Improving the Quality of Life for People with Hearing Loss

hearing-loss-education-studentsIn December, students at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens visited our office to take part in an intensive workshop on hearing loss. They learned about the everyday challenges people with hearing loss experience when it comes to health, communication, and safety. As Director of Audiology at the Center for Hearing and Communication, I had the privilege of leading this lively learning session. It served to lay the groundwork for the development of some truly innovative apps.

Last week those apps were unveiled during a return visit to CHC. Under the guidance of instructor Andrew Woodbridge, the students premiered their Android apps designed for the purpose of improving the quality of life for New Yorkers with hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Apps Enhance Safety and Communication  

In total, six apps were developed to address a variety of needs that people who are deaf and hard of hearing face on a daily basis. The students made their presentations to an audience of CHC hearing healthcare professionals, a panel of consumers, and representatives from Y-PLAN and other partner organization committed to this project’s success.

And the apps are (drumroll please):

  • A monitoring device that signals to a parent who is deaf or hard of hearing when their children in the back of the car get too loud and unruly;
  • A resource that instantly identifies where an individual can find audiology services in their local area, including hearing testing and hearing aid fitting and repair;
  • A device with multiple stop watches and alert features to help people with hearing loss better function in a multitasking world;
  • A virtual leash alerting a parent with hearing loss that their child is about to stray too far;
  • A library of spoken phrases that can be played in different situations to communicate commonly used statements or questions;
  • An alert that is sent to a caregiver to let them know that an older person in their care has fallen.

In most cases, the apps right now are works-in-progress rather than fully functioning apps. Once the students refine them and eliminate the bugs, they will be made available free to the public at Google Play.

Congratulations to Andrew Woodbridge and all the students who worked really hard on this project. They came up with some remarkable concepts that, in some cases, have application not only to a population of people with hearing loss but to the general public as well.

Much thanks to Andrew Woodbridge for seeking CHC’s input. It was a pleasure working with you and your students who I thought fully embraced the project and came up with some really thoughtful solutions. My appreciation extends also to our consumer panel: Ruth Bernstein, Susan Kornfeld, John Fazzolari, and Carolyn Stern.

Innovative Educational Program Made Possible by Y-PLAN

A big thank you to the Y-PLAN and the University of California, Berkley for spearheading this innovative project, and specifically to its Executive Director, Deborah McKoy, and Y-PLAN coordinator, Jessie Stewart.

Andrew Woodbridge designed this project in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Cities & Schools Y-PLAN program – an innovative project-based urban planning studio where students develop career and college readiness skills by working for a real civic partner on critical issues to enhance quality of life in their communities.

In 2012, NAF nominated instructor Andrew Woodbridge to join the Y-PLAN National fellowship; a global network of innovative educators and city leaders working to structure success and opportunities to be agents of change – in school, in the community and in their own lives.

The Y-PLAN is funded and supported by the Captal One Foundation, along with key partners such as HUD, LISC, and The National League of Cities. As a Y-PLAN Teaching Fellow, Andrew will join Y-PLAN educators and civic leaders from eight cities and three countries to showcase this project and lessons learned at the invited Y-PLAN National Summit in Washington D.C. this May.