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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 3 Issue 3
Spring 1996

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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 fruitation.

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. If you and your spouse would like to join, the cost is $30 for two or $35 for family.

Make your check payable to National SHHH and send to:
SHHH Membership Desk
7910 Woodmont Ave. #1200
Bethesda, MD 20814.

If you prefer, you can send it to SHHH Umbrella (see address on page 8) and we will forward it to National.


Coordinator's Comments
by Gordon L Nystedt

In the past four years I have spoken to many senior and retirement centers on the subject of hearing loss. Sometimes a person will come to me before the meeting and say, What are you trying to sell us today?

SHHH neither sells, nor endorses any products. We will not try to sell you hearing aids or assistive devices. Nor will we try to sign you up for coping or sign language classes. If you are interested, we will advise you of people who do perform these services. This does not mean SHHH is endorsing any particular individual.

Be very leery of anyone who comes to speak to your group that is trying to sell you hearing aids. First of all, if you have never worn hearing aids, contact a medical doctor specializing in hearing loss for a complete evaluation. If the doctor tells you hearing aids might help you, then contact a certified clinical audiologist for a complete hearing test. They have sound proof rooms and special equipment to perform these tests. After the testing is completed you can take the test results to a person who sells hearing aids, either an audiologist or a hearing aid dispenser.

If you purchase hearing aids and they do not work for you, remember that you have 30 days to return them and get your money back except for a small nonrefundable fee for earmolds and/or handling.

If the hearing aid dealer refuses to refund, or you feel something unethical has taken place, notify the Washington State Hearing Aid Board, Department of Health, 1300 SE Quince St., PO Box 47869, Olympia, WA 98504. They should be able to advise you of what action to take.


Regional Convention Coming to Portland
In the winter issue we informed you that a convention will be taking place October 25, 26, and 27. This is now only about seven months away. The registration forms will be in the Summer edition of this newsletter which will be mailed the last part of May.

The convention is expected to begin shortly after noon on Friday. We will begin with a presentation on assistive devices and show you how to use them during meetings so you will be able to hear and understand better. We will talk about the telephone relay system and how to use it, voice carry-over telephones, and many other items.

All meetings will be amplified. In addition we will have assistive devices available for you to use. For those who have difficulty understanding speech, the meetings will be real- time captioned. By that we mean everything being said will print out on a large overhead screen for you to read.

Those who plan to stay at the Monarch Hotel convention site, who will need assistive devices for their room, are encouraged to bring their own. The ADA law only requires the hotel to provide them in four percent of the first one hundred rooms and two percent of the balance. For SHHH to provide a greater number of devices would be costly and we would have to raise the price of the registration for all.

Come learn about the latest in hearing aids and how to cope with a hearing loss. Having problems understanding speech on an amplified telephone? Maybe a cochlear implant is the answer. All of these subjects will be covered. Bring your hearing or hard of hearing spouse or friend. You will not want to miss this exciting event!!!!


The Pain of Hearing Loss
by Mitchel Turbin Ph.D.

It is no secret that hearing loss hurts. Not all the time - - many SHHH members have learned that there are effective ways of coping with being hard of hearing. We may have even experienced the positive dimensions of our situation: precious stress-free times spent in the fellowship of chapter meetings and national conventions, in relationships with those we most love, or perhaps in the inspiring presence of great art, of nature, or in our personal choice of worship.

But in my own life as a hearing impaired person, and in that of most of the hard of hearing people I have known (both personally, and professionally as a Counseling Psychologist) there still are times when hearing loss hurts. The need to communicate is so constant, the situations and environments so varied, people are so uneven in their cooperativeness, and technology alas! can often break down. Thus our hopes and expectations can be frustrated, and we experience a myriad of emotions.

How do we deal with those times, and those feelings? Unfortunately, just as the behavioral skills for coping with hearing loss are not automatic, so the skill for dealing with these emotions are not instinctive, but need to be learned. For the past year I've come to think of the stages of grieving for our lost hearing as the natural shape and process of the feelings I've observed in hard of hearing people. I also believe that mourning constitutes a deliberate set of behaviors and thoughts by which we can better move through those feelings of grief toward a will to adjust to the challenges of life.

Denial is the first stage of grief, and is the result of the deep fear that hearing loss evokes in us. The mourning that we must do here is to work toward acknowledging that fear, and know that all human life fears the loss of health and happiness. We are not as alone as we think.

Anger is the second stage, when we burst through the fear and demand of life that somehow, anyhow, we deserve happiness. I think the great Beethoven, in his response to his growing deafness, showed us how to do the mourning that moves us through anger: he presented his anger to the whole world, but he did it in beautiful ways. We can't all be geniuses, but we can all find constructive ways to assertively voice our commitment to life.

