Category Archives: ALD’s

The Ditto

I got the Ditto about a month ago, curious to try things out that might help the hard of hearing.


picture from pc world

The Ditto is an alerting devices for phone calls (I rarely do the phone), incoming texts, email and more.  It has a good, strong vibrate for such a little thing and it has several options of vibrating patterns.  I had a few people ask me why I wanted to try this because our phones alert us in several ways.  So here’s my deal…

My phone is always silenced.  Any noise that I can hear from any distance is going to be LOUD and obnoxious.  When it’s that loud, it scares me half to death when it goes off.  I have a flash alert set instead which works when I’m near the phone and remember to place it face down so I can see the flash.  If I’m out and about, it’s in my purse or in a pocket unless I’m expecting a text then I’ll carry it in my hand, hopefully face down to see the flash.  This makes me pretty attached to my phone and my hands full at times.  It might be nice having the Ditto but I didn’t expect to like it much because it is Bluetooth and drains the battery on my phone.


I tried it out driving to the SayWhatClub convention in Boise at the beginning of August.  I kept it plugged into the car charger.  It was nice to know when texts were coming in and I knew to look when I stopped.  Then I wore it the next day because I kind of liked not having my phone in my hands all the time.  I tried it in the pool (it’s water proof) at the hotel.  It seemed to lose the bluetooth connection and the ‘tether’ alert would go off.  (Tether is an alert designed to tell you when you are too far away from your phone or forgot it somewhere.)  That night I went out on the Boise Brew Cruise I kept it on (charging my phone before I left).   The cruise took us to 3 Boise brew pubs and my phone and the Ditto kept up.

So I started wearing the Ditto more because at the convention not only do I have my family/friends texting as normal but we attendees also start texting each other for information on activities and such.  I’m also charging my phone a lot more but I don’t mind because it’s useful for me.

At home I continued to wear it because I liked not carrying my phone around with me.  I wore it at work so I didn’t get behind on texts, mostly what’s going on at home and things can happen fast at home.  Yesterday I forgot to take it to work with me and I missed it.  I’ll have to start tucking it into a purse pocket.

I don’t use it all the time because sometimes I like having a break from my phone or maybe I’m not doing anything more than watching TV so I can check my phone.  I’m glad I have the device though, it’s frees my hands up and I can forget about my phone for a while confident I’ll get the alert.

The only time the vibrate freaked me out is when I was in the backyard with the bees.  My husband has a hive of bees and bees can freak me out.  The bees were thirsty, zooming back and forth in the yard looking for water.  I was trying to get some toys out of the shed for my grandsons while keeping my cool.  My tether alert went off and I did this freaky dance in the yard slapping at my collar-bone while turning a circle.  It took me a few seconds to figure it was the Ditto and gather my wits again.  It probably looked funny but the 5 yr old and 1 yr old didn’t catch the humor.  They were just looking at me crazy like wondering what I was going to do next.

* Texting is my main mode of communication.  I think in an average month I send and receive around 2,000 texts.  My record is around 4,000 and that was about 4 years ago.


Personal Review on the Quattro 4.0

The demo room at work offers a variety of HATs (hearing assistive technology) to people who are hard of hearing.  Utah has a try  before you buy program because let’s face it, as hard of hearing we often buy that new gadget hoping it will be a miracle.  When it’s not our personal miracle it ends up in a drawer somewhere as money wasted.  The demo room has FM systems, personal listening devices, TV listening systems, alerting systems and more (even different phones to try but they can’t leave the site).   People can borrow them for a month to test, to see if it’s worth buying. Being surrounded by technology for the hard of hearing is pretty cool and I play with them as needed.

A few months ago and older man came in and wanted help for an upcoming lunch with a friend who was soft spoken.  He didn’t want the PockeTalker or the Mino and he really didn’t want to try the FM system either; nothing so obvious.  I brought out the Quattro 4.0 which I never used before but heard good things about from someone I once volunteered with on a committee.  It’s a Bluetooth necklace device that also works with T-Coils. The client loved the removable microphone option.   He wasn’t sure if he had T-Coils in his hearing aids so he made an appt with his audiologist and came back to me a week later.


Over that week I played with the device. The Bluetooth paired easily with my phone and I could use it as a T-Coil as well.  I heard my music fine but I admit I didn’t try calling anyone because I gave up the phone years ago.  I was bummed I didn’t have any control over the bass/treble, that’s always a nice option.

Next I tackled the removable microphone which took me a few hours of re-reading the directions and trying again. The device kept saying’dialing’ and since I had no desire to dial anyone I cancelled the process multiple times.  It took a few hours to figure out that ‘dialing’ is more of a timer instead.  Eventually I had a victory which I could reproduce do I did the Snoopy dance.

