Categories Deaf & Hear Alberta

Virtual Meetings and Hearing Loss

Technology has significantly changed the way we live and work, particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic. Internet based platforms have not only complimented traditional communications, but have now in some instances, superseded them. By taking some simple steps, people with hearing loss—as well as meeting organizers and colleagues without hearing loss—can optimize the effectiveness of virtual meetings. 

Quick Tips for Running a Meeting when Hearing Loss is a Challenge

  • A stable internet connection is a necessity. 
  • The host should decide who speaks and calls a queue so that everyone knows who is on deck next. 
  • Participants should raise their hands when they wish to speak. 
  • The host should assign someone to monitor the chat box. This will be used if a participant is having difficulties with the audio and/or video. 
  • Record the meeting so participants can review and see if they missed anything. 
  • See if the meeting platform has captioning in the settings options.  If not, remote CART Captioning can be an option. Ask the presenter or meeting organizer. Use a separate web page and a second screen (computer or TV) when possible.  There are many online CART options, here are a few Alberta companies:   

Getting the Most from the Meeting 

Start each meeting with a few minutes of general conversation which gives participants a few minutes to make sure that they can hear and to make any necessary adjustments to their equipment. 

Encourage all participants to utilize the web cam option as the availability of visual cues aids in understanding for anyone with hearing loss. 

Check your lighting. Whenever possible participate from a room with good lighting, and when using a webcam, it is best to have the light source in front of you rather than behind. If the light is projected from behind, it can be difficult for participants to see facial features, hampering the use of visual cues such as speech reading. 

Keep your mouth unobstructed. Try to keep your hands, hair and clothing away from your face when speaking and project your voice. Speak at a moderate pace so that you are easy to understand. 

Additional Tips for Participants with Hearing Loss 

  • Sync up with your hearing aids. Ask your hearing care professional about a connectivity option that allows your hearing aids to connect via Bluetooth to your device. 
  • Advocate and speak up. Good communication is a universal right so speak to your employer and colleagues if you are not able to hear or understand. You may not be the only one struggling. It is important that you don’t miss important information, updates or assignments necessary for your participation during and after the meeting. 

Excerpts from:  

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, published March 30, 2020. 

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center 

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access – Gallaudet University, 2009-2014 

Categories Deaf & Hear Alberta

Visual card helps police and drivers communicate better

The Edmonton Police Service in partnership with Deaf & Hear Alberta have developed a new tool to help police officers and drivers with hearing loss communicate more effectively with one another. 

“We understand that being stopped by police can be a stressful situation for a motorist, and even more so if there is a communication barrier between you and that officer,” says Const. Trevor Claydon, with EPS Traffic Services. 

“Last year I had an interaction with a Deaf driver where communication was a concern.  I wanted to do something more to help us understand each other better, break down the barriers, and reduce the stress during the traffic stop.”   

Const. Claydon discovered that police agencies across North America had similar problems, and some had created information cards to aid with communication.  This prompted the traffic constable to work with Edmonton’s Deaf and hard of hearing community to develop a similar tool to meet the needs of both officers and drivers.    

The card’s design is simple and straightforward, with common visual symbols and text that can be pointed at by either party to facilitate conversation. 

One side of the card informs the officer that the driver has hearing loss, provides communication tips, as well as the best options to communicate with the particular driver.  Side two includes the various reasons for the traffic stop, what documentation the officer may require from the driver, and symbols for the driver to request various forms of assistance.  

Drivers are encouraged to keep the card in their vehicles where it is easily accessible, preferably on their sun visor or with their vehicle documents.  EPS officers involved in vehicle stops will also carry the card in their police cruiser.

Cards are available free of charge to the public at all EPS division stations, as well as at the Deaf and Hear Alberta office located in the Alberta School for the Deaf. 

The new communication card is one of the many ways that EPS is working together with the Deaf and hard of hearing community to address their needs, reduce barriers, and improve public safety.  

“EPS officers deal with members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community on a regular basis, and while we utilize Text with 911 and TTY technology for emergency and complaint calls, and offer training and interpreters when needed, we can still face challenges communicating one-on-one,” says Deputy Chief Greg Preston. 

“The visual nature of the card will help us share information more effectively and bridge these communication gaps, so we can continue to provide the same level of service to all members of the community.” 

In Canada, Deaf persons are entitled to equal treatment and access to services under the law.  The Canadian Hearing Society reports that there are 3.15 million Canadians who are hard of hearing, and 340,000 who are deaf. 

It is a common misconception that Deaf people do not drive.  Driving tests are the same for everyone, and hearing is not a factor for auto insurance.  Numerous studies have recognized that individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing are as safe as drivers who can hear.  

