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Washington State News for Hard of Hearing People

The official newsletter for Puget Sound District Umbrella of Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH)

Volume 5 Issue 3
Spring 1998

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SHHH and You

by Rocky Stone, Founder SHHH

"Many people dream. Few are able to bring their dreams to reality. By working together, by helping one another, we are bringing a shared dream of SHHH to fruition. "Let me describe to you my dream for SHHH. I see us as an organization of people whose spirit is unquenchable. Those of us who are hard of hearing want to learn more about hearing loss and how to handle it. We want to develop options for ourselves and to open doors for others. We want to share our knowledge with our family and friends so that our mutual strengths can be developed in relation to each other.

"As we grow within ourselves and establish better communications with the hearing world, we must organize on a national level. Few things happen automatically. We must work for change. In our society it is necessary to communicate from a broad and solid base - to have a large constituency. Only then will government, corporate and professional leaders listen to what we have to say. SHHH National provides the structure and has the means to represent you all. By belonging to SHHH you ensure that your local activity will find itself reflected many times on the National scene."

Individual SHHH National membership dues are $25 per year or $30 for two people at same address, and $35 for families. Make checks payable to SHHH National and send to:

SHHH Membership Desk
7910 Woodmont Ave. #1200
Bethesda, MD 20814
If you prefer, you can send them to SHHH Umbrella (see address page 8) and we will forward it to National.

Coordinator's Comments
by Gordon L Nystedt

Do you have normal hearing but someone in your home has a hearing loss? If so, there are a few very important things you need to remember. Never try to talk to the hard of hearing person from another room. That partner, parent, or child may need to see your face to completely understand what you are saying.

When gathered around the dining room table be certain that only one person is talking at a time. If possible, the speaker should face the person with the hearing loss even though he or she might be speaking to another member at the table. This will make the hard of hearing person feel included in the communication.

If you want to carry on a conversation be certain the background noise is minimal or non-existent. It is very difficult for most hard of hearing people to hear you with a TV on. Turn the TV down or off. Do not try to talk to the HOH person if the dishwasher is running, unless the hard of hearing person doesn't have a problem with interfering noise.

Always be certain you have the person's attention before you begin to communicate. If you need to repeat something, try to change your sentence structure. Try to use two, or more, syllable words.

Never say to the person that has asked for a repeat, "Forget it. It wasn't important anyway." If it was important enough the first time, it is important enough to repeat. Never say, "He or she can hear when they want to." That is probably not true and it is also very rude.

Always remember, communication is a two way street.

Ears, Hearing, & Beyond
Second Annual Citizen's Conference, March 14th
by Linda Howarth

What? Ears, Hearing & Beyond Second Annual Citizen's Conference Sponsored by University of Washington Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center.
When? Saturday, March 14, 1998 9:00 am - 5:00 p.m. - doors open at 8:15
Where? University of Washington, HUB Auditorium

Open to anyone interested in learning more about the ear, how to prevent hearing loss, coping strategies for hearing loss, and what's new in current research. Registration is free. To help you better understand, the conference will use Real-Time Captioning. Assistive devices will be available.

This is a broad ranging program with hopes of appealing to people of all levels of understanding and needs. Come and go as you wish. The exhibit room will be open all day.

Conference Program
8:15 am Doors Open
8:50 Welcome
9:00 Structure of the Ear - Larry G Duckert, MD, Ph.D.
9:30 How We Hear - Susan J. Norton, Ph.D.
10:00 Causes of Hearing Loss - George A Gates, MD
10:30 Break
10:45 Ear Damage and Loud Sounds - Sharon G. Kujawa, Ph.D.
11:15 Balance and Dizziness - George A Gates, MD
11:45 Questions and Answers
12:00 Lunch
1:30 New Developments in Hearing Aids - Tom S Rees, Ph.D
2:00 Coping Effectively with Your Hearing Loss - Jacqui Metzger, MSW
2:30 Cables & Cords: Plugging in Without Blowing Up - Sue E Sanborn, Ph.D. & Kevin Franck, PhC
3:00 Break
3:15 Genetics of Hearing Loss - Eric D. Lynch, Ph.D.
4:00 Inner Ear Hair Cell Regeneration Research - Edwin W Rubel, Ph.D.
4:30 Questions and Answers

There will be time during the breaks and at lunch to visit exhibits by hearing aid manufacturers and others. There is a cafeteria in the building and there will be some tables available in the exhibit area for those who bring there own lunch. Beverages will be available throughout the day.

For a brochure about the conference, phone: 206-616-4105 or e-mail: (The brochure will include a map) [Editor Note: Everyone receiving this newsletter by mail will also receive a brochure shortly afterward. If you received this newsletter other than by mail, you will need to contact the center for the brochure with the map.

