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New Mexico will be the latest state visited by hearing loop advocate Juliette Sterkens, Au.D., when she meets with hard of hearing groups and also with hearing care providers in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces in January of 2016. Her workshops on loop/telecoil technology will be jointly sponsored by the New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons and the state's three local chapters of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

Dr. Sterkens' advocacy for this time tested but largely unknown technology began after attending a workshop on hearing loops conducted by Prof. David Myers of Hope College in Michigan. She went back to her home town of Oshkosh, WI and began promoting the the use of hearing loops with her patients, then in the community, and then throughout the state. She drafted her husband, a retired engineer, to be a hearing loop installer and, when that became a burden, coaxed audio visual firms throughout the state to learn the ins and outs of such installations. The result has been nearly 400 hearing loop installations in churches, theaters, council chambers, libraries and other public facilities in cities spreading from Lake Michigan to the Minnesota border.

Read more  . . . Hearing loop advocate



The ‘hearing loop’ is a remarkable advance, but all too hard to find in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal

The first time I clicked on my hearing aids’ telecoils, it seemed like magic. It was 1999 and my wife and I were sitting in a historic abbey on Scotland’s Isle of Iona. I had gradually become hard of hearing and had gotten my first hearing aid in my 40s, and the abbey wasn’t built with acoustics in mind. The amplified voice of the worship leader caromed off the stone walls, reverberating into a fog by the time it reached my ears.

Then my wife noticed a sign with a capital T and an outline of an ear, which indicated that the abbey was wired with a “hearing loop” that could magnetically transmit sound from the PA system to the telecoils in my hearing aids. When I flipped the switch to turn my T-coils on, the fog instantly dissipated. I could hear a crystal-clear voice speaking seemingly from the center of my head. The experience took me to the verge of tears.

Hearing loops are now ubiquitous in Britain. They’re in churches and auditoriums, at tens of thousands of ticket windows, post offices and pharmacies and in every London taxi. At spacious Westminster Abbey, with my hearing aids’ microphones turned off and my T-coils turned on, I hear better than most in the audience.

After that epiphany on Iona, I became an evangelist: Why not loop America? Theaters and other public venues in the U.S. generally offer “assistive listening” devices. But that typically requires people with

Read More  . . . Loop

appleBy Steve Vrachmann, 2/12/2013

More than 30 patent applications assigned to California’s Apple Inc. were published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Thursday. Many of the patent applications published this week describe upgrades to handheld devices manufactured by the electronics firm. A new hearing aid detection system may make iPhone use much easier for the hearing impaired. New security measures for handheld devices, including image-based user authentication, are also outlined.

Hearing Aid Detection
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130034234

Innovations to mobile phone technologies have already made it easier for hearing aid wearers to tune out background noise using telecoil induction amplification. Before hearing aid compatible (HAC) phones and T-coil hearing aids were available, microphone hearing aids would often amplify background noise as well as the telephone speaker. However, hearing aid wearers must manually engage the T-coil mode of phone operation whenever they need to place a call.

Apple’s invention consists of a proximity sensor that can detect when a T-coil hearing aid is close to the phone speaker. This sensor triggers a data processor that automatically enables the T-coil playback mode on the phone speaker. When the sensor no longer detects the hearing aid, the speaker reverts to its typical playback state.

As claim 1 of this patent application states, Apple is seeking protection for:

“A portable audio device suitable for use by a user wearing a hearing aid, comprising: a proximity sensor to detect a measure of distance of the device to an external object; a magnetic field sensor to detect a measure of external magnetic field; data processing circuitry coupled to the proximity sensor and the magnetic field sensor to compute a change in the distance of the external object and a change in the external magnetic field, and select between a normal audio mode of operation and a hearing aid compatible mode of operation, based on the computed changes in distance and magnetic field; audio processing circuitry to process an audio signal according to the selected mode of operation; and a speaker coupled to receive the processed audio signal.”

Graphical User Interface for Tracking and Displaying Views of an Application
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130036380

One of the innovations laid out in an Apple patent application published this week aims to make document and presentation software more responsive to complex sets of data. Many of these programs already include graphics to render data in different visual representations, like pie charts or bar graphs. However, software users can only typically display one view per representation method.

