Categories
Communication Practices Hearing Loss Speechreading/Lipreading

Lipreading Concepts with Hearing Loss LIVE!

Why Lipreading Concepts Before Lip Shapes?

Julia: There is a misconception that if you lose hearing you automatically read lips. Without knowing the concepts before you try to learn and understand the lip shapes makes for a tired student. Once the concepts are understood, students can learn lip shapes in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Chelle: While teaching lipreading with the state of Utah, we had 18 lessons. Each lesson was an hour and a half. Lip shapes and concepts were spread throughout each lesson. By lesson 4, I noticed a few people weren’t returning to class as it was overwhelming. In designing a new class with Hearing Loss LIVE!, we thought it would be more helpful to set people up with the concepts first so they are more confident later for lip shapes. 

Michele: As a lifelong lipreader, I know that when you are not confident in a situation your lipreading skills fly out the window. Keeping your composure is key. Obsessing about what you are NOT getting causes panic and works against you. Learning all of the moving parts of lipreading builds confidence, and so it makes sense to start Hearing Loss LIVE! lipreading classes with instruction and information about those concepts.

Lipreading Experience

Michele: When I was diagnosed with hearing loss in grade school, the doctor told my mother I was lipreading everything he said. I likely had had a hearing loss years before. I had no clue I was doing it, though the concept wasn’t completely foreign to me, as my grandmother was deaf and a lipreader. I’ve been lipreading for well over five decades, and the very first article that I wrote for publication was about lipreading. It is so much a part of who I am and how I communicate.

I have consulted on a few lipreading projects, transcribing a surveillance video for a law firm, and silent news footage for a documentary film. I did extensive research to prepare for both projects, but it was knowing the context and using all of the other fundamentals of lipreading that helped me make sense of what I saw on speakers’ lips while viewing the footage.

Julia: I have been involved off and on as a CART provider for Lipreading classes since 2010, both in Utah and California. As a Hard of Hearing Assistant for the State of Utah, I taught Lipreading classes online for a year. 

Chelle: I’m Hard of Hearing so I’ve been lipreading for years without knowing it. In 2013 or 2014, I started teaching the Speechreading class at the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center. I revised the class three times over the years, gaining experience while teaching… saving what worked and getting rid of what didn’t work. Example: Single syllable practice words destroyed the confidence of all us beginners. I changed the words to 2 or more syllables giving us more to go on. I also tried to pick common words we see daily. 

Lipreading Class experience online

Chelle: The pandemic hit and the HoH assistants were asking what they would do without in person classes. I had been wanting to try hybrid presentations to be more inclusive of people all over the state, not just certain locations. With the pandemic, I took a deep breath and within a month started the HoH program classes online. There was trial and error and thinking ahead about technology glitches so we had a teacher and backup person in case someone’s internet went down. It worked with a few jerks and bumps, which we smoothed out within a month. We found out lipreading classes are even better online than in person, because each person sits fairly close to the camera. In person we sat farther apart making it hard at times. 

Michele: Losing my hearing at such a young age hardwired me for lipreading. I am aware of how it works, but the nuances and technical aspects of articulation were new to me. When Utah opened up their online lipreading classes, I signed up for two separate classes. Being online worked great, as you could pin a speaker to view them close-up during practice. Once in a while someone’s screen would freeze, but there were no major glitches. I’ve heard many others with hearing loss over the years express an interest in learning to lipread or improve their skills, and having online classes really makes that possible no matter where you live.

Julia: My experience with lipreading in person wasn’t as a teacher but when we went online at the beginning of the pandemic, I found online was a much better platform for lipreading classes. You have the ability to turn the sound completely off but not your voice. In-person classes involve a lot of whispering. This may actually change the way you enunciate or move your mouth. 

Why I Love This Class

Julia: I learn so much from these types of classes that as a hearing person I didn’t understand before. It helps me to be better with my communication to someone with a hearing loss, because I know what may or may not come across when they are trying to lipread.

Michele: The best thing about the class was the people who attended. Getting to know one another, the camaraderie that developed, the humor, talking about our experiences, and learning from each other. We had some really awesome class discussions and came up with some improvements to the class together. I think we all gained a lot of confidence together.

