A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

I’m a Lipreader

In Lip Reading, Speech Reading on July 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm

By Chelle Wyatt

I’m a lipreader and I say that to people thinking it’s straight forward.  I haven’t said hard of hearing in a few years because people think it’s talk louder, not look at me.  I want them to look at me so I have a better chance of hearing and see speech too.

A few weekends ago I attended a little get together.  The lights were dimmed to create atmosphere so I asked the host if he could turn up the lights.  “So I could hear better.” He laughed, “So you can hear better?”  I meant to deliver it in a humorous way to keep the request light and before I could say anything, my husband told him, “It’s so she can see your lips better.”  The host is a sweetheart and he turned up the lights and I did okay!

Most hearing people get it when I say I lipread.  (It’s politically correct to use speechreading these days but most people understand the term lipreading better.)  I use my remaining hearing in this way, like pieces to a puzzle.  “I lipread” works well. In facing me, sound is delivered right at me and I can use my lipreading ability too.  Between the two, I get along great in many situations.  Until I don’t.

Being a Burning Man person since 2002, I attend regional burns and this last weekend was one of them.  I went to run around the fire like the old days but a ranger stopped me with arms out.  I hear enough to know she was talking but understood nothing of what she said so I told her I lipread.  She immediately started using American Sign Language (ASL) with me and it was hard not to roll my eyes.  Or maybe I did.

I told her “I lipread, I don’t sign.”  She stopped but she didn’t know how to talk to me. She kept looking down and away so I told her to keep her face toward the fire so I could use the light too.  After all that, she was pretty good and explained the new rules of the burn.  I eventually admitted to her I am learning sign but I’m not fluent enough to have conversations yet.  She told me she’s an interpreter at the local college.

Today I was talking to another lipreading friend and she said she often has problems lipreading interpreters.  I thought that was odd at first because at work the interpreters will voice interpret for me when necessary….but wait.  I work at the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center.  They know me and other hard of hearing people so they know more about our needs.

I started thinking about it. I have a neighbor across the street who is also an ASL interpreter at the local community college.  She’s painfully shy and doesn’t use any body language when talking to me nor facial expressions.  (Hard to imagine her interpreting.) She talks super low too and I barely register her voice most of the time.  I think my friend is right, most ASL interpreters don’t know how to talk to the hard of hearing.  What an odd world.  The Deaf and the Hard of Hearing have troubles with hearing communication so you’d think our needs would cross over but they generally don’t.

Want to learn more about lipreading?  Here’s a few sites for you.

Here’s a great visual of what lipreading really is:

Rachel Kolb.  She’s deaf and she signs and she lipreads.  She made a great video describing how hard it can be to lipread.  https://vimeo.com/148127830

Here’s a site for practicing lipreading although it’s from the United Kingdom.  The accent makes it harder to see the words however I was surprised at how many I understood.  https://pddcs.co.uk/2013/11/19/online-lipreading-practice-resource/

Here’s the American version which is easier but after a few lessons they charge a fee.  https://www.lipreading.org/

For a lot of fun and to see how lipreading can go wrong, watch the bad lipreading series on YouTube.  Here’s a football one to get you started:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-kGosnzvjU   There are all kinds of bad lipreading clips, including politics, Star Wars and much more.  Be sure to click the CC button. Sometimes it’s YouTube craptions but mostly they have true captions.

Here’s my favorite speechreading book: https://www.amazon.com/Speechreading-Carol-Garretson-Harriet-Kaplan/dp/B0088OYYFW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468884139&sr=8-1&keywords=speechreading  It’s full of all kinds of practical hearing loss life strategies.  I just love it.

There are DVD lessons to buy out there too but I’m not seeing the one I use at work.  When I go in tomorrow, I’ll post in the comments what it is.

There are lipreading classes available.  I know because we teach them here in Utah.  I teach the class myself and it’s my favorite one.  Look up your state Deaf and Hard of Hearing center for resources.  Try a web search too.  The bigger the city, the more likely there will be one in your area.

