July 23, 2010

Hearing Loop Installed In Subways

Awesome, NYC has decided to install the hearing loop system for people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants with a T-switch or T-coil! This means that the sounds being projected (such as announcements) will go directly into the hearing aids or cochlear implants of the persons wearing them.

Here is a brief article about it. Unfortunately, it focuses on senior citizens, promoting the stigma that only the elderly struggle with hearing loss. But, I am happy to hear that they are providing this technology in much needed areas such as subways. Hopefully, other businesses and places will catch on and install hearing loop systems.

Now we just need to start educating hearing aid users about the T-coil or T-switch option and hearing loop systems. I was never fully educated about how it really works until I went to my first HLAA convention this year. Before, I was only told that the T-coil mode can be used when speaking on the phone. I ended up never using the T-coil when talking on the phone. I used it more for when I wanted quiet. When I choose this option,  it instantly blocks out all outside noises and adds what sounds like white noise. I did not know anything about the hearing loop system until this year. After trying it out at a booth showcasing the technology, I could not believe how well it works. I loved it. Why didn't anyone tell me about this?

I will need to start meeting up with the local HLAA chapter and help them advocate for more hearing loop systems to be installed in various places.

Those of you in the market for a new hearing aid, please be sure to ask about the t-coil and how it works with hearing loop systems!


    July 19, 2010

    The Disability View

    Dianrez left a comment under Candy's blog which spoke about the disability view vs. the cultural view:

    Now: the MOST IMPORTANT REASON for the ethnic or cultural view: it opens up FAR MORE possibilities for moving on and growth than the disability view. The disability view is a medically limited one that affects a whole life’s self-view. The disability view can lead to psychological assumptions that limit the individual’s perception of self. The disability view can also lead to the entire community at large viewing the individual and the individual’s peers as a limited type of person. 

    So, those who argue for the disability view of the d/Deaf community is arguing for a limited and limiting view. Those who argue for the ethnic or cultural view are arguing for a more developmental and hopeful view. 

    Dianrez basically states that the disability view can be negative and damaging to the person with the disability, because the disability view focuses on what is lacking or what the person is not able to do. So, it is a limiting view in some aspects. The disability view focuses on how the person is different from or inferior to everyone who is 'typical' in the area they are disabled in. If one has an ethnic or cultural view they will have a more positive outlook. It focuses on what the person can do and how their 'disability' is a special trait; a difference, really.

    However, I don't think the disability view is all that bad or should be. The disability view is about reality. The reality is that you are lacking a certain sensory that most people are not lacking. The reality is that this sensory loss can cause some problems in one's life, due to the fact that the world is not created for people with this sensory loss. You have to learn how to deal with this reality. One way is to find ways to help make up or regain some of the loss. For example, you may purchase hearing aids for your hearing loss or you may learn and teach others sign language as a way to ease communication barriers. Yes, the disability view is about focusing on your loss and what you are lacking. But the next logical step most people will take is how to deal with it.

    For example, I have a middle school student who is moderately deaf, bilaterally. She wears two hearing aids. I spoke with her about her hearing loss and we looked at her audiogram. We spoke about the sounds she may have trouble hearing without her hearing aid. I told her that she will have the most trouble hearing certain speech sounds such as "s" "t" "sh" "f" and such. I did some informal exercises with her where I turned my back and said some words and sentences and asked her to repeat what I said. Then we did another exercise where I told her words and sentences facing her and making sure she was looking at me. At the end of our discussions about her hearing loss, she looked as if she had woken up from a long nap. She told me how she did not realize how she could not hear certain sounds. She told me about how she never really thought about her hearing loss. No one talked about it with her. People always told her that she was "fine" (she currently does very well academically). She talked about how no one really focused on her disability but on how she was "special." She was always told how great and talented she was. I told her that is true and that she is also super bright. I added, "But, the reality is, you can't hear as well as most people. Just like I don't hear as well as most people. We will never be hearing. We need to acknowledge it and find ways we would like to deal with it." She seemed interested in the topic and wanted to find out more about her hearing loss and ways she can deal with it. She became interested in learning about others with hearing losses. She even became interested in learning about sign language. Before, she was reluctant about learning sign language, because people seemed to make a big deal about how "special" she is and she did not want to add to her "specialness". Instead, she looked at the fact that she has a disability; a hearing loss, and sign language could be something that would help her or be of some interest to her. We talked about how important it is that she does not pretend to be hearing. We also talked about how it is okay to have a hearing loss. It is not the end of the world and it is not the only thing that defines us.

