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Be an Advocate for Yourself and Others

Even though many countries have laws in place for mandatory assistive listening compliance, public awareness of these laws is inadequate. Many venues throughout the world still lack adequate systems to help the many people who have hearing loss. Here are some things you can do to build awareness and be an advocate.

So, how can you help?

  • There are many groups leading the charge to increased awareness, but they need your help. The Hearing Loss Association of America has a chapter in virtually every state and some states have several chapters. Find one in your area and get involved. They have incredible people and resources available to you. There are worldwide organizations, as well.
  • If you go to a venue where a public address (PA) system is being used, ask the facilities manager for an assistive listening device. If they don’t have one, make note of the facility’s address and fill out a complaint form. It’s only one page and only takes a minute. Here’s what can happen when people speak up.
  • Take some time to study your rights under the ADA. Knowledge is power, and being armed with information on your rights goes a long way, even if you only use it in casual conversation. It increases awareness; if people aren’t aware of a problem it can’t be fixed.

In closing, the biggest difference you can make is to speak up, don’t sit in silence, because you don’t have to. Be an advocate for yourself or for others who have hearing loss.

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

Every day we have common experiences where noise levels are dangerous to our hearing, yet most of us aren’t thinking about how to protect our hearing or the hearing of our children. We are always reminding our kids to buckle their seat belts, but we seldom remind them to protect their hearing. As October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, I feel like it’s important to shed some light on this topic and to start learning about how to prevent hearing loss.

Many of us assume that noise-induced hearing loss is just something that happens to all of us. Others assume it only happens to older people. What if I told you that noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise in school-aged children? And would it surprise you if I told you that this type of hearing loss is 100-percent preventable?

According to the National Institute of Health, it’s not just the exposure to the occasionally loud siren blast or other extremely loud noise that can cause damage to our hearing, It’s the constant exposure to noises over 85 decibels, which isn’t very loud. A normal conversation measures about 60 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels can cause noise-induced hearing loss. And once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Most of our kids listen to their music with their ear buds in their ears at levels that are 85 decibels or higher. Take extra precautions. Concentrated sound from this type of equipment is more likely to damage your child’s hearing than just listening to music in a room, because when listening to music in a room, much of the surroundings — like carpet, furniture, and walls — absorb the sound. With headphones or ear buds, the frequencies go directly into the ears.

Along with protecting our kids’ hearing, it’s important to think about your own. As adults, we’re exposed to noise, too. Personally, I now carry a couple of pairs of ear plugs with me at all times. One pair I bought at a music store for under $20 and the other I had made with a kit that I ordered online; it’s custom-made for my ears. I went to an IMAX movie recently. During the start of the movie, the theater was way too noisy, so I pulled out some ear protection and wore them throughout the movie. I was able to hear just fine for the entire film.

These sorts of experiences are common, and yet most of us don’t even think about protecting our hearing or our kids’ hearing. I urge you to be more aware of the noise around you and your families. Tell your kids to turn down the volume in their headphones and ear buds and make sure you’re protecting your own hearing. We must be aware that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.

Get Loopy at the Loop Utah Conference May 2 – 3

We love it when amazing people come to town, especially when those amazing people talk about something near and dear to our hearts. In honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month in May, Loop Utah and the local Utah Chapter of the HLAA have invited Dr. Juliette Sterkens as a special guest speaker.

Dr. Sterkens, a National Loop America advocate and an audiologist, will discuss the importance of the installation of hearing loops throughout the United States. She will also touch upon the subjects of advocacy and compliance for those with hearing loss.

Listen Technologies is very excited about this event as it supports Hearing Loop awareness, legislative compliance, and, in May each year, Better Speech and Hearing Month. Better Speech and Hearing Month is dedicated to raising more awareness about communication disorders. This year, the focus is on identifying the signs of communication disorders.

Get loopy with Loop Utah and support this event, which consists of two sessions. The first session on May 2 is for industry professionals, such as audiologists, architects, and facility managers, while the second session on May 3 is for the general public. If you’re interested in attending, please view the specific information below.

