The Braille Monitor                                                                                       March 2003

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Hearing Enhancement and Spanish Translation Available at National Convention:
Spanish Translators Needed

by D. Curtis Willoughby

Curtis Willoughby works at the FM receiver check-out table.
Curtis Willoughby works at the FM receiver check-out table.

From the Editor: Curtis Willoughbyis a member of the NFB's Research and Development Committee and head of our Ham Radio Interest Group. Here is his announcement:

Again this year at national convention we will offer special arrangements for severely hearing impaired people attending convention sessions and the banquet. This will consist of transmission of the public address system signal over a special short-range radio transmitter for the severely hearing-impaired. Also Spanish‑language translation of convention proceedings will be provided using a similar arrangement. The special receivers required for these services will also be provided.

In cooperation with several state affiliates (notably, Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah, and Virginia), the NFB will provide receivers for these special transmissions to those needing them. The receiver lending will be managed by the Ham Radio Group and will be operated from a table just outside the meeting room. A deposit of $25, cash only, will be required of anyone wishing to check out one of the Federation's receivers. The deposit will be returned if the receiver is checked in at the check‑out table in good condition by adjournment, or within thirty minutes after adjournment of the last convention session. Batteries for the receiver will be provided. Upon request anyone checking out a Federation receiver will be given a miniature earbud‑type earphone to use with the receiver.

In addition to explaining what will be available at convention, it is important that we explain what will not be available. The miniature earbud loudspeaker‑type earphone will be the only kind of earphone offered. No means of connection to a hearing aid will be available from the check‑out table. The receiver does not have a built‑in loudspeaker. The receiver requires a 1/8 inch earphone plug, in case you want to use your own earphone(s), neck loop, adapter cable, etc. You are advised to arrange for such things well ahead of arriving at the convention. While earphones, and even neck loops, are sometimes available in the exhibit hall, you cannot be certain of getting one there.

Many severely hearing-impaired people already use radio systems that employ FM radio signals to carry the voice from a transmitter held by the person speaking to a receiver in the hearing aid. Many such hearing aid systems can be tuned to receive the Federation's special transmissions. In this case the hearing‑impaired person may simply tune his or her own receiver to receive the Federation's transmission and will not need to check out a Federation receiver.

The transmitter for the hearing impaired will be connected to the public address system so that the signals from the head table and the aisle microphones will be transmitted on channel 36 (74.775 MHz narrow band FM). Therefore people must not operate their personal transmitters on channel 36 or on channel 38 because that would interfere with the reception by others. This means that folks wishing to use their own receivers (rather than checking out one of the Federation's receivers) need to have their personal receivers arranged so that they can switch between their personal channels and channel 36. Some people may need to purchase replacement or additional receivers.

This announcement is printed now to allow as much time as possible for those interested to make the necessary arrangements before convention. It contains this amount of detail so that any audiologist who works with this equipment should know by reading this article exactly what capabilities a person's FM hearing system must have to work with the Federation's system at convention.

Even if you do not use an FM hearing aid, you may be able to purchase a neck loop or an adapter cable to couple the signal from a Federation receiver directly to your hearing aid. Your audiologist should also be able to help you with this.

The service for Spanish speakers will be similar, except that a live Spanish translator will speak over a separate transmitter on channel 38 (75.275 MHz narrow band FM). We do not expect that people will bring their own receivers for the Spanish, unless they are also hearing impaired and use an FM hearing aid system.

Norm Gardner from Utah will be coordinating the Spanish- language interpreters, and he would appreciate hearing from anyone willing to volunteer to interpret. Please call him prior to convention at (801) 224‑6969, or send him e‑mail at <[email protected]>.

Finally, if other state affiliates or chapters are interested in purchasing this type of equipment for use in state and local meetings, they are encouraged to purchase equipment that is compatible with that which we are using and to allow it to be used in the pool of equipment that the Ham Radio Group administers at national convention. I, Curtis Willoughby, would like to help you choose equipment that is compatible with that which the NFB is using. I may also be able to help you get the good prices the NFB has been getting. You may contact me at (303) 424‑7373 or <[email protected]>.

The Federation is pleased to offer these services to our severely hearing‑impaired colleagues and to our Spanish‑speaking colleagues, and we hope and believe that it will again significantly improve their convention experience.

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