Category Archives: captions

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.

For a Good Laugh…

Watch this. It has a lot of fun with YouTubes awful captioning. Watch the captions first, they will be repeated in their next take and so on. I had to watch it twice to get it all but I laughed my butt off.

Hearing Aids Are Only The Beginning

Hearing aids improve the lives of those with hearing loss but it’s only the beginning. Hearing aids aren’t called hearing miracles for a reason. There’s a variety of other coping strategies which go hand in hand with hearing loss.

A good audiologist is imperative to successful hearing aids. Most people with hearing loss won’t get hearing aids for an average of seven years, that’s seven years of muted life. Sudden volume makes the world sound harsh and can come across as brutal to the senses. This is why so many hearing aids wind up in a drawer somewhere never to see light again. Not all audiologists prepare people for this. The better audiologist will turn down sounds until the person with hearing loss gets used to noise again and then inch up as needed. Building up to sound again requires effort and determination but is well worth the effort, like all good things in life.

With today’s new hearing aid technology, there are hundreds of adjustments that can be made. Beware of the programmer who sets according to the audiogram only, tweaking is necessary and there should be an open invitation to come back as necessary. It’s the hearing aid wearers responsibility to keep track of offending noises and good noises, this helps the audiologist program the aids more personally.

Don’t be afraid to keep shopping for audiologists. It took me four tries to find one I liked here in town. His programming ability is over the top. Since he adjusted my hearing aids, other comment on how much better I hear and I myself am amazed what I’m hearing now. Programming is everything to successful hearing aids. I’m glad I didn’t settle for mediocre.

Support groups also can make a huge difference to those with hearing loss. Meeting others with hearing loss is like finding a personal tribe. People share their stories, their coping strategies and their knowledge of technology. There’s online support groups such as the SayWhatClub (SWC) and there’s face to face, organized meetings through local chapters by The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA). Each of these groups have a yearly convention. It is hard of hearing culture for four glorious days. There’s education and instant friendship. Here, with these groups, a person can become comfortable with their hearing loss.

Some states provide classes for the hard of hearing. Utah has a class called Living With Hearing Loss based off Sam Trychin‘s program. They also offer classes in sign language, speech reading and often hold seminars geared to the hard of hearing. Many people attend meeting other hard of hearing people for the first time. Knowledge is power.

Self advocacy goes hand in hand with support groups. The hard of hearing have a voice and we need to use it. “Please face me when you talk, I hear better when I see you.” It requires showing up early to events to explain the FM system and how it works. It’s telling people how you hear so they better understand.

Some guidelines to advocating:

  • Speak up! The hard of hearing are a quiet lot and we feel bad for stating our needs.
  • Don’t wait, do it now.
  • Prepare in advance, make a plan if needed.
  • Be prepared to educate.
  • Be nice when educating others, a positive attitude will get you further.
  • Seek support when needed.

It takes courage do this. Believe in yourself and tell people what you need. You have just as much right to the world as the person next to you. And if you don’t know what is needed, educate yourself. If you don’t know how can anyone else know? There are lots of good books out there on hearing loss and also support groups will help a lot with this too.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs), also called Hearing Assistive Technology are bonus toys for hearing aids. They help with one on one conversations, in cars and in small groups. These include; telephones with volume control and captions, devices to help with the television, personal amplification systems which work with or without hearing aids, FM systems and loop technology. There’s CaptiViews in theaters now and caption glasses, free to use. All these devices help keep the hard of hearing independent.

Some devices are expensive and others not so much but isn’t staying active in the world worth the price? Keeping up with the table conversation with family? Attending that class or group? Going out to eat with friends? There is no shame in using these devices, just as there is no shame in wearing glasses, using a wheelchair or having braces on our teeth. It’s what is. ALDs enable us to continue to socialize and participate in life.

