What Marvel and Chris Pratt have to teach us about respect

Guest post by Lucy Crabtree

My mom and I were walking into a movie theater when she brought it up. “So,” she said, “I think I missed something. Did Chris Pratt start some kind of brouhaha?”

I laughed. “Uh, just a little!” I replied, tongue in cheek.

I filled her on what had happened—how last month, Marvel made a short clip starring Chris Pratt to promote their latest offering, Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The clip started out with subtitles, but a few seconds in, Pratt urged viewers to turn up their sound and ignore the subtitles, and motioned as if to wipe the subtitles off the screen. The subtitles disappeared. The rest of the clip continued without subtitles, and did not provide an option to turn them back on. Fans objected, saying that such a move was insensitive toward those who rely on subtitles to understand videos, and Marvel took the clip down.

The next day, Chris Pratt issued an apology video in Instagram, using sign language to express his regret over the Marvel clip and acknowledging the insensitivity of turning the subtitles off. “I have people in my life who are hearing-impaired,” he said in his Instagram post, “and the last thing in the world I would want to do is offend them or anybody who suffers from hearing loss or any other disability.”

Captions are not optional

For many of us, captions are not optional. They grant us access to the most prized commodity of all: information. Information is how relationships are built, purchases are made, and jobs are landed. Even when the information is entertainment, as in a movie trailer, it is still a hot commodity. For better or worse, movies, television, and other media give us cultural reference points and an opportunity to connect with others over these. When Pratt “wiped off” the subtitles in the original video, I literally gasped. “He did NOT just do that!” With a simple sweeping motion, I felt like he was pushing me away from the screen, pushing me away from a community I have just as much a right to as anyone else.

I’ll say again—captions are not optional, and not just for people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. The universal nature of closed captions means that they assist English Language Learners in synchronizing spoken and written English, foster literacy for children and adults who are learning to read, and make information accessible for everyone, regardless of their degree of hearing. I even learned recently that people with cognitive processing issues rely on captions. Captions, then, should be the norm and not the exception. Marvel was wrong to treat them as optional. I’m grateful for Pratt’s apology and that Marvel acted swiftly to remove the offending video.

An updated vocabulary

Not only do we need captions, we need an updated vocabulary. Several online news outlets, including Variety, People, ET Online, and Yahoo, reported on Chris Pratt’s apology by using “hearing impaired” in their headlines—a phrase Pratt himself used in his Instagram post.

“Hearing impaired,” however, is an archaic term that many people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing have long abandoned. That alone should be reason enough to stop using the phrase—out of respect for and to show hospitality to people who have historically been marginalized. The fact that Pratt uses “hearing impaired” suggests that he does not interact with many D/deaf or hard of hearing people. He does refer to having “hearing impaired” people in his life, but that makes me think that he is either not close enough to them to choose a more respectful term, or that the people in question are from a different age when the term was more acceptable. “Hearing impaired” conveys a sense of being “broken” or incomplete, and puts our hearing loss first instead of our personhood. 

A posture of respect

This “brouhaha,” as my mom called it, is ultimately about respect. Providing or turning on captions and subtitles, and being intentional with vocabulary, shows respect and care for people who are deaf and hard of hearing—who could very well be your neighbors, your kids’ friends, the people in line in front of you at the grocery store. Words, whether they are displayed on a screen during a movie or used to describe someone else, reflect and shape how we think about people who are different from us. Marvel and Chris Pratt will, I bet, be more careful going forward. The rest of us would be wise to follow suit.

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Open-Captioned Movie at The Alamo Drafthouse – Friday, Sept. 27 at 7pm!

2013 has been a great year for open-captioned movies in Kansas City! First, there was Monsters University open-captioned at The Boulevard Drive-In Theater in July, followed by the double feature, Planes/The Lone Ranger in August at the same location. A huge thanks to JJ Jones, The Whole Person and CinemaKC for their hard work in bringing open captions back to KC!

