Friday, April 30, 2010

Plugged-Up Ears

So I've been sick the past couple of days (which explains the near-lack of blog posts this week). It seems to be just a cold, though it has definitely knocked me down for the count and I really haven't felt like being anywhere near a computer for the last few days. (If I owe you an email, I'm sorry!)

Besides all the regular fun symptoms of a cold - with my newly diagnosed IBS on top of that - one of the more frustrating things has been my ears feeling plugged up. Losing any more of my hearing than I already have is extremely annoying, and so is having to have people repeat things much more often, and still feeling like I'm not quite getting it.

You guys know my pain, right? Even if you're hearing, having plugged up ears is super annoying. Hopefully this all goes away tomorrow - I'm already feeling much better in regards to my other symptoms.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hearing at the Phoenix Suns Game

On Monday I was very excited to be able to go to the Suns - Trailblazers playoff game at US Airways Center in Phoenix with my in-laws. I'm not a huge, hardcore sports fan, but I do enjoy watching football, basketball and baseball games and always support the home team. So, I was excited to get to go to the game (courtesy of my sister- and mother-in-law) as a treat.

I felt a bit of trepidation about the sheer amount of noise in the stadium. I've been to the building before and I've been to sporting events, but especially with my new hearing aids I was a little concerned. Luckily, everything worked out exactly as it did when I had my old aids. Sitting in our seats in the stadium I could certainly hear the noise of the crowd but it didn't hurt at all. People were yelling, screaming, stomping their feet and clapping, but it was all background noise. Of course I couldn't understand a word the announcer or anyone said, but I expected that. Now, when I went into the hallways for concessions or to check out their store in a futile attempt to find a Suns bumper sticker, then I certainly noticed the noise.

It was sort of strange. Sitting in my seat, people around me were using these cool little noisemakers - posters that folded up and could be used either as fans (very welcome in the hot stadium) or to make a noise like clapping if they smacked it against something. That was no biggie, just part of the noise. Yet in the halls when I went out to get some cookies, one guy leaning against the wall messing around with the noisemaker was driving me crazy.

Of course we laid the smackdown on the Trailblazers. The final score was 107-88. And happily, I was able to be there clapping along with everyone else, without turning off my aids.

My sister-in-law, the Suns Gorilla, and me, before the game

We won!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Get Those Fingers Flexible

I don't know about you, but when I was learning American Sign Language, and using it daily, my fingers were flexible as all get out. Now that I don't have much of a chance to use ASL, I find that when I do, I'm just not as dexterous as I used to be. Hopefully I will soon get the chance to take more ASL classes and use the language regularly, but until then maybe I ought to use one of these five products to make my fingers nimble. Since I'm a geek, my first choice would be the Xtensor Gamer Hand Exerciser from ThinkGeek. Think it would make me look a little silly? :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

DeafTeens.org is Up & Running!

Remember David, the teenager working on his Eagle Scout project, who was asking for stories about being deaf? Well, on Saturday, David announced that the project has come to fruition as DeafTeens.org. The blog is where you'll find the stories, and you can chat, too. There's even an area for doctors and parents. Great job on the site, David!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

WhiteHouse.gov Has Released 4 Open Source Modules - 1 That Assists Disabilities

According to the White House Blog, Whitehouse.gov has released some custom Drupal code - four modules, including NodeEmbed, "which improves accessibility of rich media for people with disabilities." (iTnews)

You can read more about the technicalities of NodeEmbed on the Drupal page here. Essentially, NodeEmbed allows everything you see on your computer screen to be accessed by screen reader software, including images.

I am a big supporter of open source, and the majority of programs I use at home are open. As the White House blog says, allowing everyone access to your code allows people to improve and better it who would never have had access otherwise. By tapping into the wide group mind of open source enthusiasts, code can be improved, made more efficient, and even adapted for uses far beyond the initial purpose.

If you are interested in open source software, check out the Open Source Initiative, and osalt.com, which can help you find open source alternatives to software you use every day.

For more on accessibility at Whitehouse.gov, check out their accessibility page here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

23andme.com - $100 Genetic Testing Today Only (April 23, 2010)

Edit: Never mind, seems the deal has ended. I didn't get to it in time.

I don't normally post more than one blog entry a day but I did want to share this deal that 23andme.com, a personal genetic testing site, is having today, April 23, in honor of DNA Day. 23andMe normally charges $499 for both 'editions' of their genetic testing - an Ancestry test that can help you find relatives and ancestors, and a Health test that identifies your genetic propensity towards diseases. The results are posted online, so you can go through and access them from your PC.

