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Legislation Around the Nation

So far 2017 has been a busy year for legislators and advocates who have diligently worked together to ensure equal access for the deaf and hard of hearing. For many, all that hard work culminated in March with the passing of legislation.

On March 17, 2017 Governor Herbert signed HB 60 into law. With this signing, the state of Utah has made history as the first state in the nation to replace the term “hearing impaired” with “deaf and hard of hearing” throughout all Utah code. This change shows that Utah acknowledges it’s DHoH community not as something in need of a fix, but rather a rich, diverse, and proud culture. This small change speaks volumes and is paving the way for many other states to follow suit.  At last count, four more states have put forth bills to strike the term “hearing impaired” from their codes and laws as well.  We may be a bit biased, but Listen Technologies has never been more proud to be headquartered in the great state of Utah!

In other good news, New York City has taken a giant leap towards accessibility and civic engagement with the passing of Intro-882-A.  Sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Intro 882-A requires a hearing loop be installed in any city-funded building project with one or more public assembly areas. This legislation applies to all renovations or new construction with a cost of $950,000 or more.  With projects under current capital planning, this will include close to 300 venues across New York City!

“With this bill, the City of New York will ensure that more and more spaces every year will be truly accessible to those hard of hearing. Hearing loop technology makes such a radical difference in the ability of so many to participate fully in public life, and I’m proud that as a City we have moved to make it not just a priority but a requirement in our public investments. I want to thank the advocates whose hard work made this possible, educating me and other policymakers on the importance of this issue and helping us reach a path toward getting this landmark legislation passed,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

Other aspects of this bill were thoughtfully included to encourage the use and success of the newly installed hearing loops. Directional signage will be required in all public areas with loop technology installed.  Additionally, Intro 882-A requires that information, security, and reception areas in all newly looped venues be made accessible via micro-loops. By July 2018, the office of the New York City Mayor will be required to maintain an on-line list of city managed facilities with hearing loops, including those slated to receive them going forward.

New York City is the first major city in the United States to enact legislation of this kind.  In doing so, they demonstrated that they value the input of their deaf and hard of hearing community members and are actively working toward inclusivity. Way to go New York City!

World Leaders in Hearing Loop

Hearing loops, also known as induction loops or t-loops, are assistive listening systems that provide access in facilities and venues for those who have a hearing impairment. The hearing loop takes a sound source and transfers it directly to a hearing aid equipped with a telecoil.

 

One of the most important considerations when it comes to installing hearing loops is meeting the IEC standard. Loop technology is often installed incorrectly, which results in unimpressive performance.

 

Listen Technologies and Ampetronic are the world leaders in hearing loop installation and training. Listen Technologies offers training courses that thoroughly walk through the installation steps and IEC standards. Our partners at Ampetronic have produced some fantastic videos offering installation tips for hearing loops. Watch them, here.

An Audio Guy Gets A Hearing Aid

I admit it, I never had my hearing checked until a few weeks ago.  That’s kinda ironic for a guy who provides assistive listening solutions!  It wasn’t a surprise to me that I have significant hearing loss in my left ear and some age related hearing loss on my right side.  Like most people, I wasn’t that interested in using hearing aids.  My “perception” was that they are for “old” people.  Of course, now that I’m 55 years old, my definition of “old” keeps changing….  None the less, it’s just not that exciting to think about wearing hearing aids.
Or, so I thought….

A hearing aid is just a sound system in your ear

However, it occurred to me that if I was a true audio guy, I would want to actually HEAR as much of the audio spectrum as possible AND a hearing aid is really just a little sound system in my ear – it has a mic (actually two), an equalizer (DSP) and a speaker.  So, I focused on losing my alignment of hearing aids and old people and focused on improving my hearing with some really cool technology.

