Location Services for the Hard of Hearing: Philadelphia Theaters

Every few months, REM Audiology will be releasing installments of what we’re calling our Location Hearing Blogs. In these installments we will discuss the options the hard of hearing have at certain local attractions. Options such as available FM or hearing amplification devices, and how those devices interact with their current aids.

This month: the Walnut Street Theater and the Landmark Ritz Theaters, both located in Philadelphia.

Walnut Street Theater

The other month we reached out to the Walnut Street Theater and got a quick response from Joel Markus, their production manager. Coming soon, Walnut Street Theater will have:

  1. 6 new Sennheiser emitter panels (transmitters) strategically located in the theater for optimal reception
  2. New Sennheiser headset receivers
  3. 10 to 20 personal loops for individuals with induction coils in their aids. (Side note: If you’re thinking of purchasing new hearing aids, be sure to purchase those that have induction or telephone coil technology. This is not a new technology, but it is a rapidly growing one).

According to the FAQ on their website: “The Walnut offers devices to assist the hearing impaired for MainStage performances. Infrared hearing enhancers are available in the lobby on a first-come, first-served basis; quantities are limited. ASL-interpreated, audio-described and open-captioned performances are available for certain performances.”

Keep in mind: it’s always a good idea to call ahead and see what devices any location currently has operational before attending. Their Walnut Street Theater box office can be reached at 215-574-3550.

Ritz Theaters

The Ritz Theaters (Ritz East, Ritz Five, Ritz at the Bourse) offer closed captioning devices and wireless audio systems.

The closed captioning viewing system is a CaptiView, which is a “personal closed captioning device that transmits dialogue to a small easy to read personal screen which attaches right to your seat.”

The wireless audio system, the Fidelio, is an audio receiver with a plug-in headset for the visually impaired, and provides descriptive narrations.

You can request devices from the box office cashiers, which they will program for you.

The Landmark website has more info.


T COIL LOGO blue 759x1024

If you have t-coil interactive hearing aids, remember to always look for this logo.


A few months ago, REM Audiology started seeing veterans for hearing issues. Because of our history accepting Health Net insurance, the Veteran’s Administration community outreach program contacted us and wanted to know if we would be willing to help the VA hospital with hearing tests and aid fittings. We said yes, of course, and the very next day we started receiving calls.

So far, we have seen about 50 veterans, and the calls haven’t slowed down. We’ve given complete hearing tests, evaluated need for hearing aids, and fit aids in our offices.

The audiologists at REM Audiology firmly believe that hearing healthcare needs to be community based and community delivered. And since we are in debt to the veterans who put their lives on hold and put their lives in harm’s way to protect the freedoms of our communities, what better way is there for us at REM to pay them back than by offering premium hearing healthcare? We have always said that “improved hearing results in enhanced quality of life.”

If a veteran is in need of a hearing test, or has an issue with any hearing device, the VA hospital faxes us an authorization packet. The packet contains specific CPT codes that are then approved. After we get the packet and the codes, the first appointment is set up. Contact REM Audiology at (888) 710-5734 for more information. Ask to speak to Dr. Elizabeth Patterson directly.


The hearing aid specialists and audiologists at REM Audiology have recently been trained in the dispensing of the Lyric upgrade to the new Phonak Lyric 3 hearing aid.

The Lyric hearing aid by Phonak is the only extended wear hearing aid worn by the patient 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months at a time. The aid is inserted into the ear canal by a trained hearing aid specialist and remains in the ear for up to 3 months.

The research and development team at Phonak hearing aids is constantly looking for ways to improve their product. The information below is from the April 2014 issue of Hearing Review:

  • Next generation low-power, deep-ear chip that enables enhanced adaptive signal processing
  • Adaptive signal and compression processing to provide clean, natural and undistorted sound in a variety of listening situations
  • Expanded gain range with per-patient amplification configuration
  • Ergonomic and easy-to-use programming wand that allows for independent, binaural programming at the ear
  • Improved pre-calc based on NAL and over 14,000 audiograms, and New programming options and software interface to provide increased fitting flexibility

See the full article

These upgrades have important functional implications which should result in inreased patient satisfaction with a product that many people are aleady raving about.

