My First Deaf Style Alarm Clcok

I rarely use alarm clocks, I’ve hated them with a passion since grade school when I had to wake up with the old fashioned alarm clock that clanged between two bells.  Early on I learned to wake up before the it went off to save myself the fright.  Since then I’ve been very good about waking up when I want to except when I have to get up real early, then  I use my phone as an alarm clock.  The problem is I don’t hear it over the half the time, instead Ken hears it and nudges me awake to turn it off.

Last week I needed to get up early but no Ken. I slept soundly the first 3 hours then woke up every hour afterward checking my phone afraid I’d miss the alarm.  I posted to Facebook about it the next day just saying I would be tired.  Wouldn’t you know one of my friends offered me a deaf style alarm clock.

Tonight I brought it out  and realized I had no idea how to set it up and what all the buttons were for (now I’m sounding old). I was astounded to learn the damn thing talked to me…in a foreign language!  I called Ken in and he started counting in French with the clock.  Why does a deaf person need a talking alarm clock and who thinks of this stuff?  I searched the internet until I found the instruction manual and downloaded it. It has four languages; somehow I bypassed German, found French, then came Spanish and finally English. Why does a deaf person need a talking clock? It took a while but I found a way to shut her voice off.

TLC 200
It has a rechargeable, wireless shake awake (vibrator, that needs to charge), 90 decibels of alarm if I chose (never! it would scare me to death) or a flashing light. I’ll try the flashing light and the shake-awake at some point. I’m excited. (har har)

It took a long time just to set the time and the day of the week which made me use almost all the buttons on the front of the clock.  It’s now late and I need to get up early yet I’m afraid to use any of the functions tomorrow not knowing what to expect because there’s still knobs on the back I need to figure out. At least I can look over at the time now instead of checking my phone.

I was telling Ken about all the options when he went to bed.  “I’m going to be woken up rudely,” he asked.

“No,” I said. “I won’t use it while you are here because you  can make sure I wake up with my phone alarm.”

“So what I’m hearing is I’m going to wake up no matter what.”

“Uh, I guess so.”  I love you Ken – immensely.

Affordable Hearing Aids

Sound World Solutions contacted me via my blog. Over email, they told me more about their product and asked if I’d being willing to try it. They have been selling their hearing aids/hearing amplifiers in India and the Philippines but they recognized the need for affordable hearing aids in the USA. Their website states their mission as: “to create and deliver high quality, affordable hearing devices that allow people to rediscover the power of connection, no matter what their geographic location or economic circumstance happens to be.”

I agreed to try their hearing aids because I have many people come through at work who simply can’t afford hearing aids in the $3,000-$6,000 range and are seeking help financially. We have a list of funding sources at work that gives about 10 possible sources for adults. Our resources list places for easy credit terms, the Starkey “Hear Now” program (bless them), and places like United Way and the state vocational rehabilitation program for those who are at work or want to work. Most of the people I see, however, are older people on fixed incomes who really, really want to hear because they know they are missing all kinds of sounds but can’t afford the prices. The look at our funding sources and I tell them to try the Starkey program because I know they do good work.

Sound World shipped their hearing aids called the “Companion” to me. They came in a zippered protective case, a charger cord (no batteries), 3 different sizes of domes for the ear canal and a cleaner tool.


Here’s a picture comparing the size to my tiny Siemens.


There are some people who would be turned off by the size of the hearing aids but I was delighted because I had more room to decorate them! Before I charged them, before I performed the hearing test and before I put them in my ears, I decorated them with Duck Tape. My husband couldn’t believe I wanted to do that before heading out into some noisy environment to check them out. I have a tendency to show off my hearing aids and I was NOT going to show them off plain black.


You may remember a post of mine from a year or so ago trying Harris Hearing aids. I was excited to have more control over what I hear through a phone app although something fell through in process and we were never able to pursue the project.