WHEN

May 2, 2014 (for audiologists, architects, and facility managers)

9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

May 3, 2014 (for the general public)

9:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

WHERE

Sanderson Community Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

5709 S. 1500 West

Taylorsville, Utah

All conference rooms are looped.

Communication and Hearing Loss

Most of us have heard the phrase “Good Communication is Key” countless times, but the reason we’ve heard it over and over again, is because it’s true. When was the last time bad communication got you what you wanted or helped you achieve success? Probably never.
 

One of the biggest components in good communication is understanding. If either participant in a conversation isn’t being fully understood, then good communication isn’t happening. Making certain that both participants are being heard clearly is particularly important when hearing loss is a concern. Here are a few important things to remember when you’re communicating with someone who has hearing loss.
 
Use Body Language. OK, so you don’t have to turn into a puppet flailing your arms all over the place, but body language, no matter who you’re talking to, is incredibly important. It becomes even more important if you’re conversing with someone who has hearing loss. Keep your body language open rather than closed, so that your conversation feels inviting. It’s also a great idea to maintain eye contact.
 
Don’t exaggerate your lip and mouth movements. You have a lovely and expressive face and it’s great that you use it during conversations to convey how you’re feeling about something, but when you’re having a chat with someone with a hearing loss, don’t exaggerate things with your mouth. This can make it difficult for that person to read your lips. Also avoid speaking too slowly, because it can come off as super patronizing and nobody wants to be that guy.
 
Remember that time you went overseas and were sort of embarrassed by the tourists who would shout in English thinking that if they shouted louder they’d be better understood? It doesn’t work in Europe or in conversations with people who have hearing loss. Yelling often makes words harder to understand and it makes you look kind of silly. Follow the advice of your mother; there’s no need to shout.
 
Ask open ended questions. “Yes” and “no” questions can only get you so far, but an open ended query can not only keep things going, they also let you know if you’re being understood. How do you ask an open ended question? Simply ask something that will promote more conversation. For example, instead of asking, “Did you like the movie,” ask “What did you think of the movie,” because it allows more discussion. More discussion means more understanding.
 

If you’re unsure about how to best communicate with someone who has hearing loss, ask them. They may have their own advice that works best for communicating specifically with them; after all, no one’s hearing loss is exactly the same. The key is to make sure everyone’s needs are being met, that good conversation is happening, and that you’re both being understood.  

Rocking On with Listen Technologies

One of the events centered around AV Week last week was an essay contest held by Listen Technologies for children of employees ages 4 – 18 to build awareness about the AV industry their parent is involved in.
The rules of the essay contest were to submit an essay or short paragraph on the subject of music or audio, what it meant to the young authors, and why they thought they should win the prize from Listen.
What was the prize? An amazing Fender Electric Guitar, including a case, small amplifier, and other cool accessories! If that doesn’t celebrate the AV industry I don’t know what does! It’s no wonder we had some amazing submissions from our Listen kids.
Here are a few excerpts from our favorites:
Braden Keele
“My mom tells me a story about when I was 1, I saw my uncle playing the guitar and I really wanted one. For my 2nd birthday I got a toy red guitar but it broke.” Click here to read the rest of Braden’s essay.
Lauren Peterson
“I want the guitar because I like music and I want to learn music. I want to be a good guitar player and if I do get the guitar I will learn how to play and teach people.” Click here to read the rest of Lauren’s essay.
Lexi Peterson
“When I feel sad or I don’t want to think about something, I listen to music and it helps me forget and makes me feel happy.” Click here to read the rest of Lexi’s essay.
And our winner…Andy Bathurst

“Music for me is a way to touch lives and make people inspired…” To read the rest of Andy’s essay, click here.
Rock on, Andy! Thank you for writing such an inspiring essay. We’re glad you decided to help us celebrate AV Week and we hope you enjoy your new guitar.

One Loop at a Time

When I first started at Listen Technologies I was told I would have certain kinds of moments. Moments that weren’t about marketing a product, per se, rather, they’d be moments that would show me that there are bigger reasons that we do what we do; moments that would reinforce why I decided to work for this company in the first place, because it helps people have better life experiences. I had several of these moments last Saturday as we helped kick off the Loop Utah Movement at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Festival. Here are a few of them.

