Category: Technology

App Maker: Apple Earbuds can work as low-tech Amplifiers

A free app called Fennex can turn Apple’s AirPods wireless earbuds into audio amplifiers, according to the Switzerland-based company behind the app. It says the app “functions like a ‘cheap hearing aid'” which “tests your hearing in each ear and uses those results to act as a personalized, adjustable amplifier.” And while a traditional hearing aid will differentiate between sounds and amplify them based on their particular characteristics, Fennex only does this in a rudimentary way. MIT Technology Review has more here and the company’s website is here.

SAME LANGUAGE SUBTITLES VITAL!

EVER enjoy a foreign film with great captioning until they start speaking in English for a short time?

Then subtitles stop – ugh! This happened to me the other night on Amazon prime videos. It also happens on Netflix. Double ugh.

What we need to advocate for is SAME LANGUAGE SUBTITLES, and as we need same language subtitles on ALL VIDEOS of course.

For example, videos and live streams online now from so many GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS all over the world, including from the White House.

We need same language subtitles to enjoy all our British TV shows. Many times the accents are a little confusing. Read this about the dilemma – https://web.archive.org/web/20080321131957/http://www.tvweek.com/blogs/blink/2007/05/translated_from_the_british.php

Add your comments please. Join the CCAC. Let’s advocate. Let’s Talk Captioning! Equal communication access is the law, and the right thing to do. Go to http://CCACaptioning.org

image of key and text says "language is key"

COMMUNICATION IS LIFE.

CCACAPTIONING@GMAIL.COM

Details on Apple’s Cochlear Implant iPhone Accessory

Last month, we told you about Apple’s plan to partner with Austrailian company Cochlear to launch the first Made For iPhone Cochlear implant. The device will be able to stream audio from an iOS device directly to a surgically embedded sound processor. Now, Wired magazine has more details on the technology here.

the first Cochlear Implant made for the iPhone

Apple and hearing implant company Cochlear are partnering to first made for iPhone Cochlear implant. The “Made for iPhone” implant will be able stream audio from iPhones and iPads. It includes   controls and monitoring options for parents. ZDnet has details here.

Getting to Know… Hearing Loops

When you see a blue sign of a human ear that’s a cue to hearing aid users that they can press a tiny button to hear a special broadcast sent directly to their device. This is called a hearing loop, a thin copper wire that radiates electromagnetic signals in a room. A tiny receiver called a telecoil built into most hearing aids and cochlear implants picks up the signal. With the flip of a switch on the device, sound comes through with greater clarity than can be heard by someone with normal hearing. This might be music, sound from a movie, a or a speaker. Hearing loops are better known in Europe than in the US, where only about a thousand have been installed in museums, stores, theaters, airports, and sports arenas.

The sign should have a “T” symbol in the lower right hand corner of the ear symbol if there is an induction loop installed. If there is solely an ear with a slash in the middle of the ear, than the sign indicates there is some sort of hearing access but good luck trying to figure out what the site has. If there are dots/slashes running through the ear then the sign indicates that an assistive listening system is present but it could be an FM or Infrared system and headsets and/or neck loops may be available.

Welcome 2017 – A Captioning Year

Happy New Year to all reading! We welcome the new year, and we will welcome all of you who decide to help make 2017 a great year for captioning inclusion.

CCAC Logo with words Caption Universally

CCAC is now 7 years old. My oh my – time flies. Much accomplished, much more to do!

We invite you to read the CCAC webpages – soon. CCAC volunteers do so much. Offer so much for an all volunteer official non-profit. We live online. And you are needed now.

HTTP://CCACAPTIONING.ORG

Teams will form soon for various good captioning advocacy projects. From revision of the CCAC website to guest blogposts here to social media and fundraising and the Grant Program and more….you are needed too.

EMAIL: CCACAPTIONING@GMAIL.COM

 

CCAC Flyer with logo CCAC and text about the organization

 

Arts and Accessibility Event

CymaSpace is presenting a “showcase series celebrating the future of inclusive cultural events” December 11 in Portland. There will be “a fully accessible live performance with ASL interpreted performance, sound-reactive lighting, creative captions and more.” The group’s focus is “making cultural events inclusive for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.” There are more details here.

a technology to visualize sounds

“A deaf musician is creating a universal algorithm to make beautiful, visual music,” reports Quartz. Watch a video about the work of Myles de Bastion and CymaSpace here.

