Notes from Our September 2023 HOPE Meeting

If you missed our September 2023 HOPE virtual hearing loss support meeting, here are the notes for you to review. Our topics at this meeting included communication struggles within relationships, personal hearing loops, and cochlear implant upgrades.

You can read more about our HOPE program here. Notes from our past and future meetings are available on our blog.

Hearing Loss and Communication Problems in Relationships
The first attendee shared her experience of a significant decline in her hearing, which has led to communication challenges with her husband. The couple is struggling with this new level of hearing loss, leading to frustration on both sides. She sought advice on how to navigate this situation. Suggestions from the group included using a mini mic or a Roger Pen, maintaining close proximity during conversations, and considering an upgrade of her current hearing device. It was also recommended that the husband attend a HOPE session to gain more understanding about hearing loss.

Personal Hearing Loops
Attendee 2 asked about personal hearing loops, particularly to use with the television. The group provided advice on how to set one up, with suggestions including using a PocketTalker and a neckloop for better audio reception. The attendee was also guided on how to access a video tutorial for setting up a personal hearing loop.

Cochlear Implant Upgrade
The third attendee, who’s due for a cochlear implant upgrade, asked if it’s customary for audiologists to lead this process. The group affirmed that audiologists typically handle this, as they have all the information required by the manufacturer for the upgrade.

Single-Sided Cochlear Implants
Attendee 4, who lost hearing in her left ear due to a brain tumor, sought feedback on single-sided cochlear implants as she was considering this option. The group emphasized the importance of an audiologist’s guidance, and they suggested direct contact with cochlear implant manufacturers to pursue insurance coverage. Another suggestion: Captioning apps on smartphones for better communication until the attendee can get a CI.

Outdoor Picnic Experience
The final attendee shared his experience of attending an outdoor picnic with about 80 people. He found it difficult to communicate effectively due to the noise and felt unsure about the volume of his own voice. The group empathized with his experience and suggested using hearing assistive devices like partner mics or Roger pens/mics to better manage such situations.

Helpful Links and Notes from the Group Chat


HLAA-WA E-News, September 12, 2023

Washington State Hearing Loss News

color photo of a man and a woman sitting behind a table at a convention. their sign reads HLAA, hearing loss association of america, washington state association

Meet Our Volunteers in Your Community This Fall

Our HLAA-WA outreach crew is coming to a neighborhood near you. Stop by, grab some information, ask a question, and get to know our incredible volunteers.

  • Auburn: Auburn Senior Center
    September 28, 2023, 9:30 am
    808 9th St SE, Auburn
  • Renton: Age-Friendly Senior 50+ Expo
    September 29, 2023, 9:00 am – 1 pm
    Renton Senior Activity Center, 211 Burnett Ave N, Renton

Happy 19th Birthday, HLAA-Whatcom County

The award-winning, friendly, and astonishingly productive crew in Whatcom County have been doing their thing for almost twenty years.

Read their story and get inspired to take action in your neighborhood.

color photo of three women with silver hair sitting at a table on a boat

graphic poster. photo of three people looking alarmed at an old typewriter. text reads sound theatre company presents the world premier Play Autocorrect Thinks I'm Dead, by Amy Chou, directed by Howie Seago, Go ahead. Send Kill. September 7th through the 30th, 12th Avenue Arts, tickets at

Introducing a New Play Featuring Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Talent in Seattle

Theater lovers in the Puget Sound area, take note: Autocorrect Thinks I’m Dead features a majority-Deaf and Hard of Hearing cast and creative team. It was written by Aimee Chou, who is Deaf.

You don’t need to know ASL to enjoy this show, which is told primarily in ASL and spoken English. “English captioning is incorporated in the entire piece, so both hearing and Deaf audiences will be able to understand and enjoy the play,” according to the theater’s website.

The play runs until September 30, 2023, at 12th Avenue Arts on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

New to Medicare? Get the Scoop at These ODHH Webinars

Who’s eligible for Medicare? How do you enroll? What are my costs and coverage options?

