All About Memorial Day

There are 3 separate holidays in the United States that focus on the 5 branches of the military. Each date has its own significant purpose. In 2021, Armed Forces Day was held on May 15th (the date is always the third Saturday in May) and recognized all military personnel currently serving. Veterans Day, which is always held on November 11th, celebrates anyone who has previously served in the military. This coming weekend we celebrate Memorial Day which is a date to remember those military persons we have lost. This blog focuses on several elements concerning Memorial Day and information in this blog came from three different articles with very similar names, The History of Memorial Day, Memorial Day History, and History of Memorial Day.

The Beginning of Memorial Day

Originally called Decoration Day, from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers.

During that first national commemoration, former Union Gen. and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants (approximately the same as attends today) helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there. This event was inspired by local observances of the day that had taken place in several towns throughout America in the three years after the Civil War. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.

In 1873, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities observed Memorial Day, and several states had declared it a legal holiday.

After World War I, it became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars and was then more widely established as a national holiday throughout the United States.

In 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act and established that Memorial Day was to be commemorated on the last Monday of May. Several southern states, however, officially commemorate an additional, separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead, sometimes referred to as a Confederate Memorial Day: January 19 in Texas; third Monday in Jan. in Arkansas; fourth Monday in Apr. in Alabama and Mississippi; April 26 in Florida and Georgia; May 10 in North and South Carolina; last Monday in May in Virginia; and June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Memorial Day is commemorated at Arlington National Cemetery each year with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Traditionally, the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

Red Poppies

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem: We cherish too, the Poppy red That grows on fields where valor led, It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.

Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France, she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later, and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

The National Moment of Remembrance Act

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed, and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

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Voice Activated Products (No Wi-Fi needed)

Voice activated technology is everywhere from Amazon Echo, iPhone Siri, and every day appliances connected to Wi-Fi. There are times Wi-Fi is not an option either by choice, safety, or location. In those situations, it is nice to be able to find devices suitable for those who need the ability to establish things by voice only. This blog will look at three such items complete with linked URL.

Reminder Rosie Voice Controlled Clock

Before looking at what all this item can do let us look at the reason it was developed in the first place. This is especially important for those looking for ways to help/assist their loved ones with dementia and/or living alone.

According to Gary Rotman, Inventor and co-founder of Life Assist Technologies, “Necessity is the mother of invention. I invented a solution for my 80-year-old father who was diagnosed with dementia and often forgot to take his medications and other daily tasks and ended up back in the hospital. When I tested and tweaked the device over several years and started to sell to others, dozens of overwhelming and even life changing testimonials came back to me from users, caregivers, healthcare professionals and even experts- and Reminder Rosie™ was born! I had no idea at the time that there were millions of people worldwide that had similar challenges as my father. High levels of hospital re-admittances, high health care costs, many unavoidable deaths and caregiver stress, all due to poor medication compliance. And over the next 5- 10 years an ever-increasing and ageing population want to live in comfort of their own home longer, independently and with dignity. Rosie has shown she can really help everyday!”

Now that you know the backstory let us dive into what this nimble little clock can do. The Reminder Rosie™ 25-Alarm Voice Controlled Clock will record your personalized voice reminders for medication, appointments, bill payments, and other tasks. These reminders will announce at any time and in any language recorded. The loud alarm and large display make this clock great for sight impaired or hard of hearing individuals.

Set up multiple reminders for everyday, any day of the week, or today only. Your loved ones can even record daily messages on the Reminder Rosie™ which can aid in combatting any feelings of loneliness. Currently the clock is only available in English, but you can record in any language.

This is also a great low vision alarm clock with its bright 2″ high LED digits that are visible at any angle. Reminder Rosie™ is hands free and voice activated, you never need to touch any buttons.

Moshi Voice Controlled Talking Alarm Clock

The Moshi IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Clock is an amazing, modern styled talking clock that is totally voice controlled. Once set, through voice commands only, the current time, the alarm time and sound, the sleep sound, and even the date, can be retrieved by just asking for it. “MOSHI” is fully voice interactive and can be operated without ever seeing the clock. The 12 commands can be asked and answered without even leaving the comfort of your bed! In addition to the indoor temperature announcement in either Fahrenheit or Centigrade, choose from 5 different backlight colors. To Activate Clock, simply say, “Hello Moshi.”