As I fussed with the device it talked to me, in fact, it talked too much for my liking.  An annoying voice told me the call was terminated, pairing and a few other things.  If could have shut the voice off I would have.  I do not understand why companies make talking devices for the hard of hearing. If anything, give us captions people!

They guy came back the following week an  I got it working once to show him how to do it but we couldn’t getting it going for him.  We fussed for half an hour and still couldn’t figure what we were doing wrong.  He was determined to make it work so he took it home anyway with the directions. A few weeks later he came back in to return it.  He never could get the removable mic to work but he enjoyed the music from his phone through it.  He decided not to buy it.

While I was learning with the Quattro, I was pleased to see it didn’t drain my phone battery too fast.  It would be an awesome device if the mic was easier to work with.  It would also be great if the mic could be clipped onto someone’s shirt. The one I tried was only lay it on the table.  In the end, I packed it away in the cabinet and haven’t brought it out since.  I think about that experience and I’m not tempted to bring it out again until I have someone who knows how it works to show me what to do.
Others may have figured it out but I couldn’t and that client couldn’t either.  If anyone has tried it and had success please tell me the secret!  Over all the Comfort Contego FM system remains my favorite device for for workshops, lectures and classes.  It’s pricey but it has lots of options and is a whole lot easier to use.
*Side note: Yes I listen to music through my phone.  It’s my music meaning it’s old stuff from the early 90’s and below when I could hear or it’s my techno music which is a hard, fast, bass beat typically (really good for the aerobic machines at the gym).  I still don’t understand lyrics most of the time, even through my phone or a Bluetooth device.  Listening to music without the worry of return conversation is easy.  Talking on the phone to someone who expects me understand and reply is a whole lot more work and there’s no guarantee I’ll understand even with the extra effort.

ALDs at the Library

In February I went on a advocating frenzy, tired of feeling left out and feeling for anyone else who felt left out. I requested CART for a writers workshop I want to attend in May, requested an ALD at the downtown library for a reading from local authors and left comments on news sites in regards to hearing loss. There’s a Paulo Coelho quote: Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” Right after I posted about my advocating adventures, life erupted and picked up speed. I had a hard time keeping track of what all I had to do, where I had to be and when. This is why I haven’t posted much in the last month. I think things are slowing down again and today I have time to update everyone.

I haven’t heard anything in a while from the writers workshop and they warned me it might take time. I marked the February reading down on my calendar wrong at the library missing it last month. I was so upset with myself because the library was so accommodating with my request. I contacted them as soon as I figured it out, asked them to forgive me and told them I’d like to try again in March. This time I made sure I got the right day on my calendar (in a red Sharpie) hanging in the kitchen and set two alarms on my phone to make sure I made it.

Last Thursday, I went to work a little early so I could leave early with plenty of time to get there. Right after leaving work, I grabbed a quick burger and drove to the train (light rail) station. I could have driven downtown but I do not like messing with parking. I just missed the train by a few minutes so I had to wait 15 minutes for the next one. Once on the train I realized I’m running behind and will just make it on time in spite of leaving work early. Dang. The train lets us off right in front of the library so I dash out, jog across the street and into the library. Instead of waiting for the elevator I ran up the four flights of stairs which left me winded and barely able to ask for directions to the meeting room at the information desk. My biggest fear is the tech guy is going to give up on me and I do not want to mess this up a second time.

By the time I arrived at the meeting room, I nearly had my breath back. I looked around and couldn’t tell who it is I’m supposed to meet. There’s a cluster of people talking and no one pays much attention to me. I had a moment of panic, am I too late? As I scan the room once more a nice looking man sitting on a table says, “Chell?” I tell him “ChellE” and we shake hands. Whew! I made it.

He takes me to a table set up in front of the room with a portable FM system (I think that’s what it was) and hands me a receiver. Everything there looks brand new. As he takes out a “hanging on the ear” model earphone.

hanging on ear headphone

“You can put that back,” I tell him. “That won’t do me any good with my hearing aids. I need my hearing aids to hear better. We’ll use my neckloop instead.” Thank goodness I remembered to put my amplified neckloop in my purse, just in case, before leaving the house that morning. That thing wouldn’t have helped me at all. One ear, seriously? I need everything I got from both my ears.

“Will that work with this,” he asks.

“It should,” I said. I plug it in, hoping neither my neckloop or his receiver goes up in a puff of smoke. It fit the jack so I assumed it was safe.

“Let’s test it,” he said walking to the microphone. “By the way, I’ll tell everyone to make sure they use this tonight.”


I switch to the t-coil program and he starts talking into the microphone. The sound is good. In fact the sound is way better than I ever expected it to be. I’ve been to places with bad FM systems where voices come and go or the batteries aren’t charged or the sound still seems distant to my ears. Even my personal FM system doesn’t give me that good of a sound. I give him a thumbs up and tell him that it sounds wonderful.

