New England Newsletter

December 2019 Newsletter

Newsletter topics:

  • President’s Letter
  • 2020 Schedule
  • New Year’s Lunch on January 3, 2020
  • Show-n-Tell on January 3, 2020
  • Favorite Hearing Assistive Technology Devices
  • Things People Do Not Like About Hearing Assistive Technology
  • Board Meeting on January 3, 2020
  • General Meeting on January 15, 2020
  • November/December Hearing Life Magazine
  • New Membership Benefit – hearOclub
  • National HLAA Convention in New Orleans June 18-21, 2020
  • Article to read:  How Israelis are going to help us hear better
  • Plymouth Chapter HLAA Board Members List
  • Spring 2020 HLAA/Plymouth Meeting Schedule
  • Amazon Smile Reminder
  • Open Captioned Performances

President’s Letter:

Hi there,

Last month, HLAA celebrated 40 years.  Our Plymouth Chapter, which serves Cape Cod, the Islands, and the South Shore, has celebrated four years.  Our chapter is growing – but we need more people to become active and more involved.  Our last meeting, on November 20, Kevin Franck spoke on Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids.  There were 35 people – our largest meeting attendance on record!   In charge of this meeting was Frank Tripi.  Thank you, Frank!   Frank, as well as Roger, Petie, and myself, all volunteer our time to help others with a hearing loss.  We can’t do it alone.  We need more people to volunteer.

Why do people volunteer with HLAA?  First reason:  To fulfill the mission of HLAA.  The mission of HLAA is to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss by providing information, education, support and advocacy.  HLAA meetings help you learn how to ask for what you need.  People learn to become hearing advocates.  HLAA members not only have opportunities to meet other people with a hearing loss, they learn more about hearing technology.  For example:  if you attend HLAA’s national convention, you could spend a full day in the Exhibit Hall just learning.  Many of the products are hands-on, which allow one to try it out right there in the convention hall.

If learning about new technology sounds overwhelming, let’s take one small step at a time.  First step:  Get to know others with a hearing loss.  Second step:  Get more involved with our HLAA chapter.  Third step:  Learn more about technology.  We’re going to do that on January 3.

You’re invited to join our board at our next board meeting on January 3, 2020.  What a terrific way to welcome the New Year!  The meeting is from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm at the Plymouth Public Library, upstairs in the second-floor board room.  After the meeting is a New Year’s Luncheon, Show-n-Tell, and Yankee Swap at a nearby Japanese restaurant.  You can order whatever you please.  To see the flier for more information, click here. Please RSVP.

There’s also a lot of information packed into this newsletter.  Please it with others.

Season Greetings and Happy New Year!

Sandy Spekman, President, HLAA Plymouth Chapter

2020 Schedule:

January 3, 2020           11:00 am Board Meeting-Plymouth Public Library, 2nd floor board room

January 3, 2020           12:30 pm Luncheon, Show-n-Tell, & Yankee Swap, New Tokyo restaurant

January 15, 2020         7:00 pm Ask the Audiologist, Melissa Campbell, Plymouth Public Library

March 18, 2020          7:00 pm A Life in Music Lost and Found – Betty Hauck, Violinist

May 20, 2020              7:00 pm Travel Tips for People with Hearing Loss, Ruth Bernstein

What’s the Show-n-Tell all about?

At our New Year’s luncheon on January 3, we plan to have a Show-n-Tell.  This is where people bring in a hearing assistive technology (HAT) device that helps them.   We’ll sit in a circle and each person will talk about their device.  At an HLAA Boston meeting that Sandy attended on December 7 at the Watertown Public Library, people brought in a variety of devices and talked about them.   Participants with smartphones downloaded Otter, an app, which turns someone’s voice into text, used instead of remote CART.  One followed what was being said by reading the text on their smartphones.   Sandy would like to try this out with our HLAA Plymouth Chapter.  For the January 3 luncheon, download Otter on your smartphone. Bring in a device to share.

Favorite Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) devices:

Andrea Kaneb, who attended the HLAA Boston Chapter meeting on December 7, took notes and wrote a detailed summary of the HAT presentation of our favorite devices:

Remote Microphones:

  • Phonak Roger Easy Pen
  • Oticon ConnectClip
  • Phonak ComPilot 11
  • Phonak Table Mic 11 (can network two together, turn volume all the way down on hearing aid app)
  • Resound Multi-Mic
  • Remote mics used in a group can become a “talking stick,” which makes following discussions easier

Smart Phone Apps (free):

  • Caption Call
  • FaceTime (can lipread grandchildren)
  • InnoCaption (many people like it)
  • Live Transcribe- Android phones (many people like it)
  • Otter- iPhones (many people like it)
  • Sound Amplifier app
  • Telephone speakerphone helps to hear with both ears

Alerting Devices:

  • Bluetooth phone to both hearing aids
  • LifeTone bedshaker (might be free from your Fire Department)
  • Serene Innovations Bedshaker (great if power goes out)
  • Serene Innovations CentraAlert Wearable Vibrating Personal Notification Receiver
  • Serene Innovations Home Notification System (many types of alerts)
  • Serene Innovations Instalink Smartphone Alert Watch

Wired listening devices (instead of neckloops, which require positioning):

  • Music Link ear hooks for music, audiobooks, etc.
  • T-Link ear hooks for inline mic for phone
  • Cozy Phones headband with removable wired headphones that magnetically adhere to CI implants

Things people DO NOT like about Hearing Assistive Technology:

1.  Many people are overwhelmed by hearing assistive technology and wish it was easier, more universal, or that more education was provided.