MOSHI listens and responds to 12 voice-activated commands. You can select from 3 different alarm sounds: chime, chirp, or bell. A sleep sound of your choice may be played for 5 minutes, water, birds, or waterfall. It includes a night light and “help” feature. It can operate with either an AC/DC adaptor (located inside the Styrofoam packaging of the clock) or 3 AAA batteries which are not included.

A couple of things of note from the user manual are:

When you turn off the alarm when it is sounding, Moshi will tell you the time, date and inside temperature. When the alarm is not sounding, Moshi will not speak.

It is important to remember that you cannot give a command while Moshi is speaking.

When clock is telling AM time there will be no icon on the display, but when in PM time, the icon “PM” will appear in upper left corner. In addition, when setting time, if you do not specify AM or PM, it will automatically set to AM time.

Verbally, say “set alarm” to turn the alarm on. To turn off or cancel the alarm, say “turn off the alarm”. Manually, you can turn the alarm on by the switch located on the bottom side of the clock. The alarm icon on the display verifies that the alarm is activated.

Vocally 3 Freedom Voice Dialer

The Vocally 3 Freedom Voice Activated In-Line Telephone Dialer is quite easy to use. Simply attach it to your favorite telephone and record the name of the person or place you would like to program and dial that number on the attached phone one time. The next time you pick up that phone this unit will prompt you, “Who would you like me to call?” State the name you recorded, and the unit will confirm with you and then dial the number. This unit will allow you to record up to 19 digits for each name you record. Stores up to 60 names with phone numbers.

You can train the unit by speaking the name into your handset/headset and then entering the corresponding number on your telephone keypad. To call a number not stored simply press the # symbol on the attached telephone and then dial the number as usual. The dialer works with regular corded telephones and cordless phones provided you are not too far from the cordless base causing distortion on the line. Please note that it does NOT work with cell phones. Voice prompts are available in English, French, or Spanish.

To train the dialer correctly you must do so in a quiet environment.  If it does not understand what you are saying it could be because of noise interference. This can be any noise from people in the room with you, a TV or radio working in the same room, or even loud noises coming from construction taking place near you.

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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, a time to raise awareness about communication disorders and available treatment options that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems speaking or hearing.  At least 46 million people in the United States have a hearing or other communication disorder. In addition, an estimated 17.9 million adults in the United States report having a voice problem. Problems with your voice can significantly affect your ability to perform your job. Information in this blog comes from The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), and The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Taking Action on Hearing Loss: 5 Steps to Success

Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor’s advice, to respond to warnings, and to hear doorbells and alarms. It can also make it hard to enjoy talking with friends and family. All of this can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous.

Do you think you could have hearing loss? By taking action today, you can start on a course to improved health and quality of life. Here’s what you can do:

Schedule a hearing evaluation. Contact a certified audiologist for a full hearing workup. An audiologist will perform various tests to find out more about your overall hearing health. This starts with ruling out other medical problems that may be affecting your hearing, ranging from wax buildup to fluid behind your eardrum. Then they will perform a hearing test to determine your exact hearing levels. Everyone’s hearing is different.

Listen to the audiologist’s recommendations. Keep an open mind when your audiologist explains your evaluation results and their recommendations. There are lots of different solutions for hearing loss.

These solutions may include:

• amplification technology, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants;

 • aural rehabilitation, which is when an audiologist provides strategies to help you hear better in situations where you have more trouble; and

 • external solutions, such as amplified telephones and/or assistive TV technology

Check with your insurance plan. Find out about your health care benefits for hearing aids. Medicare and Medicaid have their own requirements. If you have trouble paying, your audiologist may be able to recommend less expensive options. For example, the more expensive hearing aids offer many different features that you may not need. Loaner banks and financial assistance programs also may be available. Talk to your audiologist about local assistance programs.

Educate yourself. Read about the different types of hearing aids and make a list of which ones sound like the best fit for you. Check out trusted review sites and online forums. Hearing aids have many features to meet your needs and wants. Other hearing assistive technologies and strategies can help you, too. Talk to friends and loved ones about their experiences.

