Saturday, February 25, 2012

How Does Being an Extrovert or an Introvert Affect Being Deaf?

I recently finished a very interesting book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Amazon affiliate link). Susan Cain uses this book as an introduction to the thought processes of extroverts and introverts, the latter of whom make up about 1/3 to 1/2 of the population. She explores their different ways of thinking and approaching things, why some countries lean more heavily on either side of the spectrum, and how extroverts and introverts can get along in business and personal relationships.

As I read, I couldn't help thinking about how a person's life with deafness may be changed whether they are an extrovert or an introvert.

I'm an introvert myself and I consider myself well adapted to the challenges that come from not being able to hear. I think being an introvert has actually helped me, although I wouldn't have thought that before reading this book. Being more introspective, thinking about things more carefully, and approaching new things more cautiously may have helped me recognize how I might have to modify my approach because I'm not able to hear as well as others.

Passionate Introverts
From Flickr user Charlyn W
Of course, it can be limiting as well. I don't enjoy being as social as other people do, so I do not have as much experience in intimidating social situations where I could learn how to make sure I hear more easily. And being an introvert limits wanting to go meet new D/deaf people and market myself.

Although I sometimes have a hard time understanding extroverts, I can see where a D/deaf extrovert might experience positives and negatives based on their approach to the world.

An extroverted person with a hearing loss may have a wider network of support and people to turn to, as well as more people who know about their deafness. They may be more able to explain to people what accommodations they need and be more willing to push for changes.

On the other hand they may find themselves limited by their hearing loss and frustrated when they can't follow along in a conversation they are interested in. If loud noises hurt their ears (through hearing aids/cochlear implants) they might not be able to go to loud concerts, sports events, etc. that they enjoy.

I'd love to hear perspectives from extroverted and introverted people with hearing loss. What do you think?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hey Video Marketers: Caption Your Videos for the Marketing Value, Too

Argus/Cosina Model 708 Super Eight Movie Camera
(from Flickr user go_offstation)
There is a lot of resistance (passive and active) to captioning videos online through YouTube or similar services.

Some people don't ever even consider it an option, even people who are trying to market themselves. They may not be aware of the importance of captioning or they may not know they can do it with their own videos. Others resist it because they think it will cost money or time, or they think it is too challenging, or they think not enough people will use it to make it worthwhile.

However, even if these perceptions are stopping you from captioning your videos, you should be aware they are an important marketing tool as well. Just like your title and description is important when uploading a video, so are the captions. According to this article on Business 2 Community,

All text fields on YouTube are scanned by both YouTube and Google search engines and the same goes for the text submitted in your Closed Captions. This means you can textually include keywords and phrases within your video content to help your content get found by searching Internet users.

So don't forget to caption those videos.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Captioning the Hypnotoad

If you are like me, you probably set the captions on your TV and watch them regularly, but don't pay much attention to the way things are captioned. I definitely notice if there is an error, or if something is censored, but I don't notice /how/ things are captioned.

This article from Yahoo! Accessibility takes a look at how one specific sound could be captioned differently from episode to episode of a TV show. They used the captioning of the sound the Hypnotoad from Futurama makes. Because the Hypnotoad is in the same context pretty much every time it appears on the show, differences in captioning style are obvious.

My favorite. I love a good eyeball thrum.

Some of the choices made in these captions are really interesting. The Hypnotoad is captioned as anything from a drone to a grinding sound. The analysis of the word choice in the article is a fascinating read.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Hearing Aid That Doesn't Look Like a Hearing Aid

Take a look at this - the new "Panasonic JZ Power WH-105JZ hearing instrument with binaural audio headset."

(Picture via medGadget)

 Doesn't look much like a hearing aid, does it?

According to the press release, this hearing instrument is intended for mild to severe hearing loss. You have your little unit, which looks more like an mp3 player than what it is, and a headset which is supposedly suitable for hours of wear. The unit is used to switch channels on the aids as well as handle noise, feedback, and volume. There are also four 'modes': standard, music, party, and indoors.

One interesting thing about it is that it can be recharged in a cradle or you can use standard AAA batteries for it. Nice - no expensive, special batteries needed.

I thought this was interesting. From the looks of it and the fact that it includes "party" mode, I thought it would be marketed towards young adults. A visit to their website changes that perception, though. It's intended for people in adult communities/nursing homes and for people who are prone to misplace their hearing aids.

If you took out the wires and add an SD slot for listening to music, I wouldn't be surprised to see this marketed towards young people as well.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Help in the Classroom: From a Game System?

