About LipreadingMom

Shanna Groves is an author, speaker and hearing loss awareness advocate. Visit her at http://LipreadingMom.com.

Learn About HLAA Convention This Saturday

Photo Courtesy of CindyDyer.wordpress.com
What happened at the HLAA 2011 Convention in Washington, D.C.? Find out this Saturday as KC HLAA leaders Dennis Selznick, Sarah Mosher, Kelly Rogel, and Lucy Crabtree share what they learned at last month’s national convention.
We invite you to join us this Saturday, July 16, 10:30am, at the Kansas City Public Library-Plaza Branch (Large Meeting Room), 4801 Main, KCMO. The meeting will be CART-captioned and is free and open to the public.

HLAA Night at the Nelson Pics

It was all about art, socializing, and friends at June 24th’s HLAA Night at the Nelson. More than 10 members and their families walked the halls of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. They got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with an exclusive tour of Monet’s famous “Water Lillies” paintings in the museum’s beautiful Bloch Building. The three panels of Monet’s famous work haven’t been displayed together in the United States in more than 30 years.

Other highlights were a “Heavens” photography exhibit, which included breathtaking images of the sky, moon, stars, and the cosmos. Afterward, most of the group ventured to Winstead’s for coffee, food, and conversation. A fun time by all!

HLAA members Stephanie Hanson and Lucy Crabtree show off artist Roxy Paine’s abstract sculptures in the Nelson’s main lobby.

Rob and Betty Jefferson and Mark Miller

Shanna and Scott Groves

Tara and Christopher Duke with their son, Dylan

Morgan Brooks

HLAA Night at the Nelson June 24th

Join KC HLAA Steering Leader Shanna Groves next Friday for the first-ever 


Friday, June 24, 7-9 pm

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak Street, KCMO(Meet in the main lobby in front of the coat check-in desk)

View one-of-a-kind works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, both modern and historic. The museum is free to the public and open until 9pm. Learn more about the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on its Web site, http://www.nelson-atkins.org.

E-mail us for more details and to let us know you will attend.

May is Better Hearing Month…Have You Had Your Hearing Tested Lately?

Have you or someone you know put off a hearing screening because you’re worried about what the results could be?

I’ll admit “yes” to that question…for myself. It’s challenging enough having a hearing loss without being reminded of it when I step into an audiologist’s office. The idea of sitting in a sound-proof booth, putting on headphones, and attempting to hear a series of beeps is nothing short of daunting for me. Number one, I can only hear about 40 percent of those beeps in one ear and 80 percent in the other. And two, with the progressive nature of my hearing loss, I’m likely to see a decline in what I can hear from year to year. It’s like going to the doctor to see how much worse things have gotten.

So I find it interesting that I’ve become such an advocate for getting hearing tested. A few things have convinced me that knowing where my hearing stands is a must:

1) The only way I can get help for my hearing is to seek it. Repeat after me: Audiologists are our friends, not our enemies. Otherwise, I would still be without hearing aids, asking every John and Jane Doe to repeat themselves 20 times ’cause I didn’t catch their mumbling. Go to the doctor, get that hearing test, and find out if everyone really is mumbling.

2) With knowledge about my hearing loss, I can help others. I’ve become an advocate for annual hearing screenings with my three children. And that senior adult friend of mine that refuses to get hearing aids? She has become more comfortable with the idea since I’ve shown her the set I wear. How many lives are affected by just one person? If you wear hearing aids, show them off to everyone you meet and see what a statement you’ll make with people.

3) Those I’ve helped can help themselves and others. It’s the pay it forward effect of hearing loss awareness. The people I educate about my hearing issues are more likely to take better care of their ears, visit the audiologist, and bug the John and Jane Does they love to get their hearing tested.