Back in front of the table he tells me he’s aware of the new ADA requirements for assistive listening devices to meet the needs of people who wear hearing aids. He heard of the neckloops but wasn’t sure what to make of them. After seeing mine, he said he’d probably go ahead and order some now.

“I get better sound quality out of neckloops than I do headphones,” I tell him. “I get even better sound through permanent loops. It would be awesome if you could install one here somewhere.” He’s heard of hearing loops and said something about funding.

“I heard of a grant you can apply for, especially for libraries. I don’t have the information on me but I can email it to you tomorrow.”

“That would be great for the auditorium,” he said. “I’m interested.”

“You would be the first public venue to have a loop and I’d sure advertise that in the hard of hearing community. We’d love it.” Conversation continued for a few minutes, he left and I sat down. Great! I made a good contact at the library in spite of last months screw up. I’m happy.

Their receiver and my fancy pants, lol.

Their receiver and my fancy pants, lol.

Soon the readings started and without too much effort, I could hear very well. I’m so used to lip reading it’s a habit so I turned my head to see if I could still hear and I could follow along mostly (I’ll never hear every word). At this point I notice there’s a great sunset going on as I stare out the glass walls from the fourth floor. The sky is going baby blue and the scattered clouds are lighting up silver. The sun is reflecting off some of the building windows and the city takes on a whole new look. I watch as the colors of the sky change to a darker blue with pink clouds and totally forget I’m listening to a reading. I wondered if it would be rude to get up and take a picture. Probably. I look back to the reader to put my mind back on the Nintendo murder story again. My mission tonight wasn’t the visual but auditory and even with my mind a million miles away for a few minutes, I don’t think I missed anything crucial as the story was still intact for me.

The readings went on for an hour and a half all together. I understand each story without notes and even if I miss a few words I easily fill in the blanks. After all, I’m used to missing a lot more than that. I’m not exhausted at the end of it so I know I wasn’t clinging to noise but hearing words. I’m smiling, pleased with myself for asking for an ALD. I feel like the world has suddenly opened up a little more. As I put my neckloop away and return the receiver to the table up front another library employee approaches me.

I forget how the conversation starts but I get to talk to her about the ALD system and thank her for having it available and I’m glad to know it’s there. I ask her if it would work in any of the rooms at the library and she says it will. This is wonderful I tell her and I’ll be sure to share it with the hard of hearing community and where I work, at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She gives me her email because she’s interested in networking with us at the Sanderson. How we will work together, I’m not sure yet but I’ll find a way.

Usually when I leave an event like this, I feel drained of energy if not exhausted or flat out depressed from trying so hard to hear. This time I left smiling and full of energy. Options exist and I’m not as limited as I thought. All the library activities are open to me now, not just their books. What an awesome feeling!

Now if I’d hear something as uplifting from the writers workshop people.

Hearing Loops

My first hearing loop experience was at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) convention in Rhode Island last year. At my first workshop, one of the coordinators announced that each workshop was looped so be sure to turn on our T-coils. Excited to try this technology I’ve only heard about, I turned mine on. It took less than five minutes to be totally amazed. I heard so well, I felt like a hearing person for the first time in years, watching the speaker instead of the CART screen. The clarity through the loop was a hundred times better than using an FM system. As a bonus, I heard through my hearing aids alone instead of borrowed earphones or neck loop wondering where they were last and were they cleaned and sanitized? This time I simply pushed a button on my hearing aid and I heard. Why wasn’t there more of this available in America?

I had to find a way to share this technology however I could at home. I wanted other people to experience it and know the difference too. On our local Walk4Hearing committee we had Kristin who works with Listen Technologies. In the past, they supported our Walk with assistive listening devices but I knew they were getting into hearing loops too. Could we loop our Kick Off party for the Walk? Yes, she was willing to set that up for us and even better, she could probably set up a portion of our stage area at our Walk in the park too.

The Kick Off party was small but those of us who were there with hearing aids or cochlear implants, used out T-coil. We sat at our tables and heard the speakers. Listen Tech also looped our registration table making hearing above the noise a piece of cake. The day of our Walk, lots of people showed up and there were signs posted everywhere encouraging people to try the hearing loop. During our entertainment which happened to be a clown who told lots of jokes and stories, I looked around and saw people with hearing aids and CI’s laughing along with the rest of people. Later, speeches came through loud and clear making it a memorable Walk.

w4h Kristin

Kristen from Listen Tech pictured here with the ALD’s they handed out at the Walk4Hearing in Salt Lake City.

A few weeks ago, Listen Tech held a convention for their distributors. They invited some of us from the hearing loss community to come to their hearing loop workshop portion. Juliette Sterkens, AuD from Wisconsin spoke first and she gave the best presentation on hearing loss I’ve heard. She talked about who is losing their hearing and why. She explained audiograms. She talked about high frequency hearing loss (the most common type) and what’s it like; how we hear vowels better than consonants and how our mind struggles to fill in the missing pieces.

