You like music?!? But you’re DEAF!

(DISCLAIMER:  The views below are mine and are not intended to represent how ALL people who are deaf and hard of hearing enjoy music)

An acquaintance recently asked me how I was able to enjoy myself doing things like going to all the musicals that I do, hearing my kids sing or play instruments.  I told him that while I might approach how I experience music in a different way than him, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t also enjoy it.

I grew up very musical…I started piano at age 4 (and continued with lessons through high school), eventually added cello, clarinet, the bassoon (ok – only for 3 months) in elementary school and then percussion by the time I was in high school.   I got to play in various bands and orchestras, sing in choirs and support musicals by playing in the pit.   When it came time to apply to college, I was accepted at one school for Engineering and one for Music.  I chose the former.

In college, I joined chorus where I sang alto and sometimes was piano accompaniment and even met my then-boyfriend-now-husband-who-sang-bass in that chorus.  We went to concerts, saw shows and listened to bands.  I ended up switching my major from Engineering to Audiology because I wanted to use my tech savviness to help deaf/hard of hearing people enjoy music.  As part of my coursework in Audiology, I also was required to take a sign language class (which I eventually taught as a grad student). So many ironies, huh?

At age 29, I started losing my hearing due to Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease.   Over the course of the next 9 months, I became completely deaf.   I used powerful hearing aids for about a year and when those weren’t enough, I got my first cochlear implant and five years later, my second cochlear implant.   My CIs have given me back so much of what I was missing including being able to hear soft sounds and understand most speech without lipreading – in ideal listening situations.

Listening in noise is difficult for people with hearing loss in general and while I often appear to be quite successful, I have to work really, really, really hard in those situations.

Another area that is challenging is enjoying music…I can hear music, I can listen to music but enjoying it is NOT automatic.  (NOTE: people with normal hearing don’t always enjoy music that is presented to them either.)

 

What does music sound like to me?

Music is so much more than melodies, harmonies, rhythms, timbres and dynamics.  Music is something to be experienced not only by the ears and the brain but also by the eyes, the heart and the soul.  Enjoying music is time spent alone with your thoughts and memories or time spent together with friends and family.

Enjoying music

My children have been involved with musical theater, choir, band and lately, we have enjoyed listening to live music at outdoor and indoor venues.  With my cochlear-implant-aided hearing, do I hear everything like I used to?  No.  Am I still able to enjoy myself?  Absolutely.

Because everyone has different levels of auditory memory and experiences, what I hear can be very different compared to what someone else hears.  I was hearing for most of my life and had a very musical background.   My ability to hear and process music would be very different than someone, for example, who was born deaf and received a CI as an adult (NOTE: anyone has the potential to enjoy music…we just might enjoy it in different ways).

Here’s a decent sound simulation of what it’s like for me to go hear a rock band:

Normal hearing – https://www.hear-it.org/sites/default/files/sound_files/NORMAL.mp3

*What I feel like I hear with my CIs* – https://www.hear-it.org/sites/default/files/sound_files/Sensorineural_Mild.mp3

In the above example, I tried to demonstrate how I can hear an awful lot but there are parts that are missing or distorted.   Add lots of instruments, really loud levels that cause my CIs to go into compression (which distorts sounds even more) and it will sound even worse.

As with many people with CIs, being able to discern melodies is the most difficult.   My favorite analogy to use is that while people with normal hearing might be able to hear all 88 keys on a keyboard as someone plays it wearing gloves, what I hear is more akin to someone playing all 88 keys while wearing mittens…I can definitely tell low notes vs. high notes but if the notes are close together or there is a chord, it might sound all jumbled together or one discordant pitch.

piano keyboard

Below is a visual representation of what I feel like I hear:

Music with my CI

(If the GIF above does not play automatically, go to https://imgflip.com/gif/2h2rxa)

What it represents is what I feel like I am experiencing as I walk into a music venue.   At first, nothing makes sense and sounds like noise and I might have no idea what’s playing.   As my ears and brain start to warm up and my other senses kick in, things might become more clear.   Most of the time, I’m so totally almost there but not quite.  Every once in a while though, my ears/brain will catch on and I will be able to identify a song or hear brilliant and clear notes and harmonies.

 

Tips for Multi-modal Music Enjoyment

Rather than lament the fact that I do not hear music the way I used to, I embrace practices that allow me to enjoy music the way I hear it NOW.

