Captioning Options

Last week I had the opportunity to experience TypeWell, “A system for capturing spoken content and generating an immediate meaning-for-meaning transcript.” Kate Ervin, executive director of Typewell was in Salt Lake and offered to give us a demonstration before leaving town. Reading about it online, I came up with the above description and wondered how it differed from CART.

She came in for my speech reading class putting a lap top and a Kindle Fire in the middle of the table, each facing different sides. She sat to the side with her laptop in front of her, ready. The previous week I told my students she would be there but all three of them had no idea what to expect. (Yes only 3, summer is hard on classes due to vacations plus it’s twice a week in mornings which makes it hard for working people to attend.) A long time HLAA chapter member came in too and once we started talking, the words appeared on the screens in front of us.

TypeWell demo

One of my students is recently deafened due to acoustic neuroma and she was thrilled to see speech transcribed in front of her and her husband was happy to know these kinds of options exist. My other student is a college student who has gone through most of her education without any CART or captioning at all. She was told it was a hassle to sign up with the disability resource center and that a note-taker would work just fine. All this time she struggled through classes when this was available? She could see where it would have made her college time much, much easier. The other HLAA member and I are familiar with live captioning but we love options.

captions

How is TypeWell different from CART? She uses her laptop with advanced abbreviation software instead of a stenography machine. Kate said they summarize by leaving out false starts and filler words but they also try to capture everything like other people’s remarks and sounds such as car alarms that may be going off outside to show why everyone is looking out the window. It easier for the transcribers if only person at a time talks. CART might better suit someone who wants to hear/see everything such as person with a new CI who is learning to hear again.

How is it like CART? Captioning in all it’s sources is wonderful. Just like CART, it appears on the screen in front of you and it follows the conversation and I didn’t see any missing words (except when I stumbled over my words/sentences). There is a slight delay as with CART but not enough to make a big difference. It can be done on-site or remotely (off-site). Notes can be saved and used to study or review later.

Kate Ervin of TypeWell

Kate Ervin of TypeWell

How do people become a transcriber under TypeWell? TypeWell doesn’t provide services but instead train people to do it.  Kate said each person has to be able to type 60 words a minute with no errors and they need strong English skills. They have to pass a specific test or they do not get the software to work with. (She also mentioned their software has a math mode for in the classroom.) Training cost is about $500 and about $100-200 dollars a year for the software. There are ongoing training opportunities and workshops to attend.   

They will train anyone who can work with a university or an agency first (either as an employee or contracted) to gain experience and later transcribers can become independent contractors.  The typical charge for services is $15-$30 an hour, with the high end being $40-$60 and hour.

If you are hearing and this sounds good to you, think about applying because the hard of hearing population is growing and I think captioning will be more in demand. People with hearing loss are becoming less passive and want to be included. This job can be used in conjunction with another job, see the TypeWell blog for Jarren in Washington who provides services to both the Deaf and hard of hearing as an ASL interpreter and a TypeWell provider.

TypeWell is another option for real-time access to communication for those who are hard of hearing. Visit their website for more information and locate a local provider with this link: http://support.typewell.com/customer/portal/articles/229852.

Giving Up Old Ways

RoadLessTraveled

I read this book some years ago and picked it up again the other day. Because my life perspective have shifted over these last 3 years or so, I’m picking up completely different things from it. Here is something that slowed me down, reading word by word instead of the sentences if that makes sense. I thought, “This applies to many of with hearing loss.” I’m going to quote the paragraph below:

“Recently we have been hearing of the “mid-life crisis.” (Change this to hearing loss crisis.) Actually, this is but one of many “crises,” or critical stages of development, in life, as Erik Erikson taught us thirty years ago. (Erikson delineated eight crises; perhaps there are more.) What makes crises of these transition periods in the life cycle–that is problematic and painful–is that in successfully working our way through them we must give up cherished notions and old ways of doing and looking at things. Many people are either unwilling or unable to suffer the pain of giving up the outgrown which needs to be forsaken. Consequently they cling, often forever, to their old patterns of thinking and behaving, thus failing to negotiate any crisis, to truly grow up, and to experience the joyful sense of rebirth that accompanies the successful transition into greater maturity.”

In order to grow/mature in our hearing loss, we need to let go of old ways and embrace the new ways/lesson. It’s the clinging that’s so painful. What do you think?