An added benefit was becoming comfortable with video conferencing platforms with closed captions. I’ll be honest, I was nervous for the first few weeks. As much about Google Meet as the class. My hearing loss is profound, which means I hear no audio at all on the computer, so I was nervous about interrupting and contributing in class. It didn’t take long to become comfortable with both the class and Google Meet. The lipreading classes were actually my saving grace in those first months of Covid isolation. I am so thankful Utah opened up their online classes to other states.

Chelle: The Speechreading class gave me confidence. I learned a better way to communicate with people and became less fearful of social interaction. I found I had the added benefit of hearing better in noisy environments. Example: I cannot handle wearing my hearing aids at restaurants. The excess noise distracts me. (How do hearing people handle all that noise?!) Also, I’m not easily rattled anymore and can handle most communication situations that come up. I learned when it might be my fault for not understanding AND when it’s the speaker’s fault. 

Class Information

What: Live, in person Lipreading Concepts Class; 8 Lessons, Online with Google Meet
When: Thursday, February 17, 2022 through April 7, 2022
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 PM, Mountain Time
Cost: $50 per person ($6.25 per lesson)
Limit: 10 people per class
Registration: Opens January 28, 2022

Attend our February 1, 2022 Talk About It Tuesday to learn more about the class.

Talk About It Tuesday is free to attend, we provide CART/live captioning. Register 

Michele and Chelle Explorations Lipreading in Years Past

Categories
Accessibility Advocacy CART (live captioning) Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss State Agencies

State Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

According to the National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NASADHH), there are approximately 38 state agencies of the deaf and hard of hearing (HoH). If your state is missing in the roster linked above, try finding information through your state’s Rehabilitation Services (aka Vocational Rehabilitation) or Labor/Careerforce/Workforce offices.

The above graphic is a sampling of where services for the HoH and deaf reside in state government—Departments on Aging, Children & Families, Civil Rights, Disabilities & Communication Access, Economic Opportunity & Security, Health & Human Services, Independent Living, Industry, Long Term Support, and Social Services—and it is no wonder information can be hard to find.

Looking further at the NASADHH website, their organization has identified a need for a national database of information and a heightened public awareness of services, and are working toward that goal.

Also, information and services relevant to HoH needs and accommodations can sometimes only be found by navigating through multiple content layers of a state’s website. If the HoH see information relevant only to someone in Deaf culture and ASL Interpretation on the website’s homepage, likely they get the impression there are no services available to them. And, because they are not a part of Deaf culture, and do not know or use sign language, they leave. That is a factor in the HoH being underserved.

Random examples of state website homepages:

Homepage: West Virginia’s state website (https://dhhr.wv.gov/cdhh/Pages/default.aspx). No information about CART services or HoH needs; appear to only offer Deaf services.
Homepage: Rhode Island’s state website (http://www.cdhh.ri.gov/). Equal focus on Interpreter & CART services; appear to offer both Deaf and HoH services.

HoH people comprise over 95 percent of those with disabling hearing loss. They communicate, live, work, and socialize in the hearing world, in a spoken language they are fluent in. They need accommodations in their language.

JULIA: What do you know about your state services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing? State services are your tax dollars at work. Be sure to take advantage of these services. 

  • Do you know who the HoH Specialist is?
  • Do they have an Advisory Council that you could join and learn more about your state services for Hard of Hearing individuals?
  • Which state department funds them? 
  • If you needed a list of CART or live captioning companies, would your state agency be able to provide one? 
    • And if not, are you right now looking up your next state legislation meeting? 
  • Do you have a local HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) chapter who might lobby with you? 
  • How can you make a difference for HoH needs in your state?

If you can answer these questions, HOORAY!!! If you can’t, I hope it prompts you to find out more. Chelle Wyatt is one person and she made a huge difference in the thought process at a state level by showing one size does not fit most.

Even if you don’t live in the same city as the state office, send an email to the HoH specialist and ask what might be available in your area. Advisory Council meetings are often online, so you can join from anywhere in your state and help make a difference. Reach out, we can make a difference.

