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 ?

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™‚

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 Iย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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™‚

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™‚

The Cost Of Hearing Aids

Today, I wanted to talk about the cost of hearing aids. Let me ask you hearing people how much do you think we deaf people pay for hearing aids. Just take a wild guess. I’ll wait.

If you thought $500-$1000, you’d be wrong. A good quality digital hearing aid can cost anywhere from $1000 to $5000 EACH hearing aid, depending on the severity of the hearing problem. I said EACH hearing aid because many deaf people wear a hearing aid in each ear, so their cost could be anywhere from $2000 to $10000 for a set of two hearing aids. That’s a lot of money involved right there.

And yet – many insurance companies will not cover the cost of hearing aids. Why? Because they consider them to be “optional” like, say, a nose job or other types of plastic surgery. Which is bullshit in my opinion. It’s not an option for us deaf people to wear a hearing aid. It’s a MUST.

I only wear a hearing aid in my right ear, which still has about 25% hearing left in it. My left ear is a near total loss, so I don’t wear anything in that ear. I used to wear an older $500 analog hearing aid, but when it died a few years ago, I dreaded have to pay a couple grand or so for a new digital hearing aid. I didn’t want another analog hearing aid because all it does is amplify everything around me and I mean everything such as background noise when I’m trying to have a conversation with someone.

So I looked into the cost of a digital hearing aid. I stopped at a local audiologist to talk about it. I had a hearing test and nothing changed from my last test. 90% loss in the left ear and 75% loss in right ear. Then the audiologist surprised me with something. She showed me a used Phonak Supero, an entry level digital hearing aid with one program. She said it was sold to her from the estate of a deaf man who passed away. And that I could buy it at cost for just $120. I was like, sold. I went through a trial period in which a few adjustments were made and in time, I liked it. It was my first ever digital hearing aid after wearing an analog hearing aid for much of my life. While it’s an entry level digital hearing aid, it was far better than the analog hearing aid that I used to have. It filtered out many of the background noise around me, which allowed me to focus on my conversation with my companion.

But even though I like I’m wearing now, I know there are better models out there with far more features such as Bluetooth and the ability to program it via an app on a smart phone and that is just for starters. But those hearing aids are definitely not cheap.ย  With no insurance to at least help defray the cost, most deaf people are stuck wearing entry level hearing aids or none at all.

The subject of the cost of hearing aids came up during some comments on a photo on Instagram. Jessica Flores, a deaf YouTuber, posted a photo of her hearing aids that she decorated and the cost of hearing aids were discussed among the comments in the photo.

“I got lucky with mine because I worked at a place for 3 plus years and they set money aside to cover any medical expenses that I had,” said Jessica. “I didn’t use it at all when I was working, so when I left, I had enough money to buy new ones. But I’m not sure if I’ll have enough in the next 5 years when I need to get another pair.”

That is the reality that we deaf people face today – trying to find the money to pay for new hearing aids because they are not normally covered by insurance. I would not mind paying a deductible or copayment or even a percentage of the cost of the hearing aid like I would for any other medical expense. $500 would be acceptable to me with insurance covering the rest.

But sadly, that is not the case. Hopefully someday this will change. And I think the only way for this to change is to get the word out to your local lawmakers and try to pass a bill to require the insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids like they would on other medical expenses.

I want to thank Jessica Flores for her input on the cost of hearing aids. Check out Jessica’s YouTube channel where she advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing.

A message was sent to a representative at Phonak, a hearing aid manufacturer, to attempt to get a comment for this article. The message was not returned. If I do hear back from Phonak, I’ll write a follow up article.

Until then, stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