Saturday, December 21, 2013

All FCC caption complaint links broken on website

I'm trying to file a captioning complaint at the official FCC website and every single link is broken.  To say I am pissed off is an understatement.  Screw you FCC!

Thanks for nothing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cool new way to graph an audiogram

I've been messing around quite a bit with a Javascript framework graphing toolset called HighCharts. I tweaked it to graph my past and current audiograms and you can see the output here:

Here is a link to the HTML:

Feel free to look at the source and use it as a template to graph your own.  It is just static HTML and you just need to customize the values.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sudden Deafness in One Ear

Last week I dropped into full silence on one side.  But let's take a look back first...

I've been losing my hearing now for 35 years.  It has been a slow and steady loss; the kind that goes unnoticed over weeks and even many months.  But over the years it has been like becoming a senior citizen many times over.  A cycle in which I must realize (or more accurately, admit to myself) that I have lost an appreciable amount of hearing and I either need to have my hearing aids adjusted or replaced.  A cycle that requires me to "learn" how to hear again because, after getting the aids adjusted or replaced, my world sounds drastically different than it did the day before.

My first cycle occurred in my mid-twenties, as I entered the work force.  I realized in large meetings that I was missing an awful lot of what was being said by coworkers.  People, when they are not confident in what they are saying tend to be quieter, and well, some people just have small voices.  Nonetheless, I decided to turn my back on vanity and focus on utility, so I got my first set of hearing aids.  It was a dramatic change to be able to hear things that I may have never possibly heard before in my life, or maybe it had just been so long that I had forgotten what these things really sounded like.

I have since gone through a few more cycles of hearing aids, but I have also done something in the last seven years that has changed my life forever.  I made a connection with my local Deaf community.  I started learning ASL seven years ago, and have since become mostly fluent.  I made friends and built a support network.  I saw how my Deaf friends live and it inspired me by their confidence and perseverance, and took away any notions that I was isolated in my experiences.  Along the way, we had a son who also cannot hear normally, and with that ASL has been integrated into my family also.

My hearing up until last week was pretty dismal.  My thresholds were about 90dB in my better ear and 100dB in my worse ear.  But thresholds rarely tell the whole story, because sound needs to be clear to understand words.  In my better ear at perfect volume, I was able to understand about half of the words being said, while my worse ear I could comprehend about 10% of words being said.  Again, dismal.

So last weekend, without any warning, my hearing simply disappeared in my better ear.  Not to say this was a quiet event, though.  I "heard" quite a lot of ringing and such, which is apparently not uncommon.  Unlike the last 35 years, this was no gradual event.  Poof, and it's gone.

So at this point, I'm waiting to see if the prednisone I was prescribed by my ENT will restore any or all of that lost hearing.  I am also moving forward on an accelerated timeline with a cochlear implant on my worse side.  I realize not all Deaf agree with CI's, but we live in a Hearing-dominated world.  I like my career, and my career requires me to interact quite a lot with people outside my company and frequently outside my country.  People still just don't understand the limitations that Deaf and HoH people face, why we need captions and not just louder volume, why we cannot lipread everyone, etc.

I feel pretty lucky, though.  I have ASL.  I have a family who is pretty fluent in ASL.  I already know how to use interpreters, caption phones, IP relays, VRS, and videophones.  I already have an alarm clock capable of waking me up in the morning, or when someone at work needs me in the middle of the night.  I feel lucky, and at the same time, I become aware just how disabling it must be for someone without these resources to continue functioning if they were to experience sudden hearing loss.  As always, part of the reason I write here is so I can share my insight, my experiences, and my resources with other people in similar situations.  We're not alone.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Going in for a CI consult

Since the very nature of my job requires lots of interaction with clients, I'm going to see about getting a CI in my recently-dead ear. I can make out only about 10 percent of spoken words in that ear now so it's definitely candidate. Leaning towards the new Naida processor by Advanced Bionics. We'll see...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest Blog - Children and Hearing Loss-Changing Lives by Raising Awareness

This is my first guest post, by fellow blogger John O'Connor -

Perfect hearing is something that the average person really takes for granted. When people think of hearing loss, they often associate the condition with people who are old in age. Hearing loss is common in babies and young children. A person can be born deaf of suffer hearing loss gradually over time. Of the estimated 738,000 people in the U.S. who have experienced substantial hearing loss, 8 percent of those people fall under the age of 18. People should understand that hearing loss is something that affects people from all backgrounds of all ages. Many people, especially children, are at risk for hearing loss.

