Monday, February 28, 2011

Another Weird Hearing Aid: The Ring Hear

I'm pretty sure this hearing aid is intended more as art, to look pretty, than to serve any actual function as a hearing aid.

Take a look: it's a ring designed as an ear horn.



Industrial artist Gina Hsu came up with this concept and is selling them for $474. Crunch Gear has termed it "Gadg-Art": "You don’t actually expect to use it. Plus, at 340 Euros, you don’t want to scratch it or damage it."

What do you think of those old ear trumpets, so often associated with older people and olden times, getting the artsy treatment?

(via Neatorama)

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Geekiest Way to Lose Your Hearing

(from the article)
Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski is said to be the only person to have ever stuck his head inside a particle accelerator, during an accident in 1978 in which he was trying to check on an equipment malfunction. He absorbed 1000 gray of radiation (5 gray is usually fatal), but he survived, though his face swelled up and his skin peeled off at the back and front of his head where a proton beam entered and exited.

Bugorski did experience some side effects, including paralyzation of the left side of his face and mental fatigue that didn't stop him from completing his PhD. One of the weirdest side effects he experienced was that the left half of his face is frozen in time. The right side of his face has aged normally and looks as you'd expect an old man to look, but the left side of his face still looks young.

However, I hereby award Bugorski with the "geekiest way to lose one's hearing" award, because according to the article:
He lost the hearing in his left ear and experienced a constant unpleasant noise in that ear from then on.
There's nothing pleasant about tinnitus - but at least he has an interesting story to tell!

(via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do You Have Experience With the Esteem?

Back in March I wrote a post about the Esteem, a fully implanted hearing aid, which had just gained FDA approval. The post is actually my most popular post and I still get regular comments on it.

Many people have left comments with questions, concerns and thoughts about the Esteem. I'm going to repost some of them below. If you have experience with the Esteem (or just have questions and thoughts), feel free to discuss it in the comments below, and if you know the answers to these questions, I'd love to hear them.

I would also love a guest post from anyone who has experience with the Esteem - the information would be greatly appreciated! (In some cases I removed the question from the surrounding comment just for brevity - visit the post to see all the comments in their context.)

Now, the question is will the insurance company treat it as a prosthetic or a hearing aid coverage?

I might just go for it...will need to do some more research, put that in one of my better ear and a C.I. in one of my worst ear and just maybe, I might have the best of everything? I wonder is it removable should stem cell cure happens?

--

I wonder if this device would help people that have a 90 percent hearing loss and nerve deafness.

--

Does it stop tinnitus??

--

Since the FDA approval, has Medicare approved for payment?

--

Any place where they are inserted for less money? It would hardly be worth it for a 78 year old but to be able to hear for the next ten years of so would bring meaning to my live and others. My husband and I live on social security and it is impossible to pay from that.

--

Has anyone had the implant and did not have a good experience with it? I would love to hear your comments.
--

so, is it waterproof? If so, to what depth?

--

There is no mention, I'm assuming it uses steel/metal parts, and is therefore not possible for someone such as me. Does anyone know? or know where to find the information? I've poked around but didn't find anything remotely close to answering the question.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Moving... (Myself, Not the Blog)

(From Flickr user splityarn)
I'm in the process of moving - hopefully we will close on a house a week from tomorrow - and so updates to this blog might be a little more sporadic than usual while I pack, get utilities set up, etc.

Hopefully I'll still have time to write (or I can use the blog as an excuse to procrastinate on packing!), but if I'm nowhere to be found for a bit, no worries! Thanks for being the great readers you are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Love On Your Hearing Aid

(Image from Flickr user Brandon Warren)
 If you wear a hearing aid regularly, chances are you appreciate what it does for you. I know I find it amazing that a tiny bundle of wires and computer parts actually amplifies my hearing - not to mention that it comes properly geeked out with Bluetooth accessories and matching color schemes!

So how can you show love to your hearing aid, not only today or Valentine's Day, but every day?
  • Give it a nice clean every night before bed - wipe it off with a cotton swab or a tissue.
  • Don't bring them in the bathroom with you when you take a shower or a bath; keep them away from the humidity.
  • Keep them protected and away from the pool while swimming.
  • Take them in to your audiologist for a cleaning every three to six months or so. While you're there, ask them to change out the tubing if they don't do it as part of the cleaning.
  • Check the hearing aid for wax daily and clean it out carefully - if your hearing aid manufacturer didn't give you a cleaning tool, you can try a very small wire brush, or even a thumbtack if you are careful.
  • Wash and dry your hands before you change the battery.
  • Brush any debris out of the battery door when you change the battery.
  • If you can easily remove the earmold from any electronic components in your aid, you can try soaking it in warm water with soap for a few minutes to give it a good clean.
  • Think about buying a good dehumidifier to store your aids in overnight.
  • Don't get your hair wet while wearing your hearing aids, or put any goop in your hair while they're in.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Distinct Lack of Characters with Disabilities in Children's Literature

This article from Disability Scoop highlights what I think is an ongoing issue in children's books: the lack of characters with disabilities.

From Flickr user Svadilfari
I'm not picky about my reading material; I read books intended for any audience, no matter the age. I am always pleasantly surprised when I encounter a character who's "different," and when the author of the book handles it well. A good example of that would be a recent favorite of mine, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, which features a deaf supporting character who reminded me a lot of myself at that age.

