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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Venue Information:
Lincoln Theatre

712 S 1st Street
Mt. Vernon, WA
Roger Gietzen, Executive Director
Mount Vernon is roughly two hours north of Seattle.

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

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Hearing aids now covered for adults on Washington State Medicaid

Beginning January 1, 2019, adults on Washington State Medicaid are covered for hearing aids.

People with 45 db more more hearing loss in their better ear will be eligible for one hearing aid (plus an ear mold and 3 follow-up visits.) Two hearing aids may be approved under certain circumstances. Interim rules are in effect while final rules are being written by the WA Health Care Authority (HCA).

This coverage was restored with the passage of SB 5179 in 2018. A tremendous thank you goes out to everyone who helped write, support, and ultimately pass this bill.

DSHS has more details. 

Please share this wonderful news in as many places as possible. And if you know someone on Medicaid who needs help, please offer to help or send them our way.

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Governor Inslee signs SB 5179 while Senator Bailey, Walt Bowen, Joanna Grist, Rep. Goodman, Senator Conway, and others look on.

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Airports making huge looping investments

If you’ve ever missed a gate change or flight delay, become disoriented in a new city, misunderstood an airline staff’s instructions, or struggled through your jet lag and sleep deprivation to understand a flight attendant, you can understand why airports need hearing loops.

Traveling can be stressful for anyone, regardless of our ability to hear. For people with hearing loss, airport challenges can be magnified. Airports are often poor acoustic environments, with high ceilings, reverberation, phones ringing, luggage wheels rattling, dozens of people talking, and hard surfaces that send sounds everywhere.

airport noise picture

Recently, several airports have invested in loops. In Rochester, New York, the loops are part of a large renovation project and are located throughout the terminal.

According to New Mexico hearing loop advocate Steve Frazier, several airports are installing or expanding their loops this year:

Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, GA
Austin-Bergstrom, Austin, TX
Memphis, TN
Phoenix Sky Harbor
and Rochester International in Rochester, NY

“For any who are so inclined, now would be an opportune time to approach the decision makers at your local airport with a request that they consider making their terminal more accessible to those with hearing loss through the use of induction loop technology,” said Frasier.

If you’d like presentation examples, articles, and other airport loop information, send Steve Frasier an email (hlanm@juno.com). These documents can help you make the case to airport officials that loops are a winning, ADA-compliant way to serve travelers, visitors, and staff alike.

Other airports are looped as well, including London’s Heathrow; Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan; South Bend International Airport, South Bend, Indiana; Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam; and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.



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Hearing access, Barcelona-style

Stained glass amidst stonework in high-ceilinged church.

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

After the Future Loops Conference in Berlin October 6-8, 2017,  I took a side trip to Barcelona, Spain. I found places with very good hearing access that I’d like to share with you.

While I didn’t always see enough signage, I did find plenty of places that used assistive listening systems.

Please comment below and share your experiences with assistive listening systems in Europe.








At the Sagrada Familia temple, only one person was allowed to stand in line to secure audio guides. When I explained to staff what I needed, they fast-forwarded me to the front of the line. I asked for a neckloop, so he found me one…and to make sure it worked, he even took the time to accompany me to the first station. And I was able to see and hear about Antoni Gaudi’s most famous, awe-inspiring work.

Here’s a look at the system…


Later, in La Pedrera, I found a counter loop at the desk, though there was no separate microphone. The headsets were hearing aid/telecoil enabled. (Staff did not offer a headset and did not speak English.) Some information is available on their website.


Finally at Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, I found this device. It had a speaker on top, and I used my telecoil program just like I would do with a phone.

Such a joy to find hearing access options abroad, though much work needs to be done to let people know the technology is available (such as via signs, website info, etc.)

What have you found that helped you hear in Europe?

–Cheri Perazzoli, Founder
Let’s Loop Seattle

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