Friday, 19 July 2019

Getting real with hearing loss.

Image result for communication skillsStill agonising online about aid usage, lip-reading, degrees of loss and how it affects communications and support.   Hearing aids and lip-reading not cutting it?  Read on...

How I approached it, was REMOVING the hearing aid about a third of the time, to enhance observation ability, and try to hone lip-reading skills.  Wearing the aid 24/7 (or near as), prevents that happening and you don't realise that the lip-reading ability you do have, or limited ability to follow, is very much reliant on the aid, and what you can HEAR, so when your hearing or aid fails, the 'skill set' you acquired in a class,  can be exposed to our detriment....

It explains those aid wearers who then have panic attacks e.g. if a battery or aid fails for some reason, they are unprepared for it.   An aid-removal approach under supportive conditions can and does tend to challenge current class tuition, and UK lip-reading class approaches, but I feel most classes are a bit of a con job really and more to encourage 'like with like' socialising,  assuming, of course, there are peers who can follow the same level as you can.  It's the belief socialising regardless of limitation is the only 'cure' and key to it all.

Most people insist socialising is the main event, teachers promote that, but it isn't, being able to follow OTHERS is, (unless meeting the same people day in and day out, happens despite the classes, which mostly, do not run more than once a week for a few months).  This is not socialising as we understand it,  i.e. it's by appointment only and restictive....  Lip-reading classes by following this stat format, tend to limit or debar those for whom aids are already failing them.  There is no agreed 'level' where the class and approach becomes real or ineffective.  It is a simple but painful realisation your useful hearing no longer is and there is nowhere else to go.

The issue of sometimes 63% dropping out after a new class starts during the first months, is a clear indication of why classes need aids turned off to hone skills.  Taking them OFF in lip-reading class forces more to understand what is going on as well, and, how good or bad their hearing really is and makes them understand they may need to plan ahead, not wait until a cure emerges.  This also means the random nature of lip-reading class tuition in the UK has to change radically and include more one on one time.  Being one of a dozen means you get 11 times less help and attention than the rest.  

No other area of disability would ever use this approach to support....  Why wait until an aid or all your hearing fails you to discover your reliance on text or lip-reading has put you in your own corner? That is what is lacking in approaching hearing loss issues, getting REAL at day one.  The reality that most who learn sign language are hearing so don't have that same degree of need as someone with a serious or profound loss also exposes issues in that tuition too, it's no surprise few WITH hearing loss ever approach sign classes.  This also applies to captions and subtitling to a large degree when teaching sign language

Now you know why the sign users is highly reluctant to caption signed output, they KNOW 9 out of 10 will read the captions and thus fail to follow the sign properly, they also know the literacy of other users makes for difficulty reading too.  'Edited Highlights' are pretty much order of their day.  

All in all, communication support for the deaf and hard of hearing is completely random in nature unless you are a child in school... and surprisingly, it shows great ignorance of what our issues are, yet they are still demanding access for systems they were too poorly taught at day one.

It is why Hearing aid users struggle to panic stations when a battery dies, no fallback.  So, they Just run...

A good 'Cause'?

Image result for lottery
Or an original con act by the UK state? we are talking the lottery of course!   I know with regards to the lottery if the ticket buyer could choose who gets funds from it, I don't think most minority causes would get a bean nor London focus groups who appear to get the Lion's share of it all. 

We should have an option on the ticket to tick off WHO we want to benefit from funds raised, I could suggest the disabled the abused, children, the NHS would get most of it. I'd also like to see this funding as ADDITIONAL to state funding, and not as now, being used to supplement it while the state removes their contribution. Its clear the government's idea of a 'good cause' is completely biased and not ours.   No funds should be going to ANY politically motivated area either. 

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We can get rid of the ludicrous 'causes' that aren't.  Some charities are getting funds who provide little of value at all or, provide support to areas we certainly would NOT support if we were asked ourselves. I understand we are gambling but there are huge sums now involved and being spent in funding areas we DON'T feel are a priority.  

The reality, is that most FAIL anyway need to be looked at, as does the people and expertise behind running areas demanding free money.  We could also address the role of the charity commission, another area with a state majority who are aiding and assisting dubious claims to avoid providing the provision itself.  When it fails, off-loading responsibility too.

There are bi££ions at stake, and it needs public scrutiny and, public choice included.  We want a LIST of 'worthy' causes shown every week and an option to select who gets ON those lists, to hone support down to really worthy causes the public feel need it.  The business area being involved should be banned tooCorporate charities should be ineligible to benefit.  Do you want your contribution to go to loony fringe causes, or, to health areas that save lives, you choose.

Blind girl; 'This is how you use your cane.'

Surviving Cocktail Parties..

Cocktail Party Hearing Loss
Getting an invite would be a fine thing lol.  I suspect most with a serious loss would decline the invitation.   The usual approach is to meet and greet everyone with hello, and then goodbye mostly!  I doubt most deaf would entertain attending, a demand to sign would kill the whole thing. Only those with a good speaking voice, useful hearing and a shed-load of confidence would attempt it.  The issue isn't about hearing loss, it's about having the confidence to attend. My party piece is more for 'after-cocktails' really :)  The only time I wear a suit and tie is to a wedding or a funeral..... and I prefer lager anyway.

Cocktail parties are tough for most people, but when you have hearing loss, they can be brutal! The constant buzz of conversation bounces around the hard surfaces of the room, making it difficult to pick out the important sounds—the voices of your conversation partners. When music is playing in the background, it is even harder. 