MICHELE: I found out about the DHHSD (Deaf and Hard of Hearing Division) through my CareerForce (formerly WorkForce) office after moving to Minnesota in 2006. They suggested I contact DHHSD—I had never heard of them—to partner with should any employer express concern regarding my hearing loss. I remember wondering why none of my audiologists had ever mentioned that there are state agencies that serve the HoH and deaf? At the end of every unsuccessful hearing aid trial, I was desperate for additional help and information, but they had no answers for me.

I met with the local DHHSD director, who is culturally Deaf, and received some helpful information about captioned telephones and mobile CapTel. I was also assured their office would indeed serve as a co-advocate with prospective employers if the need arose.

What wasn’t helpful was the lecture I received for referring to myself as “Hearing Impaired”, or the invitation to the monthly pizza night where only sign language was spoken, followed by “Most HoH people only come once; they have no way to communicate.” 

I did not learn about CART from DHHSD and was given some material on learning sign language.

My initial impression was that their services were more focused on Deaf culture and sign language, which is not my experience. My fitting into Deaf culture seemed more important than their meeting my needs as a lipreader, English speaker, and captioning consumer. I’ve learned more from my tribe of HoH peers than from my state agency or audiologists.

In early 2018, I volunteered as a delegate for my state political party and requested CART for the March convention. The local convention organizer contacted DHHSD for assistance after the remote CART provider recommended an on-site provider would be a better fit for a political convention. What they (the same culturally Deaf director) advised demonstrated how misinformed they are about CART and CART providers, and that they clearly need to be more knowledgeable about HoH needs and accommodations.

In 2020, the VRS (Vocational Rehabilitation Services) placement coordinator I was working with asked if I needed a sign language interpreter for our meeting. It was an opportunity to inform about how vast the HoH community is (18% of the population), my needs as a lipreader, and to educate about CART and captioning. To his credit, my VRS person was not okay with being knowledgeable about Deaf culture, but having no idea about the HoH community. Assuming the same was true for his co-workers, he encouraged me to submit a workshop proposal for that year’s upcoming Health & Human Services Conference in our county, which I did. That workshop was the basis for the One Size Does Not Fit All workshop that Hearing Loss LIVE! plans to offer in the future.

CHELLE: In 2009, after a big drop in hearing and a life change in moving to Salt Lake City, I discovered our state agency while looking for the local HLAA chapter who happened to meet there. The Utah Division of Services of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DSDHH) had classes for hearing loss and I took them all, anything to learn how to live better with hearing loss. Every time I walked through those doors for a Hard of Hearing event, I felt the burden of communication dropped off my shoulders. These were my people, my tribe. 

I like to joke that I was around there so much, they finally hired me in 2012 as a Hard of Hearing Assistant for statewide services. I loved reaching more people and helping others deal with their hearing loss better. I worked 5 years as HoH Assistant and then 3 more years as a HoH Specialist, the first not to be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).

Though I loved what I did, working in the “Deaf Center”, as it was often called, had some challenges. As the HoH specialist, I began to remind people that it was the Deaf AND Hard of Hearing Center. It was hard for people to change that habit, the Deaf community started services years ago. The Hard of Hearing portion came later with the Hard of Hearing Specialist job, classes and presentations. The ‘new’ office building was dedicated as the Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. After reminding enough people, they started saying the Sanderson Center instead. I wanted to make sure the HoH felt included and they knew it was their center too. 

While there, I learned enough sign language to get by but did not become fluent. I’m Hard of Hearing. I speak English and read English. I use lipreading and CART. I was the Hard of Hearing Specialist and I wanted to represent the majority of the community I belonged to. It was my job to make Hard of Hearing communication needs known which included requesting CART at outside events, something that hadn’t been done much before me. 

Most of my Deaf coworkers respected me though a few were resentful that I did not become fluent in ASL.This is the Deaf AND Hard of Hearing Center, I think a mutual respect is needed and that was my goal. I did serve the Hard of Hearing community well and brought in a record attendance and gave CART more recognition on the state level.

AREAS THAT WARRANT IMPROVEMENT: The majority of state agencies that serve the HoH and Deaf require their employees to be fluent in ASL, which disqualifies some of the most knowledgeable and talented people to help the HoH. That needs to change.

