Someone Has Been Diagnosed with Hearing Loss. What’s Next?
Posted by NJAdmin on Mar 22, 2018
As hearing loss becomes more common in the U.S., more people will learn that they or someone they love has hearing loss. Inevitably, their question is some form of, “What’s next?”
There are many options and considerations as someone considers treatment. Our goal is to give you a good place to start and offer some resources you can consult as you move forward in your journey.
Types and Causes of Hearing Loss
Some of the most common (and easily treated) causes result from wax build-up or fluid in the ear canal, while others include progressive hearing loss—due to age, injury or environmental factors—and hereditary hearing loss. Whichever is your situation, your hearing health professional will develop with you a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Another part of the type of loss, is the frequency range affected: high-frequency, low-frequency, or both. Similar to being either near- or far-sighted, hearing loss that affects a specific frequency range will determine in part your treatment and how that hearing loss will impact your daily life. Talk to your hearing health professional to ensure you understand the specifics of your diagnosis. They can help you understand how to make dealing with everyday tasks, such as using the phone or going to the movies, easier and more enjoyable with proper treatment and tools.
Technology Can Help
Today more than ever before, technology can play a big part in the effective treatment of hearing loss. Hearing aid technology has advanced significantly in the past decade, incorporating technology used in cell phones and other communication tools, often embedding that technology in the hearing aid itself.
One option, the cochlear implant, is a significant technological advance for certain types of hearing loss. These instruments bypass damaged cells in the ear, and send auditory signals directly to the auditory nerve, restoring hearing in a way that was impossible just a little over a generation ago.
Both treatment options are designed to improve or, in some way restore, the hearing of someone with hearing loss. However, there are many other areas where technology can be a key component of a comprehensive and effective treatment plan.
For example, wireless, amplified TV listening devices allow someone to better hear the TV without driving a spouse or loved one out of the room with excessive volume. Captioned telephones, such as those from New Jersey CapTel allow for more confident and independent use of the phone.
Even something as simple as a vibrating alarm clock placed under your pillow can make a difference and help someone with hearing loss in their day-to-day life.
In summary, when you are presented with a diagnosis of hearing loss, make certain you consult with your medical professional on the specifics of that diagnosis. Have a discussion about development of a treatment plan that includes all aspects of treatment and addresses the many ways you will experience that hearing loss on a daily basis.
Best of all, know you are not alone. There are many people who share your diagnosis, and there are many organizations that are available to provide support and guidance. We have listed a few of them here, but you may also want to look for local chapters of these organizations and online support groups as well.
HLAA has put together a good article on this subject
Healthy Hearing has a great overview and considerations for questions about an initial diagnosis of hearing loss
A great resource for parents assembled by Audiology Online
An in depth at hearing loss causes and treatments by eMedicinehealth.com
The Mayo Clinic has a complete guide to hearing loss
What is New Jersey CapTel?
Posted by NJAdmin on Feb 28, 2018
New Jersey CapTel has proven to be a blessing for individuals with hearing loss, but what exactly is it and what are the benefits? For that we turn to Jim Skjeveland.
CapTel simply means captioned telephone.
"The benefit for seniors is if they start to lose their hearing and can't hear what is being said to them, they can simply read it on their phone, stay fully interactive in the conversation and it allows them to stay connected," said Skjeveland.
He went on to say a lot of individuals become disconnected socially because they can't communicate on the phone.
There's four different types of CapTel telephones. One type only requires a phone line, while the other three require a phone line and Internet connection.
If you like an iPad, Skjeveland talked about one of the feature-rich options.
"If you like technology, it's all touch screen. It's got Bluetooth technology for people that have hearing aids and want to use a Bluetooth streamer. It's got speaker phone. It's got ways to customize with a touch screen."
The simpler option, which only requires a phone line, looks like a traditional telephone equipped with large buttons.
Another option accommodates blind or low vision individuals.
"You can hook a braille board into it. It has a bigger screen for those who have low vision as well."
The phones go for no more than $75 and a lot of times folks can get them at no cost.
If you want to learn more about the services, there's an event coming up on March 7th from 1-7 PM in Lakewood, New Jersey. The event not only highlights the CapTel services, but also a number of other services available to seniors in the area.
Speakers include the Ocean City Office of Senior Services, NJ Division of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing and AARP.
There's no admission fee and complimentary refreshments will be available! For more information on this event you can call NJ CapTel at (732) 440-8822 or visit njcaptel.com.
Out of the Shadows: Hearing Loss Gains Mainstream Acceptance
Posted by NJAdmin on Jan 16, 2018
Every once in a while, you learn something that you already knew. For example, the oldest known hearing aids are at the end of your arm. For centuries, people have cupped a hand over an ear to help them hear better, something all of us have done, even when we were young. And while this certainly helps, to a point, the obvious need for something better has also been around for years.
Over the years, there have been dramatic improvements in the treatment of hearing loss, with significant improvements in hearing aids. Yet, as with repeatedly cupping your ear, there has often been a stigma associated with wearing these instruments. This stigma can delay someone from getting a hearing instrument, and in many cases how often they’re used, thereby reducing their effectiveness. In recent years, several factors have combined to alter this dynamic and have hopefully lead to better outcomes for the millions of people in the US with hearing loss.
