Traveling With A Hearing Loss During The Pandemic

I apologize for lack of updates. I had a major case of writer’s block and had no idea what to write about.Then I saw a post from Instagram’s HardofHearingMama discussing the deaf and hard of hearing people traveling during a pandemic. This gave me inspiration to write about this topic.

I have not flown on a plane in like 4 years when I went to Los Angeles from northeast Wisconsin. Obviously this was long before the pandemic broke out. But being of hard of hearing myself, traveling by plane was still a challenge.

I had to fly out out of Appleton, WI, connect in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and then fly to LAX in Los Angeles. I reversed that on the return trip. It was my first solo flight after previously flying with hearing people. So I knew it’d be a challenge. The ticket counter was the easy part. The attendant looked at me and spoke clearly. I got my boarding pass and was off to the security checkpoint. There, I told the first TSA agent that I was hard of hearing. Again, no issues. They looked at me as they instructed me what to do such as taking off my shoes and going through the metal detector.

Boarding the plane was the biggest challenge. I had no idea when the announcement would be made for my turn to board the plane. So I went up to the gate agent long before I was set to board, told her my flight number and told her I was deaf (easier for me to say deaf than hard of hearing in this situation) and she understood the situation. She said she would let me know when it’s my turn. I just had to sit close to the gate so she could see me and I could see her. When it was time to board, she gestured to me and I walked over, handed over my boarding pass and was on the plane.

I had no issues with my connecting flight in Chicago as well. In fact, the gate agent allowed me to be in the first group to board even though my boarding pass was like group five. The first group of people were either disabled or injured. One guy in the group was on crutches, for example. Another lady was in a wheelchair. I didn’t consider myself disabled, but I wasn’t about to argue – LOL. We boarded the plane together before the rest of the passengers.

I also had no issues on the return flight from Los Angeles. In fact, the employees at LAX were very helpful. When I first arrived at LAX to check in, I had no idea where to check in. It was a humongous airport, compared to tiny Appleton International Airport. But a nice man working at LAX sensed my confusion, asked me if I needed help and I said yes. He saw my hearing aid and made sure to look at me. He took me to a self check-in kiosk where I printed out my boarding pass. Passing through TSA was a bit of a challenge. It was much busier than the one in Appleton. They were in hurry up mode because they were trying to get people through quickly as possible. I had a minor issue trying to understand the agents, but we finally got it sorted out and I passed through security with no further issues. Boarding the plane was also no issues. In fact, there was was a shift change with the gate agents while I was waiting to board. The first gate agent told the incoming gate agent that I was deaf. The incoming agent then let me board with the first group like in Chicago.

Again, this was back in the day before COVID. No one were wearing masks. It was life as normal. So I just cannot imagine traveling today during a time when everyone are wearing masks. It is difficult enough for me to understand some people even unmasked. It is damn impossible for me to understand people wearing masks.

So I wanted to give Janna AKA HardOfHearingMama major props for her tips on deaf and hard of hearing people traveling during a pandemic. She had it well planned out and it looks like her trip was successful. You can find her post here.

Until next time, this is the Deaf Geeky Guy signing off. Feel free to comment.

Traveling, Sleeping, Then Waking Up…

I was inspired by a couple Tweets by YouTuber Rikki Poynter, who advocates for the deaf and disabled. In those Tweets, Rikki said that the one thing that she dreaded the most about traveling is having to bring her Sonic Alarm Clock with her on her travels, and then have to go through the button pushing to get to the right minute.

“And then, one little slip screws the whole thing up and you gotta start over,” she said.

A Sonic Boom clock is an alarm clock that is connected to a bed shaker. The bed shaker is then put between the mattress and box spring. At the appointed time, the clock goes off and activates the bed shaker, waking up the sleeping person by shaking the bed.

You can see a variety of Sonic Boom clocks and bed shakers on this page. I have the Sonic Bomb and it can clearly wake up the dead. It’s that powerful. I could be in a deep sleep and still be woken up at the appointed time.