It is important that state agencies give equal billing to HoH needs and accommodations. CART should not continue to be a well-kept secret. CART for the HoH is exactly the same as ASL Interpretation for the Deaf. Both are considered reasonable communication access accommodations by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Go to your state’s website and look around. If you can’t easily find information relevant to HoH needs and CART, contact them and give them some thoughtful feedback and ask for what you need. The HoH community will remain underserved until they become more involved in getting the same level of service as the Deaf community. We should look to the Deaf community as a model for our own movement.

Unfortunately, the HoH most often learn about state agencies, and the services they provide, from their own internet search, referrals from Work/Career Force offices, peers, or by accident. State Agencies must do a better job of finding ways to reach the HoH and offering services equal to those offered for the Deaf.

Categories
Accessibility ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) Captioning CART (live captioning) Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Hearing Technology Stenographers

InnoCaption Services

It is our extreme pleasure to welcome Cristina Duarte, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs & In-House Counsel of InnoCaption, as our guest this week! Cristina has a pretty impressive title, but it doesn’t describe all that she does at InnoCaption. When speaking with Cristina, it is her passion and commitment to a company that holds a deep personal connection for her that comes through. She loves connecting with customers and helping the Hard of Hearing (HoH) and deaf improve their lives by broadening their ability to communicate.

CRISTINA: As soon as I could speak, I took charge of answering the phone in our house. I was so proud every time I would answer and say in my most adult voice “Duarte residence, Cristina speaking, how can I help you?” Both of my parents were born with profound hearing loss and the phone was always challenging for them. Fast forward about 12 years, I was the only kid in my high school with a two way pager – which was incredibly cool – because it was the only way I could get a hold of my parents and fully communicate with them when they were out of the house. My father, an audio visual engineer who specialized in accessible solutions, frequently traveled and called me to test out new technologies he encountered while on the road. It was a normal occurrence for me as a young adult to get a call from a random number and hear – “Hi Cristina, it’s Dad! Just trying out something new and want to see how it does.” Every single time there would be some part of the solution which fell short of expectations, whether it was the speed, accuracy, sound quality or compatibility. I remember the first time my father called me using the InnoCaption app – I can honestly say it was the first phone conversation I had EVER had with them that it was like I was talking to a hearing person. At the time, the technology was still pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – but we both knew it was going to be life changing.

Fast forward to today, I have had the opportunity to be a part of InnoCaption for seven years and am incredibly proud of how far we have come. We are still the only company to offer our users captioning provided by stenographers and have added the ability to use automatic speech recognition (ASR) as well. Instead of imposing our own views on which captioning technology best meets our users’ needs, we empower our users by giving them full control with the ability to switch between a stenographer or ASR captions at the press of a button, before or even during a call. We listen to the community and our users – which has resulted in some really awesome features. A few of my favorites, and how they came about, are:

Caller ID Selection: This feature allows our user to choose between whether outgoing calls from their InnoCaption show as their InnoCaption number; their regular cell phone number; or blocked. We implemented this feature after receiving requests from deaf and hard of hearing doctors who wanted to use their cellphones to call patients, but did not want to provide the patients with their personal numbers. They explained that their hearing peers were able to do this, and they wanted to be able to as well. Shortly thereafter we launched the Caller ID Selection solution!

DeskView: At the beginning of the pandemic so many were forced into remote work environments without accessibility. I remember hearing from users who explained that they did not need accommodations in person, but as soon as their work shifted to the phone or video conferences, they were really struggling. In the beginning, we had many users dialing in to video conferencing platforms from their mobile devices and relying on the captioning. The feedback from that time that I remember best, is someone describing the feeling of looking between their computer screen and mobile device trying to keep up as “whip-lash” inducing. To address this, our team rolled out Deskview, which is a browser based InnoCaption feature which allows users to either mirror the captions from their mobile device to their computer OR now users can call directly from the browser eliminating the need for the mobile device. This empowers the user to have control of the captions on the same screen as their video conferencing – our users were thrilled!

