Category: Blogs and Vlogs

How Accessible Was VidCon 2017?

VidCon US 2017 is over and it’s been a sad two days as I’ve come back to Toronto for some rest. 

[Image Description: Ally Taylor, Rikki Poynter, Tommy Edison, Annie Elainey, and Molly Burke sitting at a VidCon panel. Photo courtesy of Liat Kaver from Google.]

[Image Description: Ally Taylor, Rikki Poynter, Tommy Edison, Annie Elainey, and Molly Burke sitting at a VidCon panel. Photo courtesy of Liat Kaver from Google.]

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be a featured creator at VidCon for three years in a row. This year, I was on the Disabilities On YouTube and Accessibility On YouTube panels. I was also a “disability advisor”, which I was hired to be along with Ally Taylor by one of the VidCon staff last year after the proper CART system and ASL interpreters failed to show up to the Disabilities panel last year. This year, I wanted to see how much VidCon has improved.

To be honest, VidCon didn’t make much use of us. We received one main e-mail and then it turned into small conversations here and there. But there was no real utilization. This is something that I definitely feel could be improved upon. 

Now, I can only really talk about things I have experience with. I’m deaf and I deal with a lot of chronic pain. Those are things I have more experience with when it comes to accessibility. If you wanted to know more about wheelchair access or service dog stuff, you’d be better off asking Annie or Molly.

Let’s talk food first.

Last year, a friend had an allergic reaction to soy milk in the middle of viewing a panel. This was due to containers not being labeled properly in lounges. Instead of labels being placed onto the container directly, there were cards placed on the table which could easily have been moved around. This affects people with other allergies such as lactose intolerance and also those who are vegan. Mostly important, it could potentially kill someone, like my friend almost experienced. I brought this up with VidCon and I was told there would be changes. As I walked around the lounges, I saw that some in the featured creator hotel were properly labeled.  However, one of the green rooms I had been to before my panels were not labeled properly. As someone who consumes plant based milk, I found this frustrating.

Which brings me to talking about options for all featured creators of different diets in the featured creator cafe. The food menu on our packet was very different from reality. As a vegan who had brought this up months before the convention happened, I expected there to be choices that weren’t just a piece of lettuce and tomato. So on day one, I walked in expecting a good ol’ build-your-own stir-fry. What I saw was the opposite. It was completely different food and to boot, lacking in vegan options. I brought this up to VidCon and it was changed and more options were added. Although, the menu was still different from the original menu on the packet. 

Now, this isn’t all VidCon’s fault. I was told that they were working very hard to make sure everything was presented the way it should and that options were there. It was an issue of the distributors.

Now let’s move on to the stuff you’re probably really here for: the deaf accessibility. Before my first year at VidCon, I don’t think there were any options for CART or ASL interpretation. During my first year, we had CART and an ASL interpreter at my captions workshop. If we had any interpreters during my first year, I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think there was. Last year, CART and ASL interpreters were provided for the disability panels (except for the first one that I was on – remember that a proper CART system and interpreters failed to show) and interpreters were available on the main stages. Up to 15 other interpreters were also on call.

This year, VidCon amped it up a little more. This time, for both featured creators (well, me – I was the only deaf featured creator, I’m pretty sure) and regular attendees. Not only were up to 15 interpreters available as on call again, but VidCon released an interpreter request form to everyone. This opened up a huge door. Instead of only being able to understand what was going on at disability panels, attendees could go to whatever panel they wanted and find an interpreter that they asked for. 

There is one issue that needs to be discussed – the lack of captioning at VidCon movie nights. I don’t know how often these were, but I do know that there was a screening for Power Rangers. A pal of mine told me that when she went to view the movie, there were no captions available. This is something that I wish would have occurred so that everybody, hearing, deaf, and hard of hearing, etc. could enjoy. When staff were confronted by this person, using interpreters were suggested. Interpreters don’t really interpret movies. That’s what captions are for.

All in all, things have definitely improved since 2015. Ally and I will be having a conversation with VidCon staff about these issues and improvements in the near future. Here’s to hoping for an even more accessible 2018!

Deaf Visibility: Name Tag VS Earmolds | Guest Post

When it comes to many disabilities, such as deafness, things are not visibly obvious.
Throughout my life, I’ve had many conversations with  people regarding how I look in terms of my deafness. Whenever I tell someone I’m deaf, I get common responses such as. “I’m so sorry”, “I’m suprised you speak so well”, or “You don’t LOOK deaf”. In some instances, questioning the validity of my claim.

