Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Variables of Hearing

Hearing loss can be a really tricky thing. One of the trickiest things I have found to grasp about hearing loss is how it's not always consistent.

For example, just because I heard someone speaking at a certain tone of voice once and was able to understand them doesn't mean I will be able to understand them the next time they speak. Or because I was able to tell where a sound came from once doesn't mean I can do it again. Sometimes I have an easy time of it and hear someone's question right away and sometimes I just can't make it out no matter how many times they repeat it.

Sound Design for Visual Media and Film Production students at dbc sound
Photo by vancouverfilmschool on Flickr.

I particularly notice this when talking to people I know, like my husband for example. He always sits in his big comfy chair in the living room and I am usually in the same spot on the couch - but sometimes I can hear him easily and sometimes I can't.

I think there are a lot of variables that go into whether or not I can hear something/someone on any given day: the noise level, the person's voice, the loudness of the noise, my position in reference to the person/thing making the noise, my familiarity with the noise the person/thing makes, whether I'm inside or outside, how large the room is, if there's carpet, and of course, my mood. My hearing aids might even factor into it, as sometimes when it's humid and they haven't gone through my audiologist's dehumidifier they act differently.

Sometimes it can lead to frustration. Not only on others' part but also on my own - it is embarassing for me to realize I completely missed a sound I usually notice.

I'd like to know your experiences with this and how consistent you find your ability to hear certain noises - what do you think?

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Okay To Feel Worn Out

Lately I've been trying to give myself more permission to just be worn out. Tired of listening and trying to hear and figure out what's being said or what I'm missing.

It's only recently that I've begun to recognize that I work harder than other people in conversation. You would think it would be a given, but I really didn't think much about my deafness until I began writing this blog and thinking about how it affects me. Before I would just keep trying and blame it on other things, especially at school. I didn't have much self-awareness.

With that self-awareness, though, has come a secondary awareness of how tired listening makes me. For example, on the news channel I watch in the mornings, anything scripted is closed captioned but the banter between the various newscasters is not. I used to just try to listen to them, and feel annoyed when I couldn't hear them (not that any of it is ever vitally important). Now I just get annoyed that it isn't captioned, and ignore them or even change the channel.

I can tell it is starting to affect my mindset in other areas as well. At work when I have been trying to understand vague, mumbling people for hours at a time. At a store when I am trying to listen to someone talk to me and the intercom keeps blaring, equipment keeps driving by (especially hardware stores) or everything echoes. It is hard not to feel irritated.

I have been trying to become more accepting of it without the irritation. Trying to come up with ways to get people to talk to me clearly and not from 10 feet away or incredibly quiet. I am trying to accept that I won't be able to hear everything, that some stuff doesn't need to be heard and that it's going to wear me out sometimes.

Sometimes I can feel I haven't succeeded in the whole "acceptance" thing. I feel myself getting irritated with the library patron who can't hear a thing I'm saying either so we're both yelling at each other and not getting anywhere. I feel irritated at the intercom at the grocery store, the car driving by, the kids shouting in the parking lot when I try to go to my car. Sometimes I get home to total silence and just feel totally invigorated. Who needs noise?

How do you feel about noise and silence? Do you have any tips for dealing with this sort of thing - without getting irritated?

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Local "Accessible" Movie Theaters

I received a comment on my post Different Perspectives from Mickey, who lives in the UK. I replied to it on the post but wanted to write a post about this topic. Here is the comment:
Hello Megan
Great blog and interesting stuff here - just found your site. 
I was surprised by you saying "I'd really like to go see David Tennant in Fright Night, but am I going to be able to understand him?" 
In the UK we have captioned Cinema and I've set up a website to list all captioned Cinema in North West of England see http://accessibleevents.org.uk/north-west/ 
Surely with ADA you have captioned movies in the USA? Or are they just difficult to find or show so few films? 
Cheers
Mickey
I don't go to the movies often but I decided to take a look at my 3 local theaters to see what they have to offer.

Harkins Theatres has an Open Captioned link on their front page but the only message on the link is "There are no open captioned films currently playing." I mostly go to Harkins when I go to the movies but I have to say their attitude about captioning movies has frustrated me pretty often.

AMC Theatres is not that close to me but I go there pretty often when I do go to the movies. Their movies are listed under the Assisted Moviegoing link. Currently the only movie they are showing with "Closed Caption" is The Help. It is only showing in one location within 40 miles of me, in Glendale, Arizona.

