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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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 ๐Ÿ˜€ . 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 – ๐Ÿ˜€ . 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.ย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

No More Craptions

Image Description : Todd is wearing a white t-shirt with the words “No More Craptions” in black letters on the front andย  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 useย 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Until then, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

Hearing Loss and Home Safety

This past Monday (October 9th), I attended a meting of the local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) in Appleton. The topic of that meeting covered Hearing Loss and Home Safety.

Many people with hearing loss of some sort such as myself may not always hear smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors or being able to contact emergency services if something does happen. I’ll discuss what deaf and hard of hearing people can do in these situations.

Let’s start with smoke alarms. The typical home may have very old smoke alarms that may have sat in the house for years and may have an old 9 volt battery in it. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 7 to 10 years. But if you are like me, most likely, your own smoke alarms have been in your home for longer than 10 years. I admit I’ve had mine since I bought my house 12 years ago and they probably were there long before I bought it. I plan on replacing every one of my smoke alarms soon as I do my own research what to get.

I’m not gonna tell you what smoke alarm that I recommend to get. You need to do your own research and decide what type of smoke alarm is best for your living situation. But I will tell you that it is recommended that smoke alarms should be in every room of your residence (except the bathroom and garage) plus the basement. It’s also recommended that they are connected to each other. For example, if smoke is detected in the basement, the smoke alarms should go off upstairs as well. Smoke alarm systems like this are not cheap, but it is well worth the money for the peace of mind that your home is being protected.

For the deaf and hard of hearing, there are also smoke alarms available with strobe lights on them that flash when smoke is detected. Find out what kind of strobe light smoke alarms will work for you. Even better, get a smart smoke alarm system that will send an alert to your smart phone if smoke is detected. Again, do your research on those systems as there are several smart smoke alarm systems.

To sum it up, make sure there is a smoke alarm in every room of your residence and the smoke alarm is replaced every 7 to 10 years. Some websites say 10 years, but the presenter at the meeting recommends 7 years, so I’m going with that. In addition to that, for battery operated alarms, the battery itself is to be replaced every 6 months. But some battery operated smoke alarms never need replacing batteries. They use lithium batteries that will last about 7 years or so, which is about the lifetime of the smoke alarm itself. So you will never have to worry about changing the battery in those types of smoke alarms. Those lithium battery smoke alarms are not cheap, but when you think about the cost of replacing a 9 volt battery every 6 months for about 7 years, it does add up, making the lithium battery operated smoke alarm cheaper in the long run.

When you install a new smoke alarm, write the date on the alarm of the day that you installed it so you can check it in the future and can decide if it needs replacing as it nears its age.

Next, we will talk about Carbon Monoxide detectors. The presenter. who is a member of the Appleton Fire Department, also recommends that each home have one. It is also recommended that the carbon monoxide detector is one with a digital read out so you know exactly just how much carbon monoxide is present. If you get even a minuscule reading of carbon monoxide being present, investigate it right away. Don’t wait for the alarm to go off. Find out where the carbon monoxide is coming from and get it taken care off right away. The sooner, the better.

Carbon monoxide detectors with digital readouts are also great for the deaf and hard of hearing. They can monitor the readings and be ready to act if carbon monoxide is present.

For those of you with furnaces, it is recommended that you get your furnace checked at least once a year to make sure it is running smoothly and not giving off any carbon monoxide, which often called a silent killer for the reason in that you cannot see it or smell it. It can kill you if you don’t act right away. Again, do your research and choose a good detector that is best for your living situation. Don’t skimp on the cost. You get what you pay for.

For the deaf and hard of hearing, let’s talk about contacting emergency services. Some communities offer the option to text 911. But if texting 911 is not available in your area, there may also be a phone number available that you can text which will put you in contact with a 911 dispatcher. Check with your local emergency services if texting 911 or a different number is available in your area.

If texting is not possible and you can still speak, but cannot hear, the next best thing to do is to call 911, give it a few moments for the dispatcher to answer and then give as much information as you possibly can – your name, location, phone number, what is the emergency and any other information that you can think of. The more information, the better. Then try and remain at the location that you gave and wait for help if possible. Don’t worry that they won’t arrive. If the information that you gave them is accurate, they will come.

