• New Toastmasters Club in Orange County

    by  • November 2, 2011

    HLAA member Robin Itzler is forming a new Toastmasters club in Cypress.  The Something Gained club is open to everyone who wants to improve their communication skills and gain new-found confidence when speaking. Whether someone is entering the job market, looking for a new position or has their sights on a promotion, gaining that something extra like good communication skills can make all the difference.

    The club will also benefit people with personal challenges. From shyness to hearing loss, to limited vision or stuttering, to English being a second language or just being frightened to speak in front of others, Itzler stresses not letting your ‘something’ hold you back from achieving success.

    “Everyone has a challenge they are dealing with that makes getting to the starting line harder,” explains Itzler. “The challenge could be physical, mental, financial or imagined. While that is important it is more important to make sure you don’t let it hold you back. My challenge is having a hearing loss.” She frequently reminds people that every time they talk, it’s public speaking–all that changes is the size of the audience.

    The Something Gained club will meet in the comfort of the Cypress Public Library’s meeting room at 5331 Orange Avenue, Cypress, CA on the third Saturday of the month from 10:15 to noon.  The next meetings are November 19 and December 17. Reserve your seat by emailing Robin Itzler at Robin@MotivateYourSomething.com.

    About Toastmasters: For nearly a century, Toastmasters International has been helping people of every background, education level and economic standing develop the competency they need to become effective communicators and inspired leaders. It is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Membership is affordable: $20 new member fee, then $27 for six months plus any nominal club expenses.

    About Robin Itzler: Robin, a bilateral hearing aid user, has worked in some facet of marketing/communications since 1976 and currently works full time in the pet health insurance field.  She and her husband own Royal Care Pet Sitting, where she also handles the marketing.  In 2010, Robin started Purrfect Bark, a public speaking program at her company.  She is an officer in the Toastmasters Bre’ahs club where she has broken club records earning various award levels.  

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    2011 Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids

    by  • October 19, 2011


    A 31-page color booklet that illustrates the different styles of hearing aids, compares different models and features, and shows the technology pyramid and hearing aid pricing.

    Available in the USA and CANADA ONLY
    Price: $4.99
    + shipping

    Reasons to buy the book:

    • Includes over 450 New Hearing Aids, Specs & Pricing.
    • Explains digital hearing aid technology: Entry Level Digital, Basic Digital, Advanced Digital, and Premium Digital Hearing Aids and compares the differences.
    • Shows Best Value: Reprogrammable models keep your hearing in focus for years to come.
    • Shows how damaged hair cells affect hearing.
    • Lists 10 reasons receiver-in-canal wins.
    • Lists seven reasons you hear better with two ears.
    • Talks about the new invisible hearing aids.
    • Explains hearing aid battery basics.
    • Explains what you should expect from your hearing aids.
    • Provides a glossary and definitions so you understand hearing aid terminology.
    • Is must-have before you buy your next pair of hearing aids.

    Order from: 

    Hearing Loss Association of America
    Call: 301.657.2248…

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    HLA-CA Asks!: Your Accessible City

    by  • October 3, 2011


    What have you done to help make the city in which you live accessible for those with hearing loss? What was the process like for you? Who helped you? Did you change the law or did you help enforce it?

    We are looking for stories and tips to feature on the HLA-CA website in a new section on Advocacy.

    You can talk about anything from captioned broadcasts to looping to transportation to emergency alerts.

    If you are interested in sharing your story, please email admin@hearinglossca.org with:
    1. Your name
    2. Your city
    3. Five sentence summary of your accessibility story
    4. Two tips that you have regarding achieving this particular kind of accessibility

    Once you email the above four items, you will be contacted with more details about sharing your story.

    The deadline to submit is October 31, 2011.

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    Hearing Aid Compatible Cell Phones

    by  • August 26, 2011

    The Better Hearing Institute has just compiled a list on their website of the most hearing aid compatible cell phones that carry the highest rating of M4/T4.

    M4 indicates there is the least likelihood of microphone interference and T4 means there is the greatest likelihood of telecoil coupling compatibility with the cell phone.

    Click here for the list. Remember that each cell phone user has their own preference for the type of phone that they want, so think about what features you want before purchasing a new cell phone or upgrading from your current one. For some useful tips, check out some videos and links from Access Wireless by CTIA: The Wireless Association.…

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    No Limits Speaks Out

    by  • August 23, 2011

    Scene 1
    Nine-year old Josue makes his stage debut as an Olympic athlete.  His bigger-than-life costume bulges with a six pack and enormous biceps.  Josue struggles to lift the 500 pound barbell in front of him.  His legs quake, his arms shake and his face is a picture of determination.  

