Hearing Aid Tips When Using Telephone Headsets

Posted by Kim Cordingly on January 18, 2018 under Accommodations, Employers, Organizations, Products / Technology, Vendors | Comments are off for this article

By: Teresa Goddard, Lead Consultant – Sensory Team

As the Lead Consultant on the JAN Sensory Team, I receive many questions about hearing aids and telephone headsets. One common issue with these type of questions is that there are many different types of hearing aids, as well as numerous models of headsets. Some hearing aids can work with specialized types of headsets, but in many cases, it is necessary to think outside the box and find a solution when there isn’t easy compatibility.

When seeking a hearing aid compatible headset, it may be necessary to clarify the features of the hearing aid that will be used, in relation to the type of headset features that provide the greatest compatibility. The assistance of an audiologist may be helpful in determining whether a specific type of equipment configuration will meet an individual’s needs.

For those with Bluetooth enabled hearing devices — whether hearing aids or cochlear implants — a typical approach is not to seek a Bluetooth headset, but instead connect to the phone in such a way that the sound from the phone is sent wirelessly into the hearing aid or cochlear implant to be amplified according to the treating audiologist’s chosen settings. This approach requires a Bluetooth streaming device that connects to the hearing aid or implant (via Bluetooth), and a telephone accessory or adaptor to connect the streaming device to the phone. The streaming device usually has a built-in microphone so that it can pick up the sound of the user’s voice and send it to the phone via an accessory or adaptor.  It also receives sound and sends it wirelessly to the user’s hearing aid or cochlear implant. An example of such a product from Oticon is the ConnectLine.

An audiologist, otolaryngologist, or hearing device vendor may be helpful in determining the best type of streaming device to use, since not all streamers are compatible with all Bluetooth enabled hearing aids. Due to recent changes in regulations, it is now possible to purchase some types of hearing aids over the counter.  This means that more hearing aid users may be limited in their access to an audiologist.  However, it may be possible to get input from a hearing services professional via a telephone helpline or manufacturer’s website. These same professionals may be helpful in determining the best means of phone access for a particular individual, which in some cases may involve other technology instead of, or in addition to, technology to access the Bluetooth features of a hearing device. In some cases, a smartphone with a mobile app may substitute for the streaming device.

As an alternative accommodation example, a non-Bluetooth enabled phone can be adapted using a Bluetooth streamer such as the Plantronics MDA200 with a SSP-2714-01 Bluetooth Dongle to connect the streamer to a desk phone. Some users may also prefer to use a handset lifter, such as the Plantronics HL10 Handset Lifter in order to answer the phone from a distance. These Plantronics products are but some of many examples of assistive technologies that may be beneficial in accommodating sensory impairments. JAN does not endorse or recommend products or vendors, but offers options that may facilitate an effective accommodation.

Not all hearing aids have Bluetooth capability; some use a different technology. One such alternative technology is the telecoil or t-coil, which also receives sound signals wirelessly. Some headsets designated as “hearing aid compatible” by manufacturers and vendors are compatible with hearing aids that have a telecoil, but are not compatible with Bluetooth enabled hearing aids, or those that have neither telecoils nor Bluetooth chips.

Some individuals may have been instructed by an audiologist to use their hearing aids in microphone mode (as opposed to t-coil or Bluetooth) with a headset. This may be because of the specific type of hearing aid they are using. When this is necessary, some individuals find it helpful to use a speakerphone or a high-quality headset with large ear cups and lots of padding, and perhaps other features designed to block ambient sound.

For more detailed assistance with these types of workplace accommodation questions, contact JAN for one-on-one support.

Resources:

Noise Cancelling Headsets
Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Hearing Loss
Hearing Impairments – Frequently Requested Products

 

Reading Made Easier

Posted by Kim Cordingly on May 5, 2017 under Accommodations, Employers, Events, Products / Technology, Vendors | Comments are off for this article

By: Sarah Small, Consultant – Cognitive/Neurological Team

This past February, I had the opportunity to attend the annual California State University Northridge (CSUN) Assistive Technology conference in San Diego. While I was there, I got to take in a wide variety of products, resources, and sessions. One particular product that caught my attention was the C-Pen Reader. I noticed their booth across the hall from our JAN booth on the first day. When I got the opportunity to walk around the exhibit hall, I decided to check it out. I soon learned that the C-Pen Reader was a pocket size device that looked similar to a pen or highlighter.

