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Accessibility Advocacy ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) Captioning CART (live captioning) Cochlear Implants Communication Practices Connections Emotions, Psychological Stress Hearing Aids Hearing Loss Live Theatre Public Advocacy Speechreading/Lipreading Uncategorized

Hearing Loss and Hearing Partners

Who is responsible for communication when hearing loss is part of your family dynamics? The person with the hearing loss, right?

Let me ask you; as the hearing partner are you saying any of the following:

  • You are purposely ignoring me.
  • Turn that damn TV down!
  • Why are you yelling at me?
  • What do you mean the phone isn’t working right? I hear fine.
  • Are you serious? Do you really think I said that?
  • What do you mean you don’t want to go out with our friends on Friday nights?
  • I think you need to see the doctor, something is not right with you mentally.
  • Is it just hearing loss? Oh no biggie then. We’ll just get some hearing aids. Just stick’em on and good to go.
  • We just spent $8000 on hearing aids, what do you mean you still can’t hear me?

One that has stuck with me over the years during Hard of Hearing workshops: Your hearing loss is now our life.

Hearing loss affects every family member, especially when it comes to communication. Communication is the key to staying connected. There are many tools that can help you stay connected. Most families don’t find these tools until the connection is a struggle and everyone is beyond frustrated.. My hope is that this finds folks before the connection is damaged.

Some simple things that every hearing partner/family member can do:

  • Get involved from the beginning. There will be a period of time my friend Sue refers to as the “I’m not there yet” statement. When they’re not there yet, you can still work staying connected.
  • Stop talking from another room. This is good practice for everywhere, including your job, if you’ve gone back to the office.
  • Stop talking with food in your mouth. Ew. Just. Ew.
  • Make sure you’re facing them. This helps them use body language to fit with what is being said. It also helps you to see their facial expressions to make sure they understand what you are saying. 

The more important the conversation the better the outcome will be if you can follow these simple rules.

The list above is good practice to use with everyone, not just those with hearing loss. You can practice it over and over everywhere you go because one in five people you meet will have a hearing loss. Plus, practicing everywhere you go makes it a habit.

There is evidence that shows getting hearing aids from the onset of a hearing loss have better outcomes. BUT making someone get hearing aids so they can hear YOU will not work as well as you’d like unless you change some communication habits. You will be disappointed. When you are both ready for hearing aids, be involved. Keep the connection:

  • Go to the Audiologist with your partner. Learn what hearing aids can and cannot do. Help keep a diary of sounds and what your partner would like to hear. 
  • Find out why T-coils are important. Find out where loops have been installed to use with T-coils
  • Learn how assistive listening devices work. We all love our bluetooth, right? There are ways to use your Bluetooth with personal devices. There’s also FM systems and WiFi assistive listening options. Look for the Assistive Listening Device (ALD) symbol in venues.
  • Learn more about caption options. Apps on phones and computers, television, landlines phones, and public venues, office meetings.
  • Loops, ALDs and captions can all be used even before the person is ready for hearing aids. 
  • If certain environments are no longer doable, keep a list and brainstorm ideas on how to make it work. If Friday night is date night with friends and your local hangout is too loud, start looking for a new hang out. And if that Friday night date night is a quiet home dinner for two. That’s okay too.

And something I cannot stress enough. JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP. Support groups for hearing loss allow the person with hearing loss to connect to others with shared experience. Support groups are where hearing partners can learn how to better support hearing loss too. Don’t let the hearing loss be your life. Live life better with hearing loss. 

Another important list that has helped my family is to know signs of hearing loss. 

  • Repeating questions you have answered (them making sure they heard right)
  • “What?” A lot of whats or huhs or say that again.
  • TV is becoming louder and louder.
  • Trouble hearing on a phone.
  • Not answering questions you ask, or answering incorrectly.

I watched my grandma’s friends and family misdiagnose her as being “senile” or showing signs of “dementia.” It was during a class provided at an HLAA chapter meeting on how to recognize symptoms of dementia that helped me realize that grandma did not have dementia. She needed her hearing evaluated and more life skills to help her participate in all her extra-curricular activities

Because I decided I should go to the Audiologist with grandma, we discovered she had been using lipreading to pass her hearing tests.

Even though I knew better, five years later I misdiagnosed dementia vs hearing loss in my own spouse. (BTW, he’s not there yet. My husband may never “be there.”) He has a mild hearing loss and still lives a full life at 73. We have practiced communication skills well over 20 years. This is  thanks to the fact that I work with and have many friends with hearing loss. No one is perfect and we all slip up. Daily. However, we own it when we don’t follow the rules and move on. Usually.

Octoberfest at Snowbird this past fall.

Keep connected. Don’t let communication with hearing loss manage your life. Manage the hearing loss instead. Learn, grow and most of all LIVE your life.

PS: JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP! Find out why with us.

Categories
Accessibility Advocacy Communication Practices Connections Hard of Hearing Hard of Hearing Defined Hearing Loss Hearing Technology

The Better Connect Academy with Jean Nalbantian

Sometimes things just fall into place. One day we are looking at The Better Connect Academy (TBCA) website and the next day Jean (John) is contacting us to invite us to guest on his podcast. It is great when the stars align and the universe conspires to connect like minds on the subject of hearing loss. Hearing Loss LIVE! talked with Jean in late March, sharing our passions and what we do. We got to know TBCA further when Jean was our podcast guest—video will be available May 16th.

Michele, Chelle, and Julia are Jean’s guests on the TBCA podcast.

May is Better Hearing and Speech month, and we are celebrating American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) theme of Connecting – People. Our crossing paths with Jean and TBCA is a great example of connecting and the timing couldn’t have been better!

