Deafness - something to be overcome

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N.B. All references to Cochlear implants have been moved to the end of this page. I became profoundly deaf by the age of 75 but got my hearing back via this amazing technology (and the NHS)

New page on this site : Captioning and speech recognition


http://www.atel.ri.gov/Deaf%20Accessibility%20Apps.pdf
   A useful link to a variety of computer facilities for the hard of hearing

"Zoom success for someone with deafness :"My audiologist phoned me and I tried to chat to her via my phone. It was not very convenient so she sent me a link for us to video chat on Zoom which worked out perfectly. Have never spoken to a woman with her face so close to me! We had a long successful chat and she tested my hearing. Zoom was great"

Tinnitus : Someone's answer (they have spinal Stenosis): Two things I've started doing...I eat a few ounces of dark chocolate a day...it calms your nervous system. Second thing I started doing is wearing a soft cervical collar for a few hours a day...plus I sleep with it on...flat on my back...it's not comfortable at all...but I've been waking up to silence...it's been a week ( the longest I've gone withiout Tinnitus in a year. Just passing on this information in case it helps someone else. I only found out I have spinal stenosis a few weeks ago...and figured it was worth a shot.

There are various programs which may help turn speech to text or provide 'captioning'. One day this process will be automatic via speech recognition glasses. But for now, here are some suggestions
.

"My audiology department has finally suggested that people use apps on phones or tablets to enable people to read what is being said, even if the speaker is wearing a mask.  It only took them ten years to catch on !"

Telephone calls

Making telephone calls is often an issue for people with hearing loss. The apps presented here are options that turn the speech of the call into text that you can read.

Phonak do an app for iPhones and Android phones called "My Call to Text 
https://www.phonak.com/us/en/hearing-aids/apps/phonak-my-call-to-text-app.html I use this : It displays what people say , using ANY phone, accurately and immediately.  It is free between people who BOTH have the app but if you want a special number which will access the app when someone calls that number you may have to pay a small monthly fee (via your Apple or Google account) Currently (2021) only available in the UK, Germany, the USA and Canada. There is a small monthly fee if you want to use it a lot and get people to phone you on a special number

Otter is very accurate for displaying text on an iPad or iPhone.  Just ask someone to talk to it.  Some programs require a close connection to Wifi but I have found that some apps work fine on a smartphone even with no local Wifi.

But ALL smart phones and tablets have the ability to recognise speech. Try it with e-mail
. Click on the microphone symbol. 


Relay UK

Relay UK (previously known as NGTS) is an updated replacement for the Text Relay service from BT which has been operating in the UK for several decades. The primary difference from the older service is the ability to make calls using smartphones as well as landlines enabling use of the service when away from your household phone. The calls are captioned by relay operators who sit in the middle of the call and type up the responses of the person you are calling. Calls are typically charged as part of your standard phone contract or pay as you go service.

The service is provided via an app available on both Apple and Android devices. For more detailed information about this service, please visit our Relay UK information page.

RogerVoice  This is similar to My Call to Text

One needs the speaker phone as you are looking at the phone.  There is a charge if you want to use it a lot. And, if people phone you, you wont see it. Try to get them to install it and phone you from the program

This is another app designed to facilitate phone calls for hard of hearing individuals by captioning the content of the call in real time. Unlike the Relay UK service, the calls are captioned via a computer voice recognition system rather than a live person in the middle which may be preferable to some.

RogerVoice operates over an internet connection so an active WiFi or 3g/4g data service is required on your phone to make & receive phone calls. The service is free to use between users of the app which is great if you can get your family/contacts to install the app on their phones, however calls to standard phones (ie those not using the app) will require the purchase of a call plan. These advanced plans also give access to a “Roger Number” which can be given out in place of your normal number to ensure that all calls go through the RogerVoice app.


Speech to text

Speech to text apps and services are designed to aid communication by converting what is being said into text on your phone, tablet or laptop. The apps listed here do this with computer voice recognition software and usually require an active internet connection to function. While all the apps/services listed here will work with built in mics on your devices, we recommend looking into inexpensive external mics to maximise recognition accuracy.

Live Transcribe (for Android phones)

A speech to text accessibility app from Google, produced in collaboration with Gallaudet University. The app is provided free of charge and boasts impressive recognition abilities with a customisable user interface giving the option to set the displayed text size and background colour. The ability to use external wireless microphones such as those found on bluetooth headsets is also provided in the app settings once the device is paired up; this would allow the speaker to sit at a distance from you while you read the display on your phone. The service does require an active internet connection in order to function.

Currently only available for Android devices at this time, you can find out more at https://www.android.com/accessibility/live-transcribe/

BTW Gallaudet is the only university which teaches in American Sign Language (in English)

WebCaptioner

This is not an app that can be installed on your phone or tablet, but rather is a website that one can visit in Google Chrome web browser and immediately start using without any need for installation or set up. We have found accuracy to be very good provided that the speaker talks clearly and at a reasonable pace.

The downside to the service is that it will not currently work in mobile or tablet browsers and must be used with the desktop version of Google Chrome. However, the service does not require powerful computer hardware to function and any cheap/small laptop or Chromebook will work great. We have also had success with inexpensive Windows tablets with Google Chrome too.

Use of the website & service is completely free and is usable in a number of scenarios beyond one on one conversation – visit the website for more information.

TextHear – personal

A voice recognition app from Geemarc with versions for both Android and Apple devices. The Android version has the advantage of being completely free to use with unlimited use of the service, while the Apple version requires payment for blocks of minutes.

Hearing Helper

Available only on Apple devices, this app is completely free to use and unlike most others in this category it operates on a push to talk basis – in other words, it provides captions only while the red button on-screen is touched so may be useful for short burst of captioning at moments where it is needed rather than ongoing. Other useful features include the ability to scale the text produced up to rather large sizes for those whose eyesight may struggle with other apps.

Ava

This is a speech to text app with some sophisticated features beyond what most other apps provide, in particular the group conversation ability. In this mode, all those involved in a conversation can add Ava to their own phones, join the Ava conversation group and speak. The text of what they say will show up on the screens of everyone involved along with their name. Ava also works in simple single display mode too much like the apps mentioned earlier. Ava does require payment for the use of the service past a certain number of minutes used each month although only the person “hosting” the conversation needs to pay – the others can join free of charge.

More apps for hearing loss


Since the Coronovus pandemic, many organisation have been developing communication programs to enable people and businesses to work together. This can be a great help for people who are hard of hearing.  Most of these apps are now enabling automatic Closed Captioning (cc)

Computers, smartphones and tablets are increasingly prevalent in just about everyone’s life these days and with the use of the right websites, apps and services can be valuable tools in helping one to live well with hearing loss. See my page on some of these application e.g. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams at    HELP14

With new services and apps popping up just about every day, we cannot hope to cover everything that’s out there on this one page however we have attempted to curate a selection of what we believe to be some of the most useful options.

Subtitling Glasses.  My pet suggestion. At last they are catching up !  But not quite. These glasses show subtitles at the National Theatre, London - wirelessly.
One day glasses will be developed that will pick up the speech of someone talking to you and translate it into text.  I am sure they will come from China as Google didn't think such things were profitable ! (or were sensitive to suggestions that the camera might be intrusive.  An opportunity lost.  My suggestion would nor require a camera, just a microphone. Come on someone.  If you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door !
Subtitling glasses

On line Lipreading practice  https://atlalipreading.org.uk/?doing_wp_cron=1571263320.6506419181823730468750

This page is a compilation of what I have discovered on the road to what for me has become profound deafness. I hoped technology would come to my aid in one shape or another (and it did! I have a remarkable cochlear implant). Access to the internet and e-mail has also given me much greater opportunities than my mother or grandfather enjoyed - both of them quite deaf in their later years. Please excuse my regular reference to speech recognition on this page. I believe there is a real future for this.

The Phonak Roger Pen. is a microphone receiver which can transmit directly to a hearing aid or Cochlear implant.  It does this via the Bluetooth to a hearing aid or via the  'loop' setting on a hearing aid or cochlear implant.  Still over £700 or a bit less if you don't need the Bluetooth element.