History of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids themselves have had a long history and have seen tremendous changes over the centuries.
When ear trumpets replaced the cupped hand in the 1600s, hearing instruments began a constant use (and improvement) through the early 19th century.
With the advent of the telephone and microphone, the first electronic hearing aids arrived in 1886 with the introduction of the Akouphone from American inventor Miller Reese Hutchison. Further improvements in the 20th century included vacuum tube models in the 1920s and eventually transistor-based models starting in the early 50s. These were the first “small” hearing aids, with prior models being very large and bulky with limited use and thereby furthering the stigma associated with hearing loss.
With the first digital models in the late 1980s, hearing aids finally started to look like some of the models we see today. These new sizes, coupled with a tremendous improvement in the underlying device technology provided users with a much better treatment of their specific hearing loss.
Yet the significant technology improvements in and of themselves did not significantly increase the social acceptance of hearing aids. For someone with hearing loss, you were still required to wear something on or near your ear that immediately identified you as having hearing loss.
Instead, it was changes in popular culture that have made people more comfortable wearing their hearing aids. As Walkman headphones turned to ear buds and Bluetooth devices for phone calls became the norm, electronic “accessories” on your ear became much more common. In fact, many hearing aid manufacturers are embedding Bluetooth technology in their newer hearing aids to allow those with hearing loss to take calls on the go, but with all the benefits of a hearing instrument!
It is a generally accepted fact that people’s perception of their hearing loss does not match up with reality. Most people significantly underestimate their hearing loss and that denial impacts their overall acceptance of treatment and eventually can lead to isolation from friends and family members.
Technology has not only made hearing aids function better, it’s inadvertently created mainstream acceptance of hearing accessories. The hope is this trend will continue to reduce the stigma of hearing loss and, potentially, reduce the 7-year average people wait between first learning of their need for a hearing aid and when they finally get one.
Healthy Hearing has a comprehensive history of hearing aids we found interesting
This New York Times article describes the improvements in hearing aid technology and how that impacts treatment today
An interesting article about one person’s experience in underestimating their hearing loss
Great viewpoint on the future of technology and how that may drive younger people to getting their hearing loss treated with a hearing aid
Have you become more comfortable wearing hearing aids over the past few years? Share your stories in the comments below.
Caring for Hearing Aids
Posted by NJAdmin on Dec 22, 2017
Hearing aids are invaluable tools that play a critical role in the lives of people with hearing loss. Most often, they also represent a significant financial investment, and one that often is not covered by insurance.
Often overlooked, proper maintenance of hearing aids is essential. It can improve their performance, extend their useful life and prevent damage to critical components.
Basics of Care
Once rudimentary amplifiers, modern hearing aids have evolved into precise instruments with dozens of sensors and circuits, wireless capabilities, and auto-tuning options and even ambient noise awareness. As such, hearing aids should be treated with care, and proper care can be easily overlooked.
Your ear is a warm and moist environment hence prolonged exposure without proper drying of hearing aids can be harmful. Generally, your hearing aids should be removed each day at bed time and any obvious debris removed. Letting them sit overnight allows them to dry out and avoid moisture damage to sensitive electronic components. Many companies offer drying chambers that accelerate the process and make certain the device is completely dry. Everyday Hearing has a list of the versions they rate the highest here.
When hearing aids are on, even the most basic models are constantly monitoring the ambient noise and other sounds, moderating these sounds and tuning them to optimize how you hear that sound. This, combined with the complex nature of the device itself, produce a significant draw on the battery. For proper hearing quality, managing your batteries can be just as important as having your hearing aids fitted and tuned. Leaving batteries in too long degrades the performance of your hearing aid and can make everyday tasks more difficult. When comparing hearing aid batteries to other common batteries such as a watch, many people are surprised at how quickly a hearing aid can draw down a battery. While battery life has been significantly improved for hearing aids over the past few years it’s still important to keep your batteries fresh.
Many audiologists and hearing aid manufactures recommend you put in a bit of effort to understand the replacement cycle that will work best for your specific hearing aids. One way to do this is to track the battery life of each hearing aid individually for a period of 45-60 days. Given the specific settings of your hearing aid, they may actually consume batteries at different rates. Once you notice a degradation in performance in your hearing aid, change the battery and not the date on your schedule. After a few cycles, you should see a pattern begin to form and this will allow you to plan ahead and make certain you have a new battery at the ready when the time comes for a change.
Caring for your ears is also an important part of maintaining your hearing aids. Cerumen (ear wax) build-up can have a significant impact on the performance and lifespan of a hearing aid.
Most people are best served by having a discussion about managing cerumen build up with the hearing health care professional. Cotton swabs are not a good solution. Their use tends to just pack the cerumen in and can cause damage to other parts of your ear. Remember what your mom told you, never stick anything bigger than your elbow in your ear. That was good advice then, and it remains so today.
