Category Archives: Uncategorized

Friends for Life

Sounds+ is happy to support Friends for Life International in honour of Nancy Graham.  This year they were able to purchase some new equipment to use on their most recent trip to Yamasa. Both pieces of new equipment had rechargeable batteries, a trait that is important in an area where electricity isn’t guaranteed.

Pete Benstead using the new hand held tymp by Maico.

Brad Allard using the Ipad Shoebox Audiology App for a test in Yamasa.


Friends for Life International provides humanitarian aid to poor people in the region of Yamasà in the Dominican Republic. One of their projects provides free hearing aids and audiology consultation.

Honouring Nancy

Sounds+ is happy to support Friends for Life International in honour of Nancy Graham. Every May we will donate $1000 in her name!

We were fortunate to have Nancy as the President of Sounds+ for a few years, her term just ending in June 2013. She was very passionate about letting the public know what an audiologist is and that hearing care is as important as vision or dental care. She also donated her time to try to have audiologists legislated in NS and it’s unfortunate that this did not happen before she passed. She would have been very proud.


Nancy received her masters in Audiology from Dalhousie, then worked in a hearing clinic in Ontario for a few years before moving back to Dartmouth. She worked for Audiology Associates before starting her own practice, Alderney Hearing.


Nancy gently guided her patients through their journey from the identification of their hearing loss to better hearing with hearing devices and her incredible counselling skills. Nancy always put her patients first and her business second. Her patients would surely say she was both caring and trustworthy. Nancy really got to know her patients by asking them about their lives.


Nancy was a role model for many audiologists and students. She will be greatly missed as an audiologist and a beautiful human being.


Friends for Life International provides humanitarian aid to poor people in the region of Yamasà in the Dominican Republic. One of their projects provides free hearing aids and audiology consultation.

2015 Sounds+ Auction

This year at our annual Sounds+ Live Auction we donated all the proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society in honour of Lesley Pratt. Lesley was a long time member of Sounds+ and is greatly missed! This year we raised $3511!

Jean Kienapple Memorial Prize Essay

How can we change the stigma surrounding hearing loss?

By Allison MacEacheron


Pic Scholarship Sounds+ 2015 picCultural and societal stereotypes are often held against people with hearing loss, such as that they are less intelligent, that they listen selectively, or that they are disabled, frail or of advanced age (Southall et al. 2010). These can have a very detrimental effect on individuals’ help-seeking behavior, adherence to treatment and rehabilitation, feelings of self-worth, and subsequently, their social interactions. Stereotypes may be reinforced when individuals alter their treatment course because of stigma. For example, if it is believed that only the elderly wear hearing aids, then middle-aged people with hearing loss may delay treatment until they are older to avoid this stigma. Similarly, individuals with untreated hearing loss might mishear instructions at work or respond inappropriately in social situations, reinforcing the stereotype that people with hearing loss are less intelligent antabuse tablets. By succumbing to the stigma surrounding hearing loss, therefore, individuals could be making decisions that hinder their social and emotional wellbeing and put further social pressure on others to maintain the stereotypes. The stigma surrounding hearing loss must change for the benefit of those with undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss as well as those who will be diagnosed in the future.


Though advocacy campaigns are important to reach the general public, they are not the most effective long-term way to change stereotypes. I would argue that self-advocacy on the part of individuals with hearing loss is far more effective. As hearing health professionals, it is our job to make sure that those people we are serving do not buy into negative stereotypes, and if they do, to manage them (Southall et al. 2010).  We cannot reach everyone in the community but if we instill a sense of confidence and self-empowerment in those who seek our help, they may in turn demonstrate behaviours contrary to some of the stereotypes, changing attitudes in those around them and empowering others to seek assistance.  Change is only effected when ideas are put into practice so I have focused the following paragraphs on practical ways an audiologist can change patient interaction to address some of the common stereotypes.


One way to reduce stigma is to avoid age-related language when discussing hearing loss. Unfortunately, audiologists can inadvertently perpetuate the stereotypes they work so hard to fight against with the language they use with their patients. I have so often heard audiologists explain a sensorineural hearing loss in individuals in their 50s by stating that they do not know what caused the loss but it is common for people’s hearing abilities to decrease as they age.  Though it is true that significantly more people over 70 have hearing loss, it is still only ≈63% of the population, and some of those losses may have been caused by processes other than ageing (Lin et al. 2011; Southall et al. 2010). If the individual had been in their 30s with the same loss, most audiologists in my experience would have explained that we do not always know the cause of a given hearing loss and left it at that. Is it right that ageing is brought into the mix for someone in their 50s even though the cause is idiopathic? Is it helpful? On one hand, it may comfort the individual because ageing is something they recognize, but on the other, when explaining their hearing troubles to others it is likely that ‘you know, I’m getting older’ will be used, further perpetuating the stigma that it is mainly older adults who have hearing loss.


Audiologists can also counter certain stereotypes in the way they present options during a hearing aid or cochlear implant fitting. Individuals should not be ashamed to wear hearing aids so why are neutral colours always presented on posters and in display cases? If an audiologist starts by presenting colour choices that match the hair or skin or styles that are ‘practically hidden behind the ear’ from the start, a patient will think that discreteness is what they are supposed to be shopping for. As an alternative, a professional could ask the patient what their favourite colour is, what colours they wear a lot, or present a colour that matches their glasses. This introduces the idea that a hearing aid can be worn as an element of style as well as sensory assistance, just as glasses are. There will always be patients who wish to be discreet, whether because of their personality or level of acceptance of their hearing loss, and that is perfectly alright, but we should not present this as the default. Colourful hearing aids, or at least ones chosen with style in mind, will be more confidently worn and will encourage others to view the wearer as naturally intelligent/young/or able, and to view hearing aids differently as well.