Hearing aids: Useful article  https://www.express.co.uk/finance/crusader/1186676/how-to-find-best-hearing-aids-hearing-loss-charity

FIRE ALARMS I saw that someone in Surrey had contacted their Fire Service, who supplied them with an alarm with a strobe light and vibrating pillow pad. They are also registered with the fire service as hearing impaired in case of emergency

I have added a Youtube of me demonstrating the use of an iPad and Bluetooth microphone as an aid for communicating with a profoundly deaf person
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLXLlaEOHEs&t=92s

This method works well on a one to one basis but can be less successful if there are several people talking near the phone or tablet (without an attached or Bluetooth microphone). But it can still be useful if the speaker dictates a message into the phone and passes it to the person who is deaf.
While this would be useful in a restaurant the software DOES require either a mobile phone or an internet connection.  The software is dependent upon cloud software (NOT software on your local equipment) for its accuracy.  This is so good that it NEVER creates gifbberish and corrects itself as you dictate, capitalising words for things like towns and names it recognises.

I was excited to hear that Intel was developing a pair of glasses (called Vaunt) which will enable you to see items received from the internet.  This omits a prying camera, which was the main objection to Google Glass.  I was going to write to them to ensure that they include speech recognition.  I may, finally, be able to SEE what you are saying ! BUT I now see that Intel have given up on Smart Glasses :{{  In fact there is a a joke video about them.  Why can't these companies see what a money spinner this would be? It is so exasperating !

Intel Vaunt computer glasses

Theatre Captioning 
A good video on this at https://youtu.be/nMzm1yvtwKU  I just hope that you can find places which make the effort to install this. See what's on HERE
Another example of glasses helping the deaf.  A very poor, noisy recording from the BBC.  This method doesn't depend on a caption writer.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/entertainment-arts-45783046/smart-captioning-glasses-help-deaf-theatregoers-follow-the-action

I will attempt to find better examples demonstrating these theatre glasses.  The above ones are appalling !

I have a cochlear implant made by Advance Bionics of the USA.  Recently it was updated and I took my mobile phone to see if they had built in the facility for me to receive calls direct to the implant. I was most disappointed that it did not, especially as they charged the NHS £6,000 for my updated processor - which, in fact, is more fiddly to use, has rechargeable battery problems and is altogether no better than the one it replaced.
To add insult to injury I now discover that the other main manufacturer - Cochlear - has brought out a processor (the Nucleus 7) which connected from any iPhone direct to the hearing aid.  This was a processor I had the opportunity to choose and I am now regretting not having done so.
Yet another development for Cochlear is the Carina implant, which is completely hidden under the skin and in the inner ear.This may not suit everyone but a good video can be seen HERE

Research published in the Lancet suggest that unaided hearing loss can be linked to an increase in the risk of dimentia.
I can well understand that social isolation exacerbated by deafness can increase the chances of brain deterioration.  Use it or lose it, as the saying goes. Now, what was I going to write next....
 
NGTS This is the abbreviation for the Next Generation Text service. Their site is at https://ngts.org.uk

There are several videos on the site which explain how it works.  It is, in fact, the same free service that has been used by people who are deaf or cannot speak but now being updated to take into account more modern communication equipment.  Personally I never got on with the old equipment and sent mine back to the local social Service Department.  But,. at the bidding of one contact I will look into this again and see whether things have improved.  The current equipment still depends upon a third party interpreting what the person on the other end is saying and typing it in for you to read.  With current speech recognition development is seems hardly necessary to involve another human.

Icanthear.org. A brilliant app.for iPad created by Etienne (ETI): Another speech to text facility that works between a couple of iPads or between an iPad and any equipment than can access a site on the net. This would enable someone to talk to a profoundly deaf person who would see what was said on the other screen. If you are in trying this you need to download the app. from the Apple Store to the iPad. Go to Apps.  Search for icanthear.org.and download it. Make an icon on the screen so you can open it whenever you want. It will appear as an 'Ear' icon.  When you click it, it tells you to go to the other equipment and browse to http://icanthear.org/27398. On the iPad the hearing person clicks the Ear icon and clicks Get started, You are then told to make sure the language is set to UK then ''Just start talking'.
(don't press the microphone icon at the bottom.  If it is red it will not work It should be a pulsating yellow. The text of what you say appears on screen.  If you stop talking it waits for another sentence, which will replace the first. If you talk continuously it will continue down the page. You don't have to talk unnaturally and the iPad will even pick up words correctly from a distance.
Amazingly, if you choose other languages it will attempt a translation and using the font of that country. Here is a graphic example of my reading a book on the iPad as it appeared on a PC. It made just ONE mistake.

Icanthear.org sample 

So, why I am so enthusiastic about this app ? It is free.  It is simple to set up and works well. It would enable someone to talk to a friend or partner without having to write things down or depend upon lip reading or signing (which, being deafened later in life, I have tried to learn but failed. I am still pursuing the ideal solution to communication with the hard of hearing via Speech recognition.  I have already found ways but I am interested in finding a method which IS

1. Inexpensive : Preferably under £100 and with no ongoing cost.
2. Easy to set up and use by technologically inexperienced people.
3. Is wireless. No wires between the speaker and the recipient
4. Is therefore as natural to use as speaking normally and for the recipient to be able to read what is said, clearly I believe that current technology is capable of all of these.Just WATCH THIS SPACE ! 

Computers are moving rapidly towards mastering lip-reading. They’re not there yet. (No wonder: for humans, lip reading is brutally difficult and highly error prone.) But new research shows they’re clearly outperforming humans, and improving fast. So if you’ve been captured on CCTV, with or without audio, it might soon be practical to decipher whatever you were talking about. Lip-reading has been an active focus of AI research for years. Two new papers from Oxford University show just how far it has come. In the first, Oxford University computer science researchers trained their LipNet AI system on a painstakingly developed set of 29,000 short video training clips that offered the absolute best possible scenario for lip-reading.

Medgadget is an interesting site.  I wrote to them about my passion for Captioned glasses.  They replied that they HAD reported on an App. to do just that. I have been talking about deaf people being able to use Google Glass ever since it was announced I was pleased to see that the Medgadget site had said something about the possibility.   See HERE
One day it will happen  and people will say "Why didn't someone thing about that before ?"! The good news is that the the BBC is running trials on its live iPlayer channels, so maybe if you are watching BBC TV channels on your PC, Mac or tablet you can see if subtitles are available: http://www.hearinglossfriendly.com/

A not-for-profit company is trying to develop a system for mobile and landline phones that will match a person's hearing loss (frequencies) to their telephone. I have offered to help them with their experiments. See http://goshawk-communications.com. Subtitles are included with an explanatory video.  
 trial for deafness. 

Hope from birds ?

When the hair cells in our ears are lost, they’re gone for good. Can scientists regenerate them – and restore hearing? Carina Santos from our Biomedical Research team tells us more.

The ear is an extraordinary organ. It’s super-sensitive to sound, allowing us to hear the gentlest whisper or the chirp of a bird in noisy traffic (even with my implant!). But it has one distinct drawback. While the eye and nose have millions of receptors, the ear relies on 15,000 hair cells to detect and turn sound into electric signals, the only ‘language’ our brain understands. What’s worse, if we lose any of those 15,000 hair cells, they won’t regenerate. The result is sensorineural hearing loss.

The ear has three specific parts: 

We can’t regenerate our hair cells – but what about our feathered friends? Birds’ hair cells can be damaged again and again, and they’ll regenerate within weeks. That’s why scientists around the world are doing their utmost to understand how this regeneration takes place  

Hearing regeneration ?  Maybe one day

In a trial at the University of Kansas Medical Center, volunteers, who lost their hearing through damage or disease, will get an injection of a harmless virus containing a gene that should trigger the regrowth of the sensory receptors in the ear.

IMPORTANT From August 2016 all organisations in England that provide NHS or adult social care must follow the Accessible Information Standard by law. 
This means that if you are deaf or have hearing loss, you must get the right support to communicate well, and receive information that you can understand, when you need NHS care or publicly funded adult social care. 
To help you explain to your GP what support you need, Action on Hearing Loss have produced a  for you to send to your GP practice manager. If you’d prefer, you can fill in and hand this to your GP surgery’s receptionist. 
If you haven’t made use of one of these resources already, take action now to make sure your GP surgery knows how to support you. This has the potential to transform the way people who are deaf or have hearing loss access health and social care. Later  they’ll be gathering  feedback and reporting back to NHS England to make sure this transformation is happening.  View this email in BSL

I heard from Action on Hearing Loss as follows :  Disappointing but...
Hello Keith  I’m emailing to let you know that, unfortunately, following the second reading of the On-demand Audio Services bill the bill has not reached the second stage and will not become law. This was because there was not enough time to debate the bill and does not reflect a lack of support in parliament for our Subtitle it! campaign. Despite this disappointing news, which wasn’t entirely unexpected, the bill has still given a fantastic boost to our campaign. With your help, we have secured the support of ​65 MPs for our wider call for on-demand legislation, and we’ll be working with these MPs to pursue other routes to legislation in 2016, as well as influencing the government’s review of progress in the on-demand industry.  We’re now more determined than ever to ensure that people with hearing loss can have equal access to TV – whatever they watch, however they watch it.