The Deaf Music Fan: Screaming Without a Sound

by Kimberly

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I have to feel music to hear it, and I mean that on every level. When I was around 12 or 13, I experienced significant hearing loss. The loss is moderately severe in my right ear and severe in my left. Due to the bullying that I was experiencing at school and among my own friends, I hid my hearing loss from everyone—family, friends, and even myself. I adapted to life and conversation without much of my hearing, and one of the ways that I coped with this was through music.

All through my teens, I would sit at the stereo for roughly 3 hours every night, feeling the headphones buzzing on my cheeks and the beat pulsing through my body. My taste in music had little to do with genres. Whether it was Hole’s “Rockstar,” Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” or Jeff Buckley’s “Grace,” I was listening for the passion. I can sometimes pick out or guess at the words of a song that I first hear, but usually, it’s pretty fuzzy. The music itself all kind of blends together if I don’t listen carefully. When older people will complain, “It all just sounds like a bunch of noise to me!” I know what they mean. When you can’t hear well, music is noise. But passion has always kept me listening. If I can hear something behind the song, I will listen again and again until I truly hear the song itself.

The buzzing of the headphones against my face was essential. When someone would just play as song in a room with me, I was less interested. I needed it up against my face, vibrating, sending signals to my mind, activating my memory of how those pitches sounded. I’d taken classical piano lessons from the age of 5 up until I was 16. The transition from playing piano with perfect hearing to playing piano with hearing loss was a strange one. I could feel myself relying on the buzzing in my fingers to hear the full song that I was producing. When I finally got a driver’s license, I remember the joy of having a radio that could vibrate the steering wheel under my hands. Music was something that I could still feel.

My process at the headphones was unintentionally methodical. I would find a song that I loved and blast it several times, pressing the headphones against my face as hard as I possibly could. Only after I’d felt the song on a one-on-one level like that would I dare to pull out a lyric booklet. The second that I knew the lyrics, muffled mumbling would instantly transform into meaning. My brain would fill in the gaps that my ears had left, and I would suddenly hear every syllable distinctly. After the lyrics were down in my head, I’d still listen to the same song again and again. I’d start to hear layers and extra rhythms. I think that I actually coached myself on listening this way. Hearing became easier because I’d spent so much time concentrating on how to do it.

Music stayed pretty prominent in my life for some time. I was in choirs all through high school and college and even got a music scholarship. I worked in the summers at a record store and eventually as an actress in musicals. I was even in charge of sound on our tours! In one production, I remember having to turn the monitor on stage all of the way up and the rest of the speakers all the way down so that the other actors could hear the pitch that they needed to sing. I’d be standing in the back of the auditorium saying, “Really? You can’t hear that note? I can hear it all the way back here!” In retrospect, I was “cheating.” I could feel the note, and I was used to counting on harmonics to guide me to the tones that I was unable to hear. I fell in love with and married a guy who writes rock songs and plays in bands. He’s not only indulged but appreciated when I would point out all of the little details that he put into a song.

However, in the last decade or so, I’ve lost so many of my ties with music. When I moved into my own place for college, I no longer had the big heavy headphones, so I just stopped listening to albums. I never bothered buying an iPod with earbuds because it wouldn’t be the same. The songs were compressed—the high and low pitches removed. All of the sound around the notes, the harmonics and the vibrations that I feel in order to hear, were just gone. And those tiny earbuds would never buzz around me. The idea of listening to music on headphones in public was also deeply embarrassing to me. As a teen, my neighbor once teased me about seeing me through his window, pacing around the room, squeezing those headphones up against my face. Even in my car, listening to music became less exciting because production trends of auto-tune and oversaturated reverb muddied up the sound for me. It all “sounded like a bunch of noise to me.” Hearing my husband’s live music was the rare spot of light in a dark patch. That’s why, after we moved to a new city for my job, I was so excited when he decided to play open mics again. This happened just around the time that I had finally owned up to my hearing loss and gotten help for it. I was hearing my husband with my “new ears,” my hearing aids. It was exciting.