    It is what it is.

    I worked with an older student who was in complete denial of his hearing loss. He refused to wear hearing aids and use assistive technology (closed captions, assistive listening devices, etc.). After talking with him about his disability and telling him that it is a serious condition that must be dealt with he began to listen to me. After I conducted a bunch of informal hearing tests on him, he realized how much he was missing out or not hearing. He talked about how he thought that maybe he should just accept it for what it is and not worry about the supposed hearing loss everyone was saying he has. He looked at it as more of a part of him; a difference, not a disability. He said that he learned to adapt to it. He did not think it was a problem. The only times he thought he had trouble hearing was when people whispered or when he was in a noisy environment. He did not think that he was actually having trouble most of the times. I told him how I observed a friend who was right behind him asking him a question. He never responded and his friend rolled his eyes and walked away. He seemed surprised by this. I asked him, "Do you tell anyone that you have a hearing loss?" He said that he never does. Why would he if he did not think he has a hearing loss? I told him that he needs to first acknowledge that he has a disability; a mild hearing loss. He then needs to figure out how to deal with it. Will it be wearing hearing aids? Start telling others that he has a hearing loss (to avoid future awkward situations and misunderstandings)? Start being more aware of his surroundings? Stop pretending that he is hearing? 

    I wish some people would stop tiptoeing around that fact that their child or student has a disability. Not talking about or acknowledging the fact that they have a disability isn't going to help. They need to acknowledge the fact that they have a disability and then explore ways that they can help themselves. However, I am not proposing that people need to focus solely on their disability. There is much more to the person than their disability. I just want people to talk about it in a realistic manner and point out the obvious.

    I do believe that the cultural view is a view that must be shared with every deaf and hard of hearing individuals. I think it is important to have this type of outlook and option. The disability and cultural view can exist with one another.

    But, do not disregard the disability view. It does not have to be this negative thing. It can be an important tool to use while on the road to self-discovery. 

    Dianrez also commented:

    Those who argue for the disability view are typically doctors, clinicians, audiologists, therapists and other professions who make their living off disabled people. They do good, but are necessarily limited by the limits of their science and technology. The semanticist and the lawyer may do so also. They have their place, but do not, and should not, ever impose the disability view upon the whole person. Neither should a person ever accept a disability framework for his life. Such fixed assumptions are dangerous and corrosive to human potential.

    I totally disagree. The disability view is about facing reality. It is not limiting, it is the truth. The reality is, I will never hear certain high frequency sounds and my left ear is profoundly deaf in most frequencies. This was all explained to me by one of my audiologists. He was very helpful in explaining to me what my hearing loss means. His intention was not to harm me or make me feel inferior. He simply told me what I can and cannot hear. His disability view proved to be very helpful for me in that I am more aware about how to help myself. I understand how my hearing aid helps with my hearing and I am much more appreciative of it with this understanding.

    So, don't look at the disability view or the medical view only as something bad. It can be a good thing too. 


    July 18, 2010

    Create Your Own Sunrise Simulator Alarm Clock

    I found an article that explains how you can make your own sunrise simulator alarm clock. Waking up to the room gradually brightening, simulating a sunrise, sounds a lot more pleasant than waking up to the loud buzzing of an alarm or a vibrating bed startling you out of a peaceful sleep.

    However, this DIY project seems a bit complicated and may be only for those who are comfortable working with electrical items or who are technological savvy.