The Connexin 26 gene is included in their Health edition. For that reason (and simple curiosity) I'm going to go ahead and order a test tonight. If you're interested in seeing one person's results from the test, check out this 2008 TechCrunch blog post.

Holy Cow, This Robot Mouth is Terrifying

Oh. My. God.

The relatively innocuous article title "Robot Mouth Used to Study Deaf Speech" didn't give me any clue that the video I was about to see was quite so terrifying.

About.com Deafness linked to this CNET article about a robot mouth being used to demonstrate the proper pronunciation of words. It can determine if someone is pronouncing a word correctly and then does its own creepy, creepy thing to show how. Then it eats everyone in the room.

Maybe not, but that's what it looks like.

Watch the video below and judge for yourself. No captions, and I haven't watched it with the sound on yet. I kind of wish I could watch it without the video on, too. Oh, and there's a scientific article about this here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The ADA Generation

Disability Blog, a blog created by Disability.gov to provide news information and trends, is counting down the days to the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tuesday was Day 97, and the post involves members of the "ADA generation" - people born later than the 1970s who take disability inclusion for granted.

I was born in 1986, four years before President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law. As the post says, "Many young people do not remember life before the use of wheelchair ramps, curb cuts or closed captioning." I can attest to that. The concept of businesses not having wheelchair ramps is completely foreign to me. I am old enough to remember when not every show on TV was captioned or when there was not enough effort made to deliver captions effectively and efficiently. Often I had to watch my favorite Nickelodeon or Disney shows without being truly able to follow what was going on. I loved PBS my entire life because they have always provided captions.

However, I can see that while some problems and their solutions have entered the mainstream - like guide dogs for the blind and the aforementioned wheelchair ramps - new difficulties will always be faced. Right now a huge battle is being waged for online captions. The recently introduced and much lauded iPad delivers flash videos in a way that cannot support captions, and this is the year 2010. This is the 21st century and Netflix just captioned a hundred or so of their streaming videos. The automatic captioning system on Youtube is still in its infancy. People still feel the need to hide their hearing aids - or whatever disability. People do not feel as though they can self-advocate even though the legislation giving them that right was passed 20 years ago.

I sincerely hope that my kids take for granted things that we have difficulty with today, just the way I take for granted things that people before 1990 had difficulty with. As the article says, "As the 20th anniversary of this landmark law approaches, now is the time to consider how Americans have benefited from the passing of the ADA and what new possibilities and challenges it has created for people with disabilities."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

That's Just the Way We Hear

That's Just the Way We Hear was a video produced in 2009 by a group of kids for Better Speech and Hearing Month. Now the kids are back with a remake and a mission: they want the Jonas Brothers to hear their song. Help them out by voting for them here, and watch the video either on Youtube or below:




(via Live*Laugh*Love*Family)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Audigy Group Hearing Aid Batteries: My Review

When I bought my hearing aids through my audiologist, they threw in three years of free hearing aid batteries. This is awesome. Batteries cost so much, and naturally my "stock" of 675 batteries had turned useless since my new aids take 312s. The doc started me out with Energizer batteries, which lasted a couple days at most, then started giving me Rayovac Proline batteries. I loved those; they lasted me a week or so at a time.

My audiologist recently switched brands so now I'm getting "Audigy Group" batteries. Audigy Group is a member owned audiologist organization. Now, these batteries are distributed by Audigy Group but I can't tell who manufactures them. There is no logo on the packaging. It may be Energizer, because I've found a few websites that list Energizer as being linked to Audigy Group, but if it is, they're not making it obvious.

Now for my take on these Audigy Group batteries. I haven't noticed any decrease in battery life. I am getting between 5-7 days of life out of them, and that's fine, about what the Rayovac Prolines did. No complaints there.

Unfortunately, I do have a complaint about the packaging. If you are a hearing aid user I'm sure you're familiar with typical hearing aid battery packaging. The batteries are usually in a plastic case with a strip on each battery. Removing the strip activates the battery, and also provides an easy way to put the battery in the aid without getting your skin oils all over the battery.

This is the front of the Audigy Group battery packaging:


And the back. You can see it's got a "flower petal" design. You pull back the cardboard packaging to see black plastic.