While out at a club, I encountered the musician Nina Diaz, hosting open mics. She would play these phenomenal sets of a couple songs and then graciously turn the mic over to a variety of musicians of varying styles and levels of experience. I was struck by her kindness but also her choice of cover songs. One night, she belted out, “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS, singing the saxophone solo with a voice so powerful that I could feel it moving the walls. That feeling took me back to those days in my parents’ living room, playing that song over and over again and the sensation of the emotions behind the song echoing against my face. “I need some big headphones!” I told my husband, who then picked out the perfect pair for me.

Nina’s album, “The Beat is Dead,” came out a couple of weeks ago, and it has been such a positive emotional experience for me to listen to it as I used to listen to albums. While I lost my hearing at twelve or thirteen, that’s when Nina was joining her first band, Girl in a Coma. They were touring and signed to Joan Jett’s record label by her mid-teens. Three and a half years ago, Nina faced and conquered her alcohol and drug addiction and continues along the path of sobriety. Two years ago, I finally got my hearing checked and explained to everyone in my life that I’d been partly deaf all of these years. While the lives of a rock star struggling with addiction and a college professor struggling with hearing loss might sound pretty different, I sense that we’ve been through a lot of the same things—the lengthy fallout that comes after confronting demons, the shame that comes from having hidden something for so long, and the burden of being an accomplished person who’s struggling when everyone thinks she has it made.

Recently, Nina put out a lyric video for one of the songs that hits me the hardest, “Screaming without a Sound.” It’s emotional for me because this is the first time that I’m reading the lyrics, and they’re written in the second person voice, driving home the connection that I already felt with the song. It reminds me of the years of embarrassment and self-doubt that came with hiding my hearing loss but also my attempts to try to explain that to the people in my life once I’d confronted it myself. I’ve often felt that my explanations are impossible for anyone else to understand. Screaming without a sound is something that I feel pretty profoundly on a number of levels. Yet, at the same time, the fact that there’s a song out there about how I feel makes me think that I am understood after all. Maybe we all understand one another other on levels that we’re not always consciously aware of. Maybe art is what helps us make those connections. You can’t always explain it, but you can feel it.

I’m continuing to hear the layers in the songs—the way that she bends the note when she sings the word “care” in the song “Queen Beats King” or the unexpected digital bits of keyboard coming in near the end of “Trick Candle.” I get a weird kick out of discovering sounds. For most people, sound comprises music, but for me, the music itself is bringing the sound alive. In those moments with my headphones on, I feel like a part of me that’s been dead is alive again. Listening to music is a tiring process for me. People with hearing loss can all agree that listening fatigue is real. In the end, though, it’s worth the human connection. Art takes a lot of energy to create and even to consume, but it’s those moments when we make the effort to feel what others feel that allow us to transcend the senses.flourish1.pngKimberly is an Assistant Professor of English at a large university in Texas. As a former professional actress, she occasionally directs student plays. She lives with her husband and cat and enjoys cooking, music, and exploring nature.

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Filed under: Deafness, Hearing Loss, Life, music Tagged: Accessibility, Art as therapy, Captioned Lyrics, music, Sound, Technology

CAPTIONING ADVOCACY NEEDS YOU

Guess we’ve been very busy -long time since new blogpost – doing, among other things, Captioning Advocacy!

CCAC has strength in numbers – you are needed too. JOIN today. Why not? Email anytime if you have a question about being a member.

CCACAPTIONING@GMAIL.COM

CCACAPTIONING.ORG IS THE WEBSITE

CCAC MISSION – INCLUSION OF QUALITY CAPTIONING UNIVERSALLY

p.s. we welcome guest blogposts about captioning!

CCAC Flyer with logo CCAC and text about the organization

DON’T HAVE TO BE DEAF TO LOVE CAPTIONING!

Our short book is a paperback or kindle on Amazon. Have you enjoyed it yet?
Perhaps a good item for a meeting of your hearing loss group? For family? Others?