Sound World is the same way. Their hearing aids are Bluetooth (part of the reason why they are so big I’m guessing) and connect right to the phone. I found their free app in the Apple Store downloaded it with no problem. I turned on the Bluetooth option on my iPhone and proceeded to take their hearing test which turned out similar to the one I have from the audiologist office. (For those without a smart phone, the hearing aids can come already programmed and ready to go out of the box.)

the hearing test

the hearing test

The domes with the Harris hearing aids screamed because I need a lot of power being in the moderate/severe hearing loss zone. The domes with Siemens hearing aids screamed until I got custom-made molds so I kind of expected the same thing with the Companion. If I powered them up while trying to put them in, I had feedback but if I put them in and turned them on, I didn’t have the screaming and that’s doable. I occasionally have a chirp if my hand gets too close to the hearing while fiddling with my hair and that’s not so bad either but I’d like it not there at all. Another cool thing about the Companions is the wire that connects the hearing aids to the domes/speaker goes in and out of the hearing aid itself to its self adjusting.  Look at both pictures of the hearing aid decorated to see the difference in wire length.

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Different size domes and the cleaning tool.

There are 3 programs or settings: everyday, restaurant and entertainment. On my phone app I can choose the setting or I can change it through the buttons on the hearing aid.


Likewise I can adjust the volume on the hearing aid or through the app. Even better, with the app I can adjust the treble, the mid ranges and the bass through the equalizer. I like that. A lot. Today’s world is all about options.


Last week I tried the hearing aids in a health fair for work. It was a big test for these hearing aids in a large lunch room loaded with 300 people, with bad acoustics and someone on microphone trying to override all the noise. My boss took off her cochlear implant and then eased back into the noise with low volume which shows how harsh the noise was.   The Companion hearing aids did well in that environment, separating the speech from the noise well enough I could cope. Noisy settings are the number one complaint for hearing aid users.

They only lasted an hour. I thought I had just charged the hearing aids but on reflection it had been a week (time flies when busy). The charge generally lasts about 18 hours and should be charged once a week with light usage. I was really surprised to get an hour out of them in such a bad environment after a full week of no charging. I need to set a day every week to charge them since I’m a light user changing them out with my Siemens.

Why do I change them out? Because the Companion doesn’t have a T-coil as of yet and I am around looped environments enough which is my favorite listening system. I prefer that above all others because within a loop I feel like a normal hearing person. I also use neckloops at work to show clients how to use them so I need my T-coil hearing aids to make sure the devices work. The company has T-Coil on their list along with trying to get the size of the hearing aids down which might be good too.

The other issue I seem to have is keeping dome in the left ear. It works its way out continually and I have to poke it back in. I know from past experience this causes irritation and pretty soon I have a sore so I asked if they made custom molds for people like me. They do.

Supposedly I can pair the hearing aids to the TV streamer but I have yet to try that option. I’ve been watching TV with captions since the mid 90’s so it’s a hard habit. Depending on the movie, I still need captions to understand dialogue even with a steamer so it’s not a big bonus for me. It connects to my phone for music but I haven’t tried it for talking on the phone yet. (I’m phone shy because it can be a big struggle.)

For the first time my hearing aids talk to me. I’m not sure how I feel about that but at least I know what’s going on.

“Power on.”

“Power off.”

“Volume up.”

“Volume down.”

“Connected.” For Bluetooth options in my phone.




It’s a male voice. I might have to name him, any ideas for names?

I gave them another color today for their debut.

IMG_2782 IMG_2783

Overall I would recommend these hearing aids to people who have a moderate or less hearing loss who can’t afford hearing aids out of an audiology office. Why not a severe/profound hearing loss? Because my moderate/severe hearing loss requires a lot of power which creates feedback. If I have some feedback, what will it be like for someone with a bigger hearing loss than mine? I think it would work fine for someone with my kind of hearing loss provided they are experienced with hearing aids and can work it but for someone totally new to hearing loss it might be a bit frustrating. If it’s a moderate or mild hearing loss I think the aids will work fine and not have a lot feedback issues.

Some hearing aids are better than none and these are certainly affordable and usable. The website says one hearing aids is $449 and $735 for two hearing aids. They don’t have all the bells and whistles (they tell me they are working to have more options in their hearing aids and making them smaller is a priority) but they do have the basics; noise settings, volume, connectivity through Bluetooth. Bonuses include not having to buy batteries and being able to make self adjustments through a smart phone. Thank  you World Solutions for letting me try your hearing aids.

Summer life

I have outlines and subjects galore to write about but since late July, life has been non-stop with traveling.  I thought I’d share some of it with you and then get serious about writing again.

Late July and into August we did a Vanagon trip to the Oregon/Washington coast but right before leaving, I hosted an HLAA-SLC social at my house.  Good people, a great night.

