Innovative New Hearing Program Launched

Cathy Zimmerman uses various technology — low and high — to counter her hearing loss.

She uses sign language and has hearing aids and a captioned phone.

“I lost my hearing in my own teens. I did not understand it, because it was slow.”

She’d what’s called sensoneural hearing loss, due to injury to the inner ear.

“I can hear you, and I am reading your lips,” she told a visitor.

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Zimmerman learned American Sign Language about 20 years past but had no one else to communicate with.  Evolving standard practice is required by vocabulary, she said.

Extending one somewhat cupped hand before her face, she illustrated the “selfie” signal.

An organization of “Saturday Signers” consistently meets in the society’s Samaritan’s Well building, next to the St. Vincent de Paul shop, to keep up their abilities.

“We get anywhere from five individuals to a dozen. We are all at different degrees,” Zimmerman said.

“We had a meet and greet in Perryopolis in December for anyone who signed. We got two individuals from DuBois. They needed the social interaction,” she said.

In 2003, when she was 60, Zimmerman began school, earning a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development .

“I never went to school because I could not hear,” she said.

As a part time job instructor for Transitional Employment Consultants, she accompanies new workers with other impairments or hearing loss as they learn their occupations. Signing the word “thought” — a pinky flick off her brow — she came up with Hear Fayette.

“I understood how isolating (hearing loss) is.

“Cathy not only saw a demand, she developed a treatment for the demand.”

Hear Fayette offers sign language classes two times annually and contains a 725-subscriber list because of its bimonthly newsletters. St. Vincent de Paul worker Jeff Martz, who’s deaf and mute, instructs from the American Sign Language University program.

“Jeff uses lots of pantomime. I do believe he is a natural-born performer,” Zimmerman said.

Contributions are taken, although there’s absolutely no charge for the lessons. Hear Fayette volunteers distribute literature and supply loudspeakers and service referrals.

It is a volunteer centre for Pennsylvania Initiative on Assistive Technology Lending Library, Telecommunications Device Distribution Plan and Assistive Technology.

In addition, it helps with programs for free or low cost hearing aids and telephones.

“It is among the most effective things that ever occurred to me.

Across a tiny display, text scrolls through the telephone ‘s voice recognition technology.

“Occasionally you acquire some funny things. …

The plan has worked with police departments, teaching them the signal for “mistreatment,” so they can comprehend a deaf casualty. It is hoped that many other technologies which can help deaf people will have a focus within these new support centres. Many technologies can help deaf people in all sorts of circumstances, even using a simple VPN program like illustrated here, can allow deaf people to access programming with proper captioning that may only be available in certain countries.

“We want to do as much as we are able to in order to get the term out that we’re here for folks, as well as for others to value the hard of hearing. … I simply wished to help other people who have hearing loss find out they’re not by yourself,” Zimmerman said.

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