Once your hearing aid is purchased and fitted, just remember that is not the end of the journey. Make certain you work with your hearing health care provider to establish a proper maintenance schedule for your hearing aids, to include return visits for refitting of your hearing aid and any needed ear care or cleaning.
Properly maintained hearing aids will perform better and last longer. Given their role in your life and their cost, it is time well spent.
The Better Hearing Institute has put together a comprehensive guide to hearing aid maintenance. Well worth a read:
A daily checklist is perfect to make sure you keep up with maintenance. Take a look at the one produced by the American Speech-Language Association:
Beltone has a 12 step guide to hearing aid maintenance that may be perfect for you
Cleaning your hearing aids is critical. Better hearing put together a nice tutorial to help get you started
We think this tip sheet for hearing aid care by EarQ is great!
Do you have any tips for taking care of your hearing aids? Share them in the comments below.
A Project for the Holidays
Posted by NJAdmin on Dec 01, 2017
Across the country, people are gathering for holiday get-togethers, often at their parents’ house. The holiday season is a good time to return home and enjoy family, and your parents love having their kids and grandkids at their home.
While you’re visiting this season, it may be a good opportunity to evaluate your parents’ current health and living situation. Not only can you make certain their home meets their current needs, you can also talk through what needs they may have in the future and begin to plan for those.
Why is This Important
As the baby boomer population gets to retirement age and beyond, many are choosing to stay in their homes well beyond the point previous generations would have moved to an assisted care community. This phenomenon, commonly called Aging in Place, has been made more viable through improvements in health care and technology.
And while aging in place works for many, it may not be ideal for those who are beginning to experience mobility, cognitive, or memory issues. The home which works well for a loved one today, may present significant challenges in years to come.
As you talk through future plans with your parents, it’s always best to be open and honest about hopes and fears as they relate to aging over time. The holidays can offer a natural time to talk this over as it brings together all the decision makers in one place.
Things to Consider
Mobility/Stability. While mobility and stability are often challenged as people age, how they’re addressed in the home can vary. This could be simple, such as removing “trip risks” like carpet-to-wood transitions, or adding a walk-in bath tub and/or grab bars to bathrooms. If parents have greater mobility challenges – walkers and wheelchairs, for example – changes could be more dramatic, from door widening to moving the laundry room to the first level. Some people would prefer to move from a multi-story to a single-story home to address all the changes at once.
Memory. Parents with advancing memory issues may not be good candidates for staying in their home. But, even small memory issues can begin to impact someone’s day-to-day health, such as forgetting to take important medications, or missing a doctor’s appointment.
General health needs. Finally, you need to consider general health needs, from medications, to transportation to assistance getting in and out of bed, etc. Some families find these changes addressable, with siblings taking turns caring for parents. While others, often with fewer kids or with significant travel requirements, may need to consider an assisted living community.
Technology Can Help
Technology continues to evolve and many companies are focusing on either developing new or adapting existing technology specifically to serve those aging in place.
For example, computers can provide remote communication access to caregivers as well as medication reminders and cognitive engagement. There are also standalone devices that make it easy to remotely monitor someone’s activity and notify a loved one if something is out of the ordinary. Even familiar technology such as push-button emergency response systems (PERS). For example, the device made famous by the phrase “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” has gone through improvements to make it more capable and more effective in serving its users and their caregivers.
Communication has also improved over time, with video chat through FaceTime and similar services becoming a simple, one-touch way to connect with grandkids and caregivers. For those more comfortable with a traditional telephone, no- or low-cost captioned telephone services such as New Jersey CapTel (njcaptel.com) enable people who are experiencing hearing loss to both hear and read conversations. Often this simple ability makes it significantly easier for people to stay in touch with loved ones and tapped into social circles.
All of the changes should be considered for their cost. Some of the household changes or moving costs necessary to change homes may make the expense prohibitive, or direct you instead to a community of seniors that includes the right home designs and all of the services at a lower cost.
Finally, if at all possible, you will want to involve all family members in this planning to ensure everyone has input into the plan and ultimately is aware of their roles and responsibilities.
These talks can be easy or difficult, and straightforward or emotional because every family has different dynamics. There are many resources available to help with the conversation and make planning easier. Getting the conversation started is the most important step.
Age in place has a good guide on making your home senior friendly
If you think your house would need some remodeling, Home Advisor has some ideas
Some choose to build a new home for their retirement years. If you are looking for a guide, New Home Source has created one here
A few simple modifications can make it easier to stay in your home
What are your experiences with providing care for a loved one who is aging in place? Share your stories in the comments below.
Hearing Loss in the Workplace
Posted by NJAdmin on Oct 19, 2017
With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 daily, the number of seniors in the U.S. has grown substantially over the last 20 years. Yet, hearing loss, often a product of the aging process, is now more and more frequently caused by environmental factors, like noise.
Add to this job-related hearing loss due to the nature of the work in specific industries, and hearing loss is occurring more frequently in the workplace. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 22 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. But, even the quietest workplace can be noisy as more and more employees work with music piped through earbuds, another hearing loss contributor.
