Tag Archives: Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing

hearing_loss

Don’t be at a loss when it comes to hearing loss

Each year like clockwork we visit our eye doctors, dentists and optometrists to protect our vision, teeth and eyes.

But what about our hearing health?

As a rule, everyone should get their hearing checked every year. And, as the number of people with hearing loss increases, never before has this been more important to remember.

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, hearing loss is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. Yet, people often don’t take a proactive role in their hearing health until they – or their families – notice hearing loss.

This May, as we observe Better Hearing and Speech Month, we encourage members of the community to take an active role in their hearing health by making an appointment for a basic hearing screening. The process is easy – and many local hearing healthcare professionals offer the service for free.

And while we encourage everyone to consider getting screened, those who answer “yes” to any of the below should get their hearing screened as soon as possible:

  • Are high-pitched voices such as a woman or a child’s difficult to understand?
  • Have you used ear buds for more than a couple of years to listen to music?
  • Is it difficult to hear or understand others in public places such as restaurants, theaters, stores, at your church or synagogue, or any place where the background noise level is increased?
  • Does it seem to you that people mumble more than they used to?
  • Do you often need to ask others to repeat themselves?
  • Do people ask you to turn down the volume of the TV or radio?
  • Do you strain to listen?

First, a hearing healthcare professional will sit and talk to the person to determine if there are any medical conditions – such as colds, ear wax, or even diabetes – which may be causing hearing loss. The professional will also talk about any signs of hearing loss that the patient might be noticing – such as ringing in the ears or always turning the television louder and louder.

Next, the person with a possible hearing loss receives a Pure Tone Audiometry test, where a machine called an audiometer is used to produce sounds at various volumes and frequencies. The person being tested simply listens for the sounds through headphones and signals when he/she hears something.

Finally, results are reviewed, in many cases during the same visit, to determine how much – if any – hearing loss one might have.

It is important to protect your hearing because in most cases, once you start to experience a loss, your hearing can’t come back. But, hearing loss is preventable. Here are just a few tips from the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing on how to protect your ears and keep hearing loss at bay:

Keep the volume on televisions, music, radios and cell phones turned down to a moderate level.
Smoking toxins can negatively affect a person’s hearing ability. Don’t smoke.
Get your hearing and your child’s hearing checked routinely.
Wear ear plugs and other protective gear when operating noisy equipment.
Take regular breaks from loud noise – at least a10-minute break every hour.
Avoid unhealthy eating. A poor diet increases the chances of being diagnosed with diabetes and thus puts an individual at a greater risk of developing hearing loss.

For more information on the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, visit www.acdhh.org.

deaf

Deaf Awareness Week spotlights diversity

Throughout the month of September 2013, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) joins the world in promoting the annual Deaf Awareness Week (DAW). September 23rd – 28th is the time to celebrate the culture, heritage and language unique to Deaf people of the world.  Currently there are more than 55 million people in the United States experiencing some degree of hearing loss and in Arizona there are more than 700,000 people who are hard of hearing and more than 20,000 who are culturally Deaf.

Deaf Awareness Week is an opportunity to promote the rights of Deaf people throughout the world which includes education for Deaf people, access to information and services, the use of sign languages, and human rights for Deaf people.  Recognition of achievements by Deaf people, past and present is acknowledged.  The misconceptions of being Deaf and the challenges the Deaf population face during everyday life are brought to light and shared with the greater population. Learning sign language and other ways Deaf people communicate allows one to gain insights and better understanding of Deaf Culture and its norms.

Society should understand that Deaf individuals are just as capable, able, and intelligent as hearing individuals.  There is a difference in the way those that are Deaf communicate, but it is not a handicap or disability. Deaf Awareness Week is about promoting the positive aspects of being Deaf and “social inclusion” and raise awareness about Deaf people and its culture.
As we (the Deaf community) continue to face a variety of issues of barriers and oppression, we need to continue in being proactive with our actions, show pride in our identity as a Deaf individual, and constantly embrace and cherish the uniqueness of Deaf Culture.