The meeting covered a lot more than this. If I wrote about everything discussed in the meeting, I would have to write a book ๐Ÿ˜€ But the topic of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and contacting emergency services were the main focus of this article. If you have any questions, comment below or send me a message on my Facebook page.

Until next time, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

Why I Write When Advocating For The Deaf

I’ve been asked why I write instead of making videos such as those made by Rikki Poynter and Jessica Flores on YouTube when covering a topic advocating for the deaf.ย  I’ll list a few reasons.

1) I suck in front of the camera – I don’t have the skills yet to talk to a camera the way Rikki or Jessica could. Both of them are awesome. I did a practice video the other day and when I watched it, I was like, jeepers cripes, this is bad.

I’ll have to do a few dry runs before I can finally post my first video. Then hopefully, I’ll start posting videos.

2) Ease of editing when writing – With videos, it is a time consuming process when editing a video. One has to edit out some bad parts, add in some special effects, transcribe the video to make a subtitle file for closed captions, then add in the closed captions themselves. All of that takes a lot of work. I believe Rikki Poynter has said it can take a few days to edit one video.

When writing, however, all I have to do is type it up (I’m a very fast typist). No idea on my Words Per Minute (WPM), but I can type up an article in no time if I know what I’m writing about and do not have writer’s block. Then I just have to proof it and make corrections. Then I post it. A short article like this one can take me only a half hour or so from a blank slate to the published post.

That makes it convenient for me to post several articles a week whereas with videos, most YouTubers only upload their videos once or twice a week with the editing involved – if they don’t get burned out first.

3) I love to write – Writing is a hobby of mine. I love to write pretty much what’s on my mind. If I have an idea, I’ll put it down. My dream someday is to write a book about something and have it published. If I do that, I just have to decide what is worthy of writing a book.

4) Videos are not the only medium for deaf advocacy – There are also several other blogs out there such as Deafie Bloggger, which is an excellent blog about “about real life barriers, achievements and day to day struggles in a deaf person’s world!”

Deafieblogger is just one blog advocating for the deaf along with several others.ย  I’ll be putting together a blog roll and put them on the right side of this webpage in the near future.

Artwork is another way to advocate for the deaf. My two favorites right now are those done by Destiny Slater and Carlisle Robinson. Both of them are outstanding in their artwork advocating for the deaf. Check out their work and give them some mad props.

To sum it up, I suck at making a video, I love writing, it’s easy to edit an article compared to editing a video, and there are several mediums in which one can advocate for the deaf. Writing just happens to be my medium.

I hope that answers the question on why I write instead of making videos ๐Ÿ™‚

If you want to be notified of any updates to this website, follow me on my various social media platforms.

Until then, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

Do I Want My Hearing Back?

Jessica Flores and Rikki Poynter, both deaf YouTubers, each posted a video about the subject of wanting their hearing back. Being deaf myself, I’ve been asked this question myself and I’ll come right out and say it – the answer is a resounding no.

A bit about myself – I’m a 50 year old who has been deaf since age 2 when, long story short, I had a nasty ear infection. I have a 90% hearing loss in my left ear. I don’t wearing a hearing aid there. I have a 75% loss in my right ear, which has a hearing aid. I can hear most things with that ear, though I still cannot hear high pitched sounds such a smoke alarm. I could be standing next to the smoke alarm and still not hear it. Though I can hear a phone ring from across my house if the phone ringer has a low enough pitch. I can also “talk well for a deaf person” – more on that in a future article.

Back on topic, you hearing people must think I’m nuts for not wanting my hearing back, but I’ll tell ya, if there was a genie that could grant me only one wish, it wouldn’t be to get my hearing back. There are other things in the world to worry about, but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Yes, I realize I’m missing out on things if I was a hearing person. I do have some limitations at my job such as not being able to take phone calls. I cannot follow a group discussion between my hearing friends. But for all the disadvantages of being deaf that I’m going through, I actually prefer being deaf due to its benefits of being deaf.

In addition to that, if I was hearing, I wouldn’t be able to advocate for the deaf & hard of hearing, right? I mean, I can’t think of a hearing person that advocates for the deaf off the top of my head. Which means, I don’t know of one that does it. So I do it. I probably would not be likely to advocate for the deaf if I was hearing.