How hearing loss impacts employees varies depending on the employee’s role within the organization and the industry that company serves. People in customer facing roles, and those that rely heavily on phone use such as call center representative or inside sales, will experience hearing loss differently than might a warehouse worker, for example.
Yet, nearly all employees with hearing loss can find themselves feeling isolated from their coworkers, and participation in company meetings and events can be difficult. Many report that their hearing loss limits professional growth opportunities.
This often leads to denial and fear, which stops many workers from disclosing their hearing loss to supervisors. This lack of reporting means hearing loss in the workplace is likely much more common than you might expect.
This is a shame for everyone, as unaccommodated hearing loss has a genuine cost to employees, but also to their employers. Staff retention, productivity and employee satisfaction are all commonly impacted when employees have hearing loss. For example, a valuable employee who is beginning to experience progressive hearing loss may choose to exit the company if they feel unable to properly perform their job functions, or if they are unable to use traditional communication tools provided by the company. With this exit comes a loss of knowledge and skills for the employer, both of which are difficult and expensive to replace.
Effectively addressing hearing loss in the workplace requires a comprehensive solution that includes both employers and employees. Employee wellness programs can play an important role, as well as education campaigns with employees, which focus not only on available accommodations, but also recognizing the early signs of hearing loss. Paired with equipment and services that provide proper workplace accommodation, these programs greatly increase the likelihood of success and benefit both the employee and the company.
Lead the Change
Consider discussing your company’s approach to accommodating employees with hearing loss with your HR department. Whether initiated by you or your HR department, there is value in coordinating employee education events to help others around you who may be at the beginning stages of hearing loss and are either unaware of its impact, or that there are accommodations available to assist them in the workplace.
In addition, assistive technology is constantly evolving. Make certain your company has processes in place to continue to research and evaluate the latest technology and how it can positively impact those at your company.
These days, hearing loss in the workplace should not drive workers out of the workforce, limit advancement opportunities, or impact an employee’s productivity. Help take the lead at your workplace to make certain every employee maintains equal access.
HLAA has assembled an Employment Toolkit for those with hearing loss:
Hear-it has assembled several ideas to help those with hearing loss function effectively at work:
This CDC article has specifics on how best to prevent hearing loss in the workplace:
Healthy Hearing provides ideas for both employees and employers in this informative article:
What are your experiences with hearing loss in the workplace and programs available to you through your employer? Share your stories in the comments below.
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: An Overview
Posted by NJAdmin on Sep 20, 2017
If you’re one of the many Americans for whom hearing aids serve a vital role in your day-to-day life, there are some significant changes coming to the hearing aid industry which might affect you. People choose a hearing aid for many reasons, most of which boil down to seeking better connections with friends and family, and ensuring those connections continue after they begin to lose their ability to hear.
In the past, the FDA has closely regulated hearing aids, required their purchase and fitting to occur only through a licensed hearing health care professional. However, recent legislation working its way through congress may change that. If the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act becomes law, it will, for the first time, allow the sale of hearing aids over the counter (OTC), completely without the input of a hearing healthcare professional.
While some devices such as these have been in the marketplace for years, they’ve been required to be called “personal sound amplifiers” vs. hearing aids. While the two function similarly at the most basic level – they both amplify sound for the wearer – a true “hearing aid” could only be obtained through an audiologist or hearing aid fitter.
If signed into law, the new legislation will allow these devices to be called “hearing aids” and to be sold without prescription or consultation of any kind.
So how soon can you expect this change? There are a few hurdles to cross before you can buy your hearing aids with your cold medicine. In early August, the Senate passed the legislation that paves the way for making over the counter hearing aids a reality. Under the proposed legislation, the FDA will have three years to create a new regulatory category for these products, and to set up the appropriate regulations to ensure appropriate product labeling, and that the products themselves meet specific safety, consumer and manufacturing standards.
As you might expect, there are many in favor and against the legislation, with both groups offering valid points.
Advocates of OTC hearing aids include the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the nation’s largest organization for people with hearing loss. HLAA believes that lower cost hearing aid alternatives will significantly broaden access to a critical hearing health product previously unavailable to many who either can’t afford or are unwilling to pay the cost of traditional hearing aids.
HLAA believes this change may accelerate hearing aid adoption of hearing aids by those who are newly experiencing hearing loss. With the average person waiting 7-10 years between when they first need a hearing aid and when they get one, HLAA reasons people with a new hearing loss will have a much better change at maintaining social and familial connections in the earliest stages of their hearing loss.
This legislation is also supported by those providing hearing health care, albeit with some important caveats. For example, both the American Academy of Audiology and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, want to ensure all OTC hearing aids are clearly labeled for use by only those with mild hearing loss. They reason that as hearing loss becomes greater, the complexity of the hearing instruments and the need for them to be tuned to the needs of a particular wearer become much more important.
These groups also want to ensure that OTC instruments are only authorized for use by those over the age of 18, and that they carry stringent guidelines on how the devices work. This is important to ensure that any device that amplifies sound doesn’t inadvertently contribute to increased hearing loss.