Understand the process. For many people who are fitted with hearing aids, it’s not like flipping a switch and then suddenly your hearing becomes perfect. Hearing aids are different than eyeglasses in this way. It may take a few visits with the audiologist to get your hearing aid settings just right. It also takes time for your brain to adjust to your hearing again; your brain processes information differently the longer you have lived with hearing loss. It’s worth the time investment of a few appointments up front.

Taking Care of Your Voice

The sound of your voice is produced by vibration of the vocal folds, which are two bands of smooth muscle tissue that are positioned opposite each other in the larynx. The larynx is located between the base of the tongue and the top of the trachea, which is the passageway to the lungs.

An estimated 17.9 million adults in the U.S. report problems with their voice. Some of these disorders can be avoided by taking care of your voice. You may have a voice problem if your voice has become hoarse or raspy, you’ve lost the ability to hit high notes when singing, your voice suddenly sounds deeper, your throat feels achy, raw, or strained, it’s become an effort to talk, or you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat.

There are many possible causes for voice problems including upper respiratory infection, inflammation caused by gastroesophageal reflux (sometimes called acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD), vocal misuse and overuse, growths on the vocal folds, such as vocal nodules or laryngeal papillomatosis, cancer of the larynx, neurological diseases (such as spasmodic dysphonia or vocal fold paralysis), and/or psychological trauma. Most voice problems can be reversed by treating the underlying cause or through a range of behavioral and surgical treatments.

Healthy habits to take care of your voice include:

Stay hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water, especially when exercising.
  • If you drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol, balance your intake with plenty of water.
  • Take vocal naps—rest your voice throughout the day.
  • Use a humidifier in your home. This is especially important in winter or in dry climates. Thirty percent humidity is recommended.
  • Avoid or limit use of medications that may dry out the vocal folds, including some common cold and allergy medications. If you have voice problems, ask your doctor which medications would be safest for you to use.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet:

  • Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Smoke irritates the vocal folds. Also, cancer of the vocal folds is seen most often in individuals who smoke.
  • Avoid eating spicy foods. Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus, causing heartburn or GERD.
  • Include plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E, and C. They also help keep the mucus membranes that line the throat healthy.
  • Wash your hands often to prevent getting a cold or the flu.
  • Get enough rest. Physical fatigue has a negative effect on voice.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise increases stamina and muscle tone. This helps provide good posture and breathing, which are necessary for proper speaking.
  • If you have persistent heartburn or GERD, talk to your doctor about diet changes or medications that can help reduce flare-ups.
  • Avoid mouthwash or gargles that contain alcohol or irritating chemicals.
  • Avoid using mouthwash to treat persistent bad breath. Halitosis (bad breath) may be the result of a problem that mouthwash can’t cure, such as low-grade infections in the nose, sinuses, tonsils, gums, or lungs, as well as from gastric acid reflux from the stomach.

Use your voice wisely:

  • Try not to overuse your voice. Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is hoarse or tired.
  • Rest your voice when you are sick. Illness puts extra stress on your voice.
  • Avoid using the extremes of your vocal range, such as screaming or whispering. Talking too loudly and too softly can both stress your voice.
  • Practice good breathing techniques when singing or talking. Support your voice with deep breaths from the chest, and don’t rely on your throat alone. Singers and speakers are often taught exercises that improve this kind of breath control. Talking from the throat, without supporting breath, puts a great strain on the voice.
  • Avoid cradling the phone when talking. Cradling the phone between the head and shoulder for extended periods of time can cause muscle tension in the neck.
  • Consider using a microphone when appropriate. In relatively static environments such as exhibit areas, classrooms, or exercise rooms, a lightweight microphone and an amplifier-speaker system can be of great help.
  • Avoid talking in noisy places. Trying to talk above noise causes strain on the voice.
  • Consider voice therapy. A speech-language pathologist who is experienced in treating voice problems can teach you how to use your voice in a healthy way.