Owning up to my hearing loss sounds so simple when I blog about it. Yet how come it took two years after my progressive loss diagnosis for me to get hearing aids? Part of it was my pride, lack of knowledge, and scarcity of hearing loss role models around me. It wasn’t until a woman moved next door to me that I finally embraced the loss I’d been dealt. This new neighbor greeted me with a warm smile, handshake… and a set of hearing aids behind her ears.

Please don’t put off getting your hearing tested. Then be sure to share the results with others. You could be helping them.

Come Picnic with Us May 21st

You, your family and friends are invited to the 3rd Annual Kansas City Hearing Loss Association of America Picnic. The event will be held Saturday, May 21, 11:00am-1:00pm at Heritage Park (Shelter 2), 16050 Pflumm, Olathe, KS. There will be a free lunch, games, and a hearing loss resource fair with lots of door prizes. Rain or shine, and kids welcome!
Feel free to invite others. For more information, e-mail us at hlaakc@gmail.com.

Join Us April 16th for *Free* Captioned “Narnia” Movie

Join us next Saturday, April 16th, for a *free* KC HLAA Chapter Captioned Movie Social. The fun will be from 2:00-5:00pm at The Whole Person, 7301 Mission Rd # 135, Prairie Village, KS. The movie is “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” rated PG and closed captioned. Complimentary popcorn and bottled water will be provided. Feel free to bring your friends, family members (kids welcome), and favorite snacks for this exciting event!
Here is a synopsis of the “Voyage” movie:
             Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.
Questions? Contact us at hlaakc@gmail.com.

KC HLAA Advocates for Looping

Technology allows those of us with hearing loss to enjoy live events. It is the Kansas City HLAA Chapter’s desire to advocate for this technology locally.

The chapter’s steering team recently submitted a letter to executives with the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts under construction in downtown Kansas City. The performing arts center, which is scheduled to open later this year, has the potential to appeal to the hearing loss community with the addition of looping technology.

Looping  is an induction system that magnetically transmit sounds to listeners’ hearing aids or cochlear implants. The system provides a crystal-clear transmission of sound from a stage’s microphones directly into hearing aids or implants.

Without this technology, a person with hearing loss has difficulty at live performances because distractions, such as background noise and audience chatter, are not easy to differentiate from what is happening on stage. In a recent survey of Kansas City HLAA members, 47 percent do not attend musical performances as often as they like for this reason. Sixteen percent never do. However, 47 percent stated they would attend a live event as much as possible if they could understand words and music on the stage.

KC HLAA leaders will follow up with Kauffman executives within the month to discuss the letter and the need for looping technology. Any updates will be posted on this blog.  

A copy of the letter to Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is viewable here.

A copy of a looping article, written by David Myers, is viewable here.

Hearing Loss Award Nominations Due This Week

Don’t forget to nominate your outstanding person with hearing loss. Nominations will be accepted through this week only!

Hamilton Relay is in search of candidates for the Hamilton Relay 2011 Community Leader Award. The recipient of the 2010 award was Minda Nelson, one of the founding members of our own HLAA-KC chapter. The 2011 winner will be announced in May, during the Better Speech and Hearing Month. Below is a letter from the Kansas Outreach Coordinator, Cady Lear, and a questionnaire that you can fill out and submit, if you have a candidate you’d like to nominate.

Dear Kansas Residents,

It is amazing to think that it has been nearly a year since Minda Nelson was recognized
as the recipient of the Hamilton Relay 2010 Community Leader Award in honor of Better
Hearing and Speech Month. The positive contributions of leaders such as Minda are
appreciated and Hamilton is pleased to recognize individuals for their efforts.

At this time, Hamilton Relay is seeking your assistance in identifying candidates for
this year’s award. We are looking for individuals who are hard of hearing, late deafened
or have difficulty speaking, and who have been a strong influence within your state,
demonstrating commitment to enhancing the lives of those around them. The award will
be presented during Better Hearing and Speech Month in May. Is there someone you
wish to nominate? We hope so!

A questionnaire is attached to assist in providing information about your candidate,
including a brief description about the individual and what this person has done that
causes you to nominate him/her. Please send your nominations directly to me  via e-mail, fax or by mail. My contact information is included below.