You have to pull at the black plastic to see the battery:


You can see the battery is clinging to the black bit. You have to pry the battery from the black plastic in order to put it in your hearing aid. Your skin oils get all over the tiny battery, and besides, good luck actually getting it off in the first place. You need two hands. Well, actually three, one to hold the package, one to hold the black plastic down and one to remove the battery.

As you can imagine, putting a battery in my hearing aids is a chore now. And I'm 23 years old with healthy hands. I would hate for an older person, a person with vision difficulties, or someone suffering from arthritis to have to deal with this kind of thing.

The audiologist asked me for feedback on the new batteries. I might just print out this blog post to show him!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Music and Me: Another Approach

A few days ago I read this blog post on Life With the Diva about her approach to music. (And here, her music listening process.) That got me thinking about my own relationship with music and how I listen to it myself. I previously wrote a little bit about this topic in December, in this blog post. It's more about the Streamer (the Bluetooth accessory I use with my Oticon hearing aids) than my own thoughts about music, though.

I know a lot of people who love music. Music is part of who they are. They have CD collections that line the walls or they have an external hard drive or mp3 player full of music files. I am not one of these people. My music collection is limited to around 200 songs on a small SD card in my cell phone. And about 50 of those songs are Christmas songs that really need to be moved on out of there until December of next year. What do I listen to? Well, I grew up listening to country and I do still enjoy that music. I like how clear country singers' voices often are and how lyrics are often repeated. My husband has gotten me to enjoy classic rock and expand my listening repertoire a bit. And I also enjoy Celtic Thunder, a male group from Ireland, as well as other folk music. (A good way to see all the groups I like is here, on my last.fm profile).

As you can see, my music choices are limited. Three genres. Sometimes I break out and go crazy and listen to something like Death Cab for Cutie or OK Go. But you can tell that I don't branch out often. Why? I used to think this was just me. I was just not a Music Person. I was totally square when it came to listening to music. I could listen to the same song over and over and over. But since starting to read a lot of D/deaf blogs, I've found my experience is not that unique.

I like music that I know. I have to know the lyrics, for one thing. I like to know what is coming. When listening to a new song, my brain is working overtime. I'm trying to figure out the instruments (and failing horribly). I'm trying to figure out the singer's gender (and usually failing horribly, do you know how many singers I at first think are female?). I'm trying to puzzle out the lyrics and the "story" of the song. (Like the Diva, I HAVE to have lyrics. I won't enjoy the song if I don't.) And if I'm watching a music video, being an extremely visual person, I'm going to fail at all of that. All I'm going to see are the pretty pictures. This is especially bad with the incredibly cool OK Go music videos (link may start a video automatically). I have no idea what any of their songs are about. From what I can tell with other people they are able to simply relax and let the music wash over them. Meh.

In the link, L.J. says she does not listen to music in the car over the radio. I do, but only music from my mp3 player, one country station or one classic rock station. Radios typically play the same songs over and over so I don't have an issue, and I enjoy having a little bit of background music. By now I know most of the classic rock songs they are going to play on the radio. And I can put country music in the background easily if I haven't caught up with popular songs.

In other situations, I like listening to last.fm. I linked to my profile up above. I don't listen to it often, but I've filled my radio with artists I like, and usually only hear songs I know. If I don't know a song that pops up, I can look up the lyrics quickly. I really like the fire.fm extension for the Firefox browser, which allows me to play my last.fm radio without having the site open.

It takes a lot to get me to try a new artist on my own. If someone else wants to show me somebody, sure. Just know that unless there's a music video or lyrics to go with it, I'll probably get restless after a minute or two of the song. I like to approach music on my own.  I read the lyrics and then watch the music video (especially if I can see the singer(s)' lips). And if I like them I'll probably then listen to everything else they've ever done and put maybe three or four songs on my mp3 player. An entire album? Are you crazy?

So that's my approach to music. I would be interested to hear from other peoples' approaches! Am I more crazy than I think I am? :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Netflix Adds Subtitle Support for Around 100 Instant-Stream Titles

This past Thursday, Netflix announced that subtitles are now available for some titles that Netflix customers can watch instantly over their Windows or Mac computer. (I just can't say "PC or Mac." PC means Personal Computer... which can be running any old operating system you like.) There are only about 100 titles available with subtitles but they are going to increase that number, and, in the fall, support for subtitles should be available on their DTV, Blu-Ray and game console platforms. They say themselves, "it's a start," and it is indeed a welcome sign.

