What Marvel and Chris Pratt have to teach us about respect

Guest post by Lucy Crabtree

My mom and I were walking into a movie theater when she brought it up. “So,” she said, “I think I missed something. Did Chris Pratt start some kind of brouhaha?”

I laughed. “Uh, just a little!” I replied, tongue in cheek.

I filled her on what had happened—how last month, Marvel made a short clip starring Chris Pratt to promote their latest offering, Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The clip started out with subtitles, but a few seconds in, Pratt urged viewers to turn up their sound and ignore the subtitles, and motioned as if to wipe the subtitles off the screen. The subtitles disappeared. The rest of the clip continued without subtitles, and did not provide an option to turn them back on. Fans objected, saying that such a move was insensitive toward those who rely on subtitles to understand videos, and Marvel took the clip down.

The next day, Chris Pratt issued an apology video in Instagram, using sign language to express his regret over the Marvel clip and acknowledging the insensitivity of turning the subtitles off. “I have people in my life who are hearing-impaired,” he said in his Instagram post, “and the last thing in the world I would want to do is offend them or anybody who suffers from hearing loss or any other disability.”

Captions are not optional

For many of us, captions are not optional. They grant us access to the most prized commodity of all: information. Information is how relationships are built, purchases are made, and jobs are landed. Even when the information is entertainment, as in a movie trailer, it is still a hot commodity. For better or worse, movies, television, and other media give us cultural reference points and an opportunity to connect with others over these. When Pratt “wiped off” the subtitles in the original video, I literally gasped. “He did NOT just do that!” With a simple sweeping motion, I felt like he was pushing me away from the screen, pushing me away from a community I have just as much a right to as anyone else.

I’ll say again—captions are not optional, and not just for people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. The universal nature of closed captions means that they assist English Language Learners in synchronizing spoken and written English, foster literacy for children and adults who are learning to read, and make information accessible for everyone, regardless of their degree of hearing. I even learned recently that people with cognitive processing issues rely on captions. Captions, then, should be the norm and not the exception. Marvel was wrong to treat them as optional. I’m grateful for Pratt’s apology and that Marvel acted swiftly to remove the offending video.

An updated vocabulary

Not only do we need captions, we need an updated vocabulary. Several online news outlets, including Variety, People, ET Online, and Yahoo, reported on Chris Pratt’s apology by using “hearing impaired” in their headlines—a phrase Pratt himself used in his Instagram post.

“Hearing impaired,” however, is an archaic term that many people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing have long abandoned. That alone should be reason enough to stop using the phrase—out of respect for and to show hospitality to people who have historically been marginalized. The fact that Pratt uses “hearing impaired” suggests that he does not interact with many D/deaf or hard of hearing people. He does refer to having “hearing impaired” people in his life, but that makes me think that he is either not close enough to them to choose a more respectful term, or that the people in question are from a different age when the term was more acceptable. “Hearing impaired” conveys a sense of being “broken” or incomplete, and puts our hearing loss first instead of our personhood. 

A posture of respect

This “brouhaha,” as my mom called it, is ultimately about respect. Providing or turning on captions and subtitles, and being intentional with vocabulary, shows respect and care for people who are deaf and hard of hearing—who could very well be your neighbors, your kids’ friends, the people in line in front of you at the grocery store. Words, whether they are displayed on a screen during a movie or used to describe someone else, reflect and shape how we think about people who are different from us. Marvel and Chris Pratt will, I bet, be more careful going forward. The rest of us would be wise to follow suit.

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Possible Design Change for the iPhone 6 — Eliminating the Headphone Jack — has Some Apple Fans Fuming

This would make the iPhone inaccessible for use with neckloops and t-coils.

Science Writer for Hearing Loss and Related Issues Advisory Committee, Greater Richmond Hearing Loss Association and Past President of Williamsburg Hearing Loss Association wrote a blog about this at

iPhone 6 and Accessibility by Kathi Mestayer

Kathi has filed a complaint with FCC & looking into this for the Richmond HLAA. She has asked that HLAAKC share this and encourages others to file a complaint with FCC. FCC Attorney Advisor who was the HLAA convention in Austin TX recommended people should file complaints about Apple’s plans to remove the headphone jack. Multiple complaints will be better than just one complaint. Please read and share:

Possible design change for the iPhone 6 — eliminating the headphone jack — has some Apple fans fuming

Open-Captioned Movie at The Alamo Drafthouse – Friday, Sept. 27 at 7pm!

