Category Archives: hearing loop

The Super Bowl as Hard of Hearing

For years I have mostly stayed home to watch the Super Bowl because I want to watch it the way I want to watch it.  Mainly I want to control the captions.  I don’t like the captions on during the game because they are often displayed right in the middle of screen where all the action is going on.  Or they put the captions over stats, times, scores, etc and sometimes I want to see all that too. However I like to turn the captions on during the commercials for they are half the fun!  So watching football with me means I push a lot of buttons.

This year I have the hearing loop to top it off.  Now I really don’t need or want captions during the game and I can hear the commercials that aren’t captioned.  This year it looks like all the commercials were captioned anyway but I was prepared.

We got an invite this year and Ken politely turned it down after talking to me (see my reasons above).  His friend came back and said he has 3 TVs so I could have the captions on one of them.  This is where I took over and thanked him for the offer then explained my remote control control use.  “I’d need to be the remote control queen.”  I also told him I have the hearing loop here at home and that’s an added benefit.  He came back with “You get to be remote control queen and bring your loop too.”  Wow!  That’s not an offer I get everyday.  I get to watch the game the way I want and get to be social too???  Okay then!

He sent Ken a picture of the back of his TV so we could figure out the connection ahead of time.  Funny enough, we used a spare connection from the Bluetooth TV streamer I have and don’t use (I can’t keep my necklace charged to use it).    We got there a little early and this is what I see as I walk into the living room.

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I’m near tears.

Ken pulls out the loop and it connects to the TV without a problem.

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And I’m all set with lots of options.  I can watch the game. I can hear the game.  I can socialize.  I can move in and out of captions especially fast because his remote control had a special CC button.  I was in Super Bowl heaven.

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With my phone of course.

Good food, good people and a pretty good game even though I wasn’t cheering for the team who won.  It was a unique experience and I was honored to be included, I was touched.

I think that was the first time I’ve told someone the full reason why I don’t go to Super Bowl parties.  It was also the first time someone asked why not?  Why haven’t told people that before?  Probably because I figured people would be irritated by it all but not so.  Of course there were other TVs in the house others watched it from our TV too.

A few things I want to remember…

One: I could be more proactive and not automatically assume it’s not going to happen.

Two: There are really good people out there and I think most people fall into that category. It’s not like I hang out with many bad people anyway.

Three: I want to make a hard of hearing party soon around a movie or something.  I want to invite my friends with hearing aids over.  If I had that much fun with hearing people, I want to do it with my hard of hearing friends too.

Accommodations Equal Confidence

CART makes a difference in a classroom setting.

CART makes a difference in a classroom setting.

The final memoir workshop was last Thursday night. It was a two night workshop and thanks to CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation), I was fully able to participate and understand everything being said. Out of habit I found myself looking at people as they spoke only tell myself, “You can’t hear. Go back to CART girl!” At the end of the night Julia (my CART person) was packing things up while some people were talking. One of them asked me a question and because the ventilation system was roaring above I couldn’t hear so with my new habit, I turned to look at the laptop for a translation but she already put away her stenography machine. “Duh,” I thought and started to look back at the person for a repeat but Julia was already typing it out for me on her laptop which was still up. Bless her. I’m convinced CART people have huge hearts. Thank you Julia!

CART 3

Last time when I wrote about CART, I said it gives me courage to participate. That thought rolled around in around in my head this last week and wouldn’t let go because not only does CART give me courage but it also gives me confidence to participate. Without the proper accommodations I’m lost in a sea of noise.

For example, I went to a meeting last month with an FM system in place but with old, omnidirectional microphones in place which picked up every computer keyboard tap, pens and fingers tapping the table, shuffling papers and scrapping sounds as microphones slid back and forth between speakers. It was exhausting trying to pick out speech between it all. I couldn’t place the people speaking in time to lip read fully (I have a hard time locating sound) and I didn’t ask questions in fear of someone else having already asked and slowing the pace of the meeting down. After bout half and hour of this, I found myself tuning out to get away from the excess noise so I hardly participated at all in frustration and lack of confidence. Thank goodness someone there was taking the minutes. A few days later I read what went during the meeting and no one asked the question I wanted to.  Oh well, there’s always email.

Another accommodation that still works great for my moderate, severe hearing loss is the hearing loop. I hear like I remember normal hearing to be like while inside a loop with my hearing aids on. It’s a miracle feeling and I will thoroughly enjoy the loop when I can and as long as I can. Unfortunately there’s not many set up in my end of the world yet but I’m working on it! Life is easier when the proper accommodations are in place and both CART and the loop gives the hard of hearing that extra boost we need to stay in society and stay mentally active.

Without those accommodations, we withdraw from life. We come across shy, awkward, aloof and maybe as not the sharpest tool in the shed but it’s only because we can’t hear/understand what’s going around us. We can’t keep up. I’ve been thinking that many of us must have our true selves locked up inside, hidden within hearing loss and hidden from the world.

We need to break out and stop fearing so much.  There’s too much life to live.  It’s taken me years to break out and advocate for myself and now that I do, I feel a little freer. I share my adventures with you so that you know you aren’t alone, you can learn from my mistakes and make adventures of your own. Ask for accommodations yourself, build your confidence that way too and maybe together we can make the world a better place.

As a reminder…

martin luther king quote

Introducing the Hearing Loop

Thanks to those who came to the meeting on Saturday, it was good to see you all there.  Thank you Karen for the fruit and pound cake.