Finally, audiologists may be able to reduce stigma by encouraging their patients to wear their hearing aids and to be more assertive in communicative situations. Communication partners, work colleagues, cashiers, etc. may become frustrated with individuals with hearing loss and label them as less intelligent or capable because of communication breakdowns. Being open with these people about hearing difficulties is a start but breakdowns in communication will still occur. The audiologist must educate his or her patients on communication repair and assistance strategies and emphasize that individuals who actively engage in a conversation, even when there are breaks, will likely appear to be more intelligent and able than those who are passive. Every time an individual with hearing loss presents themselves in this way, the stigma will be reduced in one person’s mind.

I firmly believe that the stigma surrounding hearing loss is changing, but it is changing slowly. As hearing health professionals it is our duty not only to ensure that as many of our patients as possible have successful and fulfilling communication (e.g., with assistive devices and communication strategies), but that our interaction with them does not inadvertently reinforce social stigma. Hearing loss presents many inherent challenges to everyday life; stigma does not have to be one of them.




Lin,F.R., Thorpe, R., Gordon-Salant, S., and Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss prevalence and risk factors among older adults in the United States.  J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 66(5):582-590.

Southall, K., Gagne, J.P., and Jennings, M.B. (2010). Stigma: A negative and a positive influence on help-seeking for adults with acquired hearing loss. International Journal of Audiology, 49: 804–814.


May 21 to 23, 2015
Halifax, NS



March 30 2015, Halifax, NS — Silver Donald Cameron, acclaimed Canadian journalist, author, playwright, and university professor, recently gave us a glimpse of what it’s like to watch a loved one struggle with hearing loss.


“A beloved member of my family, now in her mid-nineties has been slowly slipping away from us for years because of her declining hearing. She has spent a lot of time nodding and smiling, but it’s been very clear that she was not catching much of what family members said to her. Now, she’s almost moved beyond the point where hearing aids can help, with the result that even though she’s still living, she’s really left us already, imprisoned within her endless silence.” – Silver Donald Cameron


Hearing loss affects more than 7 million people in Canada—people from all walks of life and age groups.  The impact of strained communication also affects a person’s parents, children, siblings, spouses and other family members and friends as well.


“The CHHA National Conference was life changing for me – I learned that I was not alone and that there were many solutions to living a life with hearing loss. It has been thirty-two years since my first conference and every year since the conference provides an opportunity to learn about current issues facing people who live with hearing loss, and be a part of an association which promotes advocacy, awareness and accessibility. CHHA has been a positive force in my life,” says Myrtle Barrett, President of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.


“I’m very excited about the world-class lineup of workshop presenters at this year’s conference, including Dr. Juliette Sterkens, an advocate from the Hearing Loss Association of America who will lead a panel of experts in discussion about hearing loop technology,” commented Robert Corbeil, the Executive Director of CHHA National.


Join hundreds of people with hearing loss from across Canada at this year’s Canadian Hard of Hearing National Conference, May 21-23, 2015 in Halifax, to learn more about hearing loss and strategies that can help families communicate better.


Read about Myrtle’s experience at her first CHHA Conference.




Conference highlights:


Keynote speaker Dr. Steven Aiken is an Associate Professor of Audiology, Surgery, Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. He will be discussing his innovative research on how the brain processes sound to uncover the details about how they are encoded in the brain, and will help to improve diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. His research has been published in high-quality scientific journals and presented to scientists, audiologists and other health care professionals around the world.


Dr. Juliette Sterkens, AuD. is a former Audiology practice owner who retired after 30+ years in the field of audiology and hearing aid technology to become the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Hearing Loop Advocate. She will be leading an informative panel discussion with industry experts on the benefits of looping systems, and how to bring this technology to the forefront of hearing accessibility here in Canada. She will also discuss hearing loop movements, advocacy efforts and all that is happening with loops in the United States of America and how we can work together to make loops happen here in Canada.

Dr. Catherine Aquino-Russell has focused her research on university students in Canada and women from across the Maritimes, who have left intimate partner violence and what their experiences of living with a different sense of hearing have meant to them.


Joanne DeLuzio is an Adjunct Professor in the Speech-Language Pathology Department at the University of Toronto. She will talk about Computer-based Auditory Training and Speech Reading Programs for Adults.


Also, CHHA members Gladys Nielsen and Joanne Craig will demonstrate the positive benefits of Hard of Hearing Hospital Kits in Action.


In addition, you will be able to interact with experts at our exhibitor show, and don’t miss our Exhibitor’s Networking Reception on Thursday, May 21st 2015.


The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) is a consumer-based organization formed by and for hard of hearing Canadians. We work cooperatively with professionals, service providers and government bodies to provide information that will help Canadians live successfully with their hearing loss.



WHAT: 2015 Canadian Hard of Hearing Association National Conference
WHERE: Westin Nova Scotian – 1181 Hollis Street, Halifax, NS, B3H 2P6

WHEN: May 21-23, 2015


For more information, or to register please call 1-800-263-8068 or email