Our social

Our social


We made it to the California Sierras to visit friends who also have a Vanagon. (Ours is blue.)

We made a quick tour of Mt. Lassen before hitting up the Giant Redwoods in California.


Redwood National/State Park.


Whale’s Head Beach, about an hour north of the California border in Oregon. Loved it because hardly anyone was there.


Made it to the Rogue Brewery in Newport, OR. Their nut brown is awesome and they have a good chocolate one too.

This was about an hour before getting to Astoria., it's one of my favorite pictures.

This was about an hour before getting to Astoria., it’s one of my favorite pictures.

Then up to Ocean Park, WA to visit good friends.  Brrr!

Then up to Ocean Park, WA to visit good friends. Brrr!

Onto Seattle to visit family and the troll under the bridge...which has a VW bug under a hand by the way.

Onto Seattle to visit family and the troll under the bridge…which has a VW bug under a hand by the way.

While in the area we also visited Jimi Hendrix’s grave, Pike’s Market and Snowqualmie Falls.

Then back down through Oregon again where we traveled up the Columbia River Gorge, watched wind surfing at Hood River, OR.  We drove by Mt. Hood and camped along the Pacific Coast trail.  Then I had to go to Bend, OR to the visit Deschutes Brewery.

Their seasonal ale was good but River Ale is still my favorite.

Their seasonal ale was good but River Ale is still my favorite.

From there we toured the Lava Caves.  Brrr!  After that we found an abandoned campground nowhere close to a town.  It felt very Friday the 13th.  It was peaceful.

Our whole trip was blue skies and good weather, except traveling through NV to CA where we hit a thunderstorm with lots of rain and again on the way back through NV to Utah we got drenched.

I wasn’t home 12 hours from that trip before I took off to Arizona to be with my youngest son.  His living quarters was threatened by a rare wildfire in Mohave, AZ.  The fire actually went all the way around his place but left a good chunk of the neighborhood alone which was amazing!  We didn’t know that for 3 days however because they wouldn’t let people in until the hot spots were down, the propane tanks safe and downed wires back up.  It was 3 days of hell waiting to see if his cat made it through the 110 plus temperatures without electricity and a huge fire blazing all around.

The fire went down down the streets on both sides of the property.

The fire went down down the streets on both sides of the property.

Leo the Cat came through unharmed!

Leo the Cat came through unharmed!

I came back home 5 days later and went to work, tying up the speechreading and hearing aids 101 classes updates.  Ken and I found time to go camping in the High Uintas in eastern Utah at Spirit and Hoop Lakes.

The stream that fed into Spirit Lake.  This was about 10,000 ft.

The stream that fed into Spirit Lake. This was about 10,000 ft.

Tamarack Lake,  hike up from Spirit Lake.

Tamarack Lake, hike up from Spirit Lake.

That night was cold!  I broke out the down coat.


And we still had fun.

Fishing at Hoop Lake which was about 9,000 feet.

Fishing at Hoop Lake which was about 9,000 feet.

So then I come home to work and visit with my grandkids for a few short weeks.

Riley who is about 4 months old here I think.

Riley who is about 4 months old here I think.

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From there I went to the ALDA convention, Association for Late Deafened Adults.  It was my first ALDA con and it deserves a post all on it’s own.  Here’s two of my favorite pictures from karaoke night.  (Yes the deaf can and will sing at the ALDA con.)

Taking a break from all the fun.

Taking a break from all the fun.

These two are feeling the music's vibrations through a balloon for the first time.

These two are feeling the music’s vibrations through a balloon for the first time.

So I’m home again, visit with kids and grandkids and we’re off again in less than two weeks.  This time we went up Gray Canyon on the Green River in Utah.  The one thing about having a ‘handicap’ is my National Parks pass card called Access.  It’s gotten us into the National Parks free and 1/2 off camping in most places.  I felt guilty about having one for a while but got over it.  I miss out on so much in the hearing world why not have this one perk in life?

Sunset on Swasey's Rapid

Sunset on Swasey’s Rapid

Campsite near practically right on the rapid.  It's great white noise for tinnitus.

Campsite near practically right on the rapid. It’s great white noise for tinnitus.

My hubby guiding us down the Green River.  We did two days on an 8 mile stretch of the river.

My hubby guiding us down the Green River. We did two days on an 8 mile stretch of the river.

