Community News - Archive

Popular Christmas gift leading to teen hearing loss

December 19, 2014 in Community News



Dec 16, 2014
By: Jenny You – Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — Trendy earbuds like Beats by Dr. Dre and Bose top many Christmas  lists this year. But depending on how your kids use them, they may be doing more damage than good.

Earbuds place sound deeper into the ear canal and with more kids listening for longer periods of time, Sacred Heart Hospital audiologist Dr. Shawna Lee, AuD says you can take some easy  steps to educate and help your kids avoid hearing loss.

“I think just the prevalence of children and younger and younger individuals using earphones longer and for higher doses of time is where concern is setting in,” said Lee.

She said the problem is that kids are wearing these earphones at loud volumes when they’re going to school, in the car , at the gym, at home, etc.

In fact, at UW-Eau Claire, it was hard to find a student without them.

UWEC Football  player Jon Wilkins said having headphones helps him drown out the already loud music and noise in the gym.

“I guess having headphones helps . I usually play my music like pretty loud,” said Wilkins.

Lee said when you’re working out  at the gym or running on a treadmill, you might turn up the level of your iPod because you want to hear your music above the running and the noise in the gym.

“If you were to turn that on in a quiet environment, it would sound way too loud to you and it’s tricky because the brain adapts to that level of sound and almost thinks it’s okay to listen at that high level,” said Lee.

Read More – Watch Captioned Video

Congress Passes ABLE Act: Major Victory for Persons with Disabilities & Their Families

December 19, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Community News, Disability Law



Posted from National Disability Institute 
Thank you to BH-News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

(Washington, D.C. – Dec. 17, 2014) – Last night, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 by a vote of 76 to 16. First introduced in 2006, and subsequent sessions of Congress, the ABLE Act will allow people with disabilities (with an age of onset up to 26 years old) and their families the opportunity to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life.

“Today marks a new day in our country’s understanding and support of people with disabilities and their families,” Michael Morris, National Disability Institute (NDI) Executive Director, said. “A major victory for the disability community, ABLE, for the very first time in our country’s policy on disability, recognizes that there are added costs to living with a disability.” He continued. “For far too long, federally imposed asset limits to remain eligible for critical public benefits have served as a roadblock toward greater financial independence for the millions of individuals living with a disability.”

NDI has long championed the ABLE Act as a critical strategy to providing a pathway to a better economic future for all people with disabilities. As the nation’s first nonprofit dedicated to improving the financial health and future of all people with disabilities, the organization has extensively documented and called attention to the daily reality and extra expenses associated with living with a disability, and the challenges of navigating the complex web of government rules to maintain public benefits eligibility.

In recognition of this unprecedented legislation, NDI has created a list of 10 items about ABLE accounts that individuals with disabilities and their families should know:

ABLE Accounts: 10 Things You Must Know

  1. What is an ABLE account?

Read More  . . .



Happy Holidays for HoHs – By Gael Hannan

December 19, 2014 in Community News



Hearing Health & Technology Matters
By Gael Hannan
December 16, 2014

Whoo hoo!  Christmas is almost here—and so are Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice!  The excitement and sparkle, the food and wine, the gifts, the spirituality, the music!  Activities to share, beauty to both see  and hear….

Sheesh, it was all good until that last point—the bit about hearing. The season is supposed to be one of joy, but for some people it brings on ‘holiday blues’.  And for people who have hearing loss, who are hard of hearing, no other holiday season drives home the hard and loss like this one.  The calendar is jammed, or at least busier than usual, with parties and dinners, TV specials, church events, and concerts—most of which present some degree of communication challenge for people who don’t hear well.

Around now, many hearing loss-related organizations publish articles on how to survive—even enjoy—the holidays with hearing loss, and I guess this one of them.  All these  articles and blogs offer heaps of great hints on accessible communication and what we should do to avoid becoming too stressed out—or cut out of important holiday events. Sitting on the sidelines of conversations is no fun and can turn joy into pain.  And that’s not the seasonal spirit we’re aiming for, right?  Every year I write to Santa about this.  In 2011, 2012 and 2013, I asked for thoughtful gifts to give a hearing boost to me and my people (the ones living with the hard and loss).

