September-October 2019


"Assistive listening devices are like binoculars for the ears"
—Cynthia Compton Conley, Ph.D.
President's Message
For me, the HLAA summer begins with Convention in late June and ends with the Walk4Hearing on the third Sunday in September. That doesn’t mean that we take the summer off from advocacy and education. Or even from chapter meetings.
Our first chapter meeting was on Tuesday, September 10, and our speaker was Terrence Williams, assistant director of the Berelson Hearing Technology Center at the Center for Hearing and Communication. Despite our schedule change (we now meet the first Tuesday of the month, with the exception of the September meeting), we had a good turnout. Terrence’s practical advice on hearing devices and assistive technology had members scribbling notes.
On October 1, our speaker was Vanessa Kelly-Smith, Vice President, Technology Division at Goldman Sachs, who discussed ways to make workplaces (paid or volunteer) more hearing friendly. If you’d like a copy of the full year’s schedule (for posting on your refrigerator or bulletin board), send your request to . You can also see the schedule on our website, , under “ Programs .”

This year’s Walk was blessed by perfect weather. The crowd was large and cheerful. You can read about the Walk in this newsletter in an article by the chapter team captain, Jon Taylor. The one disappointment was how few chapter members took part, either as walkers or contributors. It’s too late to walk but it’s not too late to support our chapter team. Just click here and follow the prompts. Even small amounts are welcome. Your contributions support both the education and advocacy of the national office and our chapter expenses, which include captioning and room rental for our monthly chapter meetings.

We have an exciting 2019-2020 season planned. Hope to see you on the first Tuesday of the month at 40 East 35 th Street, with snacks and socializing starting at 5:30 and the formal program at 6.

Katherine Bouton, President, HLAA-NYC
NYC Walk4Hearing
Sunday, September 22
The 2019 Walk4Hearing was a huge success. The large crowd enjoyed perfect weather as we gathered in Riverside Park. The photos of team members (including our WalkNewYork! team, shown in front of our team's tent) indicated how green and beautiful the park was. Kids had fun having their faces painted and watching the cheerleaders. The Center for Hearing and Communication offered free hearing screenings.

Many more enjoyed the refreshments and entertainment. And the Walk raised close to $124,000, with our chapter team leading the way, with $27,268 so far. With more contributions coming in, we have already surpassed last year’s total by more than $1,000. In addition, our members Anne and John Pope and Joe Gordon were sponsors of the Walk. Another chapter member, Jerry Bergman, was responsible for the Shubert Theatre Organization becoming a sponsor. The WalkNewYork! team website is still open. You can contribute to our team by clicking  here . Alternatively, you can give directly to the chapter by clicking here .

Jon Taylor, Vice-president, HLAA-NYC
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Alternatives to Traditional Hearing Aids
Kevin, a member of the HLAA Board of Trustees, will talk about over-the-counter hearing aids and other alternatives to traditional hearing aids.

 Socializing and refreshments, 5:30-6 pm
Meeting, 6-8 pm
Community Church of New York Assembly Room
40 East 35th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues
one flight down (elevator available)

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.
Hearing Loss in the Workplace
Attorney Vanessa Kelly Smith, who has had a severe hearing loss in both ears since birth, talked about ways to make the workplace, whether a paid or volunteer job, more hearing friendly. She also shared actions that employees and employers can take to create and support an inclusive working environment.

The Vice President of the investment banking firm Goldman, Sachs, Vanessa said, “I knew what I needed to do was get accommodations. We now have assistive devices at firm events, our town halls are captioned, and my employers provided me with noise cancellation headphones for conference calls.”

She continued, “Even if the people in your workplace very much want to support you, you need to be the expert. You need to be the boss of your disability. I've asked for accommodations at trainings, and if an event is in an auditorium I don’t just ask for a front seat; I ask for a front and center seat. You have to be very specific. I encourage people to ask for accommodations because to me this is a numbers game. The more of us there are, the less it's an accommodation and the more it's just the diversity of human beings.”

Vanessa indicated that she tries to determine what the other side needs, what the resistance points are going to be, and what is the most charitable way she can get needed accommodations. “For example,” she noted, “when I watch a video that isn't captioned, I can be very angry and frustrated with the executive office or I can ask, ‘Does anyone know someone on the tech team who can help me?’ And then just be patient.”

She acknowledged that asking for hearing accommodations can be difficult, in part because many people do not understand the basics of hearing loss. “It's one of my greatest joys to be able to talk with other people and share, because it's so important that we support and elevate each other," she concluded. "The more we learn about the tapestry of ignorance and fear, the better we become at navigating it.”
How to Enhance Your Hearing Aids
Terrence Williams, assistant director of the Berelson Hearing Technology Center at the Center for Hearing and Communication, spoke about hearing devices and assistive technology. According to Terrence, "There are many devices that can turn your hearing aids into, essentially, wireless headphones."

He also discussed alerting devices, which let you know —by flashing light or vibration when someone knocks on your door, pushes your doorbell, your phone rings, or a smoke detector goes off.

"Voice recognition technology," Terrence noted, "is getting better and better." He mentioned several apps that transcribe telephone and face-to-face conversations, including Otter, LiveChat, and InnoCaption. The free app GalaPro provides captioning for many Broadway and off-Broadway shows.

