November - December 2017           212-769-HEAR

December 19 Chapter Meeting
5:30 to 8 pm

Bill Schiffmiller describes himself as an "a ccessibility maven." His company, AKOIO, provides consulting services to corporations on how to deliver products and services to meet the accessibility needs of their customers. He was formerly at Apple and will talk about up and coming technology including smartphones, streaming, and advanced features.

Unitarian Church of New York, assembly room 
40 East 35th Street
 (between Madison and Park Avenues) 
Socializing and refreshments 5:30-6 pm. If you would like to bring a snack or drink to share, please email by December 17th. Those contributing refreshments should plan to be at the meeting by 5:30.

CART (real-time captioning) provided by Lauren Schechter of  TotalCaption . In addition, the meeting room is equipped with an induction loop that transmits sound directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants equipped with telecoils.  An ASL interpreter will be provided with five business days notice.

The theater community recently announced that it is making closed captions available for the hard of hearing and deaf at virtually every theater on Broadway and beyond. This breakthrough in accessibility was initiated by the Shubert Organization and subsequently joined by the Broadway League and TDF.
The pioneering technology comes from GalaPrompter, an Israeli-based company with the stated mission "to make all theater accessible for everyone in their own language all over the world." It utilizes the company's GalaPro app for handheld computer devices, enabling closed captions to appear in sync with stage action in any of several languages. The captions are also available via an iCaption device patrons can obtain from theaters as needed.
Chapter members Jerry Bergman, Holly Cohen, and Toni Iacolucci were members of an advisory committee that assisted over the past year in the implementation of the new technology.
Virtually all Broadway houses have committed to installing the required technology, as many already have done and most will by year-end. To find the shows now offering closed captions, go to and look for a "CC" symbol beneath the shows listed. The site also indicates other accessibility options.
With each new production, captioning will become available within 30 days so that any post-opening-night script changes can be reflected in the captions.
In our dialogue with the theater community, we have noted that those who can hear with assistive technology should also be accommodated at theaters. GalaPrompter is believed to be working on the delivery of sound wirelessly via Bluetooth. And the Chapter continues to advocate for the installation of hearing loops, such as are now installed in six Broadway houses and over 145 live entertainment venues in more than 30 states across the country.


On October 21, 2017, HLAA's NYC Chapter hosted "Beyond Hearing Aids," a symposium for audiology and speech language pathology students. It was our way to say "thank you" to students for their support of this Fall's NYC Walk4Hearing. Topics included many things audiology students don't normally learn about in class - alternative technologies like OTC hearing aids, assistive devices, hearing loops, and cochlear implants. Leaders from the NYC audiologic community and local HLAA members also shared patient perspective as well as tips for living well with hearing loss - including joining HLAA!

Thank you to Katherine Bouton, Richard Einhorn, Karen MacLennan, Au.D, David Friedmann, M.D., Shari Eberts, Nicole Raia, Sc.D., Barbara Weinstein, Ph.D., Toni Iacolucci, M.S.W., and Jan Blustein, M.D., Ph.D. for volunteering their time and energy to making the seminar such a great success. 

As one attendee wrote, "It was truly one of the best audiology events I've been to. I didn't feel oversaturated by the end, and every speaker had so much excellent information to share. It was also a great mix of audiologists and patients. Super special."
The organizers hope to do similar events in the future. Please contact Toni Iacolucci ( for more information.


At the October chapter meeting, HLAA-NYC President Katherine Bouton presided over a meeting in which attendees shared stories about living with hearing loss. Several participants talked about the difficulty of hearing in noisy environments, and need to constantly reiterate the "speak slowly and distinctly" and "please face me when you're talking to me" requests. As board member Nancie Collin pointed out, "You have to educate people who have normal hearing.

Jerry Bergman, President of HLAA's New York State Association, puts his hearing disability front and center by flashing a card that says, "I am hard of hearing." Board member Carol Karasick noted that whenever she makes dinner
Carol Karasick
reservations she requests a table against a wall or in a corner to minimize background noise. Regarding restaurant dinners, another board member, Ellen Semel, stressed that she always asks
proprietors to lower - or turn off - background music. Carol also talked about the wonders of constantly evolving hearing aid and assistive listening technology. She added, "Yet it is daunting to keep up with it all. You get something and the next year you find out something better is available. We have to learn to be very educated consumers."
Other topics included the challenges of communicating with people who have beards, mustaches, or foreign accents, and how we alert people to our hearing situation. In addition to Jerry's "hard of hearing" card, accounts included: "I'm hearing impaired," "I have a hearing loss," "I have a hearing disability," "I'm a little bit deaf," and "I'm half deaf." Participants agreed that saying something far exceeds saying nothing. In the words of board member Rick Savadow, "When I say I have a hearing loss, people want to talk to me about it; they have questions and comments - whether it's for them or someone they know. It always stimulates conversation."

