazier

If you have hearing loss, it’s up to YOU to educate yourself on the accessibility tools available to you, so that you can ask the right questions when you go to your audiologist or specialist.  Hearing loops are available on the island and there is no reason why more places can’t have this hearing accessibility support if users of the various venues lobby for them.

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  Your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed for the provincial election and the upcoming federal election.  If you think our outreach and educational activities have made a difference, please let us know. Your letters of support make a BIG difference when we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

 UPCOMING EVENT

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).

Those Annoying Tinny Computerized Voices!

March 18, 2019.  A few weeks ago, one of our friends got on the elevator in our hotel and said “Don’t you find the voice of the elevator annoying?”  I was a bit surprised.  “The elevator talks?”  There were a few other people in the elevator, and several piped in, with the general consensus that the elevator does indeed talk, supposedly telling you what floor it’s stopped on, but no one, even the ones with good hearing, gave it a positive review.  “It’s supposed to tell you that we’re on the 4th floor, but it sounds like it says 1st floor” I was told.

I was amazed.  I’ve spent part of every winter for the past seven years in this hotel and never knew that the elevator spoke!  Next time I was on the elevator by myself I listened carefully.  Our friend was correct.  It does talk, but what comes out is indeed gibberish.  Luckily, each floor is identified with a number as soon as the elevator door opens.  A digital screen appears inside the elevator, and just outside the elevator the floor you are on is marked with a number and in Braille. You wouldn’t have a clue which floor you were on if you depended on the elevator voice itself.  Unfortunately, I have a habit of tuning out gibberish.  I’m quite sure that the very first time I used that elevator, so many years ago, I couldn’t understand it, and tuned it out.  Over the years, I forgot that it had an annoyingly tinny voice that made no sense whatsoever.  I thought it was just me.  It wasn’t.

 

Digital readout on left, giving an indication of the floor the elevator is on.  On the right, as you come out of the elevator, the floor number is marked, including in Braille.  (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

I was reminded of that elevator when I read about upset customers who were forced to use a store’s self-checkout, against their will.  One of the customers, who the reporter described as ‘hard of hearing’ said that “I hate these new blasted self-checkouts, because they talk to you and I can’t figure out what they’re saying.” (See https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/shoppers-drug-mart-superstore-self-checkout-loblaw-1.5056800)  It was déjà vu for me as I had no idea that the self-checkouts spoke. Mind you, I’ve only tried it out twice.

One time I wanted to buy a birthday card for my husband before he found me and caught me buying his card.  The staffed checkout line was so long that I got lured to the self-checkout.  One item.  How difficult could it be?  It was a pain in the you know what, and if the machine spoke to me, I didn’t hear it. Meanwhile my husband had gone through a newly opened staffed checkout line and was waiting for me, perfectly aware of my surprise purchase.

The other experience was in a grocery store. There are two grocery stores near our hotel, both big chain stores.   One is a large store with a large number of cash registers, only one of which is ever in operation, and several self-checkouts.  The other store is smaller, has several staffed checkout registers, and no self-checkouts.  We were in the larger store, and the one staffed checkout line was very long.  My husband got impatient and went to the self-checkout.  We keep track of the prices, and it didn’t take him long to figure out that the self-checkout wasn’t registering the discounted prices.  There was a button to push for assistance, and by the time it was straightened out, it took us longer than if we had waited in the other line.

We now shop at the smaller store, with no self-checkouts. Hmmm…maybe if I get a robot to do my grocery shopping, it can go to the self-checkout and they can chirp away to each other.  It’s a shame that the tech geniuses can’t come up with a computerized voice that is actually understandable.

So now I’m curious. How many of you can hear and understand the computerized voices that are everywhere these days?   In your car?  The answering machine on your phone?  When you call a business and get put on hold?

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  With upcoming provincial and federal elections coming up in the near future, your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed.  If you think our outreach and educational activities have made a difference, please let us know. Your letters of support make a BIG difference when we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. CONCERT:  The Ross Family Concert at Shore Shore United Church in Tryon, April 7, at 2:30 pm. Sharing a blend of Acadian and Scottish, this high-energy trio offers an afternoon of entertainment sure to raise your spirits. Auction viewing and bidding begins at 1:45 pm. Advance Tickets $12, at the door $15. For tickets call Bev 439-2352 or Cindy 658-2863.

Spring session of Level 1 Speech reading classes begin Wednesday, April 10, 2019, and run for 10 weeks.  Two sessions are offered with speech reading instructor Nancy MacPhee: a day class 1-3 pm, and an evening class 7-9 pm. Level 1 covers information to help people better understand hearing loss. Focus is on the most visible consonant shapes of speech.  There are many exercises and class interaction to work on improving your awareness and ability to interpret.  Speech reading takes lots of patience and practice! But don’t worry.  As Nancy says, “We also try to have some fun!” Email hearpei@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Interested in Level 2 Speech reading?  The spring class is completely full.  If you want to add your name for the next session, and you’ve taken Level 1, please send us an email.