We urge all of our SHHH friends to attend this presentation. We think you will enjoy it. If there are certain subjects you are not interested in, you can spend that time in the exhibit area. If you know of someone with a hearing loss who might be interested in a cochlear implant, tell him or her that two of the implant manufactures will be there. This will give them a chance to talk directly to the manufacture. At press time it appeared some hearing aid manufactures might also be there.

There will be assistive devices available for you to see. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Be sure and stop by our SHHH booth and say, "Hi!" Bring your friends along. If they do not receive the SHHH Newsletter for Hard of Hearing People, have them stop by the booth and sign up. We will see you all on March 14th.]

HSDC 3rd Annual Health Fair, March 21
by Chris Borders, Audiologist HSDC

The Hearing Speech and Deafness Center (HSDC), 18th and Madison, Seattle, invites SHHH members to our 3rd annual hearing health fair, Saturday March 21, 1998 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

· Drawing for a free hearing aid and other items
· Educational seminars
· Hearing screenings
· Hearing aid cleaning
· Assistive listening and signaling devices...much, much, more! Everything is free! Come to learn and have fun doing it!

Digital Hearing Aids
by Pamela Souza, Ph.D. Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center. Seattle

In the past year or two, we have all been hearing a great deal about digital hearing aids. What are these hearing aids, how are they different from conventional hearing aids, and will they really improve understanding?

Until recently, all hearing aids were analog hearing aids. An analog hearing aid works by first changing the sound signal into electricity. The electrical signal is a continuous, rapidly changing electrical voltage which follows the pattern of the sound you are listening to; for example, if the speaker lowers her voice, the voltage of the electrical signal will drop. To make sound louder, the electrical signal is increased using an amplifier. After amplification (and sometimes other processing, such as filtering), the electrical signal is turned back into sound. Some analog hearing aids are called programmable aids. This means that they can be controlled by a computer, rather than by controls on the hearing aid itself; however, they all amplify an electric signal.

Because the electrical signal that is amplified by the hearing aid is continuous, analog hearing aids are limited in how much and how precisely they can manipulate speech. Think of trying to divert the stream of water from a hose. Imagine trying to change the direction of the water at a certain point; for example, 6 inches from the nozzle of the hose. You might be able to change the direction of the water at that point by putting your hand in the stream of water. However, you would also change the direction of the water at 7 inches from the nozzle. Because the stream of water is continuous, we can't alter a specific spot in the stream of water without altering it in other spots. The same problem exists with analog hearing aids; it is difficult to change specific parts of the sound without distorting other parts.

Digital hearing aids contain a tiny computer chip. Like analog hearing aids, digital aids first change sound into electricity. Unlike analog aids, however, the next step is to turn the electrical signal into a set of numbers by measuring the level of the signal at different points. This is called sampling. The more frequently a sample is taken, the better picture of the sound the hearing aid gets. Most digital hearing aids sample at least 10,000 times each second. Being able to work on numbers instead of electricity has two technical advantages. First, it means that we can alter just specific parts of the sound; for example, we could amplify the consonants without amplifying the vowels. Second, the hearing aid can be set to perform very complex calculations. For example, some hearing aids contain noise reduction programs which are intended to subtract the numbers that represent noise from the numbers that represent speech. After digital processing, the numbers are transformed back into sound.

Since these hearing aids are so new, there have been very few research studies which systematically compared digital and analog hearing aids. We do know that digital hearing aids are technically capable of making many more modifications to sound than analog hearing aids can.

However, the question for anyone with a hearing loss is whether these modifications will actually improve understanding. For many people, the question is not only whether they are better than traditional hearing aids, but whether the increase in benefit is enough to justify an increase in cost.

Research studies are in progress at several sites across the country, including the University of Washington, to determine whether newly available types of hearing aid processing are helpful, harmful, or simply have a neutral effect on understanding for people with hearing loss. [Editor's note: Many of our readers volunteered to be part of this study being done by Dr. Souza. She is indeed grateful and the study is continuing at this time.]

I'm Losing My Family
by Ann Liming, SHHH Coordinator
Michigan State

I recently met a woman who told of how her hearing loss had gotten progressively worse over the past few years and how she is using assistive equipment and trying to learn sign language. As she shared her story she made a statement that etched itself on my mind. "I am losing my family!" I have not been able to get that simple statement out of my mind. Perhaps it was because I could feel her pain. A few short years ago I was in the same position, saying almost the same thing. Like this beautiful woman, I attempted to learn sign language. For me, it served to intensify my grieving, since no one in my family or circle of friends was learning it with me. Eventually I decided that I had to get beyond the grieving and get on with my life. So I threw myself into learning all I could about coping strategies and assistive listening equipment. Through their use, along with high tech hearing aids, I have been able to remain actively involved in my world.