Find out by catching one of two upcoming Medicare Basics webinars from the Washington State Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH). Free and captioned. Pre-registration is required; click on one of the links after you click below.

Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023
6:00 – 7:30 pm

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023
10:00 – 11:30 am

photo of laptop and coffee cup. on the laptop screen it reads WEBINAR

Next HOPE Meeting: Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Did you know you can make your hearing loss more visible by wearing pins and t-shirts with messages like, “Please Face Me, I’m Hard of Hearing?” And that these items are available on Etsy? This is just one topic that our attendees discussed at a recent HOPE meeting.

Our Hearing Other People’s Experiences (HOPE) meetings are a safe, welcoming space where you can ask questions from your peers about anything and everything hearing loss and hearing tech.

Facilitated by a caring, compassionate HOPE Crew, these monthly virtual meetings are free, live-captioned, and open to everyone with hearing loss and to their friends and family. You’re welcome to relax, listen, and simply spend time with people who understand what it’s like to live with hearing loss.

Note: If you can’t attend a meeting, you can read a summary from past meetings on our blog.

National Hearing Loss News

Call to Action: Let the DOJ Know We Need Caption Rules and Requirements

Web and mobile videos don’t always have captions — but they certainly should. Here’s your chance to let the U.S. DOJ know that we need their proposed rule to require captions on web and mobile content.

How to help: Go to the DOJ’s proposed rule itself to read further and leave a public comment. Click on the blue box that says “comment.” You can mention any specific apps or web programs that you use regularly that don’t always have captions, how this impacts you, and how the rules will help you and others with hearing loss.

A Year of Promise: HLAA Shares Accomplishments and Roadmap for the Future

In this beautiful annual report, read about HLAA’s national accomplishments in 2022, including 1500 media mentions, over $2 million in donations, national policy leadership, and other key accomplishments.

graphic says 2022 annual report. on  the right side, a photo of a man in a baseball hat and plaid shirt next to a little girl. Both are smiling. Hearts drawn in crayon are scattered on the left side.

graphic of an orange cow with headphones. the cow is looking at a smartphone. sky blue background.

A Simple App Can Optimize and Customize Your Hearing: SonicCloud

The SonicCloud app (not to be confused with Sonicloud) promises to help you hear better by adjusting speech tone and pitch, music, and other sounds. The software works with laptops, mobile phones, and tablets.

SonicCloud was co-founded by HLAA board member Larry Guterman, who has lived with worsening hearing loss since his twenties.

Have you tried SonicCloud to hear better? Let us know how it works for you:

Research: Hearing Loss Reversed in Mice in King’s College of London Study

Hearing in low and middle frequencies was restored in mice by using a “genetic approach” in this King’s College of London Study. Mice were given an enzyme to activate a specific gene in this “proof-of-concept” study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

woman's ear with brown hair tucked behind it.

color photo of a plane taking off at sunset and a woman in business attire gazing at it through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Rhode Island Airport Will Be Looped in Early 2024

Rhode Island’s T.F. Green International Airport will soon become our nation’s 22nd looped airport. Hearing loops will make this space safer and more comfortable for travelers with hearing loss.

Read more in this article by hearing loop hero Stephen O. Frazier.

We’re Here for You

Thank you for your interest in HLAA-Washington State and in all things hearing health related. As always, let us know how we can help you:

HLAA-WA does not endorse any technology, nor does exclusion suggest disapproval. We support the full spectrum of hearing technologies for everyone. As an all-volunteer run organization, 100% of every dollar donated is directed to our programs. HLAA-WA is an IRS non-profit 501(c)(3) organization; all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by relevant IRS code.

Happy Birthday, HLAA-Whatcom County Chapter

smiling woman holding crystal award.
Erlene VanDerMeer accepts the Chapter on a Mission award on behalf of HLAA-Whatcom County in 2022.