SUBTITLED CINEMA

http://www.odeon.co.uk/accessibility/hearing-impaired-guests/

http://www.londonnet.co.uk/films/subtitled-movies-currently-showing-in-the-uk.html

http://www1.cineworld.co.uk/subtitled/


http://smdcs.org.uk/index.php/subtitled-cinema (Scotland)

http://www.yourlocalcinema.com/locations.html


Commendations for Subtitled Cinema
This is what people say about subtitled films:.  Personally, I see films at my local community cinema.  I ask them to put the subtitles on for the Sunday performance and they oblige.  With DVDs it is a simple matter.  

"I went to see the latest Hobbit film at Kingston Odeon with my mum at the weekend. She's 72 now and as deaf as a post but still drags me along to catch a subtitled film most weeks. Apart from the disgusting spiders, which I couldn't watch, the film was amazing. I can't believe what they can do in films nowadays, it seems anything is possible. Anyway without the subtitles my mum wouldn't have had a clue what was going on and to be honest neither would I and I'm not even deaf!

Went to see Mandela in Eagles Meadow Wrexham last week with subtitles. Fantastic. I love the cinema but struggle to hear cos of my deafness. My husband would like us to visit more often but because I struggle to hear I tend to dread going but this was brilliant as I followed every step of the film and we both had a lovely time. 

Incidentally, the State of Oregon is considering passing a law which would require any public TV to have subtitles set on (or get a fine!)  This would even include places like hairdressers which have TVs on display.

SUBTITLED TV

Sky has confirmed that they will launch subtitles on Sky-owned NOW TV by the end of 2016, and on the Sky Go and Sky Q apps soon after in 2017.. They have also confirmed they will ramp up subtitled Sky on-demand content, across Sky+ and Sky Q from September this year..  Now lets hear from BBC and ITV

SUBTITLED THEATRE What's on : Theatre Captioning

http://www.starkey.com/online-hearing-test  One of many on-line tests for hearing.  They do one for iPads and other mobile devices

I am for ever pushing the idea of using speech recognition on tablets or phones as a way to communicate with deaf people. It works excellently with an iPhone.  I wondered how far away someone could be from an iPhone or iPad in order to pick up voices. In experiments I found that one did not have to dictate straight into its microphone.  It was even picking up word correctly that were just being said casually.  So it would be best to use in a quiet situation, not in the hubbub of a pub. All tablets can now be dictated to.  One has to press a button on it to make it listen.  Then tap the screen to see what has been said. It is very accurate; more so than dictating to Siri on the iPad.: They do NOT have to be connected to wi-fi. I used one walking up a hill in Surrey. But that phone WAS connected to the internet.  Without Wi-fi or that sort of connection you won't get very far.

************

I saw this device on line. It is in Kansas libraries.  I wish they had them in banks here !
http://www.scomm.com/libraries-add-new-communication-devices/

The UbiDuo communication device

A very interesting series of on-line talks can be found at www.TED.com.  For people dependent on subtitles you will find that these can be turned on, unlike some sites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23SpCo4ookc&app=desktop  Google Glass for the deaf.  No subtitles. So disappointed Google has stopped selling these to the public.

Another article painted a much less optimistic view of the usefulness of Google Glass.  But they were seeing it from the limited point of view of those people who were born deaf. As they said, their speech was often not 'normal', so Glass was found to misinterpret much of what they said. So it was not much use for them to give it commands or dictate emails etc. They indicated that smartphones where much more use to them.  But because of the effects of ageing the greater number of deaf people have already learned correct pronunciation. In any case, my point is that Glass could interpret the speech of people with normal speech and display this, whether it is individually or from on line messages. I would prefer to be looking at someone who is speaking than looking at a phone or tablet, which is interpreting their speech as text (a well tried technology).

Suitable mobile phone http://www.connevans.co.uk/

FIRE ALARM SYSTEM

The Wi-safe2 Fire Alarm system has just got even better! With the addition of a 'heat' head, this clever, wirelessly interlinked system is very easy to use and gives extensive coverage in homes. All the smoke and heat heads (up to 50 of them!) are linked together, so if one goes off, they all do! With the strobe and vibrating pad you can sleep easy in your bed at night with a Wi-Safe2 system. Installation is straight forward; each of the heads 'talks' to the others so no wires are needed and the battery lasts for 10 years too!... http://www.connevans.co.uk/catalogue/3265532?tr=8256452

BAHA

Bone Anchored Hearing Aids, may be suitable for people with certain types of deafness - where the connection between the ear drum and the inner ear is not functioning, possibly because the tiny bones that conduct vibrations are not moving sufficiently. Sounds can be transmitted to the inner are just as satisfactorily through the bone of the skull.  In this case a titanium screw is inserted in the skull and a type of hearing aid (amplifier with microphone), can be attached to this (and detached at night, in the shower or when swimming.).  For some people this is not satisfactory and there is a slight chance of infection where the screw protrudes.  The latest version of this is similar to my cochlear implant in that a small metallic connection is inserted under the scalp.  The hearing aid is then attached by magnet.

But speech recognition would obviate the need for a signer.  Deaf people can read (honest!). In January 2015 Google withdrew Glass for sale. Disappointing that they did not catch on to the excellent opportunities for it to help the deaf.  But it is expected that a new version will be launched. An article in the PC Magazine points to where Google went wrong and how Microsoft may take up the baton with a Holographic version. Tapping into the game market is going to be more profitable than helping disabled people. So, don't hold your breathe waiting for a Holograph to help you SEE what people are saying.
But even the inexpensive Hudl tablet from Tesco had excellent speech recognition, so I still have hopes that there will soon be ways of making use of that. How about your bank having a screen facing you which interprets what the cashier is saying - or at the doctor's, or the checkout (next to the card machine). The technology is now cheap and accurate. But it needs a little imagination and the realisation that the hard of hearing will soon be one in five of the population 

A useful interactive guide as to how ears (are supposed to) work at http://www.amplifon.co.uk/interactive-ear/index.html

Many places offer free tests for people who are concerned about the hearing.  If you are lucky they will say your ears are full of wax !

A good explanation about cochlear implants http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/03/16/new-generation-of-bionic-ears-restore-hearing-to-profoundly-deaf-people/

With an implant, in good conditions (such as the audiology department or my own lounge, which is carpeted and full of furniture) I can understand over 90% of conversations. But when other people are talking or the TV is on or in a restaurant I cannot understand anything that is being said. I was please to see and article by Jan Moir in the Mail, who was bitterly complaining about how noisy restaurants were, even for those with good hearing. So, she did some research in restaurants all over England.  The noise levels were incredible, reaching as much as 107 Db (Pizza Express, Salisbury). Apart from the damage this is doing to people's hearing this is so anti social as people couldn't have a conversation. Apart from the noise of people talking ever louder and noise from the kitchen and cutlery draw and the inevitable music, this is put down to the fashionable layout. Tiled or hard wooden floors, no soft furnishings, not even a table cloth.  I thought it was just me who suffered from echo but it seems it is everyone,  Surely one of the pleasures of eating out is the social interaction one might expect - but don't get. When I eat out, the first thing I look for is a quiet corner.  But they are exceedingly scarce !

I do not intend to stop rabbiting on about Speech to text as a way forward for deaf people to understand what is being said. I conjectured (ten years ago) that the time would come when the computing power to convert speech to text would not necessarily be have to carried with you.  The speed of transmission to a big computer somewhere and back to you (and your speech recognition glasses/pad or phone) if not immediate, is not far behind.  After all, how long does it take for you to Google a question and get the answer ? Now I understand that with Apple's latest speech recognition program you can choose whether the recognition is processed 'in the cloud' (i.e in a big computer. or locally on your own machine (Google Glass/pad/phone). They reckon the Cloud processing will be more accurate. This is because it learns things about you. How to spell your name, your city, your wife's name etc. In fact they are even COLLECTING all this information about you ! Shades of the spying scandal. But my mini iPad is equally intelligent and learns all those things, too.  So maybe I don't need the Cloud ? The iPad doesn't even have to be connected to the net to function in this way.  But, make no mistake, folks, it is coming and one day you WILL be able to SEE what folks are saying.

Gene therapy to restore natural hearing has got as far as human guinea pigs !  But I have yet to hear that this is widespread www.newscientist.com/article/mg22229662.400-deaf-people-get-gene-tweak-to-restore-natural-hearing.html#.U1pmarS9KSM   There is another article HERE

See below for the additional use of Skype and a webcam.  In the end, when hearing aids were no longer powerful enough, I had to get a cochlear implant.  All information on Cochlear Implants have now been moved towards the end of this page.  You can use the Page Down Key to get there.

