The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is planning a new study to assess whether older Americans are able to adequately hear all of the risks presented in televised pharmaceutical advertising.
As FDA explains in its Federal Register notice, the elderly often find themselves in a difficult situation: At a time when they are often taking an increasing number of prescription pharmaceutical products to counteract the effects of aging, their ability to understand the benefits and risks presented by those products is often diminished.
Hearing aids are supposed to help you resume a normal life, but they sometimes make things worse — and when most clinics aren’t prepared to calibrate the devices, it’s tempting to ditch them altogether. Norwegian scientists might give you an incentive to keep those earpieces in place, though. They’ve developed a touchscreen-based tuning system that lets you customize hearing aids largely by yourself. The technology asks you to pick a typical sound scenario (such as a busy office) and introduce extra effects until it replicates the situations where you have problems. After that, an audiometrist only has to adjust the hearing aid based on your feedback.
You may not have to wait long to see (or rather, hear) how well this works. AudioPlus Concept AS plans to use the system in one or two clinics in the very near future. You won’t have to rely solely on canned sound samples, either. The team has developed a mobile app that records problematic audio wherever you find it, so it should be easier to sort out your hearing aids even if you have unique challenges.
That’s exactly why this year’s Miss San Antonio started the #ShowYourAids social media movement earlier this month, inviting fellow members of the deaf community to share pictures of their hearing aids.
“I started getting a lot of emails and text messages from high school and middle school students saying that they were being bullied, that they didn’t want to wear their hearing aids, that they were ashamed of having the stigma of being deaf and the physical things that came along with that,” Rudkin said.
“So, the idea behind #ShowYourAids,” she continued, “was to create a movement where the deaf community can be proud, and they can realize that being different is the most beautiful thing about them.”
On June 22, 2015, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice announcing the funding allocations for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) for the 2015-2016 Fund year. The NDBEDP is a program mandated by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) that provides up to $10 million annually for the distribution of communications equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind.
Parents of deaf children face a critical responsibility to learn and use sign language, according to a majority of hearing experts quoted in the journal Pediatrics, although the question of whether or not to sign has grown increasingly controversial.
Ten thousand infants are born yearly in the U.S. with sensorineural deafness, and data suggest that half receive cochlear implants, small devices that help provide a sense of sound to profoundly deaf individuals.
While some specialists advise that all deaf children, with or without cochlear implants, learn sign language, others fear that learning sign language will interfere with the demanding rehabilitation needed to maximize the cochlear device. Still others worry that asking parents to learn a new language quickly is too burdensome.
The Technology Access Program (TAP) at Gallaudet University is looking for individuals to participate in a study that will allow TTY users to communicate with friends and family members who do not use TTYs. The study will last for up to 8 weeks, with participants making at least one call per week.
Participants who do not have TTYs will be given software to use to call their friends and family members who have TTYs, and each other. Participants will be instructed how to use the software, and will be contacted periodically by TAP staff to answer any questions you may have. At the end of the study, you will be interviewed about your experiences by TAP staff.
If you are interested in participating, or have questions about the study, please contact Paula Tucker by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone (voice or TTY) at 202-651-5049. To call using VP, contact Christian Vogler at 202-250-2795.
A few days ago, a good friend and fellow linguaphile posted a video on my Facebook wall of Shelby Mitchusson, a hearing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter translating Eminem’s anthemic “Lose Yourself,” signing with dramatic facial expression and full body motion as she attempts to convey the essence of Slim Shady. The video now has more than 3 million views.
In the fall of 2013, Amber Galloway Gallego became a YouTube sensation after video of her signing a Kendrick Lamar concert also garnered millions of views. Countless articles (here, here, here, and here, to cite a few) lauded Gallego’s signing as “epic” and called her “a true inspiration.” Of course, what she’s doing is a service to the Deaf community. Music is something that all people, regardless of their hearing status, should be able to appreciate and understand, and to convey the rhythm and spirit of Kendrick Lamar into a form of expression the deaf and hard of hearing can process is inherently valuable. Mitchusson and Gallego went viral because their videos are not simply a detached interpretation. They’re excitingly interpretive.
But what are we really doing when we label ASL with words like “epic” or “cool”? We are exoticizing and trivializing it. ASL (and all sign languages—remember, there isn’t just one!) is a language every bit as much as English, with its own rules of grammar, its own syntax, morphology, phonology, and semantics. It is not “cool” or “interesting” or “awesome,” but rather a practical and evolving way of communicating that deserves as much respect as any spoken language. To share a video of someone signing with the caption “look how cool this is!” perpetuates the misconception that sign languages are somehow different, a kind of sideshow novelty at which to marvel.
for the Gallaudet Peer Mentoring Program deadline for applications is July 20, 2015.
