I was asked to test out a new iOs App for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people called MyEar. It's a speech-to-text App to help in communication.
MyEar came about when a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) saw how much his Deaf father was struggling to lipread day in and out. He decided to create an App to help his dad.
I think this is a great App! Even if you're a skilled lipreader - you'll still only catch about 30% of the conversation. Not fair is it? MyEar will help transcribe what's being said - it's not perfect - and they state that clearly - but I've found it to be much, much better than other Apps available out there.
This will help in various situations:
Here's a video demonstration on how it works:
Pretty simple right! No advertising,, no asking people to download the same app, no popups, no more buying "minutes"!
One drawback I found with it - you need an internet connection for it to work, so sometimes it won't work on my iPad. But, very few places don't have public WiFi these days.
So, check out their Facebook Page or download it yourself with this link:
Many times when people find out out someone is deaf or hard of hearing, the first question is usually:
"Can you read lips?"
Why? Why do people assume that all of "us" can lipread? Maybe you don't realize how hard it is to lipread and master it?
Let me explain:
Only 30% of what is said can be seen clearly on the lips. (And that's by skilled readers too). That's 3 out of 10 words! Most of it is guesswork.
Here's an example of how it's done.
Photo Transcript can be read here.
Pretty difficult right?
Don't forget there's eye fatigue and headaches that goes along with heavy lipreading.
How to Help
You can help ease the strain and stress by helping us out by:
How did you do? Harder than it looks eh?
One final suggestion:
Instead of asking:
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.I’ve recently been asked by Sonic Alert to review two of their products.
I was given the Sonic Boom Travel Alarm clock and their NEW Bluetooth Sonic Boom Super Shaker Alarm.
Sonic Alert is a company that specializes in alerting systems for people with hearing loss and for those who are hard to wake up. They sell alarm clocks that have extra-loud ringers and "bed shakers" which are small pods that vibrate for you to feel. They also sell amplified telephones and home alerting systems (visual alerts to important sounds).
Now the products:
The Sonic Boom Travel Alarm Clock
The picture shows the clock portion upright, but it actually can fold flat.
I tried the alarm in several scenarios:
- Tucked under two pillows.
- Between the mattress and boxspring.
- Clipped to the fitted sheet in between the pillows (on a queen bed).
- Clipped to the fitted sheet, but dangling over the side (in case you knocked it off)
- Clipped to the end of the bed in the middle (by my feet).
It didn't work in only 2 scenarios - dangling off the bed and clipped to the sheet in the middle between the pillows. I figured out why - there was no resistance to the vibrations, meaning there was nothing on top to enhance the vibrating. If it bounced freely, the vibrations are lost - so using a blanket or pillow helps.
In all the other situations - Man did it ever work! You could be in a coma and still wake up on time. That's why the name "Sonic Boom" fits it perfectly.
It was very easy to set up, Just install the batteries, one look at the diagram bof where buttons are and I was done setting the time, the alarm & the vibrate alert. It also has a snooze button, night light and options such as vibrate only, buzzer only, and both vibrate and buzzer.
The only suggestion I have for improving this product is having a pocket in the storage case for the batteries, (as they advise removing the batteries while not in use).
Sonic Bomb Bluetooth Super Shaker Alarm
So whenever you receive a new phone call, text, a new e-mail on your smartphone - it sends an alert to the sonic boom.
The vibrations can be adjusted - short bursts, long vibrate, and so on. Sadly it cannot be set to different vibrations to different alerts. (short bursts for texts and long vibration for email). I don't really care for that option but thought some users might.
I really thought this would be AWESOME for Deafblind people like myself! Why? We often lack peripheral vision and miss seeing the visual alert flasher or the smartphone's own light. Sure, we could just have the phone vibrate in our pocket - but that gets uncomfortable when you're in a chair or on the couch watching TV, reading, or other activities. Stick the Sonic Bomb alert in your couch or chair cushion and you'll never miss anything else.
Another bonus I liked - the Sonic Boom alerter can either be plugged into a wall socket (with included plug adapter) or a USB port. The bonus is that the USB adapter has another USB port for you to plug in your smartphone or tablet into. So only one plug outlet is needed for the vibrating alert and to charge your phone How cool is that?
Both of these great products and Sonic Alert's other products, can be found on their website, on Amazon, and in my Store.
So never be late for anything while away from home, or miss any more notifications with Sonic Alert.
American Sign Language (ASL) has steadily gained more exposure through television, movies and social media. It’s the third largest language used in the United States.
People are eagerly taking classes, watching videos, and downloading Apps to learn ASL. They’ve even created signing Holograms and included ASL in a new video game.
So, the more people that know ASL, the less communication barriers we, Deaf, will face. Deaf people will be able to be more involved in the community around us.
Or that’s what everyone thinks……
No matter how many times Nyle DiMarco posts on Twitter, how many PSAs Marlee Matlin makes, or how many episodes of Switched at Birth there are – people still have negative bias towards Deafness and low-set standards towards them.
We constantly fight to get:
Let me explain further:
Whenever we need to go to the doctor’s office, or to the Emergency room, we constantly fight for our communication rights in getting an interpreter. I’m not talking about the portable video relay interpreter (VRI) unit mind you!
