Texas Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant Purchase Assistance

A word map with words such as audiology, hearing, study, aid, deafness, education, medical.
Locating funding to pay for expensive hearing aids or cochlear implants is worth the time involved. photo credit: Ben Taylor55 Audiology via photopin (license)

Texas Health and Human Services has incorporated links for different programs to help Texans pay for their hearing aids or cochlear implants, which may cost thousands of dollars. There are many programs available to adults wanting hearing support, including service members and veterans, people seeking work or studying, or people who have retired or are not working.

Veterans Programs for Hearing Aid Assistance

For active service members, TRICARE coverage will assist with hearing aids as long as the hearing loss is great enough.

For retired service members, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides assistance with hearing aids. As long as you have ten percent of any service-related disability, you should qualify. You may apply in person or online for VA health care.

Assistance for Working-Age Adults

Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services is the provider who assists people with disabilities who are preparing to work or are working.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission’s website, to qualify for services, you must be able to work, need services to help you do that, and have a disability which is a barrier to employment. Hearing loss and deafness are including in this group.

Diagram of a person and the cochlear implant in place.
A cochlear implant is one of the most expensive pieces of equipment available for hearing loss–usually deafness or near deafness–and involves major surgery. Exploring financial assistance options can save thousands of dollars. photo credit: Rfunderburk90 Ryan-Funderburk-1 via photopin (license)

To apply for services, you may apply at a Texas Workforce Solutions – Vocational Rehabilitation Services office, call 800-628-5115 for information, or send your questions via email to customers@twc.state.tx.us. The website cautions you to include your name, phone and address including city, state and ZIP code in your email, but not your Social Security Number or birth date.

If you quality, the rehabilitation office will send you to be evaluated by an approved audiologist who will assess your needs and report to them. After that, you may qualify for hearing aids, cochlear implants, or related equipment.

Programs for Older Texans

An older woman puts in a hearing aid.
As we age, the incidence of hearing loss and deafness increases. photo credit: http://www.ilmicrofono.it Senior woman with a hearing aid via photopin (license)

Several programs exist to support providing access for older Texans to get hearing aids or cochlear implants. For people who are 60 or older, the state has 28 area agencies on aging (called AAAs). You can contact staff via email or phone at the agency nearest you by using this list of offices across the state. These programs do consider your financial and minority status, and whether you live in a rural area.

Services for Texans not Using Vocational Services for Work

In 2016, Texas transitioned services for Independent Living to the state’s Centers for Independent Living. Scroll down this page and locate the one nearest you to learn about what supports and services they can provide you with in your area. The centers assist with a variety of needs beyond adaptive equipment, such as advocacy.

Nationwide Hearing Aid Payment Assistance

The Starkey Hearing Foundation has a program, Hear Now, for Americans with low incomes. People who meet their criteria are fitted with new hearing aids. Learn more or complete an application.

While your family may make too much money to qualify for other programs, the Audient Alliance for Accessible Hearing Health Care helps individuals acquire hearing aids at lower prices. Call or download their application form.

Community Organizations

Kiwanis, Lions Clubs, and Masons may have local branches that will fund hearing aids. Their website may not list the extent of what they do, so contact your local branch to learn more.

Other Assistive Listening Devices

While you wait to get hearing aids, there are other options to provide some hearing assistance, depending on your needs. Local stores that sell Made-for-TV products have fairly powerful hearing aids for around $20.

Williams Sound offers more advanced equipment for reasonable prices that may help you hear better at home, religious services, recreational events, in restaurants, at school, and anywhere you need to hear better.

Contact Us

Contact The Capsule Group Inc for more support in locating hearing aid or cochlear implant services.

Advertisements

Songwriter Tell Future Child about Hearing Loss in a Song

Woman sings I won't hear you crying when you're born (captions)
Screenshot from Zoë Nutt’s video, “Like You.”

Singer, songwriter, and musician Zoë Nutt recently released a song, “Like You,” telling the story of her progressive hearing loss.

