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Video glasses: see under THE FUTURE, below, for more detail
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!). Already access to the internet and e-mail has given me much greater opportunities than my mother or grandfather enjoyed - both of them quite deaf in their later years.
A useful interactive guide as to how ears (are supposed to) work at http://www.amplifon.co.uk/interactive-ear/index.html
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
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 !
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. This revolution will benefit patients across 50% of England by the end of 2012 and the whole of England by December 2013. 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/
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 Glasses 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 only 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 on a Youtube.
Loud mobile phone http://www.connevans.co.uk/store/viewProduct.do?id=4638836&tr=4664686
September 2012 N.B. People living in a London Borough who are profoundly or severely deaf can get a Freedom pass on London Transport
Action on Hearing Loss (previously the RNID) are working with the University of Surrey to finalise a microphone with Listening Array technology. This enables the user to select the type of sound they wish to receive, such as speech. It should also minimise background noise which makes it so difficult to distinguish what people are saying
USING ONE'S EYES
May 2013 I have always been keen to develop the idea that deaf people might be able to benefit from being able to READ what people say and, early on, purchased speech recognition software. For people with iPads the Dragon Naturally speaking app is free. But, even better on the latest iPads and and Mini iPad speech recognition is built in and a microphone icon appears whenever there is an opportunity to use speech to text, as in an e-mail. I was thus very keen to take this further and purchased a Bluetooth (wireless) headset and 'paired' it with my iPad. As I expected (though no-one had told me or written about this) I was able to dictate remotely (from outside a room to someone who had the iPad. The accuracy of the text, and the speed with which it appeared, at last gave me the "Eureka" moment I had been looking for. Imagine a profoundly deaf student in a lecture theatre or classroom, able to SEE what the teacher is saying. What a revelation! They could even print it out later. I just wonder why I had to find this rather than being informed by the deaf associations from which I receive information. We are not talking megabucks here. A mini iPad is £260 and a Bluetooth Microphone is another £10
The remaining problems for this to work with just any speaker is the fact that the microphone has to be 'paired' with a specific bluetooth device such as a smartphone; and the fact that the text translation is not 'streamed'. (There is a slight delay before it is displayed). But these things would not be a problem for a student in class if the tutor wore a microphone or had one on his desk. And it would not be a problem in the home so that one person could communicate with the other.
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.
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 is on trial (Beta) so may not be perfect - but who cares, it helps.
A good example of subtitles and speech to text on mobile phones can be found at http://www.google.com/mobile/voice-search/. Be sure to click to turn on the subtitles (a red CC) and also make the picture full screen with the icon bottom right. See also Voice Actions for various phone types http://www.google.com/mobile/voice-actions/
Subtitled Theatres. 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
Here are a couple of examples of well-known shows :
Her Majesty's Theatre (Captioned) T: 0844 482 5165 E: email@example.com Phantom of the Opera - Sat 2 Mar 13, 2:30pm
Palace Theatre Singing in the rain (Captioned) T: 0844 482 9677 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.palace-theatre.co.uk
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
Subtitles on ITV Player and BBC Player replays. Click the S on the bottom line. These are obviously edited, so are accurate.
NEARLY HERE ! 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
Speech recognition software for the iPad : The most well know is Dragon Naturally Speaking. I was amazed to find that this can be downloaded to an iPad free of charge and that, unlike one you buy for a PC it is regularly updated. What is more 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.
** I was intrigued where iPad had found the word Daruma. It is a traditional Japanese doll ! Ormside is a place in Cumbria
************* 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?).
Daily Mail. 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
Tinnitus : 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)
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: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2109880/Hear-boy-They-warn-danger-pass-messages-parents--specially-trained-dogs-giving-deaf-children-new-life.html#ixzz1o9jIpVtt
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 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.
New free software for mobile phones and PCs (called Myfriend) from Aupix allows phones, such as the HTC Evo 4G, Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab Android smartphones to receive Video of the caller AND ALSO REAL TIME TEXT. This means you receive and send text immediately during a conversation. Just like Skype ! It even allows you to talk to the phone, with the speech being converted to text. The one thing still missing is the ability for the phone to translate the received speech of the caller to text. Nevertheless the info stresses that the Myfriend software "is a revolution in communication for the deaf and hard of hearing" All help pages are BSL signed See http://www.aupix.com/blog/44-myfriendmobilelaunch?device=desktop. Having downloaded the Myfriend software just log in to www.myfriendcentral.com to get a user name and password. There is a slight delay before your account is 'provisioned'. This initiative is supported by an EEC grant to make communication more 'inclusive', especially for deaf people. I will add to this section when I have tested the software
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. See the video of a demo 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) This demonstrates text to speech on an iPad (or iPod or iPhone) using a free Dragon app. , which can be downloaded. It is a two part process. It records (accurately) as someone speaks, then the translation to text takes place and is displayed. This is NOT the instantaneous application that I am looking for but that will come as the computer speed gets ever faster. 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.
There are already applications which convert speech to text on an iPhone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxHXuGTfFY0&feature=player_detailpage. Before I had my implant I carried around a wipeable board so people could write down what they wanted to say to me. Even though the application does not translate immediately this would have been useful.
In a discussion on the net at http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/10/machine-translation-and-speech.html The Google specialist in Speech/Voice recognition reports on the progress they are making. There is even an application enabling you to speak to your phone to make a search of the net. See http://www.google.com/mobile/google-mobile-app/
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. The speech recognition facility has to be turned on as a feature of Chrome. Sometimes the microphone symbol can get in the way of things you wish to write, so there are pros and cons.
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
Recent research appears to show that passive smoking can affect the hearing. Mind you, passive smoking is common at discos, which must compound the problem
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
Soundbites ? http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2011/01/soundbite_cochleardental_hearing_aid_gets_fda_clearance.html shows a new device which acts like a cochlear implant, sending sound to both cochlea via the teeth. Being developed by Sonitus of San Mateo HERE
I knew I should have taken out a patent. I have been wittering on about speech to text glasses for several years. At last, someone has caught up with me. See http://www.psfk.com/2010/06/visual-hearing-aid-projects-speech-and-text.html. I notice the Danish inventor is called Mads. Delving further, I get the impression it is just a design proposal. I could do that ! We need someone to MAKE the things. There are over 150 million deaf people in three major countries. There are 8 million in the UK alone. 100 million in Europe. There must be a market out there.
A great site for Newbies is run by http://www.silversurfersday.org.uk/ It has an interactive basic computing guide and for deaf people, like me, it even has subtitles (if you want) Click 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, but accessibility is limited to theatres that have installed the equipment. Several current movies now showing are available with captions or descriptions.
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. Around £93.
The Geemarc Clearsound CL8300 is one of the loudest mobiles around. See http://www.geemarc.com/ It is also a basic phone. So no camera, no music, no touch screen. Just easy to use.
They also do a corded amplified phone with flashing light + tone control : the Clearound CL100. Good with high frequency deafness. All Amazon users seemed happy.
