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Monday, March 23, 2009

Difficulty With My Assistive Listening Device and Other Challenges Today

You might think that as a fan of the Amazing Race, I'm a confident traveler myself. Not so. Although I have traveled far and wide, I always get a case of the nerves just before making the trip. Today was no exception.

My destination was Chicago. The Web Goddess and I are attending a conference there this week. Chicago should be a piece of cake, right. Nah, even though I've been there many times, this was the first time I would be going to this particular location. Yep, right on schedule my anxiety kicked in this morning.

The Web Goddess and I had reviewed our travel plans last Friday. She knew exactly where we were going and I had scribbled down notes and a crude map "just in case" she wouldn't make it. She reassured me that of course she would be right beside me. I didn't give it much thought over the weekend.

Right on time I showed up at our meeting place at the train station. No Web Goddess. No problem, I thought. I would just wait a little bit. After three minutes of waiting I dialed her cell. No answer. I tried again a few minutes later. No answer. I panic texted: where r u? No reply. By this time, the train was ready to leave the station. Should I stay and catch the next train or should I go ahead on my own?

I got on the train, figuring if she caught the next one, it would be more fun to wait in Chicago than here. If something had happened and she wasn't coming at all, I would need the extra time to navigate my way to the conference.

Fifteen minutes into my train ride, I got a call from her. She had forgotten we were going on the earlier train. When I had called her, she had been in the shower. I was so relieved that she hadn't been in an accident or had some kind of emergency. Everything would be okay, now.

When I got into Chicago, I used the time to explore the Randolph St. station. It had been completely remodeled and upgraded since the last time I had been there. It looked like the stations I had seen in Washington DC last April. I got to eat lunch and walk around a bit and then I met up with my technology deity, the Web Goddess.

Our day at the conference was interesting. The opening session was about teaching 21st century learners. The speaker has an idea that a "virtual backpack" should be implemented in the United States. Basically any educational opportunity a child had from birth would be digitally recorded and available to all subsequent teachers. She turned me off when she talked about issuing ATM like cards in the delivery room. Too extreme.

Next we learned about a university that merged its library and IT (information technology) departments. When you visit their library, there is a desk near the front where you go no matter what type of service you need. The books were moved out and stored in an annex and the space converted to a group study area with furniture that can be arranged to suit the students' needs. Sounds interesting.

Our final session covered the leadership skills required to merge library and IT departments. The experiences of 3 CIOs (chief information officers) were discussed.

All this listening was quite challenging for me. The first speaker had a strong voice and used a microphone. I sat in the front where I could hear her well. Unfortunately, she had no visuals for her hour and a half long presentation.

In the next session, the two speakers would not use microphones. They said to alert them if anyone couldn't hear them. I got out my PocketTalker. Bzzzzz. My assistive listening device was picking up a buzzing sound, I couldn't hear when I had my hearing aids' T-switch off. I fiddled with it and decided to listen with it as long as I could stand it and then take a break and listen with my aids only. Fortunately these speakers had power point slides that helped me follow along.

My last session was in the same room. I tried moving to another location to see if it helped. It didn't. I found that if I cocked my head to the side and looked at the slide show rather than the speaker, the buzzing noise stopped. It reminded me of the adjustments you used to have to make when you moved a rabbit ear antenna on a TV top to adjust the picture. LOL. I coped the best I could and then eventually switched my PocketTalker off and just listened with hearing aids.

Have you ever encountered a similar problem with an assistive listening device? Any suggestions?

Now that I've finished this blog post, I'm going to get to bed early. Extra listening requires extra rest.


sara said...

Have you tried using it again at home or work? I've had interference issues from the room I'm in before... FM system though, not precisely Pocket Talker.

John said...

"Extra listening requires extra rest."

Oh, yes, I hear you.

I just recently got two new hearing aids. I hear much better now, but the most amazing thing is how much more energy I have.

jelly said...

I do not have an assistive listening device, but I can certainly sympathize with your situation.
You must've been exhausted!! You poor thing! I hope your feeling good today. :-)

I wonder what the problem was, some kind of interference I suppose??

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Sara,
Welcome to my blog! I tried it again today in another room and it worked fine. There was a lot of electronic equipment in the room I experienced interference in. I tried various spots in the room but had trouble in all of them. Oh well, I just cut myself some slack on those presentations and didn't worry about catching every word.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi John,
That's an interesting comment. I never thought how that might work in reverse too. I'm glad you're hearing better and feeling better too!

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Kym,
I'm taking it easy at home this week to compensate for this extra listening. I've learned from past conference experiences that resting and taking a break make a huge difference!