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Hearing Dog

Organizations that provide service dogs to people with hearing loss

Service Dogs (also called Hearing Dogs) are trained to assist persons with hearing loss in their everyday lives. Their duties generally include notifying the hard of hearing or deaf person that the baby is crying, the fire alarm is ringing, etc.

Hearing Dog Information

The story about Dandy demonstrates the kinds of things that hearing dogs can do.

December 2001 – Have you ever wondered about the law concerning hearing dogs and other service animals? Does an animal have to be “licensed” as a service animal to have service animal privileges? Can disruptive service animals be removed from public places? These and more questions are answered in the following article from the US Department of Justice.

December 2001 – I just learned of the service dog email list and thought some of you might be interested. It’s run by Mimi Clifford, who also runs the Beyond Hearing email list, so you can be sure it’s a quality list.

January 2002 – Interested in vacationing with your hearing dog? Hereare some accounts from folks who’ve had that experience. I think you’ll find them interesting and entertaining.

February 2002 – Want to learn more about hearing dogs? Here are some great resources to further your education.

February 2003 – There’s an interesting case developing regarding theright of a nurse to take her hearing dog to work in a hospital.

May 2003 – If you’re one of the fortunate people who has an assistance dog, you may be a bit apprehensive about your first plane trip with your dog. Here’s some great information on how to minimize the hassle!

February 2004 – Ever heard of a “dual assistance” dog? One that provides the services of both a hearing dog and a guide dog for the blind? Here’s an article about Scotland’s first “dual assistance” dog.

August 2004 – Hawaii has loosened its restrictions on allowing assistance dogs into the state – no quarantine required, provided certain restrictions are met. They still seem pretty oppressive to me. Doesn’t this violate the ADA???

January 2005 – So where exactly do they train hearing dogs? Prison, you say?

September 2005 – The Department of Transportation is considering a change in rules regarding assistance dogs on airplanes. The proposal would require, in the case of a full plane, a disabled person to buy a seat for her hearing dog, wait for a later flight, or have the dog travel in the cargo hold!

February 2006 – A pooch in a purse can’t be classified as a service animal.

February 2006 – Leader dogs may soon need a ticket to fly

April 2006 – Information and videos on service animals

May 2006 – Hearing Dog Makes a Difference

September 2006 – K9s hound the hearing impaired

September 2006 – One dog at a time

November 2006 – Deaf woman says hearing dog was banned

June 2007 – Facts About Traveling with Service Animals

August 2007 – Dog helps guide schoolteacher with poor hearing

September 2007 – Dog serves as woman’s ears

October 2007 – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hearing Dogs

October 2007 – Hearing Dog Listens for Deaf Companion

December 2007 – Japan Has Only 13 Certified Hearing Dogs!

December 2007 – Store boots disabled vet and his service dog

December 2007 – Training of a Service Dog

January 2008 – CCI Seeks Qualified Hearing Dog Applicants

February 2008 – Hearing Dogs Change Lives

March 2008 – Dogs Getting Flight Training In Charlotte

May 2008 – Petition to Oppose San Francisco SPCA’s Termination of Hearing Dog Program

May 2008 – SFSPCA program for hearing dogs shut down

May 2008 – Dog guide brings hearing-impaired man into society

May 2008 – Spring 2008 “Canine Listener” Is Out

June 2008 – SF/SPCA Teams with CCI to Provide Service Dogs

June 2008 – First Public Service Dog Census Launches

July 2008 – Hearing Dogs Helping Deafened Vets

November 2008 – Hearing Dog Program Launches in San Francisco

January 2009 – Taking Your Hearing Dog on a Cruise Ship

February 2009 – Seven-year-old is youngest person to have hearing dog

February 2009 – Combat veteran receives hearing dog

February 2009 – Discussion of the Ban on Non-Canine Service Animals

March 2009 – Tiny service dog puts West Bend East student in mainstream

May 2009 – Dogs Come to the Aid of the Deaf

July 2009 – Special Dogs Aid People who are Deaf and Blind

October 2009 – Assistance Dogs Help People with Hearing Loss

March 2010 – New Hearing Dog Agency in the Works

March 2010 – Consent Decree Reached in Service Dog Case

October 2010 – Illinois Woman Gets Hearing Dog

November 2010 – A Dark Night, a Hearing Dog, and a Day in Court

April 2011 – Fake Hearing Dog Promotes Outrage

April 2011 – What can we do about fake service dogs?

