Welcome! We would like to discuss and answer your questions here about hearing loss, hearing loss device technology, hearing conservation, and any related matters. Please email your questions and comments to: info@vancouverhearingcentre.com

Audiologists at the Vancouver Hearing Centre specialize in hearing loss management, hearing conservation, and aural (re)habilitation. We serve children and adults of all ages in the Vancouver area and from around British Columbia, Canada.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Making The Most Out of Health Care/ Getting Proper Care

It is important that when you see your audiologist or other health care professional that you are aware that we are there for you and would like to support your needs the best we can.

Here are some tips to help you communicate with us:

Plan ahead: Make sure all your health care records are up to date. Think about all the questions you have had since your last appointment.

Write stuff down: Have your questions or concerns written down in a place easy to get to during your appointment. Leave space to write down the answers you receive later.

Be a team player:
Remember to communicate clearly and politely. Expect the same from your audiologist or other health care professional. If something is unclear keep asking until you understand. You have every right to get all the information you need. Being open and honest with yourself is an essential part of communicating your needs appropriately.

Everyone is different:
Some professionals will seem cool and distant, others will be warm and comforting. Learn about your care providers - who to rely on for what.

The best bet is you: You are the best person to look after your own interests. You need to be in control of your health and personal life goals. If you know what you want to do with your life, your audiologist or other health care providers can help direct you to the best treatment plans to meet your goals.

blogger: Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Reminders When Talking to People with Hearing Loss

1) Get the person's attention before you speak.

2) Do not put obstacles in front of your face. This includes coffee cups, hands, pencils, etc.

3) Do not have things in your mouth. This includes gum, candy, etc.

4) Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Speak slowly, but naturally. Do not shout.

5) Use facial expressions, gestures, mimes, and whatever else helps make your message visible.

6) If you are not understood, try to say the same thing using different words. If that doesn't work, writing a few key words may help the person with hearing loss understand. If that doesn't work, write the whole sentence.

7) NEVER EVER say "It is not important."

8) When you change the subject, be sure the person with hearing loss knows what the new subject is.

9) Do not stand with your back to a source of light.

10) When in doubt, ask the person with hearing loss what you can do to improve communications.

blogger: Sarah Helmel, M.Cl.Sc., AuD, RAUD
Registered Audiologist

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Wireless Communications

Many hearing device users with hearing impairment would like to connect wirelessly to listen to their favorite electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, music players, and televisions. This is possible now with the new BLUETOOTH technology available from many leading hearing aid manufacturers.

This technology enables the sound from devices such as music players, televisions, cell phones, and computers to be transmitted wirelessly transparently through to the hearing devices either binaurally (through both hearing aids) or monaurally (through one hearing aid). This means that the digital audio signal provided from these sources remains clear and a high-fidelity sound is maintained for the hearing device user. The audio signal does not undergo the degradation that would typically occur if the signal had to pass through the air and over a distance to the hearing device wearer. For example, if a person with hearing impairment is wearing hearing aids and talking on his/her cell phone, he or she using this technology would simply push a button on the hearing device when a call comes in and the call would be transmitted directly through their hearing devices wirelessly. Also, one would not have to hold the cell phone up to one's ear to talk. One could simply talk into the microphone of the cell phone or into the microphone of the BLUETOOTH device on the hearing device to talk, whichever is easiest. As such, cell phone use becomes handsfree, heard more clearly, and heard through both hearing devices binaurally if desired.

Getting a clear audio signal is of utmost importance to a person with hearing impairment wearing hearing devices for ease of understanding and to help facilitate easier communication. This is what makes this interesting to the person with hearing impairment as does the fact that the technology is wireless aka. cord free!!!! When you have hearing impairment you are working with a damaged auditory or hearing system so the "cleaner" the audio signal coming in through the hearing aids and the less messy cords to deal with the better!!! This is why people love this technology! At this point, this wireless BLUETOOTH hearing aid device technology for pairing to various electronic communication/audio devices seems to be most useful/beneficial for people whom have more significant hearing impairment aka. moderate to severe-profound hearing loss and for those whom are active, and technologically savvy.

blogger: Sarah Helmel, M.Cl.Sc., Au.D, RAUD
Registered Audiologist

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Gaining Communication Access

For most people with hearing loss, including teenagers, the primary communication challenge is gaining access to what is being said. This access assumes that the person has the speech and language abilities to understand the message once access is provided. If deficits exist to access this information, the language that is communicated must be modified to a level that can be accessible to the receiver. Without full access, people with hearing loss are at a distinct disadvantage by needing to rely on only partial information to derive correct meaning from the message being delivered.