Gaining More Understanding

 

I am not a person with hearing loss and I have recently entered into a world of trying to understand what it must be like for people who do have a hearing loss. I won’t lie; it’s been a challenge for me to understand. I’ve stumbled over jargon and made silly mistakes along the way. It’s been a bit tricky for me to navigate through the ADA requirements. It’s been even harder for me to fully understand the human aspects of how frustrating it must be to have to go to a public space and not be able to fully participate. This began to change on Saturday.
As I arrived at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for the festival on Saturday the atmosphere was strange from my perspective. Things appeared to be quite lively. There were lots of people outside smiling. There were snow cones, and fries, and games. There were lots of different vendors at booths, but things were quiet as I walked across the lawn. I didn’t understand what was going on. How could it be so quiet? It looked like people were having a great time. It suddenly dawned on me that the reason for the relative quiet was because people were signing to each other. Silly me! Here I was, already making assumptions about something I knew very little about—I have so much to learn.
At first the silence made me feel shy and awkward; I don’t know any sign language, so I felt incredibly out of place, but then I decided to use the situation as a learning experience. This was one of my moments, a moment that opened me up to learning what it feels like to not be able to fully participate in something. Personally, I feel it was very important for me to have this moment of clarity. I was humbled in a very good way. If I hadn’t been open to the human aspects of feeling vulnerable right then and there, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow and experience the things I did later that day.

An Extra Bag of M&M’s

 

As a writer, I tend to be far better in textual communication than in verbal communication. I tend to get a little tongue-tied when approached by strangers, especially in crowded environments, which is why I was in absolute awe of my co-workers when they talked with people who visited our Listen Technologies booth at the festival.
Watching and learning from Cory Schaeffer, Tim Schaeffer, Kristin Rector, Carrie Keele, Mike Griffitt, and the Steering Committee Chair, Dr. Anne Lobdell was invaluable to me. They were incredible, whether they were demonstrating our small Hearing Loop, getting people to join the Loop Utah Movement, or merely talking to people about hearing loss prevention. It was great to have the opportunity to watch and learn from all of them. It also gave me the courage to have a few interactions of my own, one of which was quite memorable.
As all of my Listen comrades had wandered off to ready themselves for presentations or visit other booths, I was left alone to mind our table. Obviously, I was a little anxious. A few people stopped by and I shyly talked about Loop Utah. People politely took our informational kits and I even got one of them to sign up for Loop Utah e-mails. But the most incredible moment I had during this time on my own was with a small, similarly shy, twelve-year-old girl. Her name was Sara.
Sara approached our Listen table quietly. I smiled at her and she shyly smiled back. Feeling a little awkward I asked her if she had a hearing loss. She shook her head and looked down at some of the informational things we had on our table. I then asked her if she knew someone who had someone with hearing loss. Her facial expression as she looked up at me was something I’ll never forget. It was a mixture of sadness, loss, pain, and a little hopefulness; something that said, “Yes, and I love this person, but don’t know what to do, because I’m just a kid.”
It turned out that the person she knew was her grandfather and he was very important to her. She had no idea what kind of hearing aid he had (whether it was equipped with a t-coil or not) all she knew was that he didn’t like wearing it and that he didn’t like going places with her as much anymore. When I asked if her grandfather was with her to see if I could talk with him too, she admitted she was alone. Sara had come to this festival on her own to help find some answers for her grandfather to help make his life better. This simultaneously broke and filled my heart! What an amazing kid! My awkwardness and shyness wore away quickly. I knew I had to do something to comfort her or at least try to help her.
I asked Sara about some of the things she liked to do with her grandfather. Apparently, they both love going to the movies. Both of them also love mixing M&M’s in with their popcorn (we had a supply of M&M’s at the Listen table and yes, I gave her an extra bag). Instead of launching into a big speech about Hearing Loops, I simply told Sara about some of the different things she could do to help her grandfather. I gave her a stack of Calling Cards she could hand out to movie theaters she visited. And then together we sat down and quickly wrote a letter to the movie theater she and her grandfather visited the most asking them to install a Hearing Loop, so she and her grandfather could keep going to the movies together. She promised me she’d send the letter. I promised myself never to forget how I felt as I helped her. It was indeed one of my moments.