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).

 

Middle Ear Transplants? Fact or Fiction?

March 16, 2019.  Lately, when I read about some of the advances to improve hearing health, I’m left wondering whether what I’m reading is:

a)      Science fiction

b)      A joke or some kind of ‘fake news’

c)      Amazingly true

My reaction to an article about using 3D technology to design a middle ear for a transplant was no different! A hospital in South Africa did just that, printing out 3 bones from the middle ear to transplant into a 35 year old man whose ear had been damaged in a car accident.   This operation restored his hearing!

These three small bones of the middle ear, collectively called ossicles, work together to receive, amplify, and transmit the sound from the eardrum to the inner ear. The ossicles are the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and the stirrup (stapes). Did you know that the stirrup (stapes) is the smallest named bone we have?

Blausen_0330_EarAnatomy_MiddleEar

Diagram of the Middle Ear. (Photo credit: Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29025010)

So what are the implications of this transplant?  A spokesperson at the hospital where the transplant was performed explained that “This may be the answer to conductive hearing loss, a middle ear problem caused by congenital birth defects, infection, trauma or metabolic diseases.”  Wow! (See https://www.health24.com/Medical/Hearing-management/News/steve-biko-hospital-conducts-worlds-first-ever-middle-ear-transplant-20190314)

If you’ve lost your hearing due to a condition affecting the middle ear, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this ground breaking surgery.  And we’d welcome input from medical professionals who may have more information than was available in the article.  Is middle ear transplant surgery coming soon to a hospital here in Canada?

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  With upcoming provincial and federal elections coming up in the near future, your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed.  If you think our outreach and educational activities have made a difference, please let us know. Your letters of support make a BIG difference when we try to encourage hearing accessibility. It tells others that we are not a lone voice in the wilderness.  Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. CONCERT:  The Ross Family Concert at Shore Shore United Church in Tryon, April 7, at 2:30 pm. Sharing a blend of Acadian and Scottish, this high-energy trio offers an afternoon of entertainment sure to raise your spirits. Auction viewing and bidding begins at 1:45 pm. Advance Tickets $12, at the door $15. For tickets call Bev 439-2352 or Cindy 658-2863.

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.  If you would like to register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

 

8 Questions To Ask When Doing A Needs Assessment For A Hearing Loop Installation

LoopPEI_logo-P2

February 22, 2019.  We quite often get questions about hearing loops when people are looking at options to improve hearing accessibility in their public facilities, such as a town hall or church.

A hearing loop works with an existing sound system, it is not the sound system itself.  What is a hearing loop, then?  It’s a copper wire that “loops” around the periphery of a room.  It transmits an electromagnetic field within its loop, allowing a hearing aid or cochlear implant’s telecoil (also called a T-Coil) to function as an antenna directly linking the listener to the facility’s sound system.

Once a place is ready for an estimate of the costs to install a hearing loop, a site survey questionnaire is completed about the facility.  Before that step is taken, however, there is usually a basic ‘needs assessment’ process prior to getting approvals to setting aside funds for hearing accessibility.

This is perfectly understandable, but one always wonders…. would the same discussion occur if we were talking about a wheelchair ramp?  A washroom that’s wheelchair accessible?  How many people need to use a wheelchair ramp before a facility will install one?  Is a cost/benefit analysis done?  Or do you agree that the facility needs to be accessible for even one person?  Hearing accessibility is just as important.  But it’s also important for people with hearing loss to acknowledge it.

The ‘needs assessment’ can be a way to build awareness of the importance of hearing accessibility and to gain support and approval for installing a hearing loop.   Encourage decision makers and members of the organization/church to listen to the difference between what you hear through a hearing loop and what you hear through the sound system.  Ask them if they hear not only the clarity of sound, but also if they have noticed that all background noises are eliminated.

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

So, what are the 8 questions that could be included in a needs assessment?  To get the most honest answers, you may wish to make completing the assessment done anonymously.

  1. Who is having trouble hearing and understanding what is being said during meetings/concerts/services?  People may ‘hear’, but do they understand what is being said?
  2. What is the size of the venue? How many members or attendees generally attend?
  3. What is the venue used for?
  4. Who already has a hearing aid or cochlear implant? Ask them to be honest!
  5. Of those who have a hearing aid, how many have the telecoil activated? If not activated, would they be willing to speak to an audiologist and ask to have it activated?
  6. If someone has hearing loss, but doesn’t have a hearing aid, or has a hearing aid without the telecoil activated, would they use a hearing loop receiver to access the hearing loop? A hearing loop receiver would mean wearing earbuds or headphones.