I’m home again as of last night.  I have to be up early to travel to busy health fair to talk to people about the services Utah offers to those who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Then my parents are visiting for the weekend.  I have about a two week breather before my next planned trip to Montana to visit a dear friend.  After that, I hope to stay home for a little while. I hope to be able to post a couple of times before going. I have a lot of catching up to do!

Advice for New Hearing Aids

People often ask my advice on hearing aids. I’ve been wearing hearing aids for about 25 years now, starting with the old, awful analog ones and moved into the digital models.  I’m on my fifth pair of hearing aids. I also help teach a class at work called Hearing Aids 101 so I have some knowledge and experience.  Here’s a lot of what I saw but it by no means covers it all.

T-Coils are important! Here's what they look like in different sizes.

T-Coils are important! Here’s what they look like in different sizes. I picked this picture up through Loop Seattle.

  Make sure you get a tele-coil (t-coil) in your hearing aids.  Audiologists like to say it’s old technology and you’ll never use it but it’s NOT outdated technology.  A t-coil (originally developed for the telephone but it’s uses have grown) is a tiny coil of copper wire in a hearing aid. Most hearing aids have them but audiologists don’t always tell people about it.  If you already have hearing aids you may have one but the program is not turned on.  Ask your audiologist if you have one and if it can be turned on to experiment with.  

I used my t-coil setting a lot in the early years with my analog hearing aids to get by on the phone and I don’t think I would have lasted so long the phone without it. I held the top of the phone a little above and behind my ear hovering the edge of my hearing aid. It cut out my environmental background noise and focuses on what’s coming across on the phone only.  Unfortunately my environmental noise would bleed over into the phone at times because I worked in salons which could get noisy but even then the t-coil helped a great deal on the phone.

This picture came from Galluadet page:

This picture came from Galluadet page:

  These days I don’t use the phone much but when I do I use neckloop which also works with the t-coil. It has a jack that will fit into anything headphones can plug into. I use it with my iPhone and I hear the conversation in both my ears which gives me a little extra to work with in trying to understand the conversation. I also use it on my iPod to listen to music and I take it to venues who advertise ALDs to plug into their receivers since they usually only offer headphones. Headphones over the top of hearing aids will not work as well as a neckloop. I have this neckloop because it has a mic to use with my phone. I don’t know if this is the ‘best’ brand, it’s what I bought first and use.

Geemarc Powered Neckloop with Microphone.

Geemarc Powered Neckloop with Microphone.

  And then there’s the hearing loop that also works with the t-coil program.  It’s all over Europe and is just starting to make headway in the USA.  Basically if I walk into a looped room and turn on my t-coil program I can hear 90% of the conversation and I DON’T have to pick up any other devices to make it work. My word discrimination is 50-70% (or worse) with hearing aids depending on the environment.) I’m not sure why this assistive listening system works so much better than the usual FM and infrareds but it is a huge difference. It’s my preferred listening system. If you want to learn more about hearing loops I suggest going here. Juliette Sterkens who is HLAA’s officially hearing loop advocate helped set up this site and she can say it a lot better than I can. Hearing loops are also available for cars, living rooms (for the TV) and simple counter loops for a small area.


Bluetooth technology.  Audiologists are big on this and it’s great for personal devices, I like listening to my music with it best. My current hearing aids came with a Bluetooth necklace which hooks me up to my phone and other devices once it’s paired (and pairing isn’t always easy). I have a streamer for my TV and I can hear more words however I still require captions to fill in the blanks. Bluetooth however draws on a lot of battery power and the more you use it the faster you will go through hearing aid batteries.  (T-coils require no extra battery power.)  You can’t use Bluetooth in big venues yet so it’s mainly for personal devices. With hearing aids, you can have both Bluetooth and a t-coil, why not have the best of both worlds? Ask your audiologist to make sure your new hearing aids have t-coil as well. People who go with Bluetooth only and regret not having t-coils later.  Hearing loops are not in wide use yet but when it’s available, it’s awesome.  The hearing loop movement is growing.

Hearing Aid Brands

   I get asked about the top brands all the time.  The most used hearing aids are: Widex, Phonak, Siemens, Starkey and Oticon.  There are several other brands out there but I have little personal experience with them. CostCo sells hearing aids cheaper and they are Phonak or Siemens but the model’s have different names.  They might not have all the bells and whistles the higher priced versions do but you’ll pay up to $3,000 less at CostCo.  The main problem I hear about them is that the hearing instrument specialists come and go fairly fast. People will get one who can program well and that person will leave and be replaced by someone who is so-so at programming.  Here’s a good website to compare brands of all kinds and read reviews from people who wear them.