As noted in the article, researchers looked at 131 winners of the Newbery Medal and Honor and found that just 31 contained a character - major or supporting - with a disability. According to the article:
What's more, characters with disabilities were most likely to be supporting characters and were often used to boost the emotional growth of those without disabilities rather than to develop in their own right, the study finds.
As a child I would have loved to read a book that contained a strong character who wore hearing aids, like me. I definitely wouldn't want to see "different" characters shoehorned in like Very Special Episodes of television shows, but more representation would definitely be nice.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Humans are Deaf to Unexpected Sounds

From Flickr
One of the coping mechanisms our brain uses to deal with a word full of noise is to identify what's background noise and what's important to listen to. But this same mechanism can also leave us unable to hear unexpected sounds - sort of an auditory version of an optical illusion.

This article from io9 explains a recent study in which people listened to background noise ("an orderly set of new sounds that were somewhere between a tenor saxophone and a French horn") while playing with Etch-a-Sketches, for seven minutes. They were then asked to identify which of three sounds were different. If the sounds didn't fit the expected pattern, the subjects could not figure it out.

I think this is very interesting. So often people think of hearing as being in the ears - but most of our hearing is done in our brains using feedback from our ears.

The study can be found here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

After the Super Bowl (Update 2/8/11)

Update: PinkLAM was kind enough in the comments to point me towards a survey being run by the National Association of the Deaf about the Super Bowl captioning. Check it out here.

So, how did everyone enjoy the captioned Super Bowl?

I went to see the game at my sister-in-law's house, and initially we didn't turn the captions on. No one, hearing or not, could actually hear what was going on, because it was a party and of course it was loud. We turned the captions on midway through the game. My sister-in-law has a DVR box through her cable company that handles the captions through the box, so whether or not HDMI cables are used, the captions will still come through. I was pretty impressed. The captions on the game itself had very little lag and didn't block half the screen the way they used to. It helps that we had a lot of options with the captions and could make the background transparent and change the colors of the words if we wanted to.

The commercials seemed slightly off. The captions were just a second or two behind the dialogue. That could have been a problem with our broadcast. A few commercials that seemed to be national commercials did not have captioning, such as the E*TRADE commercial with the baby. I was a little unhappy at the local commercials for national brands that weren't captioned. It is just such a simple thing, especially when everyone else is doing it, that really enhances the brand, in my opinion. It shows they care.

I enjoyed the game! It was fun even though neither team is my team (the Arizona Cardinals). I rooted for the Packers, so naturally I was happy at the outcome of the game! I hope everyone else enjoyed their Sunday - Super Bowl, or no.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Will You Be Watching the 100% Captioned Super Bowl?

This year, the Super Bowl will be 100% captioned - from (national) commercials to promotions to the game itself - for the first time ever. What do you think? Will you be watching the Super Bowl with captions on?

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of captioning on sports events when watching them myself just because they can lag behind and take up too much of the screen. Of course, I'm extremely glad they're there, but I usually don't have them on. But commercials - I am a big fan of captions on commercials. I have missed so many punchlines to commercials because they weren't captioned!

I'm looking forward to watching the Super Bowl on Sunday - and maybe I will be able to catch more of the jokes this time.

From the National Association of the Deaf:
The deaf and hard of hearing community has engaged in an annual ritual of counting the number of captioned commercials and network promotions during the Super Bowl. Consumers are invited to join in this celebration by counting along as we reach our 100% captioning goal. The NAD is interested in learning about any technical issues that affect the pass through of captions to consumer's television sets.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Smartphone App for Your Cochlear Implant?

From Flickr user lucas.leite
There are many, many apps for smartphones that make life easier to live, from task lists to calendars to email access (and even some apps specifically helpful to the deaf). I've seen cars that come with their own apps now. But what if you could take it a step further, and control your cochlear implant from your smartphone?

According to this article at the University of Texas at Dallas News Center, the university's Cochlear Implant Lab has developed technology to do just that. Pending FDA approval, ten American healthcare and research facilities will begin to use it. The program will allow cochlear implant users to modify their settings depending on their environment - for example, in a loud restaurant or at a sports arena. They can even record sounds they are having difficulty with for later analysis at the lab.

Here is a video about the technology. Unfortunately, it is not captioned. It does illustrate the way the technology interacts with the phone and the cochlear implant.

(via Jeff's Bionic World)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Americans Living with Disability and their Technology Profile

(From Flickr user Kevin Zollman)
This is a study conducted in September 2010 about Americans living with disability and their technology profile.

According to the study, 27% of Americans live with a disability that interferes with their activities of daily living, including "serious difficulty hearing," seeing, climbing stairs, concentrating, dressing themselves, and visiting a doctor's office. The respondents answered these questions themselves; here is a PDF of the survey questions.

Of those 27%, 2% say their disability makes it harder or impossible to use the Internet, and 54% of them use the Internet compared to 81% of the adults who did not have difficulties as asked on the survey.

You can view the full report online here. I think it is very interesting information especially when looking at the data from the perspective of advocacy for Internet access for all.

(via Stephen's Lighthouse)