2013 has been a great year for open-captioned movies in Kansas City! First, there was Monsters University open-captioned at The Boulevard Drive-In Theater in July, followed by the double feature, Planes/The Lone Ranger in August at the same location. A huge thanks to JJ Jones, The Whole Person and CinemaKC for their hard work in bringing open captions back to KC!

This month, HLAAKC is happy to be part of the effort to encourage local theaters to show open-captioned movies. As part of Deaf Awareness Week, we are thrilled to announce that the movie Rush will be shown at 7pm on Friday, Sept. 27 at The Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Kansas City (1400 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64105 – formerly AMC Mainstreet)! Click here to reserve your tickets online – this will help you select and reserve your seats! Order them today!

rush

The Alamo is a dine-in theater, so you can order your dinner and snacks right from your seat — servers will bring you your food and drink! Doors open at 6:15; join us at 6:45 for a special pre-show presentation from Cady Macfee from Hamilton Relay, who will be presenting the Deaf Community Leader Award.

alamo

Afterwards, hit up the Power and Light District with your friends – the fun doesn’t have to end when the movie’s over!

A few notes about The Alamo:

— No talking/no texting policy is strictly enforced – enjoy the movie free from distractions!
— Patrons must be 18 or older, or accompanied by a parent/guardian.
— Click here for directions and parking info

Thank you, Alamo Drafthouse, for providing an accessible movie for those of us with hearing loss!

See you Friday, Sept. 27!

Click here for more information about Deaf Awareness Week.

Hearing Assistive Technology workshop recap

 By Andy Chandler

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) workshop sponsored by HLAA and the Consumer Electronic Association Foundation (CEA).  CEA paid for the attendees’ hotel rooms and meals during the workshop (thanks, CEA!).  All I had to do was get myself to Bethesda, which I was able to do, thanks to Southwest Airline points (thanks Southwest!)

As you might guess from the title, the weekend workshop centered on using technology to address the challenges of hearing loss. It was like a mini-HLAA convention, which means the very best part of the workshop was meeting people from all over the country, including Hawaii!  There were about 25 of us, some old hands with assistive technology, and some brand new to the topic.

The workshop was presented by Brad Ingrao, an audiologist from Florida, and a frequent speaker at national HLAA events. You might recognize Brad’s name from the HLAA magazine, where he writes a monthly column. What I like about Brad is that he can be a curmudgeon about his profession. It’s not all peaches and roses, as some hearing aid and CI manufactures claim. Brad made two key points about hearing aids and cochlear implants:

  • They make bad hearing less bad (notice it doesn’t say, “make bad hearing good”).
  • They work well, up to 6 feet away from the source of the sound.

So that’s why we use assistive technology — to make hearing better beyond six feet. How do we do that?  That’s what we covered in the workshop, learning about technologies such as:

  • Looping, FM and infrared systems
  • Television and telephone amplification
  • Telephone relay services
  • Personal listening devices (which sometimes can work as well as hearing aids, and are a lot cheaper)
  • CART and captioning (my personal favorite!)
  • Smartphones and the Internet

We talked a lot about loops and telecoils. A lot of people think it’s outdated technology, as it’s been around for a while. In reality, it’s gotten better over the years, and it’s one of the most accessible and effective technologies — as long as your aids/CI have a telecoil. But to loop a space correctly, whether it’s a ticket booth or an auditorium, takes some audio engineering, and should be done by an experienced professional.

Of course, the best part of any HLAA gathering is the people you meet, and the gatherings that take place outside the official workshop events. There is something life-affirming about meeting others who share a hearing loss. At the workshop, at HLAA conventions and meetings, we are the majority. We understand what it means to live with a hearing loss and the challenges thereof. And darn if we weren’t going to do whatever was needed to understand one another!

photo

Here’s a picture of a few of us enjoying one of Bethesda’s finer restaurants (I’m the guy on the right, in blue). I’m sure the wait staff had never seen so many hearing aids, CIs and ALDs at one table!

The reason CEA and HLAA sponsored this workshop was not just for the benefit of the attendees. In return for providing a “scholarship” (i.e, paying for lodging and food), attendees agree to take the information back to their local communities.  So if you or your organization(s) are interested in learning more about Hearing Assistive Technology, I would be delighted to share what I learned. Just contact HLAAKC at hlaakc@gmail.com or give me a shout at aqchandler@gmail.com.

If you are interested in attending a HAT training weekend, the next one is September 6-8 in Sarasota, Fla. For more information, including how to apply for the class, visit HLAA’s website. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Aug. 13. 