This month, HLAAKC is happy to be part of the effort to encourage local theaters to show open-captioned movies. As part of Deaf Awareness Week, we are thrilled to announce that the movie Rush will be shown at 7pm on Friday, Sept. 27 at The Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Kansas City (1400 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64105 – formerly AMC Mainstreet)! Click here to reserve your tickets online – this will help you select and reserve your seats! Order them today!

rush

The Alamo is a dine-in theater, so you can order your dinner and snacks right from your seat — servers will bring you your food and drink! Doors open at 6:15; join us at 6:45 for a special pre-show presentation from Cady Macfee from Hamilton Relay, who will be presenting the Deaf Community Leader Award.

alamo

Afterwards, hit up the Power and Light District with your friends – the fun doesn’t have to end when the movie’s over!

A few notes about The Alamo:

— No talking/no texting policy is strictly enforced – enjoy the movie free from distractions!
— Patrons must be 18 or older, or accompanied by a parent/guardian.
— Click here for directions and parking info

Thank you, Alamo Drafthouse, for providing an accessible movie for those of us with hearing loss!

See you Friday, Sept. 27!

Click here for more information about Deaf Awareness Week.

Hearing Assistive Technology workshop recap

 By Andy Chandler

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) workshop sponsored by HLAA and the Consumer Electronic Association Foundation (CEA).  CEA paid for the attendees’ hotel rooms and meals during the workshop (thanks, CEA!).  All I had to do was get myself to Bethesda, which I was able to do, thanks to Southwest Airline points (thanks Southwest!)

As you might guess from the title, the weekend workshop centered on using technology to address the challenges of hearing loss. It was like a mini-HLAA convention, which means the very best part of the workshop was meeting people from all over the country, including Hawaii!  There were about 25 of us, some old hands with assistive technology, and some brand new to the topic.

The workshop was presented by Brad Ingrao, an audiologist from Florida, and a frequent speaker at national HLAA events. You might recognize Brad’s name from the HLAA magazine, where he writes a monthly column. What I like about Brad is that he can be a curmudgeon about his profession. It’s not all peaches and roses, as some hearing aid and CI manufactures claim. Brad made two key points about hearing aids and cochlear implants:

  • They make bad hearing less bad (notice it doesn’t say, “make bad hearing good”).
  • They work well, up to 6 feet away from the source of the sound.

So that’s why we use assistive technology — to make hearing better beyond six feet. How do we do that?  That’s what we covered in the workshop, learning about technologies such as:

  • Looping, FM and infrared systems
  • Television and telephone amplification
  • Telephone relay services
  • Personal listening devices (which sometimes can work as well as hearing aids, and are a lot cheaper)
  • CART and captioning (my personal favorite!)
  • Smartphones and the Internet

We talked a lot about loops and telecoils. A lot of people think it’s outdated technology, as it’s been around for a while. In reality, it’s gotten better over the years, and it’s one of the most accessible and effective technologies — as long as your aids/CI have a telecoil. But to loop a space correctly, whether it’s a ticket booth or an auditorium, takes some audio engineering, and should be done by an experienced professional.

Of course, the best part of any HLAA gathering is the people you meet, and the gatherings that take place outside the official workshop events. There is something life-affirming about meeting others who share a hearing loss. At the workshop, at HLAA conventions and meetings, we are the majority. We understand what it means to live with a hearing loss and the challenges thereof. And darn if we weren’t going to do whatever was needed to understand one another!

photo

Here’s a picture of a few of us enjoying one of Bethesda’s finer restaurants (I’m the guy on the right, in blue). I’m sure the wait staff had never seen so many hearing aids, CIs and ALDs at one table!

The reason CEA and HLAA sponsored this workshop was not just for the benefit of the attendees. In return for providing a “scholarship” (i.e, paying for lodging and food), attendees agree to take the information back to their local communities.  So if you or your organization(s) are interested in learning more about Hearing Assistive Technology, I would be delighted to share what I learned. Just contact HLAAKC at hlaakc@gmail.com or give me a shout at aqchandler@gmail.com.

If you are interested in attending a HAT training weekend, the next one is September 6-8 in Sarasota, Fla. For more information, including how to apply for the class, visit HLAA’s website. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Aug. 13. 

Our Amazing Captioning Panel

By Terri Shirley

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HLAAKC’s event, Captioning Panel, held Monday, April 29th, was chock full of surprises and educational for everyone.  With all our energy to change the world one idea at a time, we soaked up knowledge and exchanged suggestions between the audience and the expert panelists.

