HLAA 2013 Convention Recap – Portland, Oregon

Fellow committee member Terri Shirley and I had a fantastic time representing the Kansas City Chapter at the HLAA convention in Portland, Oregon this past June!  It was Terri’s first convention and my third convention (over the span of 10 years).

I hope that everyone with hearing loss has the opportunity to attend an HLAA convention someday.  It is an eye-opening, inspiring and motivational experience.  The convention allows me to recharge and embrace my hearing loss before being thrown back into the hearing world.  Here are my top convention highlights (in no particular order).

  1. Networking – It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can make acquaintances at HLAA conventions – young and old.  A simple hello can turn into a one-hour conversation and you are friends for life.
  2. Exhibit hall – I always enjoy talking to all the vendors in the exhibit hall.  It’s a great place to ask questions, try out new technology, and learn all about the programs that are out there to assist people with hearing loss.
  3. Jacob’s Ride – I had the pleasure of meeting Jacob Landis and learning about his mission to raise money for CI recipients by bicycling to baseball stadiums all over the country!  He will be coming to Kansas City on September 2, 2013 to attend the Royals game, so be sure to watch for announcements from HLAAKC about this exciting event!
  4. Opening Session – There was an impressive lineup of inspiring speakers at the opening session to kick off the convention.  Howard Weinstein fascinated us with his story of how he came to be the inventor of solar ear (a solar powered hearing aid) and his quest to help low-income people with hearing loss in the developing world.
  5. Accessibility – An HLAA convention is by far the most accessible convention you’ll ever go to.  CART was provided for all the sessions.  Sign language interpreters were available for the opening session, research symposium and banquet.  Looping and infrared technology (along with receivers) was available as well.
  6. People Watching – HLAA had the pleasure of sharing the convention hall with Leakycon, which is a Harry Potter fanfest – imagine costumes galore and 4,000 attendees that are all about Harry Potter!  The clever costumes brought a smile to my face more than once.
  7. Portland 100 – I enjoyed attending the happy hour and connecting with other young adults throughout the convention.  The young adult attendance has come a long way since my first convention in Atlanta in 2003; they were pretty much non-existent at the time.
  8. Playing Tourist – This was my first visit to Portland, so I took advantage of using my convention public transit pass to explore Portland’s many attractions. I also enjoyed attending the HLAA World Forestry Center event.
  9. Transitions – We had a great time praising executive director Brenda Battat for her past achievements and many contributions to HLAA and wishing her a happy retirement throughout the convention.  We also welcomed Anna Gilmore Hall as HLAA’s new executive director (as of July 8).
  10. Workshops – There was something for everyone in the many workshops offered throughout the convention.  Workshops covered topics related to advocacy, assistive technology, hearing aids and cochlear implants, and relationship and communication. There were also presentations geared toward veterans with hearing loss.  Additionally, there were beneficial demo room presentations where you could learn about a product or service.
  11. Future HLAA Conventions – Big announcements were made regarding future HLAA conventions! HLAA has been selected by the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) to host their next Congress in 2016 in Washington D.C.  And next year’s HLAA convention is a little closer to home – Austin, Texas!  So I hope to see y‘all there!

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Personal Experience using CART (Captioning)

When I started college I knew I would have a whole different set of challenges, such as larger classrooms, less individual attention, difficulty lip-reading international speakers and learning lots of new technical terms as a chemical engineering major.  Enter the solution – CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation).  I still sat in the front of the lecture hall, except now I had a captioner sitting next to me typing every word that the professor and students were saying.  Those spoken words were projected onto the laptop in front of me, so that I could read every word of the lecture, as well as dialogue between the students and professor when questions were asked.

As technology progressed I shifted to using remote-CART.  It was the same concept, except the captioner was no longer in the room with me.  Instead, a microphone sent the audio to the captioner at their location and I would connect with the captioner via the Internet with my laptop.  The words appeared on my laptop screen just as they had before.

After graduation came a career and a whole new set of challenges to navigate.  My biggest obstacle, as for many others with hearing loss, was listening on the phone.  One-on-one phone calls were solved with the use of a CAPTEL phone; however, it was not sufficient for those large group conference calls or webinars.  Luckily I found Jeanette Christian at 20/20 Captioning & Reporting and I have been using her services ever since.  Using CART for business conference calls puts me on the same playing field as my co-workers and gives me freedom to communicate in a way that is comfortable for me.

Now we are fortunate to have Jeanette on board as our CART provider for our HLAA Kansas City chapter.  She and her team remote-CART for our meetings every other month.  At our meeting this coming Saturday, March 10, Jeanette will be giving us an overview of how CART works, how you can benefit from it, and tons of other interesting information about captioning.  Jeanette’s colleagues at 20/20 Captioning & Reporting will provide remote-CART, so come join us to learn more about CART and see it in action!