The first pen I tried at the booth was the Reader pen. To use the pen, you simply move it over the line of text you need to read, then hold it up to your ear. The pen also has a place to plug in headphones to help with listening as you scan. The pen reads out loud to you the information on the written document. I thought this could be such a great resource for an individual who occasionally has to read written documents for their job. If someone has difficulty reading or processing auditory information, this might allow them to get through the information more easily, or ensure that they are understanding things correctly. The Reader pen can read aloud in English or Spanish and has a built in dictionary feature that can be used. When needing to know the meaning of a word, you can select the dictionary option and it will display and read the definition. The pen can also scan lines of text to be uploaded to a PC or Mac device.

The second pen I saw was the C-Pen Exam Reader. This pen has the same functions as the Reader pen without the dictionary feature. It can be used for testing situations and allows the material and questions to be read to the employee or student. This pen has the sole function to read and has the ability to be used with five languages — English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. This pen could be a resource for individuals to request to use in testing situations, or could be something that employers or teachers have on hand for individuals who may benefit from it.

The third type of pen I experimented with was the Dictionary Pen. This pen is used for the dictionary function alone and can be beneficial when there are words that an individual does not know or needs to be reminded of. The Dictionary pen has the ability to work with English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, and Mandarin.

On the cognitive/neurological team here at JAN, we frequently receive calls regarding learning disabilities or other impairments that may affect reading or the way someone processes information. These pens could be helpful as an accommodation for individuals in a variety of situations that require reading.

If you feel you or someone you know may benefit from a product such as a C-Pen, you can find more information on the company’s Website.

For information on typical kinds of accommodations we see for individuals with learning disabilities, as well as some ideas for testing situations, see the following publications:

Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Learning Disabilities

Accommodation and Compliance Series: Testing Accommodations

JAN Goes West to CSUN

Posted by Kim Cordingly on April 12, 2017 under Accommodations, Employers, Events, Products / Technology, Vendors | Comments are off for this article

By: Lisa Mathess, Senior Consultant — Motor Team

JAN was lucky enough to travel to sunny California at the beginning of March to present and exhibit at the 32nd Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. JAN has had a presence at this conference consistently for the past 10 years. The exhibit hall held more than 120 exhibitors displaying new and upcoming assistive technologies (AT), along with vendors promoting new improvements on existing products. The JAN booth was buzzing with traffic from service providers, instructors, and individuals with disabilities who all were pleasantly surprised to learn about JAN’s mission and services, especially that they are free! We were also greeted by loyal JAN fans that just stopped by to say, “Hi — glad to see you are here!”

JAN consultants gave two presentations at the conference – the first on accommodating employees with disabilities in a healthcare setting and the second on accommodating educational professionals with AT. If you would like to view corresponding publications on these topics, please see JAN’s Accommodation Ideas by Occupation or Industry.

In between exhibiting and presenting, I managed to find some time to attend some other sessions focusing on accommodations within the Federal government. It is always interesting to see how others implement their accommodation programs and make effective accommodations for their employees. Although the Federal sector is technically covered under the Rehabilitation Act, the same principles apply as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which applies to private employers. The Federal sector strives to be a model employer, so often they are held to higher standards than the ADA would require. It’s also satisfying that during their sessions, these Federal agencies recommended JAN as a resource for accommodation solutions and ADA compliance. For more info, please see Federal Employment of People with Disabilities. Another useful accommodation resource available to some Federal departments is the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) located at the Department of Defense (DoD). CAP’s mission is “to provide assistive technology and accommodations to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured Service members throughout the Federal Government in accessing information and communication technology.”

If you have questions about the JAN presentations at CSUN or want more information on accommodations, please feel free to speak with a JAN consultant at (800) 526-7234 (Voice), (877) 781-9403 (TTY), or visit us online at AskJAN.org.

Accommodating Cooks with Low Vision

Posted by Kim Cordingly on May 6, 2016 under Accommodations, Employers, Products / Technology, Vendors | Comments are off for this article

By: Teresa Goddard, Lead Consultant – Sensory Team

Cooking and eating together are powerful ways of building relationships and creating a sense of community at work. Whether you are seeking to include an employee in cooking activities, or accommodating a food service employee with a vision impairment, there are many ways to make a kitchen more accessible to employees with vision impairments.

