Lost in music trivia

Have you ever played music trivia games? You know, where you go to some bar that’s hosting a music trivia night, and they have a really loud announcer there barking out orders, and people sit around and listen to the song that’s being played and try to guess who sings it? Yeah, me neither…

Well, last night, a friend of ours wanted to go play music trivia with his girlfriend. So my boyfriend and I decided to go with him. We figured we’d eat dinner with them and chat for a bit and then leave when they started to get into the game. I knew this, and I thought I was mentally prepared for the evening. I was thinking, “Loud, noisy bar. Check. Lots of screaming people. Check. Music in the background I may or may not be able to hear over all the other ruckus. Check.” I was ready for it.

Apparently I wasn’t ready enough. We had a horrible waitress and by the time we got to order drinks we were already irritated with her. I asked if they could make a mojito, to which she replied, “Sure! But not frozen. On the rocks ok? With salt?” Out of the corner of my eye I saw the other people at the table react to her statement. So I repeated what I said: “mojito” not “margarita.” She goes “OHHH… Got it.” When we ordered food, I ordered a cheeseburger, with cheddar cheese, and fries. She responds, “you want fries AND cottage cheese??” Everyone else at the table said they understood me perfectly, so they didn’t know what her problem was. But I felt… a whole mixture of emotions, I guess. Thoughts like this were running through my mind: What was wrong with me? Was I not speaking clearly enough? Can people not understand me like I thought they could? It was not a good start to the evening.

So, the bar becomes increasingly louder as we eat. I’m attempting to lipread around mouths full of food, glassware, and napkins. I catch less than one percent of what people say. I start watching the televisions. They’re showing the Pro bowl game and the Winter X games. None of the televisions have captioning on them. My boyfriend is nicely trying to draw me into conversation and keep me in the loop. I appreciate his efforts, but last night it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t him, by any means, but I just wanted, for once, to just understand.

Finally, the music trivia game starts. ALL the televisions are still going, ALL the conversation is still going, AND the guy gets on a microphone and starts yelling through it. It was the most ridiculous thing ever and my hearing aid absolutely rejected it all. It was one loud mass of noise. Pure static. No comprehension anywhere. The guy on the mic stops speaking and every single head at my table cocks an ear upwards and gets that faraway look on their faces as they listen to the song being played. I cannot hear the song over everything else that is going on. So we sit there, locked in place as the seconds drag by until one of them bugs their eyes out and shouts “{unintelligible name of band}!”

Oh. I hadn’t thought of that part… they are all shouting out the name of the band they think is playing the song. Yeah, that’s real easy. Lipread the crazy made-up name of some band you’ve never heard of. I can do that in my sleep. (Yes, that whole line is dripping with sarcasm there…)

At that point, I just had it. I couldn’t take it anymore. I looked at my boyfriend and basically demanded we leave. It wasn’t a very nice exit, but I had to get out of there. I was just drowning in static and lost in noise. My brain was being suffused with noncomprehension. I HAD TO LEAVE.

Walking out of that bar into the cold silence of the winter night was the highlight of my entire weekend. I could breathe again. I could hear the wind whipping around my head. I wasn’t lost. I knew exactly what was going on around me. I could feel the ground under my feet again. I knew who I was.


Despite preparing myself mentally for that night of music trivia, it’s really hard to prepare yourself for the unexpected things that can break you down. It’s hard to know what to do in a situation like that. It’s not like people could interpret music. And if they don’t know what the song is, because that’s the point of the game, how are they going to inform you of it? I thought about it afterward, as my boyfriend asked what he could have done to make it better for me, and I really had no answer to give him. I couldn’t think of anything that would have improved the situation. Sure, there could have been captioning on the televisions. We could have had a nicer waitress. But when it comes to playing music trivia, there really isn’t anything that could be done.

Have you ever been in a situation like that, where you just couldn’t handle the “being hard of hearing” aspect of yourself? Where the situation was harder than anything you’ve been in before and you just didn’t know what to do? Please share!