Hearing aids are like glasses

The results have been amazing.  I now can hear things I didn’t realize I couldn’t hear before.  It’s just like getting glasses, contacts or Lasik.  I can see just fine without visual correction, but with visual correction the fine details pop out.  Hearing aids have done the same thing for me – they allowed the fine details to pop out.  Music is clear and crisp. It’s easier for me to hear people talking.  It’s NOT like putting on a headset where everything gets louder. It’s much more subtle than that.  You just hear frequencies and parts of sounds that you didn’t hear before.  The turn signal in my car sounds different.  I can now hear the crickets.

But here’s the real kicker. The hearing aids I purchased (Phonak), have a Bluetooth interface (called “iCom”) I wear around my neck and inside my shirt. No one can see it.  Now I can talk on my phone, listen/talk on my computer and I can listen to audio off of my iPhone wirelessly.  I no longer need a headset because I have one built in to my hearing aid system.  The only problem with this is that people look at me talking on my phone and they think I’m talking to myself…

Consider getting your hearing checked

Have you had your hearing checked?  I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and I find that most have not.  It turns out that the sooner you get a hearing aid, the less articulation loss you’ll have over time.  With less audio spectrum to deal with, your brain actually forgets words it can no longer hear and guesses at the word.  A hearing aid allows the brain to once again hear the word and relearn the word.  The longer you go without stimulating your brain, the less likely you’ll have the ability to retrain your brain.
There are some informative videos at the Hearing Loss Association of America.
Thanks for listening…
Russ

 

 

I’m Going To Hear My Mother’s Voice For The First Time

Louise Sattler is a nationally certified school psychologist with specializations in linguistics and multi-cultural education. She has been teaching American Sign Language for more than 20 years to families with hearing and non-hearing children, college students, staff at public and private school systems and businesses. Louise is the owner of Signing Families and is also an adjunct faculty member at Howard Community College (HCC) in Maryland.

Louise was the organizer of an ASL symposium sponsored by HCC to share with students and the community topics regarding deafness, American Sign Language (ASL) and new technologies available for individuals who are deaf. The goal of the symposium was to help hearing and deaf students and staff be able to communicate through ASL and to enhance students’ understanding regarding the deaf community.

Several presenters and vendors joined this event, including Denise Perdue and Lisa Kornberg of the Maryland Governor’s Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Ms. Perdue gave a presentation to the students regarding the latest technologies and assistive listening devices (ALDs) that are now available, including AVATAR and Video Relay Systems. The presentation also included a Listen Technologies FM system that was made available through Harris Communications.

One of the attendees of the conference was a deaf international student who attends HCC full-time. Evgeny Bogolyubov, who is from Moscow, was fascinated by the Listen system and asked for Ms. Perdue to help him with a demonstration. He was simply amazed when he was able to hear speech in English. Even more amazing, an HCC Russian teacher volunteered to speak/voice with him in Russian—his native language.

Evgeny was overcome with excitement because it was the first time in his life he heard Russian clearly. By this time, a rather large audience of students and faculty had gathered. The onlookers started clapping and shed more than a few tears upon Evgeny’s signing that he was so happy to be able to hear Russian. Many in the deaf community prefer to not have aids or FM systems, but in Evgeny’s case he wanted to hear sound for so many reasons, including learning English to speak, read and write better as well as be able to communicate with loved ones.

Louise was so moved by Evgeny’s excitement that she knew she needed to find a way for Evgeny to have access to his own assistive listening device. Louise’s passion and Evegeny’s story made for a very compelling cause to support. Due to Evgeny’s international status he is not eligible for free or reduced fee equipment through state or federal programs. This made it very easy to find a way to give him a “gently used” system free of charge.

Evgeny’s response was very emotional and rewarding for us at Listen. Upon hearing the news of his donated FM system, Evgeny was thrilled and was looking forward to hearing his mother’s voice for the first time. This is why we love what we do.
 

  

  HCC Russian teacher speaking to Evgeny in Russian

HCC Russian teacher speaking to Evgeny in Russian
  Evgeny hears Russian for the first time

Evgeny hears Russian for the first time
 
  Evgeny receiving his personal ALS system

Evgeny receiving his personal ALS system
   Evgeny and friends

Evgeny and friends
 
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