2.  Hearing aid remote control apps are cumbersome, and some people think you are rudely using your phone.

3.  Table mics don’t work well if the speaker is walking around.

4.  Some people think that the Roger Pen is confusing or not worth the cost.  Others do not.

5.  Phonak Marvel only accepts 2 Bluetooth devices at a time so you must choose.

6.  Many devices are not intuitive.  People at senior centers can help.

7.  Alerting devices with separate transmitters can lead to needing to push multiple doorbells.

8.  Otter (an app on your phone) can be unreliable at times with weird words.

9.  Technology can be outdated quickly and can be unreliable.

10.  Hearing aids that change programs automatically can be annoying and the user often wants more control.

Next Board Meeting on Friday, January 3, 2020

From 11:00 am to 12:15 pm, there will be a board meeting at the Plymouth Public Library, upstairs in the second-floor board room.  This meeting is open to anyone.  Our chapter needs a secretary, as well as people to advocate for our needs:  looping, captioning, publicity, etc.  We need people to volunteer at health fairs.  Please come to learn more about what HLAA has to offer.  You’ll be helping others as well as yourself.  Please let Sandy know that you plan to attend the board meeting: (and luncheon afterwards).

Next General Meeting:  Wednesday, January 15, 2020
The topic is: “Ask the Audiologist”.  The presenter is Melissa Campbell, Au.D, CCC-A.  For a flier, click here.  For those with cochlear implants, Melissa will talk about assistive devices.

November/December Hearing Life Magazine:

Did you receive the latest issue of the new Hearing Life – The Magazine for Better Hearing?  You won’t get this type of information anywhere else, all in one popular magazine.  The articles are printed for you – people with hearing loss who want the latest and credible information to live successfully with hearing loss.  All National HLAA members receive Hearing Life.  If you haven’t signed up yet to become a national HLAA member, go to:

New Membership Benefit:  hearOclub

A new benefit for national HLAA members is the hearOclub.  This is a hearing aid and cochlear implant battery subscription service which delivers DieHard brand batteries on a set schedule (with free shipping!). Sign up for a hearOclub subscription and receive $30 worth of free batteries plus a battery tester keychain – a $40 value, exclusive to HLAA members!  Use the coupon code HLAAmember online at or by calling 833.LISTEN-2 (833.547.8362).

National Convention in New Orleans, June 18-21, 2020 

Early-Bird Registration for the HLAA’s annual convention is now open.  Any chapter member who wishes to attend can request to have their registration fees handled by our chapter.  Contact a board member if interested.  A list of board members can be found in this newsletter.

National HLAA Convention in New Orleans

Signing up for the Convention includes:

  • Exhibit Hall Grand Opening, Thursday morning, June 18
  • Opening Session, Thursday evening, June 18
  • Research Symposium, The Latest on Tinnitus Research, Friday morning, June 19
  • Get Acquainted Party (GAP) – Off-site Event, Friday evening, June 19
  • HLAA2020 Convention Walk4Hearing, Saturday morning, June 20
  • Awards Ceremony and Reception, Saturday evening, June 20
  • Unlimited entry to Exhibit Hall and Socials
  • All workshops, demo presentations and featured speakers

Article of Interest:  How Israelis are going to help us hear better.  Technology and academic research come together in Israel to find solutions for people with hearing impairment:

Harry Shamir, a Plymouth resident, sent in the above article.  Everyone is welcome to send in an article to be published in newsletter.  Please send your articles to

HLAA Plymouth Chapter Board Members:

Sandy Spekman, President
Roger Berg, VP
Stephanie (Petie) Blanchard, Treasurer
Frank Tripi, Publicity Chair
Our chapter needs a secretary.

Spring 2020 HLAA Plymouth Chapter Meeting Schedule:

All meetings are at the Plymouth Public Library, 132 South St., Plymouth

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 7-8:30 pm
A Life in Music Lost and Found – A Talk and Play
Betty Hauck, Violinist

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 7-8:30 pm
Travel Tips for People With Hearing Loss
Ruth Bernstein, Hearing Loss Advocate

AMAZON Smile Reminder

Our chapter raises funds through Amazon Smile:  Our link is: or the Hearing Loss Association of America Plymouth Chapter.  When you buy something from Amazon, if you set it up through this link, a portion of your total goes back to our chapter from Amazon.

