Interesting Reads: Ephphatha By Dr. Thomas Caulfield

I enjoy reading inspiring stories about people with hearing loss, especially tales like the one in Ephphatha, a new book by Dr. Thomas Caulfield. The book shares the courageous journey of his son Christopher, born profoundly deaf, and his struggles to combat and overcome this disability through much of his young life. There were many ups and downs, but through hard work, cochlear implant (CI) technology, perseverance and tremendous familial support, Christopher matures into an intelligent, kind, and purposeful man. It is uplifting to go on this adventure with him.

Today, Christopher Caulfield is a tremendous advocate for the disability community, including people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Regular readers of this blog might remember him as one of the Cornell Tech students working on captioning glasses that I discuss in a prior post. This summer, Christopher will be joining Microsoft as a Program Manager within the Cloud and Artificial Intelligence group. Over time, he hopes to get involved in Microsoft’s accessibility initiatives for people with hearing loss.

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Hearing Loss Sometimes Requires a Belt and Suspenders Approach

Yesterday was a belt and suspenders type of day with my hearing loss. I was headed to the critically acclaimed production of The Ferryman on Broadway. I love theater and often attend open captioned performances sponsored by TDF, but sometimes no such performances are available. Lucky for me other accessibility options are increasingly common on Broadway, including infrared headsets, the GalaPro closed captioning app, and sometimes even a hearing loop.

For those not familiar with the term, belt and suspenders is an adjective defined by Merriam-Webster as “involving or employing multiple methods or procedures to achieve a desired result especially out of caution or fear of failure.” In other words, it means having more than one method to make sure your pants stay up, or in my case, more than one method of hearing technology.

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Why Should Wearing Hearing Aids Require A Steady Hand?

I recently took part in a usability study for a large hearing aid manufacturer. I always enjoy doing consumer focus groups related to hearing aids and other hearing technologies. The more feedback we as users provide to the manufacturers, the more likely it is that they will meet more of our needs in the future. Usually I get a sneak peek at a new app that is under development or an innovative feature that is to be added to a company’s hearing aid, which is also fun.

This study was different. It focused on manipulating and cleaning three different behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. Since I have never regularly used a BTE hearing aid — I always have used ones worn in the ear canal — it was all new to me. During the exercise, I learned to put on and remove ear pieces, and take off, replace and clean plastic tubing and domes. Simple activities, but they were not easy to execute. I quickly learned that wearing this type of hearing aid requires a very steady hand.

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My Hearing Aids Boost My Confidence

I am pleased to share my hearing loss story and tips on the newly launched site — FindHearing.com.  See an excerpt below.

My left ear has been acting up — increased pressure from seasonal allergies led to excess fluid, making my hearing aid unwearable for a few days until my ear dries out. It is a frustrating situation — I can’t hear on one side so I feel lopsided and out-of the-flow. It is hard to tell where sounds originate and the constant tinnitus in my hearing-aid-less-ear is a nuisance. Thank goodness this situation is only temporary.

Among the many challenges, the worst part is feeling less self-assured. At my yoga studio this morning, I briefly greeted my fellow students, but quickly retreated into a pre-class savasana to avoid conversation. I thought about cancelling lunch with a friend, but decided to fess up about being down one ear today instead. I feel low-energy, shy, and less poised. My self-confidence has taken a dip.

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An Inexpensive Solution to Live Transcribe’s Android Only Problem

My recent post The Next Best Thing in Speech to Text Apps generated much discussion. Many people were excited by Google’s Live Transcribe technology — the accuracy and speed of the captioning is notable — but the fact that it is only available on Android devices was a source of frustration. One highly motivated individual in my local NYC hearing loss community found an inexpensive solution to the Android problem that is worth sharing.

She purchased a cheap Android phone at Best Buy leaving it inactivated for cell and data service, downloaded the Live Transcribe App from the Google Play store, and now uses the phone as her own personal captioning device! Brilliant!

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