Ways to obtain full communication access are through listening and visual cues. For instance, hearing technology can maximize audition, visual displays can verify content of messages, and sign language can provide full visual interpretation of the message. Using these sources helps one access information just as well as one's normal hearing peers. Basically, it makes it more fair and helps "level the playing field" with one's normal hearing peers. It does not provide an advantage over normal hearing people. People with hearing impairment can not be expected to be held accountable for information to which they do not have access.

The real barriers are in assuring that accommodations are available readily when needed. This applies to students, people in the workplace, and socially.

For example, for students, making sure all information is accessible is often difficult for teachers. Teenagers, in particular, more than anything want to fit it. They do not want to be noted for their hearing loss. They don't want to draw attention by requesting accommodations such as asking for repetition or clarification. Therefore, when a student with hearing loss requests a specific accommodation, recognize the courage that it may have taken to make the request and accept the responsibility to comply in return.

Some tips for teachers for monitoring students with hearing impairment are as follows:

1) Check in with the student with hearing loss frequently to determine if they are understanding. Conduct the checking in a way that does not single out the student as being different.

2)Implement common sense rules of communication etiquette in the classroom. Encourage turn taking in class whereby students should identify themselves, speak loudly, and clearly so that everyone can hear and understand them. When necessary, help by repeating what other students are saying.

3) Repeat public address announcements or provide them to all students in writing.

4) Be conscious of minimizing classroom noise levels and maintaining good lighting.

5) Be an enthusiastic user of FM and other assistive device technology.

6) Use captioning AND audio with videos and films. This is helpful to all students
not just hearing impaired students. Media should never be used if it is not
accessible to all students.

7) When a sign language interpreter is involved in the classroom, respect their
primary role as an interpreter. Work closely with this person especially when
new content is being delivered.

blogger: Sarah Helmel, M.Cl.Sc. , Au.D, RAUD
Registered Audiologist

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Parent/Teen's Zone: Coping with Hearing Loss

As your coping skills increase then managing hearing loss does get easier!!

Here are a few tips:

Attitude is Everything: Our children mirror our feelings. If you, as a parent, believe that your hearing impaired teen is capable of doing anything they want in life, then they too will believe it!

A Supportive Family: Every member of the family needs to help out your hearing impaired teen( aka. parents, grandparents, cousins, siblings, and close friends). Educate your friends and family about your teen's needs. You may have to remind them to face your teen when talking, rephrase sentences, and to refrain from exaggerated speech. When everyone is on the same team providing guidance and support, your teen will become more confident.

Encourage Your Teen: Don't let your teen make excuses they can't do something. Empathize with them, but don't pity them!

Network: Seek out supports. Find other teens and parents of hearing impaired teens and talk. Compare tips, strategies, and stories. If a teen has hearing impaired friends then he/she can share his feelings and feel part of a group. Join clubs and associations for the hearing impaired. Certain groups offer teen summer programs and club nights that are interactive and fun. Find out what is available in your community. Talk to your audiologist.

Educate: You and your teen will want to learn as much as you can about hearing loss, hearing devices and communication technologies. Encourage the use of closed captioning if necessary when watching television. Encourage your teens to read from newspapers, magazines, books, and search the internet for information so they become more familiar with their world and the resources available to them. Encourage teens to email and instant messaging to allow them to interact with their peers easily.

Be Strong:
Fight for what you believe in and don't let people make generalizations about what your son or daughter is capable or not capable of because of their hearing impairment. Hearing impaired teens can do anything a hearing teen can do by using certain strategies and compromising.

Find Hearing Impaired Role Models: Does your teen want to be a physician, lawyer, dentist, chef, or police officer? There are hearing impaired individuals in all these professions and more! Support your son or daughters dreams!!! Don't discourage. Ask your audiologist if they are aware of a professional with hearing impairment that might talk with your son or daughter about their profession.

Advocate: Encourage your teen to advocate for themselves and to be open about their hearing loss and the limitations it causes. Build awareness in the community or at school about hearing impairment. Teenagers are less inclined to make fun of something when they understand it!