Not Just Numbers

 

I am someone who finds a great deal of value in being able to go out an experience cultural events, whether that is watching a contemporary version of some Shakespearean play, seeing an opera, or listening to an art historian talk about a Chagall painting on a tour at a museum. Granted, these things might not be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea, but no matter what one enjoys doing (sports, church, lectures, poetry readings, whatever) one should have the right to enjoy it fully. Watching drama unfold on a stage, hearing the notes of a talented soprano, learning about brushstrokes from an educated scholar, so that you know more about a work of art are important things to me personally. I don’t know that they’re important to everyone, but I fully believe that we all have instances and things we enjoy that cultivate who we are as human beings. Maybe it’s a rock concert for you. Maybe it’s cheering at a basket ball game. Whatever it is, I fully believe that these things make us more human; they make us better humans. There are those among us who are currently not participating in what they love doing, simply because they do not have access to assistive listening devices or equipment.

Hearing Loops allow people with hearing loss who have smart hearing aids (hearing aids with telecoils) and cochlear implants go out and experience things they love in public spaces and venues. The benefits of Hearing Loops are easy to understand: they’re more hygienic and they offer a personalized sound experience that’s delivered from the source of the loop straight to a users hearing device. They are also compliant with the ADA.

I’m told that the current percentages of people with hearing loss in the United States fall somewhere between 17% and 20%. When I think about these numbers, I find it staggering. Not because of the ones and sevens or the percentages, but because of the human faces behind these numbers who are limited in experiencing things they may have used to loved to do, much like Sara’s grandfather.

When we quote numbers like this, we must remember who they represent. They represent our loved ones, our friends, and ourselves. When you really think about it—I mean really, really think about it—these percentages are much bigger than just 17% or 20%, because when you know someone with hearing loss, you become part of that number, too. What I mean to say is that Sara’s grandfather isn’t alone, he has Sara. Sure, they’re just two people, but imagine what would happen if everyone was as brave as Sara. If we all pool our collective resources and advocate for changes together as people who don’t necessarily have hearing loss, but as people who are concerned about it, we can make huge differences.
At some point in your life, you’re going to know someone who has a hearing loss. It could be your grandfather. It could be your mom, your dad, your favorite sibling. It could be your child. It could be you. When you think of the faces of these people you love, can you honestly say that they deserve to experience less in life? If you could make things better for them, wouldn’t you?

Although I’ve only listed a few, the moments I experienced on Saturday made me more aware of the importance of the Loop Utah Movement.

I do not personally have a hearing loss, but I am increasingly passionate about creating meaningful cultural experiences for others. I fully believe that this makes us all better as people. Looping venues in the State of Utah has become important to me. Not because I work for Listen, but because I believe in making people’s lives better. I sincerely hope that you too will consider joining this movement. Together we can make a difference, One Loop at a Time.

Inspired by Women Tech Awards

On September 12 the Salt Lake technology community joined the Women Tech Councilto celebrate and honor women who are driving innovation, leading technology companies and making an impact in the community.

This was my fourth experience at the sixth annual Women Tech Awards and Thursday’s event was just as inspiring and motivating as my first experience. Our state offers women who are interested in technology, science, engineering and math an array of opportunities to succeed and contribute. I am in awe of the remarkable women that make a difference at their companies, in their community and to technology.
women-tech-award-winners
This event certainly emulates what the Women Tech Council serves to do in its mission to bring women in technology together to build, innovate and mentor.
The keynote address was given by Jennifer Lawton, President of MakerBot a 3D printing leader. Jennifer gave a fascinating overview of MakerBot and their products and services. MakerBot was founded in 2009 by entrepreneurs who wanted a 3D printer but couldn’t afford the $200,000 price tag so they decided to make one themselves. Since then it has delivered more than 15,000 desktop printers being used by engineers, designers, researchers, and people who want to make things.

robohandIt’s clear from Jennifer’s keynote that her she is passionate about the inspirational projects MakerBot is involved with. Robohand is a set of fingers that open and close to grasp things based on the motion of the wrist. It gives parents of children who need prosthetics a cost effective solution. Because children grow so quickly typically they are not fitted for prosthetics because they are so expensive. Jennifer noted “it’s an incredible experience to take a technology and make such a difference.” Indeed!