AUDITORY CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Talk to your audiologist about getting a “music program”. There are settings that can be adjusted to allow you to access more of the information you need to hear music.   If there’s a piece of music that’s especially frustrating for you or you have a favorite piece of music, try bringing a recording to your appointment so you can hear how changes to your program affect how you process it.
  • If a venue is especially reverberant or you’re sitting in the back and the sound is distorted by the time it reaches your amplification, consider using hearing assistive technology (a/k/a assistive listening devices). Some venues have designated areas that have a hearing loop and others have personal systems.  By using either of these methods, anything that has a mic (i.e., voices or instruments) will directly be transmitted to your amplification, bypassing any echo or reverberation effect.
  • Use other hearing assistive technology such as good quality supra-aural headphones, amplified neckloops or streamers to send music directly from your sound source to your amplification. This method can also help to block out competing background noise.
  • If you feel like you’re having an especially difficult time even hearing the beat, consider holding an inflated balloon in between your hands and next to your chest so you can “feel” the beat.
  • If you have residual hearing, you want to protect it. This gets tricky because you might need louder volumes to hear better. In certain cases though, too much volume will cause you to lose more hearing.   Hearing aids and cochlear implants are set so there is a ceiling to how loud something will go but in dangerously loud environments, if you’re not using hearing protection, loudness levels can surpass these ceilings and cause more damage the louder and longer that you listen to it.  If your ears are ringing or sounds are muffled after you leave a loud venue, chances are that you have affected your hearing –this can be temporary but with prolonged exposure, it can become permanent.   There are also apps that can estimate how loud an environment is and even having warnings when you’re someplace that’s too loud.  Go to the tab for Sound Level Meters on “Apps for Kids (and Adults) with Hearing Loss” page (http://bit.ly/Apps4HL-iOS and http://bit.ly/Apps4HL-Android) for some suggestions.

 

VISUAL CONSIDERATIONS:

  • As a musician, I benefit from being able to read sheet music to follow along. If my daughter is in a musical, I often ask to see the score so I know what it’s supposed to sound like.
  • If possible, try and sit close to the music source. I do better when I am able to lipread actors and singers and see their facial expressions.  For live music, I can better tell where the melody is going when I can see things like their fingers moving up and down a keyboard or guitar or see how the bows of stringed instruments move up and down.
  • Find lyrics online so you don’t have to work so hard on understanding the words and can focus more on melodies and harmonies.
  • Use apps on your mobile device like SoundHound, Shazam and MusixMatch to identify artists, songs, albums and lyrics – this works best with recorded music but can sometimes work in live venues.
  • If watching something with a lot of dialogue or lyrics, go to or request accommodations such as open or closed captioning, or sign language interpreter(s). (ASIDE: As a signer, I appreciate going with others that sign because not only do we have ease of communication in noisy places or at a distance but we often have fun signing along with the music!)

 

LISTEN WITH YOUR BRAIN AND YOUR HEART:

  • Start with familiar music first. This is already part of your auditory memory – you don’t have to hear every note to recognize this music.
    • Did you know that there’s a term for why you love music from the era when you were age 12-22 (i.e., middle school, high school and college)? It’s called “neural nostalgia” and it happens because during that timeframe, your brain is already rapidly developing so what you hear and the emotions that you feel are imprinted in different parts of your cortex.
  • When you’re ready to listen to unfamiliar music, try music with strong vocals or primary instruments, and not too many instruments playing at the same time.

 

Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Just like learning a new language, hearing music in a different way takes time.   With patience and practice, listening to and/or playing music can be enjoyable again.

 

 

RESOURCES:

Article about Neural Nostalgia

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/08/musical_nostalgia_the_psychology_and_neuroscience_for_song_preference_and.html

Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss

http://aamhl.org

https://www.facebook.com/aamhl/

Musicians’ Clinics of Canada

http://www.musiciansclinics.com/

Noisy Planet

https://www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov/kids-preteens/listen-up-infographic

Sound simulations

https://www.hear-it.org/Impressions-of-hearing-loss-and-Tinnitus-

 

Squirrel Girl goes home

18 years ago (18 years and 3 days ago, to be exact), I had the pleasure of being a bridesmaid in my college friend’s wedding.   Here is a recap of that fateful day that turned this mild-mannered audiologist into the Sciuridae (i.e., yard rodent/squirrel)-phobic person she now is…

I had my first cochlear implant surgery on August 11, 2000 to help me hear better.  This involved drilling through my skull to access my cochlea in my inner ear.  It’s a relatively simple outpatient procedure resulting in a 3-4 inch incision behind my ear.  After the internal device was inserted, the surgeon sewed me back up with dissolving sutures and superglue on the incision to help it heal quickly.  He then wrapped my head in a pressure bandage which I had to wear for a couple of days before I could take it off and take the most glorious shower in my life.