A Magic Wand

In Hearing Loss on June 5, 2016 at 7:23 pm

By Chelle Wyatt 

There are times I wish I could wave a wand to make others hard of hearing for a day or two.  I’m not supposed to wish hearing loss on anyone, I know, but some people need to learn empathy.  I don’t wish on it everyone, just a few of the very difficult people I run across. I wish I could have waved it over the lady in the salon who insisted I keep answering the phone even though I got names, numbers and information wrong all the time (this was before caption phones).  I would have waved the wand over another lady, a secretary,  at an assisted living home I worked at as hairdresser.  She never would come close enough for me to hear/see her properly  like I was contagious.  Or my ex-husband who would hated to repeat and would say, “I SAID…”  And the people who won’t stop moving their heads when I’m trying to lipread them.  So maybe I’ll wave my wand around a bit here on the blog.

Here’s some things I’d specifically like hearing people to understand:

Words full holes and the mind racing to fill those holes at the sound of speech hoping it makes sense at some point. It can be exhausting.

hearing loss looks like

See the difference?

Why hearing aids aren’t called ‘hearing miracles’.  Yes they help but they do not make my hearing perfect again.  Then you’d know why the question, “Are your ears on” makes me twitch.

ears on

Yes my ears are on.

Now that you are experiencing temporary hearing loss, try hearing someone from another room; to hear a voice and not understand most of what’s said.

in the dark

It’s like being in the dark.

How about talking on the phone with a disembodied voice (very similar to above)?  No lips to read, no body language to take cues.

hearing in the dark

Yes!  I’m still in the dark here.

You like watching TV and movies?  Try it with a hearing loss and you’d know just how hateful it is without captions.

no captions

That’s about all we hear on the TV without captions.

This is for the people who think they are funny, who repeatedly say “huh” as a joke.

not funny

To feel what it’s like to be dismissed and excluded from conversation with the words “Never mind.”

never mind

Those words are a wall.

That’s just to few people.  Thank goodness the majority of the people I run across are good with accommodating me.  I keep my focus on the good people and I happen to know a lot of them. Mostly I’d use the magic wand for good; to restore confidence, take away pain and give hope to more people with hearing loss.

At the ALDA convention last year in Scottsdale, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing did give hearing loss to a number of people for a day without a wand.  They got people to agree to wearing custom made ear plugs and asked them to wear them for a day.  It was eye opening to all those who participated, giving them more empathy towards those in their lives with hearing loss.  If you are interested, Dianna Nanez, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, wrote about her story.

What could you add to this list?

 

My Experience with CART

In Accommodations for Deaf, ADA, Assistive Listening Devices, CART, Deafness, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, Partially Deaf, Technology on June 2, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Our guest blogger is SWCer Cristal Alferez. Cristal is a Mechatronics Engineer who works for a Manufacturing Company in San Diego CA. She is Mexican, speaks Spanish fluently and currently is mastering English pronunciation. Cristal loves to read, it is one of her many passions she likes many genres but what she enjoys the most are romantic novels, she also likes traveling by train in the Pacific coast and eating tacos. You can contact Cristal at calferez0911@gmail.com

My Experience with CART, By Cristal Alferez

I always thought I was pretty normal, until I started elementary school. Although I don’t remember very well, my sister told me that at some point in the fifth grade I refused to go school because I couldn’t hear the teacher, since I sat in the back part of the classroom. I’m not too sure why, but I never gave that event much importance. Maybe I didn’t think about it much since during middle school and high school the teachers sat us in alphabetical order and my last name starts with an A, I always sat in the very front.

It wasn’t until college that I really began feeling secluded, my classmates would often tell me that I was unable to hear my name during roll call or when someone called me behind my back, but they would all remind me with a grin on their faces. Although it kinda bothered me that they would be “making fun of me” I would just ignore it and carry on with my day. It was here that I realized that I was becoming more antisocial, compared to when I was in high school. Because of my hearing loss I couldn’t understand some soft spoken people and I couldn’t follow a conversation of more than two people. I would sometimes forget to turn in the homework, not because I didn’t remember but instead because it was assigned verbally and not written on the board.