However, when traveling, it’s not really feasible to drag around a clock and bed shaker and have to set it each time you go to a hotel or wherever you are staying at.

This is where having a smart watch comes in handy. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S20 and my watch is a Samsung Galaxy Active 2 Watch. They work very well together and the watch itself has a great vibrating motor. I rarely miss any calls, texts, or any alerts that come from my phone to my watch and I especially don’t miss the alarms on my watch. It vibrates that well.

All I have to do is use the standard clock app on my phone, set an alarm, and forget it. I keep my watch on my wrist when I go to bed and at the appointed time, the phone will tell my watch to wake me up. The watch app also has the option for “Do Not Disturb” so I am not bothered by calls or texts when I’m sleeping though if I’m expecting a call while I’m sleeping, I do turn off the “Do Not Disturb” option.

Rikki has said in her Tweet that she was once late for a meeting because her watch wouldn’t wake her up. In that case, there are a few travel clocks for the deaf on this page. I’ve bought several devices from Diglo (formerly Harris Communications) in the past and not once have I ever been disappointed with a purchase. However, I do read product reviews before buying something, so make sure you do that before buying something. Every deaf person is different and what may work for one person may not work for another.

Much thanks to Rikki for the inspiration for this post. Go check out her Youtube videos and give her a big thumbs up for her well informative videos, advocating for the deaf and disabled.

And much thanks to Twitter user Ratlennon for her original Tweet that began this discussion in the first place. She tweeted “If I had a dollar for every minute I have ever spent setting up a Sonic Bomb alarm clock, I would have enough money to design a new one that is way fucking better.”

I know the feeling, girl. Especially at the time of the year when we change our clocks from Daylight Saving Time to Standard time. With how the Sonic Boom is set up, you press one button and hold it to begin setting the time, then you press another button that only advances the hours and minutes forward only. It doesn’t go backwards. So with having to change the clock from Daylight Saving Time to Standard time, I had to set the clock 23 hours forward, not one hour back. If I go too fast and pass my current time, I have to do it again. This was the point Rikki was trying to make in her tweet.

Feel free to comment below or Tweet me @RealToddFonder. Stay tuned as I continue to work on the appearance of this blog as well as writing another article that I hope to post this weekend.


New Hearing Aid

All right. I’m still undecided what to do with a theme for this site. But in the meantime, I thought I’d write about the purchase of my new hearing aid.

I got the hearing aid back in July. It is a Phonak Naida Paradise. I have the P-UP model as I have severe to profound hearing loss. I’m totally deaf in my left ear, but wear the hearing aid in my right ear.

Before getting the Paradise, I tried out a couple other hearing aids. One was the Sonic Link and the other was a Signia. However, both of them were Made for Iphones, meaning Android support is limited and I have a Samsung Galaxy S20 phone. The Naida Paradise has full support for both iOS and Android devices.

In addition to that, my previous hearing aid was also a Phonak. Both the Sonic Link and the Signia sounded weird to me. But the Phonak Naida Paradise sounded just perfect. Every hearing aid model processes sounds differently and I’ve had a Phonak for so long that it was natural for me to continue using one.

From day one since getting the hearing aid in early July, I was hearing sounds that I never heard before or at least, I didn’t hear as well before. They include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Cars on the street – I would only hear cars on the street if I was outside, not from inside my house, when I had my old hearing aid. But I was surprised to hear them from inside the house as well though it had to be quiet inside the house for that or if I’m in a room facing the street.
  • The refrigerator humming – I never hear my fridge hum unless I’m standing next to it. But first day wearing the hearing aid, I heard it from my living room while watching TV. It took me several weeks to get used to it and not notice it. Same with the car sounds though I still hear both if I’m paying attention.

The best feature of the Naida Paradise, for me anyways, is its Bluetooth capability. It can connect to many devices that broadcasts audio such as my phone, iPod and laptop. I can watch videos on my laptop or phone without bothering other people and I can listen to music on my phone or iPod as well. No longer do I need a neck loop to do that. With my old hearing aid, I had a neck loop that acted as an intermediary between the audio device and my hearing aid. That neck loop is obsolete now.