HLAA 2013 Convention Recap – Portland, Oregon

Fellow committee member Terri Shirley and I had a fantastic time representing the Kansas City Chapter at the HLAA convention in Portland, Oregon this past June!  It was Terri’s first convention and my third convention (over the span of 10 years).

I hope that everyone with hearing loss has the opportunity to attend an HLAA convention someday.  It is an eye-opening, inspiring and motivational experience.  The convention allows me to recharge and embrace my hearing loss before being thrown back into the hearing world.  Here are my top convention highlights (in no particular order).

  1. Networking – It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can make acquaintances at HLAA conventions – young and old.  A simple hello can turn into a one-hour conversation and you are friends for life.
  2. Exhibit hall – I always enjoy talking to all the vendors in the exhibit hall.  It’s a great place to ask questions, try out new technology, and learn all about the programs that are out there to assist people with hearing loss.
  3. Jacob’s Ride – I had the pleasure of meeting Jacob Landis and learning about his mission to raise money for CI recipients by bicycling to baseball stadiums all over the country!  He will be coming to Kansas City on September 2, 2013 to attend the Royals game, so be sure to watch for announcements from HLAAKC about this exciting event!
  4. Opening Session – There was an impressive lineup of inspiring speakers at the opening session to kick off the convention.  Howard Weinstein fascinated us with his story of how he came to be the inventor of solar ear (a solar powered hearing aid) and his quest to help low-income people with hearing loss in the developing world.
  5. Accessibility – An HLAA convention is by far the most accessible convention you’ll ever go to.  CART was provided for all the sessions.  Sign language interpreters were available for the opening session, research symposium and banquet.  Looping and infrared technology (along with receivers) was available as well.
  6. People Watching – HLAA had the pleasure of sharing the convention hall with Leakycon, which is a Harry Potter fanfest – imagine costumes galore and 4,000 attendees that are all about Harry Potter!  The clever costumes brought a smile to my face more than once.
  7. Portland 100 – I enjoyed attending the happy hour and connecting with other young adults throughout the convention.  The young adult attendance has come a long way since my first convention in Atlanta in 2003; they were pretty much non-existent at the time.
  8. Playing Tourist – This was my first visit to Portland, so I took advantage of using my convention public transit pass to explore Portland’s many attractions. I also enjoyed attending the HLAA World Forestry Center event.
  9. Transitions – We had a great time praising executive director Brenda Battat for her past achievements and many contributions to HLAA and wishing her a happy retirement throughout the convention.  We also welcomed Anna Gilmore Hall as HLAA’s new executive director (as of July 8).
  10. Workshops – There was something for everyone in the many workshops offered throughout the convention.  Workshops covered topics related to advocacy, assistive technology, hearing aids and cochlear implants, and relationship and communication. There were also presentations geared toward veterans with hearing loss.  Additionally, there were beneficial demo room presentations where you could learn about a product or service.
  11. Future HLAA Conventions – Big announcements were made regarding future HLAA conventions! HLAA has been selected by the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) to host their next Congress in 2016 in Washington D.C.  And next year’s HLAA convention is a little closer to home – Austin, Texas!  So I hope to see y‘all there!

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Our Amazing Captioning Panel

By Terri Shirley

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HLAAKC’s event, Captioning Panel, held Monday, April 29th, was chock full of surprises and educational for everyone.  With all our energy to change the world one idea at a time, we soaked up knowledge and exchanged suggestions between the audience and the expert panelists.

20/20 Captioning & StenoCART – Real-time Captioning

The first panelist, the lovely and interesting Jeanette Christian, Founder & President of 20/20 Captioning & stenoCART, explained her chosen profession of real time captioning, also called Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART).   As Jeanette spoke, our attendees never missed a word as conversation was relayed remotely from a captionist located in Raytown.

For all of our speakers that evening, their spoken words translated into typed words behind the speaker on a projector screen.   Our audience questions were also transcribed into written words on screen at front of meeting room, behind the speaker.  CART can also be displayed on personal electronic devices if projection screen is not available or not desired.

Jeanette engaged our audience with real stories of her work helping the hearing connect with the people who have hearing loss through the use of captioning.  She helped a medical student who has very little hearing.   Jeanette’s real-time captioning remotely came right into the surgery room.  With an iPod hanging from an IV-pole and an iPod hung around an interpreter’s neck, the student could understand the details of the surgery with CART.

