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VDDHH and HLAA Greater Richmond Chapter partner to educate individuals about the latest in hearing aid technology

The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) is partnering with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Greater Richmond Chapter to host the ninth annual community informational session for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, or who have difficulty speaking. This year’s event is titled “A Most Confusing Wearable – The Hearing Aid” and will focus on the newest hearing aid technologies available on the market – specifically telecoil and Bluetooth.

Dr. Shantell Lewis, Chief Audiologist of Virginia Professional Hearing Healthcare Center and Virginia Professional Hearing Aid Center, will be the guest presenter and will provide guests with a broad overview of everything one should know before meeting with an audiologist and purchasing a hearing aid.

Topics to be covered include:

  • What questions to ask before buying a hearing aid
  • Telecoil and Bluetooth – what you need to know about hearing aids equipped with these new technologies
  • How to determine if a hearing aid will help you
  • Insurance and other resources to help pay for hearing aids
  • Hearing aid maintenance

Attendees will also be able to see examples of the newest hearing aid devices, as well as specialized telecommunication equipment that is available to qualified applicants through the VDDHH Technology Assistance Program.

“These events have been a wonderful partnership between VDDHH and HLAA of Greater Richmond to inform and educate the public about communications access issues impacting the local deaf and hard of hearing community,” said Christine Ruderson, VDDHH. “With so many new technologies and devices on the market, hearing aids are a hot topic right now, and we find that many people are confused. So this is a great opportunity for people to come and see the newest equipment and ask questions, so they are better prepared to talk to their audiologist and make informed decisions.”

This event is free to attend. Refreshments will be served and door prizes will be awarded. Guests are encouraged to R.S.V.P. to Christine Ruderson at Christine.ruderson@vddhh.gov or 804-662-9710.

Catching Up with Our Outreach Coordinators

  • Apr 14, 2017
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  • publicrelationsdept

Virginia Relay outreach coordinators, Frazelle Hampton and Paul Stuessy, at the Richmond Women’s Health & Fitness Expo.

At Virginia Relay, we have two outreach coordinators—Frazelle Hampton and Paul Stuessy. Frazelle oversees all Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) outreach and Paul is in charge of all Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) outreach.

In these roles, they are responsible for educating the public and potential relay users and referral sources on the wide array of services available through Virginia Relay and installing communication equipment in individual homes.

To accomplish this, they spend about 75% of their time on the road attending trade shows and other events, and making house calls. Both Paul and Frazelle have been in their current positions for about two years.

“There’s nothing like helping someone who hasn’t been able to use the phone for years talk to their granddaughter again,” says Frazelle.

Paul agrees. “The work I do is a labor of love,” he says. “I wake up in the morning wondering who I am going to help make life better for that day.”

We cannot thank them enough for all their hard work!

If you or someone you know is interested in learning about Virginia Relay, feel free to contact them at the numbers below.
Paul: 804-616-4876 (VP)
Frazelle: 804-726-6615 (Voice)

Don’t Miss Celebrate Communication 2017!

  • Apr 7, 2017
  • |
  • publicrelationsdept

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On Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Northern Virginia Community College, the Northern Virginia community will turn out to attend the 2017 Celebrate Communication information fair.

With over 40 vendors, attendees will receive free information on a wide variety of resources, including state and local government programs, cutting edge technology for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, ASL and Cued Speech, hearing dogs, and much more.

Virginia Relay is proud to again be a sponsor of this event. Please be sure to visit our booth to learn more about the many services we offer. Thank you to Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons for organizing the event and Northern Virginia Community College for hosting it. This is always such a fun event and we can’t wait to attend!

The next meeting of the Virginia Relay Advisory Council (VRAC) will be held Thursday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (8004 Franklin Farms Drive) in Henrico. These meetings are open to the public. VRAC members represent a cross-section of relay users and serve as a consumer-based focus group for development and testing of new relay features and services. To learn more about VRAC, please visit: https://www.varelay.org/council.htm.

Nominations Due by Monday, April 3

Paul Stuessy with Virginia 2016 Better Hearing and Speech Month award recipient Brenda Eggleston

Hamilton Relay, the contracted Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone service provider of Virginia Relay, is seeking candidates for the 2017 Better Hearing and Speech Month Recognition Award. We are looking for individuals who are hard of hearing, late-deafened or have difficulty speaking and who demonstrate strong leadership, volunteerism and involvement within his/her community. The award will be presented during Better Hearing and Speech Month in May.

If there is someone you wish to nominate, please visit www.HamiltonRelay.com to complete a brief questionnaire telling us about your nominee’s accomplishments. You may submit the questionnaire online or download and complete the form. Please send your nominations to Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone outreach coordinator, at frazelle.hampton@hamiltonrelay.com, or Paul Stuessy, Virginia Relay TRS outreach coordinator, at paul.stuessy@hamiltonrelay.com, by Monday, April 3.

Celebrating community leaders during Better Hearing and Speech Month is something we look forward to each year. We are eager to learn more about the deserving community leaders in your community; nominate someone you know today!

The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is looking to hire a Technology Assistance Program Specialist Coordinator. The position administers contracts providing Technology Assistance Program (TAP) services throughout Virginia, provides program support to the TAP service delivery system, serves as a TAP liaison to Virginia stakeholders and provide back up support to the front desk.

Please click here to view the full job posting and instructions for applying.

