Hearing Access in Healthcare: What’s Coming and What You Can Do Now

When HLAA-WA president Cheri Perazzoli was injured a car accident a few years ago, she needed hospital care. But once at the hospital, she wasn’t able to understand hospital staff or communicate, even with her hearing aids.

“I was bewildered and under stress, and I couldn’t hear what the hospital staff were saying to me,” Cheri explained. “I had suffered a concussion, which was disorienting by itself, but it was accompanied by a bout of roaring tinnitus making it even harder to understand.” She had a remote microphone on her hearing aid, but she couldn’t use it because the battery was low. Hospital staff didn’t know how to communicate with people with hearing loss, and they had no technologies available to help her.

“The whole experience was hard enough, because who wants to be injured or sick?  But it was made worse by a lack of communication access,” Cheri said

Hearing access in public spaces is improving across America, but in most places, healthcare settings lag behind. Advocates are stepping in to close the gaps.

In Washington State, HLAA-WA developed hospital kits several years ago to empower people with hearing loss to advocate for themselves in healthcare settings. The kit includes a button that says “Please face me, I lip read,” plus a card that says, “I am hard of hearing. Please face me. Speak clearly.” Advocates Karen Utter and Judi Carr worked with the Swedish medical system to make similar kits available for everyone.

“It’s not widely known, but hospitals are required to provide communication access,” Cheri said. Some hospitals do, she explained. She and Karen Utter found hearing loops at several Swedish locations throughout the Puget Sound area, including the hospital ERs in Seattle and Issaquah, in 2016. “It’s crucial to keep staff informed about these loops, keep the loops turned on, and make sure the sign is visible so people know to use the loop,” she said. “Staff come and go, but the loops need to stay,” she added, noting the need for staff training about the hearing loops and also about how to communicate with people with hearing loss—both of which are often lacking.

The pandemic revealed — and worsened — the barriers people with hearing loss face as they navigate our healthcare systems. Help is coming, such as this looped vaccination site in Seattle, which also drew attention to the need for improved healthcare access for hard-of-hearing people throughout Washington State.

Ann Thomas, hearing loop advocate and HLAA-Diablo Valley president, is working with the University of California San Francisco Health (UCSF) and is a member of the UCSF Patient Advisory Council and John Muir Health to improve communication access for people with hearing loss.

“People with hearing loss live uncertain lives. We don’t know when we will be able to hear and understand and when we won’t.  We need to prepare for the worst-case scenario and ask for communication access because if we don’t, it will be too late to receive the assistance we need. In healthcare settings, we need to prepare for our worst hearing situations and ask for communication access, rather than only think about how well we hear in the best situations,” Ann explains.

Until enough systems and technologies are in place, how can people with hearing loss get the accessible care that they need now?

  • Check out this outstanding Effective Communication in Health Care guide from HLAA, which includes a video geared to patients with hearing loss, communication tips, guides for specific situations (inpatient settings, outpatient settings, tests, and so on) and much more.
  • For telehealth visits, request captions—CART, if possible.
  • Bring clear masks (also available here) and ask hospital staff to use them.
  • Download and print a communication tip card to give to hospital staff, and a sign that tells them you’re hard-of-hearing.
  • If you’ll be in the Swedish healthcare system, you can print these communication aids.
  • Inform your providers that you have a hearing loss. Ask them to face you, speak clearly, and even drop their mask briefly if you’re really struggling to hear.
  • Let the hospital or clinic know that communication access options such as hearing loops are available. Counter (point-of-service) loops are inexpensive but life-changing.
  • Practice good self-care and prepare carefully before you go. See this hospital survival guide from Consumer Reports.
  • Bring an advocate with typical hearing with you, if possible, to help you communicate.
  • Read this  excellent advice from Dr. Chad Ruffin, which is geared specifically for care during the COVID-19 era.
  • Use a caption app on your phone or iPad, such as Otter or AVA. Tina Childress has more app suggestions on this list. 

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A Introduction from the New ODHH Hard-of-Hearing Program Manager

by Mary “Maggie” Campbell

Maggie Campbell is the new Hard of Hearing Consultation and Resource Program Manager at the Washington State Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Hello! My name is Mary Campbell, and I prefer to be called Maggie. I am so excited to begin my journey with ODHH as the Hard of Hearing Consultation and Resource Program Manager.