20/20 Captioning & StenoCART – Real-time Captioning

The first panelist, the lovely and interesting Jeanette Christian, Founder & President of 20/20 Captioning & stenoCART, explained her chosen profession of real time captioning, also called Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART).   As Jeanette spoke, our attendees never missed a word as conversation was relayed remotely from a captionist located in Raytown.

For all of our speakers that evening, their spoken words translated into typed words behind the speaker on a projector screen.   Our audience questions were also transcribed into written words on screen at front of meeting room, behind the speaker.  CART can also be displayed on personal electronic devices if projection screen is not available or not desired.

Jeanette engaged our audience with real stories of her work helping the hearing connect with the people who have hearing loss through the use of captioning.  She helped a medical student who has very little hearing.   Jeanette’s real-time captioning remotely came right into the surgery room.  With an iPod hanging from an IV-pole and an iPod hung around an interpreter’s neck, the student could understand the details of the surgery with CART.

If you need TV captioning or CART at work, school, conferences, place of worship, courtroom, graduations, weddings or even funeral services, go to http://www.2020captioning.com/contact  for information.

Theater League – Captioning Tablets

Our second panelist, Mark Edelman, Executive Director from Theater League, proudly displayed his new equipment consisting of a sleek thin captioning tablet programmed to display the dialog of actors.  Mark also presented a snazzy, new compact stand which the captioning tablet can clamp onto the stand to keep it secure.  The captioning tablet is a big upgrade from the older, heavier Mobile Demand device, which sat on a music stand. With the new upgraded system, software is downloaded onto the captioning tablets or your own personal entertainment devices (PED’s), such as iPads, or even smart phones.

There are five captioning tablets available now and soon there will be a total of ten tablets available for each performance.  If you would like to spoil yourself with a live Broadway performance, please contact Catherine Cone from Theater League at catherine.cone@theaterleague.org with any questions or for reserving a captioning tablet.

After years of not attending live theater, I am elated to have season tickets for the upcoming year to see Wicked, Sister Act, War Horse, Bring It On and Rat Pack Show.   Season tickets are not required to be able to reserve a captioning tablet.   Come have some fun at a Broadway performance soon!

Regal Cinema – Sony Entertainment Glasses

The third panelist, JoAnna Mattson, General Manager for Kansas City Regal Cinemas, brought the Sony Entertainment glasses.   She discussed the closed captioning features the glasses deliver to movie patrons, even with 3D movies.   Many new people in the audience had never seen these stylish devices that can also help those with loss of vision with its audio assist function.

Welcome, Trivia, invisible CAPTIONS & Finale

We had open question and answer time between audience and panelists.   We marveled over these high technology devices that help bridge those with hearing loss to enjoy life more fully at the movies, conferences and live theater. During this open time, we learned from listening to our audience and those that actually need captioning.  One member introduced us to invisible CAPTIONS, a potential new invention that features glasses that users can wear which could be lightweight and more durable than current captioning products used in the movies.

Coming from the years when captioning was non-existent, to the 1980’s of the Sears Telecaption Adaptor box, to what we experienced that evening at our Captioning Panel was very moving. It is a beautiful thing to have captioning professionals mesh ideas with people who have hearing loss and share in our hopes and dreams for the future.

Thank you Jeanette, Mark, and JoAnna, for taking time to show us your devices and your dedication to our deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Also, I give a special thank you to April Dunlap for interpreting and Emily Goldman of Photos4Good for donating your time to photograph our captioning panel event for our non-profit organization.

Our next social will be Saturday, June 8th from 4-8pm at Shawnee Mission Park, Shelter #8.   Please see our Facebook page for details and keep an eye on our emails.

Thank you everyone for joining us!

HLAAKC Committee - Anna, Lucy, Andy, Minda and Terri

HLAAKC Committee – Anna, Lucy, Andy, Minda and Terri

Show Us the Captions – come to the movies with us!

Show Us the Captions is almost here! This nationwide advocacy campaign is the brainchild of Sarah Wegley, the social chair for the Chicago chapter of the Association for Late Deafened Adults. Sarah blogs at Speak Up Librarian and tells the story of how Show Us the Captions was born here. The campaign is sponsored by Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning.

You can find out more information about the national campaign by checking out the Show Us the Captions Facebook page, or by checking out CCAC’s “Show Us the Captions!” page on their website.