To sum it up, I accept myself for who I am and would not change it for anything.

I hope that answers your question.

Stay tuned – I hope to post a new article each day. Follow me on my Facebook page for updates.

My Voiceless Experiment

As my readers may recall, I am able to hear with the assistance of a hearing aid, though I don’t always hear everything, which I’ll talk about in a future post. I’m also able to talk with no issues, thanks to speech therapy that I had to go through since I was 2 years old. I hated speech therapy then, but grateful for it now as I’m able to conduct every day business with hearing people with little issues such as ordering food in a restaurant, buying a car, shopping, etc.

I decided to try an experiment and try going about my day’s business with my hearing aid turned off and not using my voice at all. I would communicate via notepad and pen, my phone, and what little sign language that I do know,. Basically, I was deaf-mute for a day.

I did not want to have to explain to people I know why I’m doing this if I tried going about my business in my home area of Marinette, WI and Menominee, MI, so I went to Green Bay, WI to run my errands. Green Bay has a deaf community so I fgure people might be more understanding there anyways.

I first stopped at a bar & grill called Shoot’s Bar on the outskirts of Green Bay. My friend Dawg, who I shoot darts with on my Monday night darts league, swears they have the best cheeseburgers ever. So I went over there. I took a seat at the bar, took out my notepad and wrote “Pepsi”, then “Menu” on it. The bartender came up to me and I pointed to “Pepsi” on the notepad and she went got the Pepsi. As she handed me the Pepsi, I read her lips as she said, “You can’t hear, can you?”

I shook my head, no. She held up a finger as if to say, wait a moment, and she went back to the bar to write something down, then brought me the paper with what she wrote. It said, “Today’s specialย  – Cheeseburger With Fries – $7.50.”. I pointed to what she wrote and nodded my head, yes. She smiled and put it on her notepad and handed it to the cook.

A few minutes later, I got my cheeseburger with the fries. It was about a 1/3 pound cheeseburger, very thick and juicy. I took my first bite into it and fell in love with it right away. My god, it was so good. The fries were pretty good too. The bartender always checked to make sure how I was doing and I would give her a thumbs up. She made sure to keep my Pepsi refilled.

After I finished my meal, she brought my check. I paid for my meal, left her a more than generous tip, signed “Thank you” and left the bar. I was happy that she recognized that I was deaf right away. So that worked out well.

My next test is buying a car. While I’m not quite ready to buy a new vehicle just yet, I wanted to see how a car salesman would interact with a deaf person. Since I’m a GM guy, I went to Bergstrom Auto in Green Bay on Taylor Street. While Bergstrom has several locations in the Fox Valley dealing with all makes and models of vehicles, this specific location has GM cars for sale such as Buicks, Pontiacs, Chevys, etc.

I pulled up and a salesman came out of the building. I signed to the salesman that I’m deaf and he recognized that right away. I wrote down on the notepad that I was looking for a GMC Sonoma or a Chevy S-10. He took the notepad and wrote that they didn’t have those trucks at this particular location, but they might at another location. We went to his office where we had no issues communicating back and forth writing on a note pad. He was very patient with me. I was very impressed that he was willing to communicate with me and I got the feeling that he’s dealt with deaf customers in the past. He couldn’t find a truck that I liked, but that’s ok. I wasn’t ready to get one just yet anyways. While I didn’t get a vehicle, I did walk away happy that he was more than willing to communicate with me via pen and notepad. Once again, another business passed the test in dealing with my non-verbal communications.

Next, I went to Shopko as I needed a belt. It was a routine stop where I got the belt, took it to the register, paid for it, and walked out. No problems there as I don’t normally talk with the cashier anyways even when I’m verbal.

I then went to a bar called D2’s Sports Pub. I’m shooting in a dart tournament there in two weeks, so I thought I’d check it out. Before I went in, I downloaded a photo of a bottle of Miller Lite to my phone. I showed the photo to the bartender. She was more than happy to get me the beer. I paid for it, then went to shoot a few darts. I went back to the bar, gave the bartender the empty beer bottle, a $1 tip, signed “thank you” and left. While my interaction with the bartender was minimal, I felt it was still a positive experience. No issues here.