Giving a visual example, on the screen appeared the sentence, “She saw oars bobbing.” Beneath it was missing letters. Take away the original sentence, she filled in the gaps and it became “She saw cars fueling.” She also ran audio recordings to show exactly what hearing aids pick up in churches, court rooms and restaurants. Then she played a recording of what it sounded like through a loop. The difference is astounding. The hearies in there were beginning to understand our world a whole lot better. (You got to share the link above with hearing family and friends.)

She went on to explain that hearing aids work best within a four foot range picking up the closest and loudest sounds like coughing, papers rustling, babies crying. The speaker twenty feet away is lost in the noise that surrounds the hearing aid user, unless using the loop. The loop brings the speaker right to the ears and cutting out surrounding noise.

Five of us who were hard of hearing sat in the back of the workshop at a looped table where it was impossible to lip read… and we all heard every word Juliette said without the benefit of CART. Normally in this kind of situation, I have to arrive early and make the presenter aware of my hearing loss. I ask them to wear my FM system and face me as much as possible because I use lip reading too. I stake out my position up front and in the center where I still very much struggle to hear. After two hours, I’m exhausted mentally and physically. Here, Juliette talked for almost two hours and I felt no fatigue at all.

Our view of Juliette from the back of the room.

Our view of Juliette from the back of the room.

Our looped table.

Our looped table.

The incredible loop set up at the conference let me hear audience participation as well for the first time in many, many moons. Every chair had a wireless microphone. To ask questions or add comments to the discussion, we each had to turn the mic on which also fed into the loop system. To top it off, a screen at the front of the room had each microphone listed in a diagram. The seating was assigned so anytime someone turned their microphone on, their spot in the room was highlighted red on the chart and their name listed to the left of the diagram. What a fabulous system, incredibly inclusive, for anyone with or without hearing loss.

The microphones in front of each seat.

The microphones in front of each seat.

The chart showing who was talking and where.

The chart showing who was talking and where.  This isn’t the best of pictures but hopefully you get the idea. 

The first half of the seminar was about hearing loss. The second half was the technology side of hearing loops and were invited to stay. I’m not a techie but I’ll give it a go… A loop system consists of an audio source, a loop driver and wiring. Cables or loops are laid around the room according to size and specifications creating a magnetic field which hearing T-coils pick up. It brings sound direct to the ear eliminating audio distance. There are various choices of loop drivers and different ways to layout the wires according to the needs.

As I understand it, past looping systems, which started in the 70’s, had lots of problems which turned off both the users and the people who bought them. Today’s technology has improved by leaps and bounds. Qualified installers are able to get beyond the biggest problems which are over spill and metal interference. Over spill happens when one loop system spills over into another looped room but this can be eliminated with different wiring and layouts. I didn’t understand how they get around metal interference but they do with various techniques. They showed us 6 different layouts and discussed common pitfalls and fixes. All I know is the loop systems I’ve experienced in this last year have delivered terrific sound.

Hearing loops are my favorite way to hear. There’s other technology out there with bluetooth being touted as the next big thing. I have a bluetooth device that connects my hearing aids to my phone. It drains the battery on my hearing aids, the bluetooth device itself and my phone super fast. It’s handy but it comes with a price. Using my t-coil doesn’t drain my hearing aid batteries any faster than normal so I keep them longer.

When you see this sign:

 telecoil ALD sign

Turn on the t-coil in your hearing aid and give it a try. (Signs are required by the ADA.) Many tourist sites and tours in Europe are looped and it’s gaining popularity here in the USA. Recently the New York subway system was looped in certain places and a taxi company in NY will be looping their cabs soon. Quiet a few churches are getting loops here too as well some colleges, auditoriums and senior centers. Many people are getting their living rooms looped for a higher quality television sound too. How about some places we’d like to see looped: drive thru speakers, bank windows, theaters and meeting rooms. It’s a world of possibilities.

At the end of the workshop with Juliette and Kristin in the back and middle of the row. That's me in the brown in the back row too.

At the end of the workshop with Juliette and Kristin in the back and middle of the row. That’s me in the brown in the back row too.

Here are some further links to check out: David Myer’s site a site Juliette Sterkens runs

Audio Induction Loop via wikipedia Loop New Mexico campaign

HLAA’s Get in the Hearing Loop Assistive Listening Device Locator

Progressive Hearing Loss

Progressive hearing loss creates big dips in hearing and other times it chips away at hearing little by little but either way, it means constant adaptions. Once I got used to a certain level of hearing loss, I lost more and wound up readjusting again…and again. With each drop, certain coping strategies I used were no longer effective. The same for technology I bought too.