Directory of Organizations

The NIDCD Directory lists selected national organizations that provide information on communication disorders. Each organization Is listed alphabetically and includes (when available) name, physical address, email address, and website. There is also an option to read the description for each listing as well by clicking on “view full description.” As an example of these listings, here is the overview for each site used to obtain information for this blog.  This list encompasses over 150 different organizations.

Address:

1650 Diagonal Road

Alexandria VA 22314-2857

Email:

Internet: http://www.entnet.org(link is external)

View full description

Address:

2200 Research Boulevard

Rockville MD 20850

Email:

Internet: https://www.asha.org(link is external)

View full description

Address:

1 Communication Avenue

Bethesda MD 20892-3456

Email: nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov(link sends e-mail)

Internet: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov

View full description

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Teacher Appreciation

Since 1984, National PTA has designated one week in May as a special time to honor the individuals who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. This year that week was slated for May 2nd through May 8th. This annual week in May is the time of year to put the spotlight on teachers and school personnel but teachers should really be celebrated year-round, especially with all the challenges this past school year has presented. This blog will look at ways to show the teachers in your life that you care and think what they do makes a positive difference to the world around us both during Teacher Appreciation Week and every other week throughout the year.

Do It Yourself Gift Ideas

Remote or hybrid learning can make it tough to show teachers how much you care, but there are still plenty of options. From e-cards and thank-you videos to classroom goodies and decorations. The ideas in this section can be done with a little creativity and can be accomplished in tandem with your young child or by the child themselves if more advanced in ability. Ideas in this section came from 51 Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week 2021.

  1. Have your child write and mail a letter to their teacher. This can be an especially heartfelt gesture if the teacher taught your child how to write this year. A snail mail letter sent to your child’s school to the teacher’s attention can certainly bring a smile to the instructor’s face. Don’t forget to include other school personnel, if writing multiple letters.
  2. If you can coordinate it, put together a classroom thank-you book with notes from every student who can participate. With technology, especially email, it could be easier than ever to create this sort of idea depending on how hard it would be to get permission to send information to each student’s family.
  3. For a silly gift that is sure to make a teacher laugh, make and give them this stress relief present. Use link for pre-made printable tag ideas and to purchase bubble wrap if you don’t happen to have any laying around.
  4. Record a video of your child saying thank you to their teacher and email it to them. To take this one a step further a song could be written about the school year/teacher to be sung to your teacher via video either live through video chat or through email.
  5. Plant a tree in honor of your teacher through the Arbor Day Foundation, The Trees Remember, or in your local community. Each card you purchase plants a tree helps to bring our Nation’s Forests back to life. You can personalize the cards for free-no minimum order required, and the cards will be sent to you to sign and deliver personally.
  6. Give your teacher something to help them practice a little self-care, like a journal or a nice-smelling candle. To read more on the importance of self-care and for more specific ideas check out the article Why Teacher Self-Care Matters and How to Practice Self-Care in Your School.
  7. If you are still distance learning, take a picture of your child learning from home and send it to their teacher.

Gift Ideas for in the Classroom and for Self-Care

These inexpensive appreciation gifts will help you say thanks to teachers and other school personnel without breaking the bank. The ideas in this section comes from the ILA website. The first section of gifts is for in the classroom and the second set are some self-care items available for purchase.

In the classroom:

Teachable Touchables Texture Squares: Blind children build tactile awareness interacting with these twenty textured squares (ten different pairs) in a variety of “hands-on” activities. Each textured pillow or patch measures approximately 2″ to 3″. Includes a cloth drawstring bag for storage and a tip sheet of fun activities that help teach matching, vocabulary, communication, and tactile discrimination skills. Grades Pre-K and up.

Time Timer 12 inch: This 60-minute alarm has an audible alarm and shows the remaining time in high contrast red making it easier to see from across the room.  

Wikki Stix Fun Activity Set: This innovative toy for the visually impaired can be twisted, stuck on surfaces, shaped into animals, geometric shapes, letters and numbers and then untwisted and used over and over again. This set comes with 84 vividly colored stix, a 2-sided re-usable playboard and an 8-page story booklet with creative ideas. Guaranteed to brighten the day of the visually impaired child in your life.

