I Tried Closed-Caption Glasses at the Movies

It has been a very long time since I have seen a movie at the movie theater. It is very expensive and many movie theaters do not offer open captioned films for all movies and at times I want to see the movie. I want to enjoy myself at the movies. Being able to follow the dialogue in the movie is very important. It is not fun to try to understand what was said or to miss a funny joke told by the soft spoken actress.  If someone really wants me to go out with them to see a movie, I will use whatever the movie theater has. But, I have not been absolutely thrilled with the listening devices or the rear view captioning devices most movie theaters offer.

That being said, I have not been all that interested in venturing out to the movies on my free time.

But then I kept hearing about Sony's new captioning glasses or Entertainment Access Glasses. I heard mostly positive reviews.

You can read more about these glasses here:

http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/mkt/digicinema/brochures/EntAccessGlasses-DI-0272_2.pdf

If you want to see how them in action, look at this YouTube video provided by OfficeRegalMovies:



When I was recently asked to go see a movie at the theater, I jumped at the chance, eager to try the new glasses.

First, I had to make sure the theater carried them. I used the website, CaptionFish, to see which movie theaters offered these glasses.

When I was first handed the glasses in the lobby at the service desk, I laughed at how silly they looked. They are big! But, I did not care. I just wanted them to work.


I was astonished at how well they worked for me!! I love them. I really like how I can move around the captions or words on the screen. If I want the captions to be beside the speaker's head, all I had to do was press the button on the top of the glasses until the captions are moved to the right of the speaker's head.

The glasses were comfortable. They did not distract me or interrupt my viewing experience. I eventually forgot that I was wearing them.

These glasses enabled me to follow the movie without any problems. I knew exactly what the actors said. I was never lost or trying to catch up.

Thank you Sony and Regal Cinemas!

Those who have tried them, what do you think?

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Using an FM System in School: Things to Consider

When I work with a student who uses an FM system in all of his or her academic classes, several questions and scenarios will fill my head, which I must discuss with the student.

Here are some questions I usually ask the student to discuss and consider:
  • What if your teacher constantly forgets to turn off his or her FM system when talking in private with other students? How will you deal with this?

  • What if your teacher constantly whistles or makes a repetitive noise you find distracting?

  • What if your teacher's necklace or lanyard constantly rubs against the microphone portion creating distracting noises?

  • What do you want the teacher to tell the students who may have not seen an FM system before? What if some students ask the teacher what he or she is using? Would you feel comfortable talking about your FM system with your classmates?

  • What if a teacher or a student makes a joke about your FM system (whether they mean to insult you or not)?

  • What will you do if your FM system suddenly stops working during class? How will you let the teacher know?

There are so many things that could happen. It would be best to discuss them with the student, so the student can be better prepared if they were to come across these issues. I also have the same discussion with their parents and teachers.

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Links to websites with information about FM systems:

http://www.hei.org/care/services/devices/fm.html

http://www.raisingdeafkids.org/help/tech/ald/

http://resoucesforchildrenwithhearingloss.wikispaces.com/FM+Systems

http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/FM-Systems/

Self Advocacy For Shy Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

I have some questions for shy and introverted deaf and hard of hearing students (and former students):

What are some ways teachers can help you with becoming better at advocating for yourself at school?

What bugs you about advocating for yourself?

What are some things teachers have told you or have done that made you angry or embarrassed?

What advice do you have for teachers who want to help their students advocate for themselves?

I understand that many shy and introverted students hate being the center of attention. They would probably rather be left alone to read a good book or finish assignments on their own. They may roll their eyes at comments such as, "You need to speak up for yourself more." "You have to use your FM system." "Don't just sit there and not say anything." "Why don't you wear your hearing aids?" "You need to talk to your teachers more." "Your teachers are not mind readers."

However, if students want to be more successful in school, they must advocate for themselves more often.

I know it is easier to try to hide in the back of the class and pray that your teacher does not call on you. Speaking up for yourself is easier said than done. I understand. I was that student in middle school and high school.