She is also a believer in MakerBot as an awesome tool for kids to learn science, technology, engineering and math principles by seeing how things work.
Jennifer also inspired me with her story of how she got to MakerBot. She has certainly not taken a linear path to get where she’s gotten. She spoke of who she is inherently and the impact her mother had on shaping the path she has taken. “My mom told me I could do anything and I took her seriously,” was a lesson she shared. She shared many of her life lessons; of note to me were:
  • Ask and take. You have to be willing to ask for help, for what you want, for what you need. She believes that is how she was able to get Stephen King to a book signing when she owned a small book store in Greenwich, CT.
  • Don’t feel resentful. If you do, it may be time to move on.
  • Life is not a dress rehearsal. There are no do-overs so make sure you’re always giving it your best.

 

cory-schaeffer-women-tech-awardsFollowing Jennifer’s keynote the 17 finalists were presented via the video presentation below. I am honored to work with Cory Schaeffer who has certainly made an impact in my life and has contributed to the AV industry in countless ways.
A selection committee from technology, venture, and government communities selected the finalists and then recognized the award recipients for varied categories.The 2013 award recipients are: Academic Excellence: Dayna Stevenson, Westminster College, Trailblazer: Catherine Ball, Ancestry.comHuman Capital Leadership: Cathy Donahoe, DOMO, Rising Star: Clare Wysocki, ATK, Business Excellence: Sarah Lehman, ENVE CompositesTechnical Excellence: Zlatina Todorov, O.C. TannerLeadership Excellence: Lynda Talgo, eBay

Huge congratulations and thank you to the award winners. Over the last six years the Women Tech Council has recognized 90 women for their innovation, leadership, and contributions to the community. I look forward to being inspired by next year’s finalists.

Experiencing the HLAA National Convention

Janice Armigo Brown wrote the following letter sharing her unique experience as a first time attendee to the Heaing Loss Association of America (HLAA) National Convention.

Ms. Brenda Battat
Executive Director
Hearing Loss Association of America
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200
Bethesda, Maryland  20814
 
Dear Ms. Battat:
 
Thank you for the unique opportunity to experience my first Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) National Convention 2013 in beautiful Portland, Oregon.  I was able to do so as a recipient of a scholarship from Listen Technologies (Sponsor), thanks to Nancy Macklin, Director of Events and Marketing.  (Incidentally, I presented Listen Technologies with a thank you California gold colored gift bag that included: travel literature for California, maps, chocolate, California wildflower seeds, and a small genuine San Francisco Cable Car.)  Although I did not have a chance to personally thank you, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and briefly explain a bit about my experience as a first time attendee.
 
My arrival on early Thursday afternoon with registration at the Oregon Convention Center was truly welcoming.  I will tell you that I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people walking around at first glance who seemed to know everyone while I was the newcomer.  But, I wasn’t overwhelmed for long.  Once I put my bold red MED-EL badge on, I quickly became “an addition” to the crowd and instantly felt at home with my peers.  I soon found it comforting to have the HLAA convention neatly tucked away in a corner of the Convention Center where it was quiet, well staffed with helpful volunteers and with excellent signage for locations for workshops, exhibit hall attendees, receptions, etc.  And…the coffee that was available couldn’t have come at a better time!
 
I attended my first workshop on Thursday afternoon titled Implementation of Special Accommodations for Patients with Hearing Loss in Health Care Settings.  Afterwards, I went upstairs to the Portland Ballroom for the Opening Session with Keynote Speaker:  Howard Weinstein, Inventor of the Solar Ear.  “What an amazing individual who has greatly improved social integration for the largely excluded population of low-income people with hearing loss in the developing world.”  If only more people were devoted to helping the less fortunate in our society. 
 
