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Program provides big changes for hearing impaired




Arva Priola tends to bring people to tears—but that’s not a bad thing.

She coordinates programs for the deaf and hard of hearing at the disAbility Resource Center in Fredericksburg. When she connects people with devices that let them resume normal activities—such as talking on the phone with friends and family—she breaks out in a smile while they cry tears of joy.

That’s what Mary Beth Conrad did the first time she used a Hamilton CapTel phone. The 54-year-old suffered extreme hearing loss last summer after a near-fatal bout of pneumonia.

“The hearing loss had profoundly affected my personal life,” said Conrad. “This phone, which I jokingly refer to as the ‘Bat phone,’ has opened up my world. I use it every day, several times a day.”

The phone’s enlarged screen displays what the person on the other end is saying.

Conrad reads the words, replies, and the conversation proceeds as normal.


Priola also is hearing impaired and uses the CapTel phone and other devices to communicate.

“Oh, it’s a blessing,” she said about programs available through the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

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