You wouldn’t expect someone speaking Spanish to forgo an interpreter and be forced to communicate in their broken English and understand everything clearly? Why are Deaf people subjected to this discrimination and stress.
So, we constantly fight for communication access that WE choose, not something forced on us by administrators because it’s a cheaper alternative.
There are only 48% of the Deaf Community that are employed. Some of those who are employed are woefully underemployed. I know several that have degrees but can only get employment in unskilled jobs, like in a factory or retail.
Firstly, this change has to start early in High Schools (whether it’s a Deaf institute or a mainstreamed school) where the tendency is to steer Deaf students towards vocational training instead of higher academic goals.
Secondly, higher education institutes need to provide better accessibility to their colleges and universities (this goes back to the interpreter issue).
Thirdly, employers need to provide adequate access as well. Many just skip over potential candidates just on the disability issue alone (can’t prove it, but it’s been done).
So, we battle an unfair war to gain respectful employment.
There are State schools for the Deaf all across the U.S. and Canada who primarily teach in ASL. But even then the sign language competency is inadequate! There was a State review of the Florida School of the Deaf and Blind that revealed 82 of the teachers didn’t meet proficiency requirements. This is widespread across a lot of schools.
I attended a Deaf High School, the rumor was that some of the teachers weren’t qualified enough to teach in the Public sector so they were assigned to a Deaf School.
So, we get second-rate teachers who can’t even communicate well with us?
I see and read so many stories, as well as experienced it myself, that as soon as someone finds out that a person is Deaf – their expectations of that person drops dramatically.
Forget about the awkwardness of trying to communicate, that’s understandable if they’ve never met a Deaf person before, I’m talking about people’s instant opinion of that Deaf person. The majority of the time that opinion is that Deaf = Mentally Deficient and we’re treated as such. “Where’s your caretaker”, “Can you get someone else to sign this for you?” “How will you look after your child?” and the list goes on.
So, no matter how much exposure Deaf people get in the Media, we still encounter people who don’t believe that we can be scientists, business owners, teachers, actors, and everything else!
Putting all the above aside, we just want to be accepted for the way we are and that we don’t need to be cured or fixed in order to be a productive member of society.
We have a beautiful, vibrant, and healthy Culture that is thriving and we cherish and are proud of. We have art, poetry, movies, stories, humor, history and socialization that is unique from any other Culture in the world.
So, we continue to strive without “hearing” intervention and oppression. We just want people to stop asking about our hearing loss and whether “they” should fix it for us.
One glaring example of everything I just discussed is summed up in this video:
Now I think it’s awesome that more people are learning to sign, but we also need to get rid of the stereotypes and attitudes towards Deafness and the Deaf community.
So please, along with learning ASL - become involved in changing mentalities too.
Home safety is usually a concern for most people, but it can be more worrisome for those with hearing loss – especially for those who just recently lost it. So how do people with hearing loss protect themselves and their belongings? They can get an alarm system and have a few modifications added.
So, here’s my list of home alarm systems for people with hearing loss and how they can feel safe at home.
Invest in a Monitoring Service
There are a variety of home monitoring services with different types of packages to choose from. Some are self-installed while others are installed by a professional. They’re available for homes, rentals, and businesses.
Some of these services offer notifications by cell phone, which is great as you can have your cell phone by your bed with notifications set to flash (or vibrate) to alert you when the alarm goes off
Visual Alert Systems
Getting a visual alert system for all your home needs is an excellent idea. A visual alert system is a system that alerts you by setting up listening receivers that flash a lamp or strobe light plugged into them. They also come with a bedshaker to place under a pillow or between the mattress to shake you awake for a noise alert.
There are alerts for the alarm clock, doorbell, smoke detector, baby crying, and any other noise you want to be notified for. A noise receiver can be set up next to your alarm system to “listen” to the alarm going off.
Install Louder Alarms
If you don’t have a visual alert system or hear “fine” during the day with your hearing aid or cochlear implant, you do need to consider night time when you take your devices off. You can find alarm systems, smoke detectors, phones, and doorbells with extra loud ringers.
Be sure to find one that works in your hearing frequency. If you have a high pitch hearing loss you’ll need to find an alarm with a lower bass frequency to be able to hear it.
Install Motion Detector Lights
Installing motion detector lights in your front and back yard is a great deterrent from break-ins. They’re also great for added safety for walking to and from the car at night time.
Some alarm systems come with motion detectors as well and can alert you to movement in the house. Even though these are not attached to lights per say, you’ll know if someone’s in your place.
I personally have a motion detector light in my front hall entryway. It’s pretty dark in there during the daytime as well. It’s a motion detector for the light socket. It comes on whenever someone comes in or needs to go out. An added bonus is that since I don’t hear the door open and close, I can spot the light come on and go check who’s here.
Get the Neighbors to Help
These days many people are so busy that they don’t even know who their neighbors are. Go and make friends with a few of them, offer to help them out if they need anything (mowing, errands, and such).
In return, they can help keep an eye on your place by letting you know of strange visitors or noises. They can also be a contact person for the alarm service to contact too.
Get a Pet
A cheap (and cuddly) alternative is to get a dog or a cat. Allow the pet to share your bed. In the event of strange noises, a break-in, or anything, you’ll feel your pet barking, moving around, or even bolting off the bed. Then you’ll know something is wrong and go investigate.