[Image Description: Tan hearing aids with dark blue ear molds sitting on a countertop.]

[Image Description: Tan hearing aids with dark blue ear molds sitting on a countertop.]

Now because my deafness isn’t visually noticeable, it has led to a few misunderstandings with people. Especially at my place of work because my job sometimes requires me to talk to clients  in person. To be fair,  some of these misunderstandings have occurred simply because the person didn’t know I’m deaf. Because of this, some hearing individuals have recommended to me to wear a name tag that says I’m deaf in order to avoid confusion with clients.
 
However, when it comes to name tags, many of them don’t understand why I’m opposed to the idea. Why if I had to choose, I would prefer to wear decorated hearing aids with brightly colored earmolds. Personally I believe wearing a nametag that just says I’m deaf reinforces negative comments such as”you don’t look deaf.”  Mainly because when someone says that to me I feel that what they’re really trying to say is that I “don’t look like a capable human being.”
 
But this has caused some to ask why are hearing aids so different? How if that’s the case why would I  prefer to have brightly colored ear molds so my hearing aids are very noticeable? Especially when technology has reached a point where I could practically have them be invisible. And I feel this is where people miss the point.
 
Because at the end of the day,  I DO want my deafness to be visually noticeable. I have no shame or desire to hide my inability to hear.  However, things such as the color of the molds,  the accessories added on top of the hearing aids, and how I present myself with them is a reflection of my style and personality. I feel that HOW I go about presenting myself as deaf is important. Mainly because it plays a role in how I choose to define myself. That it’s a way to tell people who I am, not what I am.

Sincerely,
JoseG

Deaf Accessibility In Hotels

Since I do a bit of public speaking, I’ve been traveling thus getting put into hotels. During the beginning of my traveling life, I was put into non-accessible rooms as I really didn’t think too much of them. I never really heard much about them before. As I started learning about accessible rooms, I started asking for them more often when I know I’m going to be alone, which is 98% of the time. (For Buffer, I’m usually with my hearing boyfriend so there’s not really any need for an accessible room.)

I want to tell you about deaf accessible rooms. These rooms tend to be accessible rooms to various disabilities at once, but I can’t speak much about blindness, chronic illnesses, etc., so let’s just stick with deafness.

Here are things you should be able to find in a deaf accessible room:

Deaf Friendly Doorbell – I’ve seen two versions of this. The one I’ve seen the most is an actual doorbell that you push which causes a light inside the room to flash. Most of the time, this light is in the “living room” part of the hotel room so you can easily see it from where you’d likely be the most. Another version I’ve seen is a light is attached to the door and when someone knocks, the vibrations make the light flash. I’m not a huge fan of the latter because it’s only attached to the door. When I was in a room with this, the wall that was near my bed would cut off where you could see the light. Lights should be somewhere a lot more noticeable. Also, the light didn’t always flash when someone knocked.

TTY – Before you try to tell me “Nobody uses TTY anymore!”, I’m just gonna tell you right off the bat that you are incorrect. Oral deaf people use it if they’re not texting and there are countries that don’t even have video phone options yet, so even if they use sign language regularly, they have no choice but to use TTY. Moving on. This is still a useful tool if you don’t have an iPhone that has TTY software or if there’s no video phone and you don’t have an app on your phone. (Which, not having one isn’t likely if you’re Deaf ‘cos you’re likely prepared but go with me here.) I don’t use these myself since I have an iPhone and TTY software, but this is good to have if I can’t use the one on my iPhone. I’m not sure if video phones are available in any accessible rooms. If you know of any hotels that have them, let me know.

Vibrating Alarm Clock – The most important thing to have if you’re doing work travel. I’ve forgotten my own alarm clock once and that was a stressful time, so it’s nice to have one of these in a room as backup.

If you’ve experienced or seen any other accessible features for deaf and hard of hearing people, let me know in the comments. I’m most interested to know if anybody has seen a video phone of sorts in their room.

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CI Activation, 3.5 months on by Eleanor

And breathe. Half-term at last, phew.