Self-Care:

Angora Lower Back Warmer: Angora wool is the lightest of all-natural fibers – the hollow structure of the fibers makes it ideal for thermal clothing. Angora warmers allow the skin to breath, absorb moisture, and maintain a steady temperature at the skin surface for all-day wearing comfort.

Sleep Mask: A fabric covered opaque mask with soft padding around the nose that totally blocks out the light. The elastic band keeps the mask in place while you enjoy a restful sleep.

TheraBeads Neck Collar: This neck collar is specially contoured specifically for the neck and upper shoulder area, it is fully adjustable with hook and loop to help prevent slippage. It is ideal for soothing the neck and upper shoulder area. Microwaveable for 60 to 90 seconds for heated relief. Includes cover.

Teacher Discounts Available Year Round

Teacher discounts don’t often receive the same hype and attention as those for students. But be confident, oft-neglected educators of the world — businesses haven’t forgotten you. Feel free to pass along this list to teachers you know. Information in this section came from The Complete List of 81 Teacher Discounts, and Teacher Deals.

Apple Store: The House of Jobs is surprisingly generous to teachers of all grade levels, offering varying discounts up to $200 on computers and accessories through the Apple Education Store. This offer also includes librarians, home schoolers, university profs and even elected officers to PTA boards.

Adobe: Shop direct from the Adobe Education Store and receive discounts on select software, including bundles and suites. Adobe requires proof of employment as an educator before applying the discount.

Barnes & Noble: The B&N Educator Program provides teachers with 20-percent off the publisher’s list price on purchases for classroom use. This discount is ramped up to 25% during Educator Appreciation Days.

Cell Phone Companies (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint): This discount varies by provider, but teachers can save loads on a personal cell phone bill, sometimes up to 20 percent a month. Visit your provider’s business or discount portal and input your .edu email address to check if your institution is registered.

Costco: Costco wants to thank teachers for all they do for our children by offering an exclusive teacher membership. Teachers who join Costco as a new member are eligible to receive a $20 shop card. This exclusive teacher offer is only available online.

Blick Art Materials: Teachers should sign up for the Dick Blick Preferred Card. It’s completely free and gets you 10% off purchases at Blick and Utrecht stores. Blick also offers organizational discounts for bulk orders.

Half Price Books: Sign up for a Half Price Books’ Educator’s Discount Card and be rewarded with discounts of 10-percent year-round. This discount is truly all-inclusive, available to teachers, homeschoolers, librarians and even teachers who have been laid-off in the last year.

Joann Fabric: The free Teacher Rewards Discount Card entitles educators to 15-percent off all purchases. Home schoolers are also eligible for the card, and new members receive a 20-percent off bonus for signing up.

LOFT: Fashion forward educators are rewarded for their posh style through the Loft Loves Teachers program. Register to get 15-percent off all full-price, in-store purchases, plus perks like teacher appreciation nights and exclusive sweepstakes.

Michaels: Receive 15% off your entire purchase every day.

Staples: Register for Staples Classroom Rewards Program. First, enroll in the Staples Reward Program. The program offers perks like free delivery and up to 5-percent back in rewards for in-store purchases. Then, sign up to become a classroom rewards recipient where parents can gift rewards to your account to help pay for school supplies throughout the year.

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Vocal Disorders, Vocal Projection, and Personal Voice Amplifiers

Some people naturally speak more softly than others. This can be due to innate tendencies, how someone was raised, or due to any number of medical issues. There are things you can do to help project your voice when needed both with and without outside equipment. This blog will look at some causes for vocal disorders, tips and tricks to make your voice go further naturally and when you might benefit from a personal voice amplifier. Information in this blog came from Voice Disorders, 5 Tips to Amplify Your Voice, Why Are Voice Amplifiers Helpful to Teachers? and product suggestions from the ILA website.

What Causes Vocal Disorders?

You may have a voice disorder if you have a problem with pitch, volume, tone, and other qualities of your voice. These problems occur when your vocal cords do not vibrate normally. Your voice is the sound that air makes when it is forced out of your lungs and passes over your vocal cords. Vocal cords are the 2 folds of tissue inside your larynx, also called the voice box. The vibration of those cords is what produces speech.