But I’m finally getting a little smarter about Santa (see below) – and in addition to the many lists of jolly-holiday hearing DOs, I would like to offer a few holiday DON’Ts, because you don’t want hearing loss to be the defining memory of your 2014 holidays.

Read More . . .

Feds Inch Closer To Disability Hiring Goal

December 19, 2014 in Community News, Employment



Disability Scoop
 December 15, 2014

The federal government added people with disabilities to its payroll at a higher rate last year than at any other time in the last three decades.

More than 16,000 people with disabilities were hired by the U.S. government during fiscal year 2013, according to a new report from the Office of Personnel Management. That brought the total number of federal workers with disabilities to 234,395.

“This success has led to more people with disabilities (on board) in federal service, both in real terms and by percentage than at any time in the past 33 years,” wrote Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management in her report to President Barack Obama.

By September 2013, people with disabilities accounted for 12.8 percent of federal employees, an increase of nearly 1 percent over the prior year, the report said.

At the same time, the number of workers with targeted disabilities — including intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, deafness, blindness, paralysis, missing extremities, dwarfism and psychiatric disabilities — also ticked up slightly to 18,665, federal officials said.

Read More  . . .

FCC Invites Comment on Proposed Requirements for Video Programmer Registration and Certification

December 17, 2014 in Community News



On December 15, 2014, the FCC released a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2nd FNPRM) to invite comment on several issues that relate to ensuring quality captioning of video programming on television.  The questions in this 2nd FNPRM include:

  • Should video programmers be required to file contact information and certification of captioning compliance with the FCC?
  • How can video programmer contact information and certifications be made widely available to the public?

Comments and reply comments due dates will be announced after this 2nd FNPRM is published in the Federal Register.

The links for the 2nd FNPRM are as follows:


For additional information, contact Eliot Greenwald, Disability Rights Office, at (202) 418-2235,, or call the ASL Consumer Support Line, at (844) 432-2275 via direct videophone.  For more information about the requirements for closed captioning of video programming on television, please visit:

Nanoplug invisible hearing aid looks like an eraser

December 16, 2014 in Community News, Technology



Slash Gear
Dec 12, 2014

If you have ever known anyone that had to wear a hearing aid, you probably remember them as bulky beige devicesthat protrude obviously from the ear. A new hearing aid has been unveiled that claims to be the world’s smallest. In fact the Nanoplug is so small its makers claim that it is invisible once inside the ear.

Nanoplug is an instant fit hearing aid that works for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. It measures in at 7.1mm x 5.7mm x 4.17mm making it smaller than a typical coffee bean or peanut. In addition to helping people hear conversations, the Nanoplug is also suitable for use with mobile phones.

Read More  . . .

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Leading disability advocate leaves Senate

December 16, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Community News



The Hill
December 12, 2014
By Ramsey Cox

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who authored the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), bid farewell to the Senate after 30 years of service.

Harkin said government is about “giving hope to the hopeless.”

“I believe when I make it to the top, one of our government’s prime responsibilities is to leave the ladder down for others to follow,” Harkin said on the Senate floor Friday. “There needs to be rungs in that ladder, and that’s what government is for.

Harkin said no matter how hard some people tried, they still weren’t able to make it up that ladder, so Congress “built them a ramp” called the ADA.

The chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has been the leading advocate in the Senate for people with disabilities, especially since Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) passed away.

“His legacy is secure,” ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. “It will be a long time until there is a greater champion for Americans with disabilities.”

The senator used the sign language symbol for “I love you” to describe how he felt about the Senate. He also said he wanted to leave the Senate by teaching everyone the sign for “America.” Harkin’s brother is deaf.

“Put your fingers together like that and move it in circles in front of your body. That’s it pages, you’ve got it,” Harkin said. “This is the sign for America.”

Harkin announced his retirement nearly two years ago. Since then, he pushed the Senate to vote on an increase in the federal minimum wage, student loan reforms and the authorization of a U.N. disability treaty. Republicans blocked those efforts. He said Congress should still work on these issues, in addition to increasing employment for people with disabilities, expanding Social Security and creating a public exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.