Sometimes, if I couldn’t hear what the teachers were says I would start to daydream, I would start daydreaming anytime I wasn’t able to understand what someone in a group of people was saying. I also remember crying before having to present my thesis, I was stressing out over the fact that it would be very difficult for me to hear the questions being asked, but luckily I was able to hear the questions just fine and I ended up passing my thesis. It was at that point that I felt ready to confront the problem, but unfortunately I was not able to afford fixing it yet. It’s been five years since I left school, and I thought it would be easy from then on. But it’s quite the contrary, in school you can ignore one of your peers and they would think you are rude, you can forget the homework and you would ended up with a bad grade, but in real life things are different, you just can’t ignore your boss.

I just decided to go back to school again, but with that all of my fears about school came back. I questioned whether it would be a good investment if I was only going to be able to hear about fifty percent of what was being told. So I decided that it was the perfect time for the hearing aids. I have now had hearing aids for five months, I have tried two different brands and I’m getting used to them.  I remember thinking that hearing aids would fix absolutely everything, but I was wrong. Hearing aids help a big deal, but they don’t correct my hearing to “normal” level.

When I went to my class and found out that my hearing wasn’t as good as expected I decided to look for more help, somebody out there must have the same problem as I do, and I found it. I got in contact with the beautiful people of the Say What Club, and I discovered many people who were like me, who understand the struggle I go everyday. They were the ones that helped me find ways to cope better with my hearing loss. I asked and I got the help that I needed. Somebody told me to look for assistive listening devices or FM systems, other ones suggested CART system for the classroom, things that I had no idea that they could exist.

Cristal1

One day I went the disabled student center of my community college. I actually had very little confidence going in. I was surprised when they lend me right away a FM system that consists in a microphone that the teacher wears and a receiver for me, which I can use with earphones or with my hearing aids. When I saw how positive the response was, I asked if they would allow me to use CART, and I got the thumbs up. I can’t believe it was that easy, I cried of happiness that day. I thought about how many times I missed information in class, and I couldn’t believe that I would not have any problem hearing now. I had mixed emotions.

In the beginning I felt a little bit weird, because everybody would know that I can’t hear. But once that I saw the results and how much it helped me,  I no longer felt embarrassed. So, here is how it worked. The disabled student center contacted this company of captioners who would send somebody to type everything that’s said in the class. Just like subtitles at the movies! Isn’t that amazing? By the time I’m in class I sit wherever I want and have my laptop, iPad or the tablet provided by the captioner. I need to have good internet connection, so I go to my email inbox and open a new email with a link to get access to a meeting room, check the picture. I can make the necessary changes to the font size and color of the screen. When the class is over, the captioner sends me a detailed report of everything that was said in class in less than 24 hours, much better than taking notes in class! I love to read it after class so I can study it. During class I try to understand as much as I can and I read from the tablet every time that any of my peers speak. I totally feel more involved in class. I’m happy to know that now I really understand what’s going on in class.

Obviously there are still some issues with the CART. For example we couldn’t set it up entirely a couple of times due to slow internet. Another time I tried an app which lets me see the same screen as my captioner, but that would make everything appear after a five second delay or so. Even with normal Internet there’s a little delay since my captioner would hear and how fast she can type.

Cristal2

I don’t feel left out of class nowadays. As I can follow better what’s going on in class I can participate more, and feel more involved. I’m really looking forward to attaining my masters degree, and also helping other people just like me, who does not know about all the ways we can get the extra help for coping with hearing loss. I wish every kid in school could know about CART, if your school doesn’t offer CART for now, let other people know about it. Think about this, maybe in the future someone else can benefit from CART just like I am right now.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 232 other followers