Looking back, knowing what I know now, advocating for myself would have made life at school better, socially and academically. I would have been nice if I had a deaf and hard of hearing teacher who taught me how to advocate for myself. I should have learned more about my hearing loss and how to deal with it. At the time, the school I attended was a private institution that did not provide special education services. I believe I was the only hard of hearing student in the entire school (K-12). My parents tried to help. They spoke to me often about advocating for myself. My mother talked to all my teachers about my hearing loss. It helped some, but it was not enough.

I have learned that simply meeting with and talking to the teachers helps tremendously. This has been the most effective with many of my students. I encourage the shy ones to take baby steps. They can start with one teacher, someone who they are most comfortable with. I can attend for support if they want me there. For my middle and high school students, I ask them to go over the accommodations they need in their IEPs (Individualized Educational Plans) and answer any questions their teachers may have. If they are feeling a little more confident, the students can explain to their teachers why they require each accommodation and how they help them. In addition, this is their opportunity to tell their teachers how they feel and how they would like to be treated in the classroom. For example, if a student is uncomfortable with reminding the teacher to provide captioned media in front of their classmates, the student and teacher can talk about it and work something out.

The more students communicate with their teachers, the easier it gets. If this proves to be useful for the student, I believe that eventually it will become a habit, no matter how shy or introverted the student is. It will be something that just needs to be done.

Of course, advocating for yourself is complicated. It is easier said than done, especially if you are a shy or introverted. I am still learning how I can help these students, without being too pushy and annoying.

I do not think there is anything wrong with being shy, quiet, reserved, or introverted. These great personal characteristics should be respected and valued. No one should expect the student to become loud and the center of attention to advocate for him or herself successfully. However, everyone should be able to practice self-advocacy effectively whether the person is shy or not.

What are some other ways I can help students advocate for themselves on their own while in school, especially the shy students? 

Any suggestions or comments?


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Why Don't They Wear Hearing Aids?! What's Wrong With Them?!

One of my very young students told me that it makes her sad that the other kids in her class don't have hearing aids. She was honestly sad for them! I told her that they have lots of other things that make them unique. I described all their different qualities and what makes each of them interesting. She then grabbed my arm and looked at me whispering forcefully, "Yeah, but they don't have hearing aids! Why? What's wrong with them?!"

I tried so hard not to laugh.

We continued to talk about her concerns until I thought she finally understood that it is fine that the other kids don't have hearing aids. I called her parents about this. They thought it was hilarious.

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"Adult Speak": How Adults Sounded to Me as a Hard of Hearing Child

"This is how they like to talk," I announced to my reflection. "Wa-blah-hubbity-bah-blah-froo.
 
When I was a little girl, I would often stand on a chair peering into a large mirror in my parents' bathroom speaking nonsense. Yes, I suppose it was a bit strange. I had to find different ways of entertaining myself at home when there was absolutely nothing to do.
 
It is interesting how, at the time, I thought most adults conversing with each other sounded as if they were speaking gibberish. But, when grownups talked to me directly, I could understand what they were telling me. It was a different story when they talked to each other, especially when they socialized. One time I remember a woman crouching down, facing me, and telling me, "Oh, I like your dress!" When she popped back up to talk to another woman, she garbled, "So, wee bugh bah gah!"
 
I never understood why this phenomenon occurred. I fantasized about when I will finally become a woman and speak "adult," which is apparently a language little kids such as myself could not understand or are not supposed to comprehend. I looked forward to the day I suddenly speak gibberish as I talk to one of my parents' friends. I imagined adult me casually holding a large mug of coffee, wearing a little black dress, tons of pearl necklaces, and a red beret as I mingle with the grownups speaking our language. I knew that I would be stylish and exciting as I discuss the weather in a new and sophisticated language: "adult speak."
 
I did not realize at the time that my hearing loss was largely the reason why most adults sounded like the teachers and parents from a Peanuts animation. 
 
Eventually, I grew bored of pretending to talk like grownups. I did not have the patience to keep practicing. The day I turn into an adult was not coming fast enough.
 
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