Fast forward after a week of rest to the wedding in Hillsboro, IL.   I was helping out the bride by walking her dog and noticed that there were lots of squirrels in the neighborhood.  I’m walking under the tree and all of a sudden something hits me in the head.  I look down and it’s a NUT!  I had visions of really angry squirrels throwing nuts to ward off the invading humans.

Related image

(Photo cred: https://drawception.com/game/5kQ5nmcar6/squirrel-throwing-acorns-at-people/)

I didn’t think anything of it until I felt something wet behind my ear.  That stupid nut had hit me directly on my recent incision!  It had busted it open and now I was bleeding.  Poor father-of-the-bride took time out of the rehearsal day to take me to the local community hospital to hold my hand while the doctors tried stop the bleeding.  Because it was a head wound that was bleeding a lot and because I couldn’t have cautery (because of my recent cochlear implant surgery), it took several trips.   Eventually, it stopped bleeding and I was able to finish out the weekend’s festivities.

The following Monday, I had a follow-up with my surgeon who took one look at my incision-turned-huge-scab and told me that he would have open up the scab, clean up the accumulated blood and I had to put the pressure bandage back on.  😦   I told him the story and “Squirrel Girl” was born.    I had been sending out email updates to friends (this was back in 2000 before blogs and really, the Internet were up and going) and thereafter, I would receive various squirrel paraphernalia that was anonymously left on my desk.

Image result for warning squirrel

Image result for squirrel stuffed animal

On August 23, 2018, I had the pleasure of returning to that fateful town to do a presentation about (can you imagine?!?!) cochlear implants!  As I was waiting for the teachers to arrive, I looked down and this is what I saw:

What?!?  I looked around the room and saw more:

I told the teacher my squirrel story and she told me that they were still as vicious as ever.  Apparently, these squirrel were prone to eating through cables and wires in people’s cars!  (Did you know that some cables are coated with a product that contains soy?!?) She told me that squirrels had eaten through her brake line and something on her passenger side door.  And it didn’t just happen to her, it happened to another teacher, too!  Whoa.

After my presentation, I decided to do a nostalgic driving tour to visit the places of my demise.   The original house of my friend’s parents had long ago been sold and the new owners built a new structure.  I still vaguely remember those trees though!

The small community hospital had expanded and was now more of a hospital complex.

I joke that I have a cochlear implant on one side that is legally an adult (nee 2000) and a second one that is a teenager (nee 2005).   They have given me years of much, much improved hearing that I was not able to get with my hearing aids.   When I had my second surgery, people joked that I might want to wear a protective helmet.   Right?!?

Using Closed Captioning Technology (I-Caption and GalaPro) at Live Theatre Venues

I had the privilege of being asked to participate in the Broadway League Accessibility Advisory Group.  Luckily, there have been several opportunities for me to visit NYC on business so I would also take the opportunity to take in a Broadway show using the I-Caption devices and/or GalaPro app.   I’ve written out some tips from my personal perspective for others who are using this technology for the first time.   For more information on this initiative, go here.

Shubert Theatres should have this technology in all their theatres now with the rest of the Broadway League Theatres following suit by this summer.    This technology provides an option for attending more shows, sitting where you want to and going during a time that fits your schedule.   It works by automatically syncing pre-loaded captions on the device with lighting and voice recognition cues from the stage.

Please note that Theatre Development Fund (TDF) still offers the options for Open Caption and/or ASL interpreted performances.  These are not going away!

It’s encouraging that there are more shows providing access but we still have a ways to go.  If you have any questions or comments, be sure to provide your feedback (positive and negative) at the email cited at the end of this post.

Here’s an article by NPR showcasing the experiences of a fellow Advisory Group member.