HLAAKC is proud to be part of this advocacy effort; movie captioning is a subject near and dear to our hearts! If you would like to see a movie with friends from HLAAKC, some of our volunteers will be at the following theaters and times on Saturday, Nov. 17:

AMC Studio 30 – Olathe, KS – noon
Cinemark 20 Merriam – Merriam, KS – 2pm
Cinemark Palace at the Plaza – Kansas City, MO – 2pm
Regal Kansas City Stadium 18 — 4pm 

AMC 30 and both Cinemark theaters offer CaptiView devices, and will have several movies and times to choose from. If you would like to join us at one of the theaters listed above, please sign up on our event page on Sign Up Genius. This allows us to ensure that there will be enough CaptiView devices available for everyone for that time period.

If you are interested in seeing an open-captioned movie, Regal 18 will be showing the movie Skyfall open-captioned at 4pm. You do not need to reserve a captioning device for this showing, but please sign up so we know how many people to expect. Friends and family are welcome – the more, the merrier!

And if you can’t make it to the movies with an HLAAKC group, no worries! Please feel free to attend whenever you can make it – we simply want to thank the theaters for their accessibility and increase public awareness of movie captioning. So grab a friend or two and go to the movies!

If you would like to see a movie on your own, here are links to the theaters in Kansas City that have told us they have captioning available for their movies. Captioned content and movie times are subject to change, so be sure to check with the theater before you go.

 AMC Studio 30
12075 S. Strang Line Road
Olathe, KS 66062

AMC Barrywoods 24
8101 Roanridge Road
Kansas City, MO 64151

Cinemark 20
5500 Antioch
Merriam, KS 66202

Cinemark Palace at the Plaza
526 Nichols Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64112

Regal Kansas City Stadium 18
3200 Ameristar Drive
Kansas City, MO 64161

If you have any questions or are having trouble signing up, shoot us an email at hlaakc@gmail.com. We’re happy to help!

See you on November 17!

Moonrise Kingdom Captioned at AMC 30

HLAAKC would like to thank steering committee member Terri Shirley for her efforts to bring more captioning options to local movie theaters.  Terri recently worked with AMC to bring a captioned movie of her choice to AMC Studio 30 and we hope you are as encouraged by her efforts as we are. Terri’s experience is a great example that with respect and a little persistence, advocacy can be successful for all of us!

During my recent trip to California, I had the opportunity to see this delightful movie called Moonrise Kingdom. The film is about two misfit 12-year-olds lovers who run away from their charming New England town, which has far-reaching affects on their little community. This romantic, dramatic comedy kept me chuckling throughout the entire movie. The full house audience gave it a standing ovation at the end.  I looked forward to watching it when I got back home to Kansas City with my family and friends.

The theater in California had CaptiView and other listening devices like our KC movie theaters do. I assumed because our local theaters used the same technology that I would be able to see this captioned in KC also. To my surprise, the movie was not captioned at any of our local theaters.

Disappointed, I spent a week contacting area theaters, trying to find one that would caption this movie. The manager of AMC Studio 30 agreed to have Moonrise Kingdom captioned by Friday, July 6.  This was not as simple as it sounds as he explained that the week of Friday, June 22, Studio 30 began a process of upgrading much of the networking to their projection systems. This upgrade is not yet complete and had resulted in the reduced ability to offer more movies captioned. At present, Studio 30 has approximately nine screens that are CaptiView-enabled. When the upgrade is complete, Studio 30 will return to having nearly every one of their 30 screens capable of supporting closed captions. Even with the theater in the middle of these upgrades, the AMC 30 manager was able to modify their movie schedules to provide Moonrise Kingdom captioned for the Kansas City community.

I plan to see this movie and invite you to join me in showing AMC 30 that their efforts are needed and appreciated. The movie is rated PG-13 and was given 8.3 stars on IMDb. If you are in need of using captioning or listening devices and are not familiar with how to use them, please go to the customer service counter.  Allow at least 15-30 minutes to get settled in with the device.  We encourage you to invite your hearing family and friends so they can understand the captioning will not interfere with enjoying the movie.

Thanks so much for your support!

Save the Date – Gael Hannan is Speaking in May!

Gael Hannan

HLAA-KC is very excited to present a FREE seminar featuring Gael Hannan and her well-known topic: “The Masks of Hearing Loss: Bluffing 101.” Every person with hearing loss “bluffs,” pretending to understand what’s going on, even when they don’t. Some of us do it on occasion, while some of us move from one bluff moment to another! This amusing workshop looks at why and when we bluff, why we should or shouldn’t, and how we can ban the bluff in our lives.