Dyslexic Font: At some point last year, I received a message from a long time InnoCaption user sharing that they were dyslexic and there were dyslexic friendly fonts which would enhance the ease of reading and comprehension for them. Our engineering team was able to implement a dyslectic font customization within the app – and now we are even more accessible.

I could share so many stories behind the features we have released and why – but that would take quite some time. Instead I share the ones above as examples of the changes that have been made as a direct result of feedback from community members. I love what we have been able to do together working alongside the community. Honestly, my favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to connect with users and hear their experiences. I am beyond proud of what has been accomplished to date and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

CHELLE: The phone was such a big source of anxiety for me that in 2009 I quit using it. There’s no lipreading on phones, all I get is a voice which for me is missing many consonants in speech. Trying to piece together the missing sounds of speech without any visuals was pure hell. I lost a few friends who would not convert to text or email, that hurt.

Caption phones came along around 2012 and I had so much anxiety with phones it was a last resort for me. I’d walk by the phone for 2 or 3 hours before working up the courage to make the call. The captions helped and little by little I got over the fear.

InnoCaption was my first captioning smartphone app. I like that they use stenographers, I’m more confident than ever with phone calls. During the pandemic shutdown, I had to use my cell phone at home to make business calls. I found the captions to be more consistent and they came up faster too, so I transitioned to using only my smartphone with InnoCaption for phone calls.. No more anxiety.

JULIA: In 2017, HLAA National held their convention in Salt Lake City, where I first learned about InnoCaption and that they contracted steno writers. I thought to myself, sounds too good to be true (find out more in our podcast Monday).

I put off looking into it for a little minute, but eventually took their assessment test. It. Did. Not. Go. Well. Maybe down the road I will blog about my severe test anxiety. Just writing the word “test” has me in a sweat. Luckily they offered a second chance and I was ready. Sweat and all.

For the past four years InnoCaption has done just what they said they would do. Supply steady contracted work during times in the past I would have had none. I tell them every two weeks what I have available to work. Some months I have more, some I have less. I have as many hours as I want or need most weeks. A side bonus is InnoCaption pay is every two weeks without any problems.

CART providers, interpreters, Voice Relay Operators, Caption operators, operators in general, are all held to high confidentiality standards. We type/sign the spoken word and when done, we flush it. We are essential workers, and sometimes part of the first responder team. But we also allow someone with a hearing loss to share in the best parts of life with friends, family, and coworkers. At the end of the day, my job is about supporting someone who otherwise would be left out of whatever event they are facing, good or bad.

MICHELE: I have not had audio capability on my cell phone since 2012. When I moved to Germany, I had no use for audio (I don’t speak or read German) and so I dropped back to text and data only. After returning to the U.S., in mid-December of 2015, I kept putting off adding audio to my cell phone plan, as I had become accustomed to not having it. I kept telling myself I wanted to add it in order to try InnoCaption, and some of the other accessibility apps that caption cell phone calls, but I procrastinated.

The day before filming our podcast with Cristina, I stopped at my cell provider and changed my service to include audio capability. I was so excited to finally try InnoCaption and connect with people on mobile calls like a hearing person. I am blown away by how well it works and am kicking myself for not taking action sooner. Everyone I have used InnoCaption with so far says they love hearing my voice and chatting on the phone with me again.

Matt Goncalves of InnoCaption at the 2019 SayWhatClub Convention in Sacramento, CA.

I first learned about InnoCaption in 2017, while serving as a volunteer for the SayWhatClub Convention Steering Committee. InnoCaption has sponsored our convention for several years, and what is always evident is their caring, commitment, and willingness to listen to, and work with, their users.

Categories
Advocacy Speechreading/Lipreading

SHANNA GROVES: Lipreading Mom

Author and Hearing Loss Advocate Shanna Groves, Lipreading Mom, is our guest on this week’s Hearing Loss LIVE! podcast.

Michele first heard about Shanna in 2009 when a fellow SayWhatClub subscriber shared an HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) call for submissions for hearing loss stories for a project Shanna was working on for them. Then, in 2012 Michele crossed paths with Shanna on the CCAC captioning forum.

