July 22, 2015

Beginning the School Year: Setting Up Technology for Deaf/HH Students

As usual, summer went by quickly. The school year is about to begin! I am trying my best to get ready.

I tend to focus on getting technology ready for students and teachers to use within the first weeks of school. The technology usually includes FM systems and listening devices. I spend a lot of time delivering the equipment and teaching students and teachers how to use the technology. At this point, I am no longer surprised at how long it can take to get new technological equipment set up and ready to be used effectively in the classroom. It is not as if I can drop off the equipment and walk away. It is a long and sometimes complicated process.

The training usually takes the longest. It is my favorite part of the job. While it would be much easier to simply drop off the equipment, it would not be as interesting. It is crucial to make sure the teachers and students understand how it works, how to use it, and what to do if it stops working. This requires a lot of follow ups and back and forth.

Some students and teachers are immediately comfortable with using assistive technology in the classroom while others may take longer to adjust. In addition, there are students who hate it and absolutely refuse to use it in the classroom. Sometimes they may like it in the beginning and then decide they no longer need it or want it.

When it works well for the student it makes me happy. On using the CART system, one student remarked, "I don't have to concentrate too much. I am not as tired." It also makes me happy when the teachers get to experience how it positively impacts their students. It is truly gratifying to see them do well in the classroom thanks to the technology making learning more accessible for them whether it is through amplifying certain sounds, minimizing background noises, or visually through text and pictures. Technology can also be useful for sign language users. Technology can benefit everyone if utilized appropriately. I look forward to learning more about all the different types of new technology that would benefit deaf and hard of hearing students specifically.

What kinds of assistive technology have you used specifically with deaf or hard of hearing students? Do they seem to help your students?


June 4, 2015

Speak up! Spread the Word About Captions!

I am at a conference about educating students with disabilities with an emphasis on using technology. I am really enjoying my time and learning a lot!

However, some presenters and developers of software for students and educators to use forget to caption the videos included. I spoke to them about this issue and they all were very thankful for letting them know. One of them will go back and add closed captions and transcripts. Another told me she will hold a meeting to talk about adding captions and how to make teaching materials more deaf & hard of hearing friendly.

If you are at a presentation or using a software that has videos without captions, speak up! Spread the word. It can make a difference.


May 14, 2015

Video: How to Change BTE Hearing Aid Tubes

Great video tutorial on how to change a behind-the-ear hearing tube (generic, typical sized tube), not for the newer models with the super skinny tubes.

You can buy hearing aid tubes online or get them from your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser. You will need to find out what size and type you will need.

Hope this helps!


April 25, 2015

Students. The Things They Say and Do!

My students never fail to crack me up, challenge me, and break my heart.

Here are some examples:
  • Young student will whip out his invisible phone from time to time pretending to talk to someone. When he does this while working, I sign to him to hang up and that he needs to work. He will sometimes rest the "phone" on his shoulder with his chin and sign to the person on the phone, "Work. No talk!" before putting his "phone" away in his pocket. 
  • Student passed gas loudly and blamed it on his invisible friend. 
  • Student asked me, "How old will I be when my ears are fixed?"
  • Student gets in trouble for trying to force his friend to wear his hearing aids. 
  • "Why would anyone in their right mind become a teacher?!"
  • Tiny student holds my hand and would not let go when I had to go, signing, with my hand in his, "More!"
  • "Where did water come from? How come it is not blue like in the cartoons? What makes something clear? Is clear a color?"
  • "You make me sick." Ten minutes later, "You coming back tomorrow, right?" 
  • "Why can't they just make more money. It is just paper, right? They can just print more. No one should have to be poor and sad all the time."
  • "What's wrong with you? Why are you always happy? All smiling and stuff."
  • "Well, well, look who decided to finally show up!" Looking at his watch, "You are five minutes and 23 seconds late." 
  • Young student gasped. "Boo boo?" she asked, pointing at my pimple. 

I come to work everyday ready to laugh and cry. 