Gael Hannan is a writer, actor and public speaker who grew up with a progressive hearing loss that is now severe-to-profound. You can read more about Gael at her website.

We’ll be Skyping live with Gael on location.
CART (real-time captioning) will be provided by 20/20 captioning.

This seminar will be held Saturday, May 5, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Location: KU Edwards Campus, Regnier Hall, Room 153, 12600 Quivira Road, Overland Park, KS 66213. We have a Facebook event set up also, if you plan to attend, let us know there!

Driving directions are available here. A map of the KU Edwards Campus is below (click to enlarge the map).

Here is a flyer of the event, if you’d like to print it off and pass the word on.

We’d like to thank our sponsors who made this event possible:

Nominations for the Hamilton Relay 2012 Better Hearing and Speech Month Recognition Award

It’s that time of the year! Hamilton Relay is in search of candidates for their 2012 Better Hearing and Speech Month Award! The winner will be announced in May, during the Better Speech and Hearing Month. Below is some information 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.

We are looking for individuals who are hard of hearing, late deafened or who have difficulty speaking and who have been a positive influence in Kansas demonstrating commitment to advocacy, leadership and 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? 

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 by March 12th via e-mail, fax or by mail.  My contact information is included below.

Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month through the recognition of community leaders is something we look forward to each year.  Thank you in advance for your participation in nominating deserving individuals from your community.  We are eager to learn more about the community leaders in Kansas.

Sincerely,

Cady Lear
Kansas Outreach Coordinator
Cady.Lear@hamiltonrelay.com
785-228-5666 (office)
785-246-5105 (vp)
785-234-2304 (fax)
4848 SW 21st Street Suite 201
Topeka, Ks 66604

 

2012 BHSM nomination questionnaire

There are so many potential candidates out there. we hope you will nominate someone!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Miss Deaf America Ambassador will sign the national anthem…

So, it’s practically the next great American holiday – Super Bowl Sunday, where National Football League (the football with shoulder pads and touchdowns, not the footy-ball with shin pads and goalies) takes over Sunday and Americans watch to see who is the champion for this past year’s season. Personally, while I like football well enough, I try not to get caught up in the hype and end up doing other things like watching the Puppy Bowl.

The game this year will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana.  For those of you who haven’t been following some political events in Indiana, there’s a hullabaloo going on over a bill numbered HB1367.  Without touching on some of the more controversial parts of the bill, the summary is that responsibility for outreach for deaf education to children in Indiana would be moved from where it currently is at Indiana School for the Deaf to a supposedly more neutral organization that would better be able to present options to families.  I want to make it clear that HLAA has not taken a formal stance on the bill, but I personally am watching the outcome closely to see what to expect going forward.

So, anyway, controversial bill aside, there is a national spotlight on hearing loss with the super bowl – the current Miss Deaf America Ambassador, Rachel Mazique, will be signing the national anthem before kickoff at 5:30pm CT today.  I believe that the National Association for the Deaf teamed up with Pepsi to make this happen, so excellent stuff!

Have fun today!

A great article about hearing loops

I came across a great article about inductive hearing loops in America, mentioning famed composer Richard Einhorn’s struggle with how difficult it was to be able to enjoy theatre and musicals with inferior assistive device systems.  Hearing loops provided the clarity and enjoyment he so desired.

(Note: New York Times has limited access to their articles online, so the link may ask you to sign up for a subscription, or tell you have temporary access to their articles).

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/science/24loops.html?_r=2&hpw

Free workshop for parents of deaf/hard of hearing children

Hands & Voices, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families and their children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as the professionals who serve them, is hosting a workshop for parents of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind children.

Karen Putz, parent and co-founder of Illinois Chapter of Hands & Voices will be the speaker.

There is a session in St. Louis on November 12, 2011, and a session in Kansas City on November 13, 2011.

The Kansas City session will be held at the Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center, 3101 Main Street, from 2-4 pm Sunday afternoon. To register for this free workshop, please call Larry Hoard at 573.592.2543 (voice) or email him at larry.hoard@msd.dese.mo.gov.

