Can Persons With Hearing Loss Learn How to Listen More Effectively?

An auditory training hands-on workshop with Geoff Plant, President of the non-profit Hearing Rehabilitation Foundation (HRF)

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St., Boston. Meltzer Auditorium, 3rd floor

This unique workshop offered participants an opportunity to observe individuals with hearing loss as they worked with Geoff Plant in real-time auditory training sessions.  We learned by watching and through group discussion.  Geoff offered information about what the research from rehabilitation audiologists tells us about how to use auditory training to achieve positive communication outcomes. We connected with old friends & new aquaintances, and  enjoyed some home baked refreshments.

Geoff Plant, President of the non-profit Hearing Rehabilitation Foundation (HRF) in Somerville, MA, is a long time provider of auditory training to children and adults with hearing loss, including those fitted with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and tactile aids.  The Hearing Rehabilitation Foundation offers auditory training and listening support to people from all over New England and works internationally to develop innovations in communication training for people with hearing loss. 

photo of Auditory Training Workshop participants

Hearing Loss and the Holidays: A Pot Luck Luncheon Party and Rap Session

holiday party decorWhere: Cornerstone Village Function Room, 175 Harvey Street, Cambridge, MA

Gatherings with family and friends can be the heart and soul of the winter holidays.  Listening in large groups with multiple conversations can test our fortitude.  At this warm gathering with delicious food and supportive company, guests talked about  their “communication pet peeves” and best strategies for living well with hearing loss – and everyone took home a copy of the excellent communication strategies manual “Cut to the Chase” by Dusty Jessen, Au.D.!  We also tried out  our new portable hearing loop, which provided an excellent signal to those of us who are able to use t-coils on hearing aids and cochlear implants.

Maximizing Hearing Technology for Everyday Listening Success

Hearing Assistive Technology Conference for People With Hearing Loss with Brad Ingrao, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Sponsored by HLAA Boston and ALDA Boston

Morning  Presentation:  Maximizing Hearing Technology for Everyday Listening Success

We are fortunate enough to live in a time where a plethora of hearing technologies exists to address a wide range of types and levels of hearing loss. Too often, however, we stop at hearing aids or cochlear implants and never really utilize all the tools at our disposal. This session demystified Hearing Assistive Technology and provided a map for adapting HAT tools to  the full range of listening situations in everyday life.

Afternoon Presentation:  Music and Hearing Loss – Obstacles and Solutions

Dr. Brad Ingrao has been an audiologist for 20 years, but has been around hearing loss nearly all his life. Before earning his Bachelor’s in Education of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped and Masters of Education in Audiology from the State University of New York at New Paltz, he studied music and worked in the family business alongside his hard of hearing Uncle. During his time at New Paltz, Dr. Ingrao supported himself as a Sign Language Interpreter. This skill came in handy years later when he adopted a Deaf child, now 22.

After several years in private practice and specialty clinical services, Dr. Ingrao returned to school and earned his Au.D degree from AT Stills University.

photo of Dr. Brad IngraoDuring his career Dr. Ingrao has worked in small, family-owned practices, large specialty Ear Nose and Throat clinics, multi-national audiology software and diagnostic equipment companies and has taught at two universities. He has presented at state, national and international conferences on hearing loss, has written numerous articles in professional journals, authored a chapter in the book Making Music with a Hearing Loss: Strategies and Stories and has provided technical and anatomical illustrations for several audiology text books and resources for parents of deaf and hard of hearing children.

Dr. Ingrao served as a consultant for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center at Gallaudet University, a regular columnist for “Hearing Loss” Magazine from the Hearing Loss Association of America, and a member of the Consumer Electronics Association R4WG19 working group on accessibility.  He is a former Member of the Board of Trustees at Hearing Loss Association of America, Florida and Member of the Board of Directors at Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota.

