Thursday, July 9, 2009
ALA: Day One
Today was my first day at the conference. When I arrived at the training location, I noticed there were several available seats at the front of the room. Excellent. I also noticed a LOUD fan noise coming from the back righthand side. Eh, not so good. I decided to take the farthest left seat in the front row to minimize the sound of the fan. I rationalized to myself it's always nice to be at the end of a row anyways. No climbing over anyone to get to your seat. But not so convenient for lipreading, though.
Then I spotted an unattended red bag on a seat in the center of the front row and got to wondering if the speaker had saved me a seat as he promised. I asked him and was told that "No, he hadn't as he saw there were seats available." Hmm. I wonder what would have happened if I had run late.... Fortunately the lure of a free breakfast had gotten me there in plenty of time. I also arrived early enough to score a sinfully delicious blueberry muffin. So that part worked out just fine.
Our other speaker was a vivacious lady who decided to begin our program by having all forty of us introduce ourselves. She got her podium microphone down and carried it out to where we were sitting. Well, that worked fine for the front row, but her cord wouldn't stretch any further than that. Which meant I couldn't hear what the people sitting in the four rows behind me had to say. Oh well. At least they looked like nice people.
Before the program began, I had struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. She was very interesting to talk with but she had a very soft voice. She seemed uncomfortable facing me to make conversation so I ended up doing the social bluffing act. I should have just told her my situation up front! I did get out my Pocket Talker which she didn't seem to particularly notice and that helped tremendously. Of course, I'd brought it for the presentation.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was told this program featured Power Point slides. To my surprise when we arrived, we were each given a 3" thick binder with all the Power Point slides. What a lifesaver! Usually I'm unable to take notes during a presentation as I need to give all my attention to listening, but with this notebook, I was able to make a few quick notes as needed. I noticed I was mainly writing out what the various acronyms meant so I had to smile when our male presenter referred to "acronym overload".
Our speakers had clear voices and I managed pretty well with my Pocket Talker although it picked up the fan noise too. I cringed when the first speaker mentioned she'd prefer to stand closer to us and talk without the microphone. Fortunately, she scrapped that idea and stood at the podium like a speaker's supposed to! (tee hee) After our lunch break, I asked the speakers if they would repeat the questions from the audience as I was unable to hear them. For the most part they remembered my request. Sigh.
The absolutely best part of the day came when I approached another attendee at our last break. I had noticed she was using an assistive listening device too. Hers had a part that the speakers clipped to their clothing. I wanted to know more! She was happy to tell me about it. With hers, she does not wear a hearing aid. Instead she uses an earbud attached to a receiver similar to mine. She commented it was too bad that my receiver didn't work off her transmitter the speakers wore. Then she added that the drawback with her system is that she can't sneak out early. She has to remain until the end to get her device back. I got a big laugh out of that.
She said she had never met anyone with a hearing loss at a meeting like this before. We exchanged business cards. She promised to send me information about her ALD. I told her about my blog and got her permission to share the story of our meeting. She got a kick out of my moniker, Speak Up Librarian.
It was great sharing my work related hearing loss experiences with someone who understood. Someone who faced me when she spoke. Someone who wouldn't mind repeating anything that I didn't quite catch. Someone who understood that listening is tiring.
I'm hoping we can talk more tomorrow as we work our way through Day Two of the 3" binder.