An example of what ACDHH does in the community to improve the quality of life for the deaf and the hard of hearing is work with a variety of industries to better understand and communicate with deaf individuals. One of these industries is healthcare – a situation in which clear communication between a patient and service provider could mean the difference between life and death. ACDHH offers a free, comprehensive training course for healthcare providers in order to ensure proper information is being given and received.

Not only is it the responsibility of a healthcare provider to provide effective communication for the deaf and the hard of hearing, it’s the law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, regardless of the provider’s size or number of employees. The healthcare providers’ curriculum offers valuable information on the options available to achieve the effective communication that is required without threatening the livelihood of the business.

Join ACDHH in celebrating Deaf Awareness throughout the month of September in recognizing the past, present, and future contributions and achievements that have paved the way to where we are today.

For more information on the events taking place during Deaf Awareness Week, please visit www.acdhh.org.

 

Beca Bailey and Sean Furman are both deaf specialists with the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. Information and referral, community development and outreach education are among the services they help provide. By informing deaf and hard of hearing individuals about their rights and the laws and programs available to support those rights, they, too, can become empowered as self-advocates.

hearing loss

Listen Up! Hidden Danger In Popular Toys: Hearing Loss

Toys come with a lot of warnings: Not suitable for children under three years; small parts may present choking hazards; use under adult supervision. Labels on electronic toys list the voltage while others confirm non-toxic materials. If a toy proves to be harmful, it is quickly recalled as toy manufacturers make safety a priority.

Or do they?

One thing toy warning labels don’t tell you is if the product is too loud, compromising your child’s hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss is the No. 1 type of hearing loss, and the number of children with this condition has doubled in recent years. In fact, one in five children under the age of 12 has some degree of hearing loss. Much of it can be attributed to loud toys; but how do you know when loud is too loud?

Sherri Collins, the executive director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH), says 85 decibels (dB), which is about as loud as an alarm clock, is the maximum volume a child should be exposed to and for no more than eight hours. Decibels are a unit of measurement to gauge volumes and used in several industries, including construction and engineering, to ensure safety.

Sounds over 100 dB — equivalent to the volume of a motorcycle while riding — can damage hearing in less than 15 minutes of exposure. According to the Sight and Hearing Association, 12 of the top 20 most popular toys sold this holiday season tested above 100 dB when held close to the ear — and dangerously close to the 85 dB max when held at approximately arm’s length. The problem is kids don’t always hold their toys away from their ears, and some are even intended to be held near the face.

The top five most harmful noisy toys this year are:

  1. Disney Pixar Toy Story Talking Figure Buzz Lightyear by Mattel, Inc.: 111 dB near the ear, 81.6 dB at arm’s length
  2. Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Leonardo’s Electronic Sword by Playmates Toys: 109.2 dB near the ear, 81.6 dB at arm’s length
  3. Dora the Explorer/Dora’s Desert Friends by Publications Int’l., Ltd.: 108.2 dB near the year, 80.4 dB at arm’s length
  4. Barbie Little Learner Laptop by Oregon Scientific – 108 dB near the ear, 83.8 dB at arm’s length
  5. Playskool/123 Sesame Street Let’s Rock Grover Microphone by Hasbro: 107.3 dB near the ear, 79.3 at arm’s length

And that’s just for children’s toys. Video games and MP3 players, all of which can produce decibel levels that exceed safe limits, can, over time, cause hearing loss. The Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing suggests monitoring your children when watching TV or listening to music and advise them not to go past a certain volume or spend more than a few hours being exposed. If you can hear your child’s music while he or she is wearing headphones, his/her music is much too loud.

In addition, children should be regularly screened for hearing loss — something that is not done by doctors during a yearly check-up. By detecting the early onset of hearing loss, appropriate measures can be taken to prevent further damage.

For more information about hearing loss, please visit acdhh.org.

ACDHH's Healthcare Providers Education Program Teaches Importance of "Listening"

ACDHH's Healthcare Providers Education Program Teaches Importance Of “Listening”

When it comes to your healthcare, the difference between life and death can be decided in a moment’s notice. Clear communication between a patient, his/her family and healthcare provider is crucial to making the best assessment, treatment and diagnosis. But what if a healthcare worker can’t communicate with an individual?