HARD OF HEARING: Visit http://www.amplifon.co.uk/ for hearing tests, hearing aids and hearing accessories
http://www.hearingdirect.com. Provide in the ear and behind the ear digital hearing aids at reasonable prices. They give a 30 day money back guarantee
http://www.proidee.co.uk/shop sell a mini hearing aid for £26.50 + postage. Looks like a 'Blutooth' Headset rather than a hearing aid
http://www.hearmoreonline.co.uk/ sell a hearing device that looks more like a Bluetooth gadget. It is £29.95 and comes with a moneyback guarantee
September 2010. 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 !) A well know example of this is the old joke that goes:
"I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid; Aoccdrnig to rscheearch
at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are,
the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm.
This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef,
but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? And I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!"
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).
Viagra and Deafness (Mail 21st May 2010) Men who take Viagra have been warned they may DOUBLE their risk of hearing loss. High doses of the drug have been shown to damage hearing in mice, but until now only a few anecdotal cases had been described in humans. Now a new U.S study has confirmed the link. The study, based on a national sample of American men over 40, found that slightly more than one in six of those who did not take Viagra-like drugs were deaf or hard of hearing. Among those who took pills for erectile dysfunction, however, almost one in three had hearing loss. This was not seen in men who used tadalafil (Cialis ) or vardenafil (Levitra ). "What did you say, dear ?".
July 2010 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 change of getting the message. Hopefully, the pushing mobile phone sector will influence advances on land lines and their receivers.
March 2010 Speech to text again. My pet hobbyhorse. Ken Harrenstein is deaf and works for Google in their video department. See the interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL24ExfjurI&feature=player_embedded# which indicates that Google is intent on making captioned videos on Youtube more commonplace. See also the article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8550830.stm
Feb 2010 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. Recent advances in technology have made it possible to implant a specially developed microphone under the skin and it is also now possible to implant a battery under the skin, which offers typical usage times of up to 35 hours. The battery can be recharged in less than an hour. These two advances mean that a fully implantable hearing device could soon become a reality. This technology has been developed by Otologics, www.otologics.com, an American middle ear implant company. Their fully implantable middle ear device has now successfully passed through European clinical trials, has been awarded a CE Mark and will be made available in the UK later this year for certain types of hearing loss. Since September 2009, Cochlear, www.cochlear.com, has been partnering Otologics and is hoping to apply such technology to cochlear implants in an effort to also develop totally implantable versions. Only time will tell whether such devices will become a reality, but at this stage the good news is that such potential developments do look to be within our reach. If you have any queries about fully implantable hearing devices, please contact Rory Kehoe, email@example.com, an independent consultant retained by Otologics LLC.
Cheap Hearing aids ? If you want to get something that may help but for some reason don't want to go for an NHS aid or expensive private aid there are things called Smart Ear, Magni Ear or similar that may do the trick. They don't use a mould for your ear, just a simple plug. But I haven't tried them, so no guarantees.
Expensive hearing aids ? Nov 2010. An 'invisible' hearing aid is being marketed by Phonak. It is so small it sits in the ear canal next to the ear drum. It has to be fitted by an audiologist and is worn round the clock, even when showering. and remains in place for around 4 months or when the batteries run out. It is hired out at £115 a month, which covers replacements and check-ups. That is £1380 per annum.
28th November 2009 Tinnitus You can order a leaflet on managing tinnitus from http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk
See also the Action on Hearing Loss (was RNID) site at http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/tinnitus.aspx
Mail 17th November Sonitus, an American company has developed a hearing device which is attached to your teeth (providing you still have some) This works by transmitting sound through the bone to your auditory nerve and would be a great help for people who cannot wear hearing aids or do not wish to have 'Bone anchored hearing aids' or cochlear implants. Not yet available in the UK. But, if interested, see http://www.sonitusmedical.com/product/
A range of equipment can be found at www.deafequipment.co.uk
See also http://www.bellman.se/web/page.php?catid=212 for the Bellman® Visit Pager BE1230 The Bellman Visit Pager receives signals from the Bellman Visit transmitters and alerts you by using a range of different vibration- and light signals for the various different alarms. By using the Pager, it is possible to move around freely in your home or into the garden and still be reached. The Pager is small enough to be put into a pocket or be attached to the trouser band for example. It works in conjunction with Bellman door bells, phone attachments, alarm clocks and fire alarms. The phone attachment can also be used as a push button gadget that will contact people wearing a pager. If you are lucky you may get the whole kit provided by your Social Services Department
Disability Benefits. There is a film about this with subtitles and BSL. Click HERE
A good video on Back Pain, with subtitles, HERE http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Back-pain/Pages/Introduction.aspx Doubtless other NHS videos will include subtitles.
Unilateral Hearing Loss 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.
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.
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.
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.
So. 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 (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
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.
Daily Telegraph 28 Mar 2009 Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created the complex hair cells and the neurons needed for hearing, from human stem cells.
February 2009. Deafness. Trials are being held in the USA with a combined cochlear implant and hearing aid. Normally, a cochlear implant disables any residual hearing in the ear but the new technique attempts to retain the ear drum hearing. This has the advantage of enabling more low frequency hearing, the implant improving the medium and high frequency sounds which are lost during the aging process. See HERE
February 09 http://deafnessresearchuk.blogspot.com/ Is a new blog from Deafness Research (who will also send you a monthly newsletter)
Interesting page on communicating with someone with hearing problems at http://www.addenbrookes.org.uk/serv/clin/surg/audiology/howcomm1.html
Glue Ear (Mail30th March 2010) A condition that affects mainly children, normally caused by an infection which blocks the eustachian tube (see below) 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 !
Daily Telegraph 28 Mar 2009 Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created the complex hair cells and the neurons needed for hearing, from human stem cells.
February 2009. Deafness. Trials are being held in the USA with a combined cochlear implant and hearing aid. Normally, a cochlear implant disables any residual hearing in the ear but the new technique attempts to retain the ear drum hearing. This has the advantage of enabling more low frequency hearing, the implant improving the medium and high frequency sounds which are lost during the aging process. See HERE
Visual clues for the deaf and hard of Hearing In a recent study to decide whether people can identify sentence boundaries all groups were able to able to do so at levels significantly above chance. This was true in their own language and even in a sign language they did not know, even though the context and grammar of the narrative in the unfamiliar language could not be understood. Similarly, they were able to make such judgments in silent English. In addition, signers and non-signers could tell the difference between the full-stops and the boundaries that occurred within sentences. The results show that visual cues alone are an important aid to understanding face-to-face communication. The next steps will be to investigate how visual prosodic 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
November 08. Otoscelerosis can be a cause of deafness. It has been discovered that this abnormal bone growth can be traced to an underactive gene (TBGF 1) which affects some people. In the future this may help prevent this abnormal growth.