It’s a collection of some personal and family memories from yours truly, a deafened adult for some time now (and founder and president of the CCAC). My friends love the book – smile.
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=you+dont+have+to+be+deaf+to+love+captioning

Book Cover with title and photo of flowers

CCAACAPTIONING.ORG
CCACAPTIONING@GMAIL.COM

Why Removing The Telecoil Function From iPhones Is A Bad Idea

There’s a petition on Change.org asking the FCC to maintain the telecoil requirement for mobile phones that earn the “hearing-aid-compatible” (HAC) rating. I just signed the petition, and everyone who has ever worn hearing aids, who has thought about wearing hearing aids, or who knows someone who wears hearing aids should plan on signing it, too.

Telecoil Petition
Click here to view and sign the petition.

The petition is sponsored by two prominent audiologists, Abram Bailey of HearingTracker.com and Juliette Sterkens, the National Hearing Loop Advocate for the Hearing Loss Association of America. It’s a response to Apple’s recent request that the Federal Communications Commission eliminate the requirement that any “HAC”-rated phone include telecoil functionality. A telecoil, or “t-coil,” is an inexpensive component that picks the signal off the phone line and transmits it directly into the hearing aid. For me, it was a lifesaver for many years.

When I used hearing aids to cope with severe hearing loss over more than a decade, I wouldn’t have been able to use the phone at all without t-coils. Because the t-coil enables the electronic signal on the phone line to bypass the hearing aid’s microphone and go directly to the hearing-aid receiver and into the ear, it eliminates much of the distortion that occurs when the hearing aid must re-amplify the the audio output from the phone. For me it improved audibility just enough to be able to use the phone.

Now, with Bluetooth and 2.4 gigahertz digital transmission technologies, other wireless solutions are available. Apple and others argue that these new wireless solutions are better than telecoils, which are based on seemingly ancient electromagnetic induction technology. Because T-coils require different components and transmission protocols from the newer Bluetooth and other wireless transmission technologies, proponents of the change argue that they take up valuable real estate and add cost and redundancy to phones that are already utilizing the newer technologies.

But there’s a problem with that argument. Telecoils are still less expensive than Bluetooth and proprietary transmission technologies. Even more important, they are an industry standard used with all landline phones and most mobile phones, as well as in publicly “looped” buildings, lecture halls, churches and synagogues, etc. The technology works and is cost effective. Eliminating the requirement that phones with hearing-aid-compatible ratings always be enabled for telecoils would mean that hearing aid users who depend on that technology would no longer be able to use many supposedly “hearing-aid-compatible” phones.

If Apple stopped making its iPhones compatible with telecoils, many iPhone users would be presented with an expensive choice. Either switch to a different phone that’s compatible with their t-coils, or switch to one of the limited choices of (very) expensive “Made for iPhone” hearing aids that have recently come on the market. For those users, the change in the FCC rules would not save money but could in fact cost them thousands of dollars more, just to get back the necessary capability–being able to hear the phone–that they had enjoyed before.

Industry standards are only useful when everyone adheres to them. If a big percentage of products does not adhere, then the standard is no longer a standard, new players in the market decide not to offer the standard technology, and over time the overall benefit decreases.

Apple has a long history of not opting into industry standards. The operating system for Apple’s computers was never compatible with the Windows operating system, which was an industry standard with something like 90 percent of the market share for personal computers. Apple was successful because it provided great computers that provided high levels of functionality, ease of use, and classy design to users willing to pay a higher price than they’d have to pay for very comparable industry-standard computers.

Similarly, Apple is free to ignore the industry standard for hearing aid compatibility. In fact, for a long time, iPhones did not work that well with hearing aids. But now they do, and Apple has worked hard to develop a good reputation for trying to make its phones accessible to people with all kinds of challenges.

Eliminating t-coil compatibility from its phones now, however, would contradict Apple’s public commitment to overall accessibility. So Apple is asking the FCC to say that its phones can be rated “hearing-aid-compatible” even if it ignores the t-coil standard. That just doesn’t sit right with me and shouldn’t with anyone who has ever enjoyed the simple and cost-effective advantages of t-coil technology.

Maybe in a few years the promising advances of Bluetooth and other wireless digital technologies will be so baked into future generations of hearing aids that they become the same kind of virtual standards that telecoils are today. But now isn’t the time to pull the plug on the old reliable t-coil.