Hearing Dog Information

February 2002

A reader recently emailed me a bunch of good information on hearing dogs and service dogs in general, so I’m passing that along.

The first bit is a new document on service animals from the US Department of Justice. Point your browser to

My “source” says that the best web and newsletter resource for people using assistance dogs is the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. Mimi Clifford (who runs the hearing dog listserv) is a very active member. The website is www.iaadp.org. Membership is $12 a year for those partnered with a dog and $15 for interested others. This gets you an excellent quarterly newsletter and a host of resources and services, which may include covering veterinary costs under some circumstances, to those with dogs.

A really good service animal policy, one that many other organizations (and not just universities) are copying from is atwww.wisc.edu/adac/wiscinfo12020114.html.

Finally, check out a very good page from the Assistance Dog Club of Puget Sound www.dogsaver.org/adc/index.htm).

Air Travel with an Assistance Dog

May 2003

Summer’s almost here, and many of us are planning trips that involve air travel – like trips to ALDA, SayWhatClub, SHHH, or TDI conventions, for example. I’m a little more apprehensive about air travel than I was a couple of years ago, and I bet you are, too. I bet those of you who are thinking about your first flight with an assistance dog are REALLY concerned. There’s a great guide from the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) that will help put your mind to rest.

Here’s their introduction:

“IAADP has developed this section to enable disabled persons who want to travel with a guide, hearing or service dog to become more familiar with the U.S. Government’s rules and policies governing the transportation of service animals in the plane cabin. In addition to providing a link to relevant government documents, we feature an interesting article, The Real Scoop, for those taking their first flight and those who want the latest available information governing a team’s interactions with security screeners, gate agents and flight attendants.”

Topics addressed include:

* Exercising Your Right to Priority Seating
* Where Does an Assistance Dog “sit”?
* Advance Preparations for the Trip
* Security Screening Checkpoint Guidance
* The Gate Agent’s Assessment – Pet or Service Animal?
* Boarding Safety & Etiquette
* Considerations While in the Air
* Ending the Trip on a Good Note
* Facts to Remember

And the URL: http://www.iaadp.org/RealScoop.html

Happy Flying!

Information and videos on service animals

April 2006

The California Hotel and Lodging Association has some great information on service animals, the ADA, guests with disabilities. One of the best resources is a free streaming video entitled “We Welcome Service Animals”. There’s also a streaming video on police officers responding to a service animal complaint. My only issue with these videos is that they’re NOT captioned. But they would be very useful resources for the hearing person who refuses to admit your service dog!

Hearing Dog Makes a Difference

May 2006

Tammy Catalano, of Mt. Pleasant, doesn’t go anywhere without her black Labrador, Windy. Restaurants, shopping malls, grocery stores and Westmoreland County Community College, where Catalano works as a secretary in the athletic department, all welcome Windy, her hearing assistance dog. Catalano, who is hearing impaired, obtained Windy through Paws With A Cause, a nonprofit group that trains assistance dogs for people with special needs. Paws provides assistance dogs to its clients free of charge.

Deaf woman says hearing dog was banned

November 2006

Murray, a little bundle of fluff, goes almost everywhere with Gladys Peterson. The 16-pound mutt, a mixture of Lhasa apso, Shih Tzu and Pekingese, serves as Peterson’s ears, because she has been deaf since birth. But the two of them, along with a friend, were thrown out of a north-side restaurant recently because the manager apparently never heard of a hearing ear dog and does not know the law. Indiana law says a person who is blind, deaf or disabled is entitled to be accompanied by a trained dog in any public accommodation, which is defined as any place that offers services, facilities or goods to the general public.

