Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer. Dan MacQuarrie, who does not want hearing loss to isolate people, puts his finger to the button that connects his hearing aid to his cell phone.

The fight to hear

Workshop to look at making public spaces more accessible to the hard of hearing.

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.”

He also points to the issue of privacy in a waiting room, for instance. Everyone talks loudly to the person who is hard of hearing, often disclosing private information.

And for businesses, demonstrating that they understand and will accommodate the needs of people who are hard of hearing can only benefit them.

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 or by phone at 250-804-2726. It’s free admission and space is limited.

MacQuarrie says the person who has the difficulty has to do their share, as does society, for the technology to work.

“It’s a two-way street, people have to help each other.”

MacQuarrie has a type of electronic button he wears on his chest. It’s attached to his hearing aid by wifi, which connects his hearing aid to his iPhone. He just has to ask it to connect him to his daughter, or to 9-1-1, if necessary. Voila, he hears his daughter’s voice in his ear.

Withdrawal from the world is how losing hearing often affects people, he points out.

“If someone has a hearing disability, they shouldn’t be shunned and kept out of the loop. We still want to be part of society,” he says, noting the philosophy of a lot of places is to put the old horse out to pasture and then feed it and entertain it. “What we want to do is continue to be part of society, continue to participate.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Merry lottery win for Shuswap man

Five-dollar scratch ticket a $100,000 winner for Sicamous resident

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Former optician guilty of assaulting minor

Sex offence took place in Salmon Arm more than 25 years ago

Kelowna Parkinson’s SuperWalk team donates to local shelter

Good Vibrations donated $300 to Inn from the Cold

Crook’s Corner

A slice of this week’s arts and entertainment happenings in the North Okanagan at a glance

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Feds agree to give provinces 75 per cent of pot tax revenues

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the agreement today

Shuswap student entrepreneurs donate profits

Youth start their own businesses, learn about charitable giving

Red Scorpion associates cuffed in drug-trafficking bust

Kamloops RCMP lay charges in connection to Red Scorpion drug trafficking ring

Woman sought in Kamloops stabbing

Kamloops RCMP are looking for the woman they believed stabbed a man on Sunday

Emergency response ‘well executed’ in B.C. carbon monoxide poisoning

Emergency Health Services talks about how first responders dealt with this ‘mass casualty event’

Update: Dog inside stolen vehicle in Oliver reunited with owner

A black Honda CRV was stolen from the Oliver Chevron early Sunday morning

WestJet Christmas video turns children’s wishes into reality

This year’s annual video took a new spin on the 12 days of Christmas

Most Read