Senate President Richard J. Codey, serving as Acting Governor on December 30, 2008 signed legislation that will require all state regulated health insurers to cover the cost of medically-necessary hearing aids for children 15 years old and younger. The bill, S-467 / A-1571, known as “Grace’s Law,” will require health insurers in New Jersey to provide this coverage and requires insurers to provide coverage every 24 months, and provide up to $1,000 per hearing aid.
The public is advised to check with their employer’s health benefits office to see if this new law applies to their own individual policy. Self- funded plans are not required to comply with this legislation.
The bill is named after nine-year-old Grace Gleba, of Washington Township in Warren County. Grace, along with her mother Jeanine, has lobbied and testified in Trenton, NJ on the need for the bill.
Grace, who was born with congenital hearing loss, has been using hearing aids since she was three months old. The passage of this bill into law is considered a major milestone in the efforts to cover the expense of hearing aids for children. The law will take effect on April 1, 2009.
By David Alexander, Director, Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH)
Financial assistance for hearing aids is one of the most frequent concerns expressed to the DDHH. The rising cost of hearing aids often puts “a considerable strain” on the budgets of families. Many families are deterred by the cost. Insurance coverage is the best, possibly the only, way to ensure that many children who require hearing aids have access to them.
After more than ten years of advocacy, New Jersey is requiring health insurers to help finance hearing aids for children, starting April 1, 2009, as newly signed legislation requires all state-regulated health insurers to cover the cost of medically-necessary hearing aids for children 15 years old and younger. The new law also requires insurers to provide this coverage every 24 months, and to provide up to $1,000 per hearing aid.
I did attend the public ceremony at the State House in Trenton on December 30 for the signing of Grace’s Law. This landmark achievement is testament to the perseverance of and advocacy by the Gleba family; the organizations and individuals who assisted their efforts; and the support by New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and legislators. Although Grace’s Law will cover only part of the expenses incurred with the amplification of young children, this law is a major milestone in providing families with assistance.
With the passage of Grace’s Law, New Jersey joins a select few states in providing insurance coverage for hearing aids. This new law will ensure that hearing aids, and the benefits offered by hearing aids, will be accessible to many children who need them throughout the state.
The deadline for the April 2009 issue is March 1. The deadline for the March issue was February 1.
Send e-mail submissions to the editor:
Submissions should be “text only,” in a standard word document (no pdf files). Photos, that accompany submissions are encouraged.
For a style sheet, contact the editor.
If you would like to subscribe to the Monthly Communicator, send your request
The Monthly Communicator is published by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH), a state agency. DDHH provides information, referral, and advocacy to service recipients. Information or articles provided by others does not imply endorsement by DDHH or the State of New Jersey. There are currently 8,700 copies of the MC distributed monthly.
Deadline for submissions:
First of the month for the following month’s edition.
DDHH Advisory Council Meeting
Friday April 30, 2009
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
East Brunswick Library
2 Jean Walling Civic Center
East Brunswick, NJ 08816-3529
The public is invited to attend.
Call DDHH to confirm your attendance: 609-984-7281 V/TTY.
All DDHH advisory council meetings are fully accessible with sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices (ALDs) and CART (open captioning) provided.
Hard of Hearing Director of Audiology
Reprinted from the League Buzz 12/17/08
Technology, marketing and demographics are converging to change the hearing industry for the better. The League for the Hard of Hearing’s esteemed Director of Audiology, Ellen Lafargue, talks candidly about the three B’s – Baby Boomers, Blue
What’s different about today’s hearing aid wearers?
For one, they’re younger. We currently see a lot of 50 and 60 year olds. What’s remarkable is they come to us saying they want to play an active role in taking care of their hearing. They ask, “What can I do,” so that they don’t have to compromise their active lives.
How have manufacturers responded?
Now we’re seeing ads that show body builders and golfers, much more energetic individuals. What you can infer from that is that people in these ads live active lives. They need and want to hear. Very much in contrast to the sedentary man sitting in a wing chair with the little kid in his lap.
Sounds like a step forward. What role has technology played in all of this?
Technology has gotten so much better! Improved directional microphones are able to recognize where the primary signal is coming from. They use timing differences to differentiate the primary sound (which might be a person speaking from just a few feet away) from the background noise (which could be coming from somewhere out in the hallway, for instance). Companies are also using new and better algorithms to analyze the spectrum of sound and determine what to emphasize and what to filter out.
