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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 6, Issue 4
Summer 1999

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SHHH and You

Analog or digital? That seems to be the question that keeps coming up in all of our communication. Many members are concerned about the lack of digital cellular phones that can accommodate people with a hearing loss. What about hearing aids? Is digital worth the extra cost? Is it for everyone?

SHHH Mission Statement reads as follows: "SHHH and our members are catalysts that make mainstream society more accessible to people who are hard of hearing. We strive to improve the quality of hard of hearing People's lives through education, advocacy, and self help."

There is probably nothing that should be of greater concern to hard of hearing people than our ability to communicate in the digital age. We need a strong national SHHH to look out for our needs. If all people with a hearing loss were members of National SHHH, we would have one of the largest and most powerful organizations in our country. National needs you. Will you join hands with the rest of us and give National SHHH the clout it deserves?

If you are not a member of National SHHH, now is the time to join. Dues are $25 per person, $30 for two people living at same address, or $35 for families. You will receive the SHHH National Journal called HEARING LOSS which is published six times a year.

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 your national membership to the Umbrella (see address on page 8) and we will forward it to National for you.

President's Comments By Gordon L Nystedt

This issue completes our sixth year of publication. It has been an exciting six years. You, our readers, have responded far beyond our wildest dreams. It is your input and your continued financial support that has made this publication possible.

There is a lot of work that goes into making this publication a success. First of all it is you our readers. Second, is the wonderful support of all of our volunteers who come to our rescue quarter after quarter to help fold, tape, and prepare 2400 copies for mailing. Our thanks to the people of the West Seattle Chapter, South King County Chapter, Tacoma Chapter, and Kitsap Group who are always there to offer their support.

I am the editor, but it is the work of a wonderful group of proof-readers who help to make it a much more readable issue. My thanks to Penny and John Allen, Diane Jandl, Lona Jennings, Elaine Maros, and Emily Mandelbaum who have performed this task over the past year.

Our Umbrella officers are a group of very dedicated people. Diane Jandl is our vice president; Sue Campbell does the secretarial duties; Penny Allen performs the awesome task of keeping the books; Rick Faunt offers his time to double check our books; Elaine Maros and Tom Weicht are our delegates at large.

We have many professionals who display this newsletter at their place of business as well as issue it to their clients.

It is our united effort that has helped improve the lives of so many of our Washington State hard of hearing people. Our seventh year will be even greater. Thanks to you all!!!!

Digital Cellular Telephones By Don Pickens , Redmond, WA

In December, I decided I needed to replace my analog cell phone of 8 years with a new digital cell phone. I have always overcome limitations of cell phones by having my analog phone installed in my car with a speaker phone function. This was before T-coil compatibility was available in analog cell phones. The rapid explosion in the use of cell phones, particularly in business, has forced me to become more mobile and functional in my use of a cell phone. I also travel, and the digital rate plans allow for better rates with no roaming charges or long distance charges.

I set out with the mission of finding a digital cell phone and rate plan that would be cost effective, mobile and compatible with a hearing aid user. This proved to be a daunting task. The retail salespeople are not able to help you because they simply are not conversant with your questions. I found that the digital cell phones I tried all had a loud buzzing sound in my hearing aids which made it impossible or difficult to have a conversation. This is called electromagnetic interference (EMI). The only phone I tried that did not have EMI was with Sprint PCS. Their phone does have volume control which may not increase volume enough for some users. The problem with this phone was that the people receiving my calls complained of an echoing sound in the reception. I confirmed with the Sprint research department that as you increase the volume, this is the result. I ended up talking to Ericsson and Nokia research departments and found out that they do not have any solutions to the EMI problem at this time. My further investigation of the issue determined that this was a technical problem without a short term solution. There was a good general article by Mark Ross on Digital Cellular phones in the January/February 1999 Hearing Loss magazine. If you are considering purchasing new hearing aids, you should read this article and see if you can get new aids with shielding that would prevent EMI interference.