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(Me and John Waldo at “Come From Away” with our I-Caption device and GalaPro app – November 2017)

 

Before the show

  • Check with the theatre to confirm that closed captioning is available. While we are seeing more theatres with this option, not all theatres have it available yet.
  • Consider getting a state ID (if available in your state) so you don’t have to leave your Driver’s License.
  • If planning to use the GalaPro app on your personal device (mobile phone or tablet):
    • Download it and register before you get to the theatre
    • Make sure it’s fully charged and/or bring an external battery
  • Bring a selfie-stick large enough to hold your device in case the venue does not have a holder available (they are still working on possible solutions for this). I put the device on the selfie stick and then stand it up on my seat between my legs.  You can hold with one hand or prop up with your coat or purse.

Selfie stick

  • Arrive early so you can get your equipment and discuss directions on how to use it.
    • Ask for written directions so there are no misunderstandings and you can reference later, if needed.
  • Get the name of the person you talked to (e.g., take a picture of their name tag).
  • Make sure they know where your seat is and ask that they check on you periodically in case the equipment starts to work and then stops during the show.
    • I also recommend to them that they have a backup device ready to go when they check on you.
  • Inform the people around you that you are using an electronic device to view closed captions and not to record the show or be a distraction. Confirm with them that the position of your device is not blocking their view.   Hold the device in front of your body (not to the side) so you are not blocking their view.

I-Caption

I-Caption

  • Consider asking for two devices so you have one for backup.
  • Confirm that the device is fully charged and you can see the screen ok at its brightness level.
  • It can fit some on some selfie sticks if you don’t want to hold it.
  • Ask for a GalaPro device as backup.

GalaPro

GalaPro

  • You have the choice to use your own device or one of their supplied devices – I suggest the latter so you can save your phone battery and so you don’t run into notifications coming through accidentally.  If they run out of devices, then you will need to use your own device.
  • Using your personal device:
    • Make sure you specifically TURN OFF ALL NOTIFICATIONS. Even though the app requires you to go into Airplane Mode and use their special WiFi, different app notifications may still come through.
    • Turn your screen brightness down all the way.
    • If you accidentally exit the app or a notification comes through, please be considerate and shield your device (e.g., under your coat) so that it does not light up the dark theatre with your bright screen.
  • Follow on screen directions to connect, adjust brightness, font color and font size before the show.
  • Ask for an I-Caption device as backup.

After the show

  • Make sure YOUR Driver’s License/ID is returned.
  • If you ran into any problems or would like to provide feedback, get the contact information for the staff person at the Accessibility Services kiosk, House Manager and/or contact audienceservices@shubertorg.com.

ALDACon 2015

Hi ALDAns,

Here are the notes from today’s presentation.  Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

It’s always so wonderful to meet new people and see old friends…

Amplify Your Audiology Appointment

Say_It_in_CI_-_by_Camille_Jones

Article I wrote for ADVANCE about using and choosing Apps for individuals with hearing loss.

ADVANCEbyline

Very excited to see that my article on using apps was posted recently (click on the picture above or here to go to the article).  This has definitely been a hot topic and I have done/will be doing quite a few presentations about this in the next few weeks.   It’s a pretty good summary of what I talk about in narrative form.

***Don’t forget to check out the actual list “Apps for Kids (and Adults) with Hearing Loss” here.    It’s been updated recently and there are GOBS of cool, new apps on there to explore.***

iPadcarholderHere is an example of Mother Necessity.

One iPad <gasp!> + two girls = whining and complaining that they couldn’t see the iPad.

One iPad + two girls + one bungee cord strung across two headrests = problem solved!

~ tc ~

Accessibility information for the major mobile device carriers

Mobile device

Here’s a quick list of links to the various accessibility pages for the four main mobile device carriers:

AT&T

Sprint

T-Mobile

  • (I could not find anything online about pricing but did come across this provider that seems to have good prices – Fuse Wireless)

Verizon Wireless

There’s information for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, vision impaired or non-verbal including what types of technology are available – for example, which cellphones are hearing aid compatible (HAC), which have the ability to connect to a TTY, which ones have front-facing cameras,  which ones can have enlarged fonts, flashing screens, etc.

My favorite place to search for a phone with a variety of accessibility options is at Phonescoop.   Be sure to click on “Show All Options” under the
“Simple” tab to see features such as hearing aid compatibility.   You can also search by features such as carrier, style, keyboard, size, data network, etc.