Depression and Hearing Loss

By Shanna Groves (a.k.a. Lipreading Mom)

Originally posted at:


Sometimes, Lipreading Mom receives comments that are too important not to share with readers. This is one of them. One of my readers–I’ll call him “Ben”– shared how his new hearing loss has caused some depression. This is Ben’s letter and my reply…

Dear Lipreading Mom,

What do you do about depression? I started losing my hearing about 4 years ago and it has gotten worse I can tell. I have hearing aids and I am coping (I teach so sometimes it’s difficult). But I find myself, especially in the mornings/night worrying, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it…but I become depressed thinking about losing more hearing. This is the first medical issue I’ve ever had and it has made me feel very vulnerable. Any suggestions? There are no hearing support groups anywhere near me. I’ve gotten so scared that I’m afraid to have my hearing retested. It’s impacting my happiness.


Dear Ben,

Thank you for your words. You have my sympathies and understanding with your situation. Depression is common among people with adult-onset hearing loss. Although my hearing loss was diagnosed 10 years ago, the big “D” has been another health issue I’ve experienced. While there may not be a local hearing loss support group where you live, I encourage you to visit an online hearing loss support group. One I’ve visited is Open Chat Night at www.openchatnight.com. Also, visit the Hearing Loss Association of America National Web site (www.hearingloss.org) for tips on coping with hearing loss and depression. Some things that may be helpful in coping with hearing loss-related depression:

  • Talk to your family doctor and/or audiologist about your depression. You may be referred to a counselor who specializes in coping with hearing loss depression and grief. I found that for many years, I grieved the hearing that I used to have. The counselor pointed me to a grief support group and discussed medical options should I choose them.
  •  Write down your thoughts about hearing loss. I’ve kept journals for years, and this writing allowed me to express my worries, fears and sadness in a tangible way. It was must better for me to write about these feelings than to suppress them.
  • Pursue the hobbies/interests you enjoy that don’t necessarily require “perfect” hearing. Although phone conversations are difficult for me, I enjoy meeting friends one-on-one for coffee. I also enjoy regular exercise and have found that it curbs some of the depression. Other ideas: Reading, crossword puzzles, bike riding, woodworking.
  • Realize that you are not alone with hearing loss. The more you accept the loss, the more likely you will be open to others about it. And the move I’ve shared about my hearing loss with others, the more people have opened up to me about their hearing concerns.

With time, you may discover how your hearing loss can be a way to encourage and connect with others in a similar circumstance. Your experiences and wisdom are and will be important.

Please keep me posted.

-Lipreading Mom

Do you have a comment or suggestion for Ben? Post it here, and I will make sure to forward it on.

Adventures in Tinnitus (1): Make the ear noise STOP!

By Shanna Groves


Originally posted at:


Oh, to have a quiet moment.

Welcome to the world of tinnitus. It’s a condition characterized by a perceived ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in the ears.

Lipreading Mom’s 6-year-old daughter recently shared she can’t hear the teacher at school well because of the sounds inside her ears. Her school audiologist admits there isn’t an objective way to test for tinnitus. The best way to test at all, the audiologist claimed, is to describe the noise to a qualified audiology professional or to someone who lives with the condition.

Well, Lipreading Mom has become an expert,  having personally dealt with tinnitus for 10 years. Some days, the inside of my ears plays a quiet chorus of crickets chirping their tinnitus tune. Then there are moments when my ear concert performs much louder, with ringing hand bells joining in with the crickets. When I make the mistake of attending a rock concert with my husband, sans ear plugs, the tinnitus chorus competes with the sound of squealing guitars and screeching lyrics. And the concert screeches on for days inside my ears. Thank God I’ve only made that mistake once.

This is the first in a series of articles about tinnitus, the sometimes maddening condition that affects up to 50 million people in the U.S and millions worldwide. And that’s the number of sufferers owning up to the condition. Without a proper diagnosis, someone may live with ear noise without the ability to explain why.