Hamilton Relay enjoys the opportunity to give back to the community each year by
celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month through this award and looks forward to
learning more about the leaders in Kansas

Thank you for participating in the excitement!


Cady Lear
Kansas Outreach Coordinator
785-228-5666 (office)
785-234-2304 (fax)
4848 SW 21st Street Suite
Topeka, Ks 66604

Download the candidate nomination questionnaire

A Petition for Equal Access

Originally posted at:


By Shanna Groves, KC HLAA Chapter Steering Team Member

If you could write a letter you knew would be read and followed through by a business’ Person in Power (PiP) who is sensitive to your hearing loss, what would you write? Feel free to use the following letter, but be sure to change any reference to yours truly.

Dear PiP,

I am a hard of hearing person. While I once frequented the halls of your movie theater/place of worship/music venue/sports arena, my progressive hearing loss has made it increasingly difficult to participate without accommodations. For the record, I wear hearing aids, lipread reasonably well, and have family members who double as my personal listening assistants (I ask, “What did he or she say?” They repeat highlights of what he or she said.) From outside appearances, I blend in with the crowds who attend your events. It would seem I enjoy myself just fine. Except when I can’t hear well, which is every time I attend your events.

What does it mean to be hard of hearing? First, my eyes are my ears. I rely on watching people’s lips move to understand what my ears can’t comprehend of their speech. I am not culturally deaf and know very little sign language. Thus, sign interpreters are ineffective for me. My hearing aids increase the volume of what I hear, but they don’t always help me to understand what I am hearing. In a crowded room with a lot of background noise, hearing aids have difficulty focusing on the sounds I want to hear. Without some additional accommodations, I often sit at your events, idly taking in all the sights and sounds–without making much sense of it.

 What can your facility do to accommodate the thousands of people like me? Consider one or, preferably, both of these things:

Captions – Real-time text of your performance, printed on a screen within comfortable distance of me and/or the main stage. There are various methods for this: captions printed directly on a screen above or below the stage; LED captions printed from the back of the facility and reflected onto a shiny device you provide me with; broadcast captions via the Internet that are accessible through my phone or facility laptop; special glasses you provide me that reflect captions onto my lenses.

Looping – An induction system you provide that magnetically transmits sounds to my hearing aids. This system, in essence an in-the-ear loud-speaker, can provide listeners with hearing aids or cochlear implants the ability to receive a crystal-clear transmission of sound from your stage’s microphones directly into their aids or implants.

From a marketing standpoint, your facility could benefit from the inclusion of one or both of these accommodations. Besides helping hard of hearing people and their families, imagine the interest your act could capture in the special needs-sensitive media and with certain special interests groups; not to mention the publicity it could gain with groups devoted to cutting edge technology. No matter what the cost is of providing captions or looping, isn’t the added business from good publicity worth it?

Business talk aside, imagine how good you would feel being able to provide your loved one, who may have a hearing loss, the chance to fully engage in your event. You would no longer have to repeat what someone said from the stage or what was announced over loudspeaker. You both can sit back and relax, able to enjoy the show without your beloved’s unwelcome intermissions.

Pretend that you are me. I am a person nowhere near middle age, having to rely on my 10-, 6- and even 3-year-old children to repeat important information I can’t hear well at your facility. What child should have to be a listening interpreter for her mom?

Take the burden off mine and my children’s shoulders, and provide me with the hearing accommodations I need. In the end, wouldn’t you do the same for your own mom?



Help KC HLAA By Answering Short Survey

The Kansas City Chapter of HLAA is working in the community to advocate for what people with hearing loss need. Among those needs are more captioned films at local movie theaters and hearing assistance at live events.

Please take a moment to complete the short KC HLAA survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/576Q66W. There are only 6 questions. All those participating may enter a drawing to receive a $10 gift card of your choice (Starbucks, Amazon, Target, etc.). Deadline is March 7, 2011.