Sept 08 I am 77 (now 80) and severely deaf but, after several years of waiting, my application for a cochlear implant was approved. It has been very successful. I recommend anyone whose life is being disrupted by deafness to look into this. See Emmeline Centre, Cambridge
Oct 2012 (Mail) Vertigo Dizziness is common at whatever age and is often associated with the inner ear, where the fluid is mainly responsible for our balance. But vertigo cause by the sudden movement of the head is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It is usually brief and is likely to be caused by calcium crystals tumbling through the canals in the inner ear. Motion sickness pills may not be the correct treatment in this case. Better to be treated with the Epley Manoeuvre or Cawthorne-Cooksey exercises. These, under the direct of a physiotherapist attempt to move the crystals out of the canals. It usually only requires one session.
Otitis Externa Otitis externa is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. It is an inflammation and sometimes infection of the skin of the ear canal that can cause symptoms such as itchiness, dulled hearing and pain. Swimming is a common cause of otitis externa, especially in regular swimmers. Sometimes it can causes hearing loss and pain. It is treatable. Deafness Research UK has produced a leaflet, Trouble with your ears?, that includes advice and information on ear infection, ear discomfort and problems with earwax. For a free copy of the leaflet, or to speak to a member of their Information Service, call the Deafness Research UK Information Service on 0808 808 2222 or use this link www.deafnessresearch.org.uk .
Deafness Female sex hormone protects hearing in males and females. The development of new treatments for hearing loss may soon be possible after new research on receptors (proteins which receive chemical signals) for the female sex hormone estradiol. Professor Barbara Canlon (Sweden) has found that estradiol has a protective effect on hearing.
Deafness In a breakthrough in research designed to find cures for hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance problems, scientists have perfected a technique that provides a reliable new source of cells critical to understanding certain inner ear disorders. Hair cells are the essential sound and balance detectors in the inner ear. Damage to these cells is a key factor in loss of hearing and balance and, while birds, fishes, and amphibians can regrow damaged hair cells, humans cannot. Researches have isolated and frozen bird hair cells, making them more available for experiment.
Tinnitus (Mail 28/08/07) Research in Arkansas and Tuebingen (Germany) Universities, using magnetism applied to the brain has helped a number of people suffering from Tinnitus (ringing or other noises in the ears) The RNID estimates that as many as 7 million people in the UK suffer from this and, up until now, there has been no known cure.
New Hearing Aids May 08 Open fit hearing aids, which are now available on the NHS, do not require a bespoke earmould to hold the aid in place, but instead rely on thin plastic tubing and open fittings to connect the hearing aid into the ear canal. See HERE
29th August Gene transfer is being trialled to enable the regrowth of hair cells essential for normal hearing. The next stage is to do this in mice before experiments on humans. Research being carried out in Italy . See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080903134211.htm
Did you know ? They have discovered that fruit flies have the same hearing structure as you and I ! Imagine doing an implant on a fruit fly !
Further interesting research at Berkley HERE
18th August 08 Mobile phone company 3 is offering mobile broadband from £10 a month with a free mobile USB modem. If it is fast enough and reliable enough it must surely be possible have it interpret speech as text 'on the fly'. The 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people in this country would at last find a mobile phone useful. And maybe some of the 150 million deaf Chinese will be pleased, too. But as they say in the shops " Sorry, there is no call for that product"
May 08. I have had a cochlear implant. See below for details.
** Sky TV can now be installed for a one-off £75. With this you can record subtitles for future viewing. See below
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.
Cochlear Implants See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant There are videos at Youtube e.g. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=SmNpP2fr57A
A new 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 See http://www.heisnotme.com/
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 !
As I had a cochlear implant (20th March 08) I am becoming something of an expert on it! See a page on the (Emmeline) centre which did my operation HERE
My speech processor is American. More can be seen at http://www.bionicear-europe.com/en/get-connected/get-connected.html and http://www.advancedbionics.com/uk/en/products.html. 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.
MUSIC Another recording (with subtitling) discusses music and this is described by an American sounding woman and is better. Click HERE (you need broadband to get these to 'stream'). However, this discussion indicates that, while many adults complain that music is not how they used to know it (and this is my case), children who have been deaf from birth do get something out of being exposed to music. Generally, music with a pronounced beat, such as Pop/Rock,is more easy to accept, whereas orchestral music is not accurately translated by processor, which is designed mainly for the interpretation of speech. Solo vocals with simple rhythms and solo singers such as Country and western or folk music may be better - e.g. Johnny Cash. But, in my case, most music is just an rather unpleasant noise. But statistics show that quite a few implant users do listen to music.
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 aleviated 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 they go ahead and fit 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 microphone and speech processor, similar to a slightly larger hearing aid, with a rechargeable battery, . I have four interchangeable batteries and one has to be recharged every night. The electronics section, under the scalp is connected to the processor via a round magnetised connector and thin cable.
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.
21st March. 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. (Day 1) 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 Paracetemol tablets in case I was uncomfortable. (Day 4) Another surprise was the loss of sensation on the side of the tongue on the side which the operation had been performed and also a loss of taste. This is, apparently, normal. The taste buds revived after a few days and I became less unbalanced after about three weeks. More a question of my brain being accustomed to the new situation than any repair of the balance mechanism. Had a checkup and head x-ray. 15th April. Everything appears satisfactory so far but I have to wait for the speech processor to be fitted. I found that my driving was not affected, even during the period when my balance was disturbed, so went back to driving about ten days after the operation. 28th April: Received a list of appointments and was disappointed to see that my next one is on the 20th May, which means that 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. As I was struggling on with one feeble hearing aid (the hearing having been destroyed in my implanted ear), things became MORE difficult and I had to ask people to write things down. I find that the grandchildren are more understanding than adults in this respect. I think it is difficult for adults, who have known you as a hearing person, to grasp that just talking louder does not help much. It was unfortunate that the operation had to be performed on my better ear. But there was a complication with the left ear, the area being too close to my left jugular (!). One doesn't argue with surgeons about such matters !
20th May. Attended the hospital for most of the afternoon. After an explanation as to what I might expect, the speech processor was fitted behind my ear and the magnetic connection placed on my head. Then began a lengthy setting up process when I was able to hear tones and was told to respond to these for lowest and highest acceptable volumes. This is done for each of the electrodes which are now in my cochlear. At last, after the program was installed in the speech processor 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 make out 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.
1st June. Had a second adjustment session followed by a test of word recognition. I achieved 86%, which is a great deal more than when I took the same test with two digital aids. (I was then only able to correctly distinguish 50% ). I am able to hold conversations with people, which I was unable to do without a great deal of effort (and embarrassment) while wearing hearing aids. My confidence to do things like order drinks and go shopping has improved.
12th July 08 It is now 4 months since I had my cochlear implant and things have gone according to plan. I would say that my hearing is back to about 70% of normal. I have attended a couple more tuning sessions when the speech processor has been adjusted via a (Dell) computer (I always knew they would come in useful when I got my hands on a PC in 1982 !) I am now able to hold normal conversations with people providing the surroundings are suitable. Still not brilliant in a noisy restaurant or in an echoing room. I have been able to have long chats with several people using Skype on this PC. I use the speakers and a small webcam with an internal microphone. With Skype (which I now find is better than Live Messenger) someone can always type the odd word if I have found any difficulty. I have even managed conversations on the telephone, though Skype is better. Part of the training at the clinic was how to control people who are talking to you by phone. e.g. " I am a bit deaf can you speak more slowly please" " Did you say 01600 555898 ?" or " Was that A for Apple ?" The first serious phone call I needed to make was to my bank. I got the usual " Press 1 if you want...." Well, you can't control a robot, so I gave up and went down to the branch, where I made myself understood to a human being - and could understand her, too.