It is estimated that 15 percent of children between the ages of 6-19 years old have experienced low or high frequency hearing at the 16th decibel in one or both ears. Children who may be hard of hearing may find it hard to grasp certain concepts like word order or may have a hard time learning grammar in school. Depending on the severity of the hearing impairment, the person has one of two options available to them to navigate these challenges. Children may have to wear a hearing aid, which amplifies the sound and redirects it into the user's ear. Others may learn sign language. Individuals who are deaf or have suffered hearing loss will have to learn sign language as a means to communicate with others.

Children must be assured that they will be able to have a wonderful, fulfilling life with a hearing impairment. Although children will have to grapple with bullying and may struggle with communications, many go on to excel in different areas of their lives. Pete Townshend was a rock musician who enjoyed a stellar career as a guitarist and songwriter for The Who. Although being hearing impaired, he enjoyed 40 years in the entertainment field. Townshend has tinnitus and is partially deaf. He credits his hearing loss to a noisy environment where he was consistently exposed to loud music. Actress Marlee Matlin has lost 80 percent of her hearing in her left ear. Since a toddler, she has struggled with hearing loss. Her strong support system helped her adapt to her condition and excel in acting. The actress went on to win an Oscar and a Golden Globe award with a hearing impairment.

EarQ supplier hearing aids nationwide, has recently launched a HearStrong campaign to raise awareness about hearing impairments. The company has launched the “HearStrong Champions” campaign, an initiative that identifies people with hearing impairments to serve as role models to those affected by hearing loss. The “HearStrong Champions” encourage others to pursue their goals and dreams in spite of having hearing loss.

Although having a hearing impairment can be an adjustment for the family and the child, the condition doesn’t have to ruin the person's life. It is up to the parent to help the child navigate the many challenges of being hearing impaired and make sure that the child feels like there are no limitations because of the condition. Parents should also be proactive in scheduling regular hearing screenings for their child to protect the child's hearing and detect hearing loss. The abundance of knowledge, resources and technology available make it possible for children with hearing impairments to enjoy fulfilling lives. 

Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Check out my new blog at!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New type of "hearing aid" coming?

Hearing aids, even the most powerful one, have their limits.  Many people, myself included, find themselves either near or past these limits and in the domain of cochlear implants (CI).

Obviously CI are very expensive (some/most insurance will cover) and require hospitalization and surgery to implant.  Getting a CI also means that person can no longer have MRI scans performed unless the MRI machine is below a certain magnetic threshold or the magnet on the implant is surgically removed--though I am told the latter can be done outpatient.

Researchers are working with a prototype of a new type of "hearing aid" that is "implanted" in the ear drum, a very minor surgery that is done outpatient.  The implant can reach 120 dB, which is fairly amazing.  More details on this link:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Deaf FAQ

I know there are countless versions of this elsewhere, but here is mine:

What do I call you?
·       Deaf
·       Hard of Hearing
·       Deaf and dumb (extremely rude, equivalent to the “N” word)
·       Deaf mute (rude/ignorant)
·       Hearing-impaired (well-meaning, but rude)
Clarity matters more than volume
It does not help to yell or talk really slowly or animated.  Speak clearly and normally at an acceptable volume.  Clarity is far more important than super loud volume.   Most importantly, face me.
Why can’t you understand me well?
People with accents are extremely difficult to understand for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing folks.  Also, men and women may be easier or more difficult to understand.  Background noise, especially other voices, makes it virtually impossible to understand someone.
“But you speak so well”
Thank you, but I don’t have problems with my vocal cords—I have problems with my ears.  Just because I speak well does not mean I can hear or understand you.
The room matters
Small, quiet rooms offer the best possibility of being understood.  One-on-one or very small groups of people are best.  One person talking at a time, please.
Your hearing changes?
Everyone’s hearing changes day to day, and within a day.  It’s such a small change most people don’t notice.  It’s a huge difference when some or most of your hearing is gone, though.  If I’m really tired or have been listening intently for a long time, my ability to hear dramatically decreases.
Context matters
If I know what we’re talking about already, I may be able to fill in gaps when I miss words.  I may also be able to lipread a little if I am familiar with you.
Can you hear that?
I don’t walk around with an eye chart testing everyone with glasses.  It’s a bit annoying to get hearing tested several times a day.  It’s safe to assume I don’t hear it…

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Switched at Birth - Deaf cannot afford to blow chances

Last night's episode of Switched at Birth was particularly brave in pointing out what is an obvious fact to many, but some might choose to ignore:  Deaf cannot afford to blow good chances in life.

To be fair, we could easily substitute dozens of other words in place of Deaf, and the sentence still holds true.  Some great examples include women in corporate America, minorities in certain situations, physically handicapped, etc etc etc.   Sure, nobody likes to face the truth when it's ugly, but discrimination still exists, even when it's not blatant, and sometimes we have to work harder than everyone else just to stay afloat.

I'm really happy with the writers and I hope they continue to find good topics to expose truth, educate ignorance, and overall make our lives easier.