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The Couch – Guidance required: Working with hard of hearing individuals

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I would like to know if anyone has a suggestion for dealing with simultaneous interpreting equipment incompatibility with for LEP persons’  hearing aids.

visual symbol for hard-of-hearing

In a case that I interpreted at recently, I could not use my simultaneous equipment because the LEP party was wearing hearing aids. The hearing aids rested on the ear, facing towards the back, with a tube going into the ear canal. The earpiece in my simultaneous equipment goes over the ear canal, not reaching the intake on the hearing aids. We tried removing the hearing aids and only using the simultaneous equipment, but the volume was not loud enough. Even with the hearing aids, the LEP party could not hear well at all, so I ended up having to yell everything. The LEP party asked if I could just write everything but that would have taken forever and worn my hand out.

Has anyone else experienced this same problem? Does anyone have any suggestions for a solution, please?

Thank you.

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5 Comments
  • Vicki Santamaria
    Posted at 14:50h, 13 September Reply

    This problem is easily solved with old-style (but not old) earphones that cover the entire ear. That way the interpretation can reach the hearing aid receiver on the top of the ear. Earphones with noise cancellation are even better.

  • Yolanda France
    Posted at 16:04h, 13 September Reply

    At a client-attorney interview with a deaf individual an interpreter used a laptop to convey in Spanish what the attorney said in English. I believe the defendant wrote responses and questions in Spanish with pen and paper. It was proving difficult to find a sign language interpreter within a reasonable time period. The interview was held at jail. I don’t know how the case was handled in court.

  • Ed Alletto
    Posted at 17:50h, 13 September Reply

    The piece of equipment you need is called a personal induction loop or a “neck loop”. It plugs into the headphone port of the receiver unit and drapes around the listener’s neck. The user then sets their hearing aid to the “t” or telecoil setting (most hearing aids have this function).

    The headphones that you are used to using, work by converting the electronic audio signal coming out of the receiver unit into sound waves that get sent into the listener’s ears (or the hearing aid’s microphone). The induction loop converts the receiver’s electronic audio signal into an oscillating magnetic field around the listener’s head. The telecoil system in the user’s hearing aid bypasses the hearing aid’s microphone and senses the magnetic field directly. Then it converts the magnetic field into an electronic signal and sends that to the hearing aid’s processing circuit which delivers the audio to the listener.

    You can google “personal induction loop” to find vendors and more info.

  • Esther M. Hermida
    Posted at 18:43h, 13 September Reply

    When in the courtroom, it is the duty of the court to provide the appropriate equipment for a defendant or a witness can understand the proceeding, and by law provide for the hard of hearing. It is not up to the interpreter. Having said that, the court usually allows plenty of time so that the interpreter can resolve this issue with the LEP.

    I believe the problem is the FM radio wave interference with the hearing aids. If that is the case, the old-fashion way of speaking softly near the person’s ear never fails, even if you have to speak a little louder than usual.

  • Kathleen M Morris
    Posted at 00:16h, 14 September Reply

    I recently interpreted for a very hard of hearing defendant in custody, in Federal court. The Federal marshalls brought up a special “hard-of-hearing” headset for him to use, with a built-in mike. I used their equipment instead of the usual simo equipment, and it worked perfectly. Since I knew he heard better in his left ear, I stood on that side, and spoke into the headset’s built-in microphone. He was able to hear everything fine, with no need to raise my voice.

    Even better, the marshalls automatically bring down his equipment to him to use for attorney consultations in the court lockup before or after court. I understand that he is allowed to keep it with him for lengthier attorney consultations, at the jail where he is housed.

    Though the defendant was separated from us by a glass panel, the equipment worked fine when he held the mike component (connected to his headset by a short wire) up to the level of my mouth, on the other side of the lockup cell’s glass panel.

    I wish I had made a note of the type/manufacturer of this headset. Worth checking to see if your Federal court marshall’s service can provide it for hard-of-hearing, incarcerated defendants.

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