These organizations and the hearing aid manufacturers themselves agree that the best patient outcomes come from a combination of a consultation with a hearing health care professional and a hearing aid tuned to the needs of that specific patient. Without both, these groups worry that poor outcomes from an OTC hearing aid may discourage users from seeing a hearing health care professional in the future, thereby making the situation worse.
As you consider options for you or a loved one, keep an eye on this legislation and the regulations as they develop. And whichever direction you’re considering, be sure that you explore all of your options fully, consult a knowledgeable source and select the device that is right for your specific situation.
Hearing Loss Association of America’s statement on OTC hearing aids.
A study by AARP comparing traditional hearing aids and the OTC variety.
Information on the legislation working towards becoming law.
American Academy of Audiology’s statement on OTC hearing aids.
Academy of Doctors of Audiology’s statement on OTC hearing aids.
Caring for an Aging Family Member
Posted by NJAdmin on Aug 24, 2017
As summer ends, many families are preparing their households to get back to school. From returning to an earlier bedtime a week or two in advance to buying the seemingly larger-every-year list of school supplies, most of those preparations are centered on getting back to a more familiar and structured schedule.
However, for an ever-increasing number of families, preparation also includes caring for an aging family member. Unlike previous generations that chose to move to retirement communities or senior care facilities, the baby boom generation and their kids and grandkids are more frequently choosing to remain in their own homes during retirement—generally referred to as “aging in place.”
This has placed more families into the role as caregiver for their parents and loved ones. Fortunately, there are more resources and technology available to improve this experience for all involved.
Why aging in place?
The reasons people choose to age in place are as varied as the personalities of people themselves. Sentimentality often tops the list, while others want to retain a sense of independence. Cost plays a major role for virtually everyone. Whatever the reason, studies have shown that those who age in place are healthier and more active than their counterparts who choose a residential facility.
One of the most significant benefits of aging in place is the sense of connection that comes from continuing to participate in existing social circles and the satisfaction that stems from maintaining a home. Even light housework and yard work – viewed as a burden in the past – can encourage people to get up and move throughout the day.
Most importantly, staying in familiar settings and close to loved ones allows for a familiar routine and comfort.
While the benefits to the retired person are many, aging in place almost always requires assistance from others in the family to care for their loved one. Excellent resources are available for families who wish to help a loved one age in place. These resources can provide guidance on health care and financial matters as well as in providing you information on how best to keep you and your other family members healthy, and to manage your home throughout this process.
Caring.com, for example, is a leading online information source for home and assisted care. The organization provides many ideas on how best to share the workload within the family, how to avoid conflict through use of regular family meetings, and how to positively resolve conflicts.
Another resource – Nolo.com – offers legal advice for common elder-focused issues such as estate planning and financial matters including social security and health insurance.
As it has in every area of our lives, technology has made aging in place and caregiving significantly easier in recent years.
For example, several companies offer senior-friendly computers with specialized functionality to monitor activity, provide medicine reminders and even provide health assessments by connecting with health devices. Video calling using Skype or Facetime makes it simple to connect with loved ones virtually face to face and allow for a regular visual check up on their health and mental state.
Finally, to maintain long-established connections with friends, captioned telephone services such as New Jersey CapTel provide a familiar, easy way to connect over the telephone, with the added convenience of captions to assist with hearing loss.
Keeping the Caregiver Healthy
As you work to balance the needs of your own household and that of your parent, don’t forget to take time to keep yourself emotionally and physically well. This is essential to effectively care for your loved one.
Remember that over time, the amount of work needed by your loved one will likely increase. You may find yourself helping with chores they used to do completely on their own, as well as assisting more often with healthcare administration and decisions. This could range from simply making sure they take their daily medications on time to providing some form of personal hygiene care or limited physical therapy. Keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy will be key for all involved.
Caring for an aging family can be rewarding for everyone. It can help to strengthen bonds and create shared memories as well as give your loved one a more comfortable path to a longer-term care facility. Make sure you plan and communicate, keep an eye out for additional resources to help. Most important, take good care of yourself.
Additional resources that may be of interest:
Where to begin
A good article on legal and financial considerations to consider
What you should know
A good starting point for items to consider when providing care
Caring for older relatives
Where to find practical and emotional support
Personal Care Agreements
Compensating a family member for providing care
Top 10 technology devices for seniors
How to avoid and handle family conflicts when caring for an elderly relative
Information for siblings
Good advice when there are several adult children in the mix
Your mental health
A list of ideas to help you maintain your mental health through this process
What are your experiences serving as a long-term caregiver for a loved one? Share your tips in the comments below!
Get Looped In
Posted by NJAdmin on Mar 01, 2017
One of life’s great joys is attending a live play or concert. Whether a professional performance on par with Broadway or a high school play starring your grandchild in a featured role, the arts can raise the spirit and bring the community together. However, if you’ve recently been to a live performance, you likely understand how hearing loss can interfere with this experience. Unlike seeing the latest movie at a theater where captions are available, catching all the dialog or lyrics at a play or concert can prove difficult.
For those proficient in sign language, many venues provide interpreters for events. But if that is not an option for you, perhaps your hearing aid is equipped with a T-coil that could make all the difference.