“Whether you have a mild hearing loss or profound deafness, hearing less does not mean living less,” says Cindy Pilz, Deaf Services Manager with Deaf & Hear Alberta. 

“Our vision is a world where the Deaf, hard of hearing, and those at risk of hearing loss, are recognized and respected so they can fully participate in society, and this placard aims to do just that.  With the placard in place, I feel it will make a huge impact, and this initiative shows how much the Edmonton Police Service really cares for our community.”

Download the Communication Card.  

For more information, please visit www.edmontonpolice.ca/communicationcard.

Categories Deaf & Hear Alberta

May is Hearing Loss Awareness Month

May is Hearing Loss Awareness Month.  In recognition of this,  we have compiled a list of the common problems that people with a hearing loss experience and solutions that help people just like you enjoy a more comfortable and independent life.

I have trouble hearing people in a group conversation.  Solution: Personal Amplifier or Pocketalker® – This handy device is great to use in small group conversations with family and friends. It is also very easy to use at the doctor’s office, pharmacy or even in the car.  This small, portable, battery operated device will amplify sound and can be used with or without hearing aids.

I can’t hear what people are saying on the telephone. Solution: Amplified Telephone – These specialized phones allows you to adjust the tone and turn up the volume to better hear what is said.

I don’t hear the phone when it rings.  Solution: Flashing Telephone Signaler – Never miss another phone call!  When your phone rings a bright flashing light will alert you to the incoming call.

I cannot get a goodnight’s sleep because I am worried I won’t hear my alarm clock go off.     Solution: Alarm Clock with Bed Shaker – You can sleep well knowing you won’t miss hearing this loud alarm. It also comes with a very strong vibrating disk to wake even the deepest sleeper.

I didn’t hear the doorbell and missed the Home Care nurse and the delivery person.    Solution: Flashing Doorbell Signaler – Never miss an important delivery or visitor again. A flashing doorbell signaler flashes a bright light to tell you when someone is at your door.

I can’t hear the sound of my smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector alarm any longer.  Solution: Flashing Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Signaler – Smoke and Carbon Monoxide are deadly, so you have no time to waste evacuating your home when your alarm goes off.  A wireless system will alert you day and night with a bright flashing strobe light and a strong vibrating disk that will wake you from a deep sleep.

My TV has to be so loud that it disturbs other people.  Solution: TV Listening System – An audio listening system will allow you to listen at a volume that is right for you without disturbing others.

The constant buzzing, roaring and hissing of Tinnitus keeps me awake at night.  Solution: Sound Conditioner –   A constant soothing sound can help to cancel out the other noises to help you get a better night’s sleep.

I have trouble hearing people speak at a meeting or in a noisy environment. Solution: Phonak® Roger Pen Microphone:  A wireless microphone system that helps people to understand more speech in noise and over distance.  Great for meetings, pair with your Bluetooth® cell phone, for the TV or multimedia listening. Works with most hearing aids.

Hear Alberta offers free individual consultations at our Calgary office.  We will review your hearing loss with you, as well as help you deal with your frustrations, learn to communicate more easily, maintain your independence, and better hear the world around you.

Visit our website at http://estore.deafandhearalberta.ca/  and call me at 403-284-6200 ext. 3 today to book your free, no obligation appointment!

Categories Deaf & Hear Alberta

World Hearing Day: 3 March

World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. Each year, the Office of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness of the World Health Organization (WHO) decides the theme and develops a brochure on the topic based on the best available evidence as well as advocacy materials. At its headquarters in Geneva, WHO organizes an annual World Hearing Day seminar.

The theme of the campaign for 2019 is “Check your hearing”, as data from both developed and developing countries indicate that a significant part of the burden associated with hearing loss comes from unaddressed hearing difficulties. Many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing out on certain sounds and words. Checking one’s hearing would be the first step towards addressing the issue.

The key messages that the World Health Organization wishes to express are:

  • All people should check their hearing from time to time, especially those who are at a higher risk of hearing loss such as adults above 50 years, those working in noisy places, those listening to music at high volumes for long periods of time and those experiencing ear problems.
  • Services for early identification and intervention should be made available through the health system.

On 3 March 2019, WHO will launch a free app that allows people to check their hearing. The HearWHO app will be used to:

  • Raise awareness about the importance of hearing
  • Encourage people to check their hearing regularly and practice safe listening
  • Allow health workers to check the hearing status of people in their communities
  • Determine the need of an individual for having a formal hearing test

Excerpts from: World Health Organization

https://www.who.int/deafness/world-hearing-day/en/