I was born with a profound hearing loss. My parents noticed that I would not respond to them unless I was looking at them. They also noticed that I would stare intentionally at their faces when they spoke to me. A trip to the family physician and further audiology testing confirmed that I was Hard of Hearing. I was placed into a local “school of Deaf and HOH” that included about 7 students for preschool and kindergarten years. Once I entered 1st grade, I was sent to “hearing” school. I was completely cut off from Deaf culture at that point and integrated into the “hearing” world. My parents did not learn or use ASL. My lip reading was my only means to communicate with everyone around me. Despite this, I have always embraced the part of me that is hard of hearing. It is a part of me that I carried with me in all my journeys. Through school, through work, through relationships, through parenting.

I got a late start in college due to raising a family. I graduated from Whitworth University in 2008. I started my career in the field of social work by working in mental health crisis support and teen drug and alcohol support while still in college, then I was a social worker in a Skilled Nursing Facility. It was at the SNF where I fell in love with the vulnerable adult population and knew that I wanted to continue advocating for those who need advocating and support. In 2013, I began my journey with the State of Washington as an investigator with Adult Protective Services, investigating allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. In 2016 (late) I became a supervisor, training and providing education to investigators up until my recent departure to join the ODHH.

My entire childhood and much of my adulthood has been spent fighting to be treated equally to my peers. To have equal access to information as my peers. I have pushed back against discrimination in the workplace, asserting my ability to be just as proficient as my peers. I had never truly experienced my deafness as a barrier to reaching my goals. . .until the COVID pandemic.

As a VERY proficient lip reader, mask mandates created a barrier for me that I STILL struggle with. I felt like my independence was stripped. I was no longer able to get my needs met in public, at work, or at the doctor’s office in preparation of a major surgery. I had spent my entire life adjusting myself for everyone else, and now I needed that adjustment and no one was hearing me. I needed support, and it was not there. I was denied communication with medical professionals. I was unable to do some parts of my job effectively. I was emotional, devastated, and hopeless. And then I got angry. I could not understand how we as a society have failed to provide consistent and equal support and access to those who are Deaf and HoH. I knew there was a problem. I just had not realized the magnitude until a few years ago.

In any and every position I have been in, my favorite parts are the chances to educate and train. I strongly believe in quality of life despite any barriers one may have, and I will always advocate for what the client wishes are (within the parameters of safety). It is the upmost honor to be able to join the ODHH. I’m excited about the work that I will be able to do, the people I will get to work with, and the personal growth I anticipate.

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In Grateful Memory: Jerry Olmstead

Jerry Olmstead, June 23, 1935 – November 12, 2021

Jerry Olmstead, longtime hearing loss advocate, mentor, and HLAA leader passed away this past November. He leaves behind his wife and fellow hearing loss advocate Joanna Olmstead, a son and daughter, and with a legacy of serving others and ensuring that people with hearing loss can participate equally throughout Washington State.

For fourteen years, Jerry was an officer in the HLAA–Skagit chapter, including five years as president, and during that time the chapter grew from 10 members to 40. After he received his cochlear implant, he realized how important it was to truly hear and communicate with his family, so he dedicated himself to helping others get the most out of their CI. With Bert Lederer, Jerry co-founded the Northwest Cochlear Implant Support Group and mentored many people along their CI journey.

Later, hearing loops became a new mission for Jerry. Along with Joanna, Jerry was instrumental in getting several hearing loops installed in northern Washington State, including at the Burlington and Anacortes Libraries, the Anacortes Community Theater, Skyline Clubhouse, and City of Anacortes Council Chambers.

Joanna and Jerry Olmstead helped install hearing loops at the Burlington Library.

Jerry spent his retirement years traveling, learning photography, enjoying time with friends and family, and boating throughout the Pacific Northwest, including in the San Juan and Gulf Islands.

We’re deeply grateful to Jerry for generously using his time and talents to help people with hearing loss and to provide such wise and energetic leadership to HLAA for so many years. His work endures in the form of empowered friends, fantastic public hearing access, and the memory of his huge heart and caring service to others.