Bargaining is the stage in which we acknowledge our disability in a half hearted way, really still hiding, still in fear. We may, for example, buy and wear a hearing aid, but we hide it, and we don't really help others communicate with us. Here we need to intelligently analyze our situation, and see that we aren't doing ourselves a favor, moving a step backward for every step forward.

Depression happens when we finally stop hiding, and allow ourselves to experience the sadness of our loss. Sadness is natural, and is a healthy response. Mourning nurtures, even cherishes this sadness when you don't fight it. It will gradually lessen on its own, allowing the person to begin acting effectively again.

Acceptance and adjustment come when we consciously work to minimize the handicapping effects of the hearing impairment, and go forward doing what we must. After all, everyone is flawed, everyone is mortal, but life goes on.
[Editor note: Dr. Turbin welcomes your comments. You can send your comments to the SHHH Umbrella [address page 8) or you can send them direct to him.

Send to:

Mitchel B. Turbin Ph.D., C.R.C.
Counseling and Rehabilitation Psychology
225 1/2 11th Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98102
Phone 206-322-5767 V/TTY/fax.
[Dr. Turbin will be speaking on this topic at the Feb 26th SNO-KING Meeting. Visitors are welcome to attend.]


Relay Calls Made from US West Payphones Now Easier
[The following is a press release by US West]

Calls have become easier - -and, in some cases, cheaper - - for persons placing calls with a TTY from US West Communications Payphones.

The same will be true for persons placing calls from US West payphones to persons who use a TTY.

Under an agreement with the Federal communications Commission (FCC):Local calls placed from US West pay telephones and routed through the Washington Telecommunications Relay Service (WTRS) will be free. WTRS facilitates business and personal calls between traditional telephone users and persons who use a TTY to communicate by telephone. WTRS assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Long distance calls placed from US West pay telephones and routed through WTRS will cost no more that the same calls using coin. These calls may be filled to either a US West Calling Card or another billing option accepted by the WTRS.

These payments policies were issued by the FCC in August and are supported by US West, local and long distance telephone companies, WTRS and organizations representing persons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech impaired.

Customers may receive more information about these policies by calling 1-800-477-7211 (voice only). TTY users should dial 1-800-223-3131.

[Editor note: If you are not acquainted with the relay system, or how to use a TTY or Voice Carry Over Telephone, we hope you will attend the SHHH Regional Convention in October in Portland. We expect Exhibitors there who will be able to show you how to use the equipment.]


Ten Ways to Recognize Hearing Loss
Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
Do you have to strain to understand some conversations?
Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
Do many people you talk to seem to mumble or not speak clearly?
Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
Do people get annoyed because you sometimes misunderstand what they say?

If you answer yes to three or more of these questions, it is recommended that you see an otolaryngologist ( A medical Doctor who specializes in the treatment of ear, nose, and throat disorders.)

[Editor note: Adapted from guidelines provided by the American Academy of Otolaryngology]


Questions and Answers About Hearing Aids

Q. I have seen advertisements on television for hearing aids that can eliminate background noise. Is this fact or fiction?
A. There is no hearing aid in existence that is smart enough to distinguish between background noise and speech. The advertisements that were broadcast several years ago were stopped when the Food and Drug Administration came down on those hearing aid companies who made claims that were not supported by research. While noise cannot be eliminated, there are circuits in existence today that can help the hearing impaired individual feel more comfortable in background noise. The hearing aids work in such a way that the relationship between what you want to hear and what is background noise is kept more optional so you can use your smarts to understand what is being said. If you have any questions regarding these new hearing aids, feel free to contact your audiologist.

Q. I tried hearing aids many years ago and didn't like them. Have hearing aids changed at all in the past several years?

A. Yes! Although hearing aids have the same parts (microphone, amplifier, receiver) as were used in the past, the quality and sophistication of the hearing aids parts have improved tremendously. Superior sound quality and increased flexibility are possible with newer instruments. In addition, our understanding of fitting hearing aids has improved.

Q. My hearing aid whistles when I put my hand up to it, when I take it out with it still turned on, or when the volume is turned up high. Why?

A. What you are hearing is called acoustic feedback. In normal hearing aid use, the hearing aid is producing sound in your ear canal. Some of that sound escapes through the vent of the hearing aid or around the side of the hearing aid. If enough sound escapes, it is picked up by the microphone, the system overloads , and a whistling sound is made. Feedback occurs more easily when an individual cups his hands over the hearing aid and puts a telephone handset next to the hearing aid. You may also have experienced acoustic feedback while attending a public function and the public address system screeched at the audience. This is also acoustic feedback and is similar to what can occur with a hearing aid, only in a larger form.