 As I waited for the attendees to arrive, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that everyone in the room was exactly like me.  Everyone was yearning to be informed, to be “a part of a familiar family” that recognizes each other for who we are and is accepting and accommodating to our needs.  It’s not everyday that this many people with hearing loss are under the same roof unless they are attending a national convention.  This unique experience alone is one that I will always cherish.  The true camaraderie experience!
 
The Special Reception at the Oregon Convention Center was festive with spectacular food and spirits.  I felt honored to even be invited.  I was happy I went although I did not know many others.  I quickly began socializing and before long, I made a new friend from a chapter in New Jersey who had much in common with me.  Following that reception, at 8:30 was a Get Acquainted Party at the Doubletree Hotel for Attendees.  I really enjoyed everything about this get-together as I quickly made a few new friends and made contact with a few members from my chapter as well.  By the end of the evening, I was really excited to be in Portland and be a part of this experience. 
 
I also had the opportunity to have lodging at the Doubletree Hotel along with many, many attendees, thanks to Judy Martin (Florida).  I contacted her as a suggestion from Nancy Macklin who told me that Judy oversees the HLAA Message Board.  Judy let me know that another member from the Los Angeles HLAA Chapter (CA) was seeking a roommate.  I soon made contact with Diane Gross, and after a few emails, I was able to secure a room to be closer to attendees, many wonderful events, and totally accessible transportation provided by the MAX Light Rail.  The fact that the registration packet included a pass on various modes of transportation was an added bonus that truly elated me as I do advocacy work as a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Accessibility Task Force in Northern California.  I am a member of the Hard of Hearing community although I truly advocate for seniors and people with all disabilities. 
 
I learned quite a bit from visiting the Exhibit Hall.  There were representatives from Gallaudet University that I enjoyed speaking with.  I also learned more about Clarity Telephones, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, Listen Technologies, Sonic Alert, TSA and many, many more vendors.  They were very open to my questions and provided me with a wealth of information.
 
Yes, I attended truly educational Workshops for three days, took in as much information as I was able to process, and participated in almost everything the Convention had to offer.  I only wish the convention could have lasted a few more days because once I got “truly immersed” in all that there was to offer, I didn’t want the convention to be over.
 
I also met Elizabeth LeBarron for the first time.  I was so excited to meet with her personally as I have corresponded with her during the last year.  I really feel that she is really responsible for me even applying for the Scholarship.  I really wanted to meet Elizabeth and thank her for listening to me.  She gave me the strength and opportunity to be published in your HLAA National Magazine last year (July/August 2012).
 
Strength in numbers helps to make a powerful impact on society.  By socializing and networking with such a large number of HLAA attendees over a period of three and a half days, I learned that we all face challenges, discrimination, hardships,  and most of all, being  invisible in a way that we are misunderstood by members of the hearing society and many times deemed inferior due to our disability.  Therefore, although it is very difficult at times to step forward and be assertive in meeting our needs, educating others does prove fruitful.  In a setting such as the HLAA National Convention, we don’t have to care about being misunderstood because we all understand how to communicate with each other.  We just need to continue to educate and create awareness within the hearing world so they can better address our needs.
 
I feel that from a few of the conversations that took place during the convention that perhaps, the HLAA is turning the page as there will be a new Executive Director, Anna Gilmore Hall who will possibly take another turn to some of the dynamics of this empowering organization that truly strives to make a difference in the lives of individuals with hearing loss.  What that new page will look like, I do not know.  Nobody knows.  I do know, however, that under new leadership, new ideas come forth.  As an individual with a hearing loss in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to approximately 7 million individuals, I only hope that the voice of the HLAA continues to be heard and the changes that come about such as more hearing loop systems in public places, better overall hearing health from audiologists, reasonably accommodating workplaces, more open and closed captioning, availability of CART at meeting rooms and assistive listening devices made accessible to everyone who requests them – wherever they are, whatever situation they are in, and whatever resources it takes to get them.  Since hearing loss is an invisible disability, I feel that we are still at times, invisible as well.  I can honestly say that we live in a much more accessible society that existed years ago, yet we have a lot more work to do to overcome barriers. 
 