I wonder why they were only able to start with a relatively measly 100 titles or why it seems it will take time for the bulk of videos to be captioned. Seems that subtitle information should be available for the majority of what they have, but perhaps they don't have an easy or efficient system of adding that information to their streaming. A lack of captions has prevented me from taking advantage of Netflix in any way, but if they start getting some serious caption support in there I might consider becoming a customer. (They would need to add Linux support as well.) I already watch Glee regularly on Hulu since it is captioned, and online captioning is so much more reliable than television.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not the Greatest Name for Your Tinnitus Treatment, No (Quietus)

Today I was looking through the newest issue of Popular Science and happened to look at the back of the magazine, which always seems to be filled with ads for weird products. There was a full page ad for Quietus, a tinnitus treatment. Now I'm not going to make any comment on the effectiveness of this medication. Just take a look at the Amazon reviews and they can speak for me. And take a look at this Skeptic's Dictionary information about homeopathy. Quietus is a homeopathic medicine.

Anyway. What got me was not the fact that it's a tinnitus medication, but that the name Quietus certainly sounds familiar. Maybe familiar from a certain dystopian film adaptation of a science fiction novel by P.D. James. Ah yes. I Googled it and indeed, in the novel and movie, "Quietus" is a method of suicide. In the book, it's mass drownings; in the movie, it's a pill. To go back further, in Hamlet, the titular character thinks of committing suicide himself, in his most famous soliloquy, and says, "When he himself might his quietus make/With a bare bodkin?..."

Who knows what the manufacturers of Quietus were thinking? Who wants the name of their product associated with suicide, even if it's in the grand tradition of Shakespeare? Who knows? All I know is, it gave me a giggle this morning.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Telling the Family About Your New Hearing Aids: Weigh In!

I recently got an email from a reader of this blog. Other than his grandmother, who has an age-related hearing loss, he's the only one in his family with a hearing loss. He shunned hearing aids as a child, and "hated my HA's all throughout childhood through University."

Now as an adult he's bought himself a pair of hearing aids and wondering how to tell his family about it. As far as his family knows, he still dislikes hearing aids.

What do you think? Should he sit his family down in the living room and tell them all about his aids and his thoughts about becoming more involved in the Deaf/HoH community? Should he let the news leak out gradually or even just wear the hearing aids around and let his family figure it out for himself?

He's welcoming any and all feedback anyone has. If you've been through a similar experience or can put yourself in his shoes and have some advice, leave a comment below or email me (link is to the right). Thanks for all your help.

J., I hope I've represented your quandary correctly in this post. Let me know if I got anything wrong!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gene Patents Ruled Invalid

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet declared patents on genes to be invalid. In this particular case, a genetics company, Myriad Genetics Inc., had a patent on a test for inherited breast cancer, with "tight control over use of the genes." (BusinessWeek) The company was sued last May by the American Civil Liberties Union and cancer patients who had their treatments limited due to the patents held by Myriad Genetics.

While this ruling is sure to be challenged, this is good news for, well, basically anybody with genes - and for genetic discoveries in the future related to hearing loss and other disabilities.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Help Out With "The Little Book of Hearing Aid Tips"

Over at Deafness and Hearing Aids, the author is planning a "Little Book of Hearing Aid Tips" full of advice and information for someone who is getting hearing aids for the first time.

This book would be free and would be in the form of an ebook and a printed version. If you want to contribute, email the Deafness and Hearing Aids author from the contact page on the website. According to the post, "[j]ust one paragraph is enough, even one sentence if that's all you need." So go ahead and share your wisdom.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Page: "Recommended on the Web"

If you look at the top of this page you'll see a link to a page on my blog called Recommended on the Web. I recently added this page as a repository of links to blogs, resources, and projects that might be of interest to anyone who's interested in my blog - and hearing loss. It is, of course, a constant work in progress - it'll never be completely done - and it's entirely subjective; it's what I like, personally, and thought you'd enjoy, too.

If you have Blogger and are curious about how to make pages, it's super easy. Check out this guide.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Can YOU Do?: The Campaign for Disability Employment

Check out this website, the What Can You Do? Campaign for Disability Employment.

It's a new public outreach campaign "showing employers that it pays to foster an inclusive and flexible work culture that considers the needs of all employees – including those with disabilities." (Disability.gov) Through a partner with several business and disability organizations, the website provides information for employers, family members, and people with disabilities about their ability to work.

There are two videos here (captioned and described) and a place for people to spread the word about what they can do - what they do.