Virginia's 2016 Hamilton Relay Scholarship recipient, Taylor Thomas-Harris

As the Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone service provider for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Hamilton Relay acknowledges that opportunities for higher education affect the future of Virginia’s high school students.

We are pleased to once again extend the Hamilton Relay Scholarship opportunity to graduating high school students in Virginia who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or have difficulty speaking to assist in their goals of continuing their education. One $500 scholarship will be awarded in each of the states where Hamilton Relay is the contracted telecommunications relay and/or captioned telephone service provider.

To be eligible for the 2017 Hamilton Relay Scholarship Program in Virginia, students must:

  1. Be a graduating high school student who is deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or has difficulty speaking;
  2. Be a resident of Virginia;
  3. Complete and submit an application, a response to the application’s essay question and a letter of recommendation.

If you know a deserving student who meets the eligibility requirements for this scholarship opportunity, please encourage them to submit an application. Applications are available online at www.HamiltonRelay.com and must be postmarked by March 1, 2017 to be considered eligible for selection. For more information, please contact Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone outreach coordinator, at frazelle.hampton@hamiltonrelay.com, or Paul Stuessy, Virginia Relay TRS outreach coordinator, at paul.stuessy@hamiltonrelay.com.

Happy Retirement, Arva!

  • Dec 1, 2016
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  • publicrelationsdept

When Arva Priola, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coordinator of the disAbility Resource Center, lost her hearing in 1989, she retired from teaching and began researching ways to help herself through this difficult time. She discovered the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and within a month she had started a local chapter, the Hearing Loss Association of Rappahannock. It was here that she met Faith Smith, who offered her a job at the disAbility Resource Center doing outreach for Virginia Relay’s Telecommunications Assistance Program (TAP), helping people obtain assistive telecommunications equipment throughout Virginia. Just when she thought her life was over, she realized it had just begun.

Arva, who is retiring at the end of 2016, has accomplished much in her 20-year career, receiving multiple awards and honors for her work and advocacy. But of all her achievements, three stand out. First, is the Visor Alert Program, which protects people with hearing loss during traffic stops by enabling communication with law enforcement. Virginia adopted the program statewide after running a pilot program in 2002. Second, are the guidelines for communication access in hospitals, which were established by House Bill 1956, and passed by the general assembly and signed by the governor in 2015. Third, is establishing the Virginia Relay Advisory Council alongside Cheryl Heppner.

“Virginia Relay and TAP keep us connected to the world and prevent us from becoming isolated,” says Arva. “And I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with them to help touch so many lives.”

And while it was a difficult decision to retire, she knows that this is not the end, but rather another new beginning. So how does she plan to spend her retirement? First on her list is visiting her new grandson, Landon, in Washington, and secondly to breed her French bull dogs who she loves very much. We at Virginia Relay would like to wish her all the best and let her know that she always has a home here.

SIT Hosts Deaf Awareness Week Open House

  • Oct 15, 2016
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  • publicrelationsdept

This September during Deaf Awareness Week, the Statewide Interagency Team (SIT) of Virginia hosted an open house at the VDDHH and Virginia Department for Aging and
Rehabilitative Services (DARS) offices in Richmond. Guests watched demonstrations of the latest assistive communications technologies, and met representatives from local agencies and organizations dedicated to meeting the needs of Virginians who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and DeafBlind.

Thanks to everyone who attended!

The Statewide Interagency Team of Virginia

Elizabeth Spiers of the Virginia DBVI promoting the iCanConnect program for people who are DeafBlind.

Eric Raff, VDDHH Deputy Director with Linda Thornton and Paige Berry of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).

Our team of interpreters.

Ron Lanier, VDDHH Director, with Paige Berry of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

Creed Leffler

At Virginia Relay, we strive to make telecommunications more accessible, not just for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but for everyone who has difficulty making telephone calls. We also offer specialized Relay services – including Hearing Carry-Over and Speech-to-Speech – for individuals who have difficulty speaking on the phone.

Creed Leffler lives in Norfolk and works as a disability advocate. Creed’s speech is limited due to cerebral palsy, and he often uses Virginia Relay Speech-to-Speech (STS) service when he makes telephone calls. STS is specifically designed for people with mild to moderate speech difficulty who can hear clearly over the phone.

“My speech changes day by day, so some days I have to use STS more than others,” he says. During an STS call, a specially trained Virginia Relay Communication Assistant (CA) listens to everything Creed says, and repeats it to the other party as needed. When the other person responds, Creed listens directly to what is said.

Creed finds STS most useful to him when he is sharing important information over the phone that he wants written down.

“STS is particularly good when I’m ordering food, because I can give the CA my order before I call the restaurant. That way I don’t have to worry about the person at the restaurant, who may be busy and doesn’t know me, hanging up on me,” he says.

STS users have a number of options to customize their calls to their personal preference. They can choose to communicate with their own voice, voice synthesizer, voice enhancer or other assistive voice device. Users can also choose to have their voice muted to the other party (STS with Privacy), or request that the CA assist only when needed. Virginia Relay also offers STS for Spanish speakers, and Visually Assisted STS, which allows the CA to see the user through a Skype™ connection.

Creed says that it’s important to know that people who use STS are just like everyone else.

“We’re just normal people that need a little bit more help,” he says.

To learn more about STS from Virginia Relay, contact Virginia Relay Customer Care at 1-866-894-4116 (voice) or 1-866-246-9300 (TTY) or visit varelay.org.

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