Encourage Participation: Teach your teen to be proud of him or herself. Build your teen's confidence with praise, respectful treatment, and kind words. Encourage your teen to joing clubs and sport teams. If your teen is willing to take risks and be a "joiner", he or she will gain the respect of his/her classmates and be treated like an ordinary teenager.

blogger: Sarah Helmel

Friday, June 4, 2010

Teen's Zone: Encouraging Consistent Hearing Aid Use

One of the most difficult parts about having a hearing loss is managing your hearing loss properly. This is even more difficult as a teenager and for parents of teenagers with hearing impairment who are resistant to hearing devices and have very busy lives.

Managing your hearing loss properly means wearing your hearing devices throughout the day, maintaining and cleaning your hearing devices, and having regular checkups with your hearing health professional to ensure your hearing devices are working effectively. Getting to this point where you can accept your hearing loss, the limitations caused by your hearing loss, and as a result, your need to manage your hearing loss and wear your prescribed hearing devices is often very difficult.

Peer groups usually have more influence over a teenager's sense of well being than parents. Therefore, if the teens' friends are aware of the hearing loss and realize that the hearing devices are necessary for optimal communication, then they can be a powerful support group and deflect negative remarks that could be inspired. The first week of wearing the hearing technology is often the most difficult. It could be similar to wearing braces for the first time. Parents can help this transition by providing a special reward to the teenager to congratulate them for making it through this difficult first week. As well, it is important to thank the ongoing support of peers in this process.

Long term recognition of consistent hearing device use is very helpful for teenagers. It can help reinforce continued daily wear of hearing device technology and is good for a teenager's self esteem. For example, for each grading period that goes by without resistance to wearing hearing devices could be rewarded with an extra incentive(i.e.choice of music, movie, or meal). Your teenager is doing something extra that most of his other classmates don't have to contend with and his courage, commitment, and perseverance to his own future success is worthy of recognition and praise!

As rewards and enticements are useful methods to help maintain a teenager's commitment to managing their hearing loss, discipline is often necessary too. It is important for parents to make it clear from the start how much you value the teenager wearing the hearing devices, keeping the devices in good condition, and the consequences for willful neglect or damage of the hearing devices.

blogger: Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Communicating better at the Doctor's Office- Strategies

Strategies to help cope with the limitations placed on you by your hearing loss at the doctor's office....

SITUATION: Going to the doctor can be a stressful event, especially when you have medical concerns. The names of different conditions and medications are difficult to understand and usually have complicated spelling. Your health and wellness are important, therefore you want to be sure you are getting good care and all your questions answered. Doctors and other health care professionals may ask you questions while looking at your chart or when they have their back to you. This can make it difficult to answer the questions being asked.


1) Remind your doctor or other health care professional that you have a hearing loss. Explain that sometimes you have difficulty understanding.
2) Bring paper and pen with you. Write down questions that you have about your health and wellness.
3)If the doctor has a diagnosis and treatment plan for you, have the doctor write it down for you.
4)If you do not understand your doctor, ask questions until you understand.
5) If a follow-up appointment is needed, ask the scheduling department to write down the date and time for you.

Blogger: Sarah Helmel

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Two Hearing Aids are Better Than One

What are the advantages of getting two hearing aids over one hearing aid?

1. Better understanding of speech:
By wearing two hearing aids rather than one, selective listening is more easily achieved. This means that your brain can focus on the conversation you want to hear. Research shows that people wearing two hearing aids routinely understand speech and conversation significantly better than people wearing one hearing aid do.

2. Better understanding in groups and noisy situations:
Speech intelligibility is improved when wearing two hearing aids. Some advanced binaural technology tends to perform better in noise than older technology.

3. Better ability to tell the direction of sound:
This is called localization. Localization allows you to hear from which direction a sound is coming from (i.e. someone speaking to you, traffic, etc.)

4. Better sound quality:
“Stereo” hearing allows you to get the most natural sound quality. By wearing two hearing aids, you increase your hearing range from 180 degrees to 360 degrees with two hearing aids. This greater range provides a better sense of balance and sound quality.

5. Smoother tone quality:
Wearing two hearing aids generally requires less volume than one. This can result in less distortion, better reproduction of amplified sounds, and less battery drain.

6. Wider hearing range:
A person can hear sounds from a further distance with two ears rather than just one. A voice that is barely audible at 10 feet with one ear, can be heard up to 40 feet away with two ears.

7. Better sound identification:
Often, with just one hearing aid, many noises and words sound alike. But with two hearing aids, as with two ears, sounds are more easily distinguishable.