12 th July 09 I have now cut the rest of the first year story re my implant. I have now finished the regular checkups and adjustments and will just attend the clinic annually or if there is a problem. 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 beginning (March 08) 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. With the implant I got 98% correct in quiet surroundings (up from 86% a year ago) and 82% with simulated noise. Need I say more ?
June 2010 An annual checkup and reprogramming. The new program includes a 'clear speech' element. This was developed at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge - the one that I regularly attend to assist in their research. I found that this has improved my ability to understand things like radio and TV. It is good to know that programs can be developed to help people with implants without the need for a replacement of the internal probes. I am amazed that the rechargeable batteries seem as good as new after two years.
If it is good for one ear, why not two ? See HERE However, from my experience, unless they can get over the slight loss of balance because of loss of fluid in the balance organ, I would be seriously concerned about having an additional implant.
NEW Hearing Aids (2008) : Some NHS patients are now being offered an 'Open Ear' hearing aid. This can been done immediately after hearing tests as it does not require the use of a fitted plastic mould. For further details see on the Deafness Research site HERE They are not suitable for people with serious hearing loss.
SKYPE. April 2008 This is another of the messenger services which allow 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. With my 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.
Visual clues In a recent study to decide whether people can identify sentence boundaries all groups were able to able to do so at levels significantly above chance. This was true in their own language and even in a sign language they did not know, even though the context and grammar of the narrative in the unfamiliar language could not be understood. Similarly, they were able to make such judgments in silent English. In addition, signers and non-signers could tell the difference between the full-stops and the boundaries that occurred within sentences. The results show that visual cues alone are an important aid to understanding face-to-face communication. The next steps will be to investigate how visual prosodic 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
Deafness Female sex hormone protects hearing in males and females. The development of new treatments for hearing loss may soon be possible after new research on receptors (proteins which receive chemical signals) for the female sex hormone estradiol. One of three types of oestrogen, estradiol normally regulates the menstrual cycle and helps the development of a female body. It is known that changes in levels of the hormone can affect hearing in women throughout their menstrual cycle and after the menopause. Estradiol is also present in men, synthesised from testosterone by the enzyme aromatase. In elderly men, the hormone regulates bone formation and cardiovascular tone. In addition to its gender-specific effects, the hormone also promotes cell survival in both men and women. Now Professor Barbara Canlon and her colleagues at Swedens Karolinska Institute have found that estradiol has a protective effect on hearing. This is the first study to show that the male auditory system has oestrogen receptors and they seem to function in the same manner as in females says Professor Canlon, who adds that because products which activate ER-beta are already available on the market, clinical trials should not be far off. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
April 08 Encouraging stories from people who have found work despite their deafness. See http://www.workingwithouthearing.com/s/stories.htm
The Assus Minibook from Research Machines is £169 or £199. It runs the Linux operating system (free) and has Open Office (free), webcam, microphone, speech recognition ?, wireless, 3 USB sockets and an SD card slot so the solid hard disk can be increased from 2 Gb to 10gb minimum.
If you are looking for a good amplified telephone the following has been recommended by a friend : Geemarc CL100 Amplified Telephone with Volume & Tone Control. Around £30. It is said to be better (adjustable) for people with high frequency hearing impairment (most older people) and has induction loop (T position) to work with hearing aids.
The David Ormerod Hearing Centres in Boots are now advertising digital aids from £495 per pair. More expensive models (up to £1600 (pair) are claimed to have superior feedback control, auto volume control, background noise reduction, extra speech emphasis, echostop and wind rush managing. It seems as if hearing aids are getting more sophisticated and cheaper (like computers)
In an article in the Mail Sir Rocco Forte described his early deafness, due in part to discos and pheasant shooting. He reckons his £5,000 aids are great for him. They have multiple microphones, which help with direction and frequency but also have remote control . He also uses a streamer, which is a Blutooth device, which directs calls from his mobile phone to his hearing aids. But he finds that rather fiddly.
If you think that you might benefit from some form of hearing aid but would like to try a cheaper alternative here are a couple of suggestions, though I cannot claim to have tried either : (1) The Magniear 9000 Ultra is an in-the-ear aid costing just £14.99 from HERE or (2) The Smart Ear HERE is a receiver which clips to a belt and has two earpieces like an iPod. £19.95 + P & P from 0871 434 4350 90 day trial with money back guarantee
December 07 New hair cell culturing method for hearing loss. In a breakthrough that is likely to accelerate research designed to find cures for hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance problems, scientists have perfected a technique that provides a reliable new source of cells critical to understanding certain inner ear disorders. The cells, known as hair cells, are the essential sound and balance detectors in the inner ear. Damage to these cells is a key factor in loss of hearing and balance and, while birds, fishes, and amphibians can quickly regrow damaged hair cells, humans cannot. Until now, scientists seeking clues to this problem have been hampered by the difficult procedures required to gather these cells for their research. In the September edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), US researchers Zhengqing Hu and Jeffrey Corwin, both of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, describe a new technique for isolating and growing cells from the inner ears of chicken embryos. The scientists achieved these results by inducing avian cells to differentiate into hair cells. They were able to freeze and thaw the cultured cells, then grow new cells from the thawed cultures - a discovery that will make hair cells accessible to more researchers. The study of hair cells is crucial to understanding hearing loss because we are born with a limited number of these sound detectors in each ear, which can be easily damaged by age, certain illnesses, loud noises, and adverse reactions to medications. "Until now, scientists working to understand many inner ear disorders had to resort to difficult micro-dissections to gather even small numbers of these cells, which limited the types of research that could be pursued and slowed the pace of discoveries," says Corwin. The availability of vials of frozen cells that can be induced to form hair cells should remove a significant barrier to progress toward the development of treatments for the many patients who suffer from hearing loss and balance problems.
November 2007. Brilliant discovery! I got NTL/Virgin to install cable TV. In their effort to compete with Sky they are offering Broadband, telephone line and TV for £30 a month. Which is less than I have been paying for BB and telephone. But the great discovery was that, though not all the programs have sub titles the main ones do AND MY VIDEO RECORDER RECORDS THE SUBTITLES ! I was disappointed at first to find no subtitles but with the help of an on line contact I was able to turn that facility on. Thanks Ellen ! I believe that Freeview and SKY offer the same facility.