I would also recommend going into a brick-and-mortar store and talking to a salesperson and trying out devices.  That way you can see, hear and touch the various devices and make sure it doesn’t interfere with your hearing aid or cochlear implant, or can be seen with your corrected vision.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What is the return policy on your products?  (how many days?)
  • What is the fee for re-stocking?
  • Can I return for a full refund or only for an exchange?
  • Do you have any special pricing plans for those who are deaf/hard of hearing/blind/vision impaired/non-verbal? (this is not very clear on the various websites above)

Finally, keep in mind that even after you have picked the perfect phone, with all of the features you want and need…it’s up to the coverage area and this may dictate which carrier you HAVE TO use.   Be sure to talk to people that use mobile devices in the areas you are looking at to see if coverage is good or spotty or non-existent.   This is especially true in more rural areas.

Sign Language Resources

sl-ilyI’m doing a workshop at the end of this month for people that want to use sign language with infants and toddlers (hearing and deaf/hard of hearing), so I compiled this list of online resources, lessons/curriculum, books, media and products.  Many of the links go to Amazon.com but you can find them elsewhere as well.  Enjoy!

Sign Language Resources

Online

American Sign Language Browser

Answers.com

Apps for Kids with Hearing Loss

ASL-STEM Forum

Described and Captioned Media Program

  • http://dcmp.org
  • THOUSANDS of titles on a variety of educational subjects including a nice selection of sign language materials – some are on DVD but others you can stream right away

Facebook

  • www.facebook.com
  • Search “sign language” or “baby sign language” for a variety of pages and groups that discuss using ASL with children

First 100+ ASL Signs

Sign with your baby Yahoo! Group

Signing Dictionary

Technical signs

Lessons/Curriculum

ASL Deafined

ASL University

  • www.lifeprint.com
  • Great resource for those who want to continue their ASL skills, all signs are demonstrated via video clips – first 100 signs, FREE ASL lessons, dictionary, fingerspelling practice, downloadable fonts

Baby Sign Language

Baby Signs

  • www.babysigns.com
  • Program designed for hearing babies, uses mostly ASL signs but they are open to homemade signs, lots of products and activities

Sign2Me Early Learning Resources

  • www.sign2me.com
  • Finding signing classes, network with other instructors, newsletter, products for purchase

Signing Savvy

  • www.signingsavvy.com
  • More great video clips of searchable signs, also the ability to make wordlists, flashcards and quizzes, monthly/annual fee required to access full member benefits including mobile apps (iOS and Android)

Signing Time

  • www.signingtime.com
  • HUGE collection of DVDs and activities across a broad range of ages and topics, information on local classes, newsletter to get Sign of the Week

Start ASL

Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2)

Baby Sign Language Books and Kits

Baby Signs:  How to Talk to Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk, Third Edition, by Linda Acredolo, Ph.D. and Susan Goodwyn, Ph.D. with Douglas Abrams

  • Information from long-term study on signing with hearing babies funded by NIH.  Contains findings and includes developmental information, strategies and signing activities.  This latest edition does incorporate using ASL signs as well as some “baby-friendly alternatives” (not formal ASL signs).

Signing Smart series by Michelle E. Anthony, M.A., Ph.D. and Reyna Lindert, Ph.D.

  • Simple, straightforward technique for signing with babies, compatible with other ASL methods.  Contains fun signing activities and songs.

Sign, Sing and Play!, Baby Sign Language Basics, Songs for Little Hands series by Monta Z. Briant

  • Great board books, activities and music for your infant and toddler

Dancing with Words:  Signing for Hearing Children’s Literacy by Marilyn Daniels

  • Focus on how signing with hearing children enhances literacy and reading skills

Sign with your Baby products by Joseph Garcia

  • DVD series and instructional manual for using ASL with your child

Children’s Books

Baby Signs board book series by Linda Acredolo, Susan Goodwyn and Penny Gentieu Baby Signs by Joy Allen Signs for Me: Basic Sign Vocabulary for Children, Parents & Teachers by Ben Bahan and Joe Dannis Teach Your Baby to Sign: An Illustrated Guide to Simple Sign Language for Babies by Monica Beyer A Beginner’s Book of Signs series by Angela Bednarczyk and Janet Weinstock Baby Signing 1-2-3: The Easy-to-Use Illustrated Guide for Every Stage and Every Age by Nancy Cadjan Early Sign Language Signs series by Stanley Collins My First Book of Sign Language by Joan Holub You Can Learn sign Language! by Jackie Kramer and Tali Ovadia Sign and Sign Along series by Annie Kubler Sign About series by Anthony Lewis Sabuda & Reinhart Pop-Ups: Baby Signs by Kyle Olmon and Jacqueline Rogers Sign Babies ASL Flashcard series by Sign Babies First Book of Sign Language series by Debbie Slier Baby’s First Signs series  by Kim Votry and Curt Waller Simple Signs and More Simple Signs by Cindy Wheeler