At the beginning of the Tennessee native’s open captioned official video, Nutt says, “I lost all of my hearing in my right ear. I now have progressive hearing loss in my left ear. Along with tinnitus, which is this high-pitched ringing that’s just there all the time.’

“That change in my life led me to write a song addressed to my children—whenever I have those children. And it basically says that no one will ever sound like you. Even if I can’t hear you…no one will ever be just the same.”

Woman plays guitar with captions And it basically just says that no one else will sound like you.
Screenshot of Zoë Nutt’s video, “Like You.”

According to an HLAA report, Nutt says, “But releasing this music video has been more than just a letter to a possible future. It’s most importantly the start of a conversation I’ve been longing to have with others. I am going deaf, but I will not let it stop me from making music.”

The song’s lyrics describe beauty and meaning beyond sound: “I won’t ever hear you say you love me / I’ll never know whether you can sing. / But I can’t wait to watch your lips speak wonders / ‘cause no one else will ever sound like you.”

100 percent of the artist’s tip proceeds from downloads of “Like You” at Noistrade will go to The Hearing Loss Association of America.

According to a review from Vents Magazine,”Nutt’s very deliberate vocal style never clashes with her effortless ability to convey sensitivity in every line. Like You, as a whole, is more than just one of the year’s best full length debuts. Instead, it heralds the arrival of a major new voice who will only follow an upward trajectory from here.”

You can order Nutt’s album on iTune’s or in physical CD here.

Download “Like You” for free here.

 

Get Awesome Materials to Raise Hearing and Speech Awareness

Two groups have created a variety of useful materials about communication disorders that are free to use and distribute.

To raise awareness about communication disorders, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association observe Better Hearing and Speech Month each May.

This month, they are holding a social media contest and providing an inforgraphic and a quiz about hearing loss, as well as other communication disorder information in press releases, information sheets, posters, and more.

May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Communication: The Key to Connection. National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders logo. Side profile of a woman’s face as she is speaking. Letters float out of her mouth and into the air.

According to the institute’s website, 48 million Americans have a form of communication disorder, while 37.5 million of us have hearing loss–that’s 15 percent of Americans.

NIDCD Hearing Loss and Hearing Aid Use Infographic

Want to use the infographic above? The institute has created a version you can upload to your website or blog here.

Currently, the institute supports research for promoting accessible health care and urges people who think they have hearing loss to have their hearing tested.

Since only 25 percent of Americans who could benefit from hearing aids have used them, there are potentially people who might want them who haven’t had access to them, or who may need them for safety or work-related issues.

On their website, you may take a quiz in the right-hand column to determine if you should have your hearing tested.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is promoting a social media contest to raise awareness. The association will award points for sharing information on social media and issue prizes for those earning the most points. Prizes will include Amazon gift cards and association promotional materials.

Learn what people with communication disorders, audiologists, speech-language pathologists are doing to raise awareness on this interactive, international map.

The association has also provided many press release materials and patient information handouts about hearing loss–in English and Spanish.

Sign Shares, Inc./International educates society about awareness issues concerning communication disorders through this blog and also on our website, including answering questions people ask about using sign language interpreters and information about how to empower communities by providing communication access.

Request sign language services from Sign Shares here.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Work and Home Technology for Hearing Loss

Technology provides many solutions, but some people with hearing loss, or their employers or loved ones, aren’t aware of devices that could assist the person with hearing loss at work, home, or during recreation.

Harris Communications has created a downloadable and online Free Guide to Assistive Technology that will help people who have hearing loss, or their employers or family members to explore creative solutions.

Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)
Until recently, smart watches were most useful for people who could hear. Now, some smart watches are more friendly for those with hearing loss. photo credit: TechStage Sony SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition _ 3 via photopin (license)

It includes newer resources, such as vibrating smart watches, and personal listening devices similar to hearing aids that don’t require a prescription, as well as old standbys, such as vibrating alarm clocks and flashing light signalers for many sounds in the home or office. For businesses, they have ADA kits ready with a combination of products.

Why Don’t People with Hearing Loss Know about These Already?

If a person grows up with a strong network of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing who provided them with information about tools they could use to make daily living easier, they often know about this equipment. At least, they know about most of it, since new technology is developed often.