Dog helps guide schoolteacher with poor hearing

August 2007

When Rusty Ellis signed up for a service dog, he expected his hearing helper to be a fierce Rottweiler or perhaps a well-muscled German shepherd. What he didn’t expect was a 13-pound prancing poodle. “I told my family anything but a poodle,” Ellis said. “A tough guy would never take a poodle out.” But that’s what he got. Radar, a poodle mix, is Ellis’s new hearing dog. The fuzzy companion, although only calf-high, is also his protector. The Riverside resident’s sidekick will accompany him at all times. Radar is trained to alert Ellis to sounds such as a knock at the door, the oven timer or someone calling his name, by jumping on Ellis and then running to the sound. “It’s nice knowing life is going to get easier,” said Ellis, 46, whose severe hearing loss has progressively gotten worse.

Dog serves as woman’s ears

September 2007

When the doorbell rings at Claudia Hollis’ house, be patient. Listen for the paws and the whine coming to the door and then running back. Chip needs to let her know you’re there. Hollis is hearing-impaired and has been since birth. Sometimes she hears voices in a conversation, but can’t make out the words. High-pitched sounds like a phone ringing or a doorbell are troublesome, especially without her hearing aid. But with her new hearing dog Chip – the first in the Yuba-Sutter area – she’ll know when someone’s at the door. Chip, a 2-year-old black chow and pug mix, was a week from being euthanized at a Southern California pound when the Sam Simon Foundation found him. He fit the desired mold of a smaller dog with a good temperament who would be confident with people, said Kim Meinhardt, a hearing-dog instructor with the foundation. Working well in crowds is critical because, as a service dog, Chip goes almost everywhere Hollis goes.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hearing Dogs

October 2007

You’ve probably seen many articles and stores written by Cheryl Heppner. She covers most of the hearing loss conventions with prolific and insightful reporting, serves on a multitude of committees, advocates for us, and runs NVRC, one of the truly outstanding hearing loss service agencies in the US, She is a wonderful gift to people with hearing loss.

She recently found the time to write what I consider to be the definitive article on hearing dogs. It considers virtually every imaginable topic and answers virtually every imaginable question. Please point your browser to: http://www.nvrc.org/content.aspx?page=21164&section=7

Hearing Dog Listens for Deaf Companion

October 2007

A loving collie who sits obediently by her owner Gary Turner is the Paris man’s best friend.  But Shelley is more than just a companion.  She is the ears for Turner, who has been deaf since childhood.  The man and his hearing dog attended a Lions Club meeting last week at Paris Junior College so that Turner could share with fellow Lions Club members about the availability of trained hearing dogs.  “I just want anybody who is deaf to know there is help out there,” Turner said. “Life is not easy for a deaf person, but you can do anything you want to do if you want to do it badly enough.  Turner is a college graduate working on a masters degree in criminal justice. He also holds paralegal certification. He moved to Paris about a year ago with his parents, Roy and Dorsie Turner.  “I hope to get a job in juvenile probation or do some paralegal work,” Turner said.  Turner has suffered recent health problems and is in between jobs, but has worked most of his life, many times living by himself.  At the age of three, Turner taught himself to lip read by watching television, his mother, Dorsie Turner said.  “We didn’t realize he couldn’t hear until he was about 5 years old,” the mother said. “He has always been very independent and having a hearing dog makes that possible.”

Japan Has Only 13 Certified Hearing Dogs!

December 2007

Guide dogs for the visually impaired are relatively common, but only 13 dogs in all of Japan are certified to aid the hearing-impaired. Two of these 13 dogs were trained by Kuniyoshi Shinden, who heads the Volunteer Dog Training Center, a nonprofit organization in Itanocho, Tokushima Prefecture. His affinity for canines began when his family acquired a dog when he was in middle school in the mid-1960s. He read a book about dog training while in high school, at a time when he was thinking about what to do with his future. The words “certified dog trainer” piqued his curiosity, and before long he got a part-time job at a police dog training center in the prefecture.

Store boots disabled vet and his service dog

December 2007

Retired Army Staff Sgt. J. Alex Gonzalez wanted to do a little Christmas shopping Tuesday afternoon. The 36-year-old disabled military police veteran loaded up his service dog, Mason, and headed to North East Mall. But Gonzalez’s Yuletide spirit turned to surprise and anger when he and Mason were asked to leave Dillard’s department store because of the store’s no-animal policy. Dillard’s officials have since apologized to Gonzalez and say the incident appears to be a miscommunication. Service dogs and their owners are always welcome, they said. The company is reviewing the matter and could not comment further on the incident, said Dillard’s spokesman Jordan Johnson from the company headquarters in Little Rock. Experts say the incident reflects common misconceptions about service dogs and the lack of education about the Americans with Disabilities Act. Gonzalez says he doesn’t want to shop at Dillard’s anymore. “This is discrimination and it’s wrong,” he said in an interview at his north Fort Worth home Wednesday. “I wanted to make this into a positive situation.”