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Advocacy Opportunity: Help us Leverage Better Hearing & Speech Month

Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about hearing loss and communication disorders. HLAA-WA would like to use BHSM 2022, as an occasion to communicate with elected officials, educating them about hearing loss. We believe many local lawmakers have not voted for bills or policies supporting people with hearing loss because they do not understand what it like to live with this invisible disability. Will you help us change this dynamic?

We are providing two opportunities—you can participate in one or both—and we will make it easy:

  • Ask for a City or County Council Proclamation

Send a proposed proclamation to your local city council declaring May as Better Hearing and Speech Month and ask them to adopt it.

How we will help: please email our HLAA-WA legislative liaison, Cynthia Stewart, at cstewart@hearingloss-wa.org, and include where you live. Cynthia will provide you with the names and email addresses of your local elected officials, the proposed proclamation, and a letter clearly stating our request.

  • Meet With Your Local Legislators and HLAA-WA

Join a conversation with your district legislators and HLAA-WA. As a person living with hearing loss, you are in the best position to discuss the needs of people who struggle to hear every day and everywhere we go.

How we will help: please let Cynthia know you are interested, and she will work with you and your legislators to set up a meeting. We will provide talking points and a fact sheet to give to your legislators, and Cynthia will participate with you in the meeting.

Why is action important now?

In the next legislative session, we will continue our fight for private insurance coverage of hearing aids and hearing health. Leveraging this year’s Better Hearing and Speech Month to raise awareness helps us lay the groundwork for this important effort. This is an opportunity to advocate for yourself and everyone in our state living with hearing loss.

Thank you for your participation. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Cheri Perazzoli, President
Hearing Loss Association of America – Washington State

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Hearing Loops Arrive at Grocery Outlet Store

High ceilings, clattering shopping carts, and chattering people can make grocery stores challenging places to hear. But hearing loops change all that, making communication with employees and customers with hearing loss easy and fast.

The Grocery Outlet in Springfield, Oregon, now has hearing loops at every checkout. The store owners, Tracy and Tom Hogan, were inspired by hearing loop advocate Ginevra Ralph to improve communication at their store.

Installer Alan Anttila at Hearing Support Solutions looped all five checkout lanes using Contacta’s “Above the Counter” pad-type loops, which have the loop aerial housed in the sign. The directional microphone helps block sounds from behind the checker. Anttila designed and bult the microphone holders himself using aluminum bar stock.

This loop could be the start of more loops at grocery stores across the country. Which store here in Washington State would you like to see a checkout loop?

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Open- Captioned Movies: Reasons for Hope

Written by John Waldo

Many of us with hearing loss need captioning to enjoy a movie. Federal and Washington State disability laws have responded by requiring theaters to provide individual closed-caption viewing devices, which enable us to access the captions without altering the experience for others. Although better than nothing, those devices are not really satisfactory. What we’d like is open captions (OC), displayed on the screen, so that we can just walk in and enjoy a movie without the hassle of checking out cumbersome, conspicuous, and unreliable devices. An ongoing petition asking for OC just passed the 25,000 signature mark.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t help us. Although the law itself says nothing about OC, reports from the House and Senate expressing legislative intent say the law does not require theaters to show OC movies. Both the courts and the federal Department of Justice have essentially treated those statements of intent as having the force of law.

There’s an “escape hatch,” though. The ADA does not override state or local laws that provide greater protection for people with disabilities. So the quest for OC has moved to state legislatures and city councils, and here, we’re beginning to see some positive results.

In 2015, the State of Hawaii passed a law requiring theaters with multiple locations in the state to offer two OC showings each week of each movie distributed with OC — most movies are. OC statutes are under consideration in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. And at the end of 2021, the New York City Council passed an ordinance requiring all movie theaters in that city to offer four OC showings per week. The NYC ordinance also specifies showtimes, requiring one matinee and one evening showing each weekend, and one matinee and one evening showing during each week.

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has vigorously opposed OC mandates. Their concern is that hearing audiences shun OC, and indeed, their numbers show relatively low attendance for OC shows. I’ve always thought that’s the wrong question. If the OC-avoiders go to a different showing of the same movie or go to a different movie, the theaters have lost nothing. On the other hand, if some of the people at the OC showings would otherwise not attend movies at all, those people are all new revenue. And indeed, preliminary data from a short-lived experiment in Washington, D.C. shows that when both an OC and a non-OC showing of the same movie occur within an hour of each other, OC attendance is lower than at the other showing, but total attendance exceeds what would be expected.