HARD OF HEARING: Visit http://www.amplifon.co.uk/ for hearing tests, hearing aids and hearing accessories”

Information on the range of hearing aids.
But bear in mind that the hearing aid business is BIG business and articles may try to influence you

One of the problems we have is hearing in a group.  I must investigate directional hearing aid microphones, which a friend tells me really does help.  I need one for my implant device, too. My latest cost the NHS £6000 but doesn't seem to be any better at this.

In January 2013 I was honoured to be invited to meet Mrs Cameron at 10 Downing Street. Here I am explaining why I like Skype.  I can see, hear and, if all else fails, read what people type !

Why I like Skype

With recent changes in government rules, a revolution is taking place in the provision of free NHS hearing aids. Local Primary Care Trusts in England can now accredit high street audiologists such as Specsavers to deliver hearing services on their behalf. This includes your hearing test, hearing aid fitting and aftercare, free. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have yet to announce whether they will adopt the same approach. Check your postcode at http://www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing/hearing-aids/nhs-hearing-aids/

But by 2015 there are stories about cutbacks affecting budgets for free hearing tests and aids, so it all seems to have been a piece of government hype - or just another crack in the NHS system to the benefit of private health care

BBC links which may help the hard of hearing http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/best_practice/useful_links.shtml#hearing

I was pleased to find SIRI, Apple's 'personal assistant' on a new mini iPad.  At a touch you can ask it questions in normal language and it gives you the answers audibly AND ALSO DISPLAYS THEM ON SCREEN

Google Glass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc4ox89bofk&feature=related%20Google%20glasses

These speech to text glasses are bound to be developed as they are talking about them being used by GAME PLAYERS rather than the billion deaf people in the world !  It is now ten years since I suggested them.  The technology, including speech recognition software, has now reached the stage where they can be a reality. Here is the CEO of Google, wearing Google glasses, with subtitles turned on, in a Youtube.

Larry Page Chairman of Google

 

N.B. People living in a London Borough who are profoundly or severely deaf can get a Freedom pass on London Transport

Bluetooth microphone SUBTITLES (CC Closed Captions)

These days many more apps and videos (e.g.Youtubes) enable subtitles.  Many are auto generated from the spoken word and are increasingly accurate. Sometimes you need to search for them, so click on areas of the screen and find something like "English auto generated" to turn them on.  The following link is a good guide to Subtitles  https://www.ideasforears.org.uk/blog/subtitles-for-video-calls/

Subtitles are so useful for deaf people, (or even people with normal hearing who is mystified as to what that pop singer is singing!). Most people have cottoned onto how to turn on Subtitles on a TV, although you may have to figure out how to get it on a controller.  There may be a button called subtitles or you may have to find your way through a maze from the Menu or Settings button. But why so complicated? I had to struggle to find out how to to turn it OFF !

Subtitled Youtube

If you see a small CC or two line icon at the bottom of a Youtube video it means that subtitles may be available. Click on the icon and then click on English automatic captions. The system may not be perfect - but who cares, it helps.

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=BLXLlaEOHEsSubtitlingturn on subtitles



Search by voice


SUBTITLED THEATRE

Register for emails with http://www.stagetext.org/  to see which theatres have text.  Stagetext is a charity which has been in operation since the year 2000. The train the captioners who input the text, which is then displayed on a screen. See their Youtubes on this at http://www.youtube.com/user/stagetext http://www.stagetext.org/news/122-new-performance-diary

Fed up with missing out, Peter Pullan MBE, Merfyn Williams and Geoff Brown, who are all  deaf or have a hearing loss, decided that enough was enough. In 2000 they pooled their savings and invested in a caption unit. The charity STAGETEXT (External link, opens new window) was born and has been improving access to the performing arts for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.

SUBTITLED CINEMA

http://www.yourlocalcinema.com/now.showing.html   An explanation : http://www.yourlocalcinema.com/explanation.html  All modern cinemas have the capability to project these but some may not do so unless requested and then only on specific days.  Comments from satisfied users  http://www.yourlocalcinema.com/quote.html  The War Horse film is one of them

Jack Ezra's Cinema Captioning system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6uDWl4wVFg&feature=youtu.be  Looks good.  I hope he gets the funding he needs

2020. At last ! Subtitled glasses at a cinema.. http://yourlocalcinema.com/challenge.html

Subtitles on ITV Player and BBC Player replays

Click the S on the bottom line.  These are obviously edited, so are accurate.

Subtitles on TV replays

GOOGLE GLASS : Nearly there but fell at the final (lucrative) fence

Just as the world was looking forward to the positive uses of Google Glass, Google had some negative press and, unlike their usual 'pushy' self, decided the run away like a frightened kitten. They should have put their efforts into developing it for REAL uses such as helping the millions of deaf people who need them.
See Captioning on Glass - using an Android phone to dictate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4zSWaoEREM&feature=youtu.be to the deaf person wearing Google Glass
A typically negative report on Google Glass by someone looking at it from the 'Deaf Community' point of view.  They sign and lip-read. They may have difficulty getting Glass to understand deaf people's their commands. But, for me, it has the real possibility of reinforcing what I get from my implant - just as I do from captioning on TV and Youtube.  See also http://keithbarrett.com/blog/is-google-glass-useful-for-the-deaf/
http://www.ageukhearingaids.co.uk/hearing-aid-news/hearing-aid-users-benefit-google-glass-patent  But this is also their Hearing Aid Service, so beware of a sales pitch
See also a review of Google Glass  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9c8M49vYQ4&feature=youtu.be
Yet another interesting article  http://limpingchicken.com/2013/05/07/william-mager-could-google-glass-be-the-deaf-communitys-disruptive-innovation/  
and this short demo https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4EvNxWhskf8

I have been rabbiting on about text glasses for the last ten years but, with the power of Google behind their project, it is at last within reach. They still have not caught on to the fact that several hundred million people out there would benefit from TEXT GLASSES but some day soon they will realise that there is money to be made from things other than internet advertising. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/apr/05/google?intcmp=239  and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4
Google Goggles

Speech recognition software for the iPadSee also my Youtube

All tablets now include speech recognition. It can be used without prior training and, because the iPad remembers words that you have used it will correctly capitalise first names or cities.. There is a certain amount of technique, such as "New Line" etc but the results exceeded anything I had seen before. So, if I was profoundly deaf (which I am, without my implant) someone could dictate something and I could SEE what they have said.  Beats asking them to write it all down.
Imagine if both parties had an iPad and the results were synchronised between the two gadgets. Once again a step nearer my speech recognition glasses.  

Here is what my wife dictated into the iPad, without any prior training of the system or instruction on how to use it. The iPad automatically inserted the apostrophes, hyphens and even capitalised words like Centre Parks where these were recognised as such.. Punctuation can be inserted by saying "Full Stop" (or 'period'), comma etc. And New Line works fine.  Ipad automatically capitalises a new sentence. I have highlighted the obvious errors in red.

"Now the summer holidays are in full swing parents may be wondering what to do to keep their children from being bored (.)grandparents can't pay a special role at the same time get to know their grandchildren better it is often found it that they behave much better for grandparents and for their own parents (.) so what sort of holidays windsuit children farmhouse cottages caravan and camping holidays are a good start for grandparents with small grandchildren and give security young children are lost (not) tourists so do not need or want cultured live is a specialist (it is better?) to give them experiences gradually to suit their ages Wynot promote less-expensive holidays to give them the basic experiences of life no doubt later on they will get involved with things like skiing which many schools organise Center Parks is a good example where you get a wide range of activities from football and sports training rollerskating cycling swimming and watersports equipment is always available for each sport each centre has a huge indoor Daruma (dome?) (see below**) containing an exotic call (pool) with regular wave sessions and yet there is always a shallow safe area for very small children for older ones the rapids are especially great great fan (fun) and most children will spend many happy hours racing down these there are always staff supervising such things giving children a sense of adventure that's making them safe as chalets that chalets off (er) their basic accommodation for self-catering families and there are good choices of restaurants Ormside (on site **) in addition to a supermarket these adventure holidays are available all the year-round and are enjoyable regardless of the weather and they are self-contained and situated in various parts of the country and throughout Europe usually in beautiful and wooded areas

*************  End of my speech to text rant (for now)

Did you know that an iPhone can be fitted with a directional microphone and that, with with an 'App', this can convey speech to earphones to both ears ? Directional microphones can be found at Amazon. The app used is soundAMP R, which is $4.99. Useful in crowded situations - e.g. pubs or meetings.  The iPhone, like many mobiles, can also be connected to hearing aid loops via Bluetooth

A research group at Barcelona School of Engineering has created a GPS-based application for (Android based) mobile devices to help users move around the city. The application can be used by everyone, including people with visual and hearing impairments, and with limited mobility and cognitive functions. The application offers users a step-by-step guide to reaching one's destination on foot or by bus. It is currently being used in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome, and will soon be available for Helsinki, Valencia and Zaragoza (not Britain?).