Hearing Dogs Change Lives

February 2008

With each successive day Diana Gerard’s hearing has deteriorated more and more. The Grafton resident first started noticing her hearing loss in high school. In college she struggled to understand her professor’s lectures.  “I’ve been steadily going deaf,” Gerard said. “And the doctors don’t really know why.” Nowadays, Gerard has trouble hearing sounds such as a knock at her door or the telephone ringing. Gerard added that occasionally friends would come to visit her, but she didn’t know they were at her door because she couldn’t hear them. “People would say that they came over but they couldn’t get me to come to the door,” she said. But those days are at an end because of the new addition to Gerard’s household. Now Jim alerts Gerard to any knocks at her door as well as when her phone rings. Jim is a hearing dog supplied to Gerard by Dogs for the Deaf, a non-profit group out of Central Point, Oregon.

Dogs Getting Flight Training In Charlotte

March 2008

Dozens of U.S. Airways employees from all over the map met up in Charlotte Tuesday to get some very specialized training.  From pilots to flight attendants to mechanics, all are learning the proper way to transport assistance dogs through the airport and on a plane. “It is something we encounter quite frequently on our flights, so it’s nice to have our employees trained to handle these types of situations and volunteer their time doing it,” said U.S. Airways spokesperson Kelli Case. The group of U.S. Airways employees is called the “Do Crew.” All have volunteered to be part of a program that will save time and money when it comes to helping disabled people. When an assistance dog goes through training to be a blind person’s eyes or a deaf person’s ears, they still have to get from wherever they were trained to their new owner. That could represent thousands of dollars in transportation costs. Instead, this program, called “Puppies In Flight,” makes it free with extra benefits.

Petition to Oppose San Francisco SPCA’s Termination of Hearing Dog Program

May 2008

On Monday, April 21st, without prior notice, the San Francisco SPCA terminated its 30-year-old Hearing Dog Program. The director, the lead trainer, and a staff animal caretaker were immediately fired and given 1-hour notice to collect their belongings. They were then escorted off the premises. Founded in 1978, the Hearing Dog Program (HDP) has trained hundreds of rescued shelter dogs to be the ears of over 800 men and women who are either deaf or hearing impaired. The dogs are taught to alert their guardians to ringing phones and doorbells, alarms and other sounds. The program has been funded partly by the SF SPCA and partly through large donations and bequests from charitable organizations, individuals, and grateful recipients. It is a nationally recognized model program.

You can sign the petition opposing this termination athttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-SFSPCA-hearing-dog-program

SFSPCA program for hearing dogs shut down

May 2008

When Eureka Valley realtor Michael Steingraber lost his hearing seven years ago after a meningitis infection, it was a dog that pulled him out of a deep depression and allowed him to live his life again. Steingraber adopted Koko, one of 800 hearing dogs trained over the past three decades by the San Francisco Society for Prevention of Cruelty of Animals. Since then, a grateful Steingraber has bequeathed part of his estate to the nonprofit SPCA and acted, with Koko, as an ambassador for its hearing dog program. On April 20, Steingraber and Koko stood before hundreds of onlookers and gave a demonstration of the program, which teaches dogs to respond to sounds such as a ringing phone or alarm and alert their hearing-impaired owners. The demonstration was part of the SPCA’s three-day 140th anniversary celebration. But the day after his demonstration, the SPCA abruptly closed the program, laid off three staff members, and moved the 13 dogs in training to its regular adoption program. The hearing dog program would have celebrated its own 30th anniversary in June.

Dog guide brings hearing-impaired man into society

May 2008

Hewey, a three-year-old black Labrador Retriever, acts as Don’s ears. Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides – a national charity that provides service dogs to Canadians with physical and medical impairments – paired them up a little more than two years ago. Don, 78, has always had problems with his hearing but in the last few years it put him in some dangerous situations and became a concern for family members. Don’s wife Joanne said she became concerned when their Collingwood home’s carbon monoxide detector sounded twice and she realized that her husband couldn’t hear it. “I just happened to be at home, otherwise I would have come home to a dead husband,” said Joanne.