I’ll tell a story on how the Bluetooth capability came into play in a real life situation. I was at work and had a technical issue and needed to call tech support for that. While I could hear on the phone, I still couldn’t understand people on the phone, so I use a phone captioning app called Innocaption to caption my phone calls.

I rarely, if ever, use the app to make calls unless I absolutely have to. Texting is still my preferred means of communication. But in this case, I had to make the phone call. So I dialed the number and reached a voice menu. I heard the voice menu clearly in my hearing aid while reading the menu on the phone. I did the typical key presses on the phone to access the options I wanted before finally hitting the option for a live representative. As it turns out, the computer operator said I was 6th in line on the queue and the wait would be about a half an hour. So you know what I did?

I set down my phone near me and let the hold music play in my hearing aid while I did my work at my job. I didn’t want to waste any time while being on hold. I got my work done while getting regular updates like “You’re now 4th in line. You’re now 3rd in line.” etc.

When I finally heard a live actual human voice come on the line, I picked up the phone and started talking to the representative. Now the thing about InnoCaption, there is about a 2 second delay between the spoken words and what I read on the phone. But the representative on the other end spoke very clearly that I actually understood him at times and didn’t need to wait for the InnoCaption to transcribe everything the rep said. I would respond almost immediately after the rep stopped speaking. The hearing aid did very well in processing the live representative’s voice that I understood him for the most part and the InnoCaption app basically filled in the blanks for me.

The technical issue was resolved after about a 10 minute conversation and I hung up. I was impressed with both the InnoCaption app as well as my Naida Paradise in this situation.

The Naida Paradise is the best purchase I’ve ever made in my life and wished I had done it sooner, but then again, technology is evolving every day and chances are, if I had made the decision to get a new hearing aid sooner than later, it would not have been as good as the Naida Paradise.

I’m not done with improving the quality of life with this hearing aid. There are things like the Roger Pen that allows me to hear someone from a distance away like in a meeting room or class room. Then there is a TV connector that allows me to listen to my TV in private via Bluetooth as my current TV doesn’t have Bluetooth though somewhere down the road, I may just upgrade to a new TV that does have Bluetooth and I won’t need the TV connector.

Before I close out this post, I just wanted to give a big shout out to InnoCaption for the phone captioning app. Very well done and I definitely will be using it more often. And another shout out to Phonak for the Naida Paradise and their other devices that work with it.

I hope to write another post within the week. Stay tuned.

Return of the Deaf Geeky Guy

I was hacked a couple years ago, then was unmotivated to get the site back online.

Recently, I made the decision to get this site back online and start writing again. It’s been a while since I used Word Press, so bear with me as I figure it out. I plan on putting out a new theme, links, stuff like that.

Bear with me as I slowly get this site back online.

Hearing Loss & Wearables

What are wearables, you ask? Simply put, they are smart devices that you wear on your wrist such as a smart watch like an Apple Watch or a fitness tracker like a FitBit. Many wearables have the capability to receive notifications – which would be a great asset for the deaf and hard of hearing.

I myself have a Pebble smartwatch and I love it. Whatever push notifications that my phone gets, I get on my watch. Text messages, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Even my credit card app gives me notifications. If I get a notification that my credit card was used to make a payment, I get it on my watch too.

How would this help the deaf, you ask? Because we cannot stay tied to our phones 24/7. Eventually, we have to charge the phone sometimes, right? This is where the wearable comes in handy. While my phone is charging, I can still receive notifications from my watch so as long as I stay within Bluetooth range of my phone, which is 30 feet. That’s about two rooms in a typical house or apartment. Still plenty of space to move around.