 I’m pleased to report that in a very recent (March 7, 2022) Zoom conference, the New York City theater owners have committed to giving that ordinance an honest effort for six months. Better yet, they have committed to gathering relevant data. While they will, no doubt, compare OC to non-OC attendance, they’ll also compare total attendance at their NYC theaters with attendance at theaters in nearby areas not subject to the OC ordinance.

Washington Representative Tina Orwell has taken an interest in this issue, and she was interested in generating some form of an OC demonstration project. That effort died for this year because of the short legislative session, but it may be revived in the future. My hope is that what we learn from New York City will provide some solid insight into how some scheduled OC showings can be integrated into movie-theater schedules in a way that provides us with full and equal enjoyment, does not meaningfully diminish the ability of others to enjoy movies in the non-captioned format they prefer, and enhances theater revenue. That would be a real win-win outcome.

John Waldo is an attorney whose practice focuses exclusively on issues arising out of hearing loss. He was counsel on a number of the cases that led to nationwide movie-captioning requirements, including one in Washington State, where he formerly practiced. He now lives in Houston, but continues to practice nationwide.

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Back to the Movies: Hearing-Friendly Theaters in Washington State

Are you headed back to the movies?

Movie theaters across the country are slowly opening their doors again. Is the smell of freshly buttered popcorn coaxing you back to your favorite theater, or are you still Netflix-and-chilling on the couch?

You can, of course, still find many captioned shows to stream at home. But if you have a hearing loss and you’re headed back to one of Washington State’s many movie houses, here’s a guide to where (and when) you might find looped or captioned shows at a theater near you.

Something to keep in mind: Theater managers have told us that not all movies come to the theater with captions, and that even when captions are available, sometimes it can take the theater staff 24 hours or more to make an open-captioned show happen. In other words, it may help to plan ahead.

As always, if you don’t see a theater’s hearing access or captions advertised, call or email the theater and ask about their access, and request an open-captioned show if you need one.

Seattle Area

Admiral Theater in West Seattle – The Admiral will show some open-captioned movies by request.

Regal Meridian & 4DX – At Regal cinemas on 7th Avenue in Downtown Seattle, some films are closed-captioned and others are open-captioned. Check the theater website or call ahead to confirm (844-462-7342)

Regal Thornton Place – At Regal Thornton Place & Imax at Northgate, some films are closed-captioned and some are open-captioned. Check the theater website or call ahead to confirm (844-462-7342).

Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) – In addition to the yearly festival—one of the largest in the country—SIFF also screens films year-round at the SIFF Egyptian, SIFF Uptown, and SIFF Film Center.

Foreign films at SIFF are usually shown with English subtitles (captions) at all SIFF locations and at affiliate venues during the festival. SIFF also offers assistive listening devices at all three of its locations. Closed captioning varies by film and by venue; call 206-465-5830 or email info@siff.net for more information. As of December 2021, SIFF tells us that they’re considering more open-captioned shows.

Spokane

AMC River Park Square 20–  Assistive listening devices and closed captioning CaptiView devices are available for most shows. Contact the guest services desk for help.

Regal Northtown Mall – Closed captioning devices are available for most shows; some open-captioned screenings are available. Call the theater to confirm (844-462-7342).

Village Center Cinemas – These theaters in Airway Heights, Wandermere, Pullman, Lewiston, and Eastside Moscow offer some shows with closed captions.

Tacoma

Cinemark Century Point Ruston and XD – Closed caption devices and an assistive listening system are available for most shows.

Grand Cinema – This indie theater has open-captioned shows every Wednesday. A closed-caption device is available to put in your cupholder. To hear through their an assistive listening system (FM), you can borrow headsets or a neckloop, or bring your own (2.3 or 2.8 Mhz.)

Edmonds

The Edmonds Theater – Open-captioned screenings generally happen on Sunday afternoons.

Anacortes

Anacortes CinemaOpen captions are available upon request (360-299-7994).

Mount Vernon

Lincoln Theater – The beautiful Lincoln, built in 1926, has a hearing loop system, closed captioning gooseneck devices, and headsets. To best hear through the hearing loop, sit in the center sections.

The Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon, Washington, has a hearing loop plus closed-captioning devices

More open-captioned shows may be on the horizon.

In late 2021, AMC Entertainment announced they plan to offer more open-captioned shows, in addition to the headsets and CaptiView closed-caption options they already offer.

And locally, we’re talking with Rep. Tina Orwall, the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Washington State Association of the Deaf, DeafFriendly’s Echo Greenlee, and cinema owners to find ways to bring more captioned shows to your neighborhood theater here in Washington State. We’ve signed a letter of support for a budget proviso to explore solutions.

Special thanks to the folks at Wash-CAP, The Washington State Communication Access Project, for their stellar work in bringing captions to Washington State. Wash-CAP is an excellent resource for finding captioned entertainment. You can also visit captionfish.com for captioned movie screenings around the country.

Did we miss any of your favorite hearing-friendly movie houses? Let us know: admin@hearingloss-wa.org.

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Removing the Barrier of the Ask: Why It’s Important to Have Accommodations Ready

You’ve seen the text on meeting notices many times…

For accommodations, please call our disability coordinator…
Hearing accommodations available upon request
Please submit your accommodation request 14 days in advance

What’s the problem with that? After all, the hearing accommodation will be there, right?

No, not always. The hearing assistive device or system may not be available, or it may not work properly. People may not remember ask for help ahead of time—or even know what a venue offers for accessibility.

“When a person with a disability has to request accommodations, a lot of factors can stop that person from asking for what they need,” said Cheri Perazzoli, HLAA-WA president and HLAA board member. “First, some people with hearing loss are reluctant to ‘out’ themselves by admitting to their hearing loss. Second, if you’re new to the world of hearing loss, you may not yet know what’s available to you to help you hear.”

Cheri added that because people are optimistic by nature, we often come to a venue expecting to be able to hear and thinking we won’t need an accommodation. But in reality, much depends on the environment and the particular speaker. “Folks with hearing loss need to approach each outing thinking about the consequences of not being able to hear. We have to assume we won’t get a front row seat, the speaker will be wearing a mask or speak with an accent, and we won’t be able to speech read. That’s why hearing accommodation needs to be there.”

When venues place the onus of the “ask” on people with hearing loss, they’re effectively forcing people to ask permission to hear. That’s not really meaningful access, says Perazzoli.

But there’s a better way: hearing loop assistive listening systems.  “I’m passionate about hearing loops becoming a part of our neighborhoods—loops are always there waiting,” Perazzoli explains.

This sign in a venue means that a hearing loop is waiting for people with hearing loss.

If you have a hearing aid with a telecoil feature, you can connect directly to a hearing loop to reduce background noise and the effect of distance, so that you can hear and understand much more clearly. A hearing loop is part of a venue’s standard equipment and infrastructure—a loop doesn’t need to be requested ahead of time.

In Washington State, venues such as the Seattle Rep and the Seattle, King County, Spokane, and Bellevue councils have hearing loops. Other locations, such as the Seattle Opera and The Paramount Theater, have other assistive listening options, such as FM and infrared systems. These systems are usually available without prior arrangements, but receivers and neckloops need to be checked out onsite.

A recent Washington State law requires televisions in public spaces like bars and offices to have captions on automatically, all the time—another example of removing the burden of the ask from people with hearing loss. The captions are always there waiting.

In New York City, thanks to a push from hearing loss and Deaf advocates, cinemas will soon be required to offer daily open-captioned screenings with on-screen subtitles. Open captions are different from the closed captions that some movie theaters currently offer. Closed-caption shows require borrowing special caption glasses, or a digital device called a CaptiView. Some movie fans have been frustrated about by how poorly the closed-caption devices work, the delay in the text captions, and the distraction in looking back and forth between a device in your cupholder and the big screen.  

With the new NYC open-caption law, people with hearing loss don’t need to ask for a device; rather, anyone can simply find an open-captioned show that works with their schedule, and then attend as others do.

Is the future one with fewer “asks” and a more robust infrastructure of accessibility for everyone? We sure hope so.  

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Putting Accessibility Front and Center in the Seattle Arts Scene

Elizabeth Ralston leads the Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium.