July 2007 A report from Deafnessresearch.org.uk says: A tiny electrode array placed directly in the auditory nerve could overcome the limitations of cochlear implants. Scientists at the University of Michigan Kresge Hearing Research Institute have shown that it's possible to implant a tiny, ultra-thin electrode array that can successfully transmit a wide range of sounds to the brain into the auditory nerve of animals. Apart from the fact that it is likely that it could ADD TO existing hearing (unlike a Cochlear implant) the array uses much less power and would not require the daily charging of batteries need by an implant device.
For people who wish to use a mobile phone with hearing aids in the T position it may be necessary to purchase a T-link device and some phones also require an adapter. Not very expensive. See http://www.deafequipment.co.uk/store/viewCategory.do?id=299. However, sophisticated mobile phones, such as the Blackberry, already have this feature.
Another brilliant service can be found at www.jajah.com. In this case you can use your own telephone but still make a call via you computer line either free or very cheaply. You can even try it without registering. Basically you just type in your friends number and click Call. Because the program has your own number it phones you back and you can then pick up the phone and talk as normally. If you have a corded telephone with T position capability this means that you can use it this way.
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. For such a service in Norfolk see http://www.wordwise-web.co.uk/
A little progress: 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.
TINNITUS See http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/tinnitus.aspx
There are four million people in the UK who suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears). And more than 300,000 are so badly affected that they cannot lead a normal life. The origin of these "phantom sounds" is not yet known, which is a major obstacle in the search for a cure. Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss. Studies in animals have shown that hearing loss due to damage to the inner ear can cause tinnitus around the same time as activity increases in certain parts of the brain involved in processing sound. Scientists are not clear however whether this 'over-activity' is a cause of tinnitus or just a symptom of it.
You can read about Tinnitus, get free leaflets and read more personal stories from people who live with tinnitus: at www.deafnessresearch.org.uk/
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, known as RTMS, is a technique that has been tested as a treatment for tinnitus over the past couple of years. During rTMS a stimulating coil is placed over the patient's scalp and an electric current is rapidly switched on and off. This creates a weak magnetic field that reaches up to 2cm into the top layers of the brain, causing changes to the electrical activity of neurons. Still in the experimental stages, the treatment is thought to work by inhibiting the tinnitus signal and has been most effective at suppressing tinnitus when applied over the left temporal lobe of the brain. However, clinical trials have shown that the treatment is more effective in people who have had tinnitus for less than four years. New research at the University of Konstanz and University of Regensburg in Germany may shed light on why the treatment is less effective for longer-term tinnitus sufferers.
Deafness Research says that some people, plagued with tinnitus, get help by having background music and natural sounds playing at the times of the day when you find the tinnitus most noticeable. It is possible to buy DVDs or CDs for this purpose. Stress may also be a cause and relaxation techniques such as yoga may help. It is also thought that an overproduction of the neurotransmitter glutamate can be linked to the condition. See also the British Tinnitus Association : http://www.tinnitus.org.uk/
The RNID (now called http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ )has a page on Tinnitus and even a sample of the sound . I have read that there is some equipment that is suppose to mask the tinnitus sound. In my case I do not suffer from such sounds but, on occasion get repeated known tunes, which are impossible to stop. I am sure I am not alone in this. But it is probably not as annoying as tinnitus.
Researchers in Berlin have been looking at this by making a computer model of the hearing nerve and some parts of the brain the nerves signal to. One possibility is that the nerve cells try to compensate for the lack of stimulation after hearing loss by becoming easier to activate, even to the extent of generating signals without any sound being present. Using previous research on nerve signalling, they produced a model that shows the same increase in brain activity if nerves compensate for lack of sound as has been seen in laboratory research. This fits with the tinnitus theory that is behind the development of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and the researchers have even used their model to demonstrate how therapies based on sound generators may be affecting the brain activity seen in tinnitus. They hope that this model could be useful in the future search for better tinnitus treatments.
(Mail 28/08/07) Research in Arkansas and Tuebingen (Germany) Universities, using magnetism applied to the brain has helped a number of people suffering from Tinnitus (ringing or other noises in the ears) The RNID estimates that as many as 7 million people in the UK suffer from this and, up until now, there has been no known cure.
There are some interesting speeches (in PDF format) from the NATIONAL CONVENTION for DEAFENED PEOPLE
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."
The result of a survey done by Specsavers (admittedly not unbiased) Sunday Express 4th June 06 : The survey first points out that Amplivox also trade as Ultratone, Hearing Health, National Campaign for Better Hearing and Active Life. Scrivens also trade as The Hearing Company. What is remarkable is that the same aids sold by these companies from different outlets can vary so much in price. The comparisons are for a pair of digital aids in each case : The same pair of Siemens Phoenix aids from Hidden Hearing can vary from £900 to £2,398. (Wow!) Specsavers will charge you a standard £595 for the same product. So there is an extra charge of £1803 in this instance or as much as £2205 if you go to Sietech Hearing. It is scandalous ! What is all this rubbish about Consumer Protection ? Who cares ? It is only the old and deaf who are being ripped off. Do check these prices. You never know an element of competition might have crept in at last
Sept 08. The most recent survey still shows enormous discrepancies between prices - even from the same company
In yet another visit to the audiologist (Sept 06) they discovered that my high frequency hearing is almost nil. The one good thing about this that she was able to retune my hearing aids to eliminate the high frequency range and boost the low. The result was that the amplification was much greater - and with no feedback whistle. In fact it is quite difficult to make the aids whistle - which is a relief for my wife as well as everyone else. But the extra power has meant that I have to rapidly switch my aids off in noisy (low frequency) situations - e.g. traffic - as it is so uncomfortable. I really believe that this is damaging my remaining hearing but have no real alternative. On that subject the RNID are warning youngsters not to have their iPods up too high. In a recent survey 8 out of 10 had them at over 80dB. Damage starts at around 85dB.
June 06.Just been in hospital for a gallstone op and had to tell at least 50 doctors and nurses that I couldn't understand a word they said and would they please write it down (despite a big notice daughter stuck over my head). If only I had had that speech to text PDA. See next para. See the Assus MiniBook at the top of the page
In March 06 I wrote that 'I am looking for a device that will translate speech to text on a portable device such as a PDA, iPod or telephone. I SIMPLY DO NOT ACCEPT what the RNID say about speech recognition software. i.e that the software and the technology is still incapable of being used in an 'untrained' way (Most PC software can only be used after it has been trained to recognise a voice). The problem is that speech recognition software is designed to help bosses who can't type, to produce a word processed document with at least 95% accuracy. But subtitling on TV appears 'on the fly' even when strangers are being interviewed. And I SIMPLY DO NOT ACCEPT that someone is typing away furiously as they speak (although they DO make occasional corrections). The story is that there is a lady who has the ability to listen to what is said and speaks into a microphone and the text is produced by the software. I now have "Dragon Naturally Speaking" speech recognition software and can say it is very accurate. The mistakes or 'funnies' that appear are as a result of misinterpretation by the software but also because of the inferiority of microphones. One MUST have a USB or Webcam type microphone, rather than a plug-in type. But subtitles (funnies included) are essential to my TV watching. Who cares if what appears is not absolutely correct? I can fill in the details from the context. No problem ! So, what we need is a programmer or company which has the courage to develop software that interprets sound as text regardless of their spelling and then 'ports' it to a hand-held device such as an iPod or mobile phone. See more on this lower down the page under "The Future". If the handheld computer is still considered too feeble they how about the processing being done elsewhere. After all, a road tracking device reacts to where a car is almost instantaneously. So, how about speech recognition via satellite ? The data about the roads is input to the car's software via a memory device (a DVD) or is input to a TomTom. So why not a speech recognition program or dictionary ? All that is needed is a program that will translate speech phonetically. It doesn't matter how it is spelt or even if the words join up. "dyoomeentosaythatyoocanotreedthis ?" But the it is essential that the speech recognition software is capable of interpreting voices without training, so anyone can be understood.
