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Hearing Aid Subsidies in Canada

document iconWith the recent recession, people with hearing disabilities are looking for sources of funding to cover the cost of the hearing aids. Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – National Office have produced this document called “Canadian Hearing Aid Subsides.” It outlines the programs available for assistance from each province and territory.

From an updated version for British Columbia, have a look on page 9 for available funding sources (which there is not much unfortunately!). Click this document in PDF Format!

Communication is about to get better for the hard of hearing in Canada!

By Snookie Lomow, CHHA Executive Executive Director

Ottawa, July 29 -The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) wishes to acknowledge the ruling by the CRTC brought down on July 21, 2009.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) is the voice for Canadians who are hard of hearing. It is the only national not-for-profit consumer driven organization that advocates for the needs of the over 3 million Canadians experiencing hearing loss. More than ten per cent (10%) of Canada’s population is hard of hearing, and for senior citizens age 65 and above this figure increases to 40%. A hearing disability has a serious impact on the quality of life of the person experiencing it, and may result in low self esteem, social isolation and anxiety or depression. It also has a significant impact on everyone who comes into contact with a person who is coping with hearing loss, such as family members, friends, teachers, co-workers and employers.

CHHA was created in 1982 by a group of dedicated individuals, many of whom still remain active in the organization today. These individuals envisioned an organization that would be a leader in raising awareness, advocating and supporting Canadians living with hearing loss. CHHA has successfully built a network across Canada that includes nine provincial Chapters and 50 local and regional Branches serving close to 3000 members.

From the CHHA perspective we want to bring to the attention of the CRTC our appreciation for all the work and support the Commission undertakings have demonstrated to help the needs of the hard of hearing community. CHHA fully supports the following initiatives:

  • All Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) and Voice Over Internet (VoIP) Protocol providers will be required by July 21, 2010 to provide a relay service 24 hours a day; 7 days a week similar to the TTY relay service currently provided by telephone companies. CHHA acknowledges that this is a necessary advancement to meet the communications needs of hard of hearing Canadians. We look forward to its implementation.
  • In the future all Broadcasters are required to provide closed captioning for all promos, advertising and overnight programs along with the 100% of the daytime programs currently in place. Therefore access has to be provided 24hours a day, 7 days a week! It has also been determined that the French Broadcasting networks must now provide captioning to the new standard imposed on the English Broadcasting networks as well. We are pleased to see that the Commission has stated that renewal of Broadcast licences will be subject to compliance. This is an excellent step forward!

However CHHA would like to comment on the following items in the new ruling that are of concern to our stakeholders.

  • All IP services (Internet Providers) are required to make accessible 9-1-1- services, however there are no standards set to make available services to persons with hearing loss. The IP providers are required to file a report by Jan 21, 2010 on benefits uses and limitations on such services. CHHA hopes that IP providers will work with the hard of hearing community to achieve positive results so that our stakeholders can have access to emergency 9-1-1 services.
  • All IP providers are required to improve accessibility of call centres to all Canadians however the course of action recommended is not specific enough and voluntary standards were not successful in the past, therefore more vigorous standards are needed. It is our view that these call centres need more specific direction and that a real-time text communication system would be the ideal solution.
  • Broadcast providers will need to provide information on all products and services that are accessible to the hard of hearing via the telephone, web or television by July 2010. However it has not been stated clearly how the providers will comply.

CHHA wants the Service Providers to recognize the fact that our stakeholders are hard of hearing Canadians who can provide support in the area of testing of products or services when they become available. Due to our expertise and consumer access, CHHA is anticipating that service providers will consult with CHHA to help determine the appropriate formats and accessibility alternatives before making a decision. CHHA is encouraged by the 100% requirement for Broadcast captioning 24 hours a day and that this ruling will be monitored and enforced.

CHHA has in the past been part of a Working Group reviewing caption issues and we anticipate we will be given the opportunity to help determine the assessment of pop-ups versus rolls-ups for the delivering of captioning. CHHA believes that a National standard for closed, open and blocked captioning needs to be established so that all broadcasting networks can deliver uniformity and consistency in the services provided.

CHHA is both encouraged and delighted with the determination and devotion set out by the CRTC to find appropriate solutions to meet the accessibility needs of Canadians who are hard of hearing.

Widespread Addiction to Portable Music Players Increasing Potential for Premature in Youth, Adults Alike – Pt. 2

by Jessica Perreault, CHHA National Office

With increased usage of portable music devices, both adults and youth alike are becoming more susceptible to potential premature hearing loss. The following outlines possible risks and preventative measures that can be taken to help prevent permanent hearing loss.

While it is not a widespread epidemic, tinnitus is one of the possible side effects of exposure to the loud music heard from portable listening devices. Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing heard in the ears or head on a regular basis, and is often the result of exposure to loud noises. At the same time, it is even possible to experience partial or full hearing loss, as a result of this exposure. This is not to say that people need to quit listening to the music they enjoy. There are a few simple steps that can significantly reduce the risk in listening to a portable music player.

1. Turn it down. Most people attempt to block out the surrounding noise by turning up the volume. A general rule of thumb is when you can’t hear that noise anymore, it’s too loud.

2. Reevaluate your headphones. Ear bud headphones are more damaging to your ears than an over-the-ear style headphone. The proximity of the noise to the inner ear canal with ear buds creates a higher intensity. Ear buds often require louder volumes to block out that ambient noise as well. Over-the-ear style headphones come in a variety of styles, and are also available in what is called isolation, or noise cancellation headphones. These headphones are designed to filter background noise, allowing the listener to enjoy his or her music at a safer level.

3. Limit exposure time. If you are going to listen to loud volumes, keep in mind that for every volume increase of 3 dB, listening time should be cut if half. If you just can’t turn it down, turn it off for awhile. Avoid exposure to other loud noises such as the lawnmower or hairdryer, and enjoy some peace and quiet.

4. Examine other options. For iPod listeners specifically, ‘limiter’ software can be downloaded from Apple’s website. The limiter on your device restricts the volume to a maximum of 115 dB at its peak. As Dr. Chasin of the Musicians’ Clinic of Canada indicates, this is a very good strategy and smart move in order to protect listeners.

It is important to understand that these steps do not eliminate the risk completely and that prolonged exposure to any loud volumes does carry the risk of potential hearing loss. Like any preventative measures, some work better for certain individuals than others, and as such it is important to find the method that works best for you.

The goal at CHHA is to raise awareness of the hard of hearing community and educate individuals about hearing loss. To learn more about the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, and issues such as personal portable music devices, call Voice: 604 795-9238 Toll-Free: 1-866-888-2442 (In BC Only).

This Press Release is from CHHA National Office, Ottawa, Ontario. All rights reserved