The whole experience can be frustrating, embarrassing, and incredibly exhausting. Many people with hearing loss would prefer to avoid cocktail parties like the plague. Cocktail Party Hearing Loss But cocktail parties are a fact of life and we must face them head on. I need to attend these types of events all the time. These include social gatherings for my children’s school, speaker engagements, and professional networking functions at conventions and conferences. Even my local Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) chapter meetings often begin with a period of socializing. At least there, we are all in the same boat. 

Recently I was asked to attend a cocktail reception for an event related to non-profit board membership. Several of us were asked to act as “ambassadors,” manning tables for various types of non-profit boards at the reception. I was eager to attend to help encourage others to be more involved in the non-profit world. I usually function fairly well at cocktail parties when I follow my survival tips (see those below), but this particular party was an incredible challenge, because everyone at the table wanted to talk to me! This would have been easy if I could have controlled the conversation, but not only did they want to converse, they all had questions which they expected me to answer. 

The smile-and-nod-noncommittally option was not a possibility. The evening was taxing and exhausting, but I am glad I went. Hopefully, the event inspired new interest in the non-profit sector through board service. It certainly inspired this post. Surviving A Cocktail Party When You Have Hearing Loss When approaching a cocktail party, people with hearing loss may opt for easy fixes—dominate the conversation or nod, smile and hope your responses are appropriate. While I admit to utilizing these crutches in a pinch, the following list of strategies provides a more authentic and satisfying experience. Please add your suggestions in the comments. 

1. Arrive rested. Hearing at a cocktail party requires significant concentration and brain power. Arrive rested and having eaten something. An empty stomach makes it harder to concentrate. 

 2. Find a good position in the room. Upon arrival, scope out the best possible acoustics within the setting and set up shop. A corner location often works well because it limits the background noise behind you. Areas with carpet, drapes or cushions are also good choices since soft surfaces help absorb excess sound. 

 3. Advocate for yourself. Let people know about your hearing difficulties and ask your speaking partners to move to a quieter part of the room if possible. Or invite them to step outside for a breath of fresh air and respite from the cacophony. If possible, ask the host to turn down the music in at least one part of the party. 

 4. Use technology. Some hearing aids have special programs for cocktail parties, but they are not always effective. Try using a Roger Pen or similar device as a microphone to hone in on the voices. One friend recently used Google’s Live Transcribe app at a cocktail party with success. You can read my take on Live Transcribe here. 

 5. Give visual clues to indicate you are having trouble hearing. A cupped hand behind your ear will let the speaker know to raise his voice without disrupting the flow of the conversation. 

 6. Take breaks. Don’t be afraid to head to a quiet room to rest your brain. Once your energy returns you can make another go of it. 

 7. Bring your sense of humour. A party is supposed to be fun. Smile and enjoy the atmosphere. Laugh at the mishearings — some can be quite funny if you let them.


Why a Bath supermarket has been renamed Signsbury's The superstore sign changed overnight.

Bath has been chosen for the world’s first signing store. The iconic sign above Bath Sainsbury’s superstore at Green Park has been changed to Signsbury's overnight. Signsbury’s will be encouraging all colleagues and customers to sign with one another until Sunday (July 21). More than a hundred staff in the store have taken part in British Sign Language (BSL) lessons, delivered by local signing school I Can Sign. 

The lessons were supported by a colleague who is deaf, Sam Book and Rachel Shenton, the Oscar winning screenwriter who famously signed her 2018 acceptance speech. Staff will be signing several common words and phrases when interacting with customers – from greeting them at the door; to asking if they have a Nectar Card; and even discussing the weather. Elsewhere in the store, helpful screens have been installed which demonstrate how to sign different words and phrases, including ‘milk’, ‘trolley’ and ‘bananas,’ aiming to get customers involved in the initiative and to walk away from store with some newly learned phrases. 

Children will be able to Sign for a Snack. When they master how to sign basic words, they will be given free fruit. The move comes as part of Sainsbury’s 150 Days of Community scheme, launched as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations. The initiative sees its 185,000 colleagues across the UK given the opportunity to volunteer for a cause they feel passionately about in their local community. When store manager Paul Robertson and his team, including Mr Book, found out about the initiative, the idea of Signsbury’s was born. Mr Robertson said: “When I heard about our 150 Days of Community scheme, I thought it was the perfect time to use the opportunity to explore new ways to make our store more deaf-friendly. 

“We have many hard of hearing customers in Bath and always want to make their experience as brilliant as possible, and we hope Signsbury’s will help better their time in store even more.” Actress Rachel Shenton, who is an ambassador for the National Deaf Children's Society, Sainsbury's colleague Sam Book, who is deaf, and Paul Robertson, general manager of the store in Bath (Image: PA) It is estimated that around 11 million people in the UK live with hearing loss. It is hoped that this initiative will help to encourage better communication with those who are hard of hearing by creating a supportive environment. Sainsbury’s says it has long been committed to being the most inclusive retailer. 

Three years ago it launched the 2016 film Life Doesn’t Come Without Subtitles to teach colleagues and the public how to sign.  Oscar-winning actress Rachel Shenton explains why she backed Signsbury's initiative Tim Fallowfield, board sponsor for disability and carers at Sainsbury’s said: “We’re really excited to be launching this Signsbury’s initiative at our store in Bath. “We want to be the most inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop and it’s really important to us that we support both customers and colleagues with hearing difficulties to feel as comfortable as possible in our stores wherever we can.

“We’re really proud of Paul and the team at Bath who thought up this wonderful idea as part of our 150 Days of Community celebrations.”