It’s fortunate for Boomers this technology is available now.
Manufacturers know the sheer number of Boomers. They know that of the 75 million Boomers, 20 percent or 15 million have some degree of hearing loss. So the investment in R&D, field tests pays for itself.
How is technology addressing the active lives of Boomers?
One new thing in hearing aids is wireless connectivity. People can hook up hands-free to Bluetooth-enabled cell phones and MP3 players. The ability to hear in two ears, using these devices, can make a big difference for some people. We also have the technology that allows a pair of hearing aids to talk to each other. If you’re driving in the car with the window down, the noise from the wind might suppress the left hearing aid. In response, the right one would automatically come up.
How can consumers determine which hearing aid is best?
The big concern consumers always have in selecting hearing aids is how do I know which one is right for me? How do I know what the best features for me are? People trust the advice of League audiologists. We’re conversant with the new technology and we make it a point to understand a person’s lifestyle. Take the time to understand their needs so that we can recommend the right model and features.
Our approach is both a science and an art. Fitting clients with the right technology is the science. But understanding people, their needs and the kind of life they like to live…that’s the art.
What Type of Telephone Line Works with CapTel?
Caution! Do not plug the CapTel into any telephone line other than a standard, analog telephone line, DSL line or an analog port. Connection to an office-type digital telephone network may damage the CapTel or the telephone system and will void the warranty.
For DSL Users - What is a DSL Filter?
To use CapTel in a home or office that has a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), you must connect to a DSL filter. The filter eliminates interference to and from the CapTel phone, allowing it to share the same line as the DSL service. Fax machines and answering machines also require DSL filter, to work in a DSL environment.
Without a filter, line noises from the DSL service - such as echoes or static - can be picked up by the CapTel phone, resulting in connection problems.
The DSL filter is usually a small rectangular device that has connectors on both ends. You simply unplug the telephone line from the wall jack, insert the filter into the jack, then plug the telephone line into the filter. Typically, you’d install DSL filter on every telephone, fax machine, etc, in you home, leaving the DSL computer modem as the only unfiltered device.
Voicemail – To – Text Service
Submitted by Traci Burton, DDHH Field Representative
PhoneTag is a voicemail-to-text service that transcribes your voicemail using voice recognition technology, and delivers it along with the original audio to your e-mail account(s), cell phone and/or PDA as a text message. The service works with all major cell phone providers and 90 percent of landline and office phones. Users can unify all phone numbers for automatic transcription and delivery without changing any phone numbers. PhoneTag provides unlimited voicemail box storage.
With this service, you will never have to write down information from a voicemail, such as addresses and phone numbers. If you miss a call, you will know almost immediately what the caller wanted without having to wait for someone else to listen to and/or write down the message. You are able to respond to messages via e-mail or text quickly and easily from any phone or e-mail account. Though there are several benefits, it is important to keep in mind that a computer is doing the transcribing so the service is only as good as the caller’s ability to speak clearly.
For more information and service plan pricing, please go to www.phonetag.com or contact Thomas Lesnick, Manager of Client Services at email@example.com or 800-788-0916 x 801. If you are an ALDA member, you may sign up for a special 30 day risk-free trial of PhoneTag by visiting apps.simulscribe.com/signup/a/ALDA
Technology Training for People
with Hearing Loss in Parsippany
Hearing Impaired Children United in Parsippany (HICUP) will host a presentation on assistive technology for the Deaf/hard of hearing at the Parsippany Board of Education, 292 Parsippany Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054, on Thursday, February 26, 7:00 p.m. Jason Weiland on behalf the New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH) will make the presentation. Please join HICUP for an informative evening. Contact Mrs. Jennifer C. Shollenberger, firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Spring 2009 Interpreted 12 Step Meetings in NJ
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) - A Twelve Step meeting for people to share their experience, strength, and hope in an effort to overcome their misuse of alcohol. There are no dues or fees. The only requirement to attend is a desire to stop drinking.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) - A Twelve Step meeting for people to share their experience, strength and hope in an effort to overcome their misuse of drugs. There are no dues or fees. The only requirement to attend is a desire to stop using drugs.
Twelve Step Meeting (12 SM) - A 12 Step Meeting using the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous to address the problems of addictive behavior. There are 12 Step Meetings for addiction to alcohol, specific drugs, gambling, compulsive shopping, overeating, etc.