If I was going to find a digital phone that would work, it was going to have to be another solution. Ericsson makes their phones compatible with an accessory called the HATIS that is T-coil compatible and fits behind your ear. I did not get good reports on this device and did not pursue it. Nokia recommended using their new "Nokia Inductive Loopset, LPS-1" which is readily available at AT&T wireless phone stores. I have found them at the Redmond Town Center store and the Bellevue Square store. Price of the loopset is $59.95. The loopset is compatible with the Nokia 5100 or 6100 series digital cellular phones. I tried it and it worked superbly. It is an inconspicuous neck loop that plugs into the base of the phone and acts as a "headset." It is T-coil compatible and if you have two aids and turn on both T-coils you have "surround sound". You can put the phone anywhere you like, as the microphone is built into the neck loop. I have a jacket with an inside pocket and drop the phone into the pocket. Originally, I did not buy this system because I felt I should be entitled to a phone without the stigma of an accessory. When I figured out it was either an accessory or no phone, I purchased the Nokia with Loopset. I would not give this unit up now, because it gives more clarity and control of my environment than any other option. There are Nokia phone models other than the 5100 and 6100 series that do not have a compatible jack for the neckloop. A web site that can help you look at different rate plans and phones offered on those rate plans is located at:

If you buy the Nokia neckloop there are two consumer tips not explained in its literature. The microphone built into the neckloop has two slits in it on the receiving side. Make sure this is facing out and not into your clothing. They say that you will know when the batteries are low as the volume will decline. I did not find this to be the case. When the batteries are low you may hear clicking sounds or see a "test mode" message on the screen of your cell phone. If this happens it is time to replace batteries.


Sewing Expo Revisited By Penny Allen Assistant SHHH Coordinator WA State


Every year, just as the swallows return to Capistrano, women flock to Sewing Expo. It's a four-day extravaganza of sewing and quilting exhibits, seminars, and shopping frenzies, all taking place at once at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup. I'm always part of it.

The seminars, my raison d'être, take place in a big building full of concrete and echoes—spaces curtained off from each other to define rooms. Although each seminar uses its own PA system, the sound spillage from adjacent "rooms" and voices in the hallway create an acoustic nightmare for hard of hearing people. Since the seminars are scheduled so close together, I could never get from one room to another fast enough to get a front row seat (women can get very pushy at places like this).

Last year I even made a somewhat feeble attempt to get speakers to use my FM system—not something they wanted to do because of the gadgets and wires. Finally, in desperation I told one of the "volunteers" about my hearing loss; from then on I had a front row seat reserved at each seminar. Although I understood quite well, it was still not the best situation. For one thing, my very presence in a front row reserved seat drew odd looks and comments such as, "You look just fine to me." And even after my explanation… "You don't look deaf. They should have an interpreter for you." And oh, the helpful people on either side of me repeating what I just read on the speaker's lips!

When the Sewing Expo catalog arrived this year, I excitedly sat down at the table and started planning the seminars, chattering to my husband about the coming event. Not raising his eyes from his newspaper, he commented, "And of course you're going to ask for an assistive listening device this year." "Oh, I can't," I said quickly, "It's not a good place. The rooms are small and curtained off, and I just don't see how they can do it…" He cut in, "It's not up to you to figure that out. They're required to provide it under the ADA," as he snatched the catalog from my hand. "Right here, under ADA Accommodations, it says to call Mary at this number." "If I could just sit up front," my voice trailed off, and I swallowed the rest of my words as his look turned hard.

I did indeed call Mary to request an assistive listening device. "A What???", was her response. I took a deep breath and plunged on, "It's a device to help me hear better, and I'm requesting it under ADA accommodations." There was a long pause. "This is the first time I've heard of it in all the years I've been doing Expo." "That doesn't surprise me," I replied. "Most hard of hearing people avoid these things and don't know about assistive listening devices." "Ohhhh," she groaned. "I can't believe this is happening! First someone needs accommodations because of fibromyalgia, and now….this! We simply can't keep the admission price so low when we have everyone asking for special treatment," her voice was starting to rise hysterically. "Wait, wait, wait!" I interrupted. "Fibromyalgia is not covered under ADA accommodations, but hearing loss is. Tell me, what would you do if someone asks for an interpreter?" I questioned her. "Well," she said, "I'd call one of the numbers I have here." "But this is the same thing," I said, "except that I don't know sign language. I need an assistive listening device to understand." "But what's this thing look like?" she wailed, and then

continued on. "I don't know where to start. How big is it and what does it cost? How can we afford this? Where should I go to get it? Should I ask the soundman? We don't own the sound equipment; we rent it." Overwhelmed with her being overwhelmed, I simply said, "I don't have any answers for you, but why don't you check with the Hearing Speech & Deafness Center."