T-coil, you ask? The telecoil (or “T-Coil”) is currently available on 85% of all hearing instruments, and can be used in conjunction with a “loop.” “Loops,”—also called inductive loops—are an accommodation many live performance venues – as well as hospitals, boarding counters at airports, libraries, and other public locations – install so people with hearing loss can have the best possible experience while using the facility. If your performance theater has a loop, activating your T-coil will allow you to have the dialog piped directly to your hearing instrument.
Loops have been available for nearly 25 years and still offer the best possible experience for hearing in a live environment. A loop is just a metal loop of wire that encircles the floor of a specific area – whether it’s a theater, for example, or even space around a ticket counter. Microphones installed in the area are connected to this loop. They could be mics on a performer, or a gate agent’s lapel mic at the airport. When that person speaks into the microphone, his or her words flow to the loop. The loop broadcasts the sound through a magnetic field, accessed by anyone with an activated T-coil on their hearing instrument.
Richard Einhorne, a Grammy award winning composer, described the profound impact of the experience.
“There I was, at ‘Wicked’, weeping uncontrollably and I don’t even like musicals,” Einhorne told The New York Times. “For the first time since I lost my hearing, live music was perfectly clear, perfectly clean, and incredibly rich.”
Loops have been widely adopted in Northern Europe, and thanks to the efforts of many fans, and advocacy groups like HLAA and ASHA, they are available more and more in the U.S. In fact, a website called loopfinder.com, and its companion iPhone app, makes it easy to search for performance locations with loops installed and available for use.
What about Bluetooth?
Given Bluetooth’s prevalence in hearing aids, people often ask if Bluetooth technology may one day replace loops. It’s a fair question.
Bluetooth is really a complementary technology to loops. Sound transmitted through the loop is clearer, and free of distortion because it’s a direct, electromagnetic connection to the user, and leverages the user’s personal hearing instrument tuning.
In contrast, Bluetooth is most effective for personal electronics, such as TVs, captioned telephones, and music players. It tends to drain the hearing instrument battery much more quickly than does the T-coil, and is greatly reliant on the user being close (usually within 30 feet) of the transmitter. Sitting beyond that distance can introduce interference and noise.
The best news is that loops are not only great for the user, but they’re relatively inexpensive for a venue to install, and can be installed just about anywhere. Many banks, car rental desks, and theaters have loops, and some people even have them installed in their homes in the TV room. And, unlike the special headphones you may have tried at a venue, using your own hearing aid’s T-coil is discreet; you just turn it on, and no one is the wiser! Just make certain your audiologist has tuned your hearing aid’s T-coil prior to use.
If you’ve used loops before, how did they work out for you? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!
Loops lend your hearing a helping hand in venues of all sizes. In the same way, New Jersey CapTel gives your hearing a helping hand on the phone, displaying live captions of your phone conversation so you can hear and read your calls. More information here or visit us on Facebook.
And the Winner for Best (Captioned) Picture is…
Posted by NJAdmin on Feb 13, 2017
With Oscar Season nearly upon us, many of the nation’s movie fans make their way to theaters to see the nominated films before the awards are presented. For those with hearing loss, a trip to the movies has long been an exercise in frustration. Finding a theater that offers captions, let alone the actual film you want to see with captions, has been challenging.
Fortunately things are changing, and the answer no longer has to be “wait until it comes out on DVD or Netflix.” While both offer “easy on” captions, neither matches the experience of seeing your favorite films on the big screen.
During all the turkey consumption last November, you may have missed a recent rule finalized by then Attorney General Lynch. The rule, which went in to effect on December 2nd, requires theaters offering movies using digital technology to proactively offer captioned film options for people with hearing loss. Fortunately, this includes nearly 97% of the nation’s theaters.
What do these captions look like? Well, if you’ve been to an open captioned film in the past — one which displays captions of both the dialog and sound effects (such as a door slamming or a phone ringing) — the new technology is similar, but decidedly different.
Theaters have long sought a balance between accommodating people with hearing loss, and avoiding the distraction of captions for their other patrons. The earliest attempt was a technology called Rear Window Captioning, sponsored by WGBH in Boston. This projected the captions on the back of the theater, reversed, and provided a mirror-like device at each seat which the patron could position so the captions would be reflected on the device.
It was a great idea but wrought with challenges, not the least of which was broken equipment and a limited number of theaters that had installed the expensive solution.
Today, digital films enable captions to be projected using infrared light, generally invisible, except for hard of hearing patrons through a set of special glasses each theater has on hand. When it’s working, the technology seemingly strikes the right balance, giving hard of hearing viewers a rich, captioned experience, while providing other patrons a caption-free show.
As with any technology, this one does have its growing pains. Many complain that the glasses are bulky and uncomfortable to wear through an entire feature length film. By far the biggest complaint is that theaters frequently forget to charge the glasses, leaving movie fans back where they started. While some theater owners may seem indifferent to the frustration, many more recognize the huge opportunity to reach new viewers in an environment where box office proceeds are at their lowest in decades.