Al-anon meetings are 12 Step Meetings for people who are effected by a loved ones addictive behavior. 12 Step Meeting Access for Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened
There is a FM Loop System available at the-Al-an Club, Cass St. Trenton, NJ for all 12 step meetings. SOS has a FM system available to loan recovering persons or meeting places. Call SOS office to request other communication access services.
North Jersey Area
Monday 7:30 p.m.
First Unitarian Church
724 Park Ave.
NA: I, O, SP, BB
Wednesday 10 a.m.
St. Claire's/Riverside Hosp.
130 Powerville Road
Al-Anon: Closed, D NS
Wednesday 7:30 p.m.
Assembly of God Church,
30 Manning Ave
AA : O, SP, NS
Central Jersey Area
Tuesday 6:45 a.m.
Voorhees, NJ 08043
O - Open (Everyone Welcome), C - Closed (For Alcoholics/Addicts only), I - Interpreter provided for deaf members,
ASL - mtg. conducted in American Sign Language, D - Discussion, SP - Speaker, ST - Step, TP - Topic, B - Big Book or Beginner , NS - No Smoking, WC - Wheelchair Accessible.
This 12 Step Meeting list was updated 10/08. If you have any questions, notice mistakes, or are aware of other 12 Step Support Groups that provide special communication access for the deaf and hard of hearing in the New Jersey area please notify Signs of Sobriety, Inc. If you plan to travel or are interested in 12 Step Meetings in other states please call SOS office at 609-882-7177. For more information visit our website at www.signsofsobriety.org.
To Arrange interpreter or communication services at a 12 Step meeting in your area email Lisette Weiland at email@example.com or call 609-882-7177 –TTY.
Free Hearing Screenings
Provided Through The League
The League for the Hard of Hearing’s Free Hearing Screenings are one of New York City’s best-kept secrets. You can help us get the word out by passing along this information to friends, relatives and co-workers in the New York City area. It's a simple way you can make a big difference.
Free screenings are available at the League for the Hard of Hearing by appointment
Tuesdays and Thursdays only
Tuesdays, Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
To make an appointment, phone 917-305-7766 or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please e-mail: email@example.com for information about the League.
Stephen Gregory was featured in the December 3, 2008 issue of RADIO WORLD Magazine in a front page article reporting on the National Public Radio Lab’s (NPR) successful demonstration of captioned radio (using over-the-air UBOC signals of several stations) as part of its Election Night coverage at Towson University in Maryland. Deaf and hard of hearing people such as Gregory, who experienced the captioning are excited about it, saying it will help them use and enjoy radio again, or for the first time.
NPR Labs plan to meet with radio receiver manufacturers in January in Las Vegas before the Consumer Electronics Show, hoping to encourage one or more manufacturers to produce HD Radios that can receive, decode and display the captioning. The idea is to build-in accessible features from product inception, rather than to try and “include” the feature when a product is further along the production path, and “reasonable accommodation” becomes an unreasonable expense.
Gregory believes that designing accessible features into a radio-design platform early is key to adoption, especially given the state of the economy. Gregory, who has served two appointments to Federal Communications Commission Advisory Councils representing the needs of America’s Deaf and hard of hearing populations, concludes that 7 million people in the United States are Deaf or hard of hearing, with many more having trouble with their hearing. Digital radio will offer an opportunity to reach these groups of consumers with emergency information, routine traffic updates, and reading services, via captioning. The captioned radio project is a joint effort of NPR, Harris Broadcast (Harris has quietly contributed $30,000 in funds over two years as well as engineering support.) and Towson University.
Holiday Festivities and
Santa Claus at the Library
Submitted by Christine Olsen
Joseph Garth, Deaf Storyteller, was the special guest at the New Jersey State Library for the Blind and Handicapped’s (LBH) Children’s American Sign Language Story Hour on December 2.
Mr. Garth signed Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg to students from the Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf, the Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission School and the public. The story follows a young girl named Annie, as she retraces her steps with her dog, Oscar, to find a missing red mitten.
Pete Campione of Kindred Souls attended the Story Hour with his dogs. Joining him was Joanne Ballack and her blind therapy dog, Zach. Joanne and Pete explained that Zach is blind and demonstrated to the students how Zach locates them by the sound of a whistle and clapping. The students learned about the services blind therapy dogs do and posed for pictures with Joanne and Zach.
After the story hour, the children went into the cafeteria for a holiday lunch. Santa gave them a goodie bag filled with special treats. Everyone celebrated with pizza, desserts and drinks.