 The American Tinnitus Association offers plenty of tips for managing perceived sounds in the ears on its Web site. Among the advice:

  •  Meet with an ears, nose and throat doctor (ENT) or audiologist to discuss your tinnitus.

 Lipreading Mom’s advice: Come armed with your “MES” list: medication, stress, and environment. Document all the medication you currently or previously took, any stress triggers in your life, or environmental stimuli that may have triggered your tinnitus. Environment includes work and family setting, exposure to loud noises, and diet. Two of the biggest diet culprits I’ve found for worsening tinnitus are caffeine (that twice-daily cup of java) or salt since they both contribute to a rise in blood pressure, which aggravates my already ringing ears.

  • Don’t panic. Tinnitus is rarely a sign of something life-threatening or serious. Sure, it seems alarming to be serenaded every moment of the day by constant ear noise. That’s when coping mechanisms can help.

One of Lipreading Mom’s favorite tips for coping with tinnitus: Create your own white noise. Turn a fan on low while trying to fall asleep, or listen to a CD of ocean waves while commuting to and from work. Remember to keep the volume low so that the white noise is calming, not ear piercing and potentially damaging to hearing.

I’ll discuss more about how to cope with tinnitus later. In the meantime, visit an ENT or audiologist if you haven’t done so already. Be sure to bring that important MES list with you: medication, stress, and environment.

Time to get busy on that list, tinnitus sufferers!

Captioned Film About Hearing Loss/Deafness Returning to KC

If you live in Kansas City, Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, or Omaha, consider going to see “See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary.” It is a captioned movie about being deaf/hard of hearing in the entertainment industry. Each of these cities are playing the movie next week. Details and a list of theaters from these cities at: http://www.captionfish.com/movie/see-what-im-saying/schedule.

Upcoming HLAA magazine

A headshot picture of the deaf-blind man "Bill Barkeley" in an orange mountain climbing jacket.

Check out the upcoming HLAA magazine being delivered to mailboxes soon!  It features a fantastic article showcasing last year’s keynote speaker, Bill Barkeley.  I had a chance to talk to the excellent presenter after his speech and we briefly covered his experiences mountain hiking and the thrill of pressing through to reach 19,000+ feet at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.


HLAA Webinars

Once a month, HLAA hosts online webinars that stream audio with captions and even powerpoint slides, providing a wealth of information.  Earlier in January, the webinar was on “Hearing Research: New Devices, Treatments & Remedies You Can Expect” and it’s a fantastic topic for those of you looking for the newest in hearing loss research.

Want to check out the next one at 7pm ET on February 24th, 2011 about “The Masks of Hearing Loss (Bluffing 101)” by Gael Hannan?” I highly recommend her attending as her workshop was also held during the 2010 HLAA conference and was a fantastic eye-opener for me. Register today at http://hearinglossassociation.acrobat.com/feb-2011/event/registration.html!

AMC to Begin Digital Captions this Week

Melissa Johnson with AMC Entertainment Corporate Office in Kansas City shared this update with KC HLAA about the status of captions at metro AMC theaters.

Captioning Update from AMC’s Melissa Johnson

Thank you for your patience during this time.  I haven’t had much to report until today.  We have good news!  I have status on Barrywoods (North Kansas City), Mainstreet (Downtown Kansas City) and Studio (Olathe, Kansas).

Barrywoods is SO close.  All installations are complete and the digital keys for Harry Potter have been requested.  What is digital keys?  They should arrive later today or tomorrow.  At that time, the enabled content for Harry will be tested over the next couple of days to ensure the systems are working properly.  If all runs through smoothly, tickets for HP may go on sale as early as Monday for the rest of the week (through Thursday).  If this happens, a full schedule for that theatre will be loaded starting next Friday (a week from today).  As an FYI, Century City’s unit did not operate properly, so they have additional installations –  this could also happen at any of KC’s theaters.  Keep your fingers crossed that all goes smooth.  