8. Keep both ears active:
Research has shown that with only one hearing aid, the unaided ear loses its’ ability to hear and understand speech. This is clinically called the auditory deprivation effect. Those wearing two hearing aids keep both ears active.

9. Hearing is less tiring and listening is more pleasant:
More binaural hearing aid wearers report that listening and participating in conversation is more enjoyable with two hearing aids, instead of just one. This is because they do not have to strain to hear with the “better” ear. Thus, binaural hearing can help make listening more relaxing.

10. Feeling of balanced hearing:
Binaural hearing results in a feeling of balanced reception of sound, also known as the stereo effect. Monaural hearing creates the feeling that sound is only being heard in one ear, even when there is some hearing in the unaided ear.

11. Greater comfort with loud sounds:
A lower volume control setting is required with each of the two hearing aids, resulting in more tolerance of louder sounds.

12. Reduced feedback and whistling:
With lower volume control setting, the chance of hearing aid feedback is reduced.

13. Improvement in tinnitus:
Approximately 50% of people with ringing in their ears report improvement when wearing hearing aids. If they have a hearing aid in only one ear there will still be tinnitus in the unaided ear.

14. Client Satisfaction: Research with more than 4000 people with hearing loss in both ears, demonstrated that binaurally fit subjects are more satisfied than people fit with just one hearing aid.

Adapted from S. Kochkin HIS seminar, 1997

Blogger: Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Making Sure you Have your Say

Building Self Advocacy


To be a successful self-advocate for gaining communication access in various situations when limited by a hearing loss, an individual must first be open about their hearing loss and be willing to disclose it to others and then know when to ask for support.

Further, a strong self-advocate knows what they need to communicate and participate fully in a situation and has the confidence to request it from others.

The ways to help you become a successful self advocate for accessing resources for enhancing communication are as follows:

1) Educate yourself about the reasons for your hearing loss, the degree of hearing loss, and type of hearing loss you have,

2) Find out what is the impact of your hearing loss,

3) Determine the latest hearing device technologies that would benefit your situation,

4) Get familiar with community, provincial, and national resources available to you, and

5) Routinely practice and teach interactive strategies to enhance communication and reduce stress.

blogger: Sarah Helmel

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kid's Zone: Tips For Feeling Better About Your Child's Hearing Loss


a hearing loss is the first step in overcoming the problem. It is natural for you and your child to have mixed feelings about their hearing loss and the possibility of wearing a hearing aid.
The following are a few suggestions to help your child feel better about their hearing loss and their hearing aid:

Come to terms with your child having a hearing loss.

If you have negative feelings about the loss or are unable to accept it, it is likely your child will feel badly about it and will be unable to accept it. If you are positive and supportive, your child will be much more accepting of their hearing loss.

Let your child know that there is nothing wrong with having a hearing loss.

Let them know that you love them and it makes no difference to you that they have hearing loss.

Do not allow your child to use the hearing loss to get out of doing things.

Remember they are a normal child who has some difficulty hearing. Don’t allow the hearing loss or the hearing aid to become an excuse.

It takes time to get used to a hearing aid.

Wearing an aid takes practice. Be patient. Do not give up too quickly. Give your child and the hearing aid a fair trial.

Be matter of fact about the hearing aid.

Let them know they are expected to wear the hearing aid every day and putting it on is part of their daily routine.

Don’t try to hide the hearing loss or the hearing device.

Let your child know if people ask about their hearing device, it means they want to know more. Encourage family members and close friends to understand what the hearing loss means and how the hearing aid works.

Encourage your child to be as independent as possible with their hearing aid.

They should take responsibility for adjusting the loudness, changing the battery and cleaning the ear molds as soon as possible. Giving them ownership of their hearing aid will give them a sense of control and help their self esteem.

• Help your child have realistic expectations of their hearing aid.

It will not give them normal hearing. Remind them that the hearing aid will help them hear better.

Help your child see the hearing aid as a “tool”.

It can make things easier for them at school, talking with their friends, using the telephone, and watching TV.

blogger: Sarah Helmel

Possible Consequences of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss often has complex consequences.

Many facets of everyday life become increasingly more difficult. Conversations with loved ones, meetings, phone calls, and watching TV can be particularly challenging. In many cases, people with hearing loss will withdraw and become socially isolated. Their quality of life diminishes noticeably.