If you need TV captioning or CART at work, school, conferences, place of worship, courtroom, graduations, weddings or even funeral services, go to http://www.2020captioning.com/contact  for information.

Theater League – Captioning Tablets

Our second panelist, Mark Edelman, Executive Director from Theater League, proudly displayed his new equipment consisting of a sleek thin captioning tablet programmed to display the dialog of actors.  Mark also presented a snazzy, new compact stand which the captioning tablet can clamp onto the stand to keep it secure.  The captioning tablet is a big upgrade from the older, heavier Mobile Demand device, which sat on a music stand. With the new upgraded system, software is downloaded onto the captioning tablets or your own personal entertainment devices (PED’s), such as iPads, or even smart phones.

There are five captioning tablets available now and soon there will be a total of ten tablets available for each performance.  If you would like to spoil yourself with a live Broadway performance, please contact Catherine Cone from Theater League at catherine.cone@theaterleague.org with any questions or for reserving a captioning tablet.

After years of not attending live theater, I am elated to have season tickets for the upcoming year to see Wicked, Sister Act, War Horse, Bring It On and Rat Pack Show.   Season tickets are not required to be able to reserve a captioning tablet.   Come have some fun at a Broadway performance soon!

Regal Cinema – Sony Entertainment Glasses

The third panelist, JoAnna Mattson, General Manager for Kansas City Regal Cinemas, brought the Sony Entertainment glasses.   She discussed the closed captioning features the glasses deliver to movie patrons, even with 3D movies.   Many new people in the audience had never seen these stylish devices that can also help those with loss of vision with its audio assist function.

Welcome, Trivia, invisible CAPTIONS & Finale

We had open question and answer time between audience and panelists.   We marveled over these high technology devices that help bridge those with hearing loss to enjoy life more fully at the movies, conferences and live theater. During this open time, we learned from listening to our audience and those that actually need captioning.  One member introduced us to invisible CAPTIONS, a potential new invention that features glasses that users can wear which could be lightweight and more durable than current captioning products used in the movies.

Coming from the years when captioning was non-existent, to the 1980’s of the Sears Telecaption Adaptor box, to what we experienced that evening at our Captioning Panel was very moving. It is a beautiful thing to have captioning professionals mesh ideas with people who have hearing loss and share in our hopes and dreams for the future.

Thank you Jeanette, Mark, and JoAnna, for taking time to show us your devices and your dedication to our deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Also, I give a special thank you to April Dunlap for interpreting and Emily Goldman of Photos4Good for donating your time to photograph our captioning panel event for our non-profit organization.

Our next social will be Saturday, June 8th from 4-8pm at Shawnee Mission Park, Shelter #8.   Please see our Facebook page for details and keep an eye on our emails.

Thank you everyone for joining us!

HLAAKC Committee - Anna, Lucy, Andy, Minda and Terri

HLAAKC Committee – Anna, Lucy, Andy, Minda and Terri

Viewing song lyrics on your iPhone

NOTE: this post refers to iTunes and Apple products (iPhone/iPad/iPod). It is not all-inclusive information for all smart phones or music players. Additionally, there are tons of lyric apps out there that are great to use. This is just the method I find the simplest.

Music love = lyric love

I love music. No, I LOVE music. And I really love being able to read the lyrics of a song while it’s playing. It makes it so much easier to understand what’s being sung, and to learn the song! When I was in high school, I used to make mix tapes and CDs. I’d also make my own CD sleeves/linear notes and print out all the lyrics for the songs that were on that mix.

Nowadays, you can carry your entire music library with you on one tiny device. Nobody carries CDs and linear notes around anymore. Heck, nobody makes mix tapes anymore!! So now, If I’m playing a song on my iPhone and I want to see the words, I look them up on my phone’s browser, or use an alternate app to find them. These are both perfectly satisfactory means of finding lyrics, but you have to perform these motions every time you want to see the words. A bit of a hassle, eh?

Recently, I was surfing around the vast internet and discovered a very cool, very simple lyric tool that has been around for AGES. For whatever reason, it’s not a well-known one. Well, at least to me. In case the rest of you are living under a rock just like me, here’s the coolest thing I’ve seen since they invented bread (and that’s saying a lot for me).

Viewing the lyrics

Let’s use a Johnny Cash song for an example. If you view the current playing song via the lockscreen of your iPhone, this is what you normally see [see figure 1]. This is good because it allows you to quickly view the album artwork and what song is playing.

figure 1

figure 1: lockscreen showing the song that is currently playing.