It has now been 3 and a half months since I was activated and I’ve found the more time that passes the less I have to say. Not in a bad way but just in a ‘it’s going alright’ way. People still ask me now how I’m getting on, and honestly I often forget that I’m wearing a processor. My personal feeling is that this processor is better than when I had two hearing aids, even my Audiologist would agree with averages of 70-80% results on word lists without lipreading.

 Music: I actually enjoy a range of music now. Back when I had hearing aids I didn’t really get it, I couldn’t connect. The only songs I’d really like were sad songs or songs with heavy singing so I could sing along over the din of the background noise. Now, it excites me to pick out the different sounds, to hear the bass creeping up, the piano picking up tempo, the saxophone coming in or the electronic (and sometimes strange) modern sounds added in. I can’t pretend I love all music just yet, I’ve only just started to scratch the surface, there is so much more to explore!

Events: Since being activated I’ve been to the cinema to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’. It was amazing. I didn’t know what to expect particularly with it being a musical and having not been activated for long, but I was impressed. I’m realizing now just how hard it is to describe sound, but that’s not stopping me having a go! Belle’s voice (Emma Watson) got right under my skin. I still hear it in my head sometimes. Now, I don’t know if she had a good voice, I’ve never been the best judge of singers, but it felt so smooth, crystal clear and soothing alongside the instruments.

I went to see a Theatre production a few days ago, called Room, you may have seen it on film recently, a hard-hitting drama that has been inspired by cases of kidnapping (such as the Fritzl case) with ‘Ma’ who was kidnapped 7 years ago by ‘old Nick’, impregnated and now has a 5 year old son Jack. The Room is all that Jack has ever known, he thinks that TV is made up and doesn’t understand there is a whole world outside. The play has been adapted a little, with some songs added in. Ma often sang, it was really heartfelt and emotional. Sometimes the older version of Jack would sing, an interesting contrast from the smooth, velvet woman’s voice to the deeper, harsher tones of a man. I liked them both and when they both sang different words at the same time, well it just made something inside of me swell, like an invisible force of emotional strings twisting and pulling my stomach, my lungs and my heart. Music can be so powerful, so gut-wrenching, so defining that it actually hurts and when it does finish it’s almost a relief not to have to feel such a force anymore. It’s also stupidly addictive.

 Speech: I still lipread. A lot. But sometimes its more out of habit than necessity. Sometimes I’ve sat and just listened, seeing what words I can pick out without lipreading and I’m surprised by the results. I mean, I still need serious clues such as context but it’s improving everyday. My hearing rehabilitionist talked about auditory memory, even hearing people don’t actively listen all of the time, they remember routines, predictable phrases. For example, in a shop, you can guess that questions would be ‘do you need a bag’ ‘do you have a loyalty card’ etc. Hearing people don’t always listen, they assume/predict and use a handful of prepared responses. When meeting with someone you’ve not seen for a while, you can guess the questions will be ‘how are you’ ‘what have you been up to’ ‘we should meet up soon’.

 My understanding of speech is improving all the time and it’s impressive how natural it is. The more I expose myself to speech, the more I seem to understand. However, there are situations where I’ve found not even lipreading can help. If I’m in a room with other people having a different conversation, it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. Even if they are speaking quietly, it’s as if they’re right next to me talking down my ear. It’s distracting and I’m unable to differentiate between the persons voice that I’m trying to listen to from the other voices. I cannot pick out anything related to my conversation, I can’t even focus on lipreading, I’m so distracted that I lose sense of the context and my annoyingly natural ‘deaf nod’ means the conversation carries on without me in it.
 Background noises such as crisp packets being opened and constantly rummaged through (or any kind of packet), keys jingling, printers printing, spoons being stirred feel so loud that my head wants to pop. It makes it so difficult to focus on speech and I’m so distracted.

 So please, if you do happen to see me, be considerate and don’t eat, don’t fiddle with anything, open doors, print anything or talk to anyone else. Just sit, actually, stand quietly and smile. Thank you.
 

Auditory Processing Disorder: Deaf Or Not?

[Image Description: White background. Logo on the right is the deaf logo, which is an ear with some sort of arrow gone through it. On the text is black text. It says, "AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDER: DEAF OR NOT?"

[Image Description: White background. Logo on the right is the deaf logo, which is an ear with some sort of arrow gone through it. On the text is black text. It says, “AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDER: DEAF OR NOT?”