What was it that Barnes Wallis (the inventor of the bouncing bomb) used to say: "Why not? Why not?". I will keep on asking it until it happens. And now it is August 08 !
Well, it only took five more years for Dragon software on the iPad became really accurate and didn't require prior training and Dragon is a FREE app on the iPad.
I do get the most facetious arguments against this idea. One audiologist in South Africa I had emails from said " Ah ! But what if you go blind ?!" Really!
Skype, (www.skype.com) - the free telephone via Internet system, keeps on developing, though some of the facilities to land lines are charged. It is now possible to use Skype with a webcam. With SkypeOut you can call ordinary landline phones and with SkypeIn it is possible for people to call your special Skype number from a landline phone. Providing you have a handheld computer with Windows Mobile 5.0 or 2003 for Pocket PC .a 312MHz processor and a high speed wireless Internet connection it will be possible for people to call you (or you call them) anywhere there is a Wi-Fi facility. Using Skype it is even possible to have a conference call with up to nine people !!
Here is a sample of a conversation I was having with my daughter. As you may deduce I am answering audibly whilst she is backing up her speech with text. It is a pretty good compromise for deaf people and far superior to a text phone. And, if the other person has a webcam it is surprising how much one receives from that input :
Don't underestimate the use of the internet for phone calls. There are two advantages for hard of hearing people. First you will be able to hear calls via your speakers at a level of amplification set by yourself, SO you can hear with BOTH ears and with hearing aids in place. Secondly Skype reckons their calls are better than via a standard telephones, which have a very narrow frequency range. This means that high frequency sounds, such as S and F at the beginning of words, are lost to the hard of hearing. Skype technology gives a much wider range of frequency, which is why I was able to hear a conversation from folks in Australia better than I could a phone call from next door. And, if you have speech but little hearing why not try and get all you contacts on Skype, MSN or Yahoo. That way they can text you and you can talk back to them. Better still with a webcam so you can see each other. This really does seem to help. I have also had conversations using a normal land line phone but backed up by text on the computer. So, if you miss a word you can ask them to type it in. For more details of computer messaging click Here.
The RNID (now called http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ ) sends this message "Want to Hear More? If you're not hearing as well as you used to, or feel someone near you may be missing out, call 0808 808 0123 now and take our five-minute telephone hearing check. But bear in mind that you are getting the call via the poor phone system... see above. But you CAN take the test on their site.
I thought it might be interesting to join a discussion group at Deaf-UK and inadvertently added my email address. I subsequently had my mailbox inundated with email discussions which were quite irrelevant to me. Even though I am quite skilled at such things I had a dickens of a job to stop receiving the plethora of arguments that were apparently raging on this site. In the end, after unsubscribing several times, I redirected the discussions to an e-mail address I invented ! I trust no-one else uses that address. Most unlikely !
Texting is cumbersome compared with typing (easier on a phone like the Nokia, Blackberry or phone with a touch screen keyboard) Most ISP's allow the creation of SMS on a computer and there is usually a charge but the possibility of automatic speech to text conversion would give new hope to many deaf people. The RNID still reckons that is miles away due to people's accents, the lack of power in handheld computers and mobile phones, the poor quality of microphones and the trouble with ambient sound levels. But texting does not have to be grammatically correct. In fact, most texting is reduced to simple things like R U OK, C U L8R ! But one can also text mobiles from a PC. There is a small fee for this facility which you can use via Live Messenger.
A major site is the National Association for Deafened People is www.nadp.org.uk This is an association for people who become deaf in later life. It is for people who are more than just 'hard of hearing.
Amongst other things they sell related publications : Cochlea Implants 3rd Edition NADP £5.00 Disability Living Allowance (Working age Deafened people can claim it) Appeals and the Law Obtainable from The Link Centre, price £4 NADP Information Booklet NADP £2.50 Working without Hearing Mark Weston £3.00 Communication Tips NADP Free The NADP Information Leaflet & Membership Information NADP Free
NADP details : PO Box 50, Amersham, Buckinghamshire HP6 6XB, Telephone: 01227 379538 (answer phone), Textphone: 01227 762879, Fax: 01227 379538
See below for many more links to sites concerned with deafness
Did you know that BT offers a free (normally £1.75 a month) caller display if you sign up to BT Privacy ? This enables you to see who is calling before you pick up the phone. This is an attempt to reduce the nuisance of unwanted calls. These can also be reduced by opting into the Telephone Preference scheme. See www.btplc.com/
Disability Living Allowance
Did you know that deafened people are entitled to claim the DLA?
The DLA is a benefit to help 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. However, help is at hand. The LINK Centre has joined forces with the National Association for Deafened People and Enfield Disability Action to publish a booklet called 'Disability Living Allowance - deafened people can claim it'. It gives step by step, question by question guidance with filling in the DLA form with specific reference to deafness and communication. There is also a secondary leaflet giving help in the event that your first application is turned down, and you have to appeal. The cost is £2.40 (plus 60p p&p) for the main booklet and £1.00 (plus 60p p&p) for the appeals leaflet. Alternatively order both for a total of £4.00. To order contact the LINK Centre. To get hold of the DLA form, contact your local Benefits agency (www.disabilitybenefits.co.uk or www.dss.gov.uk).
There are a number of sites which help with finger signing such as http://www.deafsign.com/ds/fingerspell/fs_b2h_key.cfm and http://www.deafsign.com/ds/fingerspell/fs_b2h_trans.cfm
Health briefings January 14, 2005 Gene that may no longer turn a deaf ear to old age By Mark Henderson, Times Science Correspondent
Age-related deafness, which affects one in three people by the age of 70, is generally caused by the loss of many of the 50,000 hair cells that line the cochlea of the inner ear. The cells form a ribbon of vibration sensors which pick up sound waves and trigger nerve impulses that travel to the auditory cortex of the brain, but they are easily damaged by noise, infection or toxins. As mammals are born with all the hair cells they will ever have, and they do not regenerate when the cells die, the steady cell loss that accompanies aging causes irreversible deafness.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, however, have shown that knocking out a gene in mice can kick-start the regeneration of hair cells in the inner ear, raising the prospect of regrowing replacements that could reverse deafness. The results, which were published in the journal Science, indicate that similar genetic triggers could be used to regenerate other types of cell that do not normally regrow after injury, particularly neurons for treating degenerative brain conditions or paralysis. Unfortunately, the mice that had the gene turned off also started getting disoriented.