EAR WAX (Daily Mail article)
The writer, quoting from an old article by an ENT Specialist, stressed the need to be very careful if trying to clear wax from the ears.... that it is natural, a defence and that is works its way out automatically.  If you feel that wax is affecting your hearing, go to the doctor. Wax may be orange or brown.  Do not worry unless there is a green discharge. Any infection should be reported to your doctor. Perforated ear drums usually heal themselves in about 6 weeks. Earache while flying may be helped by yawning or holding your nose and blowing.  Use a nasal decongestant before boarding (Vick?).  I get this badly and always have sweets to suck when the plane is about to land
Atheroscelerosis
is a condition which affects the smallest bone in the body, the stapes (or stirrup) bone in the middle ear. This bone, along with the other two ‘ossicles’ (little bones) in the middle ear, normally transmits sound information from the eardrum into the inner ear as vibrations. In people who have atheroscelerosis, however, the stapes becomes fixed in place due to bone overgrowth; because it cannot move, it’s unable to pass sound information into the inner ear correctly, and hearing loss results Mobile phones

I find it difficult to use any phone but at least one can received text on mobiles. The Dorophone is thought to be the best for someone hard of hearing. It is more word based and does not depend much on 'apps', and uses simple text such as CALL, VIEW and SEARCH. Doro is also intending to issue an App which would enable approved contacts to monitor the whereabouts, battery level and usage, remotely.  I got one when the price came down.  I am disappointed that it will not link to my implant wirelessly.  In fact it seems to have problems being recognised by ANY Bluetooth equipment.

Tinnitus
Before I had a cochlear implant I had a form of tinnitus which sounded like a choir singing hymns.  I have now found and explanation: https://www.hearingdr.com/musical-ear-syndrome/  So I wasn't crazy after all !

An extensive article on this subject at https://www.residentadvisor.net/fe

A video showing exercises/head massage to help. Says it is often down to restricted Eustacian Tubes. It can't harm to try :https://youtu.be/lukuJtvgksM

and another at https://www.facebook.com/motivationaldoc/videos/476706022831473/?t=146

This one plays whistling sounds.  Lots of people say it helps  https://youtu.be/xUZOSg3a1rk

An article by Professor Peter Tass in the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience says that trials of a new piece of technology showed a reduction  of tinnitus in 4 out of 5 patients. The equipment is still quite expensive but involves wearing headphones which play sounds tuned to the frequency of the tinnitus experience by the patient. Approval by NICE is being sought, which could lead to this equipment being available on the NHS.  It is stressed that the type of tinnitus helped is 'tonal' rather than 'white noise' (hissing)

Although there is no known for Tinnitus some people find relief by having distracting noise being played on a computer of some kind.  There are several hearing aid manufacturers that have developed tinnitus apps – they are a good source of information, advice and knowledge on how best to help with your tinnitus. These include the GN Resound Relief app, the Oticon Tinnitus Sound app, the Phonak Balance app and the Starkey Relax app. These apps include a disclaimer stressing the importance of using the app under the guidance of a tinnitus professional. All these apps are free of charge, free of adverts andavailable on both iOS and Android.

Hearing dogs

With the right training, dogs can act as the ‘ears’ for youngsters, alerting them to everything from doorbells to smoke alarms – or even their parents’ voices calling them.  Read more: in this Daily Mail article 

See a signed film of a hymn here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGk6tnn9t-8&feature=player_embedded.  In fact there is great deal  on the net about the techniques of deaf people appreciating music. Just Google something like : deaf listening to music.

A well known Cochlear implant video:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsOo3jzkhYA&feature=fvst , showing a 29 year old hearing her voice for the first time has had 9 million views !

The Deafness Research site has some useful articles.  See http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk/

The disability of deafness is largely ignored when it comes to benefits. If you think you might qualify for DLA (Disabled Living Allowances) there are some useful explanatory films about these with sound, subtitles and BSL The films can be downloaded or a free DVD can be obtained. 

More on Speech to text

For a long time I have been looking forward to the day when I can buy speech to text glasses.  This possibility is getting ever closer.  Most tablets will now accept speech and display it very rapidly. See the video of a demo of Dragon Software on a tablet at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6-KSZOviAw&NR=1  (click the cc at the bottom of the screen and choose the Closed Captioning if you want to see subtitles.  They may not be 100% but really help) The video demonstrates text to speech on an iPad (or iPod or iPhone) Dragon can be downloaded free. It is a two part process. It records (accurately) as someone speaks, then the translation to text takes place and is displayed. But all of these apps depend upon either a WiFi or a mobile phone connection. Sony have also announced the development of subtitling glasses for cinemas (and hopefully theatres) See : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14654339  Once Sony, Apple, Microsoft, Google and the application writers get their act together (and realise there is millions to be made out of the hard of hearing!) this will actually happen.

Google have taken up the baton regarding speech-to-text. Using Chrome (v.11) I was able to talk to the computer without having to train it.  See http://translate.google.com/ and click on the microphone. Google instant translation
Choose a language to translate to (there are dozens). Click Speak and say your phrase clearly into your microphone.  As soon as you finish it will be translated. If you click Listen you can eve hear the pronunciation.  I am told it is very good, even in Chinese ! But it was mostly too quick for me to hear easily. 

This has always been the main stumbling block to my idea that deaf people could benefit from speech-to-text glasses. After all, without immediate recognition it would only be useful for individuals e.g. partners, who were prepared to train the program. Currently it only works with a few sites such as Google Translate. Here is an example but you can see more if you check some videos on Youtube

Hearing aids are being developed all the time. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1355150/Otologics-Carina-device-Woman-hears-time-40-years-doctors-implant-hearing-aid-inside-HEAD.html Even a completely internal hearing aid.. It is interesting to see that the new aid allows one to hear from both sides.  I have thought for some time that my cochlear implant should have two microphones.  However, you can see that this implant is totally different from a conventional cochlear implant in that it activates the small bones in the ear.  For many people this would not help as the problem they have is within the cochlear itself

There is an enthusiastic article about the use of a Bluetooth Loop HERE

Captioning of films in cinemas would be a great help. Almost all digital films (DVDs) have captioning providing the text of the soundtrack of a movie for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In some cinemas the text is transmitted to a receiver at the customer's seat. For blind or partially sighted people Audio descriptions provide information about key visual aspects of a movie through descriptions of scenery, facial expressions, costumes, action, and scene changes during pauses in dialogue.

Major movie studios distribute many wide-release movies with captions and/or descriptions. All cinemas can turn on captions if they want.

Recommended telephones include the Mybelle 650 amplified phone, BT Freestyle (cordless) and the Doro Phone Easy Mobiles (see Amazon)

The  Doro Big Button phone may be better for some older people, especially as it is hearing aid compatible. 

 http://www.geemarc.com/ Do various amplified phones. All Amazon users seemed happy.

Anyone who knows me will know that I keep going on about mobile phones that will one day interpret speech as text without the need to go through a third party.  By 2012 this had become commonplace on most smartphones including the iPhone. One thing I feel sure is that speech recognition for our purposes does NOT have to be as 100% accurate as that used in business. We have brains to interpret text (or TV subtitles !) See the excellent My Call to Text app by Phonak.

So roll on the speech recognition phone (mobile or otherwise) But, as shown in my sample above, the speech recognition had become very easy and accurate by 2012, despite the scepticism of the RNID - the oddly renamed Action on Hearing loss, who reassured me that the software was not up to it (in 2013).

Deaf alarm cartoon

Bookies Important to me is the announcement that mobile phones will eventually have High Definition (HD) Voice.  Deaf people have great difficulty with the quality of telephones. HD voice increases the speech bandwidth from the standard 300 - 3400 Hz to 50 - 7000Hz. This will mean people with high or low frequency deficiencies will have a much better chance of getting the message.  Hopefully, the pushey mobile phone sector will influence advances on land lines and their receivers.

  Google Voicemail

This looks interesting as it promises to be able to save phone calls to Voicemail, then enables you to SEE what was said.  Watch this space and visit http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html to see and hear videos

Feb 2010 Could fully implantable hearing devices be on the horizon?

