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At our Alliance for Human Services Annual Meeting last week, Marlene Blum reported that the long awaited county Human Needs Assessment is now released.   If you were there, you might have picked up a printed copy.

It is available on-line.  The link is:

This report will frame our discussions with County officials over the next year.  Please download and review at least the summary.  Let us know what you think we should do next.

Frank Blechman, Treasurer
Fairfax County Alliance for Human Services



People with hearing loss often need help in determining how best to address their needs. Hearing aids can be very helpful. But they come with a wide variety of optional features including, but not limited to, telecoils, directional microphones, noise suppression, feedback cancellation, Bluetooth, self-adjusting volume controls, etc. Which ones do you need? And then what other technologies and personal strategies should you consider, recognizing that even well-fitted, top of the line, hearing aids, while very useful, have important limitations? Finding the right answer for yourself involves both reflection and advice from the professionals -- a personal hearing needs assessment. Come hear Dr. Larry Medwetsky address this important topic.

Dr. Larry Medwetsky is Associate Professor and Chairman of the Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences Department at Gallaudet University.  His specialties include spoken language processing, diagnostic assessment, hearing aid amplification, hearing assistive technology, educational audiology, and hearing loss prevention.

Date and Time: Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 2:00pm

Place: DC Public Library at Tenleytown (large meeting room), 4450 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016 (less than a block from the Tenleytown Station on Metro’s Red Line)

Real-time captioning and a looping system will be available for all attendees.

All are welcome. There is no charge.



The Fairfax County - 2015 Human Services Needs Assessment will help us identify human service needs and potential solutions in communities throughout Fairfax County. Your input is critical to help strengthen opportunities for individuals and families to be safe, healthy and realize their potential.

We’re interested in your thoughts on topics such as:

  • Availability of physical, dental and behavioral health services
  • Accessible and affordable housing opportunities
  • Resources to promote financial stability
  • Opportunities and resources for children and youth
  • Resources for older adults that promote positive living and independence
  • Opportunities for community engagement

Please share this printable flyer PDF Icon with your friends.  We want their input too!

Participation is Easy! (March 30 – June 1)

Take our online survey! We’re interested in hearing feedback from individuals of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. It only takes a few moments to answer some key questions and share your thoughts to help shape the future of human services in Fairfax County.

Visit Fairfax County -  Human Services Needs Assessment  page

By Bonnie O'Leary 6/23/11

This workshop was led by Jimmy Lee, MS, CCC-SLP, who is a Speech Pathologist in the Hearing and Speech Center of the Department of Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences at Gallaudet University.  He introduced his program with a quote from George Bernard Shaw which most of us in the audience seemed to relate to with subdued chuckles around the room:  “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  (This will be duly incorporated into my future outreach presentations!) 

Communication model

When communication takes place, there are components to that event:  the sender, the receiver, the environment, and the message.  The sender “speaks”, assigning meaning to the information; the receiver (or the person listening) decodes that information and assigns meaning, giving feedback by answering the speaker.  But as many of us know, a breakdown can occur anywhere along the line, creating threats to the success of the communication.  Some of these include noise, distance, reverberation, shared language, and speaking skills.

For many years, Gallaudet has used a communication therapy model for students with hearing loss and speech challenges that focuses on global areas: informational and adjustment counseling, technology, and strategies.  Integrated therapies include auditory, language, speech/voice, pronunciation, and speechreading skills.   (These services have also been available to anyone in the area who needs them, especially late-deafened adults.)

Informational and adjustment counseling

Many areas are addressed in this segment.  These include hearing loss, grief, and relationships at home, at school, and at work.   An understanding of these areas helps form the basis for recommending options in amplification and communication strategies.  Grief is a very important element in the adjustment counseling.  Particularly for those who struggle with late-onset deafness, grief is a multi-faceted response to that loss.  It has emotional ramifications as well as physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social dimensions, and it is important to understand the impact of grief on the person needing these therapies.  Many people who lose their hearing go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, but not necessarily in that order.   


There are many technology options for people seeking solutions to their communication needs.  Hearing aids and cochlear implants are usually a first consideration, but depending on the level of hearing loss it could also be advisable to start with assistive hearing technologies such as FM or Infrared systems, hard-wired devices such as PockeTalkers, and alerting devices.  


Communication strategies are broad and varied, and it takes time to learn to use them.  I remember how many months I spent trying to hone my own strategy skills after I had learned the basics in speechreading classes.  Anticipatory strategies are useful prior to a communication event; by preparing yourself for possible conversations and what vocabulary might be used, it’s easier to focus.  Repair strategies are helpful during a communication breakdown; for instance, instead of asking someone to repeat what you didn’t understand, you would ask them to rephrase it, or ask for a key word, or how to spell a word you simply cannot understand.  Maintenance strategies are simple techniques used during communication, ensuring the speaker that you are continuing to understand what he or she is saying, such as confirming the information every few sentences. 

How well we handle strategies is often dependent upon our personality.  If we are passive (“Oh, that’s okay…”), the likelihood of communicating our needs is more diminished than if we are assertive.  If we are aggressive (demanding!)  we risk not having our communication needs met because we’ve managed to make everyone around us defensive and irritated.  Being assertive means we are stating our needs in a polite but firm manner, validating the feelings of the person we are speaking to, and making it clear that we want to negotiate so it’s a win-win for everyone.  Generally, an assertive approach assures a successful outcome for our communication needs.

Areas for assessment

The integrated approach also identifies skill areas that need to be assessed.  Auditory skills are evaluated, such as the person’s ability to communicate one on one and in a group.  Speechreading skills include both visual and auditory.  An evaluation of expressive skills covers the areas of speech, voice and pronunciation.  Overall language skills assessment focuses on everything from grammatical usage to vocabulary and written language abilities.

If you would like to learn more about Gallaudet’s integrated approach to communication therapy, contact Jimmy Lee at

James Lee, MS, CCC-SLP

Gallaudet's Hearing and Speech Center