Date:  Saturday March 10th
Time: 10:30 am – noon
Location:  Johnson County Central Resource Library Meeting Room, 9875 W. 87th St., Overland Park, KS 66212

January Meeting Recap

Thanks to Kansas School for the Deaf , St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf, and Teltex for joining us at our January meeting!  All three groups had lots of great information to share regarding their organizations.  Their presentations and the transcript (courtesy of 20/20 Captioning and Reporting) are located in our white-papers section of the blog.

Please keep checking our calendar and blog for event updates!

January Meeting

Hello everyone! Please join us at our upcoming January HLAA-KC meeting. This month, Kansas School for the Deaf and St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf will presenting. They will discuss their school’s missions, type of education and programs offered, and teaching philosophies.  In addition, Teltex, which provides equipment for the deaf and hard of hearing, will be joining us as well to provide an overview of what they do and what types of equipment they provide.  The January HLAA-KC meeting will be held at 10:30am, Saturday, January 21st, at the Plaza Library Large Meeting Room. Hope to see you there!

November and December HLAA KC Events

We’ve got some great events lined up for November and December.  We hope that you join us for these events and bring a friend or two!

November Social Event – Come volunteer at Harvesters the evening of Wednesday November 9th from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  As the area’s only food bank, Harvesters is a clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of food and related household products.  We will be helping out by sorting food and household goods collected from food drives and donated by the food industry.

Plan on arriving between 5:30 and 6:00 pm to grab some dinner before volunteering from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Since we will be providing dinner, please let us know if you plan on attending.  See additional details/map here: Harvesters Event Information.

November Meeting – Join us on Saturday November 12th for our November HLAA-KC meeting at 10:30am at the Plaza Library, the Large Meeting Room.  We will announce the presentation topic closer to the date.

Our annual HLAA-KC Holiday Party will be on Saturday December 3rd from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. at Carinos at the Legends!  Consider doing some shopping out at the Legends that day and then stop by to see us.

If you have any questions regarding any of the above events email us at hlaakc@gmail.com.

Better Hearing Technology Presentations to be held in Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City, Oakley and Hays Kansas


Topeka, KS, September 15, 2011 – Three State administered programs are partnering up to present a free workshop. The Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH), the Kansas Telecommunications Access Program (TAP) and the Kansas Relay Center powered by Hamilton Relay are collaborating to offer a workshop to provide resources and information about a variety of technologies designed to assist those that have difficulty hearing. The workshops will be presented over four days, October 10 -13 in five different locations across Western Kansas including Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City, Oakley, and Hays. The workshop will cover what technology is available, who can benefit from each device, where to shop for the devices and even how to get some items at no cost. The goal is to educate Kansans so they can make informed decisions to maintain or even improve their quality of life.

It is estimated that 10% of the US population have difficulty hearing. That is nearly 300,000 Kansans. Programs like KCDHH, TAP and Hamilton provide information and resources that many struggle to find or are embarrassed to seek out. Topics covered during the workshop will include; hearing aids, signaling devices, telephones and assistive listening devices. Individuals with hearing loss, family members and professionals are encouraged to attend.

The Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is a state agency authorized to develop and implement a program of information and referral, advocacy, public education and direct services. The mission of KCDHH is to advocate for and facilitate equal access to quality, coordinated and comprehensive services that enhance the quality of life for Kansans who are deaf and hard of hearing.

The Kansas Telecommunications Access Program is a telecommunication equipment distribution program. The purpose of TAP is to provide specialized telephone equipment to Kansans with disabilities in order that they can access basic telecommunication services. Individuals with a hearing loss or other disability can apply and receive free equipment if they have established Kansas residency, have telephone service at their home/residence, have a disability that impedes the use of a standard telephone, and have a household income less than $55,000 per year.

Hamilton Relay operates the Kansas Relay Center. Hamilton Relay has been providing telecommunications relay services for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing and speech disabled since 1991. Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) is free 24-hour service that provides equal communication access via the phone to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled. Hamilton Relay provides Traditional Relay in numerous contracted states, as well as Captioned Telephone (CapTel®), Web and Mobile CapTel and Internet Relay services across the nation.