The first coping strategy I learned all on my own was faking it or bluffing. I pretended to hear when I couldn’t understand a word the other person said. I feared being a nuisance among the hearing if I asked for repeats too often so I bluffed to fit in. I looked at people’s face for clues: were they serious, was there a light in their eye or a smile to show humor or were they amazed at something. Then I judged their tone in the same way: serious, light, harsh? Then I put forth one of my stock answers: “really” or “wow” using the appropriate tone. Sometimes, I used the deaf nod encouraging them to go on. The only time I needed to ask for repeats was when people asked me a question. I might try answering it with a simple yes or no but when their eyebrows raised I knew I answered wrong so I backed up and asked for a repeat. I was near expert at this and very few people knew I had a hearing loss, until I lost more hearing.

I lost the ability to judge tone and guessed wrong more often, massacring conversations by coming up with off the wall answers. I looked like a totally idiot instead of someone who couldn’t hear. Learning to be upfront took bravery but it didn’t take long to get over my fear since most people were willing to repeat or help me out. Bluffing is a hard habit to break and even 15 years later, I fall back on it unconsciously when I’m over tired or stressed out.

Things were all right for a few years, telling people I was hard of hearing. They spoke up, I heard and answered…until I lost more hearing. Volume alone no longer worked and all I heard as they looked down or talked into windows was something to similar to the Charlie Brown adult voices. Now I needed people to face me so I could use what little lip reading skills I have. I needed all I the clues I could get. Instead of telling people I was hard of hearing, I changed it to “half deaf.” Deaf grabs their attention and they look up to talk to me. Deaf equals lip reading. I had a higher chance of understanding what they said if they looked directly at me and though I’m no ace at lip reading, every little bit helps. It’s a skill I picked up without knowing it as I lost hearing.

Some years later, my hearing took another turn south and I had to re-adapt to social situations. I found myself sinking in rough seas of noise. I relied on lip reading more than ever and since I’m not the best, I missed a good portion of every conversation. It took a couple of meltdowns before I realized noise rendered me deaf. Now part of my getting ready for events isn’t just about what I’m going to wear, I have to make sure I leave in plenty of time to talk to presenters about my FM system and how it works. I also need to claim a seat up front so see the speaker who hopefully doesn’t walk around much.

Progressive hearing loss also means a series of steps down the ladder in phone communication. My hearing loss showed up first on the phone because there are no visual clues which I didn’t know I already depended on. My second pair of hearing aids had a t-coil switch. With practice, I figured out where to place the handset on my hearing aids but once I got that down, I heard on the phone fine as long as the background noise wasn’t too extreme on either end.

There came a day when t-coils where no longer enough. With encouragement from SWC friends online, I contacted my phone company for a volume control phone. The phone they sent me worked great because of the amount of volume I could get. (My family had to adapt to this as well learning to check the volume before answering.) Since I hear voices differently, I constantly played with the volume. For most women, I had to push the volume to max and for men I lowered it though there were exceptions. Some women have strong voices blowing me away making me scramble to turn the volume down and a few men I could barely hear so cranked the volume up. Between these two devices, I got by for several years with different pairs of hearing aids.

Then neither my hearing aids with their t-coil or my volume phone was enough so I started to hand the phone to others when I couldn’t understand the person on the other end. I worked with a lot of good people who helped me, taking over the calls without complaining. At that time, the other only other option would have been a TTY which wasn’t exactly what I needed either.

Relay services on the web in conjunction with my cell phone made phone calls easier again but it wasn’t a viable option at work. At home, it took away spontaneity. I had to plan calls. I had to leave messages with people telling them text me or to go ahead and call and leave a clear message, I would call back via relay. Some businesses never bothered calling back.

Trying out all technology available, I bought a uDirect (similar to an iCom) to work with my cell phone. I hear decently enough on it to pick up about half of what’s said. Half is easier to puzzle out especially if I know what they are calling for. As soon as I get a name, I enter it into my cell phone so when they call again, I don’t have to puzzle out just who is calling. Again, there’s no spontaneity. I wear my uDirect at work, the salon, to accept calls but if I’m not at work and my phone rings, I can’t scramble fast enough to put it all together to take the call. Other times my uDirect battery dies and the phone becomes useless unless someone texts. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the hearing world adjusted to my needs and texted me only? Someday that might just happen because I’m sure at some point I’ll lose the ability to talk on the phone at all. I haven’t lost the phone completely yet, but that is coming I’ll have to adjust to caption phones only.

While I still have some ability, for a long time I lost going to the movies. I grew up going to the movies, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Star Wars, Disney movies like The Apple Dumpling Gang. The movie industry made money from me until my hearing loss interfered. I started being choosy about which movies I saw because too often I missed the punchline or key words in dialog. It’s irritated me when everyone laughed and I have no idea what was said.

Because of SWC, I found out what an ALD (assistive listening device) symbol looked like and when I saw the sign in the ticket window at our new theater, I asked for one. They had infra-red headphones, with big padded ears and volume control and they worked great for me! I didn’t like the conspicuous little red dot shining like a beacon behind my head but I got over it. That year I saw every movie up for an academy award.