Voice disorders can be caused by many factors. In some cases, the cause of a voice disorder is not known. Possible causes can include:

Growths. In some cases, extra tissue may form on the vocal cords. This stops the cords from working normally. The growths can include fluid-filled sacs called cysts, wart-like lumps called papilloma, or callus-like bumps called nodules.

Inflammation and swelling. Many things can cause inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords. These include surgery, respiratory illness or allergies, GERD (acid reflux), some medicines, exposure to certain chemicals, smoking, alcohol abuse, and vocal abuse.

Nerve problems. Certain medical conditions can affect the nerves that control the vocal cords. These can include multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington disease. Nerves can also be injured from surgery or chronic inflammation of the larynx (laryngitis).

Hormones. Disorders affecting thyroid hormone, female and male hormones, and growth hormones can cause voice disorders.

Misuse of the voice. The vocal cords can be stressed by using too much tension when speaking. This can cause problems in the muscles in the throat and affect the voice. Vocal abuse can also cause a voice disorder. Vocal abuse is anything that strains or harms the vocal cords. Examples of vocal abuse include too much talking, shouting, or coughing. Smoking and constant clearing of the throat is also vocal abuse.

5 Tips to Amplify Your Voice Naturally

If you are not restricted medically from trying to enhance your vocal output naturally, here are some projection tips that will help you amplify your voice.

  1. Do your warmups. If you plan on using your vocal cords a lot you will need to warm them up before using them, otherwise you may risk straining them or doing damage to your voice. Warmups can include humming, lip trills, breathing exercises, and more. Performing these techniques and warmups will prepare your vocals so that you can sound your absolute best when needing to project your voice.
  2.  Practice your breathing. When we breathe our lungs expand, which allows our vocal folds to vibrate. This increases a voice’s capacity. Exhaling deeply helps your diaphragm move up, which helps with projection – making your voice sound more confident and authoritative. (Do not do this if you are restricted due to medical reasons)
  3. Go bigger, not harder. When trying to amplify your voice, do not push your voice too hard. Pushing your voice too hard can make you hoarse and damage your vocal cords. Focus on going bigger. Imagine the inside of your stomach, throat, and mouth. Imagine them expanding. This will help prepare your muscles. Open your mouth and throat large and amplify your voice. Never force it out.
  4. Work on your posture. A person’s posture affects their voice. When speaking, keep your shoulders neutral and your head centered, including your jaw. The way you stand should ensure optimal breathing, which will give your voice the projections it needs.
  5. Practice. This includes completing all your warmups and doing what you can to ensure your voice and vocal cords are in optimal health.

What are Voice Amplifiers and Why Should You Use Them?

When using the tips above are not enough it is time to consider getting a voice amplifier. Also called a speech support device, a voice amplifier is a mini voice announcement system. A voice amplifier might be used as an accommodation for an individual who has difficulty speaking loudly enough to be heard in noisy environments or who has a medical need to speak softly due to voice limitations. Amplifiers can be personal, portable, hand-held or body worn systems, or large area sound field or public address systems. They differ from personal sound amplifiers and hearing aids which can both be worn in the ear and used to amplify the sound around them. 

A small voice amplifier has a built-in speaker and a lightweight, moveable headset. Some headsets are wired, and some are wireless. If you need more intensification of your voice, you can download amplification apps on your phone. They also come with a rechargeable battery and can be operated with one hand.

Most people feel tired after talking a lot. This is because talking requires breathing twice of air which stimulates the loss of vital oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) content in the brain. Intensified by speaking for long periods when stressed, this contributes to the development of problems in the voice.

Excessive talking can be straining whether or not you have medical conditions creating vocal issues. If you talk too much/long it can cause light-headedness, dizziness, unsoundness of the mind, muscular tension, and sometimes discomfort in the esophagus area. If you are getting these issues, you may benefit from a personal voice amplifier.  

ILA offers many different types of personal voice amplification products including the Naphon A-580U Mini Voice Amplifier, the Spokeman Personal Voice Amplifier, and the Geemarc Ampli550 Amplified SpeakerPhone W/Caller ID 50 dB. To see all products in this category see voice amplification.

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