Finding films offering captions has gotten a lot easier. While standalone sites still exist (like Caption Fish, for example), the biggest listings include details on listening devices. Fandango, for example, includes an “Amenities” link for each theater. Just look for “listening devices” included in the amenities list. It might be a good idea too to call ahead to make sure someone puts the glasses on a charger. Let us know how it goes!
What has been your experience with using captions at the movies? Have any Oscar predictions? Leave a post on our Facebook page.
If you like captions on your movies, you’ll LOVE captions on your phone calls. Check out the many free captioned telephone options available to New Jersey residents. Visit: http://njcaptel.com.
Enriching Holiday Calls with Family
Posted by NJAdmin on Dec 15, 2016
As we close out 2016, families across the country are connecting for the holidays and we have more ways to stay in touch than ever before. Whether using some form of text, social media, online video chat, or the good “old fashioned” telephone, the choices for connecting over the holiday season seem endless.Read more
The Hearing Loss Guide to Thanksgiving
Posted by NJAdmin on Nov 17, 2016
As the start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving is a common time for families to get together to catch up. Beyond outsized personalities and relationships, Thanksgiving can bring its own, unique stress if you’re adjusting to hearing loss. “Do I want to tell everyone in the family?” “Will I be able to hear well enough to catch up with everyone?” “Will I miss things or be left out of conversations?” are all questions considered by many people, not just you.
Family get-togethers can be loud, with large groups of talkers and distracting noise from TV football games and parades in the background. And, while hearing loss can make such a boisterous environment even more challenging, there are practical ways you can catch up and enjoy the conversation.Read more
The “Trick” of Hearing Protection Is a Communication “Treat”
Posted by NJAdmin on Oct 18, 2016
While October conjures images of pumpkins and kids in costumes excited for Halloween, the month’s lesser-known honor is “National Protect Your Hearing Month.” Together with the American Academy of Audiology, the National Institute of Health gives this title to October as a way to raise the nation’s awareness of noise-induced hearing loss and methods to prevent it.Read more
4 Resources for New Jersey Residents with Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Sep 08, 2016
When it comes to having hearing loss in New Jersey, what are your options? It turns out there are several resources available to you not that far away.
Check out some of the services you can take advantage of in the Garden State.Read more
Can Treating My Hearing Loss Help Me Stay Active?
Posted by NJAdmin on Jun 21, 2016
When you’ve experienced hearing loss in some way, shape or form in your life, it can be easy to retreat and avoid activity. But thanks to hugely beneficial treatments, such as hearing aids and assistive listening devices (ALDs), there are loads of benefits to improving your abilities to stay active.Read more
5 Jobs That Affect Your Hearing Health
Posted by NJAdmin on Jun 14, 2016
Not everyone can be a librarian – some jobs require a little more exposure to high-decibel sound on a regular basis. But which positions are the most potentially damaging for their jobholders?
Check out some of the jobs that can have a negative effect on your hearing below.Read more
Working Through the Job Search with Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Jun 10, 2016
The job search can get stressful – from tracking down the right positions to sending out résumés to landing those important interviews, it’s no cakewalk.
But when you have hearing loss, the search can add even more steps to the process – try out these best practices while you seek out your dream career.Read more
6 Famous People with Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Jun 02, 2016
Whether you know them or not, there are inspirational, well-known people out there who have experienced hearing loss in one way or another. Check out some of these relatable instances of famous individuals with hearing loss.Read more
5 Common Myths About Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on May 17, 2016
You can’t always believe what you’re told when it comes to hearing loss. There are several common misconceptions about hearing loss that are just plain untrue.
Some of those myths are outlined below – did you know that these weren’t entirely true?Read more
3 Helpful Technologies for Individuals with Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on May 10, 2016
Conversation is key to much of what you do on a daily basis. If you are hard of hearing, there have been technological advances that can assist you with these day-to-day interactions.
Below are three technologies that could change your conversational experiences.Read more
Confidence and Hearing Loss: Taking Control of the Conversation
Posted by NJAdmin on May 03, 2016
When it comes to living with hearing loss, it’s easy to become defeated when it comes to conversations and listening in public. But with the right amount of confidence, you can take control of your hearing loss and enjoy the things you love.
Try these tips on for size the next time you’re hesitant to do something you enjoy.Read more
Hearing Loss and Your Teen: Tips for Avoiding Impairment
Posted by NJAdmin on Apr 27, 2016
Think about the amount of noise you’re exposed to every day. From high-decibel noise at your place of work to chores such as vacuuming or lawn-mowing that create a high volume of sound, potentially damaging noise is rampant.
When it comes to the teenagers in your household, though, there’s often a heightened risk of exposure to high-level noise. Remember the following when assessing your teen’s hearing.Read more
Handling Noise and Hearing Loss at Work
Posted by NJAdmin on Apr 19, 2016
Everyone experiences a little bit of background noise in his or her workplace. But when if you are experiencing hearing loss, noise levels and proper accommodations can make or break your employment experience.
Whether disruptive noise is affecting your work or you need advice for finding a job that can accommodate your hearing loss, here are a few tips.Read more
Finding the Perfect CapTel Phone for Low-Vision Users
Posted by NJAdmin on Apr 06, 2016
Captioned telephone services are great for hard-of-hearing. But what if you also struggle to see your captioned conversations?