Information about the program and specific application requirements can be found on the website. http://peers4access.org
The Gallaudet University Peer Mentoring Certificate Program is a certificate program designed to help train deaf, hard-of-hearing, and late-deafened individuals in meeting the diverse needs of individuals with hearing loss. Individuals will be trained to provide information, support, empathy, validation, and skills to consumers in need. Peer mentors will also be able to conduct needs assessments, problem-solve, and establish goals and objectives to improve the quality of life for these individuals. Lastly, peer mentors will help to establish effective use of assistive hearing technology, and ensure equal and appropriate access to communication.
Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso recalls the emotional moment last year after USC doctors inserted a new hearing device into his daughter’s ear canal. The teenager, who had struggled with mild to moderate hearing loss since birth, suddenly started crying because of the clarity of the sound around her.
Gianna Caruso, now 15, had relied on external hearing aids most of her life and had learned to read lips. With the new internal device, known as a Lyric hearing aid, she heard subtle sounds such as water gushing in a fountain or the chirp of a distant bird, her father said.
That experience influenced him and his wife, Tina, to donate $25 million to the department at USC’s Keck School of Medicine that treats ear, nose, throat, head and neck problems and a related clinic that aids children with hearing loss. The gift is being announced Thursday.
“We want to be able to give more kids an opportunity for a very full and rich life and to minimize the struggles that come with hearing loss,” said Rick Caruso, who is the chief executive of the firm that developed the Grove in Los Angeles and the Americana at Brand in Glendale, and that is working on a new luxury resort to replace the former Miramar Hotel in Montecito.
Thirty-seven and a half million Americans have trouble hearing, and of those people who could benefit from hearing aids, it’s estimated that fewer than 30 percent have ever used them, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The hefty price tag attached to hearing aids may be chief among the barriers, as a pair of custom-fitted hearing aids can cost between $1,000 and $6,000, finds Consumer Reports.
Doctors sometimes charge a full 100 percent or more markup on hearing aids, says Sarah O’Leary, founder and CEO of ExHale Healthcare Advocates, a national independent consumer health care company. And, unfortunately, the cost of hearing aids and other medical devices is not always covered by insurance. Some insurers cover hearing tests, but not the device itself. In a handful of states, insurers are required (with some exceptions) to cover hearing aids for children and, in three states, they must cover them for both adults and children. Veterans may be entitled to free hearing aids through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
However, just as online startups have disrupted the traditional eyeglass industry and others, new players are providing more affordable channels for buying hearing aids, walkers, prosthetics and other medical devices. Buying a device from your local doctor or clinic may be a convenient option, but it’s not your only option – nor is it typically the cheapest.
“The status quo of the hearing aid industry was that the only way you could hear again was going through the expensive brick-and-mortar channel,” says Patrick Freuler, founder and CEO of Audicus.com, which aims to do for hearing aids what Warby Parker did for eyeglasses and 1-800 CONTACTS did for contact lenses. “The technological complexity of a hearing aid is not beyond modern cellphones, so we dug a bit deeper and saw that a lot of the pricing is driven by service components. We wanted to provide an alternative dispensing mechanism.”
Audicus sells German-manufactured hearing aids for around $1,200 per pair, with a 45-day trial period. Like Warby Parker, where customers visit their doctor for an eye exam and send in their eyeglass prescription, Audicus has customers visit their local ear, nose and throat doctor or audiologist for a hearing test. Patients are entitled to a copy of their audiogram. “Send us the results of your hearing test [typically via fax or email], and then you receive a customized hearing aid in the mail a couple of days later,” Freuler says.
Another player in the move toward lower-priced hearing aids is hi HealthInnovations, which is part of UnitedHealth Group, but sells its hearing aids to those with or without a UnitedHealth policy. As Lisa Tseng, CEO of hi HealthInnovations, describes it, “we’re hearing-test agnostic. You can get your hearing test anywhere you want, and we custom program your hearing aids to your needs.”
Coleman said that as a kid he never “truly realized” that he was different, but admitted he was bullied as a kid.
“There’s a reason why I don’t like going back there,” Coleman said, explaining why he doesn’t dwell on that time in his life. “I don’t really like remembering that. I block it out. I know it because it still makes me angry to this day.”
Jiya Bavishi was born deaf. For five years, she couldn’t hear and she couldn’t speak at all. But when I first meet her, all she wants to do is say hello. The 6-year-old is bouncing around the room at her speech therapy session in Dallas. She’s wearing a bright pink top; her tiny gold earrings flash as she waves her arms.
“Hi,” she says, and then uses sign language to ask who I am and talk about the ice cream her father bought for her.
Jiya is taking part in a clinical trial testing a new hearing technology. At 12 months, she was given a cochlear implant. These surgically implanted devices send signals directly to the nerves used to hear. But cochlear implants don’t work for everyone, and they didn’t work for Jiya.
“The physician was able to get all of the electrodes into her cochlea,” says Linda Daniel, a certified auditory-verbal therapist and rehabilitative audiologist with HEAR, a rehabilitation clinic in Dallas. Daniel has been working with Jiya since she was a baby. “However, you have to have a sufficient or healthy auditory nerve to connect the cochlea and the electrodes up to the brainstem.”
Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Persons
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