Spring 2008 “Canine Listener” Is Out

May 2008

Dogs for the Deaf publishes a quarterly newsletter with lots of great information and stories about hearing dogs and their human partners. The Spring 2008 issue is out and you can read and download it here.

Hearing Dogs Helping Deafened Vets

July 2008

Army Sergeant Paul Conner was on patrol in Iraq 18 months ago when he opened a door connected to an improvised explosive device. The explosion that erupted from the insurgent ambush blew out Conner’s eardrums and hurled him into a nearby wall, critically wounding him. Luckily, Conner survived the explosion. But he lost most of his hearing in both ears and still suffers from his wounds sustained from the IED. Conner had to retire from the Army, after 24 years of service, and lives in Killeen, Texas, where adjusting to the new life his injuries have forced him into has been difficult. . . . . But after the Department of Veterans Affairs connected Conner to the Texas Hearing & Service Dogs organization — which trains and provides canines to assist deaf or physically challenged people, free of charge — Conner is redoubling his efforts to regain his self-sufficiency.

Seven-year-old is youngest person to have hearing dog

February 2009

Evie Crook’s life has been transformed by the arrival of Gem the golden Labrador at her home. She was diagnosed with high frequency deafness when she was two and half which left her with a 80 per cent hearing loss. She uses hearing aid which give her 50 per cent hearing and can lip read. Gem, from the Hearing Dogs charity, has been trained to find Evie, who has a sister Maddy, 11, and tell her when one of the family wants her attention. She also takes messages to and from Evie in a purse which she carries in her mouth and alerts her to a cooker timer which is used to measure all kinds of activities including her homework. Becky Crook, 40, a teaching assistant, of Sheffield, said: ” Gem came into our home in October, she is Evie’s ears and Evie has changed so much. It’s like we have a child who is beginning to blossom and to appreciate things round her. “Gem trots around everywhere after Evie, it’s almost as if she’s checking where she is going and I know Evie finds it reassuring.” Full Story

Combat veteran receives hearing dog

February 2009

The Texas Hearing and Service Dogs organization is working to help combat veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan by giving them dogs trained to help with hearing and other mobility issues. “We wanted to fast track them because they have such an immediate need to regain some of their independence after doing so much for us,” said Sheri Soltes, THSD founder. Platoon Leader Sgt. Paul Conner was the first veteran to receive a dog from the group. Conner was in a humvee with four other soldiers when they hit an IED in the middle of the road. He lost his hearing in the blast.   Full Story

Tiny service dog puts West Bend East student in mainstream

March 2009

Catherine Palm’s year-old dog may be a constant companion, but she’s not a pet. Mattie, a papillion, is a hearing-ear service dog with a big job to do. “Mattie works by giving me information to help me stay safe,” Palm said. “Pets don’t work.” Like Palm’s 11-year-old pet yellow lab, Kirby, Mattie needs feeding, walking, brushing and the usual veterinarian services. But the dog also needs to remain on alert to protect Palm’s well-being. Catherine Palm and her twin brother, Ian, were both born with Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome, a disorder that is hallmarked by profound deafness and a heart condition. Jolts of adrenaline can be dangerous for Catherine Palm, who can’t hear a doorbell ring or a person entering the room. Mattie gives overt cues, using her paws to touch Catherine Palm’s leg. When the teen signs “where,” Mattie leads her to the sound. Catherine Palm is also learning to recognize more subtle signals from Mattie’s fringed, butterfly ears. Full Story

Dogs Come to the Aid of the Deaf

May 2009

Sit. Stay. Come. Down. Rose Hamilton has a lot to learn. She’s been practicing such commands since last week with the help of a trainer. Today, she’ll be on her own with her new pal, Ziggy, a 2-year-old Lhasa apso mix. Hamilton has been waiting for him for six years. Ziggy is more than cute companion. He’s a hearing dog, trained to alert his owner to household sounds, such as the smoke alarm, telephone and doorbell. It’s estimated that more than 1.5 million deaf or hard of hearing people in the United States and Canada could benefit from a hearing dog. “I wanted a dog that would be my hearing, and go with me where I go,” said 75-year-old Hamilton.