Chelle became aware of Shanna in 2013 through volunteering for the SayWhatClub Social Media Team. She also participated in Shanna’s Show Me Your Ears campaign with her favorite translucent red hearing aids.

Both Chelle and Michele had an interest in lipreading and advocacy and shared Shanna’s blog articles on the SayWhatClub Facebook page. Shanna’s Stop Hearing Loss Bullying campaign is also notable for addressing bullying and the long range effects it has on self esteem. 

Professional Bio

Shanna Groves is the author of two books about hearing loss, Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom and Lip Reader. Since 2013, she has taught lip reading/speech-reading classes in the Kansas City area. Shanna holds a Masters in Special Education and Bachelors in Communication. She has written about her own progressive hearing loss on the blog LipreadingMom.com.

What is LipreadingMom.com?

Shanna: Ten years ago, I began to write about my experiences as a hard of hearing parent through the Lipreading Mom blog. Posts emphasize hearing loss awareness, living with deafness, advocacy, and parenting. 

I also include information about the following:

Books

My first book, Lip Reader, is a work of fiction that was inspired by deaf and hard of hearing family members. Here is the book synopsis:

Lip Reader features a colorful cast of characters—an unkempt uncle living in a school bus; a grandfather who preaches in a rundown church; a grandmother born deaf; an aunt fluent in sign language but lacking in social graces; and Sapphie, who finds courage and hope despite mother Rea’s unthinkable act of betrayal.

My second book, Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom, is about the early years of living with my hearing loss diagnosis as a young mom. Here is a synopsis:

Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom explores the roller coaster ride of my progressive hearing loss, which was diagnosed two months after the birth of my first child. I was 27. Three healthy kids later, the hearing loss accelerated. Sounds once taken for granted – the doorbell, smoke alarms, baby cries – were now quiet. In the midst of imminent and unexplained deafness, I describe the initial struggle to accept hearing loss and finding grace along the way.

Lipreading Resources

Sounds to Lip Read and Why Reading Lips Is So Hard are two good blog posts about the lip reading classes I teach. In my classes, we work on learning the categories of speech sounds based on how sound appears on the face: lip biters (/f/ and /v/), lip pressers (/p/, /b/, and /m/), lip puckers (/o/, /oo/, /w/, and /wh/), jaw droppers (/a/ and /ah/), teeth clenchers (/sh/ and /ch/), and tongue (/l/ and /th/). Thirty to forty percent of speech is visible on the face, and that is why lip reading can be difficult without some access to sound through natural hearing and/or hearing amplification. 

Advocacy

Show Me Your Ears and Stop Hearing Loss Bullying are two LipreadingMom.com campaigns to increase awareness about hearing loss, deafness, communication access, assistive technology, and allying with the deaf/hearing loss communities.

Show Me Your Ears is a photo campaign of people’s ears, hearing aids and cochlear implants, with submissions by LipreadingMom.com readers from around the world. My favorite “Show Me Your Ears” photo (right) came from a dad, who received a tattoo for a cochlear implant to match his daughter’s C.I. The photo went viral when it was submitted on social media, and I was able to interview the dad about his experience.

Stop Hearing Loss Bullying is a video produced with a group of volunteers to raise awareness about discrimination and trauma experiences related to hearing loss, and ways to promote inclusion.

View our companion podcast.

Shanna shared her visit with us on her blog.

Categories
Connections Personal advocacy

Playing Games & Cards with Hearing Loss

Chelle: We are a game playing family. I learned Cribbage as a kid from my parents and watched their late night games with friends. As a teenager, my friends and I had intense, late night games of UNO at my house, then later Skip-Bo. In my 20’s someone introduced me to Phase 10. In my 30’s Apples to Apples came around where my kids began to understand each other’s thinking. In my 40’s my kids introduced me to Cards Against Humanity and we bought other similar card games. A few weeks ago, I introduced my kids to Tenzi, a fast rolling dice game.

In Cribbage, I can keep count with others. (I don’t know enough people who play unfortunately.) UNO is easy to follow along without hearing. Apples to Apples has single words which is harder. The kids read the word for each other and then handed me the card to read. Cards Against Humanity works the same way. I tend to give myself away when I ask to read the other players cards at judgement time. My kids work with me well, I’m lucky. Or maybe it’s good training? 