A few years later I moved and the theaters in my new city didn’t have the nice big padded earphones. They had the little headphones that sat on top of the ear canal. One theater had one-sided headphones, like pick my best or worst ear??? They didn’t help the tiniest bit and I missed dialog, plot and jokes so I gave up going to the movies all together.

I missed going to the movies and so did my family. I tried keeping track and waiting for movies to come out on DVD but soon I lost interest. It wasn’t the same as seeing it on the big screen. I lost track of actors and actresses. Ten years went by before CaptiView, Sony caption glasses and open captioned showings came about letting me back into the movies again. The funny thing is, I got so used to not going to the movies that I forget the option is there again. Slowly, I’m getting around to movies again and I love it.

We aren’t the only ones to adapt, our family learns to change with our hearing too. They can’t talk from other rooms and need to face us when talking. They take or make phone calls for us and they learn to text. They learn to be on one side of us to be in the ‘better’ ear. If they want to be social, they need to help us out a little. They leave the captions on the television all the time. They let us know when the tea kettle is whistling and when we left the water running. Maybe they learn a little sign language along with us. Hopefully they do all this with patience.

Lots of emotions accompany each change too. The whole grieving process can be applied; denial, depression, anger and frustration trying to figure out how to make things work again. I see my partner’s helplessness as I break down, anger when things don’t go as planned because I can’t hear and how much he missed movies too. It doesn’t only affect the one with hearing loss.

The one sure thing in life is change and my hearing will do that. Someday I won’t have the phone at all except for email and texting and I might not be able to understand the person in front of me. First I’ll throw a fit and then I’ll do what I gotta do. It’s not the end of the world, just another way of doing things, again.

Phone Strategies

Our last Hearing Loss Association chapter meeting in Prescott last weekend was about the phone. We shared our phone stories and strategies. This was passed out also and I thought it valuable enough to share here as well.


Phone Communication Strategies

Developed by Steve Barber of the HLAA-NC Wake Chapter


  • Know who’s calling (Caller ID or ask).
  • Make sure you know the subject.
  • Don’t hide your hearing loss or bluff.
  • Put the other person at ease.
  • Ask for repeats as needed.
  • Ask for a rephrase if repeats don’t help.
  • Ask for “spell out” (Charlie, Alpha, Tango).
  • Ask for a “count up” for numbers.
  • Confirm and ask for “yes/no” answers.
  • Ask for partial confirmations.
  • Use the ‘as in’ strategy.
  • Ask the other person to speak slowly.
  • Ask if the other person has a better phone.
  • Ask for another person.
  • Avoid voice response unit.
  • Use your answering machine or service.


I have recently started using my cell phone for business, as a hairdresser. I’m just beginning and can’t afford to get a land line yet (to put in my Caption Call phone) so it’s my cell phone and uDirect (similar to an iCom). The uDirect sends my phone calls to both my hearing aids giving me bilateral hearing on the phone; every little bit helps. Most of the time phone calls come in clear and even filters out some background. Technology is nice.

It’s an amazing little device I bought last winter but resisted using until now. I can use the phone, I just don’t like to. I developed an intense dislike of it over the last four years so forcing myself to use it is not easy. I have no one a work to use as back up since it’s a one person salon, me! Every phone call I get, anxiety slips in as I brace myself for hyper attention. So far there’s only been one person I couldn’t understand correctly. I was stuck on one sentence. He repeated twice but it didn’t help so I told him to stop in anytime and he did thankfully. Small towns are great that way.

Using the uDirect takes preparation. I have to set up my phone for blue tooth then turn on the uDirect. I wear it all day while at work. If I get an unexpected phone call on my days off and can’t hook up my devices fast enough I have this message. “Hi this is Chelle. I’m hard of hearing so please speak a little bit slower for me when leaving a message and I’ll get back to you. You can also text me. Thank you, I appreciate your interest.”

So far the majority of the people want to accommodate me especially since I’m the only working hairdresser for miles. People are texting me for appointments or stopping by. One lady talked so slow while leaving a message, it made me smile. When I got her on the phone she made sure she didn’t talk too fast again. What a blessing to have such nice people in the world.

As soon as I build up to a reliable income, I’m switching to a land line for my CaptionCall phone. The back up captions will relieve my remaining anxiety and make it easier for both me and my clients. In the mean time, I will use some of Steve Barber’s strategies above and the one I need to remember most is ask for a rephrase.


Salt Lake City’s Walk4Hearing 2012, part 1

We had our 3 Walk4Hearing on October 13. We watched the weather which could have thrown a lot of rain our way but we lucked out once again. It sprinkled a few times on us and that was it.