I’ve gotten quite a few messages on Tumblr, comments on YouTube, and e-mails in my Deaf Poynters account asking me if someone can consider themselves deaf or hard of hearing if they actually just have auditory processing disorder.
 
               “I have a question in regards to what counts as d/Deaf/HoH. Would you say that CAPD counts as being a part of this spectrum? Because I have audio processing problems, and I have found myself to experience things socially which I would say is like audism. 

               I struggle to hear what people say 90% of the time, I can’t hear people talk if there’s any other noises, and I have been mocked and strongly inconvenienced due to my audio processing. 

               I have also had to pick up on sign language because of how I struggle to communicate verbally.. And I was thinking that perhaps the line between struggling to hear from how your brain is built and from how your ear is physically, may or may not be that big of a difference? 

               I’m sorry if this is overstepping, it’s just that I know that CAPD is a disorder related to hearing, but I never see it brought up in relation to being d/Deaf/HoH.. And I’m wondering if it’s because it has no actual relation, or if it’s simply just a lesser known diagnosis.”
 
               “My question is are people with C/APD considered part of the deaf/hoh community? Why or why not?”
 
               “I was wondering how you feel about people with CAPD. Do you think they have a place in the Deaf community, and do you think they could consider themselves Deaf?”
 
The truth is, I don’t know. I’m not really the person to ask. I don’t know enough about the science behind auditory processing disorder to really know if it’s considered being deaf or hard of hearing or not. If there’s no actual hearing loss involved, I would say no, but like I said, I don’t really know enough. I do understand that the brain cannot process sounds, but is it in the same way that I can’t hear them? I don’t know.
 
As far as being in the Deaf community? I know that only comes with the work you put in it. Being involved in the Deaf community, learning sign language and using it in your life, that’s what makes you a part of the Deaf culture community. Not just being deaf or hard of hearing itself. That’s a different part of a deaf community.
 
So I guess I’m not really saying yes, but I’m not really saying no? It’s one big I don’t know. I feel like it’s a discussion that is a really big one and might not have an ending right now. But the comments are open so everyone is free to discuss their own feelings on the matter.
 

 

Talking Accessibility At Apple

[Image Description: Tim Cook and Rikki Poynter sat down, engaged in conversation.]

[Image Description: Tim Cook and Rikki Poynter sat down, engaged in conversation.]

From May 14th through May 18th, I was invited to be a part of Apple’s three day long Global Accessibility Awareness Day event. I was there along with James Rath and Tatiana Lee from Accessible Hollywood.

Since I can’t give away too many details, I will say this: we were there to be on a panel regarding accessibility and disability as well as to have a one-on-one sit down and chat with Apple’s very own CEO, Tim Cook.

It was an experience that I never thought would happen and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. It was the first that I had ever been to Cupertino, let alone the Apple Campus.

I got to meet up with old friends and meet new ones. Kids from a local Deaf school came to a screening hosted at the campus and we had a conversation. I found out that my videos had been shown often in their classes. Every time this conversation happens, I get so sappy. I get even sapper when they tell me they like my videos. No, kids. I’m not about to cry. It’s just that you brought invisible onions and you didn’t know it and now I’m tearing up. That’s all.

The one-on-one with Tim Cook was great. We talked about Pokemon, Pokemon Go, captions, the captions option in Clips, etc. James talked about accessibility for blind and visually impaired folks. Tatiana talked about music, working out, the Watch, Clips, and music.

Big thank you to Apple for this opportunity. It was by far some of the best few days of my life ever.

What Happened At Playlist Live Orlando

So, Let’s talk Playlist Live.

In case you don’t know what that is, Playlist Live is an online video convention that seems to be more for Viners (although, now that Vine is officially dead, will it be more about YouTube now?) than YouTubers. Regardless, online content is its thing, just like VidCon. Playlist Live is held in two areas: Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

A few weeks ago, I made an announcement saying that I was going to run a workshop called Disability Representation and Accessibility at Playlist. This was the first time I was going to be there.

Getting things set up was a very interesting and a little bit of a difficult experience. Because I wasn’t involved in a lot of the conversation regarding accessibility, which was a huge mistake and I really should have been adamant to Playlist and my network that I need to be involved in my accessibility because I know what’s best, I didn’t know what I was getting until the very last minute and that was just too late. But I was assured that I would having CART and interpreters at my workshop. I also wanted an interpreter, but I originally wasn’t allowed one. Why? I never received an answer, but I wasn’t taking no for one and I said that I need to have an interpreter so I can also enjoy the event like everyone else. There was irony in the fact that I was asked to run a workshop on disability representation and accessibility and not being given an interpreter.