There are more than 700,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing people living in Arizona, many of whom are seniors and at a higher risk for needing medical care. That’s why the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) has launched a new educational program to help healthcare providers give better service to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The goal of ACDHH is to make sure that deaf and hard of hearing Arizonans receive the same quality of service as the hearing population, and that involves working with the hearing population to become more understanding of the techniques needed to communicate with deaf or hard-of-hearing patients.

Not only is it the responsibility of a healthcare provider to learn to better interact with deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals, it’s the law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, regardless of the provider’s size or number of employees. And while it is unrealistic to expect every doctor’s office, emergency room or other healthcare office to have a licensed interpreter, the Healthcare Providers Curriculum provides valuable information on how to meet these requirements without threatening the livelihood of the business.

The Healthcare Providers Curriculum three- to six-hour training program includes:

  • Techniques and guidelines for effective communication between the hearing and non-hearing population
  • Introduction to equipment a person with hearing loss may use to communicate
  • Information on accessing certified American Sign Language interpreters
  • Information on tax credits and incentives available for businesses who make accommodations in compliance with ADA
  • Designation that the staff has been trained in this program
  • Certification for all staff that participate in the program (CEU may be available)

ACDHH is targeting emergency room staff, patient admissions and family services, but provides information to all members of the healthcare industry.

For more information about ACDHH and/or to schedule a Healthcare Providers Curriculum presentation, please visit acdhh.org or call (602) 542-3323.

Health Screenings 101

Be Proactive: Health Screenings 101

Everyone has heard it: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This oft-used quote from the one-and-only Benjamin Franklin could not be truer for anyone more than seniors.

From arthritis to Alzheimer’s, Scottsdale residents need to take control of their health and wellness at the most proactive level possible. Among the most important ways to become proactive is to simply taking part in recommended health screenings.

Annual physical

Certainly, an annual exam is a must, including a blood pressure check, cholesterol screening and potentially even a diabetes screening. Ideally, this should occur each year no matter one’s age; but, for even the healthiest of individuals turning 50, this is a must-do.

Mammograms

For women, mammograms should be a given. In fact, according to Dr. Luci Chen at Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists, new screening guidelines recommend mammograms as early as age 40 for all women, even those with no history of the disease in their families. This is an update from the former age of 50 to begin such tests.

But, Dr. Chen adds that a stunning number of women often don’t begin getting regular mammograms until retirement — or after.

Prostate screenings

Prostate cancer is the most common form of non-skin cancer in America — and rampant among senior-age men. According to Dr. Gregory Maggass of Arizona Radiation Oncology Specialists, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, with likelihood increasing with age.

“Without a doubt, the best chance for a positive outcome, including early diagnosis and less-invasive treatment, is a regular screening starting at age 50,” Dr. Maggass says. “The best bet: Getting a prostate-specific antigen as well as a digital rectal exam, which sounds bad but is much more comfortable than cancer.

Colonoscopies

“As Katie Couric has taught us, both men and women should get their first colonoscopy by age 50, and should repeat the process as doctors request, usually once every five to 10 years,” Dr. Maggass says.

Early diagnosis of colorectal cancer can ensure a 100 percent cure.

Hearing screenings

“Aside from continuous exposure to loud noise, age is the most common cause of hearing loss,” says Sherri Collins of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. “Physicians can test for hearing loss in a general health assessment, but it is rare, making it imperative for seniors to take the initiative to be tested.”

Collins adds that advancements in technology and services in recent years have provided the ability to live a completely full and productive life if one is experiencing hearing loss — and catches it early.

Vision screenings

While these are recommended as early as age 30 and repeated about every five years, it is imperative to begin a relationship with an optometrist or ophthalmologist, as diabetes-released eye diseases as well as glaucoma and cataracts are common issues among seniors.

For more information on general health screenings, please visit cdc.gov.