  • Longer life between replacements
  • Better performance (related to less moisture problems)
  • Increased satisfaction with wand performance
  • Increased optimization of patient’s performance related to increased sophistication of programming options made by the audiologist

The end result is increased patient satisfaction with a product that is already a favorite among the people I see.

Come in for yourself and experience the Lyric first hand. All Lyric demonstrations come with a 30 day free trial. A diagnositc hearing test is recommended before taking advantage of the trial.

Call us anytime with questions.


TBI Wrap Up

For the past few months, we at REM Audiology have been trying to talk as much as possible about traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

We started with a link from CBS News on our Facebook wall: ER visits for traumatic brain injury spike 30 percent, figuring it was a good place to begin. Not only have ER visits increased, but so has public awareness. Read more


If your child has a hearing loss or hearing disorder, going back to school can be challenging. Whether it’s a new grade or a new school, their environment is changing, and with change, with an already difficult hearing loss lifestyle, comes stress. So it is important to find as much stability as you can. Talk with your school, figure out what devices your school system offers, and talk with your teacher, letting them know your worries and your ideas.

According to a pamphlet (which we’ll be attaching at the bottom of this post) called “Mainstreaming the Student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing: a Guide for Professionals, Teachers, and Parents”, a child with hearing loss starts with a decisive disadvantage:

“Children with normal hearing often seem to passively absorb information from the environment and constantly pick up tidbits of information. This is referred to as incidental learning. A child with hearing loss cannot casually overhear what people say and since a great amount of information that a child learns is not directed at him/her, it stands to reason that s/he misses out on essential daily information. As much as 90 percent of what a normally hearing individual learns is from overhearing conversations…”

This sounds kind of scary, and it is. But with proper assistive listening devices, and easy to implement classroom techniques, your child with hearing loss doesn’t have to suffer, or start from a lower rung.

Classroom Tips

  • The pamphlet quoted from earlier lists some classroom tips for the teacher to follow.
  • Seat student with back towards light source
  • Seat child with better ear towards teacher
  • During group activities, encourage the student to watch faces of other children when they speak
  • Semi-circle seating
  • Try not to seat child near open windows, air conditioners, anything that can make noise
  • Seat in front of classroom, with good visual access to teacher
  • Seat child near a buddy to assist in keeping the student on track
  • Identify speakers and reduce visual distractions
  • Use captioned video tapes
  • Check for understanding

Assistive Listening Technology

In addition to hearing aids, assistive listening devices are one of the most important tools you can use against hearing loss in the classroom. Assistive listening devices “encompass a range of products destined to solve the problems of noise, distance from the speaker and room reverberations.”

One such device is a FM or infrared system. A FM system is used to deal with distance. It’s a remote microphone that is placed close to a sound source and operates like a tiny private radio station. The teacher will usually clips a microphone to their clothing.

Other systems include: automatic speech recognition and educational transcription systems. It’s important for you to approach your school to see what they offer.

What SHOULD My School System Offer

Laws will differ state by state. Except for federal laws, of which there are a few.

The IDEA act is one such federal law. The IDEA act determines the special educational services children will receive from a school system, and requires them to provide students with a disability a free (public expense, without charge to student’s family) and appropriate education.

There is also the Americans with Disabilities Act:

“The department of Justice oversees the position of Title II (public services) or the ADA implementing regulations that specifically addresses the obligation of a school board for other public entity to remove communication barriers for deaf individuals. This includes furnishing, at no cost, auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford individuals with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in a service or program…”

On the state level: Grace’s Law. Grace’s Law is a New Jersey statue, which requires certain health benefits plans to provide limited coverage toward purchase of hearing aids.