Nintendo DS Goodies
(Photo from Flickr user barron)
Can you imagine a classroom in which some kids are encouraged to be looking at their game systems?

Nintendo and a Japanese company, NTT, are working together to make this a reality. The project they are working on will make it possible for deaf students to keep up with a lecture in the classroom. The project "captures instructor speech, converts it to text, and saves it to the cloud while also sending it to devices -- like the DSi." (Joystiq) It's hoped this project will not only help deaf students but also students with learning disabilities and other challenges. I could even see it helping the reading ability of students.

I can just see it now, a teacher asking their students to make sure they all have their game systems ready before beginning a lecture. I know I'd love it if I was a kid!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Laura Muller and Undiagnosed Hearing Loss

Reading about people who are successful and driven with a hearing loss is always inspiring to me. The latest such story I've seen was in the Yorkshire Post here and has to do with Laura Muller. She was born with 50% of her hearing and is now a professional skydiver.

In the article, Laura discusses how she would often have concerns about how well she could handle things with her deafness. She wasn't diagnosed with a hearing loss until she was 15 years old, so wearing hearing aids was new for her at a pretty important time of a person's life. She made the best of it, though, and went on to attend college and become a skydiver.

Excited! You Bet!
Hearing loss in kids can sometimes be dismissed as
selective hearing or just an excitable child.
(From Flickr user smileham)
What I like about this article is that it discusses honestly the challenges Laura faced but also how she overcame them. She knew what she wanted to do and took steps so that she could accomplish them (one of the steps was replacing her old hearing aids with a new higher-quality set).

What I also found striking was that she had to wait 15 years before a 50% loss was diagnosed. According to the article "they" (not sure if it's referring to family or doctors) thought she just had selective hearing.

It reminded me of how my mother had to fight for my own hearing loss to be diagnosed. She suspected a loss (which was mild at the time) when I was young but it wasn't diagnosed until I was 4. Before then she was told that it was just me being a rambunctious toddler. I am happy I didn't have to wait till I was a teenager for the truth to be found out.

When hearing loss is suspected in kids it's important to listen to your gut. It could be nothing but I think parents tend to know best when it comes to their child. My mom had some fairly subtle signs to deal with (since it was just a mild loss at the time) but she knew something was wrong. One of the tip-offs for her, by the way, was the fact that I always wanted to sit on one side of her and not the other when she read to me. That was/is my "good" side and I could hear her better there.

According to this interesting article I found (from 1995), children with hearing loss in one ear are ten times more likely to fail a grade than children who do not have a hearing loss. So I think it is definitely vital to recognize hearing loss right away.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Photos of Pets with Disabilities

I love this adorable series of photos of pets with disabilities by Carli Davidson. Just look at this blind Chihuahua with his guide dog pug. I wish there were more!

The whole series of photos is on Carli Davidson's website.

(via Pawesome)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flex Watches for Disability Awareness and Charity Support

Through the Yahoo! Accessibility website I learned about Flex Watches, a site which sells watches in 11 colors. Each color represents a different charity and 10% of their net profits are distributed evenly amongst the charities. They also host marketing campaigns to help raise awareness for the charities. At $30 for a watch (you can mix and match band and face) plus $6 shipping, it seems like a pretty good deal especially to help charities.

The charities are:

A blue watch from Flex.
St Bernard Project (orange): to create housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina
APDA (yellow): a charity supporting those with Parkinson's disease
Be Perfect Foundation (green): assists people with spinal cord injuries
Nika Water (blue): involved in ensuring clean water for people in impoverished countries
Keep-a-Breast (pink): educates young people about breast cancer awareness
First Descents (purple): adventure sports for young adults affected by cancer
Imerman Angels (grey): provides mentorship for people affected by cancer
Life Rolls On (white): action sports for people affected by spinal cord injuries
LHON (black): a charity for people experiencing Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy
Mariners Outreach (red): assisting the poor in Mexico

It's too bad there isn't a deaf charity on the list, but I would definitely support all of these. I think I would probably go for black and green or white.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

World's Tiniest Ear Created

This is completely fascinating and more than a little mind-bending.

Scientists in Germany have developed the world's tiniest ear, referred to as a "nano-ear." This ear could be able to listen to the sounds of bacteria and viruses, both of which make noise as they move. Not only are they extremely sensitive, they can even tell where a sound is coming from.

According to the physicist who helped develop it, Jochen Feldmann, ""There are definitely medical opportunities which we can tackle together with the right people, but we just have to see how it works first."