Seeing Is Hearing

A friend of ours had a daughter graduate from college last Saturday and we were invited to her party that evening.  Since I’m trying to wear my hearing aids more lately, I didn’t bring their case with me because if I can’t put them away, I have to wear them.  At first people were gathered in the kitchen which has 1 1/2 walls of window, custom cement floors, high ceilings, marble counters and a two sided fireplace.  It’s gorgeous but it’s an acoustic nightmare and I wanted nothing better than to take my hearing aids out but I couldn’t.  The reverberation made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up so I migrated out onto the deck where I could sort sound better.  Soon most of us were out on the deck and only going inside to get another drink or more food.

It was a perfect evening with some clouds, a light breeze with the temperature in the 70′s somewhere and a great view of the Wasatch Mountains.  Patio furniture gave everyone a place to sit and we formed a circle of chairs with a group.  I like circles.  I can face everyone and hear most of it.  Ken even tested me once asking me if I heard and when I nodded my head (wrong answer on my part because that looks like the deaf nod) he asked me what I heard and I repeated it.

I enjoyed the chat about a cheese documentary and what Europeans used to put in cheese  and since I started that subject (remembering a chat about feta cheese with someone there last Christmas) it was easy to follow.  When the subject changed to a young man who was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan I could follow that too even though his speech was lost to me because I couldn’t see him.  The lady who sat next to me turned around to face me and gave me the short version.  It’s so nice being in a group like that.

The graduate’s sister started speeches so we all stood up and suddenly I was out of my circle as a new one formed.  Now I was behind people but I could see the sister and ‘hear’ her words but when the graduate replied to my left behind others I heard nothing.  I turned to Ken and asked for his help.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”

“Just two words to sum it up,” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders again because he is terrible at this.  These are the kind of situations I hate.  I want to hear and can’t.  I don’t blame Ken because it’s not easy for his brain to sum things up, he doesn’t know where to begin or what words to choose.  His ADD brain is floating with all the words so he can’t pluck two plus I think he feels it’s rude to talk to me while speeches are being made.  Even I was afraid to move and disrupt things so I stayed put and trying to contort my body and hear what she was saying.

ear

So frustration with my inability to hear was mounting.  Not only was I moving in weird ways for a better view I’m pretty sure my eyebrows were down and I was squinting with concentration.  The host, our friend, must have noticed because when I looked her way she motioned me to her side.  She didn’t have to motion me twice!  I hustled right over and standing next to her I could see everyone’s faces again and I heard most everything again. I could even understand the two charming, young men from Africa with their accents.  How nice that was!  I’m grateful to her for recognizing my look of frustration.

Once again I was astonished that being able to see made such a big difference.   I don’t consider myself the best speech reader but  when I get through situations like these, it’s proof that seeing is hearing.

happy eyes

A Loaner Hearing Aid

Last week the vocational rehabilitation state service accepted me into their program. The letter said to call to make another appointment and the next appointment wasn’t until June 2.  Then that’s an appointment to start talking about what to do.  I’ve already been about 6 weeks without a hearing aid and I don’t want to wait another two months for hearing aids.  I really in truly miss my hearing aids.  (Wearing one doesn’t help me that much.)

I put an email in my audiologist office asking if it were possible to get a loaner hearing aid as I wait for the voc rehab plan and they said yes!  Come on in next week.  So yesterday was the day and my audiologist was almost giddy in showing me the new technology.  I’m a bit skeptical of new technology because I don’t see how 4 years can make a big difference but I felt caught up in his excitement.  Besides, beggars can’t be choosers and any hearing aid would be great to me by, even an old analog one.

He isn’t the one who sold me my hearing aids but he’s been super helpful about programming them for me whenever I needed.  He is the best programmer I’ve run across and no matter the problem, he’s been able to fix it.  I’ve tried 5 other audiologists in the area before finding him, ran across a lot of disappointment and bad hearing programs before he corrected it all and made my hearing aids more likable.  When discussing the loaner, he wanted to give me one without a T-Coil because it’s the newest one he has and he wanted to show off the technology and I said no!  I must have the T-Coil. I use the loop at the Sanderson Center often plus I use my neckloop for my phone.  I want the T-Coil so he gave me an older version that’s not as old as my own hearing aid.

different hearing aids

 

It’s a Siemens something Carat, a RIC (Receiver In the Canal) and you can see the vast difference between hearing aids.  He kept saying I’d like the discrete part of it and I kept telling I really don’t care about discreet or I wouldn’t have bright, red hearing aids.  I had to ask him what the receiver was and he said the speaker which is what the makes the behind the ear hearing aid smaller, the speaker is off the hearing aid and in the ear.  I’m glad I asked because to me the receiver would be the thing that collects noise for me. So I signed my life away for the loaner and walked out of his office a lot happier than I walked in.

