Hearing loss: What do event planners need to know?

Posted by Colleen Young, Connect Director @colleenyoung, Wed, Aug 28 1:08pm

I’m planning an event soon. It’s a relatively small affair with 20 people, but at least one potential participant has hearing loss. I want her to be and feel included and to be able to participate fully. I bet many event organizers – from professional event planners to amateurs like myself – would like to know what they can do to make sure their event is successful for people with hearing loss (and everyone). For example, when families plan weddings, birthday celebrations, family reunions, do they think about family members who may have hearing loss?

Here are some of my initial questions:
1. Many such events are held in hotel conference rooms or church halls. What should I ask the venue about?
2. What technology do I need to supply?
3. What adaptations or technology might the person with hearing loss have? What should I ask them?
4. What non-tech things can I and the other participants do to include the person with hearing loss? For example, how do I ensure they can participate in group discussions comfortably?
5. What do I need to know and haven’t thought to ask?
6. Are there any resources or websites out there that can help me?

All good questions and so nice to have someone asking! First, ask the venue if they offer hearin assistance. Larger public access Venues should by law have hearing loops installed or FM systems available. Be sure it is well posted what is available. Or better, have the headsets available at check in for your event. Many church halls have this too.
2. You need to make sure there are microphones for and speakers, and extra ones to pass around in the audience for questions or discussion.
3. Many using Hearing aids have a remote mic they may want the speaker to wear, or to place on a conference table, particularly if there is no hearing systems in place. You could also borrow a Roger multi mic for this purpose from your state program which lends out assistive devices.
4. Be sure the speakers use a microphone correctly, repeat questions from the audience, and speak a normal rate and speech. Not too fast!
5. You could either arrange for a CART reporter, or use speech to text software that you project for everyone to see what is said translated into text.

REPLY

Make sure the speaker is well lighted, and there is no glare coming from behind the speaker. Clear the podium of all clutter — flags, flower arrangements, water bottles; it is crucial to clearly see the speaker's face. Lip readers rely on visual clues from the speaker; beards, sunglasses and hats interfere. Background noise and music cause trouble, as do fans. During question and answer sessions, be sure to repeat the question each time before giving the answer. Reserve seating near the persons speaking so the hard of hearing can sit close. (Thank you so much for considering the hard of hearing; I suspect there are many more of us than most people realize.)

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@maryjax

All good questions and so nice to have someone asking! First, ask the venue if they offer hearin assistance. Larger public access Venues should by law have hearing loops installed or FM systems available. Be sure it is well posted what is available. Or better, have the headsets available at check in for your event. Many church halls have this too.
2. You need to make sure there are microphones for and speakers, and extra ones to pass around in the audience for questions or discussion.
3. Many using Hearing aids have a remote mic they may want the speaker to wear, or to place on a conference table, particularly if there is no hearing systems in place. You could also borrow a Roger multi mic for this purpose from your state program which lends out assistive devices.
4. Be sure the speakers use a microphone correctly, repeat questions from the audience, and speak a normal rate and speech. Not too fast!
5. You could either arrange for a CART reporter, or use speech to text software that you project for everyone to see what is said translated into text.

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Also speech to text apps can allow each audience member to follow the discussion on their own device ( it’s like captioning the discussion. Try Google Live Translate, Microsoft Translate

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@maryjax this is technology that I have been learning about thanks to this forum. I will inquire at the venue. @bobbiefriend, such great tips. Most your suggestions will make the event more comfortable and enjoyable for all, not only the hard of hearing.

I'd also like to hear suggestions for a workshop type setting. For the event I am planning we will have group discussions with the entire group. How do I make sure the person with hearing loss hears what everyone is saying and is included?
What about when a large room breaks into small group discussions, but in the same room. That din would be a nightmare wouldn't it?

Keep the ideas coming folks. I'd also like to hear from @dsh33782 @imallears @joangela @judysmayo @mikepa @mike55124 @julieo4 @bdzwahlen @katherinebouton. Anyone else?

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@colleenyoung

@maryjax this is technology that I have been learning about thanks to this forum. I will inquire at the venue. @bobbiefriend, such great tips. Most your suggestions will make the event more comfortable and enjoyable for all, not only the hard of hearing.

I'd also like to hear suggestions for a workshop type setting. For the event I am planning we will have group discussions with the entire group. How do I make sure the person with hearing loss hears what everyone is saying and is included?
What about when a large room breaks into small group discussions, but in the same room. That din would be a nightmare wouldn't it?

Keep the ideas coming folks. I'd also like to hear from @dsh33782 @imallears @joangela @judysmayo @mikepa @mike55124 @julieo4 @bdzwahlen @katherinebouton. Anyone else?

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Collen, I'm trying speech to text apps on smartphones for a presentation I'm doing in October. So far, the apps are disappointing.

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@colleenyoung

@maryjax this is technology that I have been learning about thanks to this forum. I will inquire at the venue. @bobbiefriend, such great tips. Most your suggestions will make the event more comfortable and enjoyable for all, not only the hard of hearing.

I'd also like to hear suggestions for a workshop type setting. For the event I am planning we will have group discussions with the entire group. How do I make sure the person with hearing loss hears what everyone is saying and is included?
What about when a large room breaks into small group discussions, but in the same room. That din would be a nightmare wouldn't it?