If a person gradually experiences hearing loss, they may or may not have resources to teach them about available technology to solve many problems they may encounter.

When a person loses hearing, if they have sight, they will use their sight and residual hearing to assist them.

Living with Less Sound: Using the Other Senses

When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)
When our hearing is affected, our others senses help us in new ways. photo credit: woodleywonderworks listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it via photopin (license)

In some cases, both vision and hearing are affected, and a person may use a variety of light or sound products to use their remaining senses as much as possible. The sense of touch is another option.

Signaling sounds with light is one of the first ways a person can get a visual cue for a sound. For example, their door bell may ring, and they may set up their home to have a light flash.

Vibration is another tool. A person may arrange it so that when their cell phone would normally ring, instead it vibrates so they can feel it. They may need other options for when they don’t have their phone on them, such as a flashing light.

Picture of sounds system's adjustment knobs.
Just like in a music studio they alter certain sounds, so do products for people with hearing loss so they can make the most of what they have. photo credit: Sergiu Bacioiu Audio Mix via photopin (license)

Sound may be a tool for people with hearing loss too, and this is much more specific to the person. Each person has a unique hearing range. One may hear in a high frequency range, another may hear medium frequency, and yet another only low frequency. There also many be deficits within those ranges.

People who are Hard of Hearing have learned from experience whether they hear higher women’s voices, or lower men’s voices–or if some sounds are out of their range, such as fire alarms, perhaps.

Many hearing loss products offer superior amplification, clarity, and a variety of ranges so that a person can set them to sounds they may hear. For example, a person with high frequency hearing loss may set their amplified alarm clock to a low tone that will wake them up.

Sound may not be enough of a wake up cue, and people with hearing loss may also use a vibration disc under their mattress to ensure they wake up. Alarms with this ability also often have flashing light function. Sound, light, and vibration are all three available in many alarm clocks for the consumer segment with hearing loss.

Picking the Right Product

Flashing police car light.
Flashing lights aren’t everyone’s friend and may trigger seizures in those with Epilepsy, and migraines in others. photo credit: T.H. Images Police Light Moments via photopin (license)

People may have several disabilities at once. Epilepsy  can be seriously impacted by flashing lights. So may migraines, for those that experience them, so flashing light models are for many, but not all people, and this should be part of determining the right product for the right person.

Where to Purchase Products for People with Hearing Loss or Deafness

Businesses such as Harris Communications have great value within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, since they provide specialized products that are difficult to find, and all in the same place. They also provide free shipping.

More Vendors

Hearmore.com has thousands of products and provides free shipping.

Teltex has many products and you can subscribe to their email to receive discounts and special offers.

iAccessibility.com provides iOS solutions for people who have Apple products. It’s powered by Teltex.

You can see a selection of hearing loss products at Amazon here.

Independent Living Aids, LLC provides vision, hearing loss, and mobility products.

If you live or shop in the UK, here is a good technology resource from Action Hearing Loss.

You May Receive Financial Assistance to Pay for the Products

People with hearing loss or deafness may receive assistance purchasing products that assist them with work or daily living. They should contact their state office of Health and Human Services to see which agency may assist them in their state.

Map of the United States on asphalt
photo credit: dalioPhoto SURFACE LINES via photopin (license)

Find your state’s department of Health and Human Services here.

Getting Assistance in Texas

In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission assists people with Vocational Rehabilitation. This is for people who are going to school or are planning to work.

If you’re new to hearing loss, are no longer working, or can’t work right now, it may be easiest to contact Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist to assist you in finding resources you can use. They understand hearing loss and will connect you to the right people and products.

DeafSpaces: Architecture for the Deaf Community

Vox and Curbed created a video and article to demonstrate how DeafSpace differs from spaces created for people who hear.

The close captioned video begins with the open captioned words: “We live in a world built for people who hear.”