The technology in today’s hearing aids is amazing but I need a combination or all the above to make it work for me. If I didn’t have all those tools available to me, I wouldn’t cope as well as I do in society. Hearing aids alone wouldn’t have kept me asocial as I am. I’m empowered by all the above, not afraid to go out by myself to restaurants, attend workshops and events. I’m equipped to deal with most of I run into therefore keeping myself independent.

For more reading:

Self Advocacy:

http://www.edac.org.au/letmespeak/html/selfadvocacy.html

ALDs or HAT:

http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/assist_tech.htm

Coping Strategies:

http://www.nchearingloss.org/coping.htm?fromncshhh

My favorite book on hearing loss

Missing Words by Kay Thomsett & Eve Nickerson

CART or Communication Access Real-Time Translation

In the late 1990′s, I heard about CART, sometimes called real-time captioning, through people on my SWC list. I understood the concept but I didn’t fully get it. I knew it was an accommodation but I lived in small towns and no one else had heard of it so it wasn’t option. Still, I knew the CART was out there somewhere.

After I moved to Salt Lake City in 2009, I looked up Self Help For the Hard of Hearing (SHHH) and in the process found out they changed their name to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). The local chapter held it’s meetings at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The local HLAA chapter website showed CART was used at their meetings. Hooray! I’d finally get to experience it.

When I walked into my first meeting, I saw a screen pulled down, a projector hooked up to a laptop, and the laptop hooked up to a funny little machine on a stand.  A lady sat near the wall, her hands resting on the steno machine ready to go. Test words were up on the screen and I couldn’t wait to see it in action.

The meeting started and words appeared on the screen following the conversation. Immediately, I fell in love with CART. Even though I wore FM system, I still missed words and sometimes important key words. CART filled in the gaps and I never had to wonder what I missed. It was one of those personal, historic moments in my life.  It was a magical experience for a hard of hearing person who has always struggled to hear in group situations. Real-time captioning felt like a godsend.

Since then, I haven’t missed many meetings. I’m going to take advantage of CART all I can because for so many years I went without. All the workshops at the Sanderson Center have CART as needed (ASL interpreters too) so I go to many of them as well. It’s an all inclusive environment for those of us who have hearing loss or deafness. Every time I walk into the Center, the load I carry on my shoulders lightens considerably. I know I will hear. I won’t be lost in lectures and presentations. It’s the one place, I don’t have to worry about asking for repeats, because it’s right up there on screen for me.

As I got comfortable at meetings and got to know people, I also got to know our CART provider. Julia is one awesome lady and we all appreciate what she does for us so much. One night, I stopped for a closer look at her stenography machine and realized it wasn’t a keyboard I was familiar with at all. I don’t know how she does it and my admiration for her and what she does went up a few more notches. That’s a crazy machine she works on but she puts it together nicely.

There’s a few typos now and then. Most typos I read right through but some make me smile. When she sees me smiling, she looks down at her lap top screen to see what came out and either smiles, rolls her eyes or both.  Some of them are just like what I’d hear if I didn’t know any better. One day during an Alzheimer’s workshop, she typed “farm suit call” and if I said it fast enough, I knew exactly what she meant, “pharmaceutical.” Thanks to the rest of her captioning, I knew the context of what we were talking about so I wasn’t lost. (That typo still makes me smile.) I think she’s one of the most wonderful people on earth and I’m thankful for her, and people like her, who provide services for us.

Many people haven’t experienced CART, maybe because they live in small towns like I did or maybe they never knew it existed. We had a Walk4Hearing meeting the other night so  I snapped a few pictures for people to get a general idea.

Our CART provider who has a concentration look much like we do when we are listening to others.  :-)

How she does it, I’ll never know.

Letter and background colors can be changed.

Our guest speaker was Ronnie Adler, national administrator for the Walk4Hearing.  She flew in from Philly and to help us with our Walk.  You can see her talking and the screen behind her, showing CART.

So now you’re seen it.  Maybe you can experience it in person all well.  If you come to the Salt Lake City SWC convention, you’ll get to experience it  in our workshops.  Not only that, but we have John Waldo speaking at our banquet about captioning.