Some typical suggestions for accommodating cooks with low vision include the following:

  • Use measuring tools with large print, color coding or tactile marking, or modify existing measuring cups and spoons with customized markings.
  • Use knife guards or specialized tools such as vegetable peelers for cutting and peeling.
  • Use guards, cut proof gloves and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as needed when handling or cleaning sharp objects.
  • Use measuring tools and cutting boards that contrast with the substance being measured or cut.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to measure cookie dough and place on a baking sheet.
  • Use parchment paper when baking to prevent sticking and simplify cleaning.
  • Use color coded prep bowls to keep track of ingredients that have been measured out.
  • Use liquid level indicators when pouring hot liquids.
  • Use talking thermometers and timers.
  • Use oven mitts when handling pots and pans.
  • Use extra-long oven mitts, oven rack grabbers, and oven rack guards for oven tasks.
  • Use magnifiers, bar code readers, or Optical Character Reading (OCR) technology to access information on labels.
  • Avoid placing pots, pans, and bowls directly on slippery or slick surfaces.
  • Use pot stabilizers for safer pouring and ladling.
  • Use boil control discs to prevent boil overs.
  • Make a plan for how to effectively clean and sanitize cooking area, dishes and utensils.
  • Use a talking calculator when modifying, halving, or multiplying a recipe.
  • Consider induction cooktops for increased safety when practical.
  • Modify lighting according to need. Some individuals need more lighting or task lighting, other may need lower light levels, filtering of light sources, or an alternate type of light source.
  • Use dial type controls, which may be easier to modify/memorize.
  • Use tactile marking or color coding to mark important buttons.
  • Try magnification or hand held OCR to better access digital displays.
  • Use a talking oven thermometer to verify oven temperature.
  • Digitize inventory and temperature logs as needed for improved accessibility.
  • Use fluorescent tape to mark routes of travel and tips of stairs.
  • Seek customized recommendations and individualized assistive technology (AT), occupational therapy (OT), or vision rehabilitation therapy (VRT) assessments when appropriate.

Visit the JAN Website for more information on low vison cooking aids.

The American Foundation for the Blind offers information on modified tools and methods for safe cooking for individuals with low or no vision.

Many tools that may be useful to a cook, chef, or baker with low vision can be found at vendors of standard and commercial kitchen supplies. There are however some vendors with specialized products for individuals with low vision that include kitchen aids. Examples of these types of low vision aids for cooking tasks can be found here, here, and here.

You can link here to information on talking thermometers.

JAN’s Website includes information on talking bar code scanners and talking scales.

For highly specialized cooking and baking tasks, scientific instruments designed for use by individuals who are blind may be helpful.

If you would like to discuss specific accommodation situations in more detail, we invite you to contact JAN directly.

 

 

Elevating Lift Office Chairs

Posted by Kim Cordingly on January 8, 2015 under Accommodations, Products / Technology, Vendors | Comments are off for this article

By: Linda Batiste, Principal Consultant

For years, JAN consultants searched for an office chair that can elevate while a person is seated in the chair and that also has a braking system to prevent the chair from moving when a person is getting into or out of the chair. A chair with such features could be useful for employees with various motor impairments working in all sorts of jobs. For example:

A bank teller with multiple sclerosis uses a motorized scooter, but must work at a standing height. She needs to transfer into a chair and then raise up to the height of the teller workstation. The chair needs to stay in place while she is transferring, but then allow movement once she is seated.

A cashier with cerebral palsy and lower extremity limitations cannot stand for long periods, but has to work at a standing height. He cannot get up on a standing-height stool, plus he needs more support than offered by a stool; he needs an ergonomic chair that can raise him up to the proper height.

A little person works in an office setting with shared workspace. She needs a chair that will raise and lower her to average desk height while she is seated in the chair.

Happily, JAN consultants recently found a couple options for these types of accommodation situations:

The first is called the VELA Tango, which is a chair that has a both a locking mechanism to stabilize it as needed and a motorized lifting mechanism that operates with a person seated in the chair.  If you want to see the chair in action, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSQsBflJIU4.

The other option is an elevating office chair from Clark Medical. This one is basically a lift with an ergonomic chair attached. The company will also custom mount other chairs to the lift if preferred.

And if you know of any other office chairs that can be raised and lowered with a person seated in them, please let us know!