A concrete and red brick wall.
Bricks walls and painted concrete aren’t Deaf-friendly because they don’t provide reflection, aren’t transparent, and the red can be tiring to the eyes of those trying to read sign language. photo credit: Rothkoesque via photopin (license)

Curbed houses the article, “How Gallaudet University’s Architects Are Redefining Deaf Space.”

Gallaudet University is America’s only liberal arts college for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

According to the article, “Deaf (with a capital D) is a cultural identity that stems from pride in signed language and what Deaf Studies professors call ‘Deaf ways of being,’ or shared sensory experiences and cultural traditions.”

“DeafSpace is an approach to architecture and design that is primarily informed by the unique ways in which Deaf people perceive and inhabit space,” according to the video.

The video explores some of the five basic principles of DeafSpace.

Space and Proximity

Teacher signs to student writing on whiteboard at the front of a classroom.
This student needs to see the teacher’s facial expression and hands while signing. This requires extra space, whether at the whiteboard or in the hallway. photo credit: A teacher works with a hearing impaired student via photopin (license)

According to the article, “Facial expressions are important in ASL. So are body movements; to be able to sign comfortably, a person needs adequate space—more than is typically required for someone engaged in spoken conversation.”

The video shows wide hallways that accommodate two people signing and using full body language while having more space to sign and maintain eye contact.

Sensory Reach

The principle refers to “how Deaf people use their senses to read the environment,” according to the article. DeafSpace would extend the person’s sensory reach, by allowing him or her to view between rooms and have low-glare reflective surfaces so people would see shadows indicating someone is outside the room.

Glass elevator.
This glass elevator is Deaf friendly because those who can’t hear can see someone is in the elevator and that it’s moving. photo credit: combi nation via photopin (license)

In the video, they show transparent elevators and some offices have opaque glass walls, while some public rooms have clear glass walls.

Mobility and Proximity

“DeafSpace design calls for ramps and wide, gently sloping stairs; ‘soft’ intersections to prevent pedestrian collisions…” according to the article.

Wide concrete stairs with wheelchair ramp added on top, but is at dangerous slope that is too steep.
This space isn’t Deaf friendly because it doesn’t allow people to sign to one another without having to worry about tripping. It’s also not accessible to those using wheelchairs, scooters, or strollers. photo credit: Wheelchair Ramp – Sortedams Sø / Øster Søgade via photopin (license)

In the video, instead of stairs, which hinder the free-flow of communication, ramps allow greater access and would accommodate other disabilities that might need white canes or wheelchairs.

The video also shows classrooms in a U-shape that allows for signers to view one another.

Light and Color

Soft green room with Yoda with lightsaber lit green on a desk.
The soft green walls of this room are Deaf friendly because it is a restive color for the eyes. photo credit: Jedi, Yoda is! via photopin (license)

“Certain colors, especially muted blues and greens, contrast well with a variety of skin tones, making them easy on signers’ eyes,” according to the article. “Lighting should be soft and diffuse, and avoid dimness, backlighting, glare, and abrupt changes in illumination levels.”

In the video, Derrick Behm, from Gallaudet’s Office of Campus Design and Planning, signs in natural lighting that is restive to the eyes.

Acoustics

Room with chair immediately next to a window air conditioning unit.
The air conditioner next to this chair isn’t Deaf friendly because the loud noise would be amplified by a Deaf person’s hearing aids or cochlear implant. photo credit: fra_256sv2_energy_star_25000_btu_230_volt_window_mounted_heavy_duty_air_conditioner_with_temperature_sensing_remote_control via photopin (license)

According to the article, “In general, acoustically quiet spaces are the goal. Hearing aids and cochlear implants amplify sounds, and for their users, the hum of air conditioning or loud echoes can prove extremely distracting.”

DeafSpace is part of an architectural movement similar to Universal Design, where architectural design considers how to complement all abilities, not just mainstream ones.

Styling Hair for People with Different Abilities

Planning ahead is a strategy that works for people of all abilities, and more so with people who have neurological disorders, wheelchairs, or hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Person gets hair cut by a person with tattoed arm and hair clips with scissors in their hands.
Hair stylists need different techniques to ensure all their customers get the royal treatment. photo credit: Stylist_Client-3 via photopin (license)

Cory Thomas, CEO/Founder of The Traveling Barbers “Hair Professionals For The Disabled,” was asked for some hair styling tips for people with neurological disorders in a recent article. This included clients who used wheelchairs.

