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Accessibility Accommodations Communication Access Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Hearing Technology

Text Me! – Communication for Hearing Loss

Text messaging is the main mode of communication for those of us with hearing loss. Texting doesn’t tax our energy the way phone calls do. With phone calls, we have to interpret sounds with distorted hearing; hearing aids, CI or no hearing devices. It’s a chore. We are filling in gaps in conversation without visual communication cues. Conversations on the phone are like a puzzle to piece together. Reading texts requires less energy. Thank goodness for this technology!

By Chelle

Background is colorful puzzle pieces jumbled together. Black font: Don't call me! Words in puzzle pieces Meet us (garbled) restaurant (garbled) o'clock. Got that? No. Please text me the info. @hearinglosslive
Text Messages?

The concept of text messages was brought up at a small SayWhatClub gathering I attended around 1998 in Southern California. I don’t remember who told us about it but my brain could NOT wrap around the idea. It took a few more years to understand text messaging and I learned around 2004 thanks to my teenagers. I learned on a flip phone and I loved it! Not many other adults I knew were using it at the time yet it kept me in touch with my kids. 

Side story: I have 3 kids – one girl and two boys. Before the boys hit puberty, all 3 of their voices sounded the same to my hearing loss through the phone. I often guessed the wrong kid and they got offended. Texting took care of the guessing game.

After about a year or so later, my mom picked up texting. I don’t know who taught her as we lived a few hours away from each other but I was grateful…and so was she. Before texting, we talked on the phone maybe once a week. With texting, we checked in almost daily with each other. She was my first, consistent texting adult.

Texting by Numbers on Flip Phones
Background is colorful puzzle pieces jumbled up. A pink flip phone that says, 1 new message on the display. Black font: Do you remember all the maneuvering we do with to text on these babies? :-D

That’s when we used the letters corresponding to each number. There were multiple word combinations with the numbers. We had to use another key to shift through the words to find the one we wanted. The number keys were raised on flip phones so I could text by feel. Because I texted so much, I learned which combinations would need a word change and could also do that by feel. 

That’s not to say I didn’t mess up. Sometimes I’d be in a hurry forgetting to edit. One Thanksgiving, I was getting ready to go to my mom’s house, packing what I needed. I was in charge of the pie so I sent a text to my mom asking her if she had a pie plate. There was a long silence and then I got, “What?”  Reading back, my prior text asked her, “Do you have a she slave” instead of “Do you have a pie plate?” We had a good laugh.

For an interesting timeline on text messaging, check out this article by MessageDesk. It also has a visual timeline for texting. For those not familiar with keypad numbers, here’s a picture from Wikipedia

Credit: By Sakurambo – Created using Adobe Illustrator CS2, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2048341
Smartphones & Texting

It took me a little bit to get a smartphone. I did not want to give up my ‘text by feel’ ability. What won me over was easier access to my email. Bye-bye flip phone, hello email. Email is my second favorite way to communicate. My phone was used for everything but phone calls. The rollover voice minutes stacked up while my texts were in the thousands each month. 

It’s still that way! Now and then I make voice calls thanks to caption apps. However, my main mode of communication is still texting. I’ll be at the HLAA Convention next week to tour their awesome exhibit hall. Several of my Hard of Hearing friends are attending the convention. The last one I talked to asked me to text her as she doesn’t answer random calls. Right on sista! I’m the exact same way. I have to be in a controlled environment to make, or take, a phone call.

Who else prefers texting over phone calls?
Background is colorful puzzle pieces. Black tilted text upper left corner says: Texting is less guesswork then tilted black text in lower left corner says: for hard of hearing ears. In between are text bubbles.
Green bubble: John, Brenda and I are going to Market Grill tonight for dinner do you want to join us?
Gray bubble says: That sounds great! Thanks for asking. What time?
Green bubble: How does 7:00 sound?
Gray bubble: Perfect, I'll see you there.
@hearinglosslive

Those of us with hearing loss aren’t the only ones who prefer to text over phone calls. Introverts put texting above phone calls. Younger people, like my kids, prefer to text. According to ChatGPT, tech savvy professionals prefer texting and so do urban people because it’s less intrusive than phone calls. (Listening to other people’s phone conversations in coffee shops, in line for public transit and more.)

