Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now, Giving Tuesday by Pearl Feder

As we head into November, many people begin to prepare for the holiday season.  Every year I attempt to take my mind off the burdens and stress of the holiday season through “giving.”    Thank goodness for all things Social Media. I organize gathering hearing aid and implant batteries for the needy.  The internet has afforded me the opportunity to reach out to those in need through online support groups for the hearing impaired/deaf and Facebook chats focused on hearing loss and deafness.  Through my work online, as well as with Audiologists in NYC, I have received a wonderful response to my request for batteries.  This has allowed me to accept more individuals in need to apply for the batteries. I plan to mail out all the batteries on November 27th.   What does all of this have to do with GivingTuesday?

What can I do to make the world a better place?

A wonderful idea came to be with the thought of Americans giving thanks on Thanksgiving.  Instead of people waking up at an ungodly hour to wait online for sales on Black Friday, or sitting  on the couch, glued to our laptops, waiting for the deals to appear on Cyber Monday, a day of “giving” was born.  Giving Tuesday, November 27th, 2012,  is not just about donating money.  It’s about teaching your children how to give without taking something in return. GivingTuesday offers us a time to pause and look at the world around us and ask ourselves, “What do I WANT TO DO, to make this a better place for someone else?”

GivingTuesday is time to work with your favorite cause,  a time to help your children understand causes, and to talk about how they can be part of it.  GivingTuesday is a collection of not for profit agencies from around the world.  Its mission statement is as follows:  ” #GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.”

As an Ambassador to GivingTuesday, it was my job to spread the word and have people recognize within themselves, the notion to give back.  I also decided, after seeing the list of dynamite partners that joined up to help create GivingTuesday, that what was missing for me personally, were organizations that would bring attention to hearing loss and deafness.  Every partner in GivingTuesday is absolutely worth looking at.  Thats why I asked Collaborative Communication Access via Captioning (aka: CCAC)  to become a partner of GivingTuesday.  CCAC believes in “INCLUSION and ACCESSIBILITY”   for the hearing impaired and deaf/Deaf population, as well as captioning as a tool for Literacy.    We hope one day to put CCAC out of business and when that day comes, it will mean we succeeded in obtaining universal captioning for all.

For more information about CCAC, check out their partnership with GivingTuesdayas well a CCAC’s website. As a hearing impaired professional woman, universal captioning means I am included and I am able to be part of it all.  Being “able” rather than “disabled” is very important to the 42 million Americans with hearing loss and myself.  Help CCAC on November 27th by writing your Congressman/woman or get involved directly with CCAC.  Find out how by checking out their website.  And don’t forget, on November 27th, give of yourself and feel the difference.

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.”     –Ethyl Percy Andrus

Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART)

In the late 1990’s, I heard about Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) through people on my SWC list. (Sometimes called real-time captioning.) I understood the concept but I didn’t fully get it. I knew it was an accommodation but I lived in small towns and no one else had heard of it so it wasn’t option. Still, I knew the CART was out there somewhere.

Courtesy of Caption First

After I moved to Salt Lake City in 2009, I looked up Self Help For the Hard of Hearing (SHHH) and in the process found out they changed their name to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). The local chapter held it’s meetings at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The local HLAA chapter website showed CART was used at their meetings. Hooray! I’d finally get to experience it.

When I walked into my first meeting, I saw a screen pulled down, a projector hooked up to a laptop, and the laptop hooked up to a funny little machine on a stand.  A lady sat near the wall, her hands resting on the steno machine ready to go. Test words were up on the screen and I couldn’t wait to see it in action.

The meeting started and words appeared on the screen following the conversation. Immediately, I fell in love with CART. Even though I wore FM system, I still missed words and sometimes important key words. CART filled in the gaps and I never had to wonder what I missed. It was one of those personal, historic moments in my life.  It was a magical experience for a hard of hearing person who has always struggled to hear in group situations. Real-time captioning felt like a godsend.