My mission for the rest of my working years is to gain employment advocating for everyone with this disability.  I would like to primarily focus on seniors and assisting in keeping their lives rich by keeping communication open and available to them with assistive listening devices and a better overall “hearing health experience” with their audiologists so all of their needs are met, not just with hearing aids. 
 
My other focus is to make hospital communication more accessible to patients with hearing loss.  It is stressful enough entering the hospital (by ambulance or otherwise) let alone experience added stress and possibly an accident or mistake made due to lack of communication between patient and physician, nurse or technician.
 
The Farewell Dinner at the Lloyd Center Ballroom on Saturday evening was extremely memorable and fun as well.  The table setting was so tastefully done.  The added bonus of including an Austin, Texas guitar memento pin, wildflower seeds and Farewell Brenda wine glass was over the top.  I safely brought the glass home and will always remember the evening when I drink from it.
 
Your leadership over the last 25 years at HLAA has been monumental to people with hearing loss.  I learned so much about you and your caring and supportive family during the evening.  I learned that you have conveyed a picture of an extremely strong minded person with hearing loss who does not let this disability keep you from accomplishing great feats.  You are a role model to me and I am sure to many others who need an individual like you to help keep them achieving goals and overcoming barriers.   I applaud you and all that you have done at the national level.  I only wish that I knew of you years ago when I needed a strong role model but knew of no one.
 
I plan on becoming more active in my San Francisco Chapter (CA) of the HLAA.  I feel that our chapter can truly make a difference in the lives of people with hearing loss.  I hope to coordinate a meeting with Chapter members and Juliëtte Sterkens, AuD – National Hearing Loop Advocate when she comes out to California in late September (to San Francisco) and with her guidance hopefully begin to work on a project.  I had the good fortune to have her at my table at the Awards Breakfast and Ceremony on Sunday morning.  She is doing wonderful work by promoting the much needed Hearing Loop Systems throughout the United States.  I am truly excited to tell you that I was at one of the workshops on Friday afternoon and turned my hearing aid to T-coil and experienced the system for the first time.  What a tremendous difference it made in listening to the presenter!   I heard everything that was said – without straining to hear.  And…what I didn’t catch, CART assisted me as a back up.  How accessible is that!
 
Again, thank you ever so much for the experience to attend the HLAA National Convention 2013 in Portland.  I will always remember the journey to the Pacific Northwest and how it made me a much stronger individual by learning that I am not alone in the world with hearing loss.  I have support and connections to the best resource anyone with this disability can have – with the Hearing Loss Association of America.
 
Thank you and farewell Brenda,
 
Janice Armigo Brown
HLAA- San Francisco Chapter (CA)   
HLAA Scholarship Recipient (Listen Technologies)
 

Cc:  Nancy Macklin, Elizabeth LeBarron, Dr. Juliëtte  Sterkens, AuD 

A Word from the Wise: Cory Schaeffer on Being a Woman in Tech

Cory Schaeffer, our fearless, talented, brilliant, charming Co-Founder and VP of Sales Worldwide, was recently nominated as a finalist for the 6th Annual Women Tech Awards.

The Women Tech Council’s program recognizes technology-focused women who are driving innovation, leading technology companies and are key contributors to the community.

 

In celebration of this illustrious nomination, we thought we’d share some of Cory’s thoughts on being a woman working in the technology industry. So, without further ado, here is what Cory had to say:

How did you get interested in the technology industry?

The truth is, I fell into the industry. However, I stayed in it, because I quickly saw an opportunity for ongoing growth in an exciting field. I also saw that there were few women and it felt great to talk the technology talk and have the industry really want to “understand.” I feel that I can discuss technology at a very basic level or a very high level and it has served me very well.
What lessons have you learned about being a woman working in a field that is viewed as predominately male?

I’ve learned that because an industry is predominately male, there are tons of opportunities for me as a woman and for other women, too. The men in the industry want women to succeed and they are willing to help them. I’ve also learned to step up and take a seat at the table. Women can and should be in this industry and we should be leading. There is no reason not to and there is absolutely nothing stopping us. This industry needs more women. We ask questions that many of our male counterparts will not, we take time to educate ourselves, we are great networkers; it’s a great field to push beyond our comfort zones.
What do you think the future is for women working in the technology industry?