Here's the video below (not described, but captioned).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Finally Tried It Out

Yesterday was the day. I had promised myself that I would try the new program on my hearing aid. Now, I got this program back in December or January. It took me this long to get up the courage to try it out.

First, let me explain a bit about where I work. I work at a public library and about 50-60% of my time is spent out in our new addition, a 10,000 square foot room. There are only a couple rooms in this large, cavernous area. The area has thin carpeting and two of the four massive walls are completely windowed. From my seat at the desk, I am in front of our booksale area and one of our entrances, as well as a staff entrance to the workroom and a busy Security area. To my left is the main entrance of the library and our very busy DVD section as well as a huge glass aquarium. To my right is a quieter area: our nonfiction wing and our cafe filled with people working quietly on laptops. Behind me is our main computer lab, which is open on the floor, our fiction shelving, and a seating area in the back of the room.

Now, as you might imagine, sitting at a desk that is basically in the center of all of this is hectic and loud. Sound bounces off every wall in the place, especially the glass windows. The many corners and high ceilings make it even more impossible to discern where sounds are coming from. Patrons do not have to be quiet in this library, and they certainly take advantage of that. Every day this area is filled with conversations, yelling children, people walking, people on their cell phones, etc. It is a difficult environment as far as hearing goes for anyone. It is a nightmare for someone with a hearing loss.

I mentioned this to my audiologist in one of my followup appointments with my new hearing aids. He set up a program on my aids that he said would help. The program muffles sounds to my right, left, and behind me. It amplifies sounds directly in front of me. That way, I would not have to deal with competing sounds as I tried to speak with patrons. I was excited about it and told myself I should try it right away, but I never did. At first I was just nervous about how to set the program. Then I was nervous that it wouldn't work properly and that people would get frustrated and cranky. Or that I myself would get frustrated and cranky.

I tried it out a couple weeks ago at a restaurant. Scotty and I were seated in the center of a loud and busy area, so I set the program. It worked very well. I could hear just Scotty and not all the other conversations going on around me. Then I tried it out again at another restaurant celebrating Easter with my dad and family. That also worked well, though I noticed that when someone did speak to me from the side they sounded like robots. It was kind of weird but not a big deal. I could still understand them.

Given these successes I told myself I had no excuse for not trying it at work. I decided to try it yesterday. Unfortunately the first half of the day was very quiet. I had no reason to set a different program because the room was silent most of the time, or close to it, and I doubted I would get a good idea of how the program was working. Towards the end of the day I had two hours to spend at the desk and it got very busy. So from 3:00-5:00 I set the program. (Which is very simple - I just have to hold down the volume button for two seconds and it switches.) Instantly, I noticed a difference.

The sounds behind me completely faded away. Even the air conditioning, which is constant and loud and annoying, was muffled. At the same time, I could hear everything in front of me with great clarity. I could even hear patrons' passing conversations to one another as they walked in front of the desk, like having a spy microphone hidden on them. When a patron approached the desk I could hear much better than normal. Typically I have a lot of difficulty if a patron is looking down, messing in their purse, mumbling, etc. I hardly had to ask anyone to repeat themselves. In fact, the first hour, I didn't have to ask at all. I was actually a bit worried my voice might get louder since I could hear it better.

It wasn't perfect. If someone was off to the side, even if they were still in front of me but just to the right or left a bit, they sounded like a robot. It wasn't so bad that I couldn't understand them but it was a bit disorienting. There was just this mechanical quality to their voice that was weird. And listening to two people talk at once or over each other was difficult, but then, I have that problem in my normal program, too.

All in all I really liked this program. I plan to use it whenever it gets loud out there on the desk. If you spend a lot of time in a situation like mine, and wear hearing aids, I would urge you to check your settings or ask your audiologist if he or she can program something like this for you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

About my Audiologist - East Valley Hearing

Today OuterChat.com mentioned a chat that will be going on about people's experiences with audiologists. I won't be able to participate in the chat, but it got me thinking about my own audiologist. I go to East Valley Hearing, and my audiologist is Dr. Scharber. I've been going there for more than a decade. He was the one who fitted me with my first digital hearing aids, and recently he got me my Oticon Epoqs.