Since then, I haven’t missed many meetings. I’m going to take advantage of CART all I can because for so many years I went without. All the workshops at the Sanderson Center have CART as needed (ASL interpreters too) so I go to many of them as well. It’s an all inclusive environment for those of us who have hearing loss or deafness. Every time I walk into the Center, the load I carry on my shoulders lightens considerably. I know I will hear. I won’t be lost in lectures and presentations. It’s the one place, I don’t have to worry about asking for repeats, because it’s right up there on screen for me.

As I got comfortable at meetings and got to know people, I also got to know our CART provider. Julia is one awesome lady and we all appreciate what she does for us so much. One night, I stopped for a closer look at her stenography machine and realized it wasn’t a keyboard I was familiar with at all. I don’t know how she does it and my admiration for her and what she does went up a few more notches. That’s a crazy machine she works on but she puts it together nicely.

There’s a few typos now and then. Most typos I read right through but some make me smile. When she sees me smiling, she looks down at her lap top screen to see what came out and either smiles, rolls her eyes or both.  Some of them are just like what I’d hear if I didn’t know any better. One day during an Alzheimer’s workshop, she typed “farm suit call” and if I said it fast enough, I knew exactly what she meant, “pharmaceutical.” Thanks to the rest of her captioning, I knew the context of what we were talking about so I wasn’t lost. (That typo still makes me smile.) I think she’s one of the most wonderful people on earth and I’m thankful for her, and people like her, who provide services for us.

Many people haven’t experienced CART, maybe because they live in small towns like I did or maybe they never knew it existed. We had a Walk4Hearing meeting the other night so  I snapped a few pictures for people to get a general idea.

Our CART provider who has a concentration look much like we do when we are listening to others.

How she does it, I’ll never know.

Letter and background colors can be changed.

Our guest speaker was Ronnie Adler, national administrator for the Walk4Hearing.  She flew in from Philly and to help us with our Walk.  You can see her talking and the screen behind her, showing CART.

So now you’re seen it.  Maybe you can experience it in person all well.  If you come to the Salt Lake City SWC convention, you’ll get to experience it  in our workshops.  Not only that, but we have John Waldo speaking at our banquet about captioning.

For more information check out these websites…

Communication Access Information Center:

For a listing of CART providers, the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning website has a state by state listing of CART providers. Be sure to read the rest of CCAC’s website for good information on access as well.

Going to the Movies

Assistive Listening Device symbol

I used to be an avid movie buff, going to the theater once a week at least  There were times when I knew almost every movie up for an Academy Award. I waited at midnight in a line to see Star Wars Episode 1. My heart broke watching The Horse Whisperer. I watched The Titanic 7 times in the theater going by myself half the time. I laughed with Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets and Al Pacino played a fun devil in Devil’s Advocate. The Fifth Element rocked my world so much I bought the soundtrack. You get the idea.

I watched all these movies from a small town theater in California. Thanks to the SayWhatClub, I knew to look for the ALD symbol (above). When our little town built and opened a theater, I recognized the sign right off.  I asked the ticket person what they had available. They had infra-red headphones, all I had to do was turn over my drivers license while I borrowed them. They were big padded headphones which covered the entire ear, had volume control and since my hearing loss wasn’t that bad yet, I understood about 90% of the movie with them on. It didn’t take long before the ticket people recognized me and had the headphones ready by the time I came up in the line.

Then I moved to a bigger town in Arizona, about 40,000 people and had three theaters. One theater had no ALD’s available. One theater said they had them and gave me a one sided headphone, light weight and the kind that sits just over the ear canal. I held it by two fingers with my face wrinkled up saying, “This is it?” I tried them out because it was all they had and I still wanted my movies. They didn’t work at all. The third theater had the same kind of headphone and I told them no thanks.

