An excerpt from Gael Hannan’s book The Way I Hear It, used by permission.
In 1995, I attended my first gathering of hard of hearing people. I was on fire with a great idea to write a book about hearing loss—yes, it’s taken me this long—and the Hamilton, Ontario branch of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, under the misapprehension that I was a journalist, had invited me to address their group. I went into that meeting as one person and came out another.
It was like landing on another planet
Looking back on that night, I blush at my naivety, thinking I was going to tell these people what was what. I had only my own experience to go on; I did not know a single other person with hearing loss. My intention that night was simply to talk about myself, but when I opened my mouth to speak, it was with a last-minute humility. Half an hour earlier when I walked into that room, it was like landing on another planet—one populated with happy hard of hearing people, who clearly knew more about what was what than I did.
People proudly wore their honking-big hearing aids. They used FM systems and pointed receivers in the faces of people talking to them. There were two screens, two projectors, an amplification system, a looped room and, for my first time ever, the wonders of real-time captioning. As I gave my speech, my eyes sidled over to the captioning screen to see the miracle of my words as they came out of my mouth, or just a few seconds behind. (Maybe more than a few; I’m a fast talker and have driven a few captioners mad through the years.)
The access in the room that night was unprecedented for me. Even more powerful was the sense of connection from the other people. It hit me like a rock. I was looking out at eighty people who were just like me. These were my people! I understood their issues and they understood mine. Hearing loss affected every area of my life and it wasn’t just my issue; it was almost a way of life that I shared with other people.
If you would like to experience hard of hearing culture like Gael Hannon, consider attending an SWC Convention.
1 thought on “What’s It Like… to experience CART/Live Event Captioning for the very first time? Part II”
âIt is not enough to merely identify your desire; you must also give it positive attention,â Michael Loiser wrote in his book âLaw of Attraction. I can identify with Gael Hannanâs story but from addressing a different group of persons, people with full hearing ability. The experience is electrifying and and life changing.
I have yet to have a similar experience with hard of hearing people, partly because of lack of facilities Gael had at her disposal and partly because advocacy to integrate hard of hearing people in a third world country such as Kenya is yet to bear fruit. But all is not gloom. There is a light shining dimly at the end of the tunnel. Things are changing. The best hard of hearing people get is sign language on news bulletin but that is if you can sign.
Thanks to you all especially SayWhatClub members who take time to write and share stories of hope and encouragement. I hope to share how turning deaf became my great awakening some day.