Accessibility Captioning Connections Hearing Aids Hearing Loss

Podcast Accessibility for Hearing Loss

When we started Hearing Loss LIVE! almost two years ago we started with a podcast right from the beginning. We wanted our podcasts to be accessible to those with hearing loss AND our hearing family and friends. Our podcasts include: video with captions, a transcript and audio. We give everyone a chance to learn more because statistics are, one in five people have hearing loss. We are all dealing with hearing loss. 

It was our assumption that our video podcast would be the most popular version. Wrong. Our streamed podcasts are the more popular version. That surprised us. It can’t all be hearing family and friends, there must be people with hearing loss listening too. Perhaps it’s the Bluetooth connectivity, I surmised, something I lacked because my hearing aids were 8 years old.

Podcast Accessibility Includes Transcripts

When setting up Hearing Loss LIVE! podcasts, I researched other podcasts for accessibility to those of us with hearing loss. Without the connectivity, I needed captions or a transcript. It turned out very few people thought about transcripts or captions. If they had transcripts, they could be difficult to locate. How I wished I could just listen! (Color me jealous and a little resentful at the same time.) I gave up and forgot about listening to other people’s podcasts until I got new hearing aids a few months ago. 

While in a quiet environment, I decided to give it a go with listening to podcasts again because I had the connectivity and the time. There were a lot of misses before finding podcasts that were  accessible for hearing loss. Spotify’s algorithm was probably like, “What the hell” as I cycled through a variety of podcasts rather quickly.

Here were instant turn offs: People talking with music in the background. Several podcasts had people talking one over the other. Other people talked too fast for me to follow. With a lot of patience, I found enough podcasts I can follow to keep me busy. 

I love being able to listen to podcasts!
Examples of podcasts that accessible for those with hearing loss. On Purpose by Jay Shetty. Self Care IRL by Ty Alexander. A Bit of Optimism by Simon Sinek. Re:Thinking with Adam Grant.
A few podcast examples that easy on hearing loss.

It’s so nice to be able to listen to podcasts. With my high frequency hearing loss, I gravitate to male podcasters but I have found some women I can follow as well. Words are still missed, that’s the nature of my hearing loss. If I have some large gaps and burning questions, I hope I can find a transcript. 

I’m not saying it’s work to listen, it is. I have to be able to focus with no major distractions. I can’t be doing a big task while I’m listening. It’s helpful that I can shut out environmental noise through the hearing aid app on my smartphone.

After 6 weeks of listening to podcasts and jotting down notes, I have some guidelines for making accessible podcasts for those with hearing loss. There’s a few areas where Hearing Loss LIVE! can improve too.

Podcast Guidelines
  • Take turns talking. Hearing Loss LIVE! goes to great pains to not talk over each other. If we have guests, we give them the rules:
    • Keep microphones off until it’s your turn to speak.
    • Give a little wave (we record via Zoom), when you have something to say.
    • Wait for the other person to wind down and hand it over to you (keep note paper handy)
      • Do not talk over each other. When voices mix and mingle, many people with hearing loss can’t understand what either person is saying. It becomes noise. 
  • Use a moderate pace, don’t talk so fast. This isn’t just for the HoH, it’s for hearing people too. Give people time to process the information and understand your message.
  • Don’t drop into hushed tones. Find another way to add emphasis, to share the ‘secret’. Along with this, some people drop their voice when ending sentences and that’s hard to hear too. (I’m guilty of this myself from time to time.) Maintain a steady volume. 
  • Identify who’s talking, when conversation shifts. Introduce the next person speaking. Example: “What are your thoughts, Chelle?”  If that doesn’t happen, the next person should open up their part with “This is Chelle.” Do this because with hearing loss, voices can sound the same. Julia and I do fairly well at this but sometimes we forget. 
Lose the Music
  • Do not talk with music in the background. Music is fine, it spices up an intro and the ending. Wait until it’s done to talk.
  • Make sure you record the podcast in good acoustics. Rooms that have harsh surfaces (glass tables, bare walls, tile floors, big windows) have reverberation, tiny echoes that hearing aids and cochlear implants can’t process well. There are some very nice sound panels available on the market. Books, soft services and plants can help tame acoustics.
  • Have a transcript available. Make it equal access for everyone. I may be able to listen to podcasts right now, but that might not always be the case. I have a progressive hearing loss and it could drop again at any time. There are many people out there who can’t afford hearing aids or don’t benefit from hearing devices. Make the podcast fully accessible. Don’t make us search for the transcript. Make sure a link is side by side with your podcast. We use BuzzSprout for our podcasts. The Podcast page on our website directs you there.
    • Tip: Use ASR (automatic speech recognition) like Otter to make a transcript. Review the transcript for mistakes. 
  • If you’re a video podcast, include correct captions. Julia and I add the captions to our longer videos using ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition), which can have many mistakes. We each go through the videos to edit as necessary. The shorter videos and REELS Julia adds the captions by hand with our video editing equipment. Visit our YouTube channel to watch us podcast.
Here’s a Julia thought:

Why not have captions available on streamed audio podcasts? On Spotify, we can read the lyrics to music. We should be able to do the same with podcasts. Even hearing people miss words. We have reached out to Spotify and asked if they would add this functionality. Hint, hint – maybe the more who reach out to their streaming services to add these options make for change.

iPhone Accessibility: iPhone has “Live Captions” in beta mode. You can turn on the captions and watch the ASR generated captions while listening to a podcast. ASR has mistakes, it’s not perfect. It depends on how well the person speaks and the sound quality. Turn on Live Captions in the phone settings – accessibility – scroll down to “Hearing.”

Do you listen to podcasts?

If you listen to podcasts and have hearing loss, what guidelines would you add to make them more accessible? What are podcasts that are easy for you to listen to?

Listen to our podcast on your favorite streaming platform by searching “Hearing Loss LIVE”.

Hearing Aids Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Visuals

What is sensorineural hearing loss? It’s nerve damage to the inner ear, the cochlea, targeting certain frequencies of sounds. This is a tricky hearing loss to have and often misunderstood. Those of us who have it can hear but have a difficult time understanding what we hear.

For example:

  • We hear voices but can’t understand all the words.
  • Depending on the kind of hearing loss we have, we can hear the garbage truck coming down the street but can’t hear the birds, or vice versa.
  • Better understand men than women, or vice versa.
Turn up your hearing aid!

A common misconception people have is that turning up our hearing aids will help us understand better. With a conductive hearing loss volume helps but it doesn’t quite work that way with a sensorineural hearing loss.

Hearing aids help those of us with sensorineural hearing loss but they only help so much depending on the severity of the hearing loss. Technology has improved a great deal in the last 20 years making them better, but they still do not give us back normal hearing.

Types of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Before we go further, here’s a short description of the 3 different kinds of sensorineural hearing losses. You might also hear it called ‘nerve damage’. Sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes there’s a reason for the hearing loss and other times it’s unknown.

The following are basic descriptions only. To learn more about hearing loss, do your own research and be sure to talk to your audiologist or Ear Nose Throat specialist.

  1. High frequency hearing loss, the classic ski slope loss. This is the most common, why? This group includes noise induced hearing loss and age related hearing loss (presbycusis). It can also come from ototoxic drugs.
  2. Cookie bite hearing losses have a chunk missing from the middle of the audiogram.
  3. A reverse slope hearing loss.

What do these hearing losses look like?

Keep in mind that hearing losses/audiograms are individual. It’s going to be a little different for everyone. The following are to give you an idea of what it looks like.

Volume & Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing aids help. For instance I (Chelle) have a severe high frequency hearing loss. My word discrimination is about 30% without hearing aids. With hearing aids it’s 60%. It doesn’t sound like a big jump but it does make a difference.

I have a profound loss in the high frequencies. Once it’s profound it’s not likely to come back. The audiologist can only turn up sounds so far. No matter what, I am always missing at least the F, S, TH and T sounds in speech.