Other reasons people prefer texting…
  • It’s quick and convenient.
  • We can multitask.
  • If needed, we can refer back to the text for confirmation.
  • It’s private. We can text each other in the same room without others knowing.
  • It’s fun! There’s so many ways to share our feelings; GIFs, emojis, stickers and avatars. 
Want to trip out?

We think text messaging is fairly instant. I thought of it as real-time but it’s not. Turn on the RTT in your smartphone’s accessibility menu and turn it on. Then, call someone who also has that turned on. Before the phone dials out, it gives you a choice of voice, video call or RTT. Select RTT and it will dial out. Then you watch each other type. That’s real-time!

 Options

We have many options for communication these days, thanks to technology. Phone calls with captions. Video calls with captions. What I see for people with hearing loss, we prefer texting over anything else. Many businesses are now incorporating text messaging into their communications as well. Thank goodness! 

Summer Vacation Note

Hearing Loss LIVE! does not have a live, online workshop in July. We will be back August 6, 2024 for Let’s Talk Tuesday. We will release a short podcast each week in July. Watch our social media on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and your favorite podcast streaming platform for more information. Lipreading classes will start again early fall.

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Accommodations Captioning Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Hearing Technology

Hearing Loss Strategy: Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is an important strategy for hearing loss, one we cover in our lipreading classes. It’s not just what we will wear to that event, it’s how we are going to hear. This strategy isn’t just for going out, it also works for certain chores when working with someone that requires too much distance for hearing loss communication. Planning ahead helps to reduce communication breakdowns. Notice we say “reduce”. Breakdowns happen from time to time. We are not always at our best no matter how experienced we are.

Planning Ahead at Home

Chelle: For example, trying to help install a ceiling fan with my husband last weekend. He had to go into the attic and he wanted to do it early in the morning. I couldn’t blame him, summer is here and it gets hot in the attic. However, this was before I finished my first cup of coffee. I am rarely at my best before 2 cups of coffee, let alone one. I’m not wearing my hearing aids at that time either because I like peaceful mornings. I could have put my hearing aids in before helping him but the morning caffeine hadn’t jump started my brain yet. 

Green and white background. Black font: Hearing Loss Strategy: Plan Ahead. Circular Hearing Loss LIVE! green logo of 3 leaves. Black font along the roof of an outline of the house that says: hearing obstacles. An outline of a man wearing mask near the roof inside the house with 3 questions marks above his head. An outline of a woman lower left with a dialog bubble above her saying: how can we do this differently next time?

There I was standing on the bed waiting to screw on two bolts, easy peasy!  He crawled into the attic wearing an N95 mask because insulation is not easy on the lungs. When the 2 bolts showed up, a side bracket was in the way on each side so I could not thread on the bolts. My hands got sweaty the more I tried. He’s yelling from the attic, through his mask. I barely hear his voice and can’t understand his words. I yell up at him that I’m trying and tell him the issue. It turns out, he can’t hear me very well either.  We abandon the bolts and he crawls back down into the house so we can discuss it face to face.

What might have helped: I could have put in my hearing aids but if he had a hard time hearing me, it was a far from ideal hearing situation no matter what. Also, I could have clipped my Roger On on him and put in my hearing aids. That might have helped me hear him but he had issues hearing me. Instead, we could have taken a moment to ask each other how to communicate if something goes wrong in case Murphy shows up. Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. 

Driving

Driving is another good time to plan ahead, especially if the person with hearing loss is driving. Cars are always a challenging environment to hear in, even if we are the passengers. Mechanical hearing picks up mechanical and road noise all too well. Getting directions right while on the movie is especially hard. We all use lipreading to some degree and that’s difficult while driving not to mention unsafe. 