I got the interpreter within a day and that made me wonder exactly what was going on behind the scenes.

If you want to see a full vlog of stuff that went on at Playlist, you can view the vlog I uploaded to go along with this here. But this article is meant to talk about one thing (besides the fight for an interpreter): I didn’t get to do my workshop.

A few weeks before Playlist, I confirmed that I was doing a PowerPoint presentation and I would be doing an activity, so I would be needing a PowerPoint projector and screen as well as index cards and pens to run the workshop. I got my okay and then I was looking forward to the workshop, although I was very worried that nobody besides two friends of mine were going to come.

I went to check in to my workshop 30 minutes before start time and I asked about my index cards and pens. Nobody had any idea what I was talking about. Then I go into my workshop room when it starts and I’m confused because I thought it was another waiting room because there was no PowerPoint screen and no screen for the CART.

So CART is trying to figure out how/where to set up and I’m still walking around going, “Okay, so you all are here for the workshop, but how am I supposed to do my workshop when nothing I need is here…?” So my interpreter and I are running around trying to figure out what happened and trying to find someone to tell us why my stuff isn’t there and to get someone to put the stuff in there. At this point, my head is is spinning a bit and I’m not thinking very well.

Now my interpreter is running around by herself trying to find out what’s going on and I go back to my room to tell everyone what is happening. This is about 10-15 minutes into what is supposed to be my workshop. Fast forward 20-25 minutes into the workshop and people are coming in with equipment. I think to myself that it’s going to take them 10-15 minutes to get ready then it’ll take me and my own equipment to go with it about 10 minutes to get ready. By the time everything is setup, there’s very little time to present.

So I didn’t. I wasn’t given what I needed to do a full fledged workshop and it couldn’t happen.

But we did manage to make it into some sort of discussion rather than a panel or a workshop. I gave a quick summary of what the workshop was supposed to be since someone asked. Then others with different disabilities chimed in on their own accessibility needs, or helped out with what I would’ve explained in the workshop. So something happened, at least.

Was it what I wanted, what it was supposed to be, what it should’ve been? No. But I’m glad we got something out of it. I just hope people enjoyed at least that part.

I sent Playlist a message and hadn’t received anything since. My manager talked to them, but I have not been reached out to personally. They told my manager that because two panels/workshops before me did not use it, they did not test it out and did not place the screen for the third workshop to use it. This response makes zero sense to me, as I am not the first two workshops and I said I needed it in order to do my job.

I received no chance to reschedule my workshop that weekend and have not been offered any other solution.

When Viewers Abuse The Community Contribution Captions Feature

As you may or may not already know, I am a strong advocate for [proper] closed captioning on YouTube. For the last three years, I’ve made numerous videos about closed captioning from explaining the how-to basics, demonstrating one of the easiest ways to caption, and making actual campaigns regarding captioning.

On September 25th, 2016, I created a one day campaign called #NoMoreCraptions. Although similar to my first born Lights, Camera, Caption! campaign and workshop, the thing that sets this one apart is that it’s about automatic captions and incorrect submissions from those who help their favourite creators caption their videos (and even creators themselves).

In my 3 Ways To Caption video and at my Lights, Camera, Caption! workshop at VidCon last year, I mentioned community contribution and actually recommended it if you were not able to caption videos yourself and if you couldn’t afford to pay for them. I found it to be a really helpful tool. But as time goes on, I’ve started becoming tired of the fact that community contribution existed and that is because of how much more common misusing the tool is becoming.

Closed captions are an accessibility tool. Community contribution is part of that. It is not the place for viewers to add in “craptions” or other unnecessary commentary and “jokes”. Unfortunately, there are viewers out there that like to misuse this tool for their own amusement.

