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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚

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 β€œcoffee” πŸ™‚ 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 β€œcoffee” will receive a shout out on my Twitter page and Facebook page. So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a β€œcoffee”.

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚

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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. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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” πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

Feel free to like and share πŸ™‚

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.

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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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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” πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ So thank you in advance to anyone that buys me a “coffee”. πŸ™‚

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Feel free to like and share πŸ™‚

Yes, Deaf People Can Drive!

Artwork Credit to Destiny Slater

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION:] A deaf person is kicking a hearing person off a high horse.
Artwork credit to Destiny Slater

I’ll be writing a series of articles about issues that deaf people face every day. Lately, I’ve been dealing with certain hearing people on their high horses who have many conceptions about what deaf people cannot do or shouldn’t do. Today’s article is about hearing people having the misconception that deaf people cannot drive cars.

Really? Deaf people cannot drive cars? Let me tell you something. Many deaf people are actually better drivers than hearing people are. Why do I say that? There are far less distractions for deaf people when driving a car than there is for hearing people. I’ll list a few of those distractions below – followed by a hypothetical situation that may occur as a result of those distractions.

Listening to the car stereo – Many hearing people get distracted easily listening to music in their vehicles. They could be rocking their head listening to the latest song by Ariana Grande – at full volume. Then they could be changing the station to try and find that hot new song made by Taylor Swift – at the exact moment that the car ahead of them slams on its brakes suddenly for some reason….

Texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving – God knows how many times I’ve had near misses with asshats who text or talk while driving. Just the other day, I watched a car nearly go off the road and somehow managed to correct itself. I was able to pass the driver later on- and find that she still was texting on her phone. I was like, really?

I’m not saying that deaf people don’t text while driving. I’m sure some do and I’m guilty of having done it myself in the past, but I don’t anymore after having a near miss myself a few years ago.

The main issue here are hearing people who talk on the phone while driving. Even if their eyes are on the road while driving, they still are not really paying attention – such as not noticing a ball bouncing out in the middle of the road – followed by a small child chasing after it.

Chatting with passengers in the car – Hearing drivers are always talking with their passengers. If the vehicle has passengers in the back seat, most likely a hearing driver would turn real quick to say something to his passenger – at the same time a traffic light has just changed to red at the next intersection.

The point is, hearing people are far more distracted in driving a car than deaf people are. Listening to music, talking ot texting on a phone, and chatting with passengers are some examples.

What about emergency vehicles and their sirens?? – What about them? I’m willing to bet the same hearing people who has their car stereo volume pumped all the way up can’t hear them either. Or they are too distracted to notice emergency vehicles altogether.

At the same time, when I’m driving my car, my eyes are always moving. I’m looking at the road with quick glances at my side view mirrors and rear view mirrors. I can easily see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle approaching in my rear view mirror and will pull over at first opportunity.

I actually prefer turning off my hearing aid when I drive. The sounds around me such as my heater running, the wind blowing through, etc. all distract me from driving. I like my peace and quiet while I drive. It keeps me focused on the road.

My driving record is clean – no tickets in the last seven years. I’m 51 years old and have just three speeding tickets in my life – all when IΒ  was young and stupid. I’ve been in just three accidents – all of them not my fault. I smacked a deer once. Another time, some asshat pulled out in front of me. And the third time was winter weather related, which happens a lot to others living in the snow belt. To sum it up, yes, deaf people CAN drive – and perhaps even better than hearing people can.

Jessica Flores put up a humorous video about this subject. Go check it out.

I hope that clears up any misconceptions about deaf people driving a car. Have a great day and until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

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Here To Hear Show At The University of Wisconsin

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: DJ Demers is standing on stage with a microphone on a stand in front of him. He’s also holding a bottle of water.

On Wednesday night, I drove a bit over three hours to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to attend the Here To Hear Tour sponsored by Phonak. It was an awesome experience.

For my accommodations, I stayed at the Graduate Madison, which was just down the road from the venue hosting the show. And no, I didn’t get paid for the product placement for Phonak and the Graduate Madison πŸ˜›

I arrived at the Memorial Union, where the show was held. The building has several rooms, each with something going on such as a banquet, meeting, etc. I looked at the directory to see where DJ Demers would be. I found him in a room called the Council Room. The room was small and I realized that it was a pre-show planning room, so I was about to leave when he spotted me. We said hello and I introduced myself. We talked a bit and I found that our hearing losses were similar.

I lost my hearing at 2 years old. He lost his at around 4 years old. We both grew up mainstream with the focus on speech, not sign language. I lost my hearing due to an ear infection to make a long story short. He said he had no idea how he lost his.

Then Jill Von Buren, who does digital content and social media for Phoank, showed me where the venue for the show was located. I thanked Jill and walked around the venue.

This photo shows several chairs lined up for the show with an aisle in the middle. On the left side of the seating arrangement is where the hearing people sat. On the right side of the seating arrangement is where the deaf and hard of hearing sat because the monitor displaying the real time captioning for the show was positioned on the right side of the stage.

Well, get this – the right side of the seating arrangement was packed with mostly the deaf and hard of hearing people. DJ Demers himself said that he was impressed with how many deaf and hard hearing people came out for the show. I was impressed too. I had figured the majority of the audience would be hearing people with just a small amount of the deaf and hard of hearing people attending the show, but as it turned out, I would say it was about a 50/50 split in the audience. I was happy that the deaf community really was represented in this show.

In addition to real time captioning at the show, not one, but two ASL interpreters also assisted at the show. Originally, there wasn’t going to be an ASL interpreter, only real time captioning, but the University of Wisconsin came through big time to provide the interpreters.

