Have you seen those YouTube videos of people having their cochlear implants switched on for the first time? Well, that’s just what is was like for me getting my CROS system ‘switched on’.
My audiologist hadn’t given me terribly high hopes for using the Phonak CROS. With my single-sided hearing loss, he’d said it could take anything from three months to a year to get the benefit. But, as soon as the hearing aids were switched on, I immediately looked to the left to follow what the audiologist was saying. He and the Phonak technician couldn’t believe how quickly my brain was able to process the sound. It was instantaneous. None of us could believe it. I was instantly getting a sense of sound coming from both the right and left ear. The sound sounded quite natural too – not like it was coming through microphones and being amplified: it just sounded ‘normal’. Continue reading “Switching on my Phonak CROS”
I don’t normally like to write about my tinnitus because I find that thinking about it or even seeing the word written down makes me focus on mine and seems to intensify it. But, today my tinnitus is so bad, I figure writing this post isn’t going to make much difference.
I’ve suffered with tinnitus since I was a child. [I use the word ‘suffered’ quite deliberately because I feel that it is something unpleasant that I have to endure. I will explore the terminology and attitude later in this post.] I remember being very young and not being able to go to sleep because I thought I could hear the garage door banging repeatedly. My tinnitus then (and often still now) resembled the sound of a metal up and over garage door being slammed shut over and over. As you can imagine, I found this distressing. My Mum tried to reassure me that the noise was just my ear hearing the blood pumping round my body and that it was nothing to worry about, but it still kept me awake night after night, on and off for years.
When I started to lose my hearing in my thirties (as a result of a condition called otosclerosis), I began to notice my tinnitus more, and sometimes not just at night but in the daytime too. The audiologist who fitted my first digital hearing aid referred me to a hearing therapist. Continue reading “Tackling My Tinnitus”
Some time ago, I wrote a post asking if other hearing aid users found it difficult to find venues and customer service points with working hearing loops and, in the responses on the blog and Facebook page, it appeared that there was an even bigger issue at large and that was that hearing aid users were not all aware of what a loop and a telecoil do.
Steph followed up my post with a basic introduction to hearing loops and the telecoil setting, which is present (but not always activated) in most hearing aids.
As an accessibility consultant working with the hospitality industry in the UK, I am keen to raise awareness on the benefit of, and need for, hearing loops — and the way I explain the benefit to a hearing aid user is that it ‘overcomes the barrier of both distance and background noise, by transmitting directly into the hearing aid, the voice of the person speaking into a microphone linked to the loop’.
Although I’m struggling to find good quality working loops where I live, I have had two positive experiences of using them at conferences and this has contributed to me advocating their use to our clients in the hospitality industry: well, that and the Equality Act 2010! The Equality Act of 2010 replaced the Disability Discrimination Act and it also simplified and strengthened this UK law with regard to discrimination and inequality. Here’s what is says in regards to the duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to improve services for disabled customers:
Service providers are required to make changes, where needed, to improve service for disabled customers or potential customers. There is a legal requirement to make reasonable changes to the way things are done (such as changing a policy), to the built environment (such as making changes to the structure to improve access) and to provide auxiliary aids and services (such as providing information in an accessible format, an induction loop for customers with hearing aids, special computer software or additional staff support when using a service).
We’ve all seen those captioning bloopers that do the rounds on social media every now and then; and to be fair there are some really funny ones. And, as us deafies are not without a sense of humour, often we’ll see the funny side. But, joking apart, how does it make you feel when the captions are so badly wrong?
Here in the UK, I think we do pretty well for the availability of ‘subtitled television’. (In the UK, the term ‘subtitle’ is more commonly used than the term ‘caption’, despite there being a difference between the definitions.) The BBC is clearly committed to making shows accessible and the other main UK channels tend to also be quite good.
But where all channels come unstuck is with subtitling the news.
The worst I’ve found is Channel 4 news (which is unfortunate for me because it is my preferred news programme). The subtitles are so far behind and so often inaccurate that I do better by just lipreading and listening than by trying to make sense of the subtitles that are so far out of sync. Continue reading “Captions — Hit or Miss?”