Specific Workshop times and locations are:

October 10, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. October 11, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Pratt Public Library Dodge City Senior Center
401 South Jackson St 2408 Central Ave
Pratt, KS Dodge City, KS

October 11, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. October 12, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Senior Center of Finney County NW Kansas Educational Service Center
907 N 10th 703 West 2nd
Garden City, KS Oakley, KS

October 13, 9:00 – Noon
Hays Public Library
1205 Main St
Hays, KS

For additional information please contact any of the following or to request special accommodations such as interpreters, or real-time captioning for any of the sessions:

Tim Anderson
Kansas Telecommunications Access Program
4848 SW 21st St, Ste 201
Topeka, KS 66604

Cady Lear
Hamilton Relay
4848 SW 21st St, Ste 201
Topeka, KS 66604

Rebecca Rosenthal
Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Docking State Office Building, 9th Floor North
915 SW Harrison
Topeka, KS 66612

September Meeting Recap and Upcoming Events

Thanks to Christine Reed-Schall, RN, BSN and Courtney Jeffery, RN, MSN, ARNP-C, CHFN for joining us at our September meeting to discuss hearing loss in the medical profession.  Christine and Courtney are two talented ladies that are passionate about what they do and they had a lot of experiences and examples to share with us.  The presentation and transcript (courtesy of 20/20 Captioning and Reporting) are located in our white-papers section of the blog.

If you are looking for something to do tomorrow, the 3rd annual Sounds In Kansas City 5K run and walk is this Saturday at Shawnee Mission Park at 8 a.m.  The proceeds raised will benefit Midwest Ear Institute’s “Ears That Hear” Fund which provides hearing aids to patients who cannot afford them or whose insurance plan does not provide coverage.  The online registration is closed, but you can still register in person at the Pavilion at Theatre in the Park before the event.  More details about the event are located here: Sounds of KC 5K

Please keep checking our calendar for event updates, we have a few good ones planned the next couple months!











June Update

June is shaping up to be a busy month for the Kansas City Chapter!

The Walk4Hearing is tomorrow in St. Louis.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed.  There is still time to donate!  Go to the Walk4Hearing button at the side of our blog  to support the Kansas City Chapter Team.  The goal of Walk4Hearing is to increase awareness about the causes and consequences of hearing loss and to raise funds to provide information and support for people with hearing loss.  The funds raised will go towards providing resources for the Kansas City Chapter and to the National HLAA organization and is tax deductible.

Next week, June 16-19, is the HLAA National Convention in Washington D.C.!  Be on the lookout for blog posts and updates from the convention.

We are also busy planning our June social event.  Details to come soon!

There will be no formal June meeting due to the HLAA Convention in Washington D.C.  The Kansas City HLAA Chapter’s July event will be a monthly meeting on Saturday, July 16, 10:30 a.m at the Kansas City Public Library – Plaza Library Branch.   The July meeting will be an overview of what was learned at the National Convention in Washington D.C.

Thank you to all who participated in our recent survey! We are pleased to announce that the winner of the $20 Visa gift card goes to James Ankrom! Congratulations, James!

The purpose of the survey was to gather feedback from HLAA-KC participants and use the information to help us prepare for the next year. From the survey, we learned that:

Approximately 90% of those who filled out the survey were individuals with hearing loss.  Nineteen percent of you are professionals in the field of hearing loss and 14% have a friend or family member with hearing loss.

We were delighted that so many of you offered specific ideas for how we could improve HLAA-KC’s services and influence in the community. Some of the ideas included offering more social events, demonstrating how to use hearing loss technology and encouragement to work more closely with local audiologists and ENTs to help spread the word about HLAA-KC. Thank you so much for these valuable suggestions and more! Our steering committee will take your ideas and comments into consideration at our next planning meeting in July.

May Picnic Recap

It was a gorgeous day for a picnic on Saturday, May 21, as the Kansas City HLAA Chapter celebrated its 3rd Annual Picnic to celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month.

More than 40 people attended the May 21st event, which included BBQ donated by Hamilton Relay, hearing loss resource exhibits from a variety of local organizations, door prizes, and a special presentation by Hamilton Relay.

Kansas City HLAA Chapter Leader Dennis Selznick was selected as Hamilton Relay’s Outstanding Individual with Hearing Loss in Kansas Award, with Hamilton Representative Cady Lear making the presentation.
Kansas City HLAA would like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their donations and support of this event:

* Olathe YMCA

* Sertoma


* Hamilton Relay

* Associated Audiologists

* Meniere’s Resources

* UbiDuo

* Deaf Cultural Center

There will be no June meeting due to the HLAA Convention in Washington D.C.
The next Kansas City HLAA Chapter event will be a monthly meeting on Saturday, July 16, 10:30 a.m at the Kansas City Public Library – Plaza Library Branch.   The July meeting will be a overview of what was learned at the National Convention in Washington D.C.

A huge thank you to all who attended the May 21st picnic and for everyone’s support of the Kansas City HLAA chapter!