What would the Seattle arts community look like as a fully accessible, inclusive space? Ask the folks at the Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium, an organization that connects local cultural and arts groups with what they need to ensure that everyone, regardless of any disability, can enjoy and participate in arts programs and performances. We talked with Consortium founder Elizabeth Ralston about how improved accessibility is key to changing the arts community and opening doors to new audiences.

Accessibility can be a daunting, overwhelming process. How do you show venues what they need to do?

Ralston: Through our workshops and networking events where they tap the knowledge of the community for resources. I am also a consultant and work with clients on developing accessibility plans and auditing their programs and content for accessibility. 

What are some of the Consortium’s key accomplishments?

Ralston: We ended the year strong with three workshops and three networking events, called Consortium Connections. We have a website with resources. A strong steering committee–we just recruited three new members. We have two seasons of a podcast called Opening Doors, which consists of interviews with people from the disability community about access, intersectionality, and art.


What’s your favorite arts venue in Seattle, and what are the key accessibility features?

Ralston: I’d like to rephrase the question to: What arts venue is succeeding in accessibility? Answer: the Sound Theatre Company. They employ actors with disabilities and are intentional about creating a rehearsal environment that works for people with disabilities who have differing needs. Their plays and shows are produced and run by people with disabilities. They have a radical inclusion ticketing policy where anyone can buy a ticket at a price that works for them and can sit where they need to sit in the theater.

What are you most excited about for the future of accessibility in Seattle?

Ralston: I feel like accessibility is really moving into the forefront of peoples’ consciousness, rather than being treated as an afterthought. The arts sector has been battered mightily by the pandemic, which exposed a lot of the inequities, and now people know they can’t go back to business as usual. Considering new audiences and markets is critical as reopening plans are underway.

Note: For more info on hearing-friendly arts venues in the Seattle area, see our list and map. Venues with a hearing loop include the Seattle Rep, Town Hall Seattle, the Federal Way Performing Arts Center, Carlson Theater at Bellevue College, the Bellevue Arts Museum, the Driftwood Players, Everett Performing Arts Center, and Village Theater Issaquah.

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New Loop at the Bellingham Public Library, Plus More Loops to Come, Boost Post-Pandemic Hearing Access

A counter loop like this one at the Bellingham Public Library means ADA-compliant hearing access, faster customer service, happier customers, and relaxed, confident employees.

Glass shields and facemasks make communication harder for everyone, even more so for people with hearing loss and people who are Deaf. An N95 mask can reduce high-frequency sounds by 12 decibels, and worse, any mask will reduce or even eliminate our ability to interpret facial expressions and speech-read. Hearing loops and other hearing accommodations are needed now more than ever to overcome these new communication barriers brought about by the pandemic.

Longtime hearing loss advocates in Bellingham, Washington, are taking matters into their own…ears. Thanks to advocates with HLAA-Whatcom County, this new counter loop at the Bellingham Public Library is one of many loops planned for the Bellingham area. The team hopes to bring a similar loop setup to City Hall, parks & recreation, the municipal court, police, public works, and more.

For clearer sound and better comprehension, library patrons can turn their hearing aids or CIs to T or Telecoil mode in order to tune into the hearing loop. Patrons who need a little help hearing but who don’t have hearing aids (or hearing aids with telecoils) can borrow a headset to hear better.

Thank you so much to our HLAA-Whatcom County loop advocates extraordinaire: Mike Sweeney, Lou Touchette, Larry Wonnacott, Don Gischer, Jerry and Joanna Olmstead, Jerry Finkbonner, Tanya Griffey, Pam Spencer, and Charlene MacKenzie, Joyce Moseley-Sweeney, and Vicki Hammond, with a special nod of gratitude to Cheri Perazzoli and Ann Thomas.

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Get in the Hearing Loop Honors IHLMA

The International Hearing Loop Manufacturers Association (IHLMA) has joined the Get in the Hearing Loop movement, and IHLMA was honored by Cheri Perazzoli and the Get in the Hearing Loop leaders at the 2019 HLAA convention in Rochester, New York this summer.

The IHLMA aims to “support good quality loop installations around the world,” and is available to support and guide anyone interested in hearing loop systems. The association members adhere to a a code of conduct, and they offer technical resources and standards.

Members of IHLMA include….