The system described in this patent application creates an interface element that a user interacts with to pull up a menu of graph thumbnails. In this way, a user can render one set of data in multiple ways using the same representation method and easily pull it up during a presentation. This will improve data organization for those who need to produce electronic documents or presentations for business or scientific purposes.

Claim 1 of this patent application describes:

“A method comprising: generating a graphical user interface (GUI) for displaying a selected view of an application; and generating a user interface element of the GUI, the user interface element configured for displaying groups of one or more visual representations of views of the application, where the groups of views are in a compressed or expanded display format based on whether a member of the group corresponds to the selected view, where the method is performed by one or more hardware processors.”

Debugging a Memory Subsystem
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130036254

Apple is hoping that the system and methods of debugging in this patent application will help its computer systems better monitor the status of flash memory connecting to the system. Flash devices containing non-volatile memory that stores files can connect with a computer through any number of communication ports, often the USB port. This invention would help a computer debug a flash device and test its internal connectivity, among other functions.

This intellectual property application describes a joint test action group (JTAG) interface installed on the host device that is designed to let the computer process these functions on the flash device. The JTAG can also perform boundary scans to test communication between the device and the computer, and provides other status information.

Claim 1 of Apple’s patent application protects:

“A memory subsystem comprising: non-volatile memory; a memory controller that is communicatively connected to the non-volatile memory over a first bus; a host interface through which the memory controller communicates with a host controller over a second bus; and a joint test action group (JTAG) interface that provides the host controller with access to state information associated with the memory controller; wherein the memory subsystem is configured to be coupled to a board-level memory device that includes the host controller.”

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Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax VA 22030; Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.

 By Bonnie O’Leary  7/7/11

I chose this workshop because I have spent so many years providing outreach to the senior community here in Northern Virginia.  Sheila Adams of DeLand, Florida, gave a very interesting program with a personal touch to it.

Ms. Adams lost her hearing when she was a  young adult, getting her first hearing aid at the age of 27.  At 47, she received her first cochlear implant, and she got her second implant at the age of 55.    Her career as a school teacher was filled with struggles caused by her hearing loss, and she talked about overcoming  those challenges.

Ms. Adams spent some time talking about her own family whom she feels represents senior citizens in many ways.  Her mother has been hard of hearing all her life, but very active because she has worn hearing aids and used assistive listening devices.  She has been married to Ms. Adams’ father for 63 years, but he now has Parkinson’s disease which causes him to speak softly and makes it harder now for her mother to communicate with her father.   Both have a slight memory loss.  One of Ms. Adams’ aunts is 88, and can still hear.  Another aunt is 90 and has glaucoma as well as macular degeneration.  Just observing these and other aging family members, Ms. Adams sees a wide range of senior issues that impact socialization and communication.

Seniors were categorized as “young-old” (ages 55-75) and “old-old” (ages 75+) as Ms. Adams discussed successful aging.  Successful aging depends on how well seniors accept change and loss.  These can include physical, psychological, social, economic, and interpersonal.  A lot will depend on the senior’s endurance and attitude as well as manual dexterity.    An “old” senior, for instance, can’t go back to normal after bad sprains or broken bones.  Those sprains become the new normal, and they have to accept that they need help, which is not easy for seniors who have been active and independent throughout their lives.  Adapting to  hearing loss is also difficult, especially when the senior has had a lot of other issues to contend with, whether they be physical or emotional, such as grieving over the death of friends.  Sometimes, Ms. Adams has found in her own family that “one’s perception of health is a greater influencing factor than one’s actual health.” 

How aging impacts hearing

The accumulation of noise over the years eventually takes its toll in the inner ear, causing age-related hearing loss.  But there are other physical changes happening at the same time.  There is often more and harder wax that accumulates and is increasingly difficult to remove.  The ear canal narrows, and the sensitivity of the hair cells changes, often producing a greater sensitivity to noise.  With these changes, there is a slowing of the message-carrying ability of the ear which can produce changes in perception.  Cognitive changes include a shortened attention span as well as fatigue.

Quality of life

Staying connected is a huge party of successful aging, maintaining the relationships that are important to seniors.  Having something meaningful to do, a purposeful activity, is also important, as well as have opportunities for intellectual growth and learning.  Recreation and entertainment are a part of staying connected, and Ms. Adams remarked how ironic it is to have more time in retirement but also more limitations in our abilities to do things.  Finally, a senior’s quality of life is also enhanced by spiritual growth and as well as a sense of hope, of having some positive prospects.  Hearing loss can render all of these desired aspects of life very challenging.