He said, “Make sure the wheelchair are properly locked” and “Guard against flying hairs” by wrapping fabric around the wheelchair.

“Clippers shouldn’t be as sharp as they would be when working in an conventional barbershop or salon, so as to not hurt or bruise the client’s head from any sudden quick motions that may take place with someone who has a neurological disorder,” he said.

Going for simpler, “traditional” hairstyles and making sure clients are seeing familiar faces round out his suggestions.

A blogger for the Say What Club blog gave advice for styling hair for those who use hearing aids or other wearable equipment, such as cochlear implants. “We talked about their haircut/hairstyle before they took their aids off. After that, I made sure to face them while talking a little slower, if I asked more questions.”

With careful planning, a visit to a hair stylist can be a treasure for people with different abilities.

Can Music Help with Meniere’s,Vertigo?

After Glenn Schweitzer was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. His blog, Mind over Meniere’s, shares information about how to cope with the disease’s side effects.

Picture showing brain waves.
Can music ease the symptoms of some diseases? Some say yes. photo credit: занято Img1-01 (5) [S1237A0,00A0,00H2986H2203S4] via photopin (license)
“Meniere’s disease is a terrible illness with not enough good information available. So much of what’s out there filled me with hopelessness and dread. My goal is to show you that there is so much hope,” Schweitzer said in his blog.

Something unique on his website is a project with music designed to assist people with their symptoms.

According to the website, “The Symptom Relief Project is a collection of special mind-altering audio tracks designed to help relieve some of the worst symptoms of Meniere’s disease: Vertigo, Brain Fog, Fatigue, Morning Grogginess, and Stress/Anxiety.

A combination of sounds helps to influence our brainwaves and help us feel better, according to the website.

Listen to a vertigo reliever sample music pack.

Let Texas Know Your Needs

Every three years, Texas organizations and agencies gather with people who have disabilities to plan how to provide better services and supports so that Texans can live more independently.

Texas state flag waves
photo credit: The flag of Texas via photopin (license)

The Texas State Independent Living Council, or Texas SILC, asks for your input for the State Plan for Independent Living. The SILC  helps develop and monitor this plan.

According to a recent email by the Texas SILC, “By taking this short survey, you can help us create a framework for service delivery by including your feedback in the next State Plan for Independent Living. Take the Survey

Take Survey to Improve Online Video Captions

Captions show road worker talking about ice and dice.
Sometimes, online videos have captions that don’t make sense, or none at all. photo credit: 2013_12_040009 – you may dice? via photopin

Have you seen videos online that had no captioning? Have you seen videos with closed captioning that didn’t make sense? Was it on your local news’ station, a sports station, or somewhere else? Perhaps this is a common occurrence for you.

The Hearing Loss Association of America, or HLAA, together with the National Association of the Deaf, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Inc, and Communication Service for the Deaf, has created a survey to learn more about captioning difficulty with online video content.

According to a recent email from HLAA, “Your responses will help us identify gaps in captioning coverage and identify ways to close those gaps.”

Here is a link to the survey , which will be open until March 4.

 

 

Why do People Need CART?

Like sign language, Communication Access Realtime Translation, or CART, may be used as an accommodation for individuals or groups of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing at live events, in public places, at government proceedings, in classrooms, or where the need arises.

Two girls speak in sign language.
Some children with hearing loss are mainstreamed and don’t learn sign language. photo credit: Learning sign language via photopin (license)

CART may be needed when people who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf:

  • need to receive communication information;
  • amplification alone isn’t sufficient;
  • precise word choice matters, such as in meetings or during class,
  • when they need extra time to review spoken language, and/or,
  • they don’t know or prefer sign language.

Avoid making assumptions about hearing loss or deafness

When a person has a hearing aid, assistive listening device, or cochlear implant, those devices don’t make communication perfectly clear. They are machines with limitations.