Ampetronic    
Bo-Edin (Univox)     
Clear Audio Systems 
Contacta       
Conversor   
C-TEC   
Geemarc Telecom 
Hearing Products International 
HumanTechnik  
OPUS Technologies    
OTOjOY    
Sarabec 
Signet (AC)    
Williams Sound   

 – Manufacturer
 – Installer
 – Consultant
– Distributor
 – Training
 – Designer
 – Maintenance

IHLMA’s offices are based in Gloucester, UK. You can reach them at admin@ihlma.org, or for technical advice, technical@ihlma.org

 

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Lincoln Theatre Loop Still Going Strong

We were copied on this lovely note to Roger at the Lincoln Theatre from hearing loss advocates Jerry and Joanna Olmstead.

The Lincoln Theatre in Mt. Vernon was looped earlier this year—read more about it here.

You never know how many lives you touch with that simple copper loop, but notes like this remind you of why this work matters.

note from Jerry and Joanna
Click to enlarge.

 

 

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What hearing loss is really like: Kimberly Parker gives a rare workshop

kimberly 48 million

Kimberly Parker at the Poulsbo Library, September 21, 2019.

If you’ve seen Kimberly Parker’s one-woman show Lost in Sound, you know how talented and wise she is—and how powerfully she conveys the experiences of people with hearing loss through drama, story, and song. She’s also one of the stars of the Like the Mic video produced by Rooted in Rights.

On September 21, 2019, Kimberly brought her insights to the Poulsbo Library to present a rare workshop. She shared her own journey, which began with a genetic form of hearing loss–long undetected–that progressed to deafness at age 40, and then her experiences after her cochlear implant. 

Kimberly the young mom

Kimberly Parker as a young woman.

She also gave communication strategies and resources to help people with hearing loss determine how they can best move forward in their journey.

To provide the very best hearing access, a temporary loop (from Steve Peck–thank you!), CART, and ASL were available.

Kimberly credits HLAA for supporting her hearing loss path,  and we at HLAA-WA and Loop Seattle credit Kimberly for being a tremendous advocate and performer, shining the light on hearing loss in unique and relatable ways.

Thank you to the Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) for arranging this talk, especially Di Cinney, who attended in person. We’re proud to be your partner in serving Washigntonians with hearing loss.

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A small-town theatre invests big in a hearing loop

Mount Vernon 6

Do you love old theatres as much as we do? Especially theatres with springy seats, ornate artwork, tall curtains, the faint smell of popcorn, and a rich history of creating memories for their communities, however big or small?

Sometimes, though, these grand spaces don’t have the best acoustics. Not so for the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, Washington: this beautiful venue is now in the loop.

Mount Vernon 7

The Lincoln Theatre, a restored 1926 historic vaudeville and silent movie housepresents a year-round schedule of concerts, current and classic films, and community and fundraising events. The theatre works with local school districts, hosting school performances and workshops by performing artists on tour. The local youth symphony plays at the Lincoln, as does a community-sponsored children’s theatre. Currently, the theater seats 489 and still houses the original 1926 Wurlitzer organ.

In January 2014, Jerry and Joanna Olmstead, award-winning hearing access heroes with  10 years’ loop advocacy experience (!), began the project by meeting with the folks at the Lincoln.  Later, the Sound + Hearing Campaign was born, led by The Lincoln Theatre Center Foundation. The campaign was successful in gaining donations and finally in establishing a high-quality audio and a loop system.

Mount Vernon 1

Lincoln Theatre also provides mobility accessibility for guests and performers–a lift gives performers wheelchair access to the stage, and guests .  Closed captioning devises and other assisted listening devises are also available.

Roger Gietzen, Lincoln Theatre Executive Director, is key in making the project come to life. Thank you, Roger. And thank you to the Olmsteads and to all who donated to enrich this wonderful community space, making it hearing-friendly and welcoming to all.

Mount Vernon 8 colorful

Venue Information:
Lincoln Theatre

712 S 1st Street
Mt. Vernon, WA
360-336-8955
Roger Gietzen, Executive Director
roger@lincolntheatre.org
Mount Vernon is roughly two hours north of Seattle.

Loop Installer:
Dimensional Communications, Inc.
Audio Visual Consultant
1214 Anderson RD.
Mt. Vernon, WA
360-424-6164

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