When Disability Is A Design Opportunity

The Cooper Hewitt museum in New York City is currently running a fascinating exhibition entitled Access+Ability. The exhibit features new and innovative products that help people with disabilities experience their world more effectively through design. Some of the products are in the marketplace today, while others are in the prototype stage. All are inspiring in their use of design to solve every day problems for people with a variety of accessibility issues, including more “traditional” disabilities like mobility challenges, blindness and deafness, but also other obstacles like dementia, blood clots, and tremors.

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The Joys of Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I am proud to share my hearing loss story and tips on Hearing Tracker

I love to travel, attend concerts, and live sporting events, but as my hearing loss has worsened, I have become more sensitive to loud sounds. More frequently, the aftermath of a plane flight or visit to a stadium was a long bout of tinnitus and sometimes, even vertigo. It just wasn’t worth it, until I discovered noise-cancelling headphones. I wear them almost everywhere now — on airplanes, at the movies and of course at any concert or loud stadium. Not only do they protect my hearing in the moment, they prevent days of pain and annoyance afterwards.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

I first started using noise-cancelling headphones on plane rides. The white noise of an airplane engine can be easy to ignore, but one day I decided to measure it on my iPhone decibel reader. I was amazed to see how loud it actually is! Noise levels ranged from 80 decibels up to 90 decibels on the plane, an unsafe listening level. The rule of thumb is that prolonged exposure to any noise at or above 85 decibels can cause gradual hearing loss, and this hearing loss is permanent.

After that flight, I purchased a high quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones and now wear them every time I travel on an airplane. I also don them on long bus and train rides to block out the rhythmic sounds of the world passing by. Rhythmic sounds, even if they are not that loud, can sometimes trigger my tinnitus.

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I Love My New Captioned Phone

Like most people with hearing loss, I regularly have trouble hearing on the phone. I make religious use of my amplified headset and the volume control on my speakerphone, but sometimes, it is not enough. It can be embarrassing to keep asking someone to repeat themselves, and dangerous if important information is being conveyed. I remember one phone call with an editor where I kept repeating what I thought I had heard to keep the conversation moving forward. It was very stressful and difficult for both of us.

After that call, I decided to try a captioned phone to see what benefits it would bring. It has only been a few weeks, but I am very pleased with it.

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When You Discover The Miracle Of A Hearing Loop

I recommend that everyone get a t-coil in their hearing aid. The incremental cost is usually small, but the expanded functionality is huge. A t-coil or telecoil transmits the sound within any looped area directly to your hearing aids, cutting out background and other noises, letting you focus on what you want to hear. This is incredibly helpful at theater performances, in meetings, or when talking to your taxi driver. Of course the t-coil only works in a space that has a hearing loop installed.

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Can An App Help You Find A Quiet Place To Eat?

Eating out has become a lot more challenging, as restaurant design and booming music have given many restaurants a club-like atmosphere. Sounds from clattering dishes, voices raised in conversation and the ever-present soundtrack rocket around the room, bouncing from one hard surface to another. It’s almost enough to inspire me to cook for myself! Well, let’s not go that far.

What if there was a way to find a quiet restaurant, or even a coffee shop for a quick meeting with a business colleague or for socializing with a friend? And what if you could do this right on your smartphone? Well, now you can.

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