During the time when I was struggling with my own hearing loss my sister's world had become almost totally silent. Although only a year older, her hearing loss had begun at an earlier age than mine, and always seems much worse. I had observed her frequent isolation and witnessed her being forced out of a job in a professional field that I was also a part of. I did not understand the pain she had been going through until my own hearing loss became more severe, but far from profound like hers.

My sister eventually found help through a cochlear implant. I have never forgotten a Sunday afternoon shortly after her implant had been turned on when she called me on the phone. For years we had been using a TTY to "talk" with one another, and here she was on the other end of the phone line speaking with me.

When we hung up, I felt stunned. Tears were streaking down my face, and I began dialing my friends and telling them that I had just experienced a miracle. I had spoken with my sister on the phone.

For a person with a hearing loss, the world will never be perfect. We will continue to struggle to hear, be embarrassed at our mistakes, and feel isolated in family and group situations. But there are options out there such as sign language, hearing aids, assistive technology, and cochlear implants, that can improve our ability to communicate. There is a lot of pain associated with losing our families, as well as with them losing us. It is important for us to explore options available to us and to chose the ones that best fit our needs. By doing so, it will be much easier for our families and for us to maintain that fragile gossamer thread that keeps us connected, loving and supporting one another. [Reprinted from the MI-SHHH-IGANIAN Newsletter, Winter 1997]

Live TV Captioning Now Available in Seattle

The hearing impaired community in the Puget Sound Area is delighted to see live captioning coming to Seattle. KIRO began live captioning of all its evening news in October. It was soon followed by KING captioning its news throughout the day. KOMO began captioning its evening news February 2nd. More and more of our SHHH members are learning the value of captioning. All new TV sets 13 inch or larger, sold in the United States, have captioning built in since July, 1993.

If you have purchased a TV set in the last five years and you are not sure it has captioning, please refer to your owners manual. Prior to 1993 captioning could only be viewed with a decoder. The first decoders were almost as expensive as a TV with built in captioning cost now. If you have a working decoder you are no longer using and would like to give it to someone, please let us know. We will try to find a home for it. Write to the SHHH Umbrella

(address on Page 8). Please inform the TV stations how proud we are of them for taking this action. In addition be sure to thank the Sonics for captioning all of their TV games. Maybe someday we can convince our baseball and football teams to follow the example set by the Sonics.

Churches and Assistive Devices

One of the best kept secrets is churches that offer assistive devices for people with a hearing loss. I checked the yellow pages in the Seattle Area and found only a couple of churches listed stating they had assistive devices available for hard of hearing people. I noticed many more stating they had access for wheel chairs. This is great, but it would also be great if they would list that they have help for people with a hearing loss.

If your church has assistive devices, encourage them to reflect it in the yellow pages. If they do not have devices, encourage them to meet the needs of those who need additional help.

I keep hearing reports that some churches cannot afford to purchase assistive devices. To me, they cannot afford not to do it. Most of the people who now need hearing help have probably been attending that church all of their lives. Now it is the church's chance to recognize this loyalty and provide the necessary equipment.

Readers Have Their Say

Assistive Listening Devices at the Theatre

In the last issue we had a letter from Betty Ruble talking about the problem she was having in the theatre with ALDs. She had let them know and had written to them. Following is a follow-up letter from her as well as comments from others.

Follow-Up Letter on ALDs
by Betty Ruble, Auburn

On October 22nd, I attended the performance of "Show Boat" with 26 other seniors. Of course I stopped at the ALD desk at the Paramount to pick up my Infrared headphones. I talked to the same lady that I had spoken to before at the dispensing desk. She said she had not had too many complaints before. Told her I had spoken to her about the ALD failure in previous performances and that I had written a letter to the Paramount and the Intiman Theatres. Before entering the Paramount that day, I spoke to all the seniors about the availability of ALD's. Do you know not one person knew about them! Eight of the patrons joined me in using them for the performance. ALL of them worked fine!. I enjoyed the play thoroughly.

Assistive Devices That Hiss
by The Staff at the Beyond Hearing Aids Store, Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center, Seattle

Just a quick note in response to "Assistive Devices that Hiss" in your winter newsletter. Betty Ruble said, "At the large theaters I've hit a real snag... I've gotten ALDs that have hissed - like steam escaping." We are very familiar with the equipment that many theaters in Seattle are using-Sennheiser Infrared.