Keep the ideas coming folks. I'd also like to hear from @dsh33782 @imallears @joangela @judysmayo @mikepa @mike55124 @julieo4 @bdzwahlen @katherinebouton. Anyone else?

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Group discussions work when one person speaks at a time. You could announce when it's time to break into smaller groups that the hard of hearing folks will be going home now.

REPLY
@colleenyoung

@maryjax this is technology that I have been learning about thanks to this forum. I will inquire at the venue. @bobbiefriend, such great tips. Most your suggestions will make the event more comfortable and enjoyable for all, not only the hard of hearing.

I'd also like to hear suggestions for a workshop type setting. For the event I am planning we will have group discussions with the entire group. How do I make sure the person with hearing loss hears what everyone is saying and is included?
What about when a large room breaks into small group discussions, but in the same room. That din would be a nightmare wouldn't it?

Keep the ideas coming folks. I'd also like to hear from @dsh33782 @imallears @joangela @judysmayo @mikepa @mike55124 @julieo4 @bdzwahlen @katherinebouton. Anyone else?

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@coleenyoung

I think everyone has covered the options available with or without a looped room. My favorite is CART for group discussions and can be done remotely…the CART person does not have to be physically there. Hearing people will appreciate the screened captions also. You will make everyone aware when you announce at the beginning that accommodations are being made for HOH individuals. You might want to know in advance how many will need accommodations and what technology they use, if any. Not all hearing aid users have T Coils in their aids or use any type of assisted device. I would be guided by the preference of the HOH individuals and the number attending.

Individual small discussions may not be as difficult as imagined since you are considering the elimination of as much background noise as possible, people are aware and the venue is well lit. This is where the onus is partly on the HOH individuals who should identify themselves and briefly advise the best way to keep them in the loop. I found that by repeating what you did hear from someone rather than having them repeat the entire conversation is so less frustrating. It’s up to the HOH individual to decide if they should excuse themselves.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was as considerate and aware as you are.

Regards from FL Mary

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@alice44

Collen, I'm trying speech to text apps on smartphones for a presentation I'm doing in October. So far, the apps are disappointing.

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My HLAA chapter has used the Google Live Transcribe speech to text very successfully.

Liked by imallears

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Unless Google Live Transcribe has a new app very recently, it does not work with Apple I-phones.

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@alice44

Unless Google Live Transcribe has a new app very recently, it does not work with Apple I-phones.

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Very true. Try Otter which is very similar but works on any device. Or buy a cheap Android phone to use Google which I’ve done.

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@maryjax

Also speech to text apps can allow each audience member to follow the discussion on their own device ( it’s like captioning the discussion. Try Google Live Translate, Microsoft Translate

Jump to this post

I forgot to add Otter.

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@alice44

Unless Google Live Transcribe has a new app very recently, it does not work with Apple I-phones.

Jump to this post

@alice44
Hi,

Yes, only Android so far.. I have an Android…..tried Otter a couple of times but prefer Live Transcribe which picked up where Otter did not. I’ll keep trying Otter.

FL Mary

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I tried AVA but got poor results.

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@imallears

@coleenyoung

I think everyone has covered the options available with or without a looped room. My favorite is CART for group discussions and can be done remotely…the CART person does not have to be physically there. Hearing people will appreciate the screened captions also. You will make everyone aware when you announce at the beginning that accommodations are being made for HOH individuals. You might want to know in advance how many will need accommodations and what technology they use, if any. Not all hearing aid users have T Coils in their aids or use any type of assisted device. I would be guided by the preference of the HOH individuals and the number attending.

Individual small discussions may not be as difficult as imagined since you are considering the elimination of as much background noise as possible, people are aware and the venue is well lit. This is where the onus is partly on the HOH individuals who should identify themselves and briefly advise the best way to keep them in the loop. I found that by repeating what you did hear from someone rather than having them repeat the entire conversation is so less frustrating. It’s up to the HOH individual to decide if they should excuse themselves.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was as considerate and aware as you are.

Regards from FL Mary

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Programs that include a PowerPoint in addition to the spoken program are really helpful. I had an additional big downturn in hearing recently; up until then I could puzzle out much of what was happening, esp. when there were visual clues. Now, my hearing ear is often almost as useless as the one that's been useless for over 30 years. I'm the curriculum director for a learning group (weekly lectures) and am now finding dealing with future speakers (can't use phones) is particularly difficult. It's embarrassing when I don't really know what the lecture covered. <g> Asking HOH to simply leave the group isn't a good solution at all. It's bad enough to miss a fair amount, but to be told to leave would really smart. I have Meniere's, which means my hearing fluctuates; some days I can hear fairly well with one aid, while other days are virtually hopeless. Sometimes my hearing is okay, but shuts down right in the middle of a sentence–or it can turn on suddenly. Meniere's also offers distortion, more on bad days, so it's not even possible to wear an aid some days as the combination of recruitment and distortion bring in painful sound without allowing understanding.

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@alice44

Unless Google Live Transcribe has a new app very recently, it does not work with Apple I-phones.

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That's correct. I bought an Android tablet, but need to add a mic for group meetings as the tablet can't pick up soft voices well. Also, Live Transcribe doesn't show up as an installed app (a known problem), so I have to ask to download it each time I start it–just search for it without downloading so that it appears and fires up. It also requires WiFi, which is often missing in my small town's various meeting places. I believe the WiFi provides the dictionary of words the app requires. It does well with rich voices but fails with voices that don't have lots of overtones.

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