Do Not Give Up Until Satisfied

You’re the boss. You paid for the hearing aids and you paid good money.  You paid in advance for all the tweaking of programs and minor upkeep of hearing aids. It’s called a bundle package which pays for the hearing aids, the services and minor repairs so keep going back until they get the programming right, until you are satisfied with them. Hearing aids will never replace true hearing but you should be able to wear them and notice a difference. Without my hearing aids in I have a 30% word discrimination at best. I went back with this last pair I bought twice a month for 6 months until I was satisfied and eventually wound up with a 72% word discrimination test, the highest I’ve had in years. The audiologist should make you feel comfortable to come as often as needed.


You can ask if they have unbundled deal. (Most audiologists do not offer this.) This option allows you to pay for the hearing aids alone and then pay a service fee each time you go in. For some people, this is the cheaper way to go but it is nice to go back as often as necessary without the worry of running up a bill.  

Haggle over the price of hearing aids, strike a bargain.  They should never ever be above $6,000 in my opinion but I know some pay $7,000. The prices aren’t set in stone and you may be able to bargain it lower. Shop around and compare, bring the best price quote back to the audiologist you like and see if he/she will work with you. Most audiologists want to make that sale but most of the time we are clueless and don’t question the price.

Hearing Aid Programs

There are several programs you can have in your hearing aids. I have 5 programs, 3 I use often and 2 I use here and there.  The number 1 setting is the main setting or the master program. Next I also have a program for noisy settings which focus my microphones extreme forward and drops the noise a few levels so I can tolerate noise better. The other one I use often is the ‘stroll’ program (I have Siemens hearing aids right now and different companies have different names for the programs.) It’s set up for walking next to someone and the microphones go from side to side as needed following voices. I use this program mainly in the car and it helped a great deal.

I have a dedicated Bluetooth program which I rarely use but it’s there when I want it. I also have a dedicated T-coil program which I use for the phone, neckloop and meetings in town with a hearing loop.  There are other programs that offered, ask your audiologist to read off what’s available and then experiment with them.  I might replace my Bluetooth program (I rarely use it) with the Zen program for tinnitus to see what it’s like.

Warranties and Batteries

  You should get a 2-3 year warranty on the hearing aids. Some audiologists might offer free batteries for that amount of time with the purchase of new hearing aids. If your audiologist doesn’t offer, ask. Tell him/her that you heard of someone who does and see if they will make you a deal.

  You should have 30-90 days to return the hearing aids for your money back (aside from ear mold prices).  If you really don’t like them don’t be afraid to return them and try another brand.  

  Smaller hearing aids may appeal to vanity but you won’t get all the cool programming options.  They also don’t last as long and go through more batteries than the bigger ones.


All Audiologists Should Tell You About Assistive Technology

  Ask your audiologist about assistive listening technology and how it can complement your hearing aids.  Hearing aids are made for conversation within a 4-6 foot range, after that, their ability diminishes which is why you can’t hear well in church, the theater or at lectures.  Assistive listening devices that use FM or infrared technology will eliminate the distance and help you hear a lot better in public venues.  Look for the sign above when you are going out and inquire about the devices available.  It will create a much better experience for you.

Ear Molds

  Make sure your ear molds are snug but don’t hurt.  If they are a poor fit things will sound more tinny.  If they hurt, the audiologist can shave the bumpy parts down some.  There’s also different kind of mold materials, hard plastic and soft plastic. A lot of hearing aids now come with ‘domes’ a sort of one size fits all thing.  I had horrible feedback (squealing) with domes, they itched and I didn’t hear well with them. I also did badly with hard plastic ear molds that inserted into the canal only. They constantly worked their way out and I was poking them back in which made my ears sore. Next we tried custom molds made for me (red!) with soft rubber material and a little kickstand to help them stay in place. It worked!

  Ask for a ‘real ear measure’ test once you get your hearing aids.  It will help the audiologist measure how sounds are coming into your ear through the hearing aids.  (Not all audiologists do this but they should.) Once I could only tell my audiologist that things sounded harsh without specifics so he ran this test and was able to pin point the possible harsh noises and make it more bearable. It’s a small tube inserted into the hearing aids and just into the ear canal. It’s hooked up to the computer which then generates all tones of speech and measures it out.