This September is a time of celebration for the HLAA-Whatcom County chapter as it marks its 19th birthday. It is also a time to reflect on and appreciate the Chapter’s accomplishments.

Bert and Charlene begin the journey in 2004

After experiencing firsthand what a support and educational group could do for others, co-founders Bert Lederer and Charlene MacKenzie were inspired to start a local chapter in Bellingham in 2004. The chapter joined a family of 23 other chapters in Washington State at that time.

Guided by the HLAA New Chapter Guidelines, Bert and Char personally invited a handful of people in 2004 to join them in taking a more active and informed role in managing their shared hearing loss. Together with resources from Western Washington University (WWU) Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the new chapter created programs of trustworthy information aimed at understanding, treating, and managing a hearing disability. The opportunity for fellowship and support flourished in the search for meaning within an affirming, accepting environment.

Today, the HLAA family in our state has dramatically changed, with chapters folding or being replaced by other types of support, such as HOPE online meetings. However, HLAA-Whatcom continues to thrive in the traditional format. Members can look back on nineteen years of continuous monthly meetings: Twelve times a year on Saturday mornings, including almost three years online via Zoom during the COVID pandemic.



Meeting longstanding needs of people with hearing loss

People with hearing loss all know the feeling of being alone with this disability – undiagnosed, unrecognized, and misunderstood, unaddressed and underserved, let alone uninsured! But the HLAA mission emphasizing education, information, and support promptly began to meet this new chapter members’ needs that had been long unfulfilled.

Soon the Whatcom Chapter’s programming expanded from WWU resources to local and Seattle-based cochlear implant surgeons, audiologists, and counselors as speakers. As assistive listening technology continued to evolve, the Whatcom Chapter became a very important source of education and hands-on assistance in adopting new tools as they became available. Through the years, members and their families have provided testimonials and shared concerns, insights, successes, and their improved quality of life, thanks to their association with the group. These trends continue to this day.

Turning outward toward advocacy

As the Whatcom Chapter grew and members became more aware of the high incidence of untreated hearing loss in their area, advocacy became a more meaningful part of their mission. Chapter leadership propelled action-oriented projects as the chapter’s inward focus turned toward a more outward dynamic, extending to others beyond the chapter’s membership.

Having benefitted personally and learning what can be done to improve their lives, chapter members also reach out and help others: inviting friends to attend chapter meetings, mentoring, leading hearing loss management workshops, working at health fairs, and speaking to groups and organizations. 

Whatcom County loopers build hearing-friendly places

Some member volunteers have devoted many hours to the group’s very successful Let’s Loop Bellingham initiative. Many hearing loops are now helping people hear in places that were previously not hearing accessible. For example, Anacortes and Burlington libraries, Anacortes Senior Center, Oak Harbor Presbyterian Church, Bellingham City Council, and the Whidbey Playhouse all have hearing loops, thanks to these hearing loop advocates.

The Whatcom Chapter enjoyed their most recent looping project aboard the looped Victoria Star (San Juan Cruise Lines) for a dinner cruise around Bellingham Bay. Feeling included and able to hear and understand the tour guide was a most welcome success. And the fellowship was so gratifying! 

A special honor: The Founders Fund

A smiling gentlemen with glasses hugs a cattledog in an orange vest.

Prior to the passing of Bert Lederer in 2021, HLAA Whatcom members honored him and Charlene by creating The Founders Fund, which offers financial assistance to post-secondary education students who have succeeded despite their hearing loss. In 2024, the chapter will celebrate their first recipient’s university graduation.  Coincidentally — or perhaps not — this outstanding young person aspires to be an audiologist.

Knowing and personally feeling the joy of what can be done to manage hearing loss together with wanting to share that with others have motivated and inspired Chapter leadership and members to reach out in many ways. The rewarding result is that advocacy both excites and energizes them, enriching their fellowship and helping their chapter grow.

What can other chapters and advocates learn?