Without good earphones, my comprehension of dialogue in movies fell to somewhere around 60%. I struggled along with movies for about 6 months and the frustration of missing the key words, the punch line and so on, I stopped going. I waited for movies to come out on video so I would have captions. Within a year, I was out of the loop with movies. It wasn’t the same as watching them on the big screen. Over the next 8 years, I didn’t even know the actors anymore. I haven’t watched the Academy Awards since the late 90’s.

When I moved to Salt Lake City three years ago, I found out we had a theater with rear-view captioning. Excited at the possibility of movies in my life again, I went. The first movie I saw there, Avatar (not in 3-D), had me happy I lived in a big city. I kept an eye on their captioned movies and it didn’t long to figure out they rarely played first run or popular movies. In a theater of about 20 screen rooms, only one had rear-view captioning. Most of what they showed there were the movies that were bombing or children movies. I lost interest.

Recently the CaptiView grabbed my attention when our deaf and hard of hearing center had a festival in September. The Utah-CAN had a table with information on the CaptiView and even had one there to show people how it worked. They explained as theaters switched to a digital format, the cup holder device would be available. I vaguely heard about it in the past but seeing it made it more real. Then, I found out the Cinemark theater down the street from me had it at their place. I couldn’t wait to try it out.

My first visit there I asked the ticket lady which movies were in digital format. She said they wall were. I stood there and looked over the list of movies playing, thrilled to have a choice again. My hard of hearing friend and I picked “The Big Year.” There were no captions during the previews but as soon as the movie started up, our CaptiViews lit up and started showing the dialogue. We let out little squeals of delight, clapped our hands quietly and then watched the movie. It was sensational!

CaptiView in the theater.

It worked so well the first time, I went back and tried watching The Rum Diary on it’s opening weekend. Nothing, no captions except to say that it was ready. I went out to inform the people in the ticket office. They sent a manager to me who said to wait there and she would be right back. I paced the hallway for 10 minutes with my CaptiView in hand when another manager giving an interview at one end of the hallway came to me and asked me what the problem was and I told him too. He said he would be right back. I paced the hallway for another 10 minutes when I saw captions light up. I missed twenty minutes but figured I could catch up.

Not. It was the wrong captions and didn’t match the movie. Maybe the device searched automatically after so much time until it found captions? Near tears with frustration, my boyfriend and I left the theater room. A guy standing just outside the doors handed me two free passes and they gave me my money back. It sort of made up for the sheer irritation of it all but I would have rather have seen the movie with captions.

Yesterday I went back again, with my free passes, to see the movie, Tower Heist. Surely, it would work all right since it wasn’t a brand new movie. We sat there I waited with tension through the previews. The movie started and nothing again! Damn it! I went out right away to inform management. They said they would be right back, har har.

I paced a different hallway for 5 minutes checking my CaptiView every minute and nothing. I resumed pacing and the manager snuck up behind me and tapped my shoulder making me jump. She said, “It shows it working fine up there.” I looked at mine and it was displaying the captions now. I let her know I was tired of missing the beginning of movies and she patted my shoulder as I went into the theater again. They must have pushed the reset button. I read about in another review of the device.

My boyfriend told me I didn’t miss much as I sat down adjusted the captions to my liking. I was not in the best frame of mind but eventually I settled in and started to laughing with rest of the people in there. Alan Alda makes a great bad guy.

I like the idea of having movies back but it’s not without irritation. How many more movies will I miss the beginning to in this process? From now on I will go earlier (my boyfriend is contantly late) and ask them as soon as I buy my ticket to please push the button before hand. Maybe the more they see me, the better they will get at the process. As I walk in they will think, “Oh no, here she comes again,” but after awhile it should all fall into routine and maybe they will like my patronage.

All Cinemarks are switching to digital format (I believe) and will have CaptiViews available. Other theater companies will follow so I encourage you all to go forth and watch a movie. Go to the theater, inquire and let’s make our presence known. John Waldo has done a lot of advocating for us so don’t let these new opportunities go by, claim them. I’m going to be a thorn in their side until they get it right.