Millions of people today benefit from hearing aids and cochlear implants. Unfortunately, however, these devices can easily fall off during movement and are damaged by water. One solution would be to have a fully implantable hearing device that can be placed under the skin. The company, Otologics made some headway with this concept but I have not seen anything about it recently (2017)

 Tinnitus  You can order a leaflet on managing tinnitus from http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk

Being very deaf in one ear obviously makes it difficult to hear someone who is talking to you from that side e.g. in a car. Many people put up with this but it IS possible to get a CROS hearing aid set-up.

A CROS hearing aid

CROS stands for Contralateral Routing of Signal. In this case the wearer has two devices, one for each ear, linked by a small cord at the back of the head and connected to a hearing aid with a plastic 'shoe'. The 'hearing aid' in the ear with no hearing is just a battery powered microphone . If the hearing is normal in the better ear the hearing aid is a non-amplified speaker. For someone with hearing loss in that ear the aid will be a traditional digital aid. Any sound on the poorer side is picked up and fed to the better ear. Careful computer tuning of a digital hearing aid is required to optimize the benefit.

The aid on the bad ear side (transmitter/ microphone) is attached using an open mould, full, in-ear mould or just a hook. The receiver in the better ear has a volume control and open or in-ear mould.

Advantages

People with a unilateral loss will be aware of sounds/speech on their poor side, which is a help in small group situations, in the car etc.
Some people even learn to localise sound by interpreting the different sound quality.

Disadvantages

Hearing in background noise does not improve and may actually be made worse and most people remain unable to localise sound.
Some people find managing the system cumbersome .

Depending on a person's deafness there may be a case for investigating the Bi-CROS device. This enables sound to be transmitted to two hearing aids from either side.  But this device is fairly uncommon.

If you are especially deaf in ONE ear, get in touch with your Audiology Department and enquire about CROS hearing aids

Bone anchored hearing aids   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7uDYnt5W8Ro

(BAHAs) have been in use in the UK for around twenty years but are not widely known even among medical professionals. BAHAs conduct sound through the skull bone whereas conventional hearing aids conduct sound through air. A BAHA can be suitable for a person with conductive (middle ear) hearing loss, for example if they suffer with recurrent ear infections, and can also be of benefit to a person with single-sided sensorineural (inner ear) hearing loss or someone with a combination of the two, known as a mixed hearing loss.  BAHA operations are usually conducted in the same centres as Cochlear Implants.  See HERE The Bi-CROS additional microphone (above) can also be used with a BAHA.  I do wonder if they could also be used with my Cochlear Implant

Bone Anchorded Hearing Aid

For people for whom a BAHA or Cochlear Implant is unsuitable  there is such things as an Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) or a Penetrating ABI. The PABI is where they implant thin wires inside the cochlear nucleus of the brainstem rather than just on the outside of the nucleus. The PABI surgery is more complex than the ABI but is not more dangerous. It does take longer to program all the wires during the activation time. Cochlear America is the only company that makes the ABI implants. There have been about 500 ABI/PABI implants done in the USA and just about 1000 world-wide since they have become approved.

  Glue Ear

A condition that affects mainly children, normally caused by an infection which blocks the eustachian tube resulting in the area behind the eardrum (the middle ear) becoming full of fluid and causing various levels of deafness. It usually clears up within a year.  A recent theory is that the infection may be related to acid reflux (from the stomach) so tests are being carried out to see if reducing that will prevent Glue Ear.

A chronic ear condition thought to affect more than a million people in the UK could be treated with Blu-Tack (Mail 25th August 09). The condition is the permanent opening of the eustachian tube, which runs from the middle ear to the throat. Its job is to equalise the pressure on either side of your ear drum. Normally, it opens briefly to do this when you are ascending or descending heights. If it remains open permanently it can result in the sounds of their breathing, talking, swallowing and heartbeat vibrating directly onto their ear drum(s) and are hugely overamplified. It can be quite distressing. The cause can be due to medication, an operation or just weight loss ( e.g as a result of chemotherapy) A treatment by attaching a piece of Blu-Tack to the eardrum is being trialled. This would not block the tube but might stop the ear drum from vibrating so much. However, this is NOT a DIY procedure !

Saw an advertisement for the 2008 Consumer's Guide to 350 Hearing Aids . It can be obtained by contacting the Hearing Aid Information Service on www.dhais.co.uk. Mind you, you have to give your name and address, which will, no doubt result in postal spam.



*********** 

SKYPE is useful to deaf people

It is a messenger services which allows audio chat, text chat and video with people who have the same set up, anywhere in the world, at no additional cost.  Just broadband. Helping someone set up took just one week, from ordering a webcam from Ebuyer to actually seeing and hearing each other.  Laptops and tablets have all this built in. With my earlier 2Mb broadband there appeared to be no delay in the speech and only slight jerkiness in the picture and we haven't been troubled by sound or picture drop outs or feedback even though we are using a webcam with internal microphone and separate speakers. So this really does score highly. There are 3 picture sizes from full screen to tiny.  With full screen there was no way to see and type text. And for me it is essential for me to have this as a back up. But the picture would certainly help deaf people who lip read and it helps to know when to interject. My only criticism of Skype is that I received several calls from unknowns (some even touting for sex).  I blocked each one but later found a setting which allows you to specify that you only want calls from people on your list.

Using a webcam with Skype

Lately I have found that Google Meet is the best for captions

Visual clues

Visual cues alone are an important aid to understanding face-to-face communication. The next steps will be to investigate how visual cues are used to improve comprehension in speech-reading and in understanding sign language. Professor Woll said, “We often don't realise that non-verbal visual cues play an important part in communication in both spoken language and sign language. By understanding the role of vision in language we can begin to develop better approaches to improving the communication of deaf and hard of hearing people”

A great discovery was that, though not all the programs have sub titles, the main ones do it is well worth getting these during the initial broadcast.  They are not yet available on 'catchup'.

Electronic Note Takers

These are people who sit by the deaf person and interpret what is being said at a meeting/lecture and typing it in large format on a laptop.  They can then let the deaf person have a printed copy of the talk/lecture. Although this is not quite what I was proposing lower down the page this may help, especially if you are hoping to study.  You will probably find that their are funds available to help with the cost.

A friend runs a film club locally, using a computer, DVDs and a projector. I suggested that on one of the show nights he could turn on the DVD subtitles and he has agreed to do this.

One speaker talked about subtitling in cinemas : "The technology is available today to get over this problem, so I am asking, why is it not there? For example, if any of you have been to Disney World in Florida or Disney Land in California, in the cinemas there, they have a system called reflective captioning. When you go in, you say, "I am deaf." They say, "Fine." They give you this piece of Perspex, which you can see through. You can sit anywhere in the auditorium and slot it into the seat in front of you. At the back of the auditorium is a screen on which the scripted film in subtitle format is projected in a mirror image. When you sit down, you adjust this Perspex and it reflects the subtitles in front of you, so you can watch the film and read the subtitles. No one else in the theatre can see them, so the argument of it spoils the film for other viewers doesn't apply. I am the only one who can see the subtitles. I can sit anywhere in the theatre, go to any performance I want and watch the film.

************** 

Did you know that deafened people are entitled to claim the DLA?

The DLA is a benefit to help working age people with disabilities and includes people who have become deafened. It is a non- means tested benefit and is tax free. It is available for anyone between the ages of 16 and 65 years.(foiled again!)  Many deafened people do not claim the DLA. This is partly because they are not aware they are entitled to it, and partly because the DLA form can be complicated to fill in - many questions may initially not appear relevant to people with a hearing loss.

There are cordless neck loops which can be used with a hearing aid and some with equipment with Bluetooth capability, including mobile phones.  Not funded by the NHS or Social Services in the UK. It enables you to hear the other person in another room if they are wearing a microphone, hear TV, or even find someone in a hypermarket !

TV subtitles Nov 07

Re this subject I have found that Virgin TV allows the recording of subtitles. : One of the greatest helps for deaf people is subtitling on TV. I understand that some Video Recorders used to record the subtitles of programs but I was dismayed to read  : "VCRs with subtitling recording facilities are now no longer available " One solution was explained by Colin Foxton, the managing director of Sarabec. Colin says "With the advent of digital terrestrial TV through the BBC, there is now a much cheaper solution. Purchase a FreeView digital TV set top decoder, about �30 from Dixons/Comet etc This will enable you to record subtitles to any VCR". Well, I got a set top box and it didn't work without an ugly outside aerial.