For more information check out these websites…

Communication Access Information Center: http://cart-info.org/

For a listing of CART providers, the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning website has a state by state listing of CART providers. http://ccacaptioning.org/find-provider/ Be sure to read the rest of CCAC’s website for good information on access as well.

South Pacific

Utah-CAN worked hard to get a play captioned for us and I wanted to support their efforts. I dreaded using the phone to buy tickets so I drove downtown to buy them from the theater. The play was South Pacific, nothing for me to get excited about but I wanted to support my community efforts. When the lady handed me the tickets for the matinee presentation, I finally got excited. Wow! I’m going to see a captioned play! It’s totally different entertainment for me and I hoped more would be captioned in the future.

The SayWhatClub convention is going to be held here in Salt Lake, August 15 – 18. Utah-CAN asked to make sure the box office knew we would be interested in more captioned performances. Hmmm.

“I have a group of hard of hearing people coming to town for a convention this summer. What are the chances of getting Wicked captioned at that time?”

She excused herself to ask her manager and came back to me with ASL interpreted dates. She/they really thought this would work for us. Disappointment settled in. They don’t get it yet.

“That won’t work for us,” I told her. “We grew up hearing and speaking with many of us losing our hearing later in life. Most of us don’t know sign language and never will. We need captions because we still sort of belong to the hearing world.”

She excused herself again and came back more apologetic this time. She handed me a card for Broadway Across America and told me to get in touch with them.

I walked away thinking I would contact the company. I also know Utah-CAN will probably be working for more captioned plays too. What really bugged me was how we are lumped into the Deaf, not that I have a problem with the Deaf, but our communication needs are so different. We hear of Deaf Culture… maybe it was time to come out, OUT LOUD, with hard of hearing culture. I’m not sure how to go about doing that but I will be thinking on it.

 

So I go to the play knowing nothing about South Pacific. As we wait for the doors to open, I walk by the souvenir booth and I see a shirt that says, “I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair” and I start laughing. I know that part of the play! There’s this other goofy favorite movie of mine called Welcome to Woop Woop and they spoof that scene so I do know something of South Pacific.

The doors open and we take our seats. I spot the captioning to the left of the stage in red lettering. Relief fills me and more excitement bubbles up. I see a number of people from our hard of hearing community and I’m giddy. Then the seats start filling in and I realize the captions aren’t high enough. Two young girls with big hair are sitting in front of us, tall girls. I look over to the side and watch as one of the people from the Sanderson Center advocate with the theater staff for two little old ladies who couldn’t see the captions through all the heads. They brought the women seat cushions to boost them and they settled in. Maybe I could have used one too.

I look at the girl of me and think, if she stays scrunched down in her seat, I’m ok. She doesn’t. I ask my boyfriend to change seats with me but I still don’t have a clear view of the captions. I sit up straight and the girl in front of me sits up straight. I lean to the side and it’s not long until she leans to the side. Finally I lean over my knees and rest my head on my arm to watch the captions and play. Would you believe the girl in front of me did the same thing? It was crazy enough I laughed a little. I leaned back when she leaned forward and still watched the play and captions. Back and forth we went for almost 3 hours.

In spite of the minor frustration, I enjoyed the play. I have now seen South Pacific. The captions were right on and my delay in laughing was just a second or so behind everyone else. Even with the difficulties in seeing the captions, I enjoyed the play and I’m glad I went. I would go again but I would make the suggestion that the captions be higher up in the air. Or maybe I should insist on sitting closer. The play was totally different entertainment for me and hopefully the visible captions spread a little hearing loss awareness.

One the way out, I saw our CART person (not working that day) and she asked me how it went. I told her it was great except they weren’t high enough. She nodded. I bet it’s better next time because I wasn’t the only one wishing I was taller.