While I have not personally tested this yet, another good reason for the deaf and hard of hearing to have a wearable is to have a smart smoke alarm, smart carbon monoxide detector and a smart doorbell all in sync with your phone. This way, if smoke or carbide monoxide is detected or someone is at the door, a notification will appear on your phone and you will get it on your wearable as well.

One thing I love about my Pebble is that I use an app called Nav Me for Pebble to navigate on my road trips. It works in sync with Google Maps. Every time I’m nearing a turn or exit, my watch vibrates to let me know I’m getting close to the exit or turn. No longer do I have to keep constantly looking at the GPS unit to see if I’m getting close to the exit because I cannot hear the voice navigation. Nav Me is only avilable for Pebble, but I’m sure other smart watches have their own navigation apps that is similar to Nav Me.

While I love my Pebble smartwatch, I can’t recommend it because it is now discontinued. Support for the Pebble watch will end in 2018 and Pebble is no longer sold in stores though you might be able to find them on eBay. However, there are plenty of other wearables on the market. To decide which one works best for you, check out this review site that reviews all type of wearables out there and can give you a general idea of what is out there for what you want the wearable to do.

If you have thought about getting a wearable, I recommend getting one because it is a great assistive device for the deaf & hard of hearing. Any questions, let me know and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Until next time, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

Here to Hear Tour Ends

Image description: DJ Demers is on stage, performing at the
University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI on October 18, 2017

Comedian DJ Demers recently wrapped up his Here to Hear Tour sponsored by Phonak. The tour’s objective was to help lessen the stigma of hearing aids and I think he did a great job of doing that.

The tour took DJ to 20 colleges over 30+ days including a stop at the University of Wisconsin and ended at Yale, one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. DJ also had a stop at the famed Gallaudet University in Washington, DC..

For a recap of his shows, check out HearingLikeMe’s YouTube channel. On the videos page, you will see the thumbnails of the videos conveniently numbered in order of each day of travel. If you haven’t seen the videos yet, put them on a queue or playlist, grab a bowl of popcorn, and sit back for some binge watching of all the videos.

One of my favorite part of DJ’s shows was that he would tell a joke at a show with both ASL interpreting and CART. The laughter would come in three stages from the audience. First, the hearing members of the audience would laugh. Then the deaf members of the audience would laugh after the ASL interpreter relays the joke. Then the deaf members of the audience not familiar with ASL (like myself) would laugh once they read what he said on the captioned screen.

I enjoyed watching the daily videos and am now kind of sad that it’s over. Hopefully DJ does something like this again in the future and that I’ll get to see him perform again at one of his shows

According to DJ’s Instagram account, he’s back home in LA relaxing. But I’m sure it won’t be long before he hits the comedy circuit again. Check out his Facebook page if you want to catch another of his shows in the future.

I also want to give DJ’s videographer , Justin Dalferes, a huge fist bump for a job well done. The typical YouTuber may only upload a video on YouTube two or three times a week because of all the work involved in recording, editing, and uploading a video. Justin did it – every – single – day. Now that’s awesome work right there. And the video editing were top notch. A big round of applause to Justin Dalferes, everyone.

And give DJ’s driver Mike a round of applause as well. Mike drove the RV that transported DJ and crew all over the country, I can’t imagine driving that rig every single day and not get burned out from it. But I’m sure Mike has done it before and is used to it. I got to see the RV up and close in person following the Wisconsin show and got to say hello to Mike real quick while he was waiting for DJ to come out of the venue. He was waiting to take DJ and crew to Minnesota the next day. I was like, long drive. But not as long as the drives that he has made on the other days of the tour. Again, big props to Mike for getting DJ and crew to each venue in one piece ๐Ÿ™‚

And finally, a round of applause to Phonak for sponsoring the tour. While it helped lessen the stigma of hearing aids, we still are a long way from that yet. Hearing aids still has a stigma attached to it and it is my goal to help lessen that stigma. My goal is that someday I can get out there in person and spread the word about this myself, perhaps in a speaking engagement or two. I do have plans to attend the HLAA convention in Minnesota in June 2018, so hopefully I can do something there. I do have a talent for motivating people, so maybe I can become a motivational speaker in this campaign someday.