Videos/DVDs

Baby Sign Language Basics:  Early Communication for Hearing Babies and Toddlers Instructional DVD Baby Einstein: My First Signs series with Marlee Matlin Baby See ‘n Sign series with Joanna Larson-Muhr Blue’s Clues:  All Kinds of Signs VHS Goodnight Moon Sign Language Gift Set

  • Includes 9 popular children’s books and a sign language poster

Happy Signs Day:  Sign Language for Babies and Toddlers and Happy Signs Night: Learn Baby Sign Language Sign-A-Lot:  The Big Surprise and Sign-A-Lot:  ABC Games

  • Shows elementary age kids signing.

Talking Hands

Sign Language Products

Busy Bee Learning

  • Puzzles, books, DVDs

Deaf Hands

  • Products with hands fingerspelling  – clocks, signs, etc.

Garlic Press Sign Language Series and products

  • For beginners and beyond, books, games and other products

Gallaudet University Press

  • Variety of media for beginners and more advanced signers, information on Deaf culture

Hand Expressions

  • Customized clothing and other novelties

Harris Communications

  • Variety of media for beginners and more advanced signers

Label and Learn

  • Activities online, app, books, DVDs

Apps for Kids (and Adults) with Hearing Loss

As an educational audiologist, late deafened adult with bilateral cochlear implants, gadget lover and hoarder-of-apps, I felt compelled to try and find as many apps as I could in the iTunes store relating to working with individuals with hearing loss. With all of the hundreds of thousands of apps out there, this was a somewhat daunting task and I’m sure I missed some.   [I hope to compile a similar list for Android apps in the near future…]

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For the comprehensive list, “Apps for Kids (and Adults) with Hearing Loss ” with ALL of the apps that I have found, go to http://bit.ly/Apps4HL-iOS or http://bit.ly/Apps4HL-Android, depending on your platform.

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Since I will be updating this spreadsheet frequently, the most recently-added apps are towards the top.     The “Master List” tab has all of the apps and the others tabs are grouped by category.   If you would like to subscribe to an RSS feed and be alerted when an app is added, please CLICK HERE.

I had the pleasure and honor to pick out my favorite apps and share them with subscribers to the facebook page Technology in Education – the listing of these apps can be found by CLICKING HERE.   There are TONS of apps located within these pages so be sure to look around and also to sign up for their frequent and amazing app sharing events by “liking” their page.

When working with students with hearing loss, one of the many IEP goals that they have often includes doing some form of auditory training or listening therapy. Auditory training can be as simple as discriminating whether a sound is present or not, being able to discriminate between two or more different stimuli (e.g., environmental and/or speech stimuli), being able to listen to a short series of directions and act accordingly (e.g., put the hat on the little girl) or listening to a longer passage and be able to answer questions. I used the following search terms (“deaf”, “hard of hearing”, “hearing impaired”, “listening”, “sign language”, “ASL”, “audiology”, “hearing test”, “sound level meter”, “decibel meter”, “hearing aid”) as I scoured iTunes looking for apps to use. I grouped the apps that I found into the categories below and had some additional thoughts:

Accessibility
Universal caption capabilities for streamed video content is still being developed, and has been mandated in some instances. Unfortunately, finding captions for streamed content is still an exception rather than a norm. Currently, the only apps that I know of that allows for captions/subtitles for the iPad (2)/iPhone/iPod Touch are:

  • certain videos in the iTunes store and Netflix (be sure to go to http://www.phlixie.com to utilize their searchable database of captioned videos)
  • TEDiSUB: TED Talks with Subtitles
  • Qwiki
  • dotSUB
  • CaptionfishTrailers (be sure to check out http://www.captionfish.com for a complete listing of captioned/subtitled movies in local theaters near you
  • TWCable TV (see link in my comments section on how to turn this on)

Hearing Test
Beware that some of these are rather gimmicky and are not very accurate. If you have ANY concerns about your hearing, please contact your local audiologist for a diagnostic hearing evaluation (www.howsyourhearing.org)

Personal amplifiers
This is what I call the plethora of apps touted as being “spying devices” or “hearing enhancers”. While they may help temporarily or be fun to use, the sound quality is not ideal and these should not be your primary mode of access to auditory information. Once again, please be sure to consult an audiologist with any hearing concerns.