If you unlock the iPhone and view the current song from the music app, this is where you’ll see the lyrics overlaying the album artwork [see figure 2]. In this screen, you can scroll up and down to read all the lyrics as the song plays. Isn’t this the COOLEST thing since sliced bread?? I tried to tell you!

figure 2

figure 2: viewing the current song in your music app – the lyrics overlay the album art.

How to add lyrics in iTunes

Now, this isn’t an automatic service that is provided. You have to add the lyrics to songs yourself. So how do you achieve this? By placing the lyrics to the song in iTunes! Here’s the manual song-by-song method of achieving this:

In iTunes, click once on the song you want to add lyrics to so it’s highlighted [see figure 3]. Go to File – Get Info (or click command+I on a Mac).

figure 3

figure 3

You’ll see several different options in the dialogue box that opens. Go to the Lyrics panel and you’ll see a blank box. Here is where you can put the lyrics to the song (or any other information you want). I look up the song lyrics online and copy and paste them into this box [see figure 4].

figure 4

figure 4

Close the box, and sync your phone. The next time you open the song on your iPhone, the lyrics will be there! (Side note: you can put any kind of text you want in this box, whether it be lyrics, notes, writer’s notations, etc. It can be anything you want!)

How to add lyrics – a second option

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got THOUSANDS of songs in iTunes. Who wants to sit there and manually copy and paste lyrics to a thousand songs?? Not me! I went and found an application that will grab lyrics for you, saving you a ton of time. Get Lyrical is a free download that you can install and using with iTunes.

In order to make this work, you select a range of songs, or an album or playlist, in iTunes. Then, in Get Lyrical, you have a couple of options to tag a song with lyrics [see figure 5]. You can tag what you have selected, the current song playing, or set up an active tagging script that will tag songs as you play them. Whatever you prefer to do! See Get Lyrical‘s website for more information.

figure 5

figure 5: Get Lyrical’s application

Comments?

Got a question or a comment? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to comment on this post, or drop me a line!

 

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Disclaimer: I was not asked to review any of the products or services in this post. This review and tutorial is based on my own experiences and observations. Additionally, technology is always changing and these applications/methods may change in the future. I am not responsible for any potential discrepancy in methodology.

Live theater captioning comes to Kansas City!

I grew up in my own little world of musicals. My alone time was often spent lip-syncing to “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music, or sashaying around my house mouthing the lyrics to “If I were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof. If I was lucky and no one else was home, I would belt out my favorite solos in my own not-just-tone-deaf-but-deaf-and-unable-to-carry-a-single-tune voice. Even now, if I spend a weekend catching up on the last season of Glee, I’m prone to spend the rest of the week singing to myself and passé-ing – not walking – around my house.

What I’m trying to say is – I love Broadway musicals. I love song-and-dance numbers. I love the emotion, the choreography, the soul, the solos – all of it. But my own experience with live theater is relatively lacking. Growing up, watching a live stage production was just too much work for me. Sign language interpreters helped clue me in to the dialogue going on onstage, but watching the interpreter meant missing the stage action. Opting to watch the actors instead of the interpreters meant I missed out on important lines. I preferred to stick to videos and later, DVDs, so I could enjoy the story with captions and subtitles.

Then last summer, something wonderful happened. At the 2011 HLAA National Convention in Washington, D.C., HLAA arranged for convention goers to attend a captioned live performance of the musical Wicked. I was a little skeptical – accustomed to sign language interpreters, I could not wrap my head around using captions to understand something that was going on live in front of me. I am so glad HLAA introduced me to live theater captioning – thanks to their efforts and the cooperation of the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center, I was able to fully enjoy a live theater performance for the first time! I watched the captions in conjunction with the stage performers, much like I use CaptiView to watch a movie. It took a bit getting used to moving my eyes from the captions to the stage, but since I am used to captions on the TV, it was much easier transition for me than I thought it would be. I left the convention with one goal in mind: Bring live theater captioning to Kansas City.

Earlier this year, I found out that Les Miserables, one of my favorite musicals, would be coming to Kansas City and immediately started asking questions. Could it be captioned? Who would caption it?  How do I contact the theater? The production company? After a few months of dead ends and wild goose chases, I happened to see a billboard advertising Les Miz being brought to Kansas City by the Theater League. I sent the Theater League and email and discovered they already had a captioning device available. Mark Edelman, Executive Director of the Theater League, graciously invited members of our HLAAKC Steering Committee to check it out.