Access Fairfax from Fairfax County Disability Services: Bus Stop Accessibility

December 16, 2014 in Community News




Bus Stop Accessibility Information Now Available on Metro’s Trip Planner

Metro has added a bus stop accessibility feature to its online Trip Planner. This feature will enable customers to be informed about the accessibility features of every bus stop served by Metrobus.  By using the new feature, riders can learn whether a bus stop has a shelter or bench, the availability of nearby crosswalks and curb ramps, and more.

To utilize Metro’s new bus stop accessibility feature, simply click on any Metro bus stop that appears in a Trip Planner itinerary, and it will give you a comprehensive checklist of all the accessible features offered at that bus stop.

To subscribe to Access Fairfax:

NVAD General Meeting – Saturday, January 10, 2015

December 12, 2014 in Community News

Northern Virginia Association of the Deaf (NVAD)

Saturday, January 10, 2015 10:00 AM—12:00 PM

Reuben I. Altizer Meeting Room
Northern Virginia Resource Center (NVRC)
3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130 Fairfax, VA 22030

General Meeting and Swearing in of New Officers for 2015 Term

DOWNLOAD – NVAD General Meeting – Flyer

Hello Everyone,

NVAD want to make announcement to share with you regarding NVAD General Meeting – Saturday, January 10, 2015. Also, there will be swearing in of New Officers for 2015 Term. Hope to see you there……

Joan Corley

For more information, contact
NVAD President Donna Graff Viall:

AZ State Journalism Student Launches Ground-breaking Deaf & Hearing Network

December 12, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Community News, Technology
Posted by 
Friday, December 12, 2014

Inspiration alert: A journalism student at Arizona State University launched and maintains a trailblazing news operation known as the Deaf and Hearing Network.

According to a Downtown Devil report
, DHN is “the first news broadcast to combine speaking, signing and captions.” As the network’s About page confirms, “We will give millions of deaf and hard of hearing people — as well as hearing, American Sign Language students, interpreters and generally curious people — a way to get news in the language they prefer.”


ASU junior Peyton Gallovich started DHN in January. Over the past 11 months, the DHN team has amassed more than 1,500 subscribers, 4,000 Facebook page likes, 140 videos and 150,000 total viewers.

For Gallovich, the professional metrics are built atop a personal passion for ASL and combining the deaf and hearing worlds. As she tells the Devil, “DHN is a great resource for becoming aware of deaf issues. We often take deaf issues and give them a hearing perspective and vice versa. … TV news or written news can be hard for [deaf] students to understand because they are still learning English as a second language. By giving them news in ASL they can be aware of their world in their language.”

Watch video learn more  . . .

Choir spreads joy to all — with and without hearing

December 12, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness



Columbus Dispatch
Columbus, Ohio
By Ken Gordon
Dec 11, 2014

Ezra Somnitz couldn’t hear the Christmas carols on Saturday, but the 18-month-old wasn’t held back.

Just minutes into a performance by the seasonal choir Signs of Christmas, Ezra — who was born deaf — began squawking and clapping with delight while perched on his father’s lap at the Grove City Library.

He was reacting to the movements of the choir, whose holiday tunes are interpreted in American Sign Language as the lyrics are piped through a sound system.

“We thought he would enjoy it,” his mother, Melanie, said as her son squirmed in her arms afterward.

“I think he did. Can’t you tell?”

The “blended” family, of Commercial Point in Pickaway County, has attended a Signs of Christmas performance for the past few years, she said.

Like her son, her husband, Chris, is deaf; their two older children, 9 and 6, are not.

The family reflected the makeup of the audience as a whole on Saturday, with about half of the 30 people in attendance able to hear and the other half not.

“It just makes sign language and deafness seem normal and not a disability and not something that separates the community,” Mrs. Somnitz said. “It brings the communities — deaf and hearing — together.”

See Pictures & Read More  . . .