We arranged entertainment at the last minute. Marky the Clown was so much fun! We were so happy he had the morning free to fill in for us. The cement pad area was looped thanks to Listen Technologies and it worked awesome! The Sure Fire Pizza was as good as it was the last few years.

Many thanks to the committee who pulled it together.  The whole morning felt full of good people with smiling faces. Children loved the clown, balloon artists and face painters… and so did the adults!  The Walk4Hearing was successful. We pulled it off again.




















But wait there’s more… coming up in the next few days; part 2!


Hearing Aids Are Only The Beginning

Hearing aids improve the lives of those with hearing loss but it’s only the beginning. Hearing aids aren’t called hearing miracles for a reason. There’s a variety of other coping strategies which go hand in hand with hearing loss.

A good audiologist is imperative to successful hearing aids. Most people with hearing loss won’t get hearing aids for an average of seven years, that’s seven years of muted life. Sudden volume makes the world sound harsh and can come across as brutal to the senses. This is why so many hearing aids wind up in a drawer somewhere never to see light again. Not all audiologists prepare people for this. The better audiologist will turn down sounds until the person with hearing loss gets used to noise again and then inch up as needed. Building up to sound again requires effort and determination but is well worth the effort, like all good things in life.

With today’s new hearing aid technology, there are hundreds of adjustments that can be made. Beware of the programmer who sets according to the audiogram only, tweaking is necessary and there should be an open invitation to come back as necessary. It’s the hearing aid wearers responsibility to keep track of offending noises and good noises, this helps the audiologist program the aids more personally.

Don’t be afraid to keep shopping for audiologists. It took me four tries to find one I liked here in town. His programming ability is over the top. Since he adjusted my hearing aids, other comment on how much better I hear and I myself am amazed what I’m hearing now. Programming is everything to successful hearing aids. I’m glad I didn’t settle for mediocre.

Support groups also can make a huge difference to those with hearing loss. Meeting others with hearing loss is like finding a personal tribe. People share their stories, their coping strategies and their knowledge of technology. There’s online support groups such as the SayWhatClub (SWC) and there’s face to face, organized meetings through local chapters by The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA). Each of these groups have a yearly convention. It is hard of hearing culture for four glorious days. There’s education and instant friendship. Here, with these groups, a person can become comfortable with their hearing loss.

Some states provide classes for the hard of hearing. Utah has a class called Living With Hearing Loss based off Sam Trychin‘s program. They also offer classes in sign language, speech reading and often hold seminars geared to the hard of hearing. Many people attend meeting other hard of hearing people for the first time. Knowledge is power.

Self advocacy goes hand in hand with support groups. The hard of hearing have a voice and we need to use it. “Please face me when you talk, I hear better when I see you.” It requires showing up early to events to explain the FM system and how it works. It’s telling people how you hear so they better understand.

Some guidelines to advocating:

  • Speak up! The hard of hearing are a quiet lot and we feel bad for stating our needs.
  • Don’t wait, do it now.
  • Prepare in advance, make a plan if needed.
  • Be prepared to educate.
  • Be nice when educating others, a positive attitude will get you further.
  • Seek support when needed.

It takes courage do this. Believe in yourself and tell people what you need. You have just as much right to the world as the person next to you. And if you don’t know what is needed, educate yourself. If you don’t know how can anyone else know? There are lots of good books out there on hearing loss and also support groups will help a lot with this too.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs), also called Hearing Assistive Technology are bonus toys for hearing aids. They help with one on one conversations, in cars and in small groups. These include; telephones with volume control and captions, devices to help with the television, personal amplification systems which work with or without hearing aids, FM systems and loop technology. There’s CaptiViews in theaters now and caption glasses, free to use. All these devices help keep the hard of hearing independent.

Some devices are expensive and others not so much but isn’t staying active in the world worth the price? Keeping up with the table conversation with family? Attending that class or group? Going out to eat with friends? There is no shame in using these devices, just as there is no shame in wearing glasses, using a wheelchair or having braces on our teeth. It’s what is. ALDs enable us to continue to socialize and participate in life.

The technology in today’s hearing aids is amazing but I need a combination or all the above to make it work for me. If I didn’t have all those tools available to me, I wouldn’t cope as well as I do in society. Hearing aids alone wouldn’t have kept me asocial as I am. I’m empowered by all the above, not afraid to go out by myself to restaurants, attend workshops and events. I’m equipped to deal with most of I run into therefore keeping myself independent.

For more reading:

Self Advocacy:

ALDs or HAT:

Coping Strategies:

My favorite book on hearing loss

Missing Words by Kay Thomsett & Eve Nickerson

SayWhatClub Convention

The SayWhatClub had their convention in Salt Lake City August 15-18.  Since the SWC rescued me from denial (not a river in Egypt) in the late 90’s, I was happy to do what I could to help get this years convention together in Salt Lake.  I became co-chair, the local gal and helped gather speakers and equipment. So a great big thanks to the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for lending us equipment such as a projector and screens to show our CART among FM systems and so on. Love the Sanderson Center.