That was my last stop on my day of being deaf and mute. It was a bit eye opening having to leave my hearing aidย  off pretty much all day and not being able to speak. I finally turned on my hearing aid once I came to my hometown and spoke for the first time getting food at a local burger joint.

The experiment went well. I’ll probably do this again, but in a different town that doesn’t have a deaf community and see what happens there. I know there is more to living in every day life as a deaf-mute person such as going to the doctor. But I know it is still a challenge living as a deaf-mute person and I’m looking forward to doing this experiment again and bring awareness to what deaf people go through every day.

Feedback appreciated. Leave a comment here or send a message to my Facebook page.

Until then, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

The Cost of Hearing Aids – Part 2

I heard back from Phonak a couple weeks ago, regarding the cost of hearing aids in the article that I wrote a few weeks ago.

I was wrong on the cost – they actually are higher – about $2000 to $6000 per hearing aid. Wow.

Phonak gave me two articles about the coat of hearing aids. Links below.

Hearing Aid Costs โ€“ Ways to save money in the purchasing process

Measuring The Cost Of Hearing Loss

Both articles are a good read to give some insight into the cost of hearing aids. Thank you, Phonak, for getting back to me. Apologies for the late response ๐Ÿ™‚

Next up – I’ll be talking about the deaf man that got shot in Oklahoma. That post should be up within a couple days.

Stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

HR 620 – Do Not Pass!!

A bill called HR 620 has been introduced to Congress. Basically, it makes the currentย Americans with Disabilities Act act useless. I’ll give you a good example what this proposed bill would do. Under the current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pretty much all new construction of public buildings must be wheelchair accessible. But under the proposed bill, the new building being constructed DOES NOT have to be wheelchair accessible UNLESS someone files a compliant about it and even then, it may take 6 months, maybe more, to be resolved – if it is ever resolved at all. This is one example of what this proposed bill does to the current ADA. I just cannot comprehend what else it will do to the disabled in the United States of America, who are currently able to be helped by the current Americans with Disabilities Act.

This is NOT acceptable!!! I encourage everyone to contact their Representative in Congress and let him or her know that this bill CANNOT pass.ย  To find out who your Representative is, go toย https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and input your zip code. Then contact your Representative and make your voice known. Together, we can make a difference!

Thank you!

Yes, Deaf People CAN Talk!

Remember this article where I talked about the misconception that all deaf people should know sign language?

Well, I wanted to follow up on that and also add a couple more misconceptions about deaf people – that they cannot talk and also that they SHOULDN’T be talking and should be using ASL instead.

Both misconceptions are utter bullshit in my opinion. Most deaf people are more than capable of talking. Some just choose to use sign language entirely and not talk unless they absolutely have to talk. Others may mix talking with sign language as well. And others, like me, pretty much talk 100% of the time with very little sign language.

Like I mentioned before, I was raised in the mainstream hearing world and learned to talk via speech therapy. I have very little issues communicating with most hearing people one on one though I still have issues with group discussions. But that’s a topic for another time.

While I’m more than capable of talking, I do have a “deaf accent” as do many other deaf people who also talk. I sometimes sound like my nose is stuffed up and I’ve actually been asked, “Dude, is your nose stuffed up?” I never know what to say to that, so I just say I just have a cold or whatever and leave it at that.

I also have been told “You talk well for a deaf person.” I don’t know what to say to that either, so I just say a halfhearted “thanks” when in my mind I actually want to tell that person to fuck off, but that’s not me. I’m more the laid back type.

One deaf person on Facebook said that she’s also suffered from this dilemma, that she’s not allowed to talk, which she believes is a stigma attached to her as well as discrimination. I feel her pain. I’ve been there myself. She should be able to be allowed to talk. Just because she’s deaf doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be allowed to talk. To this girl, I say to her, talk all you want – fuck what other people think. ๐Ÿ™‚

Every deaf person is unique and it is up to that particular deaf person on his or her preferred means of communication whether it is via speaking, sign language, pen and paper, etc. Please do not tell a deaf person how he or she SHOULD communicate. Respect that deaf person’s wishes on his/her preferred means of communication.ย  Thank you.

Please leave a comment or send feedback on my Facebook page ๐Ÿ™‚