Dan MacQuarrie was at an event about a year-and-a-half ago where one person was interviewing another in a theatre setting.
At a punchline in the exchange, the crowd burst out in laughter. But not MacQuarrie. He had no idea what had just been said.
“This is the problem. It sneaks up on you,” he says. “You keep denying you have a hearing problem. You can hear certain things, so it’s not that you’re deaf.”
He says the stigma attached to being hard of hearing is considerable.
“People know that once you can’t hear, you can’t exist.”
MacQuarrie sees it as a justice issue.
“It’s a disability, we have a disability act for the province and for the country, and there is no place in there yet for loss of hearing as a disability. On top of that, in Britain they have had it in their health-care system for many, many years.”
The number of innovations that can assist people who are hard of hearing is increasing, he says.
Last October MacQuarrie made a presentation to Salmon Arm council, asking if they would consider installing an Auris Loop in city hall.
Auris Hearing Loops work in conjunction with hearing aids fitted with telecoils, which most are. The t-coil receives the signal via wireless from the hearing loop, eliminating problems such as background noise or low volume.
“It washes the sound clean and puts it in my ear. Now I can hear every syllable. All you have to do is go to your audiologist and make sure the t-coil is turned on.”
MacQuarrie points out that the city has installed the loop, some of the churches have, the theatre has and “now it needs to go other places.”
He says to put the Auris Loop in the two large buildings at the United Church in Salmon Arm cost $2,600 total.
“It’s not like you need to spend thousands of dollars and do all that work – that’s what we’re missing.”
To help raise awareness of the ways to make public spaces more accessible to people who are hard of hearing, and to explore the technology available, the MacQuarrie Institute is helping to organize and sponsor a workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m. to noon at the First United Church hall, 450 Okanagan Ave. Participants are asked to register by Oct. 18 at tinyurl.com/intheloop2017 or by phone at 250-804-2726. It’s free admission and space is limited.