Deafness - something to be overcome

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

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

Icanthear.org sample 

So, why I am so enthusiastic about this app ? It is free.  It is simple to set up and works well. It would enable someone to talk to a friend or partner without having to write things down or depend upon lip reading or signing (which, being deafened later in life,I have tried to learn but failed. 2017  I am still pursuing the ideal solution to communication with the hard of hearing via Speech recognition.  I have already found ways but I am interested in finding a method which IS

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

https://twitter.com/HearingLosshour/status/816630556150599680 Lipreading is difficult. Could AI (Artificial Intelligence) help ?  I also saw a report : Cochlear implant by robot  Wow !
Computers are moving rapidly towards mastering lip-reading. They’re not there yet. (No wonder: for humans, lip reading is brutally difficult and highly error prone.) But new research shows they’re clearly outperforming humans, and improving fast. So if you’ve been captured on CCTV, with or without audio, it might soon be practical to decipher whatever you were talking about. Lip-reading has been an active focus of AI research for years. Two new papers from Oxford University show just how far it has come. In the first, Oxford University computer science researchers trained their LipNet AI system on a painstakingly developed set of 29,000 short video training clips that offered the absolute best possible scenario for lip-reading.

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

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

Hearing regeneration ?

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

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

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

SUBTITLED CINEMA

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

SUBTITLED TV

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

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

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

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

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

The UbiDuo communication device

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

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

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

One day there will be an entirely internal implant for deaf people : http://web.mit.edu/press/2014/cochlear-implants-with-no-exterior-hardware-0209.html

New research into Hyperacusis Increased sensitivity to noise.  More common that we think and even effecting deaf people

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

FIRE ALARM SYSTEM

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

BAHA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25th April 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why I like Skype

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larry Page Chairman of Google


April 2014  

The world is waking up to the fact that Google Glass might just be a tiny bit useful to the millions of deaf people ! The articles are now coming thick and fast. See Captioning on Glass - using an Android phone to dictate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4zSWaoEREM&feature=youtu.be to the deaf person wearing Google Glass
A fairly negative report on Google Glass by someone looking at it from the 'Deaf Community' point of view.  They sign and lip-read. They may have difficulty getting Glass to understand their commands. But, for me, it has the real possibility of reinforcing what I get from my implant - just as I do from captioning on TV and Youtube.  See http://keithbarrett.com/blog/is-google-glass-useful-for-the-deaf/
http://www.ageukhearingaids.co.uk/hearing-aid-news/hearing-aid-users-benefit-google-glass-patent  But this is also their Hearing Aid Service, so beware of a sales pitch
A Review of Google Glass  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9c8M49vYQ4&feature=youtu.be
Yet another interesting article  http://limpingchicken.com/2013/05/07/william-mager-could-google-glass-be-the-deaf-communitys-disruptive-innovation/  
and this short demo https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4EvNxWhskf8

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

Bluetooth microphone Subtitles

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

Subtitled Youtube

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

Subtitlingturn on subtitles


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 or Closed Captioning (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/

Search by voice

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

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

Subtitled Cinema

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

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

Subtitles on ITV Player and BBC Player replays

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

Subtitles on TV replays

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
Google Goggles

Speech recognition software for the iPad

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

Imagine if both parties had an iPad and the results were synchronised between the two gadgets. Once again a step nearer my speech recognition glasses.  

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

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

** 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

Otosclerosis is a condition which affects the smallest bone in the body, the stapes (or stirrup) bone in the middle ear. This bone, along with the other two ‘ossicles’ (little bones) in the middle ear, normally transmits sound information from the eardrum into the inner ear as vibrations. In people who have otosclerosis, however, the stapes becomes fixed in place due to bone overgrowth; because it cannot move, it’s unable to pass sound information into the inner ear correctly, and hearing loss results Mobile phones

I find it difficult to use any phone but at least one can received text on mobiles. The Doro phone is thought to be the best for someone hard of hearing. It is more word based and does not depend much on 'apps', and uses words such as CALL, VIEW and SEARCH. Doro is also intending to issue an App which would enable approved contacts to monitor the whereabouts, battery level and usage, remotely. If they weren't so expensive I might even buy one !

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)

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

Hearing dogs

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

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

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

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

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

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 of Dragon Software on a tablet at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6-KSZOviAw&NR=1  (click the cc at the bottom of the screen and choose the Closed Captioning if you want to see subtitles.  They may not be 100% but really help) This demonstrates text to speech on an iPad (or iPod or iPhone) Dragon 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. In fact this is now possible instantaneously, using an Apple operating system or and Android phone or tablet.

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

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

Speech to text and translate sample

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

Sound bite aidSound bite aid

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

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

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

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

The  Doro Big Button phone may be better for some older people, especially as it is hearing aid compatible. Around �93.

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

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

Deaf alarm cartoon

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 ?".

Bookies

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

  Google Voicemail

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

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

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


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

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

A CROS hearing aid

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

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

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

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

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

Bone anchored hearing aids

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

Bone Anchorded Hearing Aid

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

  Glue Ear

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

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

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

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

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

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  

He is not me cover

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!  

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 alleviated by hearing aids. And, as the operation includes carving out a place in the skull to fit part of the electronics (under the scalp behind the ear) and also inserting an electronic probe down through the skull and into the cochlear it self, they have to make sure that this is possible in each case. The surgeon has to avoid your facial nerve and your jugular vein (!).  The one would make you very ugly, the other would......!   There is a slightly increased risk of meningitis, so one is vaccinated against this.
If 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.

Cochlear Implant     cochlear implant outer

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 Paracetamol  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

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

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 the following year

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.

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SKYPE is useful to deaf people

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

Using a webcam with Skype

Visual clues

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

Encouraging stories from people who have found work despite their deafness.  See http://www.workingwithouthearing.com/s/stories.htm

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

Electronic Note Takers

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

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

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

************** 

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

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

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

TV subtitles Nov 07

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

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




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.

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.

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Lipreading

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

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

Hearing Dogs

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

Shopping/Banking

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

There are numerous links to Internet sites which may prove useful

Suppliers of equipment

http://www.easylinkuk.co.uk.  Vibrating pagers for doorbells, smoke alarms etc..
http://www.connevans.com/   Full catalogue
http://www.sarabec.com  Get the catalogue
http://www.21stcenturyhearing.com/
The RNID (now called http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ )

Technical sites for speech recognition software


http://www.voicesignal.com/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/cmusphinx/
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

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

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.

IMPLANT 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.

www.jajah.comThe Advance Bionics Neptune 

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.

Implant videos

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.   


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