That night I couldn't sleep. Why was I so pushy? Poor woman had her hands full. Here I come along, driving up the price of admission. What a lot of trouble I was causing for everyone. Look what I started now! Maybe I should just not go to the seminars. What am I going to tell my husband? I didn't really need an assistive listening device. If I could just sit up front…

A week later I received a letter letting me know my assistive listening device would be available when I checked in. I smiled when I was handed a FM receiver with the logo for the Hearing Speech and Deafness Center. A technician "shadowed me" from seminar to seminar, plugging the FM transmitter into existing audio systems. I understood every word that was spoken at every seminar—what a difference!

Not long ago a friend and I were discussing how much we enjoyed Sewing Expo. I told her about all the seminars that I took this year. "Oh, I'd love to go to the seminars," she said, "but I don't hear well enough." My heart leaped for joy, and I chuckled, "You can go to the seminars next year, and you'll be able to hear." She looked at me strangely. "Take my word for it," I said. "They're expecting us."

Would you like to submit an article for a future newsletter? We always welcome input from our hard of hearing readers as well as from professionals. Do you have a hearing aid or an assistive device that works well for you? Share it with our readers. You can submit your articles by e-mail or send to address on page 8.

Division of Vocational


By Michael Richardson, Renton

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation's (DVR) mission is to enable individuals with disabilities to obtain and keep employment.

Who we serve

An individual is eligible for DVR if they have a physical, sensory, or mental disability that prevents them from working or effectively maintaining employment and they require vocational rehabilitation services to obtain or retain employment. In fiscal year 1998, DVR placed 3,891 persons with disabilities into employment.

Where we are

DVR has 38 field offices statewide. There are specialized counselors available in each region who have skills in working with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

How we serve

DVR services include a vocational assessment to identify vocational interests and strengths, work readiness, and a review of the job market. DVR participants work with a counselor to design a program especially to meet their vocational needs. A written plan is developed and may include training, support services such as assistive technology, transportation or independent living services. These services will prepare the participant for employment. After a participant is employed, DVR may provide post-employment services, which are short-term services needed to sustain their employment. DVR staff also provides technical assistance and education for business and industry.

Local community partnerships

In addition to providing direct services, DVR also collaborates with community vendors who provide vocational and independent living services to program participants. DVR has contracts and agreements with state, county, and local programs and organizations to expand and enhance services for participants.

How to access services

Individuals interested in finding out more about DVR services can call or visit any of the 38 field offices. To learn about your local office, please call our DVR Headquarters Office in Olympia. The toll free number is 1-800-637-5627 V/TTY. You can also learn more about DVR by visiting our website at: For more information on serving people who are deaf or hard of hearing in King County, you can e-mail Michael Richardson, Vocational Rehabilitation Lead Counselor, at: If you have questions about DVR services in other areas of the state, you can e-mail Ann Janni, VR Program Administrator, at:

Life with Dad

By Matt Heller (age 13) , Port Orchard

Most people think the deaf are people who just use sign-language to talk, and read lips a whole lot. Not my dad, and not for a lot of other people either.

About six years ago, he woke up on Christmas day and couldn't hear us at all. What a great Christmas present, huh? Well anyway, he found out that he had lost 50% of his hearing, and it's been really hard on us (Mom and me) trying to understand what he's going through.

Every day when I come home from school, I'll try and talk to Dad about my day, when I figure out that he didn't hear it because I was going too fast. So I have to slow down. When he tries to talk to Grandma and Grandpa, he has to use our computer to phone them, and I can hear them upstairs.

Then about a year ago Dad was informed that he lost 50% of what was left, which I think kinda made him grouchy. Every so often he'll get angry at me and yell, but I tough it out; and typically he apologizes and blames it on stress. I think it's the fact that he can't hear better.