Overriding Sounds

The problem with volume and high frequency hearing loss is that vowels and other strong consonants can override other sounds I might hear. I like to use the word “shout”. The SH and the T are very hard for me to hear. I might hear the SH sound in a quiet environment with hearing aids on, the T not all. What I hear well is the OU/OW sound. If you yell the word, the only thing I will hear is OW and nothing else. Katherine Bouton’s book title, “Shouting Won’t Help” is truth!

Another example: background noise can override what I can hear. While on an airplane, the jets completely override any speech for me. I am deaf. (Also a sort of blessing because I don’t hear screaming babies or barking dogs on the plane either.)

Filling in the Gaps

Hearing aids help fill in the gaps. Lipreading also fills in the gaps. The thing is, most of us don’t know we are lipreading. I didn’t know I was lipreading for years.

I already told you I have 30% word discrimination without hearing aids, or my eyes. I have 60% with my hearing aids and no eyes. For fun, they tested me with my eyes (this was before I started teaching lipreading) and my hearing aids and I got a 90% word discrimination score. Lipreading compliments technology.

The name “lipreading” is misleading. We aren’t just lipreading, watching the lips and breaking down sounds by shape. That’s why they updated it to “speechreading”. That’s a little better because we do like to use our remaining hearing but it still implies voice and lips. Neither term adequately covers everything we do. We are taking in language holistically; visually with gestures, facial expressions and body language. We are filling in other holes with logic because not all words are lip readable!

We have lipreading classes.

When I tell people I speechread, I get blank stares. When I tell people I lipread, they face me. This is why I still use the term lipreading.

Hearing Loss LIVE! teaches lipreading classes. There are a lot of concepts behind lipreading, other strategies & tools, than just lip shapes. Our Lipreading Concepts class will help you set your stage for better communication even if you don’t go on to Lip Shapes LIVE. Both classes also help hearing family and friends how to improve communication.

Past guest Liza Sylvestre.

A little over a year ago, Liza was a guest with us. She has a video in which she recites a poem they way she hears it. It’s titled, “Wha_ i_ I _old you a __ory in a language I _an _ear.

Emotions, Psychological Stress Hard of Hearing Hearing Aids Hearing Loss Mental Health & Hearing Loss

Grief For A Little Drop in Hearing

by Chelle Wyatt

Last month I shared my most recent experience getting a hearing test, Hearing Tests: Mixed Emotions. The red & blue lines on my audiogram have mingled together in the past but this time, my red line took a step away from the blue one. My word discrimination went from 60% to 40% in that ear, with amplification. The audiologist said, “It’s only a little loss.” True, it’s only a step down but I certainly feel the grief for that little bit of hearing loss.

Among the hard of hearing (HoH) tribe we all fear hearing tests. When I told people I was going for my hearing test appointment, my HoHs checked on me before I went in and wished me luck. They asked me to touch base with them after because they know every little drop in hearing counts. We collectively hold our breath until we get results. They will congratulate me if there’s no change and they sympathize if there is a change. 

Communication Access Hard of Hearing Hearing Aids Hearing Loss Hearing Technology Lipreading Personal advocacy Sensory Loss

Hearing Tests: Mixed Emotions

By Chelle Wyatt

In 30 plus years of wearing aids, I’ve never had hearing aids longer than 6 years until now. My current pair of aids are over 8 years old so this is a milestone. They might go 10 years with effort. There are minor glitches such as static on the right side until I wiggle the wire to my ear mold. They also don’t sync together, that means I have to change programs on both sides instead of one. Nothing huge but I’ve decided It’s time for new technology with more connectivity.

This involved getting a new hearing test. My last hearing test was over four years ago. I suspect there’s been some change but nothing huge. Hearing loss can be sneaky, dropping slowly therefore easily dismissed. It’s been about 15 years since I’ve had a significant drop in hearing and this too is another personal record. 

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

Written by Julia Stepp

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