Loop advocates and installers from the USA. Missing: Russell Mishelhoff, who also attended.
HLAA- NYC Chapter members Dr. Karen MacLennan, Richard Einhorn, and Jerry Bergman were among approximately 100 attendees from several countries at the 4th International Accessibility Conference on Hearing Loops and Hearing Technology, October 6-8, in Berlin, Germany.  The event, sponsored by the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People and hosted by the German hearing loss association DSB, brought together accessibility advocates and loop equipment manufacturers and installers and featured exhibits by manufacturers and distributors of audio equipment, such as Sennheiser and Listen Technologies. T he American contingent was headed by Dr. Juliette Sterkens, audiologist and HLAA national hearing loop advocate, and Lise Hamlin, HLAA director of pubic policy, both of whom spoke about the continuing importance of hearing loops for assistive listening in large areas, despite advances in other technologies such as assistive listening over WiFi.  Click here  to see the official statement issued by the conference.

by Ruth D. Bernstein

Manhattan Sunset

A few weeks ago, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sent out an announcement for a juried Senior Art show, "Better With Age," to be hung in the Maggi Peyton Gallery in the Municipal Building, One Centre Street. The building and the views from the 19th floor gallery are works of art to be enjoyed and admired on their own!
The announcement of the show coincided with my creating a mixed media painting, Manhattan Sunset, in the pastel class I attend at the National Council of Jewish Women in Manhattan. With the encouragement of my teacher, I submitted my art work to the show, something I've never done before. Much to my surprise and delight, my painting was accepted and I went to the Opening Reception with my daughter-in-law and grandson on Tuesday, October 10 (see photo below).

When I retired, I was able to do some of the things on my long "When I Have Time" list.  Taking into account my progressive sensorineural hearing loss, for which I wear two powerful in-the-ear aids and use assistive listening devices, I looked for activities where hearing isn't critical. I became a Volunteer Gardener in Central Park because I miss my suburban garden and don't need to be able to hear well to rake leaves and pull weeds. I help with hearing accessible gallery tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I continue my hearing advocacy and writing for HLAA-NYC and the Center for Hearing and Communication. I'm also a member of the Museum Access Consortium (MAC), a group of over one hundred museums and cultural organizations in the metropolitan area whose goal is to make local cultural venues accessible to people with disabilities. 
Amy and Aaron Shapiro with Manhattan Sunset

Best of all, I have time for art classes, something I loved all my life but never had time for because I was responsible for my family and that included four children, who sometimes required my presence at a moment's notice, or I was traveling for work.
In most art classes, teachers give demonstrations at the beginning of class and then talk with students individually. I can understand the demos by watching and don't usually have trouble with one-on-one conversations because everyone is working and the room is quiet. If necessary, I use my FM system. Over the years, I've painted with watercolors, oils, and acrylics, tried my hand at bookbinding and weaving, and attended a "Creative Stretches" clay class. Every summer I take a class in an art or craft I've never done before. That's how I found out I like doing collage. The collage teacher also teaches pastels. Eventually, I dropped the collage class and signed up for the pastel class because the teacher includes collage techniques. That is how I came to create Manhattan Sunset, a mixed media piece that involves using collage and pastels. As my hearing continues to deteriorate (the joys of getting older are endless), I look forward to the quiet times when I can be creative and not concerned about what I'm not hearing.

February 20       Recognizing and Confronting Stigma
March  20          Aural Rehabilitation
April 17             Hearing and the Brain
May 22              Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony

No meetings in January, June, July, and August

HLAA NYC recently learned of the formation of an advisory panel aimed at improving access to courts in New York State for people with disabilities. The panel, established by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, "will work to identify and remove barriers to court facilities and services, wherever possible, ensuring that New York's state courts are readily accessible to all people," according to Judge DiFiore.
The 17-member panel's formation came to the attention of Chapter members Howard Davis and Jerry Bergman. They are working with Chapter President Katherine Bouton in an effort to help those with hearing loss understand their rights under the ADA and to improve accommodations and procedures within the State Court System.
The three leaders recently met with Daniel Weitz, the court system's director of professional and court services, to review the varying needs of people with hearing loss - from infrared listening devices to CART - and how court personnel and procedures can better promote accessibility for us. The Chapter offered its assistance in training court personnel and improving notifications and signage.
Click here to familiarize yourself with the rights to court access for those with hearing loss and the rules for obtaining accommodations. A key to obtaining the desired type of accommodation is to contact the ADA liaison for the specific court as far in advance as possible. Names and contact information for liaisons are listed by county here. It is also advisable to obtain an audiologist's letter specifying your degree of hearing loss and requirements for access to in-court communications.
The Chapter team plans to share information with Michael Schwartz, director of the Disability Rights Clinic at Syracuse University College of Law, who is the member of the State panel designated to represent the deaf and hard of hearing communities.