I’ve always seen subtitles as an aid to lipreading and lipreading as an aid to working out what I’m hearing and for that reason, I have both sound and captions on whilst watching television.
However, when I visited a friend who also has severe hearing loss, I noticed she opts for the captions only. I asked her why this was and she explained that because of her Meniere’s, audio from the television sounded distorted and made it impossible for her to watch. Continue reading “With or Without Sound?”
Whenever I see a news report about a hotel fire, my blood runs cold. I have to travel regularly for work, with overnight stays, and I worry a lot about what would happen to me if there was a fire while I was asleep. (This is a fear which will be alleviated when I get a Hearing Dog but in the meantime, it’s a real concern of mine. It also drove me to found my business Access Solutions.)
Without my hearing aids — such as when in the shower or while sleeping — I wouldn’t be alerted by a standard fire alarm, so I need something which flashes (in the bathroom) and something which flashes/vibrates when I’m in bed.
Whenever I go to stay in a hotel, I always ask for a flashing/vibrating fire alarm and when they can’t provide one, I worry about what would happen if there was a fire. Would someone risk their life to come and get me?
When I give talks (to hearing people) about living with hearing loss, I often remark that when you’re diagnosed with hearing loss or when you’re fitted with a hearing aid, you’re not then taken to another room and shown all the assistive technology that’s available to you. (Well, not in my experience anyway!) Continue reading “Do You Fear Hotel Fires?”
When I suffered sudden sensorineural hearing loss, it was a very isolating experience. Before I discovered Phonak BiCROS aids, I was pretty much unable to converse with people other than by using a Sonido device. The Sonido is a handheld device the size of a cordless phone, which has a microphone and amplifier and a socket that I plugged a ‘one good ear bud‘ in. I was mortified at having to use it outside of the house but it was the only way I could go back to work and do my job as a trainer.
When I first became deafened, however, I suffered terrible vertigo and sickness and I had several days where I couldn’t move my head at all. The only thing I managed to focus on was my mobile phone, and so I found myself turning to social media to combat the isolation I felt.
Through using Twitter, I started to make new friends and, with one of those friends, I started something on Twitter known as ‘#Yorkshirehour‘. Since March 2012, every Wednesday between 8 and 9pm, we’ve facilitated a Twitter hour to help Yorkshire people promote their businesses, events and charities and I’ve made more and more friends — many of whom I’ve now met in real life.
Hands up if your hearing aid has a T-setting. Hands up if you regularly encounter loops that are not working or not switched on? Frustrating, isn’t it?
I’m new to being a loop user. I never felt the need to use them before but as my hearing is deteriorating, my audiologist recently recommended I start using loops and she activated the T-setting on my hearing aid.
Off I went into the world, which seemed pregnant with possibilities of smoother encounters at customer service points and checkouts and an ability to access conferences and theatre performances.
Oh, how quickly I came crashing back down to earth from the reality of how poorly serviced we are in terms of loop provision here in England!
Here is an account of my first two weeks as a loop ‘user’ (and I use the term loosely because I never got to ‘use’ a single loop).
If you live with someone who doesn’t have hearing loss, is there a tension around having the subtitles on when you watch television together?
When my husband went away on a trip last year and I was home alone, at the first opportunity I got, I switched the subtitles to ‘on’ and had them on all the time. ‘On’ was not their normal default setting in our house at that time, you see. Normally, I would only ask to have them on when I was really struggling to follow the plot of a show.
I knew they alerted you to fire alarms, door bell and telephone (if you use one) and, while at the fun dog show Pup Aid in London in 2014, I’d seen a Hearing Dogs demonstration, starring Sue Perkins from the Great British Bake Off in the role of a deaf person. The crowd oohed and ahhed as the demo dog ‘woke’ Sue from her bed when an alarm clock sounded and when they displayed amazing recall and obedience skills.
On top of this, I’d met a couple of hearing dog recipients who told me having a hearing dog was the best thing that had ever happened to them — and they shared with me the boost in confidence and independence their dogs give them on a daily basis. Both encouraged me to pursue an application and so I did.