Dr. Ingrao currently is Supervisory Audiologist at New Mexico V.A. Health Care and resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Katherine Bouton Featured at Mass Eye and Ear’s Annual Forum on Hearing Loss

photo of Katherine BoutonThis year on September 20, Mass Eye and Ear’s annual forum on hearing loss issues, “Have You Heard?”  featured a guest appearance by Katherine Bouton,  HLAA Trustee and author of the memoir Shouting Won’t Help!  Why I–and 50 Million Other Americans–Can’t Hear You.

Ms. Bouton’s  highly-acclaimed book, telling the story of  adult-onset hearing loss, was published in 2013 by Sarah Crichton/Farrar Straus & Giroux. She is a former editor at the New York Times, where she was deputy editor of the Sunday Magazine for ten years. She also held senior editing positions on Science Times, the Sunday Book Review, and Culture. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and elsewhere.

Katherine has had progressive bilateral hearing loss since 1978, and in September 2009 received a cochlear implant. Her writing and speaking now focus on hearing loss and other disability issues. Her blog What I Hear appears on the Psychology Today website. She is currently working on a practical guide to living with hearing loss, tentatively titled “Come to Your Senses: Learn to Live Better with Hearing Loss.” She has been a member of HLAA since 2010 and was appointed to the Board of Trustees in October 2013.

The “Have You Heard” forum also included leaders in research on the causes of and treatments for hearing loss:   Dr. Sharon G. Kujawa, Chair, Department of Audiology at MEEI, and Dr. Charles Liberman.

Dr. Sharon G. Kujawa

Harvard Medical School

Associate Professor of Otology and Laryngology

Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Director, Department of Audiology

M. Charles Liberman, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Harold F. Schuknecht Professor of Otology and Laryngology
Vice Chair of Basic Research, Department of Otolaryngology

Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Director, Eaton-Peabody Laboratories
Senior Scientist

Celebratory Collaboration: HLAA and ALDA Boston Chapters

“Collaboration” was the theme of Celebration ’14 – the May 10th evening of fun, learning, and inspiration at MIT in Cambridge,  planned by the Boston Chapters of Hearing Loss Association of America and the Association of Late Deafened Adults to salute the work of the many hearing loss support groups and hearing health professionals in our region.

Members of the hearing loss community from all over New England gathered together for a program of three presentations.

In her opening remarks, Massachusetts Commissioner for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Heidi Reed discussed the importance of partnerships among hearing healthcare professionals and hearing loss support agencies and organizations in providing relevant resources to meet the needs of our diverse population of persons with hearing loss.

Accessibility Specialist Valarie Burrows and the Accessibility Department of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston were honored with the Excellence in Accessible Programming Award for providing exceptional resources to those with physical and sensory disabilities.

Finally, our guests were treated to a performance of the outrageously funny – and very powerful – “Ear Rage” by its author, the renowned hearing loss advocate, Gael Hannan.

A reception followed the presentations, where guests mingled with old friends and new acquaintances until well after closing time!

Deep appreciation to  our sponsors – Oticon, Shanahan Sound, Advanced Bionics, Med El, Hamilton Relay, and Sebastien’s Catering.  Special thanks to all of the Celebration ’14 volunteers, especially  Jonathan O’Dell and Carol Agate for their photographs!  Enjoy!

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Celebration ’14–An Evening of Inspiration, Learning and Fun, May 10, 2014

MIT Stratton Student Center, Cambridge, MA

In collaboration with the Boston Chapter, Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA)

Planned to honor the work of the many New England hearing loss organizations and chapters that have created a wide range of programs, Celebration ’14 featured the acclaimed actress, writer and hearing loss advocate Gael Hannan in a presentation of her witty yet profound performance piece,   “Ear Rage.”  In addition, we honored Valarie Burrows and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston with an award for excellence in accessible programming.  Guest, Commissioner Heidi Reed, began the program with some words about our diverse hearing loss community.   A light catered reception followed the program, and CART, looping and ASL were provided.

Over 115 individuals from all over New England attended Celebration ’14!