 I’m sure there’s a lot more I missed.  If you questions ask and I will try to get you the answer.  Here’s a few links to check out if interested.

More information on t-coils:

HLAA talks about Unbundling Prices:

A Response to Hearing Loss

I had a haircut appt and could not get the address to work on my maps. I had to use the phone and it went badly because it kept breaking up making my faulty hearing worse. Finally someone texted me directions and I got to the haircut.

Afterward, I was talking to her on the porch about hearing loss and apologizing for being late. We talked about people who are deaf (not capital D) and she says, “I don’t care what others say I think you people are intelligent.” I was a little shocked. (Maybe her sister, who made the appt, told her I was an idiot.) I didn’t know quite what to say so told her, “We can do anything anyone else can do except hear.”

What would you say?


Advocating Again

Every since I moved here Ken wanted to go see the annual play Saturday’s Voyeur filled with humor at Utah’s expense.  I wasn’t too thrilled about going because I knew I wouldn’t understand so he let it go these last 7 years.  This year he saw the poster/cover and really wanted to go.  I said I’d give it a try even though someone else told me the assistive listening system there wasn’t that good.


Ken bought tickets in the front row in hopes what I could hear and lipreading might combine to make a good experience.   We went in a few days early to see what kind of listening system they had which was FM.  They didn’t have neckloops available, only headphones but hey, no problem!  I’ll bring my own amplified neckloop.

We showed up and they had the FM system right there to pick up as they took our tickets.  We sat down among others with ice chests, pouring wine for each other or cracking a beer.  Some people made it a picnic showing up with salads, meals, crackers and cheese.  I settled in plugging my neckloop into the portable FM receiver, got my own glass of wine and looked around.  It was a small stage and we were almost center of it.  Music played in the background, a band was just visible behind a stage curtain and people were talking all around us above the music.  I looked up and saw 4 little mics hanging from the ceiling above the stage.  Uh oh, the actors were not individually mic’ed and they were a good 4 feet above their heads.

I turned on the FM system and couldn’t tell the difference between what my hearing aids were hearing and what was coming across the FM system through my telecoils.  I had a bad feeling about this.  Ken said (I could barely hear him in the noise) it would get better when it started up and the audience quieted down.  Maybe.

The lights went out and the audience did quiet down nicely.  I went into the FM system and could not understand a single word.  I went full volume and still couldn’t understand anything and that’s with my 15 decibel gain neckloop.  I stayed with it for about 20 minutes hoping I’d get used to the sound and start understanding more but it didn’t happen.  I took it all off and went into my regular hearing program.

To help things along I switched it my extreme focus forward program and actually heard better that way than through the FM system.  That’s the first time in my life I’ve ever tried an ALD (assistive listening device) and heard worse!  Voices were clearer with my hearing aids and I could snag a word here and there but still not enough to understand the play darn it.

Lipreading?  Not possible either.  Acting on stage involves a lot of exaggerated facial expressions which distorts lipreading.  Then they started to sing and I didn’t even know this would be a musical play and singing further exaggerates lip movements and I understood none of the lyrics.  When multiple actors are on stage they often block one another and there’s fake beards to try to lipread through (not easy), masks and even one character talking into his hat.  They turn their heads this and that so lipreading was a failure of sorts too.  Occasionally I’d snag a whole sentence when circumstances were just right but not enough to make sense of anything.

The play had some visual characters and even though I couldn’t understand much of what she said, I loved the pink wigged fairy godmother character with her facial expressions and wand.  Some of the antics were visual enough I could laugh at that but not often enough and I wished like hell I could hear the words too.  Too many times there was jokes I didn’t understand and it’s such an isolating experience to sit in the midst of a laughing audience.

There were three acts, two intermissions.  During the second intermission I was posting to Facebook about my experience when the lights went down. I continued to post.  Ken said, “It’s starting, put your phone down.”

I kept writing my post so he elbowed me.  “Put your phone away, you’re missing it,” he told me.

“So what, I’m missing it anyway, ” I told him.  “You just want me to put my phone down because you think it’s rude.”

“It is rude, put your phone away.”