A perfect example is Markiplier fans. (Disclaimer: This is not about all of his fans. I’ve seen some pretty awesome fans out there. This is just about those that actually do this.) I’ve been told over and over again by my followers about the amount of craptions that happen on his channel. Some recent examples that I received (by recent, I mean like a little over a month ago since I haven’t been able to do this article yet) can be seen below:

[Image Description: Markiplier and two other guys sitting beside of each other. Craption says: "*mark being like: he is the most deaf idiot in the world*"

[Image Description: Markiplier and two other guys sitting beside of each other. Craption says: “*mark being like: he is the most deaf idiot in the world*”

[Image Description: Markiplier and two other guys sitting beside of each other. Craption says: "stop asking your master when you can go out with me *giggle of a retarded 11 year old*"

[Image Description: Markiplier and two other guys sitting beside of each other. Craption says: “stop asking your master when you can go out with me *giggle of a retarded 11 year old*”

Of course, Markiplier isn’t the only YouTuber who has had this stuff on his channel. People have told me that they have seen it on JackSepticEye’s channel in the past as well as others.

If you are someone that wants to contribute to closed captioning on your favourite YouTuber’s channel, this is unacceptable. I know some people will find it funny, even some deaf people maybe (although maybe not to this extent – ableist/audist slurs and all), but I’m someone who likes it when people use technology properly, okay? Especially when it comes to accessibility. That’s just who I am. If you don’t know how to properly write out captions, I made a video of a little guide here.

YouTubers, I cannot stress this enough: please look over the captions on your videos regularly. If you know you can actually afford a service but don’t want to pay for them, look over your captions and make sure people aren’t misusing the community contribution. When the YouTube Heroes program started promoting adding closed captions to YouTuber’s channels, this isn’t what they were referring to.

Being Deaf And Weather Aware

[Image Description: Canvas is black. White text says, "Always stay weather aware."]

[Image Description: Canvas is black. White text says, “Always stay weather aware.”]

As someone who has been studying, learning, and tracking severe weather for the last seven years, I know how serious severe weather can be. Living in North Carolina for most of my life, I’ve gone through a few outbreaks: the biggest and most recent ones being the April 16, 2011, April 25-27, 2011 and April 25, 2014 outbreaks. (I’m sure there are more from before then, but I didn’t really start paying attention to the weather until October 2010.)

When you don’t know much about the weather, trying to figure out what’s going on can be a pain. It’s often difficult for it to be accessible to hearing people who know very little about it. (Some of it is real ignorance and some of it is they just don’t care.) But there are a lot of people who do care about what’s going on and want to be prepared, like d/Deaf and hard of hearing people who may not be able to hear the sirens (which are only there for people outside) or the storm itself. Most storms do not wake me up and if they do, it’s only because lightning struck extremely close to my apartment which lead to shaking.

In this post, I want to give tips to help fellow d/Deaf and hard of hearing people stay weather aware. All of these tips are to help you out while you have power but also in case your power goes out.

1. Get a deaf friendly weather radio.

Nobody, hearing or deaf, is supposed to rely on sirens outside. Like I said earlier, sirens are for people who are outside, not inside. So don’t rely on those only, no matter who you are. Get yourself a weather radio that has visual settings to let you know whether you have a thunderstorm warning, tornado warning, etc. These special alarms contain a strobe light to light up your place as well as a bed shaker if you’re asleep when new alerts come. You can find these alarms at Harris Communications. (This post is not sponsored. I’m not being paid or anything to promote their products. They don’t even know I’m doing this article.)

2. Keep a collection of weather apps.

Apps on your smartphone are obviously visual and mostly deaf friendly! But do not, whatever you do, rely only on that weather stock app that’s automatically on your smartphone. It’s a terrible app for this kind of stuff. Don’t stick with The Weather Channel app either. They’re not your best source for weather. They’re not going to help you understand the risks of severe weather in your location like your local meteorologists can. Now, finding the best local meteorologist can be tough. I understand. I used to follow a station religiously and now I don’t rely on them for weather, just actual news. If you’re in the Charlotte and surrounding area, I highly recommend Brad Panovich from WCNC and their WeatherCaster app.

3. Follow your meteorologists on Facebook (and other social media).

I follow two meteorologists that I use (one of them including Brad) on Facebook. You could also follow them on other social media if they use it (I also subscribe to Brad’s YouTube channel), but I find that meteorologists tend to update Facebook the most.

4. As long as your power is on, keep your TV on the weather.

Okay, I understand you might be wanting to watch the basketball game or the new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and that’s fine. This tip is not expecting you to keep your eyes peeled to the weather like I do 24/7 during an event. But if there’s a thunderstorm warning happening, I do advise you to just check the breaking weather reports on TV since you’ll often see the track of the storm and you can be a little more alert just in case there’s some rotation which could result in a tornado. If there’s a tornado warning, get away from the TV and into the bathroom or the room on the lowest level in the middle of your place, but also take your phone and/or laptop with you. Make sure to keep your electronic devices charged. You need that backup if your power goes out!