However, if you are willing to fit the aerial yourself and are assured that you are in the Postcode area for terrestrial digital reception you could economise a little.......

Cochlear Implants (This section is all about this technology  As I had a cochlear implant (20th March 08) I am becoming something of an expert on it!  There are several sites that will give you an insight into the successes and problems with cochlear implants,  Bear in mind the two main makers/sellers

I have had a cochlear implant since I was 76 and am now 88.  I would HATE to be without it. I can hear most things, including speech, fairly normally.  It is especially good with high frequency sounds, such as bird song, road/traffic noise, the car indicator etc.  it is NOT so good at low frequency sounds, which includes most music and singing. I also then to avoid telephoning except in emergencies
 
Most people are given the choice as to which manufacturer they go for.  Mine is from Advanced Bionics.  The one by Cochlear is also well known. The technology varies quite considerably. And once you have the operation you are stuck with the external device which works with the implant.  So, investigate thoroughly.

Do I qualify for an NHS implant ?
The current NICE criteria for CI is 80dB at two frequencies from 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz, 3000 Hz, 4000Hz. You can still have referral for CI assessment if you struggle with well fitted hearing aids and your speech intelligibility is low. There is nothing wrong with asking your audiologist whether you can have speech perception test. And you can still ask for CI referral as the criteria is not limited only to hearing thresholds. Many factors are taken into account


2020 :I was put out when AB changed my processor (at vast cost to the NHS) and it did not include bluetooth - which would help me with telephoning. and listening to a modern Y=TV. They have finally caught on - at a ridiculous price.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GYn8DIwKjg&authuser=0
It has always been possible to buy an extra, called the Compilot, which enables the processor to pick up bluetooth signals.  I have no experience of this.  Like all CI equipment it is expensive and the Compilot is not provided under the NHS.

Initially the AB processor was not bluetooth capable.unless you bought the Compilot but they have now caught up with the technology and are selling a different battery with a slot at the bottom to attach the bluetooth gadget.  This is particularly useful for people who have difficulty using a telephone. The call can be picked up anywhere within about 12 feet of the phone and should give much clearer sound.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIZ7cc-KPqU&feature=youtu.be
I now have to decide whether the additional convenience is worth this (inevitably) expensive add-on.  I now understad the then next AB processor will have integral bluetooth.  The other major CI maker, Cochlear, already has this in their processors.

And the Compilot has its problems, too.  One customer was not happy :" had trouble with the Compilot just dying. It just wont charge anymore. This happened several times while it was under warranty. Now it’s out of warranty and it is dead again. It’s almost $300. I’ve ordered a new one, but complained, only to be told that the expected lifespan of the Compilot battery is one year, and it can’t be replaced, you must buy a new unit."

This seems ridiculous.  The battery should be changeable and last much longer than a year.  My initial rechargeable batteries for my processor lasted over 5 years and were still fully functional (all day). I have three. They cost over £100 each but could not be used with the new processor.  What a waste !

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/27503562  Sounds of CI.  I find that mine is much clearer than this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/40799704
  Kids suggest how to talk to deaf. This is VERY relevant.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-49878307  Radio contact with a CI for deaf students. Can also be used by people with hearing aids providing the teacher/lecturer has a suitable microphone i.e Bluetooth. 

There are two main companies that make the cochlear implant processors.  The one I have is from Advanced Bionics (AB) in the USA.  The other company is called Cochlear.  I had a choice.  But once taken I have to stick with them.  When I got a replacement I assumed it would link to my mobile phone, as many hearing aid have done for years.  Not so.  This article about the developments being made by Cochlear show how far ahead of AB they are
2017/07/cochlear-unveils-nucleus-7-worlds-first-made-for-iphone-cochlear-implant-sound-processor-interview.html

The percentage of people with implants per million in the UK is around 75, with equal numbers of children and adults. We are about 9th in the league, way behind Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the UK a single implant CAN be done on the NHS if your Health Authority will pay for it.  NICE excludes double implants as being poor value.  So, it is one more "Postcode Lottery".  There are only about 7000 people in the UK who have a cochlear implant and many are children who were born deaf. I was therefore very surprised when, after many years of waiting, I was finally told that the Health Authority had approved my assessment (despite me being 76).  The whole operation, plus subsequent adjustments and training, costs at least £30,000 and the assessment alone costs £3,000. It consists of a series of appointments where your level of hearing in both ears is tested; a check is made as to where the problem lies; there is a CT Scan to look at your cranium and the cochlear structure; and tests as to your level of balance. Obviously, you will only be considered suitable if your problem cannot be alleviated by hearing aids. And, as the operation includes carving out a place in the skull to fit part of the electronics (under the scalp behind the ear) and also inserting an electronic probe down through the skull and into the cochlear it self, they have to make sure that this is possible in each case. The surgeon has to avoid your facial nerve and your jugular vein (!).  The one would make you very ugly, the other would......!   There is a slightly increased risk of meningitis, so one is vaccinated against this.
If you go ahead and get one you will then have to attend weekly sessions for a couple of months followed by up to a year of occasional sessions to adjust the device and also to help you adjust to the new sounds that you receive. To some extent your brain has to adjust to these. Although you will hear much more, the sounds may not be very natural.  But for someone who has got to the end of the line when it comes to hearing aids, or who was born deaf, it must be a considerable improvement.  Certainly the people I have talked to who had one, were encouraging and were able to carry on normal conversations. The equipment consists a behind the ear speech processor, similar to a slightly larger hearing aid, with a rechargeable battery, with a flexible microphone stalk by the ear, . I have three  interchangeable batteries and one has to be recharged every night. The processor is connected to the electrodes via a magnetised headpiece, which is attched to a small plated under the scalp. This enables it to be detached easily when you are sleeping, showering or when tyour world is too noisy !.

Cochlear Implant     

The operation is done under general anesthetic and takes up to three hours.  One is warned that you might have slight pain from the surgery and the likelihood of balance problems due to the leakage of fluids which are contained in the cochlear and what I call the gyroscopes.  The two are connected. The fluid is what causes you to feel giddy if you play that game where someone turns you round quickly with your head down.

MY EXPERIENCE

Cochlear implants are electrical prosthetic devices that stimulate inner ear of individuals who have lost their cochlear sensory cells, restoring usable hearing to deaf patients. Cochlear implant electrodes are placed in the cochlear. It requires a battery operated speech processor which is connected to the electrodes via a receiver under the scalp.  The actual connection is made by a magnet, so the processor can be removed at night and when showering etc.

My CI was arranged by the Emmeline Centre, Cambridge under the NHS in 2008. After a great number of preparatory sessions including scans the operation was carried out in a private (Nuffield) hospital.

I did not feel too bad when I woke up.  Spent the night in hospital with a dressing over the wound on my scalp and was allowed to return home the following day after a visit from the surgeon. I felt decidedly 'light headed' and he asked me to walk to the room door and back, which I managed to do quite well.  I was not allowed to drive, however, but returned home feeling that everything had gone very well. (Day 2-3) After a couple of days my balance deteriorated and I found myself needing to hang onto the bannister going downstairs and feeling for a wall here and there, although I could walk without aid if I concentrated. I even found I could ride a bicycle. (Day 3) One night I was woken by dizziness three times in succession and was sick; a VERY unpleasant feeling which I had not experienced since I was quite young. I did not expect this and was really bothered, thinking I would never again be able to sleep without the worry that I would wake up dizzy. I decided to prop myself up in bed for the rest of that night and subsequent nights and the dizziness did not recur.  I continued to get occasional head and ear aches but had been given Ibuprofen and Paracetamol  tablets in case I was uncomfortable.
I had to wait TWO MONTHS after my operation before the speech processor was fitted and switched on and I was able to learn whether I have had any hearing restored to that ear.  
At last, after the program was installed in the speech processor and it was finally turned on and I was able to hear the nurse speaking without the aid of a traditional hearing aid.  The voice was a little distant and 'thin' and fairly high but right from the start I was able to understand what she was saying and passed a simple test with and without lip reading.  As had been explained before, it takes time for the brain to adjust to speech.  But other sounds, from the rustling of paper, to the flushing of a loo were extremely clear.  This keyboard is now making a great deal of noise, which it never did before and the blackbirds are singing sweetly outside my room !  So, things are at least up to expectations and maybe a little better.  It is a relief to feel that, instead a gradually worsening situation, my hearing and understanding will improve over time. I have read subsequently that not everyone has such and instantaneous success.  So, for some people it takes time to recognise what is being said.  My experience may be better than for someone who has had lifelong deafness or poor hearing

I have now cut the rest of the first year story re my implant. Summing up... I would hate to be without my implant. If I take it off I can now just about hear noise with my left ear, so am profoundly deaf (as I expected when I started this page). The latest test (random sentences spoken by a person on a TV) showed that at the seven years ago my hearing was as follows : With a digital hearing aid in the left ear I got 11% correct.  With the aid in the right ear I got 34% right.  With both aids I got 50% right.  Today I get 98% correct in quiet surroundings (up from 86% a year ago) and 82% with simulated noise.  Need I say more ?