    If you feel you would rather skip making the sunrise simulator alarm device, then you can buy one. They sell them at various places. I have seen them at Walmart and Target. Or search Amazon.com for a sunrise alarm clock.

    BioBrite Digital SunRise Alarm Clock (Model 88628W) With White Noise      

    I may consider getting one. It sure would be a nice way to wake up, especially when I am going to have to start waking up at the crack of dawn when I start working.


    * Article cited:  http://www.electrobob.com/sunrise_simulator/

    Antoine Hunter: Deaf/Hard of Hearing Dancer

    I found some interesting videos on YouTube made by Antoine Hunter, a deaf/hard of hearing dancer and founder of a dance company. Please check them out here.

    I especially like his Antoine Hunter Is Deaf And Hard of hearing ! Expressvideo. It is a poetic and creative video about being deaf/hard of hearing. 


    *Antoine Hunter's website:  http://www.antoinehunter.com/Welcome.html

    July 16, 2010


    Someone once commented under a post I written:

    I remember reading something where I. King Jordan (then president of Gallaudet) was giving an interview. The female interviewer asked him, "if I could give you a pill that would make you hearing, would you take it?" he responded, "if I could give you a pill to make you a man, would you take it?"

    I found the excerpt from the interview here.

    Apparently, after the interviewer asked him if he would take a pill that would make him hearing, he asked her that if he was black would she have asked him if he would take a 'white' pill (to become white). He could not get the woman to understand why he and many others view deafness as an identity. For many, deafness is an attribute not something that should only be viewed as something to heal or get rid of (I. King Jordan, Ethical Issues in the Genetic Study of Deafness, 2003).

    I have mixed feelings about this. I don't like the idea of suddenly regaining hearing after taking a pill. If other people do it, and after ten years they seem okay, I would consider it. But, I do understand the idea of deafness as an identity. After being hard of hearing all of my life, I accept it for being a part of me. It is what made me who I am today. I would not be blogging about this topic right now. Most likely I would have chosen a different career path if I was never hard of hearing. I focus more on learning how to deal with it and use it to my advantage at times (instant ear plug when quiet is needed!). It is scary to think about changing myself all of a sudden. It would be like getting rid of a huge part of who I am.

    What do you think of the analogy, "Making a deaf person hearing is like making a woman a man." ?


    July 13, 2010

    See How It Is Said: New Online Spanish Dictionary Video Pronunciation

    There is a free online Spanish dictionary program, SpanishDict.com, where you can look up words and translate English words into Spanish words. Usually, you have two options: read the words in written form and listen to them being pronounced. Now, they are experimenting with using videos of native Spanish speakers saying the words. This way you can see and/or hear how the word is pronounced. The creators of this learned that for many people, it helps to see native speakers pronouncing the new words they are learning. I thought this was an excellent idea especially for those who are deaf and hard of hearing and need to see how the words are pronounced. Personally, seeing someone say the word helps me tremendously. 

    Here is a link to one with a video example of the word llegar: http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/llegar

    It will look like this:  New! Video pronunciation.

    This company will be filming my boyfriend, a native Spanish speaker, pronouncing various Spanish words. I think he will be doing at least 2,500 words! It should be interesting and I am hoping this will work out and that they will start using videos on their site.


    July 8, 2010

    Your Baby Is Deaf, What Should You Do?

    I understand why sign language advocates push for families to learn and use sign language with their deaf and hard of hearing child. Having a language is the foundation to learning, well, to everything. We all need language to be successful and happy. The way we get language is through constant exposure to fluent language. Deaf and hard of hearing children usually lack constant and consistent exposure to spoken language. Compared to hearing children, they will have a harder time learning spoken language aurally and orally. Not that it can't be done. This is where sign language, such as ASL, can help provide constant and consistent access to fluent language models.