Common Social Consequences

Studies have shown that people with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids experience more sadness, fear, and anxiety than hearing aid users. They reduce their social activities, become emotionally unstable and have trouble concentrating.

On the other hand, studies also show that hearing aid users experience a dramatically increased quality of life as soon as they start using a hearing aid. They maintain better family relationships, have more self-confidence, and experience more independence and security.

Common Physical Consequences

If hearing loss is not corrected, it can result in physical issues such as tiredness or fatigue, headaches, vertigo, and stress.

blogger/author: Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

College of Speech and Hearing Professionals of BC

Protecting the Public:

Information and link to new regulatory body of Speech and Hearing Professionals of BC.

The College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC, established pursuant to the Health Professions Act of BC is a tripartite College, the first tripartite college in Canada. A major purpose of the College is to protect the public. The College will allow for the self regulation of three related groups of professionals: Audiologists, Hearing Instrument Practitioners and Speech-Language Pathologists. The members of each of these professions are involved with the assessment and intervention of communication disorders, delays and differences across the lifespan. Please visit the website noted below for more information:


blogger/author: Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MAY is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month

May is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month, the one month in the year when thousands of professionals involved with the treatment of speech, language and hearing disorders come together to participate in a public awareness campaign that encourages early detection and prevention of communication disorders, and seeks to increase the public's sensitivity to the challenges faced by individuals experiencing them.

Please let us know any topics you are interested in hearing more about!!

blogger/author: Sarah Helmel

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Communicating with people with hearing loss


• Don't shout. Speak normally, but slower and more clearly.

• Get the person's attention before speaking.

• Make sure the person has a clear view of your face whenever possible.

• Reduce background noise whenever possible (e.g. turn off the television, move away from the dishwasher, washing machine, etc.).

• If the person does not understand the first time, try rephrasing rather than repeating.

• Don't shout from another room or speak with your back turned. Face-to-face communication is best.

• Be patient. People with hearing loss likely aren't trying to ignore you, they just have more difficulty hearing and understanding what you are saying.

• Use full, simple sentences when communicating.

• Encourage use of hearing aids or assistive listening devices if the person has any.

• Try to engage the person in communication and social activities as much as possible to help improve their quality of life and help prevent the person from feeling isolated.

blogger/author: Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, April 7, 2010



Unilateral hearing loss is a type of hearing impairment where there is normal hearing in one ear and impaired hearing in the other ear.

Patients with unilateral hearing loss have difficulty:
· hearing conversation on their impaired side
· localizing sound
· understanding speech in the presence of background noise.
In quiet conditions, speech discrimination is approximately the same for normal hearing and those with unilateral deafness; however, in noisy environments speech discrimination varies individually and ranges from mild to severe.

Causes include physical trauma, acoustic neuroma, microtia, meningitis, or mumps.

It is known to cause:
· Irritability
· Frequent headaches, stress, fatigue
· Social isolation
· Trouble figuring out where sounds are coming from (localizing)
· Variable light dizziness
· Attention difficulties
· Inability to filter out background noise or selectively listen to only the
important portion of the noise in the environment.
· Educational difficulties, academic delays, and speech and language delays
for school aged children

Treatment Options (dependent on the degree of hearing loss)

Hearing aid

The hearing aid amplifies sound to a near normal level in the hearing loss ear. The hearing aid typically can be of any style (aka. BTE, CIC) but essentially depends on the degree of hearing loss present and the size of the ear.

FM system

System whereby a person wears a microphone (a transmitter) and the hearing impaired person wears a receiver ( either headphones or a hearing aid with a FM receiver) that receives the speech signal directly from the person with the microphone at a comfortable level even at a distance and in the presence of noise. Useful for school aged children in the classroom environment to help hear the teacher better when the teacher is often further away from the child and there is often a lot of background noise present.

CROS hearing aid

A hearing aid that takes sound from the ear with poorer hearing and transmits to the ear with better hearing. This kind of hearing aid can involve two behind-the-ear units connected either by wire or by wireless transmission.

Bone Anchored Hearing Aid

Transfers sound through bone conduction and stimulates the cochlea of the normal hearing ear.

blogger/author: Sarah Helmel

Vancouver Hearing Centre

Welcome to the Vancouver Hearing Centre!!!!! We are happy to be here now and would like to help answer your questions about hearing loss, hearing technology, and any related matters. Please let us know if you have any questions or things that you would like to discuss here.