Celebration ’14 was made possible through the generous support of our sponsors:

  • Oticon
  • Shanahan Sound
  • Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Advanced Bionics
  • Med El
  • Hamilton Relay
  • Sebastiens Catering

Aural Rehabilitation – The Gold Standard in Hearing Health Care

This program offered an understanding of aural rehabilitation (“A.R.”) and how it supplements and enhances audiologic care that focuses primarily on hearing aids and cochlear implants.  We learned about some of the specific A.R. practices in audiology and how they can help people with hearing loss to increase well being and communication success.

Dr. Cienkowski’s work as an audiologist is distinguished by her commitment to the investigation and development of models for patient centered care.  Currently, she is Associate Professor of Audiology in the School of Communication Disorders at University of Connecticut in nearby Storrs, just an hour south of Boston.  As Director of the Aural Rehabilitation Laboratory at UConn, Dr. Cienkowski explores the development of aural rehabilitation programs that will improve the use and benefits of amplification and studies the psychological and social issues underlying acceptance of amplification. Among her many contributions to the field of hearing loss treatment, Dr. Cienkowski has served in a variety of leadership capacities with principle audiology professional organizations, helping to inform fellow audiologists about the relevance of A.R. as an important component of hearing healthcare.  She is a regular contributor to HLAA New England chapter programs.

Auditory Training – What It Is and How It Facilitates Habits for More Effective Listening with Hearing Loss

Speaker Series Event:  Auditory Training – What It Is and How It Facilitates Habits for More Effective Listening with Hearing Loss with Geoff Plant

photo of Geoff Plant, seated, posing next to bronze statueGeoff Plant, President  of the non-profit Hearing Rehabilitation Foundation (HRF), is a long time provider of auditory training to children and adults with hearing loss, including those fitted with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and tactile aids.


From the Hearing Rehabilitation Foundation website:

“The past twenty years have seen many exciting technological innovations for people with acquired profound hearing losses. These have included greatly improved hearing aid designs, specialized assistive listening devices, the introduction and rapid development of cochlear implants, and innovations in tactile aid design. Despite these developments, it is apparent that technology is not always enough, and that some people with acquired deafness require special additional assistance even after the fitting of the most appropriate devices.”

In addition to his client practice, Geoff presents speech communication training workshops for teachers and clinicians working with adults and children and organizes the biennial Adult Aural Rehabilitation Conference for hearing healthcare professionals.

Build Your Resiliency to Stress: An Introduction to The Relaxation Response

photo of Laura MalloyWorkshop Event: Build Your Resiliency to Stress: An Introduction to The Relaxation Response  with Laura Malloy, LICSW

This program allowed participants to engage in a dialogue about stressors that are unique to living with hearing loss and learn about the Relaxation Response, the antidote to the stress response.  Participants also discussed and practiced simple, evidence-based strategies to help build resiliency and stress hardiness.

Laura Malloy, LICSW is the Co-Director of the Education Initiative and Director of Yoga at the Benson-Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital.  She teaches various forms of relaxation and stress reduction in educational, clinical and community settings.

Advocating for Yourself in the Workplace–How to Make Your Organization More Accessible for People with Hearing Loss

Barbara Johnson featured on cover of "Seen and Heard"
Barbara Johnson was featured in the “Seen and Heard” section of the July/August issue of Hearing Loss Magazine.

Speaker Series Event: Advocating for Yourself in the Workplace – How to Make Your Organization More Accessible for People with Hearing Loss with Barbara Johnson

Barbara Johnson is an active member of both ALDA Boston and HLAA Boston chapter.  Employed as the Project Manager in charge of Customer Support, Information Services & Technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her presentation on workplace self-advocacy was highly acclaimed at the 2013 HLAA Convention in Portland.

Barbara’s presentation helped participants understand the broad benefits of accessibility in the workplce for those with hearing loss.  Hearing loss at work does not have to be an obstacle.  The benefits of greater accessibility are both global and local, assisting individuals with and without hearing loss.