The Story Hour was signed by ASL interpreters provided by the New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a division of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The Story Hour is part of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Program (DHHAP) offered by the LBH. The LBH is located at 2300 Stuyvesant Avenue in Trenton. For more information about the DHHAP program, contact Christine Olsen, Coordinator of the DHHAP Program, at 877-882-5593 TTY or firstname.lastname@example.org. Future ASL Story Hours at NJLBH will be on February 10 and March 17 at 10:00 A.M.
Clearview Regional’s Talent Show
By Alexandria Lomanno
At Clearview Regional High School in Mullica Hill, I take American Sign Language (ASL) as one of my classes. I chose to do it because I know one girl who is deaf and it was always a problem communicating with her since I didn’t know sign language. I figured this would be a good chance to learn. People might be afraid of deaf people because they do not know what they are saying when they are signing or they just think it’s weird but they are just like us, they just can’t hear us. It is like going to a different country and you want to know what everyone is saying, but you don’t know the language. After you learn it, you can always talk in that language, and not feel so left out.
Back in November, my teacher, Mrs. Cross-Jones asked our class if anyone would be interested in signing a song in the school’s talent show. Many of us raised our hands and Mrs. Cross-Jones suggested “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Before the talent show on December 12, Mrs. Cross-Jones taught us the song, and it looked like way too much to remember so I was wary about doing it at first. Afterwards, I found out each of us only had to sign a part of the song, so I felt more confident and decided to do it. Even though it was a small part, you had to come in on the right beat, get the hand movements down, and make it clear.
My partner just happened to be Stephanie Penk, who is a deaf student here at Clearview, so I definitely had to be on the right beat, because she could not hear the music and would depend on me. Even though she could not hear the music, she helped me a lot in getting the right movements down and how fast I would need to be with each move. She was a great partner and I was happy to share the experience with her. Getting ready for the talent show was very nerve racking. Even though I’m not a person to get stage fright, I was nervous because since it is a new language, there was always that possibility of error. Stephanie was always there reassuring we were going to do great. We have learned so much since the experience. Everyone said in the beginning that learning the whole song would be hard, but we always signed each other’s parts during practice and it was hard not to do that on stage! In the end, everyone thought we did great, and I was thankful for this experience.
Lake Drive Vote 2008
Submitted by Nora Rodríguez, MS, LCSW
For Election Day 2008, the middle school and upper elementary students of the Lake Drive School presented an informative and energetic program to kick off their mock election. The middle school students lead the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem in sign language and the program continued with an engaging power point presentation created by the students involved in the activity. This provided important and interesting facts about the two candidates vying for the presidency of the United States, democratic candidate Barack Obama and republican candidate John McCain.
Upon hearing the facts about both senators, the presentation instructed about the actual voting procedures in which students would be participating. The “polls” were opened and the students and staff were given the remainder of the day to exercise their Lake Drive “right” to vote. For their vote, in a colorful booth made by the students and teachers, all participants received patriotic tattoos of their choice plus buttons which could be colored and then sealed by students from the middle school. The day was filled with a flurry of activities, similar to that experienced in the national elections.
The following day, the school assembled to hear the results of the Lake Drive election. The roll call of votes was done by “state” (class), with a winner declared in each, to the applause of hand waves and cheers of the student body and staff. The vote count was explained and the actual number tally displayed. Results were as follows:
Total vote count 160
McCain - 47
Not counted* - 13
*Votes not counted due to voting error (i.e. multiple vote or unmarked ballot.)
The visible enthusiasm emphasized the message to these young voters that voting is a precious and exciting right, a voice which many around the world only dream of having. Curiosity and understanding of the process was awakened through this process, leaving students inspired and waiting for the time when their vote in the national elections will count and make a contribution to history.
Union County College Interpreters Forum
Submitted by Daniel Amend, UCC SIGN Club Co-President
The UCC SIGN Club hosted the interpreters forum on December 6, 2008. The event consisted of a panel of six of the best interpreters in the region, sharing their experiences in the field and answering questions for IEP students. Students from many different schools were in attendance.
The panelists were: Kathleen D. Taylor (CI/CT), Nydia E. Hernandez (CI/CT), Mary Darragh-MacLean (CSC, CI), Christopher Tester (CDI), Alan Champion (CSC), and Kymme Van Cleef (CSC). Each panelist had great advice to share with the students, to help guide them in the early stages of their careers as interpreters. This is a unique event for students, to have so much talent and experience all in one room, and sharing what they have learned over the years.