Special Dogs Aid People who are Deaf and Blind

July 2009

When the warning sirens sounded across Israel for the security drill earlier this month, Tamara Meirovich, 45, could not hear it, because she is deaf. Though other deaf people might have noticed flashing lights outside or frenzy in the street, Meirovich, who suffers from Usher’s Syndrome, could not see the commotion, because she is also blind. Without her Labrador retriever, Hope, whom Meirovich and a friend have trained to respond to sounds and sign language commands, Meirovich would be largely cut off from the world around her. With the help of donors from the Netherlands and a small team of local partners, though, she has developed the first program in Israel – and one of only a few programs in the world – to train dogs for people who, like her, are both deaf and blind. After two years of training in a rented house in Na’aleh, north of Modi’in Illit, puppies raised by the Ali Hope Foundation learn to “paw,” to touch their owners at certain sounds or events, such as a siren, fire alarm, doorbell ring or baby’s cry. The dog then leads the owner to the source of the sound.

Assistance Dogs Help People with Hearing Loss

October 2009

Ray Dobson and the dog he now calls Goblin both had a problem. The little mixed-breed who was rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico needed a home. Dobson, of Orleans, Mass., was losing his hearing. “My wife saw me kind of dropping out,” he says. “As people get deafer they get more anti-social.” Both problems were solved when man and dog were brought together by the National Education for Assistance Dog Service, which trains dogs from shelters to assist the hearing impaired. Based in Princeton, Mass., NEADS has placed more than 1,300 hearing dogs all over the country since 1976. Goblin does for Dobson what his digital hearing aid can’t.

New Hearing Dog Agency in the Works

March 2010

You may have seen the notices a while ago about the closing down of the SF SPCA Hearing Dog Program. Some of the folks who made that program so successful are in the process of starting a new program to train hearing dogs. More information

Illinois Woman Gets Hearing Dog

October 2010

Crystal Nicholus was 5-years-old when her hearing began to fade. Over the years, it has gotten gradually worse – to the point where she is totally deaf in one ear and has an 80 percent loss in the other. Nicholus reads lips and speaks well, but there are times she needs help. Nicholus is the bookkeeper for The Salvation Army in Freeport. She received a gift this week – a hearing service dog from International Hearing Dog, Inc. Her new friend is named Luna. Luna came to live and train with Nicholus in her home Wednesday. Luna arrived by airplane with Bob Cooley, assistant director and field representative for International Hearing Dog, Inc. from Colorado. Cooley’s job was to deliver Luna to Nicholus. His job is to get human and dog to work as a team. Since Wednesday, Luna has been adapting to her new surroundings – adjusting to new sounds. Nicholus is training with her. Nicholus is learning what Luna is trying to tell her. Luna is Nicholus’s new ears. Nicholus has welcomed her new dog with open arms – she needs the help.  Full Story

Fake Hearing Dog Promotes Outrage

April 2011

I was shocked when a friend applied for a special needs dog permit with the ADA (American Disabilities Act) so her dog could accompany her to a restaurant, a grocery store, or a classroom. She simply didn’t want to leave her dog alone at home or in the car. She had no hearing impairment or disability of any kind but with $20 and an application, her dog became special-a hearing dog. My friend admitted taking advantage of the system. Oh, loud and clear, it rang out to me. And then I recalled her minor complaints that turned major in order to get a refund; being short on cash at a restaurant, using a found disability plaque just to park free, or getting back too much change and bragging about it.


What can we do about fake service dogs?

April 2011

Imagine you’re confined to a wheelchair, blind, autistic or suffer from a seizure disorder. Your dog has been trained for two to three years to help you handle your disability which can include everything from diabetes to PTSD in these days of advanced service dog training techniques. Yet when you try to enter a supermarket, the manager informs you your dog is not welcome. Now, that’s not exactly legal. But it’s not uncommon. And while most of this less-than-tolerant behavior is the unfortunate result of the kind of blithering ignorance that says dogs are dirty and bad for business, much of it is currently being stoked by those who would try to pass off their ill-behaved dogs as service dogs.

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