June 8, 2023 – Zoom meeting, ‘Our Hearing Loss Challenges, Solutions, etc.’ moderated by Pat Dobbs.

Click here to watch the Zoom recording, which is captioned. Use passcode: ^tt0WCDD.

You can download the recording’s audio + video files from that link, however, the full transcript and chat are not yet available as txt files.

We had a lively Q&A discussion about handling challenges. Many of the solutions apply to multiple challenges and enhance the clarity of communication for hearing folks too.   [Read more…]

TL;DR: There are 11 Q&A pairs below. Let others know you need assistance, and show them your preferred methods. Bug them when they forget to accommodate you. Keep calm. Watch for technological advances in assistive devices. Medical situations require accuracy. Share your successes. Let us know if there is anything for which our chapter should become advocates in Maine.

Below are sample questions from our listings of this event.

  • What to do in a noisy restaurant or noisy party?
  • Should I let people know I have a hearing loss – with my friends or business?
  • Is there a smoke detector or alarm that I’ll be able to hear at night?
  • What is Auditory Fatigue, i.e., why do I get so tired when I have to do a lot of listening?
  • What to do when we ask people to look at us when they talk and they forget?
  • Why do audiologists sometimes ask us to bring a friend or relative to speak the test words at various distances?
  • Have you noticed issues with your balance, e.g., going down stairs?

A summary of the challenges and solutions actually discussed follows, in roughly order asked and answered. The conversation often shifted back to prior topics.

Q1: How to deal with people who mumble?
A1: Keep asking them to speak more clearly and slowly, since they forget. Tell mumbler that “It’s very important for you to speak slowly and face me”, i.e., use specific instructions. Ask them to write instead of speak.

Q2: How can a hearing person support a HOH person, & thus any HOH folks they meet? Asker attended our meeting on behalf of someone who is HOH.
A2: Use assistive devices such as microphones. Show phone apps for speech-to-text to folks who interact with the HOH person. This raises hearing folks’ awareness awareness of our challenges. Technology for HOH can be “delightful” for both sides. Use analogies. Take notes for them at a meeting where sound is poor. Note taking may let the HOH person do worthwhile things during the duration of the meeting, rather than sit uselessly in continuous silence / noise.

Q3: How do cochlear implants (aka c.i.) and hearing aids differ in noisy situations such as crowds?
A3: They have effectively same issues and capabilities in this situation; both usually include programs which filter out common background noises. Asking person to repeat themselves sometimes works. Shouting or increasing loudness rarely helps anyone since that distorts the clarity of the sounds.

Q4: What to do if can’t understand talker even after asking them to repeat it multiple times?
A4: Say what you actually heard in order to verify what was said. See dealing with mumblers. If you don’t understand after 3 repeats then ask them to rephrase; other words might be clearer since they use different sound frequencies.

Q5: How to get written version of a theater play or TV show?
A5: Ask for a script. Be aware the script is a plan, but the show often has ad-libs etc. A participant got a “script because [their] daughter actually does some directing of the community theatres [but] didn’t realize that you could actually ask for that from [other] places”.

Q6: How ensure accuracy of communication in critical situations such as medical appointments?
A6: Everyone agreed this is necessary. Ensure that any app you use has a high accuracy percentage; a live transcriber on the other end is far more reliable than automated systems. Be aware that regulations may preclude the use of certain assistive devices we normally use; ensure the care providers have some kind of alternative. Have them write things down for you. Have a trustworthy hearing person accompany you to take notes. Don’t let the staff rush you. It is easy to forget to use your strategies while dealing with medical issues that are often complex and highly emotional.

Q7: What technology works well for us?
A7: Common apps such as innoCaption, Notes on iPhones, Olelo aka CaptionCall, and Otter were mentioned. Bluetooth directly to aids is becoming both common and useful in many situations. Closed captions on TV and in theaters need improvements. The TV itself often controls placement of captions, rather than the shows or broadcast method, so choose it carefully.

Q8: How to deal with noise during a meal or small meeting?
A8: Switch seats at various times during the gathering. Change the focus of your aids.

Q9: How handle emotions such as frustration? What other emotions do you feel when dealing with our challenges?
A9: Be aware that communicating across HOH barriers is exhausting for both sides. Laugh together when unintentional humor arises from misheard words. Stop the discussion before tempers flare; resume it later after both sides have cooled off. Be willing to learn new things (despite technophobia etc.) when your situation changes, e.g., a hearing spouse who used to assist you can no longer do so.

Q10: What do we do when we’ve used all of our HOH strategies but nothing helps?
A10: Tell people “I’m sorry, I’m not gonna be able to hear you.” Then say “Let’s email tomorrow and get through it.”

Q11. How do you handle travel?
A11: Contact TSA and airlines prior to trip and let them know you need assistance. Airports and public transportation are adding features such as text displays. NYC taxis have Telecoil (aka T-coil) which is helpful when talking to the driver or at a fast-food drive through. T-coil is basically an older Bluetooth. Pat said “telecoil in the taxis … is a product of HLAA New York City ” Chapter’s efforts.

Finale: Advocating for captions and assistive devices benefits everyone. Many hearing folks use captions frequently. In fact, most things that benefit people with any disability are useful to other folks too. Our chapter is looking for ideas to improve life for everyone in Maine, so we can be active advocates.

Thomas Watson III is solely responsible for any mistakes or misinterpretations in this recap. Please let me know if you spot a goof.