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Mr. Edelman and his team, recognizing the need for captions of live performances and understanding that not all deaf or hard of hearing patrons are able to understand American Sign Language, developed the device to assist their guests. “We wanted to come up with an audio description system that could be utilized at any performance and did not require familiarity with ASL,” he said.

The Theater League currently has two Mobile Demands that use PowerPoint to display captions for the theater patron. A transmitter set up in the theater controls the flow of the captions so that all the patron has to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

“We ask the producers of each Broadway show we present to send us a copy of the script in some sort of digital form (usually MS Word). We pay to have that format re-written in PowerPoint,” Edelman explained. “I go through the PowerPoint and make changes consistent with the flow of the show. The PowerPoint is transferred to the Audio Description System’s dedicated lap-top. We hook up the transmitter in the theater, hand out the receivers, explain the process and we’re ready to go.”

The Mobile Demand can be placed on a music stand for hands-free viewing during the show, or be held in the patron’s lap. Using the music stand requires specific, accessible seating; holding the device enables the patron more freedom to sit where they like. Once you are at the performance, Edelman explains, the “Presentation Manager will come to your seat, give you the device, explain its operation and turn it on for you.”

All of Theater League’s shows are available with captions, with the exception of shows that have no spoken dialogue or lyrics (such as Tap Dogs, Stomp or Blue Man Group). Click here for a complete list of upcoming Theater League shows in Kansas City.

If you would like to see a show from the Theater League, using the captioning device, simply contact the Theater League with the name of the show and the date(s) you are available to attend. With only two captioning devices available, it’s possible that you may need to choose alternate dates if the devices are in use somewhere else or otherwise spoken for. Catherine Cone, the Director of Ticketing for the Theater League, will help you purchase the appropriate seat for your needs.

Catherine Cone
Director of Ticketing
Theater League
9140 Ward Parkway, Suite 220
Kansas City, MO 64114
816-559-3863 (direct phone)
816-421-4979 (fax)
catherine.cone@theaterleague.org

The Theater League also offers audio description for visually-impaired guests. For more information about the Theater League, please visit their website or email Mark Edelman at tlmedelman@gmail.com.

Thank you, Theater League, for helping make the arts more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community in Kansas City!

Do you know of other captioned live events? Let us know in the comments or send us an email at hlaakc@gmail.com.

New Benefit for HLAA Members

HLAA National recently announced the addition of a new benefit for HLAA members — discounts from American Hearing Benefits (AHB). If you are a member, you can start reaping these rewards immediately!

Some of the benefits you could receive are:

  • Free annual hearing screenings for you and your immediate family
  • Referrals to AHB’s network of recommended local hearing health care professionals
  • Advanced hearing solutions with the latest in hearing aid technology
  • Up to 60% off suggested retail prices
  • Free full two-year extended warranty with every purchase

You can read more about this new benefit, and see all of the others you receive, here.

Not an HLAA member? Consider becoming one today to enjoy all of these benefits yourself! There are two easy ways to become a member. Sign up online here, or fill out the PDF form below and mail it in. We look forward to seeing you!

HLAA Membership Form

 

Better Hearing Technology Presentations to be held in Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City, Oakley and Hays Kansas

STATE PROGRAMS TAKE TO THE ROAD TO SHARE INFORMATION ON BETTER HEARING TECHNOLOGY

Topeka, KS, September 15, 2011 – Three State administered programs are partnering up to present a free workshop. The Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH), the Kansas Telecommunications Access Program (TAP) and the Kansas Relay Center powered by Hamilton Relay are collaborating to offer a workshop to provide resources and information about a variety of technologies designed to assist those that have difficulty hearing. The workshops will be presented over four days, October 10 -13 in five different locations across Western Kansas including Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City, Oakley, and Hays. The workshop will cover what technology is available, who can benefit from each device, where to shop for the devices and even how to get some items at no cost. The goal is to educate Kansans so they can make informed decisions to maintain or even improve their quality of life.

It is estimated that 10% of the US population have difficulty hearing. That is nearly 300,000 Kansans. Programs like KCDHH, TAP and Hamilton provide information and resources that many struggle to find or are embarrassed to seek out. Topics covered during the workshop will include; hearing aids, signaling devices, telephones and assistive listening devices. Individuals with hearing loss, family members and professionals are encouraged to attend.

The Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is a state agency authorized to develop and implement a program of information and referral, advocacy, public education and direct services. The mission of KCDHH is to advocate for and facilitate equal access to quality, coordinated and comprehensive services that enhance the quality of life for Kansans who are deaf and hard of hearing.