All in all, be responsible and use common sense. Learn the difference between a watch and a warning. I know there are many people that like to think severe weather isn’t serious, but then you see a bunch of news reports the next day about extreme damage and deaths. Sometimes, you cannot avoid being a part of that, but if you can take the best precautions available, take that advantage. 

A Regal Caption Glasses Review

[Image Description: black glasses and a remote controller]

[Image Description: black glasses and a remote controller]

On the night of my and my boyfriend’s two year anniversary, we saw the new Power Rangers movie.

Ever since the CaptiView came out, I’ve been enjoying going to the cinema a lot more. No more wasting $10 on a movie ticket just to sit in front of a big screen and hear muffled words and leave not understanding 90% of the movie.

Devon and I were having a weekend getaway, so we were in an area that we’ve never been to. We went to a cinema that I’ve never been to so this made me nervous because I didn’t know what kind of accommodations they had, if they had any at all. (Devon is hearing, so he doesn’t have to worry about any of this stuff.)

When we get to the cinema, we ask if they have anything for me. I’m really hoping for the CaptiView, but as it turns out, they only have the caption glasses. Let me be real with you here – I’m a lover of the CaptiView. I like that it’s nowhere near my face and I can clearly see the screen and also view the captions. When the person at the ticket booth said they only had the glasses, I was already dreading the experience a little, but I was willing to give them a try since I read some reviews in the past that praised them.

So I tried them for a whole two hours and… yeah, I don’t like them.

  1. They do this weird tickling sensation on my nose that irritated me for the whole two hours. It then eventually started to hurt on my nose having them on for so long, and my ears and head hurt. 
  2. My eyes weren’t feeling too great having to focus on extremely small green text that had no background behind it. The text on the left side was faded which made it difficult to read. 
  3. I hated having to keep my head still in order to keep the text still, to keep it below or above the movie screen wall so it stayed on black background. That made my body, especially my neck, extremely uncomfortable. There were “buttons” that you could push on to move the text placement, but it didn’t work out the way it should have for me.

I’m simply just not a fan of the caption glasses. I’m a CaptiView fan, which I know people either love or hate just like the glasses. While it can be frustrating putting the CaptiView into the cup holder, it was great having it in one spot knowing that it would (usually) stay there and I can move around as much as I wanted to stay comfortable, which is something I couldn’t do with the glasses. You still get the green text on a CaptiView, but the background is solid black so it makes for easier reading. The text is also bigger and it’s not faded like it is on the glasses.

So, overall, I give these glasses a big No with a capital “N”. From now on, I will make sure to find out ahead of time if a cinema has glasses or CaptiView. If they only have glasses, I won’t see a movie there.

You can see my video about accessibility at the cinema here.

Now it’s time to battle it out. Which device do you prefer: glasses or CaptiView? Leave your comments below!

Facebook Has A Closed Captioning Problem

[Image Description: Facebook's logo. A blue background and white lowercase "f".]

[Image Description: Facebook’s logo. A blue background and white lowercase “f”.]

As you probably know, YouTube is my main platform for my videos, but sometimes I upload my videos to Facebook as well. Sometimes, it’s for extra views, because it’s an important video to share, and to make it easier to get stolen videos off of other Facebook pages. (It’s something about Content ID or something. I don’t know. Ask my manager.)

Just like I upload captions to YouTube videos, I upload them to Facebook videos. Very rarely do I have viewers tell me that captions don’t show up on YouTube videos (but that’s why the first line in the info box is to fiddle with the settings if nothing shows up). However, I can’t say the same for videos on my Facebook and I’m not the only one who gets people commenting that there are no captions on the Facebook videos.

I work for both Ai-Media and DTV News and at least once a week (mostly on Ai-Media), there are people commenting about the lack of captions when captions have, in fact, been uploaded. Ai-Media is very adamant on being accessible to d/Deaf and hard of hearing people, as is DTV News. I mean, we at DTV News call ourselves the 100% accessible channel for a reason. Even though we can see the captions on our laptops and our phones and we tell them there are indeed captions uploaded and how to turn them on, we get replies saying there are no captions. Sometimes, we are told this nicely. Sometimes, we’re being screamed at.