[Permission received to reprint this article from the Virginia Mason Medical Center Dept. of Audiology newsletter SOUND ADVICE October 1995.]


True Grit
by Merilyn Cooke [Reprint from the SHHH Eastside Newsletter]

The message is out! - - hearing loss or any other type of disability, allows no time for retreat. Courage under great odds of disability have been in the news recently. Last month our newsletter mentioned a hard of hearing comedienne, Kathy Buckley, who was appearing in the area. She is really something! Last month she starred at Everett Community college and other local campuses with incredible humor, but what a punch line! She doesn't spare any disabilities, but does it lightly and with credibility as she is disabled, too - - severely hard of hearing.

Her humor caught all of the students assembled, bagged and sealed, for the final message. As she began relaying her own experiences as a young child of being early misdiagnosed and schooled as mentally retarded, eventually receiving hearing aids and speech training in a deaf school, torn from there to mainstreaming in public school system, taunted and tormented by the students, run over by a jeep while beach bathing, spending the next several years in a wheelchair, attempting suicide 5 times and then receiving surgery and chemotherapy for cancer, and still making a success of herself leaves little room for anyone else to claim defeat by disability or poor environment. She described her own change of attitude towards a quadriplegic woman after she found out the woman had authored a successful book one letter at a time by blinking her eye. The human spirit can overcome most anything if there is the will to do it! In spite of the odds against one, you need a joy of life.

(Can you imagine the difficulties of performance as a HOH person?...the verbal clues missed, the noise of entertainment milieus, the compounded stress of travel. She carries it all with grace and patience.)

Hmmm! Was that me complaining about my hearing loss the other day? (By the way, Everett community college offered Real Time Captioning by way of Else Gale, Court reporter like our own Sharon Smith. Kathy Buckley graciously wore the mike to my personal FM system so I could hear every word.)

The Seattle Times (Tuesday, May 2 edition) featured on the front page a 75 year old veterinarian, Ken Davis, from Aberdeen who has persevered in his career for 50 years in spite of his genetic defect of spina bifida with its added handicaps of deformed feet, weak ankles, and urinary and bowel incontinence. The secret of his success, I suspect, is hidden in his statement I am just an ordinary as you can get....If I can do it, other people can do it.

Attitude and effort is what it's all about. He has a one man campaign to encourage enrollment of more students with disabilities in veterinary schools. His Alma Mater, WSU veterinary school, can only remember four disabled students being accepted since 1980. The article interestingly speaks to a temper that gave him problems and an inability or refusal to speak about his problems. His daughter states He had to let his emotions go somewhere...He is a proud and very disciplined man. We who carry the weight of our disability must learn to deal with the anger that is inherent, that is a given! It is not a case of if we have anger in regards to our disability, it is what we choose to do with it. Mr. Davis chose to become all he could be, maybe not perfectly, but he didn't let the cadence of the retreat drum enter into his joy of life.

Did you see the sailboat with the all women team came in second in the America Cup? They missed first place by a minute, the result of a fluke calm. What a thrill that must have been for Shelley Beattie, the severely HOH crew member! No retreating for her!

For somebody that spent 12 years drumming retreat with my hearing loss, NEVER AGAIN! How about Joining me in the joy of life and the pursuit and sharing of our God-given gifts we all have and can still give with true grit!


Caller Identification
[In our very first newsletter we ran a column on Caller ID. Because we have gained so many new readers, this is an update from that column]

The phone rings!!! We immediately tense up because we are afraid we may not understand the party calling. Tension makes it difficult for us to understand the person s name. People state they can understand much better when they are relaxed. Sometimes we do not even answer and let the recording take a message. Then when the partner comes home in the evening, the call is answered.

Caller Identification may be our answer. This feature lets us know who is calling before we answer the phone by displaying the name and phone number of the calling party s line, even if they hang up or we re not at home when the call comes in. [Editor note: US West provides both the name and phone number. Some phone services only provide the phone number.]

Cost of this service is $5.95 a month. In addition a small display screen is required. This screen can be purchased from any phone store or may be rented from your local phone company. Not all display screens are the same. Some only show the phone number.

Not every call gives you the name and phone number. Some say out of area because they are coming from a company with an in-house phone service. Other times the reading might say Private or anonymous . This is from people who block their lines because they do not want you to know who is calling. Most of these type calls seem to be sales pitches.

Some of you may have tried this service when it first came out and decided against it because it did not reflect long distance calls. George Chappell of US West recently advised the Umbrella that long distance calls are now reflected as well as local calls.

It is another service that might benefit hard of hearing people.


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