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 🙂

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.

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Until next time, stay tuned ?

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 😛

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 😀 . 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 – 😀 . 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.  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 🙂

No More Craptions

Image Description : Todd is wearing a white t-shirt with the words “No More Craptions” in black letters on the front and  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 use 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. 😉

Until then, stay tuned 🙂

Captiview – Review

Yesterday I went to the Bay Park Square Marcus Theatres in Green Bay, WI to review the Captiview device. It’s a device that is supposed to show closed captions at a movie theatre. Reviews on this device were mixed on other blogs as well as YouTube. I wanted to review it for myself, so I decided to give it a shot.

I picked yesterday to go to the movies because Marcus Theatres has admission to all movies for just $5 every Tuesday, so I figured that if the Captiview didn’t work out, at least I didn’t spend a whole lot of money. Right now, there weren’t really any movies that I really wanted to see. Nothing jumped out at me. I also wanted to see a movie that has been out for a while, which means the screening room would not be packed. So I picked the movie “The Hitman’s Bodyguard“, which had been running for about three weeks.

I went in and paid for my ticket, then asked the attendant if I could have the Captiview device. She said, no problem, and asked a coworker to get it for her. Within a few minutes, the other employee brought out the Captiview device and showed me how to use it. I got my soda, then went to the screening room and choose to sit in the back row so I wouldn’t bother anyone behind me. Plus in the back row there is only 2 benches of just 3 seats each. Perfect. I wouldn’t have to worry about some moron getting in my way. I sat down and set my soda in the cup holder on my right and the device itself into the cup holder on the left.

Below is a stock photo of what it looks like in a person’s seat.

As you can see, it fits in a cup holder and the device is flexible so I can position it any way I want. The previews started playing and some of the previews, but not all, were captioned, so I used the previews as a test run to position the device for the best viewing angles that I could get and ended up getting this view during the previews. Normally, cell phone usage during a movie is frowned upon. But since I was in the back row, no one else were around me. and it was just the previews. So I used my phone to take a quick shot of the device from my vantage point.

As you can see, the device is describing someone laughing in the preview. Because it is dark, you can barely make out the device itself, but it’s there. I positioned it so it is right below the movie screen. Sitting in the back row has another advantage in that it’s higher up than the front rows. The screen is a bit low from my vantage point, allowing me to perfectly place the device right below the bottom of the screen.

Now I’ll list one positive and one negative about this device.

The Positive – Many reviews that I’ve read (or watched on YouTube) said the device either did not work at all or when it did, the captions were not in sync with the movie. I never had a problem at all with this device at Bay Park Square Marcus Theatres in Green Bay. The captions worked flawlessly without issues and were in sync with the movie. I was able to follow the entire movie with no issues.

The Negative – Take another look at the picture above. As you can see, the captions are clear. However, the movie in the background is blurry because my phone was focusing on the device itself, not the movie.

This is exactly what my eyes saw while I was watching the movie. If I’m focusing on the movie, the captions are blurry to me. If I’m reading the captions, then the movie in the background is blurry. I was constantly trying to refocus  my eyes looking at the device, then the screen, and back.

Thankfully, this particular movie that I was watching  was an action movie with lots more action than dialogue. So my focus was on the screen for much of the movie. If I was watching a drama or a comedy, both known to have lots of dialogue, I would have had more issues refocusing my eyes on the device and the screen.

I would very much prefer it if the theatre would just show open captions right there on the screen. I wouldn’t have to refocus my eyes so much because the words are right there on the screen, something that I’m looking at anyways like I would do when I’m home watching a movie on TV.

But most movie threatres won’t show open captions for two reasons.

Cost – For a movie theatre to show open captions either means a second copy of the movie itself that contains open captions or a second projector that overlays the captions right there on the screen. Both options are not cheap for the theatre.

Complaints From Hearing People – This part is what I’m most upset about. Years ago, Marcus Theatres used to show open captions for ONE or TWO titles each week among the dozens of titles that they run in their line up. The open captioning showings would usually only be one or two showings among the 4 or 5 regular showings a few days a week. And yet – hearing people were bitching that they had to put up with the captions on the screen and did not want to have to see them even though there were plenty of other showings WITHOUT captions. Their voices were heard and Marcus stopped showing open captions since.

I will talk about the lack of open captioning in movie theatres another time, but for now, let’s get back to the Captiview. I’m not entirely sold on it. I don’t think I’ll go back to the theatre to watch a closed captioned movie with the device. I would just wait for the DVD to come out and watch it at home.

But if a group of friends want to get together for a movie or if there is a movie that I must see like right now and cannot wait for the DVD to come out, then yeah, I’ll give it another shot.

However, not every theatre has the Captiview device. The Phoenix and Mariner theatres in my hometown of Marinette, Wisconsin do not have the Captiview devices. So if I want to go to the theatre, I have to make the one hour drive to Green Bay to see the movie. Check with your local theatre to find out if the Captiview device is available there or look for one in your surrounding area that is a short drive away like I did when I made the one hour drive to Green Bay.

To sum it up, my overall review of this device is mixed. On one hand, it did its job providing captions for the movie. On the other hand, having to constantly refocus my eyes between the device and the screen was a downer. Overall, I’ll give this review 3 out of 5 stars.

It seems like the majority of the negative reviews that I’ve seen regarding the device is that it wouldn’t work properly or not at all. That’s on the theatre, not the device itself. The theatre needs to make sure the device works properly. When it does, I think it is a good device for watching a movie in the theatre if you are willing to keep refocusing your eyes from the device to the screen and back. But I wouldn’t go to the movies all the time.

Any questions or comments, post a comment or send a message to my Facebook page.  Until then, stay tuned 🙂