The workshop presenters we rounded up were great; Frank Clayton for Happiness 101, Brenda Estes telling us how to file complaints for captioning on local news channels, Enoch Cox who opened the floor right away for questions on hearing aids, Robin Traveller from the Sanderson Center on assistive listening devices (ALDs) and Hamilton Relay on the services available.

Our banquet presenter was John Waldo, caption advocate and attorney.  He told us about how he helped make captioning available in theaters, the strategy he used and how to use the same strategies locally. He’s such an inspirational speaker.

Meeting other SWC members is an experience never to forget. They are always patient with a sense of humor in tact.  I smiled and laughed so much my tip tops of my hearing aid molds dug into my ears to create sore spots. That’s how I know I’ve had a good time.

My thanks to Kristen Willey for helping me locally. The SWC board members for believing in me enough to make me co-chair for the event.  My thanks also go to the Sanderson Center for helping so much and Kathy Evans who is invaluable in resources and contacts. John Waldo, it was a pleasure to hear you again. Enoch Cox who turned into such a fun presenter.  Oh man, I know I’m forgetting others so watch my comments as I remember.

So onto pictures now (and not in very good order because of two cameras in use)…


Me… and a whole lot more. Kristen learned the night before how to sign,”She has fake boobs.” I gave her ample opportunity that night to sign it.

Kristen and Donna

Gayl Hardeman, our CART person through out the event. What a neat lady to know.

Neil and Dian Bauman

Me and Jack, who likes to go to Hooters normally but since I filled in, no one went this year. ha ha

Rosie and I creating a Kodak moment.

Kate coming into the welcome party.

Gayl, Donna, Marti, Jazzy

Donna on a beer and a hot flash. She’s getting as close to the A/C vent as she can.

Jazzy and Kathy


Frank Clayton in Happiness 101

The 3 cochlear implant companies presented together: Advanced Bionic, Cochlear America and Med-El

Robin Traveller

Brenda with hearing dog Calvin, Linda and Kate, chatting in the hospitality room.

Brenda presenting an informative workshop.

Hamilton Relay

Enoch Cox

Brenda and Amy

Fellow Connectors; Brenda, Neil and Kristen.

A group who rode on the Alpine Coaster in Park City.

a group of us at Temple Square


A birthday bash for their prophet featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

A group of us on the way back from the choir performance. We missed our train stop and had to go back…Thanks to Kristen and I, the locals, talking away and not paying attention to where we were.

Silent auction items up for bid.

Connect list members at the convention. I am a Connect member!

Maurice, Debbie and Lorne.

A workshop table

workshop attendees

Anne and Ann

John and Rosie

Carol and Maurice

Donna and Susan

Sanderson Center tour, Robin showing a special tinnitus pillow.

Wendy at the Sanderson Center.

Jim and Mary Lou

All the people wearing black and white at the banquet.

Anne Marie and Kristen

the auction action

Marti and Tom

Kristen and me. She was my sidekick… or maybe I was hers. I’m not sure which.

Jeannene and Ray, an anniversary couple

The locals

Susan, Debbie, Brenda and me

Gayl’s CART test


John Waldo, guest speaker for the banquet.

Girls gone crazy.

Hard of Hearing Culture

I volunteer for a few different hearing loss support groups and I like each of them for various reasons but the SayWhatClub remains close to my heart. Why? In the late 90’s I lived in the middle of nowhere with a hearing loss. “Nowhere” had no hearing loss support whatsoever. The closest support groups were about two or more hours from me but I searched further on the web and came up with the SayWhatClub, an online community for the late deafened and hard off hearing.

From them I received daily support. From them I learned about voice carry over phones and assistive listening devices (ALDs). They told me about CART (but I wouldn’t experience it until I moved to Salt Lake 4 years ago) and they taught me how to cope with my hearing loss and how to get on better with the world. The SWC taught me the majority of what I know today.

I attended one of their conventions in 1998. It was a camp out in the Rockies and there were about 30 of us. I had a great time and never felt left out. This weekend, I’m attending my 2nd SWC convention which goes to a different state/city each year and this year’s is in Salt Lake City. I helped pull some of it together, getting a few speakers and so on.

For the second time this year, I’m in my world… the hard of hearing culture with CART and loop technology along with ALD’s.  I’m loving it and having so much fun. I’m blessed with meeting many great people once again, all of us understanding of hearing loss. I’m learning things, laughing and even doing activities in the area I’ve never done; a zip line, the alpine slide and seen the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Tonight we have John Waldo, attorney and Deaf and hard of hearing advocate, will talk about “Silence to Understanding: Telling Our Story,” during our banquet. They have a silent auction fund raiser set up with a lot of neat items. It’s going to be another late night!

Tomorrow it’s all over.  The majority go home.