I strongly believe that we’ll see more and more women on boards, running organizations, and projects. Women prefer to communicate and involve others collaboratively. Women are strong communicators and communication management is vital to our industry. Women are more interested in preventing a crisis, than relishing the chance to save the day. To be sure, this description doesn’t fit every woman, as this could also apply to some of the industry’s best males, but so far, it doesn’t apply to enough of them.
What advice would you give to other women who want to start working in technology?

Don’t wait to be asked and don’t wait for the perfect job or fit. Just get in. Once in a technology field, you’ll find so many opportunities, many of which you won’t see or have until you’re in the field. Be bold and be aggressive.
Congratulations on your nomination, Cory. Everyone at Listen is very proud of you!

Listen Technologies Visits the Sanderson Center for Hard of Hearing Assistant Training

Eliminating communication barriers at the Sanderson Center

It was a great pleasure of ours to visit the Robert G. Sanderson Community Center in Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in a Hard of Hearing Assistants Training Session. The Sanderson Center is dedicated to eliminating communication barriers in order to create a refuge for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. It’s a place where Deaf and Hard of Hearing people can come and meet, socialize, and participate in all kinds of activities. Its 32,000 square feet contains a large lounge with a big-screen television, a pool table, a gymnasium, a kitchen, three classrooms, a lecture hall, a bookstore, and interpreter lab, and two beautiful courtyards. It also houses the offices for the Division of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Along with creating a wonderful place for the Hard of Hearing community to gather and socialize, the Sanderson Center also hosts training seminars like the one in which we participated  for Hard of Hearing Assistants.

Hard of Hearing Assistants make a world of difference

Hard of Hearing Assistants are trained in order to help those who are living and coping with Hearing Loss. For many, coping with this is a new thing and having a Hard of Hearing Specialist to help them makes a world a difference. These specialists do so much. They work with families who are adjusting to hearing loss. They assist with problems that may arise at work or school. They provide case management services; give information about resources and support groups, and offer education and assistance with listening assistive technology, among many other things. Hard of Hearing Assistants also provide individuals important information about rights and responsibilities related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which can be incredibly beneficial for someone who is unaware of their legal rights.

It takes a great deal of effort to become a Hard of Hearing Assistant. The Assistants in Training we met  at the Sanderson Center were all incredibly passionate people visiting from all over the state of Utah to train on such topics as: Living with Hearing Loss, Grief and Hearing Loss, Body Language, Family Communication, Assistive Listening Device Training, and others. Many of these Assistants have loved ones who are affected by hearing loss or have hearing loss themselves and it is incredible to see how dedicated they are to making improvements in their community. 

Sharing ideas and technology

Kristin Rector, our Director of Marketing, delivered a presentation to the Hard of Hearing Assistants in Training at the Sanderson Center on the General Guidelines of the ADA. Many of the Assistants in Training, who were made up of a varied group of passionate women from all over the state of Utah, were unaware of all of the requirements of the ADA. As most of these women personally have loved ones who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf, they were thrilled to learn of these requirements, because they quickly recognized how it would benefit the people they love, as well as themselves.

Once the ADA Requirements were gone over, a presentation was given about Hearing Loop. Many of the Assistants in Training were excited about this technology, especially when the benefits of future applications were discussed. There were all kinds of ideas flying through the room: Why couldn’t they put a Hearing Loop in a car, or a drive-thru window? Why couldn’t they put one in every airport in the country? Every courtroom? Every restaurant? The ideas just kept coming and coming. It was fantastic.

Kristin also discussed an upcoming event that Listen Technologies is very excited about, the kick-off of Loop Utah, which begins in September! This movement not only brings awareness to Hearing Loop, but it also vastly benefits the lives of the Hard of Hearing community, their loved ones, and any venue that installs the technology. We are thrilled to be part of this continued effort and cannot wait to participate even more in the future. 

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