Some people with hearing loss speak as if they can hear and may read lips. Because of their speech, assumptions are made about their hearing, while their speech doesn’t reflect their hearing. It is possible to be deaf and speak.

Lipreading is not exact, and is dependent on the individual’s skill at reading lips, the accents and methods of pronunciation used by each speaker, and distractions. Lipreading is hindered by distance from the speakers, inability to see the lips, and darkness or low lighting.

People who prefer and use sign language may use CART too, particularly when they need transcripts to digest what was said.

Statue of Liberty holds up torch and seagull flies overhead
Whenever possible, offer the individual freedom of choice regarding their accommodations. photo credit: New York – Liberty Island “Statue of Liberty & Seagull” via photopin (license)

Trust the individual to know or learn what accommodations they need to adapt to their environment, which is always changing.

How often is CART needed?

Few people use CART daily, but rather, as a part of their communication tools. A similar tool that many who use CART use is the captioned telephone, currently a free service for individuals who provide documentation of their hearing loss or deafness.

However, during intense language sessions, such as during meetings, conferences, training, classes at school or college, CART may be needed for longer periods of time and with greater regularity.

Sign language and CART provide some of the fastest communication access.

One woman takes notes for another.
Note taking is a lower-tech option for accessibility. It is much slower than CART, so more information is lost. photo credit: Design as Inquiry – Socially shared PLEs via photopin (license)

Note taking, an older form of accommodation for people with hearing loss or deafness, is dependent on the point-of-view of the note taker, who may not know what notes are most important. Without specialized shorthand equipment, note taking is slower. As a result, information can be lost.

CART providers can work from different locations

CART providers may work in close proximity to the individual or group, or they work may remotely, listening to what is said via computer or phone. Some webinars and online events provide CART as an accommodation for those who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf.

In classroom settings and other situations when an overhead projector or technical vocabulary is used, or when computers are used in combination with lecture, the CART provider would be at a disadvantage working remotely because they couldn’t see what is referred to when someone says, “Look at this” or “See this here.”

In live situations, when the CART provider is unclear about what is said, they ask questions for clarification. This isn’t possible remotely.

CART transcripts

Notebook with many pages
CART transcripts can serve as part of the student’s notebook to study for tests. photo credit: english note book via photopin (license)

The person who is Hard of Hearing or Deaf may request a transcript from the CART provider. Since what is typed is only seen for a few seconds or minutes, and also because the person requesting CART may be reading lips and processing ideas while reading CART, transcripts give consumers the chance to review content and remember or learn it.

CART transcripts may be essential for student success.

When CART may not be appropriate

Even advanced readers may have difficulty with CART, because people may speak quickly, causing many words to cross the screen rapidly. While not terrible for a few minutes, this could become overwhelming.

Some people know or are more comfortable with sign language. They may have learned sign language first, and are more comfortable with symbolic or iconic language, as opposed to print, which is based on spoken—and heard—language.

CART should not be requested for an individual based on an assumption that the person may prefer it.

When possible, government recommendations are to accommodate individuals based on their requests. They have determined their needs based on experience that the event organizer, business leader, or teacher should weigh heavily during decision making.

When CART is the preference

Others may not know sign language or are more comfortable with CART. In some cases, sign language or CART is preferable because of the individual’s style.

Amplification with devices such as assistive listening devices, note takers, and close seating with a view of the speaker are other accommodations that might be requested in combination with CART.

One law student and blogger who is Deaf debated the use of interpreters versus CART for law classes, showing how each experience differs. The blog post shows the intricacies—and the humanity—involved in receiving communication support.

How Sign Shares uses CART in the office

Sign Shares, Inc./International provides CART, or Communication Access Realtime Translation, as one of the communication options available for people with hearing loss or deafness.

Some staff members at Sign Shares benefit from using CART during meetings and events, while others prefer sign language. Sign Shares honors staff requests.

Requesting a CART provider

Do you need CART for an event, class, meeting, or other auditory experience? Request CART from Sign Shares here.

More information about CART

Yesterday’s blog shared about What is CART?