I researched this style a few months ago for a Hearing Aids 101 class I taught at the senior center.  One of the benefits of a RIC is hearing less internal noise such as chewing.  After putting it in I noticed right away I did not feel stuffed up on the RIC side like I do with the red hearing aid.  That’s nice and the noise feels more natural.  Of course it’s hard to tell how well a hearing aid will work in a quiet audiologist office.

Happy to be hearing out of both ears, I wore them all day and made a commitment to myself to wear my hearing aids all day from now on.  While eating nuts, that’s all I could hear on my right but with the RIC, I didn’t hear that hardly at all.  It works!   Right now I can hear myself breathing with the red hearing aid and not the RIC.  I clearly hear my clock ticking again.  Taking out the RIC and leaving the red hearing aid in, I have to really concentrate to hear the clock and the sound is barely on my threshold.  What a difference!  If voc rehab will go for it, I think I might like a new pair of hearing aids after all.

My audiologist pointed out yesterday once again that my red hearing aids weren’t the once he would have dispensed had I gotten hearing aids from him.  He says my lifestyle fits in with the RICs better and he could be right.  To be fair, I think the guy I bought them from wanted to sell me something similar but at the time I wanted hearing aids to work with my FM system and I wanted the FM receivers built into my hearing aids.  The FM got me by at quite a few events for a while but now there are other devices out there and ALD systems in place at some places.  I can let go of the FM system, it’s probably 9 years old anyway.

My red hearing aids have served me well and I don’t regret that choice at all.  They served me well but wow, technology really does move fast.  I’m a lot more open to new hearing aids now.

Accommodations Equal Confidence

CART makes a difference in a classroom setting.

CART makes a difference in a classroom setting.

The final memoir workshop was last Thursday night. It was a two night workshop and thanks to CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation), I was fully able to participate and understand everything being said. Out of habit I found myself looking at people as they spoke only tell myself, “You can’t hear. Go back to CART girl!” At the end of the night Julia (my CART person) was packing things up while some people were talking. One of them asked me a question and because the ventilation system was roaring above I couldn’t hear so with my new habit, I turned to look at the laptop for a translation but she already put away her stenography machine. “Duh,” I thought and started to look back at the person for a repeat but Julia was already typing it out for me on her laptop which was still up. Bless her. I’m convinced CART people have huge hearts. Thank you Julia!

CART 3

Last time when I wrote about CART, I said it gives me courage to participate. That thought rolled around in around in my head this last week and wouldn’t let go because not only does CART give me courage but it also gives me confidence to participate. Without the proper accommodations I’m lost in a sea of noise.

For example, I went to a meeting last month with an FM system in place but with old, omnidirectional microphones in place which picked up every computer keyboard tap, pens and fingers tapping the table, shuffling papers and scrapping sounds as microphones slid back and forth between speakers. It was exhausting trying to pick out speech between it all. I couldn’t place the people speaking in time to lip read fully (I have a hard time locating sound) and I didn’t ask questions in fear of someone else having already asked and slowing the pace of the meeting down. After bout half and hour of this, I found myself tuning out to get away from the excess noise so I hardly participated at all in frustration and lack of confidence. Thank goodness someone there was taking the minutes. A few days later I read what went during the meeting and no one asked the question I wanted to.  Oh well, there’s always email.

Another accommodation that still works great for my moderate, severe hearing loss is the hearing loop. I hear like I remember normal hearing to be like while inside a loop with my hearing aids on. It’s a miracle feeling and I will thoroughly enjoy the loop when I can and as long as I can. Unfortunately there’s not many set up in my end of the world yet but I’m working on it! Life is easier when the proper accommodations are in place and both CART and the loop gives the hard of hearing that extra boost we need to stay in society and stay mentally active.

Without those accommodations, we withdraw from life. We come across shy, awkward, aloof and maybe as not the sharpest tool in the shed but it’s only because we can’t hear/understand what’s going around us. We can’t keep up. I’ve been thinking that many of us must have our true selves locked up inside, hidden within hearing loss and hidden from the world.