    His coach hollers, “You can do it!  Don’t Give Up!  No obstacle is too big.  You can achieve your dreams! Now say it…”

    Teeth clenched, Josue says under his breath, “I’m a mean lifting machine.”

    Coach says “Again!”

    This time Josue, at full volume, shouts, “I’m a mean lifting machine.  I can do anything!”

    The audience agrees and cheers him on as he raises the barbells above his head and wins the Olympic Gold.  Josue comes off the stage and says “This is so much fun!  Did you hear the audience clapping?”

    Scenes like this one are taking place across the nation as No Limits Theatre Group’s 2011 season is underway.  Productions performed by children with a hearing loss from the ages of 4 to 18 years are being rehearsed and performed in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego, New Brunswick, NJ and Wethersfield, CT.  As Executive Director Michelle Christie-Adams recently said, “It is truly a thrilling year for No Limits as we are producing more shows than ever and are adding new cities to our No Limits family.  Traveling around the country and meeting all the kids has been a wonderful time for me and the company.”

    In 1996, Michelle Christie-Adams, M.S. and UCLA doctoral candidate, and a graduate of the John Tracy Clinic Graduate program, with over 18 years experience in the entertainment industry, founded No Limits.   Ms. Christie-Adams recognized the lack of opportunities for oral deaf children to improve their speaking abilities in a fun and non-academic setting.  Knowing these children can often be lost in the shuffle of the hearing world, Ms. Christie-Adams designed an after-school theater program to help develop communication skills, expand vocabulary and grammar, and understand character development.  Through role-laying, cultivating creativity and developing public speaking skills, No Limits children began to confidently move into the hearing world.  After witnessing dramatic improvements in the children, No Limits expanded to become a national program. No Limits is the only theatre group in the country for children with a hearing loss who use spoken language.

    The children have performed 65 original productions in front of over 60,000 audience members and in 2009 had the distinct honor of making history by performing at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

    Erica DeLange, a parent of a deaf child and organizer of the No Limits Detroit show said, “I learned about...

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    See Captioned Movies by 2013

    by  • August 23, 2011

    The long-standing dream of fully accessible movies continues to move closer to reality in California. AMC, America’s second-largest theater chain, announced this week that it would install captioning equipment at all of its first-run theaters throughout the nation, joining Regal and Cinemark, America’s first and third largest chains, in committing to full access for people with hearing loss.
    The AMC announcement came in the course of ongoing discussions involving the Association of Late Deafened Adults, attorneys from the public-interest law firm Disability Rights Advocates, and myself. Because AMC is attempting to blend two different captioning systems and because it is attempting to allocate the available equipment on an equitable basis across the country, the exact schedule and sequence of its California roll-out is not yet known. But suffice it to say that California movie-goers will soon experience a dramatic increase in movie availability.
    Meanwhile, Cinemark’s actual deployment of captioning equipment is well ahead of schedule. As of mid-August, Cinemark had installed at least some captioning equipment at 51 different California locations. In all, 440 Cinemark auditoriums in the state were equipped to show captioned movies, and the number continues to increase.
    Cinemark has also made major strides in the past month at making information about captioned movies more readily available. Working with Nanci Linke-Ellis, Cinemark has worked out a means by which the list of captioned movies and their showtimes can be displayed on the Captionfish website, www.captionfish.com, which is rapidly becoming a go-to source of information for people with hearing loss. A user can go to the Captionfish site, input their location by name or zip code, and learn what captioned movies are available nearby. The site notes the method of captioning being used, including an indication of which movies may be subtitled foreign-language films.
    The increase in captioning availability is occurring in tandem with conversion from traditional film projection to digital projection. In that mode, film ceases to exist as a physical reality. Instead of large reels of film, movies are reduced to digital format and transmitted to the theaters either on computer discs or over the internet. In addition to creating a means of movie display that can’t deteriorate over time, digital projection saves the studios considerable money, because there is no longer any need to create the physical movie prints or to pay to ship them.
    For a number of years, the prospects of digital conversion at some unspecified future time served to retard the availability of captioned movies. Although the vast majority of major-studio movies had captions provided under contract with the studios, the theaters were reluctant to purchase and install captioning equipment that would work with film but that might not work with digital projectors. Now that digital conversions are actually taking place on a broad scale, that issue disappears. Not only do the theaters accept the fact that digital projection is not likely to become...