Chelle’s grandson playing Apples to Apples.

My grandkids are learning to love games too so we are back to playing Apples to Apples. They also show me the card so I can read it.

Chelle’s grandson, daughter and son playing Tenzi.

Tenzi is another great game for the HoH and I have an edge because the noise of rolling 10 dice as fast as we can doesn’t distract me. I learned this game through Deaf friends who did not yell out “Tenzi” when all 10 dice were the same number. Instead, they pounded a fist on the table so everyone knew the round was done. With the kids, we yelled out “Tenzi”. Sometimes we yelled “Yahtzee” too. 

When things get going and a few drinks have been consumed, my kids start talking faster. I’ll stick my arm in the middle of things and say, “Wait up, what was that?” One of them will repeat what was said keeping me included. It is my responsibility to let them know when I want a repeat. 

It also gets loud. My mom and my husband will go to another room. The kids grew up with my hearing loss so I think they are loud for me, which works great in my opinion. That’s our life! And we have a lot of fun.

Michele: Cranium was always a favorite game, but it is challenging now that I can no longer hear speech (some tasks require you to hear your teammates humming a song), but we find workarounds. Charades-like games have become impossible and I usually opt out. I can still play Trivial Pursuit if the person reading the card hands me the card to read for myself.

Cribbage is played almost daily at our house. My husband (he works from home) and I play during his lunch break. Another favorite is Dominos (Mexican Train), adults and kids alike. Both games are good for strengthening your math skills.

Ayla and I are playing Karottenjagd (Carrot Hunting), a game I picked up at a library sale while living in Germany.
Aunt Peach and Ayla playing Cribbage with me.

Games with my granddaughter Ayla began early. I still keep a Go Fish deck in my purse or car. My daughter and I had a weekly meet-up for breakfast. Once my daughter left for work, Ayla and I would hang out and play games until the library opened at ten o’clock. After story time for preschoolers, we would then go to my house where she would spend a night or two. More games and cards!

My family accommodates me fairly well (some are better than others), and if I need to see something that is being read, I ask to read for myself. When playing Go Fish, Ayla knows not to ask for a certain card using one word. She says my name first, and if she forgets I remind her. Hearing numbers can be a challenge, so asking by the type of fish (the cards have fish characters on them) is better. 

I think the biggest thing any HoH person can do is to ask for what they need. If you don’t know, then ask your fellow players for help. Describe why the game is challenging for you—it’s not always obvious to them. Your family and friends learn and retain more when they’ve participated in finding solutions to include you.

Michele playing cards with her four kids.

The hardest part is not being able to follow the cross talk during play. There are times when I am content just being part of the game and accept that I’m not going to get everything that is said. Other times it feels like being left out and I choose to do something else. A lot depends on my frame of mind at the time and how well my family is doing at including me.

Julia: WE are not a game playing family. I had a memory pop up on why (yes shower memory). My mom would buy me games that were one person games. I thought it was because she was so busy with work. Nope. She hated games. I am great at Pac Man, Mario Brothers, Solitaire, all sorts computer games. 

Growing up my father’s family played a lot of Scrabble. My parents had me when they were quite young and for 13 years I was the only child on his side of the family. So I watched the adults play Scrabble and learned words that earned high scores. At times it turned into a game of War and our Webster Dictionary got a lot of use! And guess what? Despite learning how to win at Scrabble, I am still not that good.

My husband is not a game player, but any game he plays he wins. Always. I will leave that there.

I do like cards. My grandparents tried to teach me Bridge for years, but I struggled to understand. When I moved back to Utah from California my younger cousins had started playing a solitaire game called Demon at family gatherings. My grandmother loved this game so we would regularly play this with her after family dinners. Actually grandma taught me most of the card games I play now. 

When my son and his girlfriend come over we play Gin and I enjoy it. Recently I bought a who-done-it game. Catch the killer? Something along those lines. About twenty minutes in I asked “okay are we ready to play Gin?” My daughter-in-law was affirmative, my son however was hell bent on the who-done-it. BTW it was the wife who-done-it.

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