For copies of the slides that feature the devices that Terrence discussed, as well as websites and telephone numbers, write to
Presented at first-time Hard of Hearing and Deaf Symposium at Greater New York Hospital Association.
Met with CWA 1180 Telecommunications Union to inform about HLAA-NYC Chapter and NYC Walk4Hearing. 
Served on panel at Weill Cornell Medical College to discuss impact of hearing loss.
Presented at Iona College, Audiology and Speech & Language students, about hearing loss and its impact.
Arranged and attended meeting with Lively Hearing, hearing aid dispenser modeled after Warby Parker.
Hosted an information table at NY State Senator Brad Hoylman's Senior Resource Fair.
Hosted an information table at JASA Senior Resource Fair.

Attended meeting with Verizon Media accessibility team to advise about best practices for captioning of video content.
Evaluated new hearing loop installed on the first NYC commuter ferry vessel.
Attended meeting at NYC Board of Elections to discuss need for hearing access at voting locations.
Attended meeting of MTA Advisory Committee on Transit Accessibility.

Began effort to encourage passage of state law to amend hearing aid dispensing regulations regarding t-coils.
Arranged for CART at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, NY Public Library, and Symphony Space.
Successfully advocated for inclusion of subtitles/captioning in marketing materials for the New York Film Festival. 
Hard of Hearing and Deaf Symposium
Toni Iacolucci and Jody Prysock worked with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) and Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA, event host) to present this first-time workshop about effective communication in healthcare facilities. There were presentations on Regulations and Best Practices (Office for Civil Rights), Patient Demographics, and Aids and Services, as well as a patient panel with representatives from the hard of hearing, deaf (non-signing), deaf, and DeafBlind communities. From left to right: Commissioner Victor Calise (MOPD), Jody Prysock (HLAA, NAD), Toni Iacolucci (HLAA), Carolyn Stern (CHC). 
Verizon Media Accessibility Lab
Representatives from HLAA-NYC and the HLAA national board of trustees met with host Samantha Soloway at the Verizon Media Accessibility Lab. HLAA was asked to give feedback on the efficacy of captioning in Verizon’s video content. From left to right: Jon Taylor, Holly Cohen, Katherine Bouton, Shari Eberts, Peggy Ellertsen, Richard Einhorn, Toni Iacolucci.
Upcoming Chapter Meetings
Chapter meetings are held on the FIRST Tuesday of each month.
Tuesday, November 5
Kevin Franck, Director of Audiology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and a member of the HLAA Board of Trustees, will talk about over-the-counter hearing aids and other alternatives to traditional hearing aids.

Tuesday, December 3
Improve Your Hearing Through Auditory Rehab. Elizabeth Ying, a speech-language pathologist with the Center for Hearing and Communication, will discuss ways people with hearing loss can function better in social and workplace environments, as well as with family members.

Tuesday, January 7
Shared Stories. A moderator will conduct our annual interactive meeting, where members share stories about living with hearing loss.

Tuesday, February 4
The Psychology of Hearing Loss: Sudden Hearing Loss.

Tuesday, March 3

Tuesday, April 7
The Lighter Side of Hearing Loss. Gael Hannan, author of The Way I Hear It , offers a humorous look at living with hearing loss.

Tuesday, May 5


Location: Community Church of New York Assembly Room, 40 E. 35th Street (between Madison and Park Avenues).
Having Trouble with Closed Captioning on TV?
Closed captioning (CC) gives people with hearing disabilities access to television programming and provides a critical link to news, entertainment, and information by displaying the audio portion of broadcasts as text on the television screen.

If you're unhappy with the quality of the closed captioning on a specific program, make your voice heard by filing a complaint with the FCC. It only takes a few minutes. Click here .

After you file a complaint, please let us know at
Access to City Government
Do you know that every department of NYC government now has someone designated to facilitate assistance to people with hearing loss and other disabilities? HLAA-NYC helped get Local Law 27 enacted to make direct access available to all branches of city government.

The facilitators can help you obtain CART (real-time open captioning) or confirm the availability of an assistive listening system at a meeting or event. To find the name, telephone number, and email address of these Disability Service Facilitators:

• Go to, then c hoose Disability Service Facilitators from the “Resources” drop-down menu.

• Log on to the website of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD).

• Contact Eli Fresquez of MOPD at 212-788-2548, or click here.
How to Have the NYC Best Cinema Experience
Our Favorite Hearing Loss Blogs
Discount Prices for
Open-Captioned Theater Performances
through TDF
Website for Theatergoers with Disabilities
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, can find out everything they need to know to choose a show, buy tickets, and plan their trip to Broadway by visiting TheatreAccessNYC . I
Hear Better with Looping;
NYC Looped Venues

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 a complete list of looped sites, compiled by HLAA-NYC members Alexandra Lutz and Ellen Semel.

The following theaters offer induction loops:  

Nederlander Organization
Gershwin: Wicked
Minskoff: The Lion King
Richard Rodgers: Hamilton
Lunt-Fontanne: The Tina Turner Musical
Shubert Organization
Bernard B. Jacobs: Betrayal
Lincoln Center
(both ticket booths are looped)
Vivian Beaumont: The Great Society
Mitzi E. Newhouse: Greater Clements

Second Stage
Helen Hayes Theater: Linda Vista New York

Irish Repertory Theater: Dublin Carol (Sept. 20 to Nov. 10)

Westside Theatre (Upstairs Theatre)
Little Shop of Horrors
Honor Someone with a Gift to HLAA-NYC  
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.