Jean (John) Nalbantian, CEO and Founder of The Better Connect Academy

Jean: I am Jean (John) Nalbantian, the CEO and Founder of The Better Connect Academy (TBCA). We are an online course (about an hour long) that teaches enrollees how to provide effective communication for Hard of Hearing (HoH) individuals. 

Providing effective communication is federal law per the American Disabilities Act (ADA); we can help.

I have over 25 years of experience working with people who are HoH and deaf. I hold a BS in Human Services Management and two Gerontology program certificates from USC. My passion has always been to help, ever since I was a kid.

I identified a need within the HoH population and after hearing the same complaints over and over again, I decided to develop a course that educates the general public how to provide effective communication. The course has been reviewed by members of the HoH and deaf communities to ensure that nothing has been left out. 

The course is accredited by two entities, the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals as a Continuing Education course and by the American Academy of Physician Associates as a Continuing Medical Education course.

When enrollees are done watching the course and have taken the quiz, they receive a certificate of completion, which is an asset to their current employment but more importantly, helps them communicate with HoH individuals.

The goal of the course is to educate as many people as possible, especially people who work at medical offices, hospitals, restaurants, government offices and others. Every single business and organization should enroll their staff. 

Providing effective communication is federal law per the American Disabilities Act. The ADA states: “The ADA requires that title II entities (State and local governments) and title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities.” 

So why should businesses and organizations risk receiving official complaints about not providing effective communication? We can help.

We want every HoH individual to advocate for themselves and if they encounter a business that has a difficult time communicating with them, then they should give our information to the supervisor or manager of the business. It’s a serious matter but it can be alleviated.

Eventually, The Better Connect Academy will push for this program to be mandated to all businesses, but it will require all HoH people to support the idea. As we grow, we will also plan on hiring HoH individuals. 

We appreciate Hearing Loss LIVE! for giving us the opportunity to speak about TBCA.

Chelle: What a pleasure to meet Jean and to get to know his business, TBCA. He has a big heart and cares about effective communication for our community. We watched the online course video and hope businesses will take HoH communication needs seriously by taking the course. Many places I go lack effective communication and I am constantly educating. 

If you are HoH, share TBCA’s information when businesses get it wrong. I find most businesses mean well but they just don’t know. People know the ADA but they rarely get specific education. We can help, you can help, and Jean can help. We all need to work together to make a more accessible community. When you advocate for yourself, you’re also laying a path for others who come behind you. Start small with self advocacy by sharing TBCA website when you find businesses on the wrong path. 

Julia: Working with other like minds means more folks understanding communication needs for people with hearing loss. If you haven’t heard me say it in the past, then let me say it again, “One size does not fit most with hearing loss.

The Better Connect Academy (TBCA) gets it. TBCA’s online certification to help businesses to be better trained on communication skills with their employees who have a hearing loss matches up nicely with live training offered from Hearing Loss LIVE!—Sensitivity Training for Business owners with respect to hearing loss. 

If you are a business owner and you need training and education on better communication with your Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees, The Better Connect Academy (TBCA) has a great course for you. Better yet, combining TBCA’s online certification with in-person training by Hearing Loss LIVE! will give you a more diverse and well-educated staff with respect to hearing loss and communication. Think of how you can promote and grow your workforce with employees who are vested in seeing your company grow because you took the time to get to know what people with hearing loss face and what they need. 

Something else we talk about, you don’t know what you don’t know. Hearing loss can happen at any time for any reason. If you are already practicing good communication guidelines with all your employees, that hearing loss fear and unknown is eased and help can be sought sooner. Erasing the stigma before an employee is facing hearing loss will ease their fears around hearing loss.

Michele: When advocating, I always try to make the point that responsibility for accessibility and inclusion should be shared, not solely shouldered by the person with hearing loss. Twenty percent of the population has some degree of disabling hearing loss and the world needs to know how to effectively communicate with us. And, that doesn’t mean Sign Language Interpretation for over 95% of us.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas—employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services. In addition, Federal Rehabilitation and State Human Rights Laws provide for full and equal access in these same areas.

However, not all businesses are proactive regarding compliance, and that shifts the burden of enforcement onto the person with a disability when there are issues. It is up to us to force businesses to comply by filing a complaint or lawsuit. We could use more help.

As customers, clients, and patients, with a communication barrier, we encounter the lack of effective communication daily. That is especially true in medical/hospital settings. The HoH need quality Speech-to-Text Interpretation/Translation, and that means captioning by a live stenographer on a screen provided by the medical facility or office. Many HoH people are unaware of the effective communication access accommodations available to them, or it doesn’t occur to them to request accommodation at the doctor or hospital. This needs to change.

We are thrilled that The Better Connect Academy (TBCA) is focused on helping those who serve the public own their part of the effective communication equation. We need more co-advocates like Jean who encourage entities to be proactive and provide them with the information and training needed for effective communication. TBCA’s online training course for employers and their employees is a valuable tool for spreading awareness of the HoH community and our communication needs and accommodations.

Watch our companion podcast here. Or listen to it on Spotify, iHeartRadio and BuzzSprout. Transcript is available on BuzzSprout.

Categories
Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Misconceptions

Misconceptions

Hearing Loss LIVE! talks a lot about the general misconceptions associated with hearing loss and the Hard of Hearing; here are just a few:

  • All people with hearing loss know and use sign language.
  • Hearing aids correct hearing like eyeglasses do vision.
  • Hearing loop technology is outdated.

However, there are many misconceptions that our family and friends, and even strangers have about us specifically.

Categories
Communication Practices Hearing Loss Speechreading/Lipreading

Lipreading Concepts with Hearing Loss LIVE!

Registration link is here.

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

Registration link is here.

Watch our short video on Lipreading Concepts on YouTube.

Michele and Chelle Explorations Lipreading in Years Past

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.