In 2017 Advanced Bionics, the processor manufactures, has decided to 'upgrade' it. It cost the NHS over £6000 and it is worse !  The very worst part is that several of the rechargeable batteries, which have been fine for seven years, now last for much less than a day. As they are guaranteed I have returned them to the hospital so they can get them replaced.  They cost £150 each !  I would prefer to have kept my old processor but AB have made sure that they will not be supported. Apart from the poorer performance I have made several other official criticisms of the new version and hope something might be done about it.

An annual test in Dec 2019 gave a result of 86% for random (Male) speech. Surprisingly I only recognised about 68% of sentences spoken by a female.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant  There are videos at Youtube e.g. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=SmNpP2fr57A

Amazingly this Youtube shows a: Cochlear implant by robot  Wow !

A book is now available on Amazon and Kindle.  It is called "He is not Me" by Stuart McNaughton.  It is about his delight at being able to hear again using a cochlear implant.  For anyone wondering whether they should request an implant is a book well worth reading  

If anyone is considering a implant (having found that hearing aids are not sufficient) one of the most important things is to be able to meet someone who has had an implant.  You may be able to find people in your area via the local hospital or the local Deaf Association.  But I would be willing to meet people if a convenient meeting place could be arranged. Bear in mind that I live in Newmarket in the east of England but often travel to London, Surrey (Dorking/Guildford) and Coventry.
I have a created a lengthier Word document describing my implant operation and progress. Please email me if you would like a copy.
Although publicity material indicates people playing a guitar etc with an implant I, personally, have not been successful in adapting to music.  Articles by the National Cochlear Implant Users Association (check newsletters) indicate that it may be possible for some people to relearn musical appreciation over a period of time.  I can only say that has not happened to me after four years. A talk by a music therapist recognised that music may be more difficult for people who remember music (as I do) from hearing times than for children who have never experienced music as we do. They appear to get more out of it.

Some parents of deaf children are unsure if they should have their children implanted, especially those who are deaf themselves and belong to the 'deaf community' and depend upon signing. It is difficult for me to give an opinion on such a decision but a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=v1TA_AbhqA8 shows how children develop hearing and language, whether implanted at the age of 1 or as late as 7. I can only say that if my child was profoundly deaf I would go for it.

There are several sites which received comments dna questions about the various cochlear implants.  Whilst I could hear and understand everything from the moment it was switched on, others seem to have more difficulty, especially people who have never had much or any hearing. Others report the speech sounding robotic or like chipmunks.Certainly impolants are better (excellent) at picking up high frequency sounds. An example is the car indocator or a flushing loo ! So, yes, voices can sound a little different and music, for me at least, sounds discordant. But I was interested to see this comment on one site..

"I didnt have chipmunks, but had a “hollowness" in voices for over a year after implanting and mapping (adjustments by the audiologist) .  However I asked my Audi to get in touch with AB HQ.  They sent her a few suggestions.  One was turning off high frequency electrode #1.  I then missed some music and instruments.  So then she tried turning off the “soft voice” feature.  That did the trick. Now I have electrode #1 turned back on again."

So for people who are not happy with the sounds they get, there is always hope of adjustments

Implant videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTzTt1VnHRM&feature=fvsr A delightful video of a baby reacting to the his mother's voice

But the best description I have seen is of a girl at Oxford who had an implant at 4 years old. As a result her speech is normal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icPsm9RnO2E I should add that surgery on the child's scalp was very obvious compared with mine, where the electrodes were introduced to the cochlear through the bone structure. But the limitations of the sound quality are a good demonstration as they are difficult to describe to someone who has not had an implant and who might be contemplating it. It shows the difficulty in crowd situations but does not demonstrate that in a quiet, well upholstered room my hearing is petty damned good.  And as for high frequency sounds, such as birds, I think my hearing may even be superior to yours !

My speech processor is American.  More can be seen at http://www.bionicear-europe.com/en/get-connected/get-connected.html  and https://www.advancedbionics.com/. Whilst it is unlikely that I would be given a further operation, nevertheless there can be advances in the hardware and software of the speech processor.

Years after getting my cochlear implant, at last the news is out that they exist.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yqr0DpJjJFk of a woman hearing for the first time in 40 years. She is also blind. Although I am sure the emotion shown is genuine, I think her speech is too good for someone deaf from birth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWe6iJmHKUE&feature=related..    (Nicki. Switch on, Part 1. Girl about 18 hears for the first time. Cries)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBpbOkWt4jo&NR=1  (Nicki Switch on, Part 2. Really hearing now. Audiologist tests for loudness)

Even when a Cochlear Implant is not possible there is hope that someone can be helped to hear.  See the article on Brain Stem implants HERE

Hearing from both sides ? Some people have implants connected to both ears.
It would seem logical that one could be fitted with a second microphone by the other ear, connected to the speech processor of a single cochlear implant, it seems that they are also developing an implant where the connection is under the scalp. There is also a patent for a device where the whole thing is under the scalp - even the battery.

Both the AB and Cochlear devices have  facilities to waterproof them, even for swimmers.

END OF SECTION ON COCHLEA IMPLANTS

Typetalk
and NGTS (Next Generation Text Service ) BT provides a service which can be used in connection with a Minicom textphone

This involves a third party who types out what your caller says and this appears as text on a small screen on the phone. When someone calls you or you call them a special number has to entered before the main number. People who also have difficulty talking, as well as hearing, can type what they have to say but for the hard of hearing they can talk in the normal way. Because such conversations take a little longer than usual BT gives up to 60% discount on the call charges.  So a 20p call would only cost 8p. I do have one of these devices but must admit I have not used it often and will probably give it back.  It obviously needs awareness on the part of callers how to use the system and you yourself have to get used to the operation of the machine. The Nokia Communicator 9210 mobile phone (along with Vodaphone) is one of the only ones so far capable of connecting to the Typetalk system and it can also receive answers as text on its screen. It must also be used in connection with the Vodaphone service. Hopefully this will become more commonplace with mobile phones and providers See also www.spinvox.com which will automatically translate voicemail (left on mobiles) to text. 

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Lipreading

.I have attended lipreading classes, though it is not a simple skill.  Some sounds look very much like others.  For instance the tutor carefully considered the words Fashionable and Vegetable and declared that they were nearly identical to the lip reader.  One has to take the context into account. So, watch out when you tell a lip reader she is fashionable. Also, the dialect that a person uses can confuse. The words Bath /'Barth' or Laugh/'Larf' look different if said by a Southerner or a Northerner (UK). But it is surprising how much one can glean from facial expressions and body language.  I have also used a lipreading video, which helps as you can go over it again and again. In the words of a well know supermarket "Every Little Helps!"

See if you are any good at lip reading at http://www.jtuk.com/training/part1.html  

Hearing Dogs

You can apply to www.hearingdogs.org.uk Tel 01844 348 100 (voice & minicom) Fax 01844 348 101 E-mail info@hearing-dogs.co.uk  if you are severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf ; need assistance to be made aware of sounds like the alarm clock, doorbell, telephone, smoke alarm etc.;  want to feel independent from your family or colleagues, or if you spend a lot of time alone,  can provide a dog with proper exercise, grooming, food and medical care (help may be given if this is difficult for you), would enjoy the close company of a dog, and want to build a working partnership with one, don't have other dogs at home (except perhaps for an elderly pet dog), are over 18 years of age There is quite a long waiting list and the procedure is very carefully controlled.

Shopping/Banking

Supermarkets are easy unless they start asking you questions at the till.  But you can have great problems in many places. Before my implant I got to the stage of asking people to write things down. I often find that tills do not show the cash required and I finish up offering a note and getting a load of change. I find that banks are impossible because they usually have a glass screen and their loop system are rarely much use. Far better to put your accounts on the net and use ATMs. Switching money around on line is a joy compared with trying to deal over a counter.

There are numerous links to Internet sites which may prove useful

Suppliers of equipment

http://www.easylinkuk.co.uk.  Vibrating pagers for doorbells, smoke alarms etc..
http://www.connevans.com/   Full catalogue
http://www.sarabec.com  Get the catalogue
http://www.21stcenturyhearing.com/



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