  About 4 or so years ago our chapter wanted to know more about looping.  I remember Doug bringing in a Loop New Mexico presentation.  We viewed it, we talked about it and we still didn’t quite understand.  I don’t know if any of us at that meeting had experienced a loop at that point in time.  It sounded good but we didn’t know where to turn to get more information.
With Hearing Loops

With Hearing Loops

  Look how far we’ve come.  Now we have a looped room at the Sanderson Center where we can meet and the sound is terrific!  Kristin Rector of Listen Tech came and gave us a presentation about the loop and how we can advocate for it.  She also asked for our  help in how to better present to venues.  Ideas were exchanged and I think we all learned a little something even if we already thought we knew the loop.
  Not only that but Utah now has its own imitative called Loop Utah.  We have some great people in our chapter who put in a lot of time and effort there and on other committees to raise awareness and advocate for hearing loss.  Take a look at Utah-CAN who is also accomplishing great things around the valley.  And the Sanderson Center also tirelessly works on our behalf.  I think our people deserve a round of applause.
  Thank you Julie for our CART at the meeting.  While the loop works great, it doesn’t work for everyone so having CART at our meetings is important too.
  Coming up, a social next month!  We are going to start having socials in between our regular meetings.  Look for something on that tomorrow.

A New Role: Hard of Hearing Assistant

Early this summer I was hired to be a hard of hearing assistant through the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing here in Salt Lake City. The Sanderson Center was able to get a grant to hire 18 of us who live throughout the state for part time outreach to help other people who are hard of hearing. Training didn’t start until August 15th and 16th but we did get a few teachers manuals in the mail to read as homework in meantime. I’ve taken the classes already on my own previously but it was good to read it all again and make my own notes. I couldn’t wait to start in my new role.

August 15th finally rolled around and I walked into the center for training eager to see who else I would be working with. After we sat down, introductions were made as we each talked about our self and how hearing loss affected our lives. Not all of us had hearing loss, some were there because hearing loss affected a loved one or because they came across others in their life with hearing loss. Some of us wore hearing aids, some wore cochlear implants and others signed. Regardless, we bonded in that first half hour telling our personal stories.

CART was available all through the training (thank you Julia, we love you!) and we went over some of the curriculum and had a few bonus speakers as well. Kristin Rector of Listen Tech came in to talk about loop systems and how they work. She announced a Loop Utah initiative is underway. (Stay tuned, more information coming since I will be involved with that one too.) Marilyn Call, director of the Sanderson Center, gave an excellent talk on grief and hearing loss, how much we need the room to grieve that loss properly to be able to move on. Robin Traveller, the hard of hearing specialist, presented body language and how important it is to the D/deaf and hard of hearing people.

Robin with Marilyn behind her. The CART screen to the right.

Robin with Marilyn behind her. The CART screen to the right.

Kristin Rector and loop systems.

Kristin Rector on loop systems.

We started putting together a kit with more teaching manuals, catalogs, and a few video shorts including Gael Hannan‘s Unheard Voices (I was lucky enough to see her present a workshop called Ear Rage! in Virginia at the SayWhatClub‘s convention). We all are receiving three assistive listening devices to take with us to classes; the Mino, the PockeTalker and the Duett. (*I only picked Harris Communications because they give a better description of the products. Other places also sell these items such as Amazon.) That ended Thursday’s training.

tools

Some of the classes offered and the tools.

Friday morning Peggy Thomson, the Southern Utah hard of hearing specialist, started with a “Noisy Planet” presentation she gives to classrooms around the Saint George area. Did you know every day sounds like a blowdryer is 80-90 decibels? Your car window down on the freeway 90 decibels or more? A gas engine mower is 105 decibels and a siren 120? Anything 85 decibels and above can damage hearing.

Later, Kathy Evans told us how she adapted the Living With Hearing Loss class to suit families with children who have hearing loss. Then CaptionCall and Relay Utah both spoke about their services and how we can help sign other hard of hearing people up to receive captioned phones. Then we got more books and goodies to put in our kits. We are armed with all kinds of things to help people now. Then we scattered out across the state once again to go home. We started out strangers but we became a team starting a FaceBook group that weekend so we can keep in touch and share ideas.

Kathy on adapting the course to childern with Julia our CART person on the other side.

Kathy on adapting the course to children with Julia our CART person on the other side.

I love being around other hard of hearing people. I love the idea of helping others who are new or lost with hearing loss because I remember my own search almost 20 years ago for any kind of help. If it hadn’t been for the SayWhatClub, who made an online community (thank goodness for the internet), I don’t know if I ever would have learned to cope properly with it all. With today’s technology, things are even better than before with so many more options. I so admire the Sanderson Center for their effort in outreach and there’s so many dedicated individuals to the cause who work and volunteer there. Wow, what an honor to be included.

My new co-workers.

Hard of Hearing Assistants

Hard of Hearing Assistants on break.

More of us assistants..

More of us assistants..

And a few more talking to Marilyn.

And a few more talking to Marilyn.

Expressive hands.  :-)

Expressive hands. 🙂

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:

http://hearingloop.org/ David Myer’s site

http://loopwisconsin.com/ a site Juliette Sterkens runs

Audio Induction Loop via wikipedia

http://www.hlaabq.com/LoopNM.html Loop New Mexico campaign

HLAA’s Get in the Hearing Loop

http://www.aldlocator.com/ Assistive Listening Device Locator