Feel free to comment or leave a message on my Facebook page. And if you like my writing, please support my work by buying me a โ€œcoffeeโ€ ? Iโ€™m not looking to make money on this site, but I do appreciate any tips received, which will help offset the costs of managing this website. Anyone that buys me a โ€œcoffeeโ€ will receive a shout out on my Twitter page and Facebook page. So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a โ€œcoffeeโ€.

Until next time, stay tuned ?

Website Update

I’ll be working on this website to make it more mobile friendly. It seems like more people are on mobile than they are on desktops or laptops. I also need to get the Deaf Geeky Guy banner up above that I have on my Facebook page.

So bear with me as I try a few different themes and layouts over the next few days as I try and figure out what works and doesn’t work. If anyone is familiar with WordPress and would like to offer suggestions to make it more mobile friendly, please feel free to comment below.

Stay tuned as I work on this. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

Deaf People & Employment

Many deaf people can do anything that hearing people can do – except hear, of course. Yet, when applying for a job, they don’t always get a chance to get that job because they are usually dismissed the minute their application is scanned. Why? Because they would mark in the application that they are deaf.

To prove a point, a deaf man posted on Twitter that he applied for twelve jobs. Six applications were marked as being from a hearing person. The other six applications were marked as being from a deaf person.

The results?

He got callbacks for a job interview from all six applications as a hearing person. As for the six applications from the deaf person for the same type of jobs, he did not get one single callback.

This makes me mad. Like I said, deaf people can do anything a hearing person can do – including running for Congress, which I’ll discuss in a future article. I realize there are some jobs that a deaf person cannot do such as working as a first responder where verbal communication plays a critical part. But there are plenty of other jobs out there in the hearing world that a deaf person can do.

I realize accommodations will have to be made at first for the deaf person, but trust me, it will be well worth it in the long run if that person works hard and most deaf people WILL work hard because they have to do so to prove themselves like I have in my line of work for 28 years of working in a grocery store. I’m currently an ovenight manager on duty and grocery crew leader. I started at the bottom cleaning up the meat department and worked my way up the ladder.

Many employers are so quick to dismiss prospective applicants the minute they see deafness, or any other disability for that matter, on the application. If the hearing candidate is more qualified than the deaf candidate, by all means, hire the hearing candidate. I don’t have a problem with that. I’ll say this to anyone who works in human resources though – who would you rather hire for a position – a deaf man with a good job history and/or good work ethics OR a hearing person with a sketchy job history and/or questionable work ethics. That should be a no brainer.

To any deaf people reading this and seem discouraged about not getting job offers, keep getting your applications in. Get the word out about yourself. You will have to work twice as hard to prove yourself, but in the long run,it will be well worth it.

As for the deaf man running for Congress, his name is Chris Haulmark and he’s not letting his deafness get in the way for an opportunity to serve in Congress. If he can do that, than any deaf person should be able to work a regular job, right? So hang in there, my deaf friends. You can do it. Don’t give up. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll be writing about Chris Haulmark in a future article. For now, I hope I inspired at least one deaf person to keep trying and get that job that he or she wants. If so, I’m glad ๐Ÿ™‚

Feel free to comment or leave a message on my Facebook page. And if you like my writing, please support my work by buying me a “coffee” ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not looking to make money on this site, but I do appreciate any tips received, which will help offset the costs of managing this website. Anyone that buys me a “coffee” will receive a shout out on my Twitter page and Facebook page. So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a “coffee”.

Until next time, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

Invisible Disability Awareness

[Image Description:] A drawing of a girl standing and looking at the “camera”. She is smiling.
Artwork credit to the awesome Destiny Slater


Take a look at the image above. Try and guess what disability the person in the drawing has.

You can’t guess, can’t you? That’s the point of this drawing created by Destiny Slater. In this drawing, the girl has an invisible disability, which is something that we cannot see on the outside like we would if we saw a person in a wheelchair or perhaps a blind man with his walking cane.