The image above is a screen shot from this video from HearingLikeMe on YouTube. On the left, Maria, one of the interpreters, is signing while DJ is doing his routine on the right. DJ did what he could to get Maria to sign some embarrassing words that I would not repeat on a family website πŸ˜€ . But Maria was not fazed and did a great job of interpreting DJ’s routine, even interacting with him at times.Then Maria needed to take a break and another interpreter named Scotty took over.

Scotty came to the show feeling a bit under the weather, but she was a real trooper and did a great job interpreting the show. Scotty and Maria would switch back and forth a while as signing for a long time can take a lot out of a person. I regret not getting Scotty’s and Maria’s last names as well as getting an interview with them. Hopefully next time The University of Wisconsin has some sort of show for the deaf community, I’ll get my chance to interview them. They were awesome!

After the show, there was a meet & greet. I got to talk to DJ a bit more, then we had this photo taken of us.

Yup. I wore my “No More Craptions” t-shirt. I told DJ was it was all about as explained in my previous article. And he agreed about that. I was hoping to make the cut on the HearingLikeMe video that I posted above, but instead, I was on the cutting room floor – πŸ˜€ . All kidding aside, it was a great show and I was glad that I went.

It was my first ever stand up comedy show that I’ve attended live in person. I’ve never attended one previously because they would never have real time captioning and I couldn’t understand the comedian without real time captioning. I wish more comedians would do this, especially in a metropolitan area with a large deaf community like Madison, WI is.Β  Hopefully DJ returns to Wisconsin and if he does, I definitively will be there for that one.

Feel free to comment on this post and follow me on my various social media. The social media icons are to the right on desktop and down below on mobile devices.

Until next time, stay tuned πŸ™‚

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Thank You To My Readers

The Deaf Geeky Guy is slowly coming along. It’s only October 17, but according to my website statistics, it has already exceeded the amount of monthly visits that it did in September.

Thank you, everyone, for getting the word out and sharing my site and social media accounts.

Also a big thank you to Rikki Poynter for re-tweeting my blog about the No More Craptions. A lot of my October visits were due to that retweet because of her 5,500 followers on her Twitter account.

Keep spreading the word as I continue to advocate for the deaf & hard of hearing on Deaf Geeky Guy. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @realtoddfonder and keep spreading the word.

Tomorrow, I’ll be in Madison for the Here to Hear Tour featuring comedian DJ Demers. I hope to live tweet from there.

Until then, stay tuned. πŸ™‚

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No More Craptions

Image Description : Todd is wearing a white t-shirt with the words “No More Craptions” in black letters on the front andΒ  the words in black letters “Caption Your Videos” on the rear.

Today, I wanted to talk about – CRAPTIONS! What are craptions, you ask? Simply put, they are auto generated captions on YouTube and other video sites. The problem with auto generated captions is they are nowhere near accurate. They rely on speech recognition technology to generate the captions. But speech recognition software is nowhere near perfect in itself. I’ve found that out myself on a voice to text app that transcribes my voicemail. If people talk too fast or do not talk clearly, the results are hilarious. I’m still able to figure out what the caller is saying as the voicemail is usually short

But a YouTube video is a whole different ball game. There are so many errors in a typical auto generated captioned video that I’m like, what the frack is this person trying to say? This video is one example of auto generated captions that can yield hilarious results.

If you are a YouTuber, please, please, please, CAPTION YOUR VIDEOS. Do not let the YouTube auto caption software do it for you because as you can see, it is nowhere near accurate. I’m not gonna tell you how to caption your videos. There are several tutorials around the internet that can tell you how to caption a video. But I can tell you there are three main ways to do it.

Using a video editor – Most video editors have the option to allow you to add subtitles or captions in the video. Every video editor is different on how you do it, but basically, it is just a matter of letting a video run for a few seconds, pause it, and type in the words that were spoken, then resume and repeat. Again, check tutorials around the internet for your particular video editor on how to do this.

Create a subtitle file – If your video editor does not have the ability to put in captions or subtitles, or you do not know how to do it, you can instead create a subtitle file. Simply fire up your favorite text editor (I useΒ Editpad) and put it alongside your video editor on your monitor. Run the video a few seconds, then pause. Go to the text editor and transcribe what was spoken in the video along the timeline of the video. And repeat the procedure. When done, save the text file as an .srt file, which is a subtitle file, and attach it to the video on your YouTube account. Again, there are several tutorials on the internet as well on how to do this.

Hire a captioning service – If you are unable to do the first two options for any reason, you can always hire a captioning service to do it for you. There are many different ones out there. Do your research to determine what service works best for the videos that you make. The rates vary by service, but typically they may charge a dollar a minute to transcribe the video and caption it for you. So if you make the typical 5 minute video, that is $5. But if you make a lot of videos, that money does add up. Which is why many YouTubers monetize their videos by selling ads to offset the cost.

Now you are thinking, why should I caption my videos? Because captioning your video gives you a much wider audience. There are plenty of deaf and hard of hearing people that love to watch videos on YouTube. Gaming videos, How-To videos, etc. We deaf people like to watch videos like anyone else. So if you caption your videos, you will get more subscribers. Trust me.

One last thing – I wanted to give a huge shout out to Rikki Poynter for spearheading the “No More Craptions” campaign with this video from two years ago. Rikki is very passionate about getting the YouTube community to caption their videos and is still continuing the campaign today by selling shirts and hoodie like the one I’m wearing in the above photo. If you would like to support Rikki’s campaign by buying a shirt or hoodie, you can do so by going here.

I hope you found this article very informative. Hopefully you learned something. πŸ˜‰

Until then, stay tuned πŸ™‚

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