We need to break out and stop fearing so much.  There’s too much life to live.  It’s taken me years to break out and advocate for myself and now that I do, I feel a little freer. I share my adventures with you so that you know you aren’t alone, you can learn from my mistakes and make adventures of your own. Ask for accommodations yourself, build your confidence that way too and maybe together we can make the world a better place.

As a reminder…

martin luther king quote

Workshop with CART

Tonight was the first the part of the writers workshop with CART.  I meant to take a picture and forgot, darn it.  My friend Julia received the assignment without me requesting her and it turned out absolutely fabulous.  I could follow all conversation.  CART helped me feel included and gave me the courage to participate as much as I wanted to.  I talked a lot more this time and I’m sure I appeared more confident.  It sure helped knowing what’s going on!

The instructor remembered me from the last workshop, he asked about CART and I introduced Julia as my ears.  Out of habit, I often turned to the speaker only to turn right back to the notes instead.  The acoustics are still terrible in that room even though they boarded the walls to the ceiling since I was last there a few years ago.  It helped keep outside noise away but the ventilation system kicked on and off the whole time  and each time it went on, I just about lost all voices.  Thank goodness for CART, what a blessing even though I had to push and shove for it I am so thankful for the whole experience.

The workshop was on memoir writing and my writing focuses on  hearing loss.  Being able to hear everything and talk to others about writing gives me an extra boost  to get back to work on my book.  I finished the first draft of my book and need to go through it again with some additions and a big red marker.  What I need to do most of all is mark out the time to do it and guard that time zealously.

The funny thing about hearing loss is every time I bring it up, at least one person comes up with their own story and this time a man who has a  brother (I think, a relative for sure) who works up at the University and gave a couple of Ted Talks on cochlear implants.  During a short break we talked about CI’s instead of writing.  Hearing loss is a good topic and I taught 5 other people about CART tonight not including the staff which took place weeks before.  I love life.

Thank you Julia!  This is an older picture of her doing CART for an HLAA meeting.

Thank you Julia! This is a picture of her doing CART for an HLAA meeting in November I think it was.

CART Success

This is what the path to success really looks like.

This is what the path to success really looks like.

My last email requesting CART for the writing workshop certainly grabbed attention. I addressed it to both the manager of the writing center and the student disability center. I went to bed wondering how it all might turn out, wondering if I’d not be able to attend the workshop and if that happened I couldn’t quit. That would mean getting more serious like contacting a lawyer and that is NOT something I want to do.

The first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, I grabbed my phone off the dresser and checked my email. At about a quarter to midnight, the manager replied to email…twice. The first email she states she replied to my email and I never wrote back. Hmmm, I had this thread flagged in my in box since the beginning. I don’t see how I could have missed something like that. Then she asks me to choose other options because she doesn’t think they have CART.  I reply….

To be honest, I exhausted all efforts I know of in the last workshop I attended. I tried an FM system, I tried outlines and I talked to both presenters before hand letting them know I read lips. However, they can’t face me all the time because they are writing on the board or looking at another part of the room while listening to an attendee. I felt like I got maybe 20%, 30% at best, of what was said in there. Most of the time I sat there feeling lost, not understanding why were breaking up into groups and what our task was. Comments from the others were an important part of the workshop and I couldn’t follow them either because I couldn’t locate the speaker in time to use my lip reading ability and they weren’t a part of the FM system. Even more honesty, I came home in tears that third, final night because I couldn’t do it even with all my know how.

I work well one on one and even sometimes with 3 people if the conversation moves slow enough. I can read lips while using what little sound I have left and I can identify who is speaking fast enough to catch what’s said. When more people are introduced, I can’t keep up.

CART is the only accommodation I can think of and the only way I can participate. Other suggestions I have are to fix the acoustics in the room with sound absorbing panels, rugs, covered ventilation system, the wall to meet the ceiling. Incredibly, I get by well enough with a hearing loop system. Here’s some information on that, http://www.hearingloop.org, but I don’t think that will something that can be done in a timely manner. I’m not fluent in sign language. I can’t think of anything else at the moment.”

I get a reply back shortly after stating they cannot remodel their classroom and she will see about getting CART. She went on to say no one was denying me accommodations and she had it all set up for me before but I never replied to her messages. Or to her phone calls.