Rome, NY deaf school to host national competition

December 12, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness
Alissa Scott
Posted Dec. 11, 2014

This is the first time the Rome school is hosting the competition, though it’s been sponsored by Gallaudet University since 1997.

ROME – Kyle Savo has butterflies for the first time in awhile.The 18-year-old student will compete today in the National Academic Bowl at the New York State School for the Deaf in Rome for the first time.

“I’m very nervous,” Savo gestured through American Sign Language. “This is my first year. I have to just stay focused and do what I know.”
This is the first time the Rome school is hosting the competition, though it’s been sponsored by Gallaudet University since 1997.
“This is probably the most prestigious academic event for schools of the deaf and hard of hearing in the nation,” Superintendent David Hubman said. “It brings deaf and hard-of-hearing kids from all over the region.”

Sixteen teams from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island will compete in the Northeast regional competition — a team of four from NYSSD — and the top four teams will advance to Washington, D.C.
School officials said the bowl promotes “academic competition among school teams and fosters academic excellence and achievement among deaf and hard-of-hearing students across the country.”

The Rome team — which has been practicing for at least three months — consists of students Francesca Zegarelli, 17; Miranda Matthews, 17; Snowy Jenner, 18; and Sova. Their coaches are Gloria Broadbent and Kelli Ramer, both teachers at the school.

Read more:


Hearing aids may improve balance

December 12, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Medical Press
by Julia Evangelou Strait
December 12, 2014

Enhancing hearing appears to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Patients with hearing aids in both ears performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on compared with when they were off.

The small study, which appears in the journal The Laryngoscope, involved only 14 people ages 65 to 91 but is the first to demonstrate that sound information, separate from the balance system of the inner ear, contributes to maintaining the body’s stability. The study lends support to the idea that improving hearing through hearing aids or cochlear implants may help reduce the risk of falls in older people.

“We don’t think it’s just that wearing hearing aids makes the person more alert,” said senior author Timothy E. Hullar, MD, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine. “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space. If we turn out the lights, people sway a little bit—more than they would if they could see. This study suggests that opening your ears also gives you information about balance.”

Read More . . .


NAD Shares Insight Behind Closed and Open Captions

December 11, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Captioning / Relay, Community News


NAD Website

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) takes a moment to explain the purpose of the Joint Recommendation and the Comment that was filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) on December 1, 2014. Both filings were very important for the deaf and hard of hearing community. With such action, we know that there’s work left to be done — with your support, we can continue the fight for equality for access in Movie Theaters!


Hearing Resource Center Launched by AARP

December 11, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Website Provides Tools and Tips for Living Well with Hearing Impairment

Mark Bagley, 202-434-2504 or; @AARPMedia

WASHINGTON, DC — To address the needs of the 70 percent of Americans age 50+ who suffer from some level of hearing loss, AARP has launched the AARP Hearing Resource Center.  The platform, online at, connects AARP members and other consumers interested in hearing health with helpful tips, information, tools and links to related product solutions and programs.  A Spanish language version of the site is also available.

“Hearing loss results from many causes, and up to 70 percent of those who have hearing loss do not seek treatment,” said Stephanie Miles, Vice President of Member Value, Products and Platforms at AARP.  “Our research shows that hearing loss can impact the income of a working individual and, in certain cases, affects other aspects of health and can even be tied to depression.  The Hearing Resource Center will provide  information, tools and more.”

The Hearing Resource Center includes:

  • Educational content about hearing-related topics, including common causes of hearing loss,  information on maintaining hearing health, tips and solutions for living with hearing loss and for loved ones of the hearing-impaired;
  • Assessment tools for evaluating hearing loss;
  • Maintenance and care tips for hearing-related equipment, such as hearing aids.
  • Links to hearing-related products and programs, including AARP Driver Safety’s “Honk if You Hear Me” program, the AARP Foundation’s Isolation program, and hearing aid discounts.

The site will be updated on a continuous basis with new data, resources such as informational videos and webinars featuring audiologists and other experts, and topical articles. For example, a current feature, “Hearing Well for the Holidays” discusses how to enjoy the best of holiday time with family and friends.

# # #

About AARP:

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin;; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at