    Now, the two major concerns I have about choosing sign language as a main communication modality (with hearing families) are the availability of good language models and commitment of parents or caregivers to learn and use an entirely new language consistently. The deaf or hard of hearing child will be learning language as his or her family learns a new language. Language will be choppy and inconsistent at first. It would be ideal if the family knew a deaf native signer, because then they can provide a good language model for their child as they work on improving their signing skills.

    But, for the single mom, the poor family of 8 or so children who live in a rural area, the dad struggling to learn English or another new spoken language as he adjusts to living in a new country, the parents struggling to keep up with the demands of their jobs, and even the average family dealing with everyday life, it will not be so easy for them to learn a new language and be good language models for their young child. Not everyone is so lucky to have the time and resources to commit full-time to learning a new language while dealing with other ways to help their deaf or hard of hearing child, (choosing schools, hearing aids, whether or not to consider a cochlear implant, how to deal with another existing disability, etc.) and while dealing with everyday life.

    The same can be said for aural/oral methods or if one were to choose other ways of providing access to fluent language. Not everyone can afford to send their child to an AV therapist or a good private oral school for the deaf. Families have to be committed to working with their child on learning spoken language and to be more aware of ways to expose their child to spoken language through auditory and oral methods. Again, not everyone has the time, money, or resources to give their child the best environment and models for learning language.

    I see this with the families I work with. It is a daunting task to have to swim through enormous amounts of information about ways of helping deaf and hard of hearing children. It does not surprise me when I present the idea of learning ASL to some families that they look at me as if they want to cry. In addition, families will have to choose very soon how they wish to raise their deaf or hard of hearing child (for example, it is not recommended to wait until they are 5 or so to implant them). This has got to be frustrating. I can't even imagine!

    It is not so simple. It is not so black and white.

    It is very important that families be educated about sign language and all communication options and to have more knowledge of and access to other deaf and hard of hearing individuals and professionals who strictly deal with language learning development of deaf and hard of hearing children. Of course these professionals must have an in depth understanding of all communication modalities, Deaf culture, and sign language. In addition, they must not be biased. But, these types of professionals are extremely rare in many areas of the United States (at least qualified ones).

    If I was a hearing parent with absolutely no knowledge of deaf and hard of hearing people and was told that my baby is profoundly deaf, I don't think I would know what to do.

    Ay, I am getting a headache just thinking about it!


    July 4, 2010

    Happy Fourth Of July!

    Happy 4th to those in America who celebrate it!



    Am I Deaf? Hard of Hearing? Hearing? Eh? What? Huh?

    I am always interested in identity issues especially in relation to deaf and hard of hearing people. I have students who claim they are hearing with their hearing aids or cochlear implants on, but feel as if or know that they are deaf without them. One of them would say, "Sometimes I am hearing, sometimes I am not." Labeling oneself is especially hard for someone who is hard of hearing, not severely-profoundly deaf, but mildly-moderately deaf. They are in between being hearing and deaf. I know that I am always stressing over what to call myself and others who have deafness. Deafness and hearing abilities of each individual varies. It is not so simple for some people to give themselves one label to describe his or her hearing loss.

    For example, with my hearing aid on, I will still have some trouble hearing certain things such as high pitch sounds (microwave beeping, birds whistling, etc.) and speech in everyday situations. Without my hearing aid, I am pretty much deaf to these sounds, but I can hear everything else pretty well with my good ear.

    I cannot hear anything with my left ear. It feels vibrations, but that's it. So, I never have talked on the phone using my left ear.

    I am deaf in noisy areas. I am especially deaf in noisy areas when I am not wearing my hearing aid. I am deaf to everyday conversations with strangers if I cannot see their faces or if I do not know the topic of what they choose to talk about with me.

    I am hearing in a completely quiet place engaging in a one-on-one conversation with someone, with or without my hearing aid (depending on how the person speaks or if I have good visibility of the person's face).

    Like I said in my earlier post, I like to give a detail description of my hearing loss if time allows. If not, I simply say that I am hard of hearing or that I don't hear too well.

    I don't know what to call myself sometimes. And that is OK.

    I am who I am. We are who we are. It depends on the situation.


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