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    Using Your HLA-CA Website

    by  • August 18, 2011

    In the past year, the website for the Hearing Loss Association of California has been undergoing a major overhaul in its content, design, and interaction with HLA members and website visitors. The website was redesigned with the idea of engaging more members via social media networks while still providing the same useful information on local and national resources. The Hearing Loss Association of California has been at a critical point in its impact in the state of California and the website should be both a resourceful and powerful tool for outreach for all members. As I have designed this website in the past year, I’ve been shocked by the unfamiliarity of many HLA members with the social media giants that are Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. As a member of the emerging 18-35 young adult generation, these websites are crucial to how I keep in touch with the many other young adults whom I have met at the past three HLAA conventions that I have attended. I find out about the latest news in technology, talk about advocacy, and read various articles about their life experiences with hearing loss. I want the older generation to be able to engage with each other in the same way because I have seen it make a difference.

    This is where you come in. The HLA-CA website, at its core, is a tool that all the California chapters should use. Each chapter in the north and south is listed on the chapters tab on the website. If chapters have their own personal websites, like the Los Angeles and Sacramento chapters, website visitors will be redirected to that chapter’s website when they click on their names. For those who do not have their own websites, like the San Fernando and Peninsula chapters, the links for them take website visitors to a page that lists their contact info, meeting times and location, and available accessibility. The overall HLA-CA website is managed and updated by the Webmaster, but it is the responsibility of each chapter to update their own web pages. The chapters that have web pages have each been provided with a log in name and password that allows them to have complete independence in updating their own information about their chapters. Please be sure that you update your web pages because the more engaged you are on your page, the more people you will attract. I know this as a fact because when I engage more in social media, I hear more from people.

    Social media exists because of the internet and cell phones, which are increasingly allowing for more accessible and free ways to communicate with our family, friends, and co-workers. As of this past spring, HLA-CA has both a Facebook page and a Twitter page. Both of them post the latest articles from the state newsletter and...

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    How to Get A Grant

    by  • May 17, 2011

    The Hearing Loss Association of Sacramento recently obtained $15,000 in support from the California Communication Access Foundation (www.communicationsaccess.org)  and See-Speech (www.see-speech.com) for a new live captioning project. Over the course of the next year, this project is expected to provide free captioning to people with hearing loss throughout the greater Sacramento region and give the chapter new opportunities to expand their outreach. Sacramento chapter president, Kathleen Bowers (kathleen@hlasac.com), has some experience in obtaining grants. Below are a few thoughts from her on how to get a grant.

    Billions of dollars in grants are given away every year, with funds for just about every conceivable kind of project. What’s more, many of these grants are awarded at the local level. If you see a need that you would like to fill, or have an idea for something that doesn’t exist in your community, you may be able to get a grant to make it happen.

    Getting a grant may require time and persistence, but the return on investment is most often greater than that for a fundraising event or an appeal letter. Remember: grant-making institutions need you just as much as you need them. They have the financial resources to create programs. You have the ideas, experience and skills needed to identify and solve problems in your community. Find the right grantmaker, and the result will be a dynamic partnership. Interested in learning more? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

    • Review your public presence before you start. Unless your group is new, grantmakers will expect to see an attractive, well-organized web site as well as additional information about you on other web sites. One easy way to increase your visibility for grantmakers is to create a profile on Guidestar, a site that funders frequently use to gather information on nonprofit groups (http://www2.guidestar.org).
    • Envision a fundable project. The most fundable projects are typically those that A.) most obviously make a major difference – in situations, communities, and lives, and B.) are a good match with the goals of prospective grantmakers.
    • Think in terms of unaddressed needs and unresolved problems. Do you have a clear picture of your project’s goals? Are these goals connected to needs not already addressed by other organizations? Grantmakers will want answers to these questions, so you should be asking yourself these questions from the start.
    • Get validation. In general, grantmakers will want to see some external validation for your group and your proposal. Partners, sponsors, matching funds, and statistical evidence are all forms of external validation. To obtain external validation, you may want to meet with other community organizers and experts. Explore ways that they might support you – anything from a...

