Are Movie Theater Caption Readers Properly Maintained?

Since discovering caption readers at the movies a couple of years ago, I have firmly embraced heading to the movie theater to take in a film now and again. And with most movie theaters in my area now offering some type of captioning device, I can choose the movie based on where and when I want to see it, not where and when the accessibility options are offered. This is a treat, and one that I have come to expect.

But recently, things are feeling less secure. In each of the last four times I went to the movies, there has been an issue with the captioning. It makes me wonder if the devices are being properly maintained.

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Do You Need Your Hearing Aids to Drive?

This article I wrote for Hearing Tracker is about driving with hearing loss. What do you think? Do you need your hearing aids to drive? 

In several states, we will need to upgrade our driver’s licenses to a federal Real ID by October 2020. Since my license was up for renewal, I decided to get a jumpstart on this and made an appointment at my local DMV. I was dreading the visit — hours of boredom standing in lines, the worry that I would not hear my name when it was called, and of course the photo — but I did not expect any thought-provoking questions. Filling out the forms in advance, one of the questions got me thinking. It asked, “Do you need a hearing aid to drive a motor vehicle?”

There was also a question about corrective lenses/glasses, but that was easy. While I can make it to the bathroom and back in the middle of the night without putting on my glasses, I would never attempt to run an errand to the store, let alone get behind the wheel of a car without them. I certainly need my lenses/glasses to drive.

But what about the hearing aid question. Did I need my hearing aids to drive? They certainly are helpful to hear honks, sirens, and cars passing and I do always wear them when I drive, but I don’t think they are required. Most of the driving cues are visual — things like brake lights, turn signals, and traffic signs. With the radio blasting, I doubt people with typical hearing gather many clues from the sounds around them while driving either. My hearing aids are a nice to have, not a must have when behind the wheel. I confidently checked “No,” but promised myself to wear them anyway. They certainly couldn’t hurt.

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To read more about safe driving with hearing loss, click here to continue reading on Hearing Tracker.

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How To Love Someone With Hearing Loss

Do you love someone with hearing loss? With almost 50 million Americans and 360 million people worldwide with disabling hearing loss, chances are that you do. Supporting them can be confusing — you may not fully understand the challenges they face as someone with hearing loss, or they may not want to discuss it or ask for help. Even if they deny it, deep down they still want your love and support.

Loving someone with hearing loss requires work — there are conversation best practices to incorporate, hearing loss exhaustion to work around and loud venues to avoid. There are bouts of frustration and sadness to support people through, and ongoing education about new hearing aid and assistive listening device technologies to learn. It can require extra effort, but when you love somebody, it is worth it.

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Hearing Loss: Thank You For Using The Microphone

My latest article for Hearing Tracker discusses the reasons to use a microphone in all meetings. Do you agree? 

We gathered in a medium-sized classroom for the wrap-up session of my two-day board meeting at my alma mater. Most sessions were in larger spaces, with presenters using a lectern at the front of a well-miked room. The event organizers always saved me a seat at the front with good sight-lines to the speakers so I could lipread as needed. I really appreciated their assistance and was able to hear almost everything. Given the high level of concentration needed, my hearing loss exhaustion usually kicked in by the end of the day, but it was worth it.

The wrap-up session was different — more casual, smaller, and in a different type of space — a classroom rather than a typical lecture hall. The leaders used a microphone, but a second mic was not provided for questions or comments from the audience. This made it much harder to follow the discussion.

Even strong leaders overlook top-notch communication in certain settings. That is why it is critical to educate people about the importance of using a microphone for all meetings, even when the gathering seems too small or too casual for the formality and fuss of a mic. Inclusion should never be sacrificed for the sake of ease.

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For a captioned video and more reasons to use a microphone, continue reading on Hearing Tracker.

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What If Your Reading Glasses Also Provided Captions?

Sitting in the dimly lit restaurant, I struggled to read the menu. Lucky for me, I keep readers in my purse, which I quickly pulled out and the problem was solved. But when the waiter came to tell us about the specials, I had trouble hearing him, even though I was wearing my hearing aids and lipreading furiously.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could solve this problem just as easily — reaching into my purse for my captioning glasses — ones that would turn speech into text in real-time and with exceptional accuracy? Interestingly, a graduate student team at Cornell Tech is working on something just like this.

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