BETTER HEARING TECHNOLOGY
The Kansas Telecommunications Access Program is a telecommunication equipment distribution program. The purpose of TAP is to provide specialized telephone equipment to Kansans with disabilities in order that they can access basic telecommunication services. Individuals with a hearing loss or other disability can apply and receive free equipment if they have established Kansas residency, have telephone service at their home/residence, have a disability that impedes the use of a standard telephone, and have a household income less than $55,000 per year.

Hamilton Relay operates the Kansas Relay Center. Hamilton Relay has been providing telecommunications relay services for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing and speech disabled since 1991. Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) is free 24-hour service that provides equal communication access via the phone to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled. Hamilton Relay provides Traditional Relay in numerous contracted states, as well as Captioned Telephone (CapTel®), Web and Mobile CapTel and Internet Relay services across the nation.

Specific Workshop times and locations are:

October 10, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. October 11, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Pratt Public Library Dodge City Senior Center
401 South Jackson St 2408 Central Ave
Pratt, KS Dodge City, KS

October 11, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. October 12, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Senior Center of Finney County NW Kansas Educational Service Center
907 N 10th 703 West 2nd
Garden City, KS Oakley, KS

October 13, 9:00 – Noon
Hays Public Library
1205 Main St
Hays, KS

BETTER HEARING TECHNOLOGY
For additional information please contact any of the following or to request special accommodations such as interpreters, or real-time captioning for any of the sessions:

Tim Anderson
Kansas Telecommunications Access Program
4848 SW 21st St, Ste 201
Topeka, KS 66604
785-234-0200
tap@kstelecom.com

Cady Lear
Hamilton Relay
4848 SW 21st St, Ste 201
Topeka, KS 66604
785-228-5666
Cady.lear@hamiltonrelay.com

Rebecca Rosenthal
Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Docking State Office Building, 9th Floor North
915 SW Harrison
Topeka, KS 66612
785-246-5077
Rebecca.Rosenthal@srs.ks.gov

Hometown Hearing & Audiology

I just saw in a newspaper mailing of “Star Savings” that Hometown Hearing & Audiology is looking for people with hearing loss to try out the latest hearing technology available.  They’re advertising to get “43 people with hearing loss” to come in and get free hearing screening, demonstrations, check insurance, etc.

If you’re reading this, the selection for the trial runs from September 27th to October 5th, 2011, and call 816-479-4928 to see if you can participate.  Their website was hard to see on the print ad, but it appears to be http://www.hometown-hearing.com.

PROMISING RESEARCH – Cord Blood Stem cell treatments for hearing loss

This was in a recent HLAA e-newsletter sent out to all members:

Promising research has led to the first clinical trial to evaluate the safety of cord blood stem cell treatments for hearing loss. According to a study published in Cell Transplantation, animal subjects treated with cord blood stem cells showed significant healing to the damaged sensory hair cells and neurons in the inner ear. Dr. James Baumgartner, pediatric neurosurgeon, and colleagues at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston will launch the first FDA-regulated clinical trial evaluating the use of cord blood stem cell treatments for children with hearing loss.

The year-long study will follow 10 children, aged six weeks to 18 months, with acquired or congenital (but not genetic) hearing loss. The trial will be selecting only patients who have stored their cord blood with CBR for this trial, to ensure consistency in the stem cell processing, storage and release for infusion.

Watch the video on this research. YouTube has it captioned but you have to activate the caption button. CBR is having the video captioned with the exact transcript; however, until then, the YouTube captions will be in place.

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In my opinion, this is good news – more research into avenues of restoring hearing and correcting hearing loss will benefit many.  Even if cord-blood stem cell treatments themselves are not the final solution, lessons learned about our genes and biological makeup will make it easier to find solutions that may not need cord-blood to begin treatment.  To understand what cord-blood means, check out this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cord_blood

CBR is “Cord Blood Registry,” a business that stores the umbilical cord blood (and optionally the umbilical cord tissue) in freezing banks for potential future use.  This requires a processing fee and an annual storage fee.  As of today,  to store your child’s cord blood until they are 18, it could cost you between $4,000 to $7,000.

Cinemark gave me the freedom to choose

When I was a child, I didn’t have a lot of options when it came to my hearing loss. I could only choose from the few analog hearing aids available. Going to see a movie in the theater was the stuff my dreams were made of. Talking on the phone was out of the question. I could only be accommodated as much as technology would allow.