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    Movie Captioning: Now the Rule Rather than the Exception

    by  • May 17, 2011

    Widespread movie captioning in California came one big step closer to reality in April 2011, when Cinemark announced plans to equip all of its first-run theaters in the state to show closed-captioned movies by June 15 of 2012. Cinemark’s decision led to a friendly resolution of the lawsuit filed by two individuals, Linda Drattell and Rick Rutherford, and by the Association of Late-Deafened Adults. I represented the plaintiffs in the suit in partnership with Disability Rights Advocates, a public-interest law firm based in Berkeley.

    Cinemark will convert at least half of its first-run theaters in California to digital projection by June 15 of this year, and will install equipment in each auditorium to show closed-captioned movies. The captions will not be visible to the general audience, but only to patrons who use a viewing device that the theaters will provide at no charge.

    Over 80% of the major-studio movies today come with captions. The theaters must install the equipment required to show the captions.

    The captioning capability will be installed in conjunction with Cinemark’s conversion of its first-run theaters to digital projection. When digital projecting equipment is installed, film ceases to exist – movies become a package of digitized information transmitted either on computer discs or over the internet. Because there is no film to physically deteriorate, colors don’t fade and the print doesn’t scratch.

    Digital projection is highly desirable from the studios’ point of view, because the expense of producing and mailing large canisters of film is enormous. But the benefits to the theaters are less clear, and may in fact be negative, because digital projectors are expensive, and they require considerably more expensive upkeep than film projectors.

    While digital conversion has been technically possible for some time, its actual roll-out was delayed while the theaters and the studios negotiated over who paid for it. The precise details of that resolution are at least somewhat confidential, but the general outline is that the theaters will borrow money to finance the conversion, and then the studios will reimburse them over time in the form of a “print fee” paid for showing digital movies.

    The delay in widespread digital conversion also hampered the expansion of movie captioning. The equipment used to show captions in theaters using film wouldn’t necessarily work with the equipment used to show captions in a digital theater. Because of that, the theater chains essentially froze their captioning capability for several years rather than buy equipment that might become outmoded.

    With the financing questions resolved, at least for the large theater chains, digital conversion is finally under way. As that has occurred, the theaters are also beginning to install equipment necessary to show captions.

    Although many people with hearing loss prefer open captions, in which the captions are projected on the screen and are visible to the entire audience, the theaters are firmly convinced that open captions deter other patrons. Therefore,...

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    HLAA National Convention Registration

    by  • May 4, 2011

    The Hearing Loss Association of America’s Annual Convention will be held from June 15-19 in Washington, DC. The featured speaker is Christopher J. Artinian, whose family was profiled in the award-winning documentary Sound and Fury. Please be sure to reserve your tickets for the Convention by May 25!

    Convention highlights include: a captioned performance of the award-winning musical, Wicked, on Friday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m., a Thursday evening young adults outing, a Research Symposium on the impact of noise on hearing, and a Saturday evening banquet for all convention attendees who have purchased the package that includes the banquet.

    To see a complete list of this year’s presenters, visit the HLAA National page.

    See you there!…

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    The Department of Justice and Movie Captioning

    by  • January 14, 2011

    From HLAA National:

    Twenty years ago, HLAA members came out in force when it was time to comment on rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our comments helped shape the way the rules were written. We need you to do that again to push for captioned movies.

    The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published a notice that it is considering changes to its regulations to require movie theater owners and operators to show captioned movies. DOJ is inviting written comments from members of the public.


    According to the DOJ, written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted ON or BEFORE January 24, 2011.  Comments must be identified by RIN 1190–AA63 (or Docket ID No. 112).

    To file comments electronically:
    1. Check out the Fact Sheet about the Proposed Rule on Movie Captioning.
    2. Click on www.regulations.gov.
    3. Enter Docket ID: DOJ–CRT–0112 and click “Search”.
    4. Click on “View by Docket Folder”.
    5. Click on the little blue “Open Docket Folder” on the right of the orange title of the proposed rulemaking. 
    6. Click on the blue title of the proposed rule to open the HTML version of the proposed rule with all the 26 questions lined out.
    7. At the top of the page, you will see an orange bar saying “Submit a Comment”.

    To file written comments via Regular U.S. mail:
    Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 2885
    Fairfax, VA 22031–0885

    Overnight, courier, or hand delivery:
    Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
    1425 New York Avenue, N.W. Suite 4039
    Washington, DC 20005…

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