Theater Captioning

A few weeks ago I went back to the theater to watch The Rum Diary on it’s opening weekend. Nothing, no captions.  People were talking and my CaptiView only said it was ready.  I went out to inform the people in the ticket office. They sent a manager to me who said to wait there and she would be right back. I paced the hallway for 10 minutes with my CaptiView in hand when another manager giving an interview at one end came to me and asked me what the problem was. He said he would be right back. I paced the hallway for another 10 minutes when I saw captions light up. I missed twenty minutes but figured I would catch up.

Not. It was the wrong captions and didn’t match the movie. Maybe the device searched automatically after so much time until it found captions? Near tears with frustration, my boyfriend and I left the theater room. A guy standing just outside the doors handed me two free passes and apologized.  They couldn’t get the captions to work this time so they gave me my money back too. It sort of made up for the sheer irritation of it all but I would have rather have seen the movie with captions.

Yesterday I went back again, with my free passes, to see the movie, Tower Heist. Surely, it would work all right since it wasn’t a brand new movie. We sat there I waited with tension through the previews. The movie started and nothing again! Damn it! I went out right away to inform management. They said they would be right back, har har. I paced a different hallway, looking at my CaptiView and nothing. I resumed pacing and the manager snuck up behind me and tapped my shoulder making me jump. She said, “It shows it working fine up there.” I looked at mine and it was displaying the captions now. I let her know I was tired of missing the beginning of movies and she patted my shoulder as I went into the theater again. The must have pushed the reset button I read about in another review of the device.

My boyfriend told me I didn’t miss much as I sat down adjusted the captions to my liking. I was not in the best frame of mind but eventually I settled in and started to laughing with rest of the people in there. Alan Alda makes a great bad guy.

I like the idea of having movies back but it’s not without irritation. How many more movies will I miss the beginning to in this process? From now on I will go earlier (my boyfriend is contantly late) and ask them as soon as I buy my ticket to please push the button before hand. Maybe the more they see me, the better they will get at the process. As I walk in they will think, “Oh no, here she comes again,” but after awhile it should all fall into routine and maybe they will like my patronage.

All Cinemarks are switching to digital format, I believe, and will have CaptiViews available. Other theater companies will follow so I encourage all hard of hearing people to go forth and watch a movie. Go to the theater, inquire and let’s make our presence known. John Waldo has done a lot of advocating for us so don’t let these new opportunities go by, claim them. I’m going to be a thorn in their side until they get it right.

CaptiView

CaptiView

  Utah-CAN  was at our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Festival at the Sanderson Center last month.  They had a booth and gave demonstrations of the CaptiView for theaters.  It’s a device that goes into the cup holder with a bendable stem and a viewer with captions.  I was excited to see it and asked what theaters had it available, all Century theaters here in Salt Lake basically.  I found out the one down the street has CaptiViews.  It took a month (traveling so much lately) to go and try it out.

Last Thursday was the day.  My friend Susan was down and after lunch we went to the theater.  I asked the ticket lady which theaters had the captions available.  All of them she said.  I thought, “Oh wow! I have my choice of first run movies again???”  We picked The Big Year with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black.  We juggled two CaptiViews, sodas and her wheelchair on carpet with me even hitting her in the head by acciden with one as it swung around.  We fidgeted with the stem arranging it our liking and waited.

When previews came on, they weren’t captioned but that’s ok, sort of.  I did find out a new Muppet Movie is coming out and some other movie that looked good (couldn’t understand but a few words) about a hotel in India with Judi Dench.  Previews ended and the movie started.  Captions appeared as promised.  Susan and I let out a small squeal of delight, clapped our hands quietly and then focused on the movie.

I used to go the theater at least once a week when I could hear.  I loved going to movies.  Then my hearing got worse and worse and I could understand very little.  I came out of movies madder than hell then would end up crying.  It was a hard habit to give up but it was better than going and not understanding.  As I watched The Big Year, I just knew I could love movies again.  I can go to ANY movie now and I’m delighted.

I came out of that theater with a natural high which lasted me hours.   The world of movies back in my life!  No more waiting for DVD’s to come out.  In that whole process I stopped following movies, didn’t pay attention to previews on TV and even lost actors.  Now I’ll have to get in the groove again.