There are too numerous invisible disabilities out there for me to list here, but I’ll summarize a few as follows:

Developmental disabilities such as autism – There are many types of developmental disabilities in which the person may appear normal on the outside, but in the inside, the person may have autism, Asperger’s or other types of developmental disabilities.

Mental Illness – Again, on the outside, the person may look normal, but on the inside, the person could be dealing with depression, bipolar disorder, and many other types of mental illnesses.

Chronic Illness – Some people have some sort of chronic illness such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, etc. in which they may appear normal on the outside, but are battling their illness on the inside. For example, the girl above in the drawing could very well be undergoing treatment for cancer. You just don’t know it because she could be wearing a wig. Or she could have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in which she gets tired easily and needs a mobile scooter to get around.

Those are some examples, but there are lots more invisible disabilities out there. So when you see what appears to be an able bodied person get out of her car legally parked in a handicapped space, please do not be so quick to judge her as she could very well have CFS.

And with that said and with Halloween coming up, I would like to end this article with this public service announcement.

[Image description:] A drawing of a pumpkin with the following words written on it:

With Halloween fast approaching. please keep this in mind:
The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy
may have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to
pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues.
The child who does not say “Trick or Treat” or “Thank You” may be
non-verbal. The child who looks disappointed when they see
your bowl of candy may have a food allergy. The child who is
not wearing a costume at all may have sensory processing
issues or autism.

Be kind. Be patient. It’s everyone’s Halloween.

Embrace Your Hearing Aids

A wise man once said “If you wear your hearing aids, embrace them. Be appreciative for them and thankful for the gift of hearing that they give you, but don’t let them define you.”

That wise man is none other than comedian DJ Demers, who currently is performing on the Here To Hear Tour sponsored by Phonak.

And he’s right about those words. I embrace my hearing aid as well. In fact, in just about every selfie that I take of myself such as the one above, I usually have my camera on my right side of my face when taking the picture so it shows my hearing aid in my right ear. I wear my one hearing aid in that ear. The left ear is pretty much totally shot. I’m proud to show off my hearing aid in my selfies.

But there was a time when I used to be self conscious about it. Particularly in high school when I moved to a new town and started at a new school. Everyone was new to me back then. Then later on in my young adult years before I met my ex-wife. I would go out to the bars and actually remove my hearing aid before meeting someone. The bar would have loud music playing, so I wouldn’t be able to hear the person that I’m talking to anyways. I would depend on reading lips and try and decipher what the person is saying as reading lips is not an exact science.

I would remove my hearing aid in those days because if someone sees me wearing my hearing aid, they’ll go, “I’m sorry.” and walk away without even giving me a chance to introduce myself. I used to be upset about that, so I would remove my hearing aid before meeting someone new and give people a chance to know me before they know I’m deaf.

Today, when I meet someone new and they see my hearing aid, they would do the “I’m sorry” bit and walk away, I don’t let it bother me anymore. I like to say it is that person’s loss if he or she does not want to get to know me and realize how awesome I am ๐Ÿ™‚

The point that I’m making today is – to all my deaf readers that is reading this post, don’t let your deafness get in the way of living your life. If you wear hearing aids, embrace them. There’s no reason to be self conscious about your hearing aids. In fact, flaunt them by decorating your hearing aids if you want ๐Ÿ™‚

Don’t let judgemental hearing people get to you. Stay positive and try to make them aware that being deaf is not necessarily a bad thing.

I also wanted to give a big shout out to DJ Demers for doing this awesome video which was the inspiration for this article. Much thanks, man.

Feel free to comment or leave a message on my Facebook page. And if you like my writing, please support my work by buying me a “coffee” ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not looking to make money on this site, but I do appreciate any tips received, which will help offset the costs of managing this website. Anyone that buys me a “coffee” will receive a shout out on my Twitter page and Facebook page ๐Ÿ™‚ So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a “coffee”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