See flyer for more information.   Missouri Parents Working Together Workshop

HLAA’s Continued Fight for Hearing Aid Coverage

For some time now, I have been learning more about hearing aid coverage, a controversial topic that I am interested in, especially since it has been coming up in several instances through HLAA at the national and community level.  I want to share with our readers some of the things that HLAA has been doing to help bring more awareness to this issue. Also, to share what resources are available for us to use to help lessen the financial repercussions that come from paying for services related to your hearing health and/or from the purchase of a hearing aid or aids.

As many of you may already know, HLAA continues to be an avid fighter for hearing aid coverage – to get hearing aid benefits and hearing aids covered by insurance providers. Thus, I would like to highlight a few things about what HLAA and our community has been doing to advocate for hearing aid coverage.  One way to stay on top of what HLAA is doing to advocate for hearing aid coverage/benefits at the national level, you can watch for the latest news here.

In our Community: Recently, a public forum on Medicaid Reform took place on August 17th, 2011 in Overland Park and one topic that came up at the forum was insurance coverage for hearing aids.  This was the final meeting, with interpreters presented so that the deaf and hard of hearing people of Kansas could participate.  Governor Sam Brownback asked Lt. Governor Jeff Coyler help remake the state’s Medicaid program and improve healthcare.   So in an effort to improve the program, Coyler asked the people of Kansas to share their ideas and suggestions.  The D/HH community brought up several issues that they wished to see addressed during the year.  An issue focused on by the D/HH, and particularly with HLAA, was to see more insurance coverage for hearing aids.  Currently, the problem is while cochlear implants are often covered by insurance, hearing aids lack the support.

At National Level:  HLAA has been pushing for insurance coverage on hearing aids as part of federal health plans.  As of now, coverage of hearing aids for adults is included in several Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) insurance plans but is not a requirement for other insurers, especially for private ones.  The next step is to watch for other carriers to begin coverage on hearing aids.  Since the FEHB program is a leading model in insurance, there is hope that other insurance companies will follow.  The good news is that there are several states that require health benefit plans include coverage of hearing aids for children.  Unfortunately, only a few states require hearing aid coverage for adults.  Each state has varying requirements for the amount and ages covered.

To see if your state is covered, check the ‘State Hearing Health Insurance Mandates’ list.  Missouri made the list. Unfortunately, Kansas is not on the list yet.  However, with the recent Medicaid Reform public reform that took place in August 2011 in Overland Park, Kansas’s outlook looks more positive.  After all, to date, eighteen states have passed legislation on coverage for hearing aids, so more states are sure to add insurance for them in health benefit plans.

My Thoughts… & Some Great Reads from our last 2 Hearing Loss Issues (July/Aug & Sept/Oct): A plethora of information related to hearing aids can be found in any of our Hearing Loss magazines if you want to learn more. In our last two bi-monthly issues, I noticed that HLAA has been trying increase awareness on why hearing aid coverage continues to be a problem.  HLAA needs the help of our hearing loss community.  You can help advocate for change at national, state or individual level. At individual level, you could be presenting your case to your employer on why hearing aid coverage is a necessary benefit that needs to be included in health benefit plans.

In the last 3 months, I learned that there are alternative routes that we could consider giving a try if hearing aid coverage is not included in our health benefits plan.  **Did you know that your employer may possibly be able to help cover some of the cost that you have to pay for your hearing aids/services?** I’ll be honest with you here though-I haven’t seen anything about this “written in stone” but I know that there are some employers that may be willing to make an exception.  A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is generally said that, ‘As long it does not cause any undue financial hardship on your company,’ then it could be worth asking.  After all this can actually be considered an accommodation that is needed in order for you to be successful in your job!

**On HLAA’s website, there is a Workplace page which includes an Employment Toolkit on how you can present a case for health care coverage of hearing aids to your employer.**

Wrapping up…: I want to share a few articles and summaries that I found useful from our last two Issues:

1) In our July/August 2011 Issue:

  • Our Executive Director provided a great summary on HLAA’s “Campaign to Make Hearing Aids Affordable.” (p.6) Wow! I had no idea how much HLAA was doing to help make Hearing Aids more affordable for us!  Thank you!
  • HLAA staff spent a day on Capitol Hill advocating for the Hearing Aid Tax Credit Legislation. (p.30) Oh wait, what is the Hearing Aid Tax Credit? I had no idea! All these years of doing my taxes… and I never included this? How does it work? Why don’t you find out more about this on your own? Call it a mini homework assignment from me (Hint-Google it! ;-))