Open Captioned Performances

– Priscilla Beach Theatre  The Priscilla Beach Theatre will again be providing closed captioning on the first Sunday of their six productions for the upcoming season.  You request closed captioning and a tablet will be set up for you at your seat.  You can also request a headset with headphones or a personal neckloop that works with your hearing aids or cochlear implants on the t-coil or telecoil setting.  If you aren’t sure what the telecoil is, please ask your audiologist or any HLAA chapter members familiar with this technology.   The national HLAA webpage – – also has information under the topic of “Hearing Help” that will also help you understand this technology.

First Sunday of the Month 2 pm Closed Captioning at the Priscilla Beach Theatre:

Sunday, May 3 Sisters of Swing
Sunday, June 7 She Loves Me
Sunday, July 5 Mama Mia!
Sunday, August 2 Monty Python’s Spamalot!
Sunday, September 6 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Sunday, October 4 The Addams Family

–   Broadway in Boston For information about Broadway in Boston’s accessibility:

  • Cats – Saturday January 11, 2020 at 2 pm
  • The Band’s Visit – Saturday March 28, 2020 at 2 pm

–   Trinity Rep  For information about Trinity Rep’s accessibility:

  • August Wilson’s Radio Golf – Sunday January 2, 2020 at 2 pm and Wednesday, January 12, 2020 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Sunday February 23, 2020 at 2 pm and Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Sweat – Sunday March 5, 2020 at 2 pm, and Wednesday, March 15, 2020 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barer of Fleet Street – Sunday, April 26 at 3 pm and Wednesday, May 13 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm

–   Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University:  All performances at the Wheelock Family theatre are open captioned.  For a complete schedule, see  The following are ASL (American Sign Language) & AD (Audio Described) performances (ALL performances have open captioning):

  • Little Women, the Musical – February 9 and 12 at 2 pm
  • The Little Prince – April 26 at 2 pm and May 23 at 2 pm
  • Bud, Not Buddy – May 16 at 2 pm

–   American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University:  The following performances at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University have Open Captioning:  

  • Moby Dick – January 9 at 7:30 pm and January 11 at 2 pm
  • Gloria: A Life – February 20 at 7:30 pm and February 22 at 2 pm
  • 1776 – June 25 at 7:30 pm and June 27 at 2 pm

The theatre will maintain holds for anyone wishing to use the Open Captioning service and can best accommodate patrons over the phone at 617-547-8300 or email at Hours of operation: Tuesday-Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm or until 30 minutes prior to any performance at the Loeb Drama Center.

–   New Repertory Theatre:  The New Repertory Theatre was selected for the Theatre Development Fund’s Open Captioning grant.  There will be six performances with open captioning for the coming season (all performances are at 3 pm): 

  • Oliver! – December 14th
  • Hair – February 8th
  • Lady Day at the Emerson Bar & Grill – April 11th
  • August Wilson’s Fences – May 9th

25 seats will be reserved in the front of the side section with the best view of the open caption system, for those who are part of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community.  When making a reservation, just be sure to mention that you’d like to take advantage of that service, and the box office will make sure to give you priority for those seats.

–  Huntington Theatre Company:  The 2020 season Open Caption performances at the Huntington Theatre Company are:

  • We All Fall Down: January 21 7:30 pm and January 29 at 7:30 pm
  • Sweat: February 12 at 2 pm and February 18 at 7:30 pm
  • Our Daughters, Like Pillars: March 31 at 7:30 pm and April 8 at 2 pm
  • The Bluest Eye: May 5 at 7:30 pm and May 13 at 2 pm

Tickets are $20 for each patron with slight to profound hearing loss. To reserve tickets, please contact Director of Education Meg O’Brien at 617 273 1558 or email  For more information, see

If a performing arts theatre or cultural arts center near you does not offer open captioning, please ask for it.  Many people with hearing loss need open captioning to fully enjoy it, yet very few even speak up to ask.  As a result, the performing arts theatres and cultural centers staff assume that they are providing everything required of them.  Some of us need to think of the term “hearing accessibility”, such as captioning for live theaters.   Most performing arts theatres provide physical accessibility by providing a wheelchair ramp or elevator – and they think that that’s enough.  Those of us with severe-to-profound hearing losses are left out.  Using an audio enhancement headset can be frustrating because they don’t always work, or the battery could be dead.  This could happen in the middle of a performance!  Even when using headsets, some still need captioning to understand the song lyrics.  Those who need captioning should have equal access.   The HLAA Convention is totally hearing accessible with looping and captioning at every single event and/or presentation.  Those 3-4 days at the convention are wonderful – but what about the rest of the year?  Where’s the hearing accessibility?  Maybe you’ll find it in large cities.   What about our smaller communities?