There are a number of things that could be responsible for that hissing sound, but it is not a problem with the headset receiver that she is wearing. Headset problems cause crackling, static, low volume, or no sound at all, but a hissing sound is a result of no sound being transmitted to the headset from the Infrared Transmitter/Emitter. Something as simple as a detached cable will result in a steady hiss.

This explains why trying headset after headset results in nothing but frustration. There are a few things that can be done to prevent a repeat performance of this experience. If you are planning to attend a show, it is a good idea to call the theater a day or two before your performance.

Request that they examine their Transmitters/Emitters, making sure that all cables are properly connected, and that diodes are functioning. Touring shows, such as "Cats" and "Showboat" often bring in their own sound equipment, and the Sennheiser Transmitter could easily be accidentally disconnected. We believe that all theaters using the ALDs should include the testing of this equipment in their sound check prior to the performance. Encourage, and if that doesn't work, demand, the theaters that you attend to test their equipment before dispensing it to their patrons.

One suggestion which will give you more control over your equipment situation is to purchase and use your own headset at the theater. The Sennheiser Direct Ear Set 100, and Infrared listening system for the television, includes an Infrared Transmitter and a headset with 124dB output. The headset is compatible with most Infrared Transmitters/Emitters, so you can use the headset at every ADA compliant Infrared compatible theater in town. Using the Set 100, you can test your equipment at home, making sure your batteries are charged and a strong signal is coming from your TV. When you get to the theater, you can be sure that any problem with receptions is their Transmitter/Emitter, not your headset.

Feel free to contact us at 206-323-5770 if you have any questions about Sennheiser Infrared equipment.

Solving the ALD's Problem
by Amelia Schultz, Seattle

Re letter from Betty Ruble - Winter '97' - Infrared theater aid. I finally bought my own - not cheap, but good. My audiologist made the connection for me. [Editor note: Several others voiced opinions over the phone or in direct contact with me. To publish anything in this newsletter I need it in writing - either by letter or e-mail. Thanks for those who did respond.]

Enjoyed SHHH Meeting
by Lilia Guddal MS CCC-A
Northwest Hearing Clinic, Seattle

I wanted to write a quick note and let you know how inspirational and informative your meeting at SHHH (Hamilton House) was for me. I thank you for sharing your personal experience and reminding me of the role that audiologists can play in the hearing impaired population. I was impressed with how well you do with your implant, and have subsequently referred others for implant evaluation. I also have joined the National SHHH. [Editor: Thanks Ms. Guddal. SHHH is always delighted when professionals attend our meetings. It is wonderful that we can work together and learn from each other. If you have someone you think is qualified for an implant, please let them know that I also produce another newsletter for adults and children considering the implant. It contains the stories of those who have received the implant and what they think of it. If your cochlear implant referrals will contact me, I will add them to the mailing list.]

Enjoys Newsletter
by Darrell and Carole Egge, Puyallup

I want to thank your for your work on behalf of the SHHH Newsletter. As grandparents of profoundly deaf twin grandchildren, we find the newsletter informative and helpful.

TV Caption Devices
by David P. Johnson, Bellevue

About two years ago my Telecaption 4000 ceased to operate and I was referred to Harris Communications with whom I made an exchange for a new one. In the last few days that unit has now ceased to operate properly. I called Harris Communications and was informed that there are no longer any new telecaptionners nor parts for repair.

While I know that all new televisions are equipped with telecaptioning, our unit was purchased not too long before that and is operating without any problems. Being seniors, we found it helpful to have a larger 26 inch screen. So replacement would be expensive just to be able to to get the captioning. I hear only from one ear with a hearing aid. My wife has lost some hearing, so that we both have found the captioning very helpful. [There are still places that stock captioning devices such as Hearing Speech and Deafness Center in Seattle, and Certified Audiology & Hearing Aid Center in Bellevue. See related story page 3]

"Washington State News for Hard of Hearing People" is the official newsletter for Puget Sound District Umbrella, Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH).

President Gordon Nystedt
Vice-president Tom Weicht
Co-secretary Elaine Maros
Co-secretary Sue Campbell
Treasurer Penny Allen
Editor Gordon Nystedt

This newsletter is published quarterly. Deadline for articles, letters, information and questions for the next issue is April 15th. We welcome your articles and letters. Articles should be kept to approximately one column length. Professionals are urged to submit information that would benefit hard of hearing people. Submit news to address on page 8. Opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the person submitting the information and not necessarily those of the SHHH Puget Sound District Umbrella. Mention of goods or services does not mean endorsement nor should exclusion suggest disapproval.

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