Mom and I are sort of his ears (me being the left one of course, being left-handed :)) , filling in answers for him at checkout counters and other places. It sometimes is irritating, but it's better than letting people think that one of my best friends is stupid.

Readers Have Their Say

Finding SHHH and Flowers Too

By Wynona Tyson, Seattle


We humans are a curious, even funny, lot. We are so exquisitely unique and yet so much alike. I was reminded of this recently when I read a story by Penny Allen in the SHHH newsletter.

Seven years ago, at the end of a movie, my best friend leaned over and whispered (loudly) "you need hearing aids." I gave her a puzzled look as she reminded me that I kept asking her what they were saying on the big screen. This conversation called me into a new awareness of my growing irritation with people in my life who did not speak clearly. My world was becoming populated with mumblers.

Being practical, and because my work required a high level of communication skills, I immediately made an appointment with an audiologist. She confirmed I would benefit from hearing aids in both my ears. No problem. Get them and get on with it. No need to admit that I felt a little scared and isolated by this new challenge. I certainly wasn't going to make a big deal out of it, and my professional peers helped by not ever mentioning this new "elephant" in my ears. Though I did notice people staring at my ears when they thought I wasn't looking, no one talked about it.

I survived the initial frustrations with these new appendages to my body, pooh poohed my sensory overload at the end of those first days of being able to hear again and let my new feelings of isolation and anxiety move
into a quiet corner of my body and just hang there.

Not long ago, I began to detect the return of the mumblers. My audiologist confirmed my concerns and recommended hearing aids that go over the ear. These would be hard to ignore. I felt life pushing me to make some choices.

Voila! I got on the Internet and with my basic computer skills located SHHH as a resource. Within minutes I began to relax and feel a sense of connection. I joined immediately and got the SHHH newsletter. Enter Penny Allen and her story. Penny talked out loud about some of the private fears I had been carrying around for seven years. And she has over the ear hearing aids with flowers painted on them. Maybe this could be fun. I quickly located my local West Seattle chapter of SHHH and attended the recent Ears Hearing and Beyond conference. What I notice is people connected with SHHH are warm and caring and they understand. There are people to talk with who have actual experience with the challenges I am facing.

I believe deeply that life is a gift with all its twists and turns and challenges and opportunities. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone. And we need one another. There are wonderful people at SHHH willing to share their wisdom and compassion. Together we can turn our hearing challenges into possibilities. And maybe even become artists. Be on the lookout for flowers in unusual places!


Cellular Phone Neckloop


By Susan Matt, Mercer Island

Vice-President National SHHH


I do have something of interest regarding the Nokia cellular phone and loopset. Just this past week I contacted AT&T customer service. During the past couple of weeks I was getting an awful buzzing noise (even through the loopset) that prevented me from being able to use the phone, despite the fact that it had worked just fine for a few weeks after I got it.

When I disconnected the loopset and held the phone to my ear, I continued to hear the terrible buzzing. The customer service person said it sounded like it was a problem with the phone itself, and opted to replace it. I
picked the new phone up yesterday from Fed Ex in Seattle and sent the old one back using the prepaid package and address form that came with the replacement.

Well, when I tried the new phone, I got the same buzzing. It was then that I figured out that the batteries in the loopset needed to be replaced! Nobody tells us that when the loopset batteries are weak and need replacement, the phone and loopset will produce a terrible buzzing noise!

So, I have the new phone, even though there was nothing wrong with the old one! I will be writing a letter to Nokia and AT&T to advise them of the problem and its solution, and to suggest that they include this important information in instructions for the loopset.


Phone is not always free

By Dr. Marti Lewis, Bremerton


"Cellular Pursuit," the article by Penny Allen, certainly caught my interest as I sat in the reception area at the U of W Otolaryngology Department. I have been a hearing aid wearer for about 18 years; however, my hearing loss is getting progressively worse. Hence, I needed new hearing aids. I purchased a new pair --- no longer the small inner ear type that worked with any phone, cellular or otherwise; rather, this time I needed the behind the ear, digital with remote control and all!!!