The event was a success, thanks in part to the hard work of the SIGN Club officers Daniel Amend and Kristina Miranda, Co-Presidents; Dana Fuller and Kara Mazza, Vice Presidents; Heidi Olsen, Treasurer; Nicole Franey, Secretary; and Jeanette Lebron and Lauren Hall, Class Reps. Thanks also to the UCC IEP Faculty: Eileen Forestal, Cindy Williams, and David Rivera for their support in making this event happen. Special thanks to Silvia Coelho-Yi for finding interpreters to make the event accessible to everyone.
The Hearing Society
Located in the First Baptist Church of Westfield
170 Elm Street
Westfield, NJ 07090
Providing informal classes in sign language and speech (lip) reading
Thursday mornings through May 2009:
Sign language: 9:45 a.m.
Speech reading: 10: 40 a.m.
Open to individuals in the greater Union County area who are interested in acquiring skills in these subjects.
Information about the Society and the classes may be obtained by calling 908-232-6546, or by writing:
The Hearing Society, 1396 Outlook Drive, Mountainside, NJ 07092.
Bridge Player Theatre Company
A Lesson Before Dying
by Romulus Linney
Based on the novel by Ernest Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying is set in the fictional city of Bayonne, Louisiana in the late 1940s. An engrossing and gripping drama, it chronicles the transformation of a young African-American man unjustly accused of murder.
February 6, 7, 13, 14, 20*, 21 at 8:00 p.m.
February 8* & 15 at 3:00 p.m.
*Performances on February 8 and 20 will be shadow-interpreted.
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) will be available upon request February 6, 7, 8, 20 & 21.
Persons needing special accommodations are requested to give two weeks advance notification.
Tickets $15. Performances at the Broad St. Methodist Church, 36 E. Broad St., Burlington, NJ.
E-mail: email@example.com or visit www.bridgeplayerstheatre.com for information.
Deaf/Blind League of New Jersey
hosts its annual
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
at Old Man Rafferty’s Restaurant
106 Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ
$20 for members, $30 non-members
Please mail checks to: DBLNJ
15 Tudor Lane, Colonia, NJ 07067
Yoga for Deaf
As part of Arts for the Hearing Loss, Kathy Kady-Hopkins of ASL IRS, Inc. has invited Lila Lolling, founder of
Deaf Yoga Foundation, to host a special event in New Jersey.
The evening will start with one hour of asana (yoga) practice, followed
by one hour lecture on the history, benefits, and four paths of yoga.
Class and lecture will be in ASL.
Voice interpreter and ALD (available upon request).
Additional donations to the Deaf Yoga Foundation will be appreciated.
Jewish Deaf and Hard of Hearing Singles (JDSR)
Special Weekend Retreat in the Boston Area
March 19 - 22
Member $125 Non-Member $145
After February 18: Member $140 Non-Member $160
Fee includes following:
All meals including Sunday brunch
Fun activities, workshops, and services
All day outing in Boston on Friday
Saturday night outing
Bus will leave from New York area for round trip to the Boston (separate charge to reserve seat).
Special hotel rate for up to four people per room per night (separate charge to reserve room). Limited housing at no charge available (first come, first served). For more information and registration, contact: Landau9@optonline.net; 908-352-7395 FAX
or JDSR PO Box 2005, New York, NY 10159-2005
Save The Date!
UCC Sign Club
Annual ASL Festival
Union County College
1033 Springfield Ave.
Cranford, NJ 07016
Vendors and entertainment.
Don’t miss it.
More details to come.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Learning Conference
(For families with children who are Deaf and hard of hearing)
Saturday, May 2
Atlantic Cape Community College
Mays Landing, NJ
Calendar of Events 2009
Next DDHH Advisory Council Meeting
Friday, April 24
East Brunswick Public Library
2 Civic Boulevard
East Brunswick, NJ
9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Call DDHH to confirm your attendance:
Saturday, June 13
DDHH 25th Annual
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Six Flags Great Adventure
New Jersey Deaf Awareness Week, Inc.
Deaf Fest 2009
Middlesex County Fairgrounds
East Brunswick, NJ
Sunday, September 13
DDHH Office - Days Closed
Lincoln’s Birthday February 12, President’s Day February 16