More info on New Jersey laws here: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/deaf/

And Philadelphia laws here: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/e/ee/opportunities/speech-vision-hearing-opportunities/speech-vision-hearing-opportunities/teacher-of-special-education—hearing-impaired

This is only a quick overview, it is important to figure out just how your specific school works within the bounds of state and federal laws.


As you can see, this is not an easy issue. There are many tools that can be used, and many issues you must come to terms with. Getting your child with hearing loss help in the classroom ranges from simple steps a teacher can take, to laws on the state and federal level. If you have any questions, REM Audiology would be happy to answer them. Just give our office a call at 888-710-5734, send us an email at [email protected], or leave a comment on this blog.

Here’s to a productive and healthy school year!


Behind the scenes of an REM Audiology open house

Community awareness and education of hearing health care and hearing wellness is a vital aspect of REM Audiology’s mission statement. Such awareness and education does not happen without establishing and implementing an outreach program. One such outreach is the open house, offering free screenings and an opportunity to learn about one’s personal hearing wellness situation. Knowledge is power, and REM Audiology’s mission statement includes empowerment.

These open houses do not happen by themselves. They are the result of an orchestrated effort among the audiologists/dispensers, front office professionals, patient coordinators/telemarketers, and our marketing/website professionals. REM audiology’s director/owner works a year in advance to determine which open houses will be held throughout the year and which type of outreach will be used (direct mailer, newspaper inserts, newspapers ads, and website ads).

Dates for the open house are determined and the availability of REM professionals are insured. Extra patient time is reserved during these open house dates. The events often include a financial promotion as a means of thanking the community for coming in and finding out about REM Audiology and hearing wellness. There are events where lunch in a noisy environment are included in order to give the community member an opportunity to try first hand what a hearing device can do to make listening more enjoyable and fun in a noisy situation. When communication is more relaxed, the community member becomes more engaged in the social situation, promoting physical and mental wellness.

When the open house date arrives, REM Audiology insures that each office is equipped with devices for demonstration. The patient is invited to take the device out for a no risk one week trial. In cases of Lyric hearing aids, the no risk trial is 30 days. Followup appointments are then arranged, at which time a diagnostic hearing test is performed if necessary. Real ear measurements are also taken at one of the subsequent follow up appointments.

For real ear measurements, a small microphone that looks like angel hair pasta is placed comfortably on the floor of the ear canal. A computer records how much sound is delivered through the hearing aid to the ear drum and the results are compared to a target based upon the individual’s hearing loss in the computer.

On subsequent visits we ask our patient for feedback on the benefits the device offers in specific areas of his or her life. REM professionals call this list our report card, and we all want to get an A+ in addressing the individual’s hearing needs.

For our community members who cannot make the specific open house event, we do extend the time of the event when necessary. The important issue at hand is community awareness and education. We at REM Audiology would be so honored to have you take advantage of these opportunities. REM Audiology has at least one event per month, so keep your eyes open towards the newspapers, the mail, and our office events section on our website.


What is wellness?

Wellness is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But plainly put, we at REM Audiology believe that wellness is a state of mind. It’s a goal for living healthy, feeling healthy, and thinking healthy. Wellness is an unbiased attitude towards new science and studies, and it’s a willingness to ask a lot of questions, take care of yourself, and look to enjoying your and your family’s future.

Why is Wellness important to REM Audiology?

Wellness is something everyone at REM takes very seriously. We encourage our patients to know as much as they can before, during, and after our tests. We want to know of any questions or concerns they have. The more they know, the more we can plan an effective path to treatment.

Apart from our in office visits, REM simply wants to get into the wellness mindset. Healthy living is important, and healthy living is something we feel we can effectively promote.

As far as topics go, we’ll naturally gravitate towards subjects like hearing loss and hearing loss prevention. Topics such as: Keeping Mentally Fit by Treating Hearing Loss or Can Safe Headphone Use Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We also want to promote and talk about topics like (to link an apt article): Body’s Clock Never Adjusts to Daylight Savings Time.