Since it may not be financially feasible to loop an entire facility, it’s a good idea to have an idea of the number of potential users.  Questions 2 to 6 address that.

7. People who attend churches usually have favourite places to sit in the sanctuary. One concern some churches have is whether congregation members would be willing to move from their customary spot into a looped area, in the event that the entire sanctuary cannot be looped initially. We’ve not heard of this issue in other types of venues, but a reasonable question may be to ask if the person would be willing to sit in a looped area in the event that the entire venue can’t be looped.  Another question to ask if whether people who don’t have hearing loss be willing to move out of the looped area in order to accommodate those who need to access a hearing loop.

8. The needs assessment should be answered by all, not just those who currently have hearing loss. A sample question could be:  Would you support the installation of a hearing loop for improved hearing accessibility, even if you yourself do not have hearing loss?   You may have to explain that this would be no different than making other accessibility provisions, such as a wheelchair ramp, a wheelchair accessible bathroom, or grab bars in the bathroom, for those with physical disabilities.

Have you done a needs assessment before determining whether to install a hearing loop?  Have you installed a hearing loop in your facility?  Please share your experience, and any additional questions you may have asked, by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg

UPCOMING EVENTS

An upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. Variety concert and cake auction at West River United Church, 9 Cornwall Rd in Cornwall, March 2, 2019 at 6:30 pm.  Event is to raise funds for the Rogers family’s upcoming 8 week stay in Montreal for surgery to improve mobility due to cerebral palsy.  Storm date: March 9.  Admission by donation.

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.  If you would like to register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.

 

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.

© Daria Valkenburg

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.

 

 

Two and A Half Hours of Being Unable To Hear!

February 2, 2019.  Have you ever wished that your friends and family could spend some time experiencing the difficulty you may have in hearing?  A number of people inadvertently got this ‘opportunity’.

Last week our hotel offered a movie afternoon.  The movie was “First Man’, with Ryan Gosling, which I wanted to see.  I went a bit early to ask if the organizers would turn on the subtitles so I wouldn’t miss any of the dialogue, and I made sure I got a front row seat.  I didn’t have to rush.  While the room filled very quickly, no one wanted to be in the front row, but closer to the back of the room, where the hotel thoughtfully had popcorn and beverages available.

The movie was in a brand new hotel, a sister property to the hotel I’m at, with a state of the art built-in sound system.  So, I was quite surprised to find out that even though I was in the front row, I had great difficulty hearing the dialogue.  “Better get my hearing checked once I’m back home” I thought.

I could hear whispering behind me, but as most people talk through a movie, I didn’t pay any attention. I had to concentrate on the subtitles.

Shortly after the movie started, one of the men walked out of the room.  I figured he went to find a restroom, but he came back with the hotel manager, and they both fiddled with the remote control.  That was my first clue that maybe the sound wasn’t loud enough.  However, there was no change to the sound, and within a few minutes the manager left, and the man sat down.  Another man quietly got up and moved to the front row.  For the rest of the movie, which was 2 ½ hours long, no one made a sound.

When the movie ended, everyone looked at each other.  “Could you hear what was being said?”  It turned out that no one heard much of the dialogue.  “It’s a good thing there were subtitles”, a number of people said.

The interesting point was that, with the exception of the one man who went out of the room to see the manager, no one said they couldn’t hear….until after the movie ended and it turned out to be an unintended shared experience!

Almost everyone in the room was aware that I have hearing loss, and when I didn’t say anything, no one wanted to cause a fuss! It turned out that everyone in the room has some degree of hearing loss and each person thought it was just them that couldn’t hear properly!

You can imagine how relieved we all were to find out that it wasn’t our hearing that wasn’t working.  The sound system for the speakers had shut off during a power outage a few days earlier. This was the first time the sound system was used, so no one in the hotel knew it hadn’t come back on when the power was restored!

And….since only one person spoke to management during the movie, guess what the hotel management thought?  The person who said he couldn’t hear had a problem. It couldn’t be the new sound system, since no one else said anything.  Hmmm….. does this sound familiar?   Would YOU have spoken up?

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.

© Daria Valkenburg

Just in time for Valentine’s Day!….. an upcoming event in a venue equipped with a hearing loop gives you a chance to experience the clarity of sound heard through a hearing loop. CONCERT:  Phase II & Friends Valentine’s Concert at West River United Church in Cornwall, February 10, 2019 at 3 pm. Songs of love will make you laugh, cry and feel like dancing. Doors open at 2:30. Tickets are $10 and are available in the church office or at the door.

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.