Facebook has a closed captioning display problem and I don’t know what or why it is. I only know that for quite some time now, captions usually display automatically for iPhones and not always for Android users. I’ve noticed more Android users having to fiddle with their settings to get captions to show up. On Apple products, there is an option in the accessibility settings to automatically display captions when available. This usually worked for me and all the phones I’ve used up to this point where I am currently using an iPhone 7 Plus. I’ve started to notice that when I view videos using this phone, captions don’t show up, but they work fine on my 6. Why is that? I don’t know.

It’s extremely frustrating, but know that if there are no captions on a Facebook page that is about accessibility and typically captions, it’s likely not the person’s fault, but the fault of Facebook and technology settings. I wish I had a real answer as to why Facebook has this issue, but I don’t. Maybe Facebook will see this article, or someone with more power than me will bring it to their attention, and they’ll try to fix it. Who knows?

Until then, my only suggestion is to watch on a laptop/desk if available or if they have another platform, watch the videos on there. My videos are always on YouTube first as that is my main platform. So if captions don’t work on Facebook, they will work on YouTube.

Presenting A Deaf Identity At DEAFinitions

[Image Description: four hands (lighter brown, dark brown, white, and tan) spelling out "DEAF" in ASL.]

[Image Description: four hands (lighter brown, dark brown, white, and tan) spelling out “DEAF” in ASL.]

It is the week after DEAFinitions and I am back in my apartment ready to tell you all about the event.

If you don’t know, DEAFinitions is a two-year-old Deaf Studies conference held at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The organizers of the conference e-mailed me back in November 2016 about attending and giving a presentation and everything was finalized in February.

[Image Description: Rikki standing on the floor with a CDI. Slideshow behind them reads: Rikki Poynter - Finding A Deaf Identity]

[Image Description: Rikki standing on the floor with a CDI. Slideshow behind them reads: Rikki Poynter – Finding A Deaf Identity]

DEAFinitions had many presenters that hosted a one hour talk each. There were multiple ASL interpreters and CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreters) and a fancy CART system. I say fancy because instead of an actual stenographer, you (or an interpreter) would talk into a regular mic and then some sort of recording device and the words would show up on a screen. It was pretty accurate, which surprised me.

I gave a presentation on a topic I hadn’t really talked about live at an event before: growing up as a mainstreamed deaf child and finding Deaf culture as an adult. Contrary to what you might think since I talk about it a lot on YouTube, it was pretty difficult for me to talk about live. I guess it’s because I’m so used to giving workshops and such on closed captioning. If you ask me to talk about this stuff at a panel, that’s easy since there are usually questions regarding specific things. But one hour to talk about my life story live? Much different. I had everything planned out, even wrote a script to go off of, but my brain ended up mixing everything up and things didn’t quite go the way I planned them to.

Nonetheless, it seemed to go very well. At the end of the presentation, there was a line of people waiting to talk to me, something I didn’t expect. (This is the part where a few friends of mine go, “But, Rikki, you’re famous!” and I go, “No, no, I’m not.”) A lot of stories, experiences, and sweet messages were exchanged and it got to the point where I was literally starting to tear up in front of everyone.

[Image Description: Carlisle standing on the floor in front of an audience, giving a presentation in ASL.]

[Image Description: Carlisle standing on the floor in front of an audience, giving a presentation in ASL.]

I did go to a few other presentations, most of them done by people I had never heard of before. Of course, I had to go to Carlisle’s presentation which talked about how comics were a great learning tool for d/Deaf and hard of hearing children.

[Image Description: A photo of three people, from left to right: Rikki, Whitney, and Carlisle.]

[Image Description: A photo of three people, from left to right: Rikki, Whitney, and Carlisle.]

One of the best things to happen that weekend was finally meeting my friend, Whitney Meyer, in person for the first time. She is an actress, model, and figure skater and you may recognize her as Tiffany DeSalle from Scream Queens. She came to Amherst from Boston to see my presentation and she, myself, and Carlisle along with Whitney’s mother went out to dinner, drinks, and dessert. It was a fun time.

Overall, it was a great weekend and I thank the organizers for inviting me and flying me out. Hampshire College in the process of raising funds for a third year of DEAFinitions. If you would like to help out, you can donate to their GoFundMe page here.