Sign language
When searching, I realized that many of the sign language apps out there are not really “sign language” but rather just the manual alphabet. I have indicated this in my comments for the apps. Also, some of the apps use static pictures/diagrams, while others use computer-generated avatars but my favorite apps use actual video clips of a person doing the particular sign.

As stated here, there is also a need to develop an app using sign language not only for the sake of teaching specific signs but for use in teaching concepts! Hmmm….maybe my next project???

Sound level meters (SLM)
Many of the SLM apps are crude and not entirely accurate unless you upgrade to a paid version and you have the ability to calibrate the app to your particular device. That being said, there are some that are more non-tech-friendly that you can use to broadly say whether a certain listening environment (e.g., cafeteria or concert) is too loud and either the sound level needs to be brought down or hearing protection is warranted, and there are some that are built for people like sound engineers.

Ok, not being app-specific, here are some other thoughts rolling around in my head:

Books
In addition to apps that are specifically designed for auditory training, you can use any of the book applications available in the iTunes store like nook and Kindle. There are also thousands of kid-friendly books that the student can use with or without audio. Some of them are pretty static and there are some that are very interactive and can engage your students with its many features. When I was first learning to hear again with my cochlear implant, I used <gasp> books on tape because there was no such thing as iTunes yet. Nowadays, there are apps like http://www.audible.com that allow you to download entire books (unabridged and abridged) for hours of enjoyment (and auditory training!) on road trips.

English as a Second Language Resources
Some of these materials may be more geared towards your older or more advanced listening students, but there are exercises that can definitely be applied towards listening goals. I did not include these in my list. If there are any that you feel are exceptionally good, please let me know!

Music training
If you are working on something advanced such as pitch training, be sure to check out the hundreds of pitch training, pitch perception apps that are available in the iTunes store. While geared towards musicians, you can also use these apps for your students. I did not include these in my list. If there are any that you feel are exceptionally good, please let me know!

Role playing
This is the name I have given to apps where children get to manipulate parts in a virtual environment. My favorite developer is Toca Boca with their various whimsical apps appropriate for boys and girls. These are excellent apps to use for auditory training goals like following multi-step directions.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I need to mention that it is also important to make sure the student (or adult) can HEAR through the device if used for auditory training. If they cannot hear through the device internal speakers, other options include:

  • external speakers (e.g., docking station)
  • good quality headphones that fit over their hearing aid(s) or cochlear implant(s)
  • connecting the device to their personal FM system via the transmitter auxiliary cable
  • connecting the device directly to their cochlear implant(s) via the auxiliary cable

Happy listening!

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Name that CI processor and part!

Have you ever wondered what that thingamajiggy is REALLY called on your cochlear implant?

Do you know the name of your CI center? How about your audiologist?

If your car were to break down, would you ever have a conversation like this?

You:               Hi, I need your help. My car just broke down at the gas station.

Mechanic:      Yeah? What kind of car do you have?

You:                Ummmm…I don’t know. It’s a car. It’s red?

Well, there have been times when I’ve met people and they don’t know the manufacturer or the model of their cochlear implant. They’ll say, “I don’t know. It’s my cochlear implant!” 

Students that I work with often don’t know the name of their CI center or their audiologist.

Just as with the car example above, those vague answers would not really be very helpful if you have to do some troubleshooting! How would you know where to start looking?

Test your knowledge and maybe even make a game of it by learning its true name! Here are some tools:

First, I created a page with pictures of the various manufacturers and models of processors so you know their name (click on a picture and go straight to the User Guide). There is also a page with all of the CI manufacturers side-by-side with information and resources that they offer.  You can find all of this at http://illinoisdeaf.org/Outreach/CI.html

Second, I’ve designed some simple worksheets for you to use with your patients (adult and pediatric). They have places where you can not only fill in the name of the manufacturer/model but also a place to fill in information like the name of the CI center and audiologist!

Happy learning!

NOTE: Updated 01/19 with more recent CI models