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Galapro Theater App

For those with hearing loss, there’s something exciting happening in the theater world, and all you need is your phone. For years, going to a play while hard of hearing could be a difficult experience. However, things could be changing for the better.

What Galapro does is simple. It lets you stream real-time closed captions right to your phone. Their webpage explains it best:

“How does it work? Simply download the app and choose from our participating theaters. You can search by city or current location. Once you choose your preferred theater you will be able to see the show offered with the available languages and services.”

NPR recently profiled the app, following a user who was often frustrated by the lack of theater options for those with different degrees of hearing loss. Standard venue offerings, such as sign language shows and closed captioned devices, never seemed to be enough. Being able to understand or enjoy a performance was usually more trouble than it was worth. Using the Galapro app, however, now being able to follow along the show on his phone, the theater-goer finally found a reason to stick around.

Galapro also has voice recognition software and displays text on a black screen so as not disturb other theater guests. It could also potentially work extremely well with a T-coil connection. Using both Galapro and a T-coil connection you’d be able to listen to audio streamed directly to your aid while reading the performance’s text right in your lap.

You can see what shows currently work with Galapro by visiting Theater Access NYC. For now, Galapro is New York City based, but that could always change. You can also use Galapro for Live Captioning elsewhere if CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) is offered at your event, lecture, or conference. See the Galapro website for more information.

It’s still early days, but Galapro is definitely an app worth watching

 

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Mild Hearing Loss in Children

Mild hearing loss is often ignored and – especially in children – easily dismissed. Outside of health circles it is rarely talked about or considered a problem, but mild to moderate hearing loss can very easily lead to developmental or learning problems down the road.

“Mild and moderate hearing loss can often be overlooked because of a perception that it is not a serious condition or that children are ‘coping’ at home and at school. No child should have to struggle because of these misconceptions,” the National Deaf Children’s Society (a UK organization) says.

Putting aside for a second the issue that hearing loss can always get worse, it’s important to also remember that any hearing trouble can have serious consequences on a child’s development. With even a slight hearing difficulty, the extra struggle it takes to comprehend speech or listen in the classroom could alter the entire learning process.

“Children with mild hearing loss are at risk for academic, speech-language, and social-emotional difficulties,” writes Jane Madell of Hearing Health & Technology Matters. This makes early diagnosis and treatment – before children start demonstrating delays – very important. Parents and physicians need to be extra careful at this point, too, because low end hearing loss is sometimes not picked up during the newborn hearing screening.

Slight hearing loss is classified as falling between 16 to 25 on the dB HL scale, while mild loss finds itself in the 26 to 40 range. This scale determines your level of hearing loss by identifying the point at which you begin to hear sound. If you only pick up on sounds starting in the 26 to 40 territory, you may have mild rated hearing loss. This means you might not be able to hear sounds like a whisper or rustling leaves.

There are ways to treat and manage slight hearing loss, and the approach is often determined on a case by case basis. Common solutions are hearing aids and classroom speech delivery systems such as the Phoank Roger Pen or the Oticon Connect Clip. For other options, it’s important to talk to both your pediatrician and your audiologist.

Remember, always raise any concern you have to your family physician about your child’s hearing loss. Treat it early, manage it well.

Tips for Going Back to School with Hearing Loss

Going back to school with hearing loss can be daunting. There is a lot to consider, especially in regards to responsibility. What should the school do? What should the state do? What should parents and children do?

Parents should not be afraid to ask their school questions. The Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA) “insures that all children with disabilities have a free and appropriate education.” The rights of an education – regardless of ability or disability – are protected, as are the rights of the children and their parents in seeing that education enacted.

Different schools have different equipment, and students with different levels of hearing loss are often assigned to different levels of support based on their needs. FM systems are a popular method that allow the student to hear and participate in class. Schools might also offer interpreters or classroom assistance based upon the child’s hearing loss, mode of communication and academic level. The education department websites for New Jersey and Pennsylvania have more info.

What is important to remember is that every child is unique and what they need may be very different from what their peers with hearing loss need. The family should sit down with their school professional and come up with a plan that tailors to their child’s specific needs at that time. As the child gets older, this approach may need to be updated.

Specifically, there are some helpful devices parents may want to look into. The Phonak Roger Products, for instance. The Roger products include wireless microphones that connect to the student’s hearing aid. Some may also have a sensor that allows them to lay on the student’s desk, enabling the child to participate in group learning.

Outside of devices, many audiologists recommend a school walk through at the beginning of the year to in-service the teachers and staff about a child’s hearing loss and academic needs. During the school year itself, they recommend encouraging students with hearing loss to join extracurricular activities and participate in as many day to day activities as possible. Socialization is important to allow them to feel and be part of a group.