Leveling the Playing Field with Empowering Innovative Devices

Commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today, September 30th, marks Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada. It is an important day for Canadians as public awareness and commemoration of the impacts and tragic history of residential schools is a key part of the reconciliation process.

Consider wearing orange today to honour the thousands of survivors of residential schools. Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”.

Events across Canada include the illumination of buildings, such as the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, from 7:00 pm to sunrise on October 1st. The APTN and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will present a 90-minute multi-lingual commemorative gathering at Parliament Hill. The event, Remembering the Children: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2023 will be broadcast live starting at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern time.)

Members of the CHHA Community are invited to learn and explore more about the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures, stories, voices, and experiences of Inuit, First Nations, and Métis peoples through local Indigenous organizations. Resources to tap into include the Canada Heritage webpage and the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada 12-lesson open online course, offered through the Faculty of Native Studies.  https://www.ualberta.ca/native-studies/programs/continuing-education/index.html

Also check with your local libraries, colleges and Indigenous communities about workshops, lectures and courses that will enhance understanding of reconciliation.


Leveling the Playing Field with Empowering Devices

I wish to share with you how innovative hearing devices today are transforming and breaking barriers for accessibility and new hearing experiences.

This summer both of my hearing aids failed at an importune time, and from this unfortunate timing arose an opportunity and gift to experience the latest advanced hearing devices. I sought to be surprised. I was keen to experiment with the latest models. I particularly wanted to see what was available to enable me to fulfil my future hearing goals, specifically hearing music and identifying bird songs.

As I discovered, the possibilities and potential of current and future hearing instruments are simply astounding.

Given that I have what is termed a “corner loss,” a down sloping, angled slash across the bottom left corner of my audiogram, my choice of devices was limited.  These new next gen hearing aids have technology and capabilities that exceed my previous models. While the devices are programmed to my specific needs, the power available provides a range and connectivity that can meet different hearing situations.

The hearing device itself is a minicomputer, wirelessly connected to an app on my phone which allows me to control and moderate my listening environment. Phone calls, podcasts, Facetime conversations, music and videos are all seamlessly and wirelessly streamed from my phone directly into my hearing aids. People around me can barely discern what I’m listening to. The superb sound quality has enabled me to hear and discriminate discrete layers of sound and voices for the first time.

On average, a person whose hearing is gradually declining will wait seven years before seeking a hearing diagnosis. Often this delay in seeking treatment is due to the perception of stigma and denial. Individuals with hearing loss devise coping strategies or ‘workarounds’ that enable them to manage a declining hearing loss. Often hearing loss grows gradually and imperceptibly. Over the course of a few years arises a dawning realization that one’s hearing is changing, and one’s connections with others are faltering.

Today may be an opportune time to change perceptions around stigma. With today’s super-connected wireless hearing devices for a range of losses, and the array of assistive hearing technology, please have conversations with loved ones about hearing care.

Early detection and hearing treatment corresponds to personal well-being, an enhanced quality of life and meaningful relationships. Why wait? Life is too short to miss out on the extraordinary dimension and rich quality of sound that is all around us in conversations and in nature.


Thankful to CHHA for its Work in Inclusion and Accessibility Across Canada

For over 40 years members and volunteers in the CHHA community from coast to coast have worked passionately and tirelessly to advocate for and build an accessible and inclusive Canada for individuals with hearing loss. Both nationally and locally, volunteers have advanced accessibility in technology, education, health services, transportation, youth services and employment among others.

Specific national projects have included CHHA’s National Speechreading program, Mentoring program, and the new ANTE (Accessible Navigation to Employment) program, among others.

Work undertaken by founding members has laid the groundwork in terms of communication access, including the T-switch in phones, Realtime captioning (CART), and television captioning, all precursors to today’s finely-tuned access services. Not to be missed was the extensive work to ensure hearing accessibility is included in Canada’s building codes and the federal Accessible Canada Act (2019).

Volunteers and staff are engaged in the Hearing Health Alliance for better hearing health care and introducing acoustic hearing loops in public and shared spaces across Canada.

The Young Adults Network and youth programs strive to meet the needs of CHHA’s young members with hearing loss who will become leaders of the future.  And there is much more that comprises our vibrant CHHA today, including virtual workshops, seminars and conferences, along with scholarships. Key to CHHA’s sustainability is the CHHA Foundation, championed by dedicated volunteer director Carole Willans, which invests bequeaths, gifts and legacies for the benefit of Canadians with hearing loss.

 Importantly, CHHA continues to advocate for the rights of persons with hearing loss. One of the original aims of CHHA is to encourage people with hearing loss to self-advocate and to take individual and collective responsibility for their growth and development.

Please take a moment this Thanksgiving to thank a local volunteer, and/or your local or national CHHA office. Happy Thanksgiving. Joyeuse Action de grâce.

Sheila Serup of Calgary, AB is a CHHA volunteer whose second book, Found Fragments: Stories of Courage and Valour, was published this summer. I hope this blog opens the door for conversation, ideas and comments on hearing inclusion and accessibility. I invite you to email me with your questions and thoughts at  sserup@chha.ca