Finally, Dickinson Theatres recently opened a location near me. They do not have a link specifically for accessible showtimes and none of the showtimes indicate Open Captioning.

I do think Dickinson has open captioning because my in-laws went to see The Help and accidentally saw an open captioned showing. I don't think they put them as part of their official showtimes on the website or as part of the board you see when you go to the theater.

In April of 2010 it was ruled that the ADA covers closed captioning at movies. Captioning falls under the heading of "auxiliary aids and services" to people. There is some debate over whether open-captioned movies fall under this ruling and I haven't heard much about the case since then.

I do wish theaters would do more for captioned movies. I don't like having to figure out what accents actors have just to have an expectation of whether or not I'll be able to understand a movie. And I don't like having to patronize locations that don't consider what I would prefer as a customer, Harkins especially. For awhile it looked like Harkins was getting better about providing captioned movies, but I haven't seen one available in a long time.

I think captioned movies fall under the heading of things people do not think about until they actually need them.

Are captioned movies available where you are located?

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year is a young adult novel by Steve Kluger. It follows teenagers T.C., his brother Augie, and Alejandra, and is written in the form of diary entries, instant messages, and emails from them and other supporting characters.

My Most Excellent Year also features a very well-written and -rounded Deaf character named Hucky. Hucky is a six-year-old boy living in a residence for Deaf children after his mother abandoned him. Hucky is befriended by the three main characters, especially T.C.

Hucky is an excellent contrast to many deaf children in literature. He definitely stood out in comparison to the little boy in Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz, who is basically treated as a tragic, misunderstood character with little feelings of his own except what other characters lay onto him. Hucky, by contrast, definitely has his own personality, opinions, way of communicating, and outlook on life.

The little boy is allowed to grow over the course of the novel, along with the other three main characters. By the end of the novel Hucky is very different than he was at the start, and you can see him blossoming.

His communication "problems" are never actually a problem. The characters embrace learning American Sign Language, and there are some funny moments when they can't communicate properly or don't know the right signs. The novel even touches on the difference between ASL and British Sign Language through another character.

This is a really sweet novel that I think is a great example of the way d/Deaf/hard of hearing characters can be written so well. I really liked it and I hope you get the chance to pick it up, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Around the Web Wednesday: Accessible Beaches, Bob Williams, and School

  • Yahoo! Accessibility has an interesting real-world post about an actual situation faced at a beach in or near Vancouver. The beach has a marked handicapped-accessible spot but the only way to access the beach itself is by stairs. The author suggests adding a sign to the parking spot so that people will not be confused.
  • I really enjoyed this post on Disability Blog by Bob Williams, who is the new Associate Commissioner for the Social Security Administration's Office of Employment Support Programs. Can you imagine 6 million people with disabilities in the workforce? Only 4.5 million are employed today.
  • Jennifer, who has triplets, one of whom wears hearing aids and one of whom has a cochlear implant, shares the story of her sons at school and how they shared information about their hearing loss and technology with the class.
  • And finally, a very good guest post on Speak Up Librarian about supporting deaf/hard of hearing students in mainstream classrooms.
  • Life's been crazy lately so I don't have a video for this week, sorry!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 Oticon Focus on People Award Winners!

I was very excited to see the winners of the 2011 Oticon Focus on People Awards! This award is given annually to people who "defy the stigma of hearing loss."

I was especially excited to see one winner, Sarah Wegley, the Advocacy winner. Sarah runs the great blog Speak Up Librarian which I love reading. I was so happy to see she won!

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Friday, September 2, 2011

How To Search Google & YouTube For Only Closed Captioned Videos

Today I wanted to share something cool that my friend told me about: how to search Google for videos with closed-captioning. I've already used it a few times and it is very useful.

1. Go to Google Videos here.
2. Click on Advanced Video Search (direct link).
3. Enter your search into the text field and make sure Subtitles - Search only closed captioned videos is checked (click to enlarge):


4. Click Search Videos.
5. All of your search results will have closed captions enabled.
6. To remove the closed captioned criteria from your search, click on the "X" that appears at the top of your search results on the next page:



It's that simple!

You can do the same thing with specifically YouTube videos:

1. Go to YouTube.com.
2. Type your search criteria in the top bar and click Search.
3. Click on Filter & Explore under the "Search results for..." text:



4. From here you can click on CC (closed caption):


An even easier way is to type in your search but add ,cc to the end of your search. For example:
lizard ,cc
deaf ,cc
asl ,cc
This automatically adds the filter. (I am going to be using this all the time!)

I hope this helps!