As I left the U of W with my new hearing aids, I tried my cell phone. I couldn't hear anything now! I thought, "Well, Penny Allen wrote about the Audex. I live in Bremerton, so I'll go to Audiologists Northwest and have them order me one. No problem!" WRONG.

First of all, let me be up-front. Audiologists Northwest in Bremerton could not have been nicer or more service oriented. They are wonderful. My problem, I was soon to discover with AT&T.

I had had two cellular phones previously and the most recent one purchased in 1997 with AT&T. So when Audiologists Northwest called to tell me I would have to purchase the 'free Audex phone,' I was shocked. They could not believe it either and attempted to check with AT&T on my behalf---- to no avail.

After two days of calling AT&T, I found that because I already had a cellular account with AT&T, I could NOT get a free phone from Audex. I talked with Laura Ruby, AT&T Manager, External Affairs in Kirkland. Neither AT&T nor Audex would give me the Audex phone, even though I am hard of hearing!!!! Yes, I could purchase the phone for over $250; OR I could cancel my current cellular phone account with AT&T for 3 months and then I could get the Audex; OR I could keep my old phone --- which I can not use ---for 3 months at the same time I received the Audex and set up a new account with AT&T! In plain and simple English, no free phone.

I am so angry at AT&T and Audex! They obviously want ONLY new customers, rather than keep their current customers. Where is the AT&T customer service? Am I being discriminated against because I have a hearing loss and am a current cellular user?

Obviously, I had to purchase a cellular phone. I cannot be without one for various reasons. In my search I found the Nokia LPS-s inductive loopset that goes with the Nokia digital 6100 series phones. The phone is T-coil compatible with the type of hearing aid I have. I was informed that some other cellular phones would work with this loopset. After much thought and trial and error, I purchased the loopset and Nokia cellular phone. It works. I never did get to see or try the Audex.

Please inform your readers that Audex is not free if you are a current AT&T cellular phone customer with a hearing loss!!! Ironic isn't it? Discrimination, Yes.


Children & Hearing Loss

By Dolores Gahler, Anacortes


What great write-ups in your last newsletter by Dave, Penny, and Emily! Dave's experience with his new daughter was especially touching.

Our daughter, Ursula, her husband ,and boys, Kalino, almost 3 yrs old and Makoa, 5 months old, visited us the end of March. Kalino does not yet talk much, but since the boys in our family tend to have delayed speech, she had not yet become very concerned about this.

However, I did hear him say something which immediately caught my attention: his pronunciation of a word, which he said carefully, sounded just like the muffled pronunciation we HOH people hear without hearing aids or speech reading. I discussed this with Ursula, urging her to have his hearing checked on their return home because of our family history of hearing loss, as well as the fact that SHHH now recommends that all infants have hearing screening tests.

This she did, sending us the report: typanography indicated fluid in his middle ear which keeps the ear drum from vibrating properly, and a 30 - 40 decibel hearing loss! Apparently he has had several middle ear infections and 6 - 7 courses of different antibiotics. In view of this, and the fact that his age is so critical for speech acquisition, they are opting for aggressive treatment: adnoidectomy for enlarged adnoids, which surround the eustachian tubes and keep accumulated fluid from draining, and also tubes in the eardrum.

We are a little concerned about the ear tubes because the medical literature indicates they can cause some permanent scarring of the eardrum. But this treatment will give Kalino some immediate relief, and the family now has lots of information from which they can make an informed decision. Needless to say, the parents are deeply appreciative of mother's advice. And I am deeply appreciative of the support and information gained from SHHH.


Stethoscope Needed to Use With Hearing Aids


Irene Kono is a nurse and is also hard of hearing. She needs assistance in locating a stethoscope that can be used without removing her hearing aids. If any of our readers use such an instrument, please advise the SHHH Umbrella. We will notify Irene and also publish the information in our next newsletter so that other nurses with hearing loss can benefit from the same information.


"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 Diane Jandl

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 July 1.

We welcome your articles and letters. Articles should be kept to approximately one column length. We do not accept commercials or advertisements. Professionals are urged to submit information that would benefit hard of hearing people.

Submit news to:

SHHH Umbrella

Or Penny Allen Phone 360-871-0997

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.


Gordon L Nystedt

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