Mainstreet is currently working on installing equipment.  ETA unknown.  

Studio – today the final installation for house #19 was complete, but has not been inspected.  We anticipate asking for content next week and testing over next weekend (similar to Barrywoods).  Hopefully Friday 1/28 will be day 1 of full schedule, provided all testing is positive.

As for your question, we often review our pricing strategies, so I will forward your feedback on.  At this time,  I would not anticipate a change or an exception.  This is a request that I cannot follow up on – I can simply share your feedback.

I will watch the schedules and continue to communicate with our Project Manager and film programmers/bookers about the theatres above and advise when I have additional information. 


Many Brave the Cold for Jan. 15th Meeting

Tim Steele (above ), president of Associated Audiologists in Kansas City, and Rebecca Rosenthal (below) of the Kansas Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, were guest speakers at the January 15 Kansas City HLAA Chapter meeting. Their presentation was about looping for hearing aids and cochlear implants to improve quality of listening in public places, such as live entertainment venues, meetings, and places of worship.

Visit the White Papers section of this Web site for details about the Looping 101 presentation.


Original post can be found at TED-Subtitles!

“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.”

I don’t know how many times I have clicked on a link only to discover it was a TED video which was always disappointing!  It was always about a topic that sounded fascinating and would bother me that I didn’t get the chance to learn more about it.  TED videos weren’t subtitled a few years ago.  After a while I got in the habit of not bothering to click “play” on the video once I realized it was a TED video…..until recently.

A few weeks ago I forgot that TED videos weren’t captioned and saw a video about genetics that I just had to watch.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up but much to my surprise it was subtitled!  I started clicking on other videos and discovered that many other videos had subtitles as well.

I did some research and learned that in 2009 TED took steps to start subtitling videos through their TED Open Translation Project with volunteer translators thanks to a sponsorship from Nokia.  They currently have videos published in over 80 languages.  For more information about the project go to TED Translations.

Here’s a quote from their website that is music to my eyes…..Every talk on TED.com will now have English subtitles, which can be toggled on or off by the user.”

It’s an amazing feeling to be able to access these videos.  It’s awesome knowing I now have access to exciting and groundbreaking ideas!

Major thanks and props to TED and their volunteer translators!

There’s still time to “tell it to the DOJ!”

This is so important that I’d like to second to what Moshie said last week on HLAAKC:

“If movie captions are important to you, tell the DOJ!”

HLAA is all about advocating for greater accessibility for everyone.  When movie captions are available, not only do those with hearing loss benefit, but people who read better than they hear, or are more familiar with hearing a foreign language, or kids who are learning to read.

I grew up loving to read.  Not because of my hearing loss, but because written words are often more powerful than a spoken word.  Where else can you instantly determine the meaning of a phrase, just by reading the word used?  Where “bare” and “bear”, each having many uses and meanings when said phonetically, become clearly apparent in writing: “Barefoot in the woods” or “Bear foot in the woods.”

Maybe I’m being silly, but I think the point is clear – support captions today by writing to the US Department of Justice today!  The deadline is January 24, 2011 – don’t let your voice go unheard!

Tell it to the DOJ!

Are movie captions important to you? Then help out HLAA and testify to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) with your thoughts! Deadline for comments is January 24th, so there is still plenty of time. Below are details from HLAA’s campaign.


Twenty years ago, HLAA members came out in force when it was time to comment on rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our comments helped shape the way the rules were written. We need you to do that again to push for captioned movies.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published a notice that it is considering changes to its regulations to require movie theater owners and operators to show captioned movies. DOJ is inviting written comments from members of the public.

If movie captions are important to you, tell the DOJ!

The DOJ proposes to require movie theater owners and operators to show films with closed captioning. DOJ proposes to limit this requirement to no more than 50 percent of the films shown, and DOJ is willing to give owners and operators up to 5 years to get to the 50 percent mark.