Depression and Hearing Loss

By Shanna Groves (a.k.a. Lipreading Mom)

Originally posted at:


Sometimes, Lipreading Mom receives comments that are too important not to share with readers. This is one of them. One of my readers–I’ll call him “Ben”– shared how his new hearing loss has caused some depression. This is Ben’s letter and my reply…

Dear Lipreading Mom,

What do you do about depression? I started losing my hearing about 4 years ago and it has gotten worse I can tell. I have hearing aids and I am coping (I teach so sometimes it’s difficult). But I find myself, especially in the mornings/night worrying, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it…but I become depressed thinking about losing more hearing. This is the first medical issue I’ve ever had and it has made me feel very vulnerable. Any suggestions? There are no hearing support groups anywhere near me. I’ve gotten so scared that I’m afraid to have my hearing retested. It’s impacting my happiness.


Dear Ben,

Thank you for your words. You have my sympathies and understanding with your situation. Depression is common among people with adult-onset hearing loss. Although my hearing loss was diagnosed 10 years ago, the big “D” has been another health issue I’ve experienced. While there may not be a local hearing loss support group where you live, I encourage you to visit an online hearing loss support group. One I’ve visited is Open Chat Night at www.openchatnight.com. Also, visit the Hearing Loss Association of America National Web site (www.hearingloss.org) for tips on coping with hearing loss and depression. Some things that may be helpful in coping with hearing loss-related depression:

  • Talk to your family doctor and/or audiologist about your depression. You may be referred to a counselor who specializes in coping with hearing loss depression and grief. I found that for many years, I grieved the hearing that I used to have. The counselor pointed me to a grief support group and discussed medical options should I choose them.
  •  Write down your thoughts about hearing loss. I’ve kept journals for years, and this writing allowed me to express my worries, fears and sadness in a tangible way. It was must better for me to write about these feelings than to suppress them.
  • Pursue the hobbies/interests you enjoy that don’t necessarily require “perfect” hearing. Although phone conversations are difficult for me, I enjoy meeting friends one-on-one for coffee. I also enjoy regular exercise and have found that it curbs some of the depression. Other ideas: Reading, crossword puzzles, bike riding, woodworking.
  • Realize that you are not alone with hearing loss. The more you accept the loss, the more likely you will be open to others about it. And the move I’ve shared about my hearing loss with others, the more people have opened up to me about their hearing concerns.

With time, you may discover how your hearing loss can be a way to encourage and connect with others in a similar circumstance. Your experiences and wisdom are and will be important.

Please keep me posted.

-Lipreading Mom

Do you have a comment or suggestion for Ben? Post it here, and I will make sure to forward it on.

Adventures in Tinnitus (1): Make the ear noise STOP!

By Shanna Groves


Originally posted at:


Oh, to have a quiet moment.

Welcome to the world of tinnitus. It’s a condition characterized by a perceived ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in the ears.

Lipreading Mom’s 6-year-old daughter recently shared she can’t hear the teacher at school well because of the sounds inside her ears. Her school audiologist admits there isn’t an objective way to test for tinnitus. The best way to test at all, the audiologist claimed, is to describe the noise to a qualified audiology professional or to someone who lives with the condition.

Well, Lipreading Mom has become an expert,  having personally dealt with tinnitus for 10 years. Some days, the inside of my ears plays a quiet chorus of crickets chirping their tinnitus tune. Then there are moments when my ear concert performs much louder, with ringing hand bells joining in with the crickets. When I make the mistake of attending a rock concert with my husband, sans ear plugs, the tinnitus chorus competes with the sound of squealing guitars and screeching lyrics. And the concert screeches on for days inside my ears. Thank God I’ve only made that mistake once.

This is the first in a series of articles about tinnitus, the sometimes maddening condition that affects up to 50 million people in the U.S and millions worldwide. And that’s the number of sufferers owning up to the condition. Without a proper diagnosis, someone may live with ear noise without the ability to explain why.

