A Day in the Life of Someone with Hearing Loss using Technology (originally published in the May HLAA-TC newsletter)
By Laura Hagemann
The COVID-19 pandemic has isolated us (on purpose, to keep us safe) and those who were already feeling isolated because of hearing loss or deafness have just been further isolated. As someone who is fairly new to my hearing loss (within the last five years), and someone who loves technology, I felt driven by the pandemic to share the technologies I use on a daily basis to help me. Some of these technologies are new discoveries within the last few months and others I have been using for a while. I personally use an iPhone and Apple devices and computers, however, when I share links I will include Android and PC links when available as well.
Wake: I use my smartwatch (Fossil) set to vibrate to wake up. This is honestly not 100 percent effective (if I am really tired I can sleep right through it). I am still looking into better options.
Technology used: I have used various smartwatches and am currently using a Fossil 5e: Fossil website.
Exercise: I watch podcasts live captioned in Google Chrome and streamed to the TV using AppleTV while exercising on the stationary bike. For now (this may eventually change) you have to use Google Chrome (the web browser by Google) on a computer (compatible with both Mac and PC) in order to get the live caption feature on Google Chrome. Find out more about Chrome captions here: https://blog.google/products/chrome/live-caption-chrome/
Technology used: Google Chrome browser on computer: Google website. I use Spotify.com to stream podcasts (you must use a podcast player streamed to the web using Google Chrome to get the live caption for your podcast). I use an Apple TV (Apple website) because that makes an older TV I have a smart TV (meaning I can stream content from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc.) but if you have a smart TV or another device that makes your TV smart and compatible with streaming services (like: Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast) you would just need to stream the podcast on Google Chrome on your computer and stream to your TV.
Education: I take my daily ASL lesson on the ASL Pocket Sign app using my iPad. The daily lessons take a few minutes and teach you roughly 4-5 signs. You can always choose to learn more than just the daily lesson.
Medical Appointment: I have a therapy session on video chat (my provider uses Google Duo which you can get on a mobile device or computer for free). I use Google Duo on my computer on Google Chrome to get live captions. I have only recently started using Chrome to live caption these sessions (before I was speech reading). It’s amazing and helps my brain not to get so fatigued. During the session I ask to use Otter.ai to record a portion of the session that I want to remember (my psychologist was giving me tips I wanted to use in the future). Otter live captions and records the audio so I can go back to refer to it.
Social/Communication: I use Ava captions to video chat with friends. I have been using various video chatting services (FaceTime, Marco Polo, Zoom, etc.) to talk with friends via video so I can speech read. However, that gets tiring. I recently discovered Ava and it is an application and website that provides live captions. I primarily use it as an app on my phone to live transcribe although Ava does have a desktop app that is supposed to caption videos, etc. like Google Chrome. Right now Chrome works so well for me that I primarily use Ava as a phone app.
I also sign up for web activities I wouldn’t normally have (to watch some book events online) because I know if I need to I can use captions on Google Chrome or Ava.
Shopping: I go shopping and use Ava captions on my iPhone to live caption the conversation with a sales person since the masks worn make speech reading impossible.
Entertainment: Watch a movie on Netflix using captions.
Answer the door after the doorbell rings and I communicate with the person by reading their lips since I can see them through our video doorbell. If needed I could use Ava on my iPhone to live transcribe the conversation.
Technology Used: Nest Video doorbell and Google Home Hub (Google Store link, the doorbell works with any mobile device too so you don’t need a Google Home Hub/Nest Hub display).
Social: Talk on the phone with someone who doesn’t use video chatting. I am able to do this on my CapTel landline phone but there are several apps available for smartphones.
Technology used: Captel
Sleep: I set my watch alarm to vibrate for the time I want to wake up in the morning.
Technology Used: Fossil 5e watch (Fossil website).
If you have different technologies that you use to help with hearing loss, let me know (email me [Laura]: firstname.lastname@example.org ) as I would love to share it on our HLAA-TC Blog. Check out the HLAA-TC blog for more hearing technology news, like this blog on transcription apps.
Upcoming HLAA-TC dates: Next HLAA-TC Chapter Zoom Meeting is Saturday, May 15 from 9:30-12. Mary Bauer, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services, MN Department of Health & Human Services “Clear Speech.” Email Lionel before the meeting for link: email@example.com This will be our last monthly chapter meeting until the new season in September (HLAA-TC doesn’t hold chapter meetings in the summer). HLAA-TC Book Club discussing the next book (Life After Deaf) will be meeting on Zoom. We are rescheduling it and will update this blog and social media when we have a date and time. Email Laura if interested: firstname.lastname@example.org