Are you going someplace new? Another strategy is to discuss the route before putting the car in drive. Who’s the navigator, the passenger? If we are with a passenger, they need to know that we need time to understand and process speech. Last minute directions do not typically go well for us. Give us time to process speech and then directions.  Without being able to lipread the passenger, right and light sound too much alike. 

Green and white background. Green circular Hearing Loss LIVE! logo upper left. Black front above an outline of car with two passengers: the car challenge. A dialog bubble coming from the drivers said: Thanks for planning the route with me beforehand.

Maybe using the passenger as the navigator is not the answer. Use your smartphone map instead which gives us a good visual. Sometimes the passenger wants to use their map and navigate. That puts us back in the scenario above. It’s best to use our own map and smartphone.  

A few more strategies for hearing in the car: Hand signals and gestures might work, as long as it’s not frantic. Try using your hearing aid remote companion mic. Be sure to adjust environmental/ambient noise to focus only on what’s coming from your mic, if  possible. You would find that feature in the mic and/or hearing aid app.

Phone Calls
Green and white background. Hearing Loss Strategy: Plan Ahead. A woman talking on the phone with a dialog bubble that says: I'm in a better space now so I'm calling you back.

Phone calls work best if you put a little planning into them too. Better communication happens when both people calling each other are in a quiet environment, even if captions are being used. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) hears better in quiet environments and so do live captioners. Strategies include turning off background noise like TVs and music. Don’t be double tasking, like cooking. Chopping veggies can be loud. Avoid calling from a car, even if it seems quiet to the hearing person. Being in a car with hearing loss is challenging, it’s even worse over the phone. Keep it simple and easy on the ears. 

Planning Ahead

Think about it. What can be done differently next time, in a similar situation, for a more successful outcome? Evaluate. Get feedback from the Hard of Hearing community. Get creative and make a plan. Then share what you did so others might learn from it too.

Note: If you don’t know about companion remote microphones, we have more information in this POST.

Categories
Accessibility Accommodations Advocacy ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) Captioning College Disability Resource Center Communication Access Communication Practices Education Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Misconceptions Personal advocacy Public Advocacy Speech to Text Captions Vulnerability

Accommodations: This is Good Enough For You

Requesting appropriate accommodations can be a challenge, especially if the entity has already decided what’s good enough for you. Educating others is fairly easy, usually, once the communication need is explained. Once in a while, however, they aren’t open minded.  When they won’t go beyond their current rudimentary concept of an accommodation, it is frustrating and heartbreaking. 

For National Speech-Language-Hearing Month in May, we chose resilience as a topic. What a timely topic. Chelle was reminded how ugly the process of resilience can feel. It’s mind consuming and exhausting, but in the end worth it. When we stand up for ourselves and our rights as a human with hearing loss, we help ourselves and we help others who come after us.

Categories
Accessibility Accommodations Advocacy Cochlear Implants Communication Access Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Hearing Aids Hearing Loss Misconceptions Personal advocacy Public Advocacy Self Advocacy

Accommodations for Hearing Loss

Let’s talk about accommodations for hearing loss for Better Communication Month. May used to be known as Better Hearing and Speech Month. It’s been changed to National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, which doesn’t slide out as well as it used to. ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, recently changed the name to match theirs. Whatever we want to call it (we see others using mixed titles), May is dedicated to educating the general public about communication disorders. Hearing loss is considered a communication disorder because we lose receptive communication.

Categories
Accessibility Accommodations Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Mental Health & Hearing Loss Vulnerability

Hearing Loss: Challenge Accepted

With hearing loss, communication is a daily challenge. There are obstacles galore: mumblers, fast talkers, people who talk from other rooms, lack of captioning, assistive listening that isn’t maintained at venues and so much more. Getting accommodated, personal or public, can be a battle. Like all battles, we win some and we lose some. With learning resilience strategies, we begin to win more than we lose. Let’s face it, losing is part of nature. We cannot win them all. However, we can take the battles we lose and learn from them so we can do better next time.