A hearing loop is a wire that circles a room and is connected to a sound system. The loop transmits the sound electromagnetically to the telecoil (t-coil) in a hearing aid or cochlear implant. 
Thanks to advocacy efforts by HLAA-NYC members, more and more venues in the metropolitan area are now looped. Click here  to see the latest (November 2017) list of looped sites. The list was compiled by HLAA-NYC member Alexandra Lutz and Ellen Semel.


From the Nederlander Organization
Gershwin:  Wicked
Minskoff:  The Lion King  
Richard Rodgers:  Hamilton
Lunt-Fontanne: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

From the Shubert Organization
Bernard B. Jacobs:  The Iceman Cometh (opening March 2018)

Lincoln Center
Vivian Beaumont: Junk
Mitzi Newhouse: The Wolves (until January 7, 2018)

Irish Repertory Theater: The Home Place (until December 17)
Westside Theatre (Upstairs Theatre): Curvy Widow (until December 30)


Captioning, which has long been required on television, is also available at  AMC and Regal theaters.

AMC offers CaptiView, a goose-neck device that fits into your seat's cup holder and displays all of the movie's dialogue in text. Regal provides Sony Entertainment Access glasses, which resemble 3-D glasses. Captions are projected onto the glasses, and appear to float about 10 feet in front of the user.

Katherine Bouton
Let's Make Hearing Loss a Visible Disability
Hearing loss is often referred to as an invisible disability, because there are no telltale markers -- no wheelchair, no white cane. It's invisible even compared to Deafness, with its vibrant silent language. For a long time, people with hearing loss wanted to keep it invisible. They wanted hearing aids no one could see, they...
Shari Eberts
Then I Said, "I'm a Little Bit Deaf"
I am a big believer in letting people know about my hearing loss right up front. I try to announce my loss at the  start of group meetings , inform tour guides and instructors before a talk, and mention it to doctors at the start of an appointment. But the right words to use to communicate my hearing loss to others has always stumped me. Read more of this post.

Gael Hannan
How Do You Expect Me to Understand You, If ...
We people with hearing loss are very fussy. Communication has to be just so, and if we don't get it the way we want or need it, we can get grumpy. Especially if we've explained it a million times to someone before. We do go easier on strangers, but if they are challenged by our requests, our good humor is a time-limited offer.
So, let me put it very clearly, in every-day language, what good communication looks like for people who have hearing loss.  Read more of this post.

Mary Grace Whalen
 Have You Sentenced Yourself to a Life of Solitary Confinement?
I I remember back in 1989 when I received my first closed captioning machine. My family and I sat in front of the television waiting for the machine to shoot out words by newscasters, TV sitcoms or documentaries. The machines were slow and sometimes they produced garbled or incorrect stories that made no sense. But I was grateful to have the opportunity to watch television again. Read more of this post.

  Nancy Williams
How to Appreciate Music with a Hearing Loss
Serious hearing loss can be intensely frustrating to people who love music. It's especially difficult if the music they love is classical. Because hearing aids and cochlear implants distort pitch, orchestral music is almost impossible to hear. It really is just noise, not music. And it's even worse when heard on a recording because there are no  visual cluesRead more of this post.

The Theatre Development Fund's Accessibility Programs (TAP) offers a membership service for theatergoers who have hearing loss or are deaf. TDF/TAP obtains special seating and provides captioning. There is no annual fee, but you must provide proof of eligibility. To see what shows are available - and to join - visit TDF Accessibility Programs .

Those who are hard of hearing or deaf, have low vision or are blind, who cannot climb stairs, who require aisle seating or wheelchair locations, who are on the autism spectrum or have other developmental or cognitive disabilities, now can find out everything they need to know to choose a show, buy tickets, and plan their trip to Broadway by visiting Theatre Access NYC. I
Two River Theater, Red Bank
This Saturday, December 2 at 3 PM
Open Captions by Lauren Schechter of TotalCaption in collaboration with Globetitles. 

Order tickets  here,

The theater is a two-block walk from the NJ Transit Red Bank station

As the nation's leading organization for people with hearing loss, we provide information, education, support, and advocacy for the millions of Americans
coping with hearing loss. Join online or download a membership form.

Searching for the perfect way to observe a loved one's birthday, anniversary, or special occasion, OR to honor the memory of someone special? Please consider making a gift to HLAA-NYC Chapter to support our efforts.

You can donate online or by mailing a check (payable to HLAA-NYC) to HLAA-NYC Chapter, P.O. Box 602, Radio City Station, New York, NY 10101. Include name and address. An acknowledgement will be mailed. Donations are tax deductible.

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Hearing Loss Association of America - New York City Chapter
The Hearing Loss Association of America exists to open the world of communication
to people with hearing loss through information, education, support, and advocacy.
HLAA is a volunteer association for people with hearing loss, their relatives, and friends. It is a nonprofit, nonsectarian educational organization devoted to the welfare and interests of those who cannot hear well. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. We are a 501(c)(3) organization. Mention of suppliers and devices in this newsletter does not mean HLAA endorsement, nor does exclusion suggest disapproval.