I know full well no messages came through to me. I was watching my mail and my spam folder carefully. There were no phone messages either because if someone leaves a message, I have my boyfriend help me hear it. Besides, call me? Every time I leave my phone number somewhere I say, “text only.” I don’t know if she’s lying about the emails, covering her tracks or really did try. There’s no way to prove it except to ask her if she send me the copies so I know how I might have missed it which is what I do. Could she forward the missed emails to me but of course she cleared out her sent folder months ago and she can’t show them to me. She then wants to know what workshop I’m attending and the time so she put the request in. I’m getting CART and that should make me feel good but I’m bothered by her attitude.

About half an hour later I got an email from the student disability center with three contacts from there. They told me to come into the center and they would get me CART scheduled with the workshop. Thank you! At least someone is willing to support me and I feel better. Instead of complaining about the managers attitude, I take the high road and write a nice note back telling them the writing center is working me and CART should be scheduled soon.

A few hours later I go downtown to pay for the workshop. I walk into the center and the lady at the front desk recognizes me right away. She was one of the presenters at the last (and my first) workshop I attended. She asked, “Chelle George, right?” I haven’t been to the writing center in a year and a half, does she remember me? Did I make some sort of impression on her? Or is my name flying around in their office right now? All of the above? I tell her hi and yes, that’s me.

Well, I’m sorry to say we weren’t able to get your audio equipment.”

Disbelief leaves me stunned for a few seconds. A choice curse word runs through my head, not directed at her but the whole situation.

You weren’t able to get…my audio equipment?” Audio!? Haven’t they learned I can’t hear? This is as bad telling a blind person to go ahead read the menu as best they can.

She shakes her head and her eyes dart around. I’m not going to make a big scene.

Okay. I’m going to contact the disability center.”

She makes to get up, perhaps to get the manager but I’m already walking out. What kind of game is this? Why is this such a problem? I go to the library next door because I wanted to get a book anyway but first I sit down to email the disability center. I wander around the fiction area looking for my books and before I leave I sit down to check my email again. (I LOVE my smartphone.) The center wrote back saying they didn’t understand what was wrong as the CART was booked. They also said if I planned on attending a lot of workshops there I need to come in and file with them for budget purposes. I write back saying maybe there was a misunderstanding and I will stop back in on my way out. Then I let them know a few years ago I filed with their center thinking I might attend classes but wound up not registering for classes. They might still have me in their system.

I wasn’t looking forward to going back into the writing center. One, there is always my own self doubt about my hearing. Did I hear the lady at the front desk wrong? I don’t see how I could have because I was squatting at her desk as she sat in her chair to make sure we were eye level and she knew to face me. She wasn’t hard to understand that way. Number two, I don’t have my hearing aids right now with one out of order which makes me doubt myself a little more than usual (which makes CART all the more important for this workshop). Three, the situation is getting ridiculous. I take a few deep breaths and walk in.

The same lady is sitting at the desk. I calmly tell her CART is scheduled according the disability center so I’d like to pay for the class. The manager appears from around the corner and I at long last meet her face to face. She’s nervous too, we’re all nervous. She’s smiling and making nice so I will too. She asks for me to wait 5 minutes while she finishes up her meeting and she will talk to me. I write my check out and wait a few more minutes. The manager is all smiles. “We have the…” she makes typing motions with her fingers so I supply, “the stenographer?”

stenographer machine

Yes. That’s all scheduled so you can attend now.” She goes on to say she found out last night there was problems with their email and that’s why I never saw anything. I smile and nod. I let her know I was in touch with disability center and I may end up going in though I’m not sure how many workshops I’ll attend but there might be a few here and there I’m interested in. She makes careful notes taking my email again. She will confirm everything with me later she says as she writes. I squat down again to be sure to see her face. I want no misunderstandings. She wants my phone number.

I don’t hear well on the phone. It takes away all lip reading ability. That’s why I always say email or texting is the best way to get a hold of me.”

She nods her head. Maybe it all sunk in finally. I think sometimes it’s a curse that I do so well one on one or in small groups. It makes me look like a liar.

At last, I have CART after a little push and shove. I’m glad I pursued it and I hope some misconceptions are cleared up. It will never be this hard for someone to request CART there again. I feel the flush of victory. I wasn’t looking for a scuffle and I’m not going to shove it in anyone’s face. I will be pleasant and thankful for the CART and that it’s done. In the end that’s all that matters, I can attend the workshop with full participation now.