What is the REM Wellness Program?

We started our Wellness Program, a program for our patients 55 years or older, a few months back. Eligible patients automatically receive a free hearing screening and a complimentary sample of Eargene (ear ointment for itchy ears).

In the future, our Wellness members will also receive special offers and promotions, in addition to a dedicated Wellness newsletter.

For every 250 people enrolled, REM donates $100.00 to the Robert P. Ahrens Memorial Fund. Via the New Jersey Association of Hearing Health Professions: “The Ahrens Memorial Fund was created for the purpose of awarding scholarships and hearing instruments to worthy children within the State of New Jersey who might otherwise go without it…”

What can you do?

Wellness is for everyone, and everyone can help spread the word, so if there is anybody you know over the age of 55 that needs a hearing test, send them our way. It’s free for them, and hopefully the end result has everyone living a little bit healthier.

In addition to that, send us all the health news you can muster! Email us at [email protected] or post right on our Facebook wall. We love hearing from our patients.


What could be better than being served good food at a nice restaurant while also being given the gift of better hearing? The other month, Ms. Meryl Epstein from Widex Hearing Instruments presented an educational seminar in a very comfortable and informal manner to REM clients over lunch. This was for anyone who, 3 years ago or more, had previously bought a hearing aid from REM Audiology. We called this meeting our “Lunch and Learn” meeting.

Understanding speech in noise is the most common problem people report while wearing hearing aids. But there are ways to combat this unintelligibilty. New technology consisting of inner-ear communication between aids, sophisticated directional microphones offering speech enhancement in difference channels, and algorithms that reduce the annoyance of sounds (such as clanking dishes and silverware) makes a HUGE difference in speech intelligibility and comfort in noise.

The best part about Lunch and Learn is that our clients experienced first hand the improvement offered by the technology Ms. Epstein described. Each client was fit with a new Widex aid for half of the luncheon. Then for the last half, they wore their old hearing aids. It was a hands on test to compare and contrast the differences.

As professionals of REM Audiology (Lisa Mancini, Kelli Byrne, and Liz Patterson), we enjoyed spending time with our clients. We learned more about them, and we hope they took something away from the Widex technology we showcased. With upgraded technology, people can hear clearer and they can hear better.


The following entry was written by REM Audiologist Ayda Shimelis, Au.D., following her return trip from Ethiopia:

My trip to Ethiopia with Healing the Children for the one week medical mission trip was very successful.

The team included pediatric otolaryngologists, anesthesiologists and audiologists. I was able to work at Cure hospital and for my next mission I am hoping to take more hearing aids (new or used) and new or donated red sweaters (red is the color of the school uniform for the children of Mekania School for the Deaf).

Happy Holidays!

Ayda Shimelis


In 2015, we will:

1. Continue to promote Wellness, not only as a program, but as a concept. As the year progresses, we will create a speciality wellness newsletter, available to any wellness member who wants to opt in.

2. Dedicate each month to a different topic (this month: earwax!). We will investigate that topic through our facebook and twitter and newsletters, and collect the links (and findings) on our website. Hearing healthcare is, frankly, more fun when there’s a theme.

3. Send out a What’s New Newsletter near the end of every month, alerting our patients to hearing healthcare news, office events, and special offers. In addition to these monthlies, every OTHER month we will send out a speciality (education, doctor) newsletter to those who wish to sign up.

4. Continue to work with the community in whatever way we can. This is where we want to grow the most, and this is where we need the most help from you. Let us know what we can do. What would help you? What would help your community?

5. Continue to serve you as faithfully and honestly as we can. This is all about your health, and we wish to make this as helpful and fun as possible.

Thank you for coming into this new year with us. We have a lot of exciting things planned (and more we’re currently brewing up!) for 2015. We’re so looking forward to it.