2) In our September/October 2011 Issue:

  • HearingAid Costs: “Unbundling: A Way to Make Hearing Aids More Affordable?” (p.18) This article offers insight into hearing care billing practices and the relationshipbetween expert services and the success of hearing aid fitting. Boy, where was this information when I really needed it?! Well, the good news is that it’s available now so don’t let it slip through your fingers!
  • HearingAid Features: “Decibels and Dollars: A Look at Hearing Aid Features Across Price Points.” (p.30) Brad Ingrao writes about six hearing aid manufacturers to give you an idea what features you can expect at various price points. After all… knowledge is power, right?  So be sure to do your research! 🙂
  • Insurance: “Making Hearing Aids Affordable.” (p.34) **(HOT! HOT! Fresh off the press!)**  Our director of public policy looks at ways to pay for hearing aids. There’s a good chance that your employee health care benefits plan does not cover the cost of hearing aids, but the reason may be simply because no one thought to include it.  It pays to ask.  Earlier, I mentioned that one way that you can get started is to check out HLAA’s free Employment Toolkit on how you can present a case for health care coverage of hearing aids to your employer.

Additional resources:

  • More information on Medicaid Reform Public Forum is available on The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website.
  • Hearing Health Care – Hearing Aids;Medicare/Medicaid; State Insurance Laws.
  • HLAA has a page on Hearing Aids if you’re looking to purchase hearing aids with sections on ‘Introduction to Hearing Aids; Features; Selecting a Hearing Aid and What to Ask when Purchasing a Hearing Aid’.

Transport Security Administration (TSA) Disability Notification Card

A number of you who attended the recent HLAAKC meeting asked about the TSA Disability Notification Card that was mentioned during the HLAA conference.

Here’s a link to the page on TSA’s advice to Travelers with Disabilities:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm

At the bottom of the page, there’s a link to the TSA card that you can print out and fill in: Click here to download the Disability Notification Card for Air Travel (pdf, 69kb).

Happy travels!

Free Friday Night Flick event – July 29

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I can’t wait for this Friday’s social event!  The kind people of the Crown Center are graciously going to turn on the captions for one of the video screens at the Free Friday Night Flicks!  It will be the lower screen and will be next to the Ice Terrace in the Crown Center Square.  We’ll set up on that side, and have a sign up for people to find us and congregate!  See the map:

Map of where to meet up for the HLAA group on July 29 2011

Map of where to meet up for the HLAA group on July 29 2011

Meet up in the seating area, we’ll be there at 8pm!  Bring your own lawn chairs, picnic blankets, snacks, beverages (no glass bottles).  The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone movie will start at 9pm!  See you there!

LiveStrong stadium incorporates a captioning board

Have you been to the new LiveStrong sporting park out at The Legends yet? If not, you’ve GOT to see it. It’s the nicest soccer stadium I’ve ever seen! And it’ll be used for other events and concerts this summer too, as I understand it.

When the stadium was under construction and the salespeople were trying to get my boyfriend and I to buy season tickets (which we did — and no regrets!), one of the questions we asked was: “Will the stadium have accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing? Will there be captioning boards or something like Arrowhead Stadium has now?” The answer they gave us was “Yes!”

The home opener was June 9th, and I never did see a captioning board. There was so much else going on that night that I didn’t look real hard either.

However, at the game Saturday night, I finally spotted the captioning board! I was sitting in the Members Stand, which is on one of the short ends of the field. There are large screens on either end of the field. And that’s where I finally saw it.

Oh, what? You can’t see it? Let me help you….

Now can you see it?? But what? You can’t read it?? Well, it is kind of far away… Let me zoom in:

Now can you read it?? Kind of, right?

 

Yes, it’s a crappy iPhone photograph, and you can see it much better in person. However, it was extremely hard to read. I had to squint and guess and sorta conjure what was being said out of thin air. I image if you were sitting mid-field on the sidelines, you’d be able to read it pretty well. But from the far end of the field to the far end of the field, it was pretty darn hard.

So, I’m thrilled that this new stadium incorporated accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing people. BUT, it would be nice if the type was a tad larger…