HLAA believes that “full and equal enjoyment” of services under the Americans with Disabilities Act means that people with hearing loss must be provided the kind of accommodations that would allow us to attend any movie anytime. For people with significant hearing loss, that means 100% captioning. We believe that an across the board industry cap of 50% is arbitrary and inconsistent with the law.

HLAA’s position on movie captioning is:

  • All movies should be made accessible to movie goers with hearing loss though captioning.
  • People with hearing loss should be able to see any movie at any time on any day.
  • There are many ways to caption movies today. HLAA does not specify the method used to caption the movie so long as it provides effective communication.

DOJ is seeking comments in response to 26 questions. The entire document with all the questions can be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov. You can reply to some or all of the questions. We suggest at a minimum, that you respond to DOJ Question #1:

  1. DOJ is proposing that the percentage of movie screens offering closed captioning be set at 10 percent after one year and increased 10 percent a year until 50 percent is reached. Does this approach provide a proper balance between providing accessibility to consumers, on one hand, and giving owners and operators time to acquire the necessary equipment, on the other hand?

Send your comments to the DOJ today!

Comments sent by U.S. mail must be postmarked and electronic comments must be transmitted on or before January 24, 2011.

  • State the question(s) you are responding to. You can focus all your comments on question #1 or add more.
  • State why you are interested in responding. For example, that you have a hearing loss and cannot attend movies without effective closed captioning.
  • State what you want to see: 100% captions, 5 years or less, no later than January 2016.
  • State how lack of captions has impacted you. State why you think 100% captioning is needed.
  • Thank the DOJ.
  • Sign your name.

Use this link to see our Sample Letter. You can use this Sample Letter as a guide to draft your own letter. It’s best if you do more than just copy and paste this sample letter onto the DOJ form. We believe you will have a greater impact if you write about your own experience going to the movies, and tell the DOJ why movie captioning is important to you.

We did it for the ADA. Let’s do it again for movie captioning. Send your comments to the DOJ!

Thank you!
Brenda's Signature 2
Brenda Battat
Executive Director

Chapter Meeting January 15

Be sure to join us for our monthly Kansas City HLAA Chapter meeting on January 15th.

The presentation is titled “Looping 101: How FM system technology makes information accessible for those with hearing loss,” presented by Tim Steele, Ph.D., F.A.A.A., vice president of Associated Audiologists, Inc., and Rebecca Rosenthal, director of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The free meeting will be held Saturday, Jan. 15, 10:30am, in the Large Meeting Room at the Kansas City Plaza Library, 4801 Main, Kansas City, MO 64112. The meeting will be CART-captioned, and everyone from the community is invited.

For more details, e-mail hlaakc@gmail.com.

The Occlusion Effect

Does your voice ever sound strange to you? Do you sometimes feel like you’re talking too loud, but people are struggling to hear you? Does your voice seem to echo? You may be experiencing what’s known as the Occlusion Effect.

The Occlusion Effect is usually experienced by new hearing aid wearers, but can happen to anyone who wears a hearing aid. It occurs when the earmold completely blocks the ear canal. This causes your voice to vibrate and echo in your ear, making you sound louder than you really are. Your voice “booms” inside your ear and you feel like you’re screaming.

This distortion can be quite unnerving. Don’t give up though. There are several fixes that can be done. First and foremost, see your audiologist. While most hearing aids are built with pressure vents in them, these vents are usually not enough to dispel all the vibrations that happen. Your audiologist may add vents to your earmold, allowing the rest of the blocked noise to escape. Another way to circumvent the occlusion is to have your audiologist adjust your hearing aid programming. Sometimes just a few decibels tweaked helps remove these noise vibrations.

For more information on the Occlusion Effect, visit these websites:

Hear-It: My Voice Sounds Strange

RERC: The Occlusion Effect

Deafness and Hearing Aids: The Occlusion Effect