Today, I get to choose. My hearing aids have gone digital, my CapTel phone gives me the freedom to chat and – at long last – my movie dreams are being fulfilled. I heard that Cinemark added a new closed captioning device called CaptiView to their Plaza location and decided to give it a try. My friend and I went to an evening showing of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We ordered our tickets and received the equipment without incident (though one of the employees didn’t seem quite sure what we were asking for… the manager came along and helped us out, though).

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture while the movie was playing, but I did snap this one after the movie was over. This is the CaptiView screen:

The screen attaches to a bendable “neck” which is connected to a solid “anchor” that fits in your cup holder. If you’ve ever used Rear Window Captioning (RWC), the general design is similar. Unlike RWC, the CaptiView system is much steadier – the screen mostly stayed in one place when I adjusted it. However, the anchor part had a hard time staying in the cup holder – I think the CaptiView could use a minor redesign so that the screen part isn’t heavier than the anchor. I ended up holding the anchor in place so I could enjoy the movie without moving the screen every few seconds.

The captions run on a different technology than RWC and do not reflect captions from a screen at the back of the theater the way that RWC does. Instead, the captions run on a “wireless band frequency” and I will tell you right now that means nothing to this former English major. 😉 What it does mean is that I did not have to sit in a specific area of the auditorium in order to reflect any captions – I got to choose where I wanted to sit!

The CaptiView screen is not very large, less than a foot wide and a few inches tall (I hope you appreciate my precise measurements there… again, former English major. I don’t speak numbers.). There are three slants that divide each line of dialogue. The CaptiView information sheet explains that this is to ensure privacy and minimize disruption for neighboring patrons. The slants did not bother me too much but because the CaptiView would tilt slowly (even while I was holding the anchor), the slants would obscure some of the text, so I would have to fidget with the screen every now and then.

The text itself was easy to read and I was able to (mostly) position the CaptiView device so that it was, from my perspective, right underneath the screen. While following the movie wasn’t quite as effortless as it would have been with open captions (seeing all the action and dialogue on the same screen), it still was a much more seamless experience than my past encounters with RWC technology. The text size was not an issue for me, but it was definitely much smaller than open captions or TV captions are. Some people may find it helpful to bring their reading glasses or be prepared to adjust the screen so that it is closer or further away.

When we dropped off the devices after the movie, I was able to chat briefly with one of the customer service representatives. She confirmed that the Plaza location has eight CaptiView devices and – my favorite part – ANY movie that is offered in digital format is available with captions (the only caveat is that 3D movies are currently not available with captions)! This means any movie, any showing (just be sure you are looking at the digital showings and not the standard format showings)… can you hear the Hallelujah Chorus right now?! Because I certainly can! 🙂

There were, however, a few downsides and some of them just boil down to my personal preference and perception. I’m not crazy about the extra work required for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to see a movie. Requesting the equipment sometimes creates an awkward exchange if the employee behind the counter isn’t sure what you’re talking about. Walking through the theater with the device and then fidgeting in my seat to adjust the screen draws a bit of attention and I’m a shy lady… so feeling a few more eyes on me is not the most comfortable experience. I found it hard to get “lost” in the movie because I kept flickering back and forth between the CaptiView and the movie screen and had to adjust it every once in a while… I had to think about what was going on in the movie AND whether or not I was getting all the information. I’m still pining for the days of open captions, but I think that the CaptiView system is a valiant effort to fill the gap between RWC and open captions.

Overall, I had a good experience with Cinemark and CaptiView and would definitely go again because I have so many more options… I’m still trying to wrap my head around any movie, any time! 🙂

If you’re interested in seeing a movie at Cinemark on the Plaza, you can check their website, give them a call at 816-756-5877 or email them at E271@cinemark.com.

Local fire departments offer free smoke detectors

(photo credit)

I have a smoke detector with a strobe light in my apartment now and I promise it works effectively… do not ask me how I know this. It is definitely not because I tend to burn food or do silly things like put wax paper in the oven. Nope, not me! 😉

I’ll be moving across town in a few weeks and when I told my new landlord that I would need a smoke detector with a visual alert, she happily and graciously agreed. I thought I would have to do all the legwork and research and procure the device myself, but she beat me to the punch and got one from the fire department!

I’m thankful to have such a thoughtful landlord but you don’t need a landlord to get a free smoke detector with a strobe light. Simply contact your local fire department and ask about smoke detectors for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Kansas City, KS Fire Department
Overland Park, KS Fire Department
Kansas City, MO Fire Department