 The American Tinnitus Association offers plenty of tips for managing perceived sounds in the ears on its Web site. Among the advice:

  •  Meet with an ears, nose and throat doctor (ENT) or audiologist to discuss your tinnitus.

 Lipreading Mom’s advice: Come armed with your “MES” list: medication, stress, and environment. Document all the medication you currently or previously took, any stress triggers in your life, or environmental stimuli that may have triggered your tinnitus. Environment includes work and family setting, exposure to loud noises, and diet. Two of the biggest diet culprits I’ve found for worsening tinnitus are caffeine (that twice-daily cup of java) or salt since they both contribute to a rise in blood pressure, which aggravates my already ringing ears.

  • Don’t panic. Tinnitus is rarely a sign of something life-threatening or serious. Sure, it seems alarming to be serenaded every moment of the day by constant ear noise. That’s when coping mechanisms can help.

One of Lipreading Mom’s favorite tips for coping with tinnitus: Create your own white noise. Turn a fan on low while trying to fall asleep, or listen to a CD of ocean waves while commuting to and from work. Remember to keep the volume low so that the white noise is calming, not ear piercing and potentially damaging to hearing.

I’ll discuss more about how to cope with tinnitus later. In the meantime, visit an ENT or audiologist if you haven’t done so already. Be sure to bring that important MES list with you: medication, stress, and environment.

Time to get busy on that list, tinnitus sufferers!

Captioned Film About Hearing Loss/Deafness Returning to KC

If you live in Kansas City, Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, or Omaha, consider going to see “See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary.” It is a captioned movie about being deaf/hard of hearing in the entertainment industry. Each of these cities are playing the movie next week. Details and a list of theaters from these cities at: http://www.captionfish.com/movie/see-what-im-saying/schedule.

AMC to Begin Digital Captions this Week

Melissa Johnson with AMC Entertainment Corporate Office in Kansas City shared this update with KC HLAA about the status of captions at metro AMC theaters.

Captioning Update from AMC’s Melissa Johnson

Thank you for your patience during this time.  I haven’t had much to report until today.  We have good news!  I have status on Barrywoods (North Kansas City), Mainstreet (Downtown Kansas City) and Studio (Olathe, Kansas).

Barrywoods is SO close.  All installations are complete and the digital keys for Harry Potter have been requested.  What is digital keys?  They should arrive later today or tomorrow.  At that time, the enabled content for Harry will be tested over the next couple of days to ensure the systems are working properly.  If all runs through smoothly, tickets for HP may go on sale as early as Monday for the rest of the week (through Thursday).  If this happens, a full schedule for that theatre will be loaded starting next Friday (a week from today).  As an FYI, Century City’s unit did not operate properly, so they have additional installations –  this could also happen at any of KC’s theaters.  Keep your fingers crossed that all goes smooth.  

Mainstreet is currently working on installing equipment.  ETA unknown.  

Studio – today the final installation for house #19 was complete, but has not been inspected.  We anticipate asking for content next week and testing over next weekend (similar to Barrywoods).  Hopefully Friday 1/28 will be day 1 of full schedule, provided all testing is positive.

As for your question, we often review our pricing strategies, so I will forward your feedback on.  At this time,  I would not anticipate a change or an exception.  This is a request that I cannot follow up on – I can simply share your feedback.

I will watch the schedules and continue to communicate with our Project Manager and film programmers/bookers about the theatres above and advise when I have additional information. 


Many Brave the Cold for Jan. 15th Meeting

Tim Steele (above ), president of Associated Audiologists in Kansas City, and Rebecca Rosenthal (below) of the Kansas Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, were guest speakers at the January 15 Kansas City HLAA Chapter meeting. Their presentation was about looping for hearing aids and cochlear implants to improve quality of listening in public places, such as live entertainment venues, meetings, and places of worship.

Visit the White Papers section of this Web site for details about the Looping 101 presentation.