April 23, 2015

Radio Host Discusses His Hearing and the Trouble With Ambient Noise

On the way to work in the morning, I like to listen to Q100's The Bert Show on the radio. It is hosted by Bert Weiss, Jeff Dauler, and Kristin Klingshirn. Most of the time I have no problem understanding the radio show hosts. However, when they include certain audio clips or outside audio sources (phone calls, video clips, etc.) I will have trouble understanding.

Jeff recently performed stand up comedy in Nashville at the famous Ryman Auditorium. He talked about opening for Joel Mchale and how it went and what it was like. It was a big deal and they were excited about it.

Later on, they played an audio clip of Jeff's stand up performance. Before playing it, they warned that the clip was taken from the audience, meaning the sound quality could be poor. Argh. I knew I was not going to be able to understand it. But, I listened anyway.

I could hear Jeff talking and the audience laughing, but it was not clear. His voice sounded distorted through the echoing microphone. The background noises of the audience did not help.

Here is an example of what I heard:

"Ashdgsj Blah blah Nashville! blha blah Ryman. Hjkl--nice--djskdhdhu lovely kjdksjd sun dresses hsbgah blah."


It was frustrating. I wanted to hear what he said. It sounded garbled, no matter how loud I turned up the volume.

When they finished the audio clip, Bert admitted that he did not understand most of it. He blamed it on several years of using headphones while working in the radio business. He described his hearing as "jacked up." Bert talked about how he could hear certain words here and there such as "pancakes!" and "carbohydrates." Jeff was glad he said something because he wondered why Bert did not laugh at his jokes.

I am glad Bert said something too! I felt left out and wondered what Jeff said in the clip. I know we are not alone. I am sure there were many people listening who could not understand most of what Jeff said.

Later, the next day, they discussed it again and Bert mentioned that it was hard to hear Jeff because of the ambient noise. I nodded my head at the radio. Yes! Ambient noise can make it difficult for deaf and hard of hearing people to understand spoken language. The dialogue turns into a garbled mess with the possibility of a clear word here or there.

Kristin asked how Bert was able to hear a brief recorded 911 phone call by a man with slightly slurred speech but not Jeff's stand up comedy. Jeff wondered if Bert was choosing what he wanted to hear. I have been asked similar questions before. It must be confusing to witness a deaf or hard of hearing person hear one thing but not another. Hearing loss can be complicated and unpredictable. 

Kristin also asked, "What ambient noise?"

Jeff stated, "There's no ambient noise!"

Yes, there was ambient noise in the audio clip. Usually, people with typical hearing can filter out those types of sounds while deaf and hard of hearing people cannot.

Bert tried to repeat what he thought he heard when they replayed the audio bit by bit. It was still hard for him to understand much of it.

After a few minutes of Kristin and Jeff explaining what was actually said, Jeff pointed out, "At this point it's not funny anymore."

Missing out on a joke or interesting conversation is not fun. When I do not hear or follow a story told to a group of people, I usually will not ask the person to repeat what was said. I might admit I did not hear, but if they want to tell it to me again, fine. But, it takes the fun out of it. It is never funny or as great the second time or when they have to tell it again out of pity. It sucks.

Towards the end of the segment, Jeff joked about how they should hold every Bert Show in an auditorium. Ha, ha.

It was an interesting show. Glad I got to listen in!


Related Posts:

Weird Phrases I Thought I Heard

Finangle? You Must Mean Finagle

AC Units, Fans, and Vents Are Not My Friends 

Clear Surgical Mask for Lip Readers

Some of my students who are interested in working in the medical field have asked about how they would be able to communicate with medical staff members wearing surgical masks. For many people who rely on lip reading, trying to communicate with someone whose mouth is covered can be a headache or impossible. I would not be able to stand it.

Finally, in 2014, a nurse created a clear surgical mask that should help:


I hope this idea takes off. It is necessary to have the ability to communicate with medical staff without much trouble. The last place misunderstandings or communication errors should happen is in the hospital or the doctor's office.

The only downside: It looks slightly creepy. Well, the picture they provided in the article looks creepy to me.

             Picture from http://bit.ly/1EnzZ4B                      

Also, I wonder if the condensation from one's breath as they talk will fog up the clear window in the mask. That could be a problem.

What do you think?