What to learn from the Whatcom County experience?  There is great power in helping yourself and others learn about living well with hearing loss.  To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, the pain (of hearing loss) is inevitable; suffering (from it) is optional.  Working together we can all improve our quality of life. But it does take work, so volunteering to be part of the solution is the most important first step.  The Whatcom County Chapter has succeeded because its members have done the work over the last 19 years. They intend to do even more in the upcoming decades.

Thank you to Charlene MacKenzie and Larry Wonnacott for writing this article.

HLAA-WA E-News, August 15, 2023

Note: This summer, we’ll be publishing once a month. Our next issue arrives September 12, 2023.

Washington State Hearing Loss News

Colorful photo of two women smiling and a big black dog nibbling a treat from one woman's hand.

Seattle Animal Shelter Gets in the Loop

When you get to play with shelter dogs, plus hear through a hearing loop, we think that’s a pretty good day.

Our president Cheri Perazzoli did both as part of an HLAA-WA project to help the City of Seattle become hearing-friendly. Cheri toured the Seattle Animal Shelter last month, and she couldn’t stop smiling.

Stay tuned for more details on how the City of Seattle, led by Holly Delcambre and Autumn Harris, is getting in the loop.

Call to Action: Make Sure New Tech Is Accessible to Everyone

New technology comes into our lives almost every day, but not all emerging tech is accessible to people with hearing loss and other disabilities.

The Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act will change that. We encourage you to write your U.S. Congress lawmakers and ask them to support the CVTA. Get more details on the bill, talking points, and even a sample letter on our blog.

purple graphic with hlaa-wa logo, plus photo of the US capitol building with blue sky and streaky clouds in the background. text reads action alert, support the new Communications, Video, Technology, and Accessibility (CVTA) act.

Town Hall Seattle Announces 2023-24 Season

Town Hall Seattle has hearing loops in all three of its meeting spaces. In fact, Town Hall Seattle played a key role in the early days of the loop movement here in Washington State. Years ago, author and hearing loss advocate Katherine Bouton and our own Kimberly M. Parker both held looped events at Town Hall Seattle, drawing attention to the loops and to the need for hearing loss awareness.

Check out Town Hall Seattle’s 2023-24 season of author talks, concerts, presentations, forums, and community events, including Naomi Klein, Heather Cox Richardson, Ignite Seattle #44, Seattle Catrinas Festival, Global Rhythms, and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Open-Captioned Shows on Tuesdays and Sundays at SIFF in Seattle

The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) shows movies year-round at its three locations: the Egyptian, Uptown, and Film Center. And they now show open-captioned screenings on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Check back with the SIFF website each week to see which films are captioned and where they’re playing.

black letters s, i, f, f, on sky blue background. this is the Seattle International Film Festival Logo.

Next HOPE Meeting: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Where can I find open-captioned movies? How does a new CI pair with an existing hearing aid on the other side? These are a couple of the questions we discussed at our August HOPE virtual meeting.

Hearing Other People’s Experiences (HOPE) meetings are a safe, welcoming space where you can ask questions from your peers about anything and everything hearing loss and hearing tech.

Facilitated by a caring, compassionate HOPE Crew, these monthly virtual meetings are free, live-captioned, and open to everyone with hearing loss and to their friends and family. You’re welcome to relax, listen, and simply spend time with people who understand what it’s like to live with hearing loss.

Note: If you can’t attend a meeting, you can read a summary from past meetings on our blog.

National Hearing Loss News

Thanks to the ADA, What Can You Hear Now?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 33rd anniversary last month. The ADA changed the lives of millions of people with hearing loss and other disabilities, making accessibility not just a dream, but a reality.

Where can you hear today that you couldn’t hear before the ADA was passed? Tell us below in the comments.

Hearing Loss and Employment Discrimination

People with disabilities experience “significant employment barriers,” according to a new report from the CDC. The report calls for workplace programs to help workers gain employment and thrive in more types of jobs. The research also showed hearing loss disparities among the types of jobs, gender, education level, and race and ethnicity.