Factors affecting how a senior handles hearing loss

The temperament and personality of a senior will play a large part in determining how well he or she handles hearing loss.  Someone who is passive and has never had a lot of self-confidence is likely to become more quickly withdrawn than someone who is an assertive, or even aggressive, type of individual.  The perception of need is also important, accepting that it’s okay to get help, that hearing loss does not make him weak or “less than”.  But some seniors are content with their situations, their connections, and therefore are in no hurry to get hearing aids or undertake any other self-help types of activities to compensate for their hearing loss.  It is important for seniors to understand the impact that their hearing loss has on others as well, on their families and friends who can feel very frustrated when trying to communicate too.  A senior’s “knowledge base” is another factor that contributes to how he or she will handle a hearing loss.  There is a lot of misinformation about hearing aids and cochlear implants which could shape a  senior’s attitude towards getting help.  An understanding of options is important, and whether or not there are resources within their communities.


There are 4 A’s to consider:  Amplification, Advocacy, Assistive listening devices, and Alternatives.  Seniors need to know the sources for financial assistance for hearing aids if they need it, and audiologists need to be more vigilant and honest in the way they fit seniors for hearing aids.  Seniors should also be kept up to date on hearing resources available in theatres and  movies, how to use captioning on television, how to develop better communication strategies with their families and friends.

If you would like to e-chat with Sheila Adams about the impact of hearing loss on seniors, you can reach her at

Hearing Aids: What You Should Know Before You Buy!

  1. See your doctor first unless you have had a physical within the last 6 months. Some hearing aid specialists will ask you to sign a medical waiver in order to speed up the process of hearing aid sales.  This is not in your best interest.
  2. Check out the business selling hearing aids by contacting your local Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agency, or state attorney general.
  3. Know the difference between Audiologists and hearing aid dealers! Today, Audiologists require an Au.D., Doctor of Audiology, to certify. (This is NOT an M.D., however!).  Most have at least a Masters in Audiology, and they provide diagnostic audiological services.  They also have training in areas such as  listening/communication strategies and the perception of sound.  Hearing aid dealers become experts in hearing aid technology through numerous courses and apprenticeships with other hearing aid dealers.  Both are in the business of selling hearing aids.  What matters most is that the professional you choose is knowledgeable, ethical and provides a patient-driven service rather than a sales-driven service.
  4. Take someone with you when you go for your hearing aid evaluation who will take notes for you.  The results of the hearing test and the options for hearing aids can be confusing.
  5. Beware of ‘the deal’! If the Audiologist or dealer  tries to pressure you with promises like  '10%' discount’, ‘$1,000 off’, ‘a lifetime of free follow-up visits’, ‘a lifetime of free batteries’, etc., this is a good indication that he or she is sales-driven.  Many are under contract to sell a certain number of hearing aids a year, putting their own interests ahead of yours.
  6. Take advantage of the 30 day trial period. In Virginia, you can return the hearing aids at the end of that time if you are not happy with them.
  7. Ask about fees for returning the aids. Each dispenser has his or her own business policies regarding the fee for returning them – it can be anywhere from 4% to 20% of the cost of the hearing aid.
  8. Please remember:
    • Hearing aids do NOT stop hearing loss.
    • Hearing aids will NOT restore your hearing to normal.
    • ALL Audiologists and dealers will provide free hearing aid adjustments during the trial period.
    • There is NO BEST HEARING AID because everyone’s hearing loss is different; what works for one person might not work for someone else.
    • You own your audiogram, be sure your specialist gives it to you.
    • A hearing aid should fit comfortably and not whistle.
    • No hearing aid cuts out background noise, but it can be made more tolerable.
  9. Ask about the telecoil - is it appropriate for your hearing loss. The telecoil is a small magnetic coil inside the hearing aid that bypasses background noise when you are using the telephone or an assistive listening device.  It is a very valuable feature and you can activate it with the push of a button.

Articles related to Hearing Aids

NVRC Related Fact Sheets


If you have a complaint contact:

Better Business Bureau
1411 K Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC  20005-3404
202-393-8000 phone
202-393-1198 fax email

Virginia Dept. of Professional
and Occumpational Regulation
3600 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA  23230
804-367-8500 phone
804-367-9753 tty
804-367-2475 fax email