I've read horror stories about people visiting audiologists and being unable to communicate, or dealing with unsympathetic staff and leaving frustrated and confused. I feel very lucky to have gotten an excellent audiologist. Everything about his office is designed to communicate - when you walk in the door, to your right you see a visual history of hearing aids complete with actual displays of old aids, and to your left, you see a display of current hearing aid models, testimonials, and news. Just a bit further down is a small store with useful items like bed shaking alarm clocks, and a television on a loop system. Of course, you have the typical advertisements displaying senior citizens enjoying their new-found hearing. Since pretty much every other patient I see in there is a senior citizen, I can't be snarky about that.

The staff remember my name every time I go in, which is every month or couple of months since I pick up my hearing aid batteries from them. (When I bought my hearing aids, they gave me three years of batteries for free.) They helped me set up the Care Credit to be able to afford my aids, and my audiologist threw in the Streamer accessory for them for free. And every time I go for an actual appointment, Dr. Scharber listens to my concerns, and always has an answer or an explanation. He taught me about entrainment, and helped me set up a new program for my aids that helps me listen in crowded situations. (I will definitely be trying it out at work today. I'm holding myself to it. Expect a blog post on that tomorrow!)

I wish that everyone had an audiologist that listens to them, tells them about their options, describes the technical terms, and does everything possible to ensure they have the best experience with their aids. Knowing the aids are taken care of - and my ears are, too - takes a load off when I have hearing concerns. How about you? What is your audiologist like?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Are You Awake Enough to Read this Braille Article?

Good morning. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. Where I'm at it's still a bit early in the morning. When this Scientific American article on Braille displays used to read text on the Web came up in my RSS subscription, I admit I had to read it a couple times over to understand what they're going on about. I should probably head back to bed, or make myself some coffee.

A 40-cell Braille reader

Seriously though, this stuff is pretty cool. We folks who have trouble hearing need captions on our videos, but most of the entire Web is inaccessible to the blind. There are currently readers for the Web that many blind people use. They read Braille output of text on the Web using "a touchable row of finger-sized rectangular cells lined up side by side like dominoes. [...] Each time a person reads the row of Braille with his fingers (left to right), the pin configurations refresh to represent the next line of a Web page's text, and so on." As you might imagine, that is slow, and frustrating.

Luckily, science marches on, and North Carolina State University researchers have come up with a way to display 25 rows of text at a time. So Braille readers can backtrack, move forward, and navigate more easily. Naturally this tech is going to make the readers cost more, so the researchers are using magic to fix that problem. No, just kidding. They have two possible ways of fixing it - both of which are outlined in the article.

Reading Braille is an important issue in the blind community. Some people say that blind people can just use speech synthesizers, to read the Web out loud to them (the library where I work uses a Kurzweil system of reading text aloud). However, learning Braille is an important skill for people with sight difficulties. According to the article, 90% of people in this population who have jobs can read Braille, but only 10% of blind children are learning Braille.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

BBC Writes About "The Deaf World Online"

If you are new to the community of deaf people online, or if you've been around for awhile but are looking for something new to read, try reading the BBC's article on "The Deaf World Online."

It was posted a month ago, but I only just read it because my Google Alert let me know that it links to my blog (in a nice paragraph that made me blush). I was excited to see a link back to my blog, but more than that, it's a wonderful article itself. Besides the information on British Sign Language, there's links to other blogs and online forums that are all worth a look. I love articles like this, which really show how much is out there!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"My Deaf Family" - Marlee Matlin's New Youtube Series

If you haven't seen My Deaf Family yet, go check it out! Or watch the pilot here (yes, it is captioned):



I saw this yesterday after several bloggers posted about it. Marlee Matlin is producing this show about Jared, a hearing 15-year-old who lives with the five other members of his family, four of whom are deaf. The 10-minute pilot, linked and embedded below, covers the basics of Jared's family, his family's use of American Sign Language and a visit to his siblings' school for a basketball game.

I really enjoyed this first episode. Jared's family is just like any other family, really. They fight, play basketball in the street, order pizza for dinner and take road trips. The unique thing is that they mostly communicate with American Sign Language, and of course their Deafness changes the way they interact with the world (for example, they order pizza by video relay, and the mom talks a bit about how she approaches hearing people about her loss).

Everyone in the video has something interesting to say about hearing loss. The mother in particular is opinionated and has a lot to say, while the dad seems more thoughtful and quiet. Jared obviously loves and supports his family. Only thing is - I feel like somebody is going to end up in an accident if the driver keeps signing at 75 miles per hour on the freeway! ('Course, same thing can happen if you love to talk and gesture!)

I've subscribed to the MyDeafFamily channel on Youtube and will be keeping an eye out for more webisodes!