Read Hearing Tracker’s summary of the report, or read the report directly from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

color photo of girders and two construction workers. setting sun and blue sky with clouds are in the background, making the girders and workers a silhouette.

color photo of man in a button-down shirt and black snap jacket. He's sitting in a chair with foliage and perhaps a fence in the background. the logo reads the golden bachelor, ABC.

Barbie and The Golden Bachelor: Hearing Aids in Popular Culture

The more hearing aids are seen as part of everyday life, the better. Perhaps we’re getting closer to that dream, as we’re seeing hearing aids more and more in popular culture.

For example, the Barbie movie is everywhere, and we mean EVERYWHERE. Meredith Resnick, HLAA Director of Strategic Communiations, reflects on Barbie and remembers Barbie’s new hearing aid, introduced in 2022. And on the upcoming TV program The Golden Bachelor, Gerry Turner happens to wear a hearing aid. Here’s hoping that this handsome 73-year-old reminds folks how terrific our 70s can be, and how hearing aids are not only fine, but just plain cool.

We’re Here for You

Thank you for your interest in HLAA-Washington State and in all things hearing health related. As always, let us know how we can help you:

HLAA-WA does not endorse any technology, nor does exclusion suggest disapproval. We support the full spectrum of hearing technologies for everyone. As an all-volunteer run organization, 100% of every dollar donated is directed to our programs. HLAA-WA is an IRS non-profit 501(c)(3) organization; all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by relevant IRS code.

Call to Action: Keep New Technologies Accessible

Your Help is Needed!
Make Sure New and Future Technologies Are Accessible to Everyone

Closed-captioning mandates, improved built-in accessibility functions for video conferencing, and many other requirements to help people with disabilities are part of the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act (CVTA) re-introduced in the U.S. Congress.

Introduced by Senator Edward Markey (D-Maine) and Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA16), this bill will support people with hearing loss, low vision, mobility issues, and other disabilities by ensuring that accessibility requirements keep up with rapid changes in technology.

HLAA is encouraging everyone in the hearing loss community to write to their federal representatives and urge them to sponsor these bills (the bills are the same but have different bill numbers in the Senate and the House). Legislators are on holiday break, and most are local, so it could be a great opportunity to have local conversations.

Contact Congress

Contact Washington State Senators:  Ask them to pass Senate bill SB-2494.

Patty Murray
Maria Cantwell

Contact your House Member: Ask them to pass House bill HR-4858.

District 1              Suzan DelBene
District 2              Rick Larsen
District 3              Maria Gluesenkamp Perez
District 4              Dan Newhouse
District 5              Cathy McMorris Rodgers
District 6              Derek Kilmer
District 7              Pramila Jayapal
District 8              Kim Schrier
District 9              Adam Smith
District 10            Marilyn Strickland

Congressional reps will only accept emails from people who reside within their districts. They require you to enter a zip code and then proceed to the message site if your zip code matches their databases. See a map of the congressional districts here if you aren’t sure who your member of Congress is.

Thank you for taking action on behalf of yourself and others with hearing loss!

Key Talking Points

Use these in emails to Congress and also when you see your member of Congress in person at meetings. Please also share a personal story, if you have one, to emphasize the need. But even if you don’t have a story, let them know you want them to vote for this bill. You can copy and paste these points below, and we encourage you to use your own words, too.

  • Accessibility requirements for people with disabilities have not kept pace with changing technologies.
  • The CVTA will enhance communications, video and technology accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • The CVTA would require closed captioning for online video programming, the same as is now required for television.
  • The CVTA would require devices that display video programming, such as televisions and computers, to make it easy to activate and customize closed captioning and audio description preferences.
  • The CVTA would empower the FCC to ensure that accessibility regulations keep pace with emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality platforms, into the future.

Thank you to the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) for their work, especially the sample letter above.