So, how do you like it, eh ?
So, although there is hope for the future, for now it seems likely that if they turn off this gene your hearing may return but you may finish up going round in circles. What's new ? Don't hold your breath.
The principle behind high frequency deafness is a biological reality that hearing experts refer to as presbycusis, or aging ear. Most adults over 40 or 50 seem to have some symptoms. This fact has been exploited by a security company, which invented a high frequency sound called the Mosquito. Played in area where young undesirables gather they disperse, unable to stand the noise, whilst most adults are unaffected. But youth has hit back by downloading a similar sound and using it as a ring tone on their mobile phones. This enables them to hear their phone ring in class, whilst the teacher is blithely unaware ! So, if you are deaf and find it difficult to hear your mobile ring, select the lowest frequency ring tone you can find.
My own experience :
I have found that deafness is that it is extremely disabling and particularly embarrassing. When people look at me as some sort of idiot I feel like shouting "I am DEAF NOT DAFT". I often just used to give up when making an enquiry at a shop as it is just too embarrassing to try and get the answer I am seeking. You can't expect a cashier in a busy, noisy checkout to write it down when you have just requested cashback and the girl has asked some unintelligible question, which you have asked her to repeat three times. Probably something simple like "Would you like a bag ?"
Surrounding noise is a nuisance. Chatting in a pub is impossible, never mind a disco, where normal hearing people have a problem.
Some sounds are easier to understand than others. My deafness started (as with many people) in the high frequency range. This doesn't necessarily mean high pitch but men's voices are easier to understand than women's. But the beginnings of words tend to be high frequency so one misses that important part. Numbers are particularly difficult. They don't relate to other parts of the sentence so you can't hazard a guess. In fact the context in which something is said is important and a completely new conversational direction can throw me completely. Also one does not realise how much one gets from facial expression and lip reading. I think everyone does it but it is more important for the deaf person.
I find that the main difficulty with hearing aids was "feedback" or the whistle that is produced when the aid is turned up. This occurs especially if the ear mould is not fitting correctly. What hearing people don't realise is that people with a high frequency deafness do not even hear that whistle which is annoying them. Recently I have been given a soft mould, which is somewhat better at staying in contact and limiting feedback. It is a bit like pushing chewing gum in your ear but it is an improvement. Tiny (expensive) aids are no use to me because the work their way out as I talk or eat! Many people give up on hearing aids because they are uncomfortable. They also encourage infection in the ear because of the lack of ventilation. I use a small bottle of stuff from the doc and squirt that in occasionally. Otherwise I get an infuriating and unscratchable itch. Fairly recently my tests showed that I have NO high frequency hearing. So the audiologist was able to tune the aid to ignore high frequencies and concentrate on the low. At least this has almost eliminated the feedback whistle.
One problem is that my threshold of aural pain was the same as it ever was, so there is a limit to which one can increase the volume of hearing aids. I disliked the frequent assessment tests I got because I was unable to hear some loud test sounds but they sent my head in a spin. It is a serious form of torture. I do wonder, too, whether just getting more amplified aids uses up what residual hearing I one has more quickly. The next step was a Cochlear Implant. This is a an operation which inserts electrodes in the inner ear, by-passing the damaged or atrophied hairs which act as sensors. It is quite a serious operation with some risks and the results are not perfect hearing. Implants pick up the high frequency sounds and really concentrate on speech recognition - not music. For more information on Cochlear Implants please click on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant And to see more on my implant experience at the end of this page please Page Down.
So far my technology includes
Skype amd Live Messenger: See above
Virgin Media TV. Some channels have subtitles and these can be recorded for later viewing
Cordless flashing door chime (Social Services) Plus another Friedland upstairs.
A Uniphone (Minicom) typetalk telephone ( Social Services) See Typetalk below.
A Teletext-enabled TV for subtitles on 888 - probably the most useful of all. Better still with cable TV or set top box you can record the subtitles.
My PC with e-mail. Many friends are also on SKYPE, MSN or AOL Buddy lists so Instant text chat is possible
Before the cochlear implant : Two digital hearing aids (NHS) The latest was a Danavox 283D. It was powerful and had a number of (pretty useless) features but the idiots forgot to add a switch. The only way to switch it off is to open the battery compartment. So the battery falls out often. And a quick switch off (when a bus goes by or the grandchildren are squabbling) is not easy I have cured this problem with some very low-tech stuff called Blu-tak! No, not in my ears. Just a small spot to keep the battery in place. (Update : With my implant you may find it useful to use one hearing aid. They are better with low frequency sounds and music.
Two BT amplified/speaker telephones, one with headset + handset (one for each ear)
I see the RNID renamed Action on Hearing Loss are now selling a variable amplifier you can add to any phone and also a text phone
I had a Sony infra-red plug-in for the TV with cordless double earphones. The main problem was that it cut out the sound for other people
Also a microphone, amplifier and neck loop, which is used with the hearing aid T position.(Social Services) My version uses wires but another type does not require a direct connection (see below). The speaker and listener both wear neck loops
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 !
Saving TV Subtitles ? To some extent this has been overcome by the provision of subtitles as an option on many DVDs
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.......
Aug 08 Sky TV is now being offered for a one off £75. This includes the dish, set top box and fitting by and engineer. They will also give you a limited time access to some of their paid channels hoping you will sign up to their £19 a month deal. However, I understand that if you don't take that up you can still keep the kit and use it for the Freeview channels. Some of these have subtitles and can be recorded to tape or DVD if you have that equipment. For Sky call 08700 103 502. You don't have to have a special TV
The RNID (now called http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ )magazine "One in Seven" had an article on this subject. Their verdict was (in order to record subtitles) to get a Sky. Like Virgin they are doing a special offer.
Most professional DVDs have subtitles in numerous languages and these are playable on most DVD players (from around £17.99) In fact, a friend who runs a cinema club, is promising to have a subtitled evening. With a laptop and a projector this is simple these days. And projectors are way down in price. I saw a 2000 lumens one is now under £400.
Cinemas with captions on screen.
Currently there are only 22 cinemas in England with Captioning equipment. And the Lottery Fund is providing this equipment for a further 78 cinemas.
If you are in a theatre or cinema, especially in London, do ask about their facilities. Some provide special earphones that pick up the sound. Some small theatres have loop systems that enable your hearing aid to pick up sound when it is put into the T position but you need to be sitting in the right place and, with the older type of aid you need to turn it up to maximum. And if you belong to a film club which projects DVDs you could ask them to turn on the subtitles.
Typetalk. 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.