I finished my post and put my phone away.  Since the play was going on I didn’t bother telling him my thoughts which were:  It’s rude to advertise an assisitive listening system and have it be completely useless.  What about how rude that is to me?  It’s a big fat tease and it’s lucky I didn’t break down crying.

Instead of watching the third act I started watching the audience to see who else might be hard of hearing.  I spotted 6 people.  Two men were faking laughter and how do I know that?  Because their laughter was always delayed, it came well after everyone else was laughing.  I saw 4 other people who were sitting there like me not laughing at all and I’m going to assume they were hard of hearing too.  They could have been offended but they didn’t fit that image with a beer or glass of wine in hand.  Had they tried the listening system before and gave up?  Did they even know one was available?  Why don’t they offer people the ALDs as they come in?  Maybe our ALD sign is too obscure, maybe we need to add words and or posters to explain what’s available.


How are people supposed to know what this means?

Instead of going to tears I thought of what I can do to make it better next time.  Get CART?  Try to get to a hold of them so maybe I can read the script and talk to them about their useless listening system?  Maybe this is just an opportunity in disguise. I really liked the theater and the casual atmosphere and wouldn’t mind coming more often but things would certainly have to improve before that can happen.  It sure made me appreciate Vicki of Turner Court Reporting and Captioning Services all the more for doing captioned Broadway plays for us not that I didn’t already highly appreciate the service.

The next day I wrote into the Salt Lake Acting Company and did get a reply back.  Things are busy so she asked me to pick dates to come in and read the script and to talk about the listening system.  I’d love to read the script, even after the fact, so that I finally know what everyone else was laughing at.  It looked like such fun.  I’m waiting to hear back.

Sometimes we have to go and fail first before we can set things straight.  This was one of those times.  It was a fail but I’m proud of myself for not letting myself get so upset over it all.  It happens and it may be an opportunity, a hearing loop in there would be so awesome.

25 Years of the ADA

On July 26, 1990 the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into effect and we are celebrating its 25th anniversary next month.  We acknowledge this important event in history with pride because it empowers us with equal rights by removing barriers.   For 25 years it’s been there for us but are we exercising our rights and using the ADA as much as we could?  If not, why aren’t we using it more often?

Although many people know of the ADA, they may not be familiar with it enough to use it.  If that’s the case visit the many websites and blogs online to learn more about it, get acquainted!  Occasionally a workshop or meeting is offered in hearing loss communities regarding the ADA, go to it.  It may take a few times to understand it but keep going until you do and just so you know,  you don’t have to know it word for word.  The more familiar you are with it, the more comfortable you will feel using it.

Finding support is essential for journey in learning to request accommodations, especially if it’s your first time exercising your rights.  You can find role models at support groups to ask for help or get recommendations on how best to handle the situation.  Having cheerleaders on your side will encourage you to keep on keeping on.

My suggestion is to start small to build confidence.  Advocating with your family first, then with people you meet you meet while out and about.  You will find out most people are willing to help but often don’t know how.  Be prepared to educate people but have the right attitude; be tactful and not demanding, teach but don’t lecture.  Learn to compromise when needed.

Pick a “project” you are most likely to win but don’t expect instant success.  Businesses, schools and government agencies will often fight against accommodations.  The ball will go into both courts several times and push may come to shove, however, remain polite through it all.  You will most likely get frustrated at some point but do not give up; the law is on our side.  If you are unsure whether or not it’s right to pursue the accommodation, you can find free legal advice on the internet or maybe within your own community.  The state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center here in Salt Lake offers free legal advice with an ADA lawyer every so often.

This is what the path to success really looks like.

This is what the path to success really looks like.

Don’t be afraid to use the media in promoting your cause.  Remain diplomatic while leaving comments on Facebook and internet pages.  Write a letter to the editor or see if a reporter would like to take on the story.

Sometimes we may have to fail first to prove the accommodations weren’t effective, don’t give up.  Sometimes we may have to compromise, don’t give up. Other times we may lose all together but we don’t have to accept it as a defeat.  We can learn from it and try a different approach next time.  It’s a journey and no matter what, we are moving in the right direction.

If we all pecked away at this accommodations for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing would become more common place, making it easier and easier for the next time and the next person.  Let’s use the next 25 years of the ADA to further our accommodations creating an equal environment.   Working together we make it happen.  Are we worth it, you bet!