If text size is a concern when it comes to deciphering captions and you need a little more magnification when you’re reading, the CapTel 880i low-vision phone is the perfect choice.
It’s your captions, more readable than ever.Read more
College Bound: Tips for Hard-of-Hearing Students
Posted by NJAdmin on Mar 29, 2016
Once you retrieve your high school diploma, what’s next? The college-planning process for a hard-of-hearing person doesn’t need to be a huge hassle. In fact, there are a variety of options available to you in the college and university systems.
Keep the following in mind when you begin your hunt for the ideal school.Read more
Why Treating Your Hearing Loss is Important for Your Emotional Health
Posted by NJAdmin on Mar 22, 2016
There’s more than one way to treat your hearing loss – and it’s incredibly important to do so. Your hearing loss can affect more than just your general communication abilities. It can affect you emotionally in ways you might not expect if you let it go untreated.
Keep these effects in mind and take steps to treat your hearing loss – your emotional state will improve greatly with each step you take!Read more
How to Protect Yourself from Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Mar 15, 2016
In your daily life, you use your hearing in most situations. Whether you have full hearing functionality or a hearing impairment, protecting your abilities is highly important.
There are plenty of measures you can take to do this that don’t cost an arm and a leg and are simple adjustments to your everyday activities and tendencies. (Plus, they’ll have long-term effects that will keep your hearing healthy.)
Read on for a few tips.Read more
4 Ways to Reduce Stress When Living with Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Mar 11, 2016
Speaking with and listening to others can often be a struggle when you’ve experienced hearing loss. And this difficulty can have adverse effects on stress levels – be they yours or the person with whom you’re speaking.
But there are simple ways for you to reduce your stress and the stress of those around you. Try these tips on for size.Read more
Product Profile: CapTel 2400i
Posted by NJAdmin on Mar 08, 2016
With the right type of phone technology, you can keep your communication experience right at your fingertips.
If you’re seeking convenience in your phone service and you’re familiar with your tablet and smartphone, the touch-screen CapTel 2400i phone will be a comfortable fit for you.
(Plus, for a limited time only, enjoy free shipping on the CapTel 2400i – see details below.)Read more
Treat Your Hearing Aids Right: Accessories and Tools You Can Use
Posted by NJAdmin on Feb 23, 2016
Your hearing aids become a part of you – you use them on a daily basis and they’re pivotal to your understanding and communication. So it’s key that you take proper care of them and make use of them to their utmost potential to get the most of out of your hearing aids.Read more
Get to Know Assistive Listening Devices
Posted by NJAdmin on Feb 09, 2016
Your everyday life just got a lot easier – when you’re hearing impaired or hard of hearing there are a variety of options available to you to make listening easier. Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are made to help aid you in hearing and comprehension of conversation.Read more
8 Tips for Speaking to People with Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Jan 26, 2016
Communicating with a friend or family member dealing with hearing loss can be difficult, so it helps to know some ways in which you can make the situation a little easier. Keep in mind the following tips the next time you’re communicating with someone who is hearing impaired.Read more
How to Benefit from Relay Conference Captioning
Posted by NJAdmin on Jan 19, 2016
There’s one more perk to being a resident in New Jersey – you have free access to Relay Conference Captioning (RCC) services for your face-to-face meetings, classrooms and teleconference calls.Read more
Hearing Loss: How to Improve Your Daily Life
Posted by NJAdmin on Jan 12, 2016
Hearing loss can be a difficult development with which to deal, so it’s important to know the best ways in which you can live life to the fullest, no matter your level of loss. There are tools at your disposal to make everyday life more fulfilling – here are just a few of them:Read more
The Three Types of Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Jan 07, 2016
There are many different contributing factors to hearing loss, but it’s generally agreed that there are three types of hearing loss. Designating which type is affecting you or your loved one depends on the location of the damage.Read more
Hearing Loss: What You Can Do to Help
Posted by NJAdmin on Oct 13, 2015
Dealing with the onset of hearing loss can be difficult, so it’s important to educate your friends and family to develop a positive support system. Once you’ve done your due diligence and been seen by a professional, such as an otolaryngologist or audiologist, make sure you’re aware of the ways in which you can ease the process for those around you.Read more
Who is New Jersey CapTel?
Posted by NJAdmin on Sep 11, 2015
First and foremost, New Jersey CapTel is a service provider, founded in April 2006. Our goal is to offer the irreplaceable gifts of confidence, independence and communication to people with hearing loss.Read more
7 Factors in Recognizing Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Sep 11, 2015
Detecting hearing loss in yourself or others, including friends and family members, can be a difficult task. It can be a gradual change, and it’s not always very obvious to those experiencing hearing loss or the people around them. The following are a few key points to keep in mind.Read more
Knowing the Causes of Hearing Loss
Posted by NJAdmin on Sep 11, 2015
There are a great deal of contributing factors when it comes to hearing loss, some more common than others. But it’s important to be aware of the triggers that may spur damage or rupture.Read more