In the USA this service uses a phone called Captel. It still uses an intermediary who uses speech recognition software. See http://www.captionedtelephone.com/about-captel.php and a video at http://www.captionedtelephone.com/videos/vid_1w.html
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
More on speech recognition... now outdated by the progress on the iPad (July 2012)
The Future ? My own wish list includes a device which would interpret people's speech as text. This is already possible, of course, with a PC. All you have to do is get hold of some software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and give your PC a short training course in your speech. But that is not very helpful when you are out and about. The same software would work on a laptop or, better still, a tablet PC, which are about 10 inches square and less than an inch thick and do not necessarily need a keyboard. But the real answer would be porting the software to a PDA (personal digital assistant) such as an O2 , Ipod or even a telephone. Up until now such devices do not use Windows XP etc but use a slimmed down version such as Windows CE or a totally different Operating System such as Palm. However, with the miniaturisation of memory and solid hard disks there is no technical reason why such a device should not be capable of holding a speech recognition program including its dictionary of words. Preferably the program should be held in 'flash' memory so it would be readily available and fast. Having programs and a dictionary ' burnt in' is not a new technique. The sinclair ZX80 (1980) held programs such as Basic, as did early BBC micros. All that would then be required would be an updateable dictionary and a two line display. Providing it was clear it would not matter if it was a mono display, which would be cheaper and would take less power. Microphones are often a weak link in the recording chain - witness anyone talking on TV has a mike pinned to them and probably a chunk of electronics in the small of their back. But technology is advancing in the field of wireless transmission and my preferred device would have WiFi capability so that a WiFi microphone could be used by the person talking, whether they were two feet away or in the next room (or at the front of a lecture theatre). Of course, this would mean that I would be looking down at my palmtop device all the time. So, with WiFi (or Bluetooth), why not transmit the text from the device to a pair of glasses? It is surprisingly easy to see something an inch in front of your eyes. So, I would prefer that the text is streamed in front of me so I can look at someone at the same time as I am 'seeing what they say'. I see that this idea is coming to fruition...............Good for Siemens. Gosh they make hearing aids, too !
All an amateur inventor's dream ? I don't think so. The main problem is that most speech recognition development is being aimed at applications which can reduce staffing by automating call centres even further. For my purposes the speech recognition does not have to be 100% accurate. Though instant subtitles on TV News sometimes make some funnies they are a great help to the hard of hearing. That is all I am expecting on my future PDA.
This is another variation on the theme. This £150 set is from www.Firebox.com. Whilst it is designed to view and hear videos stored on your iPod I see no reason why they should not be adapted to view text translated from speech. But, of course, they would need to be either semi transparent of have a clear lens on one side. I have written to the company.
The dream came a step closer with the invention of of new video technology called TOLED. Transparent, Organic, Light Emitting Diodes. These super efficient devices brighten like the back end of a firefly and, being semi transparent would be very suitable for the lenses. Already Kodak has a digital camera which uses an OLED screen. Also, Toshiba has invented a 4 Gb hard disk which is 3mm thick ! So, it would fit into a PDA or phone even. And I understand that Intel has developed software which may help speech recognition software by reading a person's lips.
NEW ? : IBM engineers are developing a system for mobile phones that will enable you to switch seamlessly from sound to Speech-recognised text. The idea behind this is to enable you to receive confidential calls. (New Scientist 07/02/04) I am, naturally, writing to them to point out the advantages of such a system to the one in seven people who are hard of hearing (over 30 million in the USA, 9 million in the UK) Also there is a development whereby software will lipread a person on TV (or on a 3G phone?) and thus improve speech recognition software.
But do you think I can work up any enthusiasm for this brilliant idea. Not on your nelly ! The standard response is that the technology is not that advanced . Rubbish ! These people must still be living in a cave ! But, if it sold more ring tones, or MP3 tunes or games they would be queuing up to get on the bandwagon. Don't they realise that the demography of the developed world will soon result in more elderly people than young ?!
However, having looked at the stab at Speech Recognition made by Vista (Feb 07) it is no wonder people are sceptical. See this video of a poor guy trying to use it for programming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyLqUf4cdwc&eurl=
There are numerous links to Internet sites which may prove useful
- www.deaf247.co.uk This gives access to most other sites
- The RNID (now called http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ ) - Good on line discussion groups)
- http://www.deafconnexions.org.uk Providing lipspeakers, notetakers and signers in Norfolk. See below.
- http://www.deafax.org. An organisation providing training (in computing) for the deaf. Either at their centre in Reading or elsewhere
- http://www.deafclub.co.uk/ A site with many helpful links
- http://www.deafworks.co.uk (deafness in the workplace - training etc)
- http://www.hear-it.org (An international site)
- http://www.hopeforhearing.co.uk Auditory brainstem implants
- http://www.linkcentre.org The Link Centre for Deafened People. Rehabilitation, training, support of newly deafened people. Based in Eastbourne but with some courses arranged elsewhere, including Scotland..
- Http://www.readspeaker.com A service which can be set up by companies to enable their websites to be 'heard'
- http://www.itcanhelp.org.uk/ ITCH - IT Can Help for disabled)
- http://www.yourlocalcinema.com To find out where subtitled films are available
- Captioned theatre performances : See the program in Hearing Concern magazine
- Hard of Hearing Clubs : Contact Hearing Concern on 0845 0744 600 (Voice and Text)
- http://www.stagetext.org/ What's on in theatres with captions
- http://www.typetalk.org/ The RNID Typetalk service explained
- http://www.workingwithouthearing.com/c/tinnit.htm Links to tinnitus sites
- Email: email@example.com Website: www.tinnitus.org.uk
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
The RNID (now called http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ )
Technical sites for speech recognition software
http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/sept/lipreading Automated lip reading was much more accurate than humans
http://www.jtuk.com/training/part1.html See if you are any good at lip reading
The e-Sign Project' A downloadable Powerpoint presentation is available regarding the project, which is being developed in Hamburg, Holland and the University of East Anglia (UEA) and which aims to make information on websites more accessible to deaf people. Website pages would have a signing avatar (a computerised human figure). See HERE
This will mean that when you see this symbol you can click on it and a person (an Avatar) will pop up and give you the information on that page in British sign language. The aim would be to make the software available to the deaf community so signing Avatars could be displayed on websites.
Winter Fuel Payments Textphone 0845 601 5613 http://www.thepensionservice.gov.uk/winterfuel/home.asp
Winter Warmth Advice + booklet (8 - 8pm) (various languages) Textphone 0800 085 7857
COCHLEAR IMPLANTS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant
and Auditory Brainstem Implants see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_brainstem_implant (very early days for this operation)
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 lengthy Word document describing my implant operation and progress. Please email by clicking Here 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. Article 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.
NEWS. I am unable to go swimming with my implant as it would not work after getting wet. But I see that Advance Bionics, who make my speech processor are now supplying a waterproof one, thought it looks rather cumbersome.
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.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTzTt1VnHRM&feature=fvsr A delightful video on Youtube of a baby reacting to the turn on of their implant
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 helpful there is hope that someone can be helped to hear. See the article on Brain Stem implants HERE
Hearing with two ears ? Whilst it would seem logical that one could be fitted with a second microphone by the other ear, connected to the speech processor of a cochlear implant, it seems that they are developing an implant where the connection is under the scalp. This has been done in the UK in August 2010.
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