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Monday, September 24, 2012

Two Women Making a Difference: Amy & Shanna

For Deaf Awareness Week, I would like to highlight two women who are making a difference for those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

The first one is Deaf Girl Amy. She has written a book called "A Survival Guide for New Deafies". She would like to raise funds for a promotional tour so her book can reach a wider audience. Please take a few minutes to watch her captioned video. To donate, please visit her website. Amy's passion and desire to help others with hearing loss is truly inspiring.

The other woman, I would like to highlight, is Shanna Groves, also known as Lipreading Mom. She has launched a campaign to collect photos of people's ears including those of people who wear hearing aids and cochlear implants and those who don't. Her goal is to fight the stigma associated with hearing loss. To check out her photo gallery and submit your own photo, please visit her website.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

While I've Been Busy, Blondie's Been Busy Too

 While I've been busy with school, the
morning glory vine grew into the bushes.

Blondie noticed my lack of time spent in the garden
and decided to relocate some fencing and plants
to our side entrance. See the missing piece of fencing
near the bottom right of the photo? Although at a glance,
the fencing may look like wrought iron, it's only
plastic and apparently easy to chew through.

  Speaking of chewing, this is a new shoe
I bought to replace the first pair of sneakers
she chewed. I must have a lot on my mind,
because it didn't occur to me that she might chew
these ones too. LOL - Blondie's teaching me to
put my shoes in the closet when they aren't on my feet.

 Blondie must not like my busy schedule. When I
came home from work on Friday, I found our
family calendar in shreds on the floor. I spent an hour
piecing it together just so I could write down when the
dogs' flea treatments and heartworm pills are due next.

Another day, I came upon Blondie creating a tutu. She
was unraveling a shower sponge and had it arrayed all
around herself as though she were wearing a tulle skirt.

I feel as outwitted and exasperated as Wile E. Coyote.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What CCAC Means to Me

CCAC logo
I joined the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning (CCAC) this past summer. I have found it to be a wonderful source of support, in particular for my Show Us the Captions! idea. When I first mentioned my thoughts for raising public awareness of the need for movie captioning on the CCAC online forum, I received immediate positive feedback. Then, CCAC decided to co-sponsor the campaign as one of their captioning advocacy projects. Most recently, CCAC devoted a page on their website to Show Us the Captions! which you can view here.

I receive daily emails from CCAC about various captioning advocacy efforts around the world. If you want to know what is happening with captioning, this is the organization for you. If you want to get involved with captioning access, the members of CCAC are the people you want to get to know.

The CCAC mission is advocacy for quality captioning universally. As founder Lauren Storck writes on the CCAC website, "Many millions cannot comprehend speech in many group situations, even with other resources and technologies. Good communications are vital for everyday life. Captioning is our “ramp” for equal communication access, similar to wheelchair ramps which are generally accepted and provided in most countries in the modern world."

To join the CCAC, please visit this link. Currently, membership in this all-volunteer, grassroots organization is free. Once you have joined, you will receive an email invitation for their online forum.

If you or someone you love can benefit from captioning, I encourage you to join this wonderful organization.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pushing Past Perceived Barriers

I'm learning a lot about communication in graduate school, but I'm learning more about myself. I can do more than I thought I could. I'd like to share some of the barriers I've perceived and how I'm handling them.

The first obstacle for me was that my class is discussion based and not lecture style. I thought I could cope with a teacher's lecture by requesting that he wear a small microphone that would send the sound directly to my hearing aids. But when my professor told me the class was a discussion format, I was at a loss as to what to do. Fortunately the size of my class is rather small with eleven of us sitting in four rows. I chose a seat in the second row. This allows me to hear some of my classmates' comments and questions, while keeping my central focus on what the professor says. I definitely do not hear all that my classmates say, but I am keeping up with the general discussion and contributing more often than I expected I would.

The second barrier I encountered was a required online class discussion using Voice Thread. The assignment was to watch a video, listen to our teacher's comments, and submit comments ourselves using webcams or microphones. I was scared by this assignment because the video was not captioned and I would not have captioning for my classmates' commentary. I contacted Voice Thread support by email and asked about captioning. To the company's credit, I received a response the next day; but unfortunately, captioning is not yet available for their service. Someday....

For now, I had to forge ahead with trepidation. The video turned out to be a compilation of several speakers' viewpoints on the scope of the communication field. Some I could hear and understand, but others I could not decipher. I responded with my own comments by webcam wherever I could. Fortunately, the instructor added several slides with discussion questions in writing. These slides were my lifeline. Also, one of my classmates provided a crystal clear audio and a couple others were fairly discernible, so I responded to them. I was satisfied with making the effort to participate in the discussion even if I could not respond as often or as fully as others did.

For tonight's class, we were required to listen to a podcast. That assignment also worried me. I set aside a block of time to listen, figuring if it was too hard, I could take it in chunks. Fortunately, the two speakers had voices I could hear and understand with only a few rewind/replays and episodes of holding my laptop up to my ear. A few times in their podcast, they referred to or read quotes in the article they were reviewing which I had printed out in front of me. Even better, they mentioned page numbers a couple of times. Those moments were like little "You are here" flags popping up and helping me stay on track with the discussion.

In summary, my first weeks of grad school have been tough, but I'm thankful to report that my workload has been hardest in the reading, writing, and research involved rather than in the listening and comprehension aspects. I'm glad I didn't let my fears hold me back.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Show Us the Captions! Trial Run

Marcus Cinema

Tonight my husband and I went out to the movies. As I had never used one before, I wanted to try out the CaptiView closed captioning device in advance of the Show Us the Captions! event in November.
Appropriately enough, we went to see a film called, "The Words" starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, and Dennis Quaid.

When we got to the theater, I saw a sign advertising "Assisted Listening Devices" but not one for the CaptiView devices. Before we bought our tickets, I asked about the CC device to be sure it was available. The ticket seller contacted his manager by radio and the manager brought over the device. I was a little uncertain and asked to be shown how it worked. He reassured me that he would set it up for me. While my husband got in the concession line, he walked me over to theater 14 and showed me how the device needed to be set for the right auditorium number. But, for some reason, it wasn't picking up the wireless signal. To solve this, he went up to the booth and reset the transmitter there by unplugging it and then plugging it back in again. He returned in no time and the device now had green lines of text showing. He showed me how to turn the CaptiView on/off, to set the auditorium number, and to push connect. It was all very easy.

Doremi CaptiView ready message during the previews
Photo taken during previews

Once I set the CaptiView into my cup holder, I twisted the "neck" around to align the screen right where I wanted it. This part proved tricky for me as I couldn't get it to hold its position on its own. It kept swinging around toward me and I thought I was going to have to hold it in place for the duration of the movie. Luckily, I had a husband handy. He took the device, tightened a screw on the bottom, and set it into his cup holder and it held fine. We switched seats and my problem was solved.

Sarah with CaptiView device

The CaptiView device worked great. I wear bifocals and I had no trouble focusing back and forth between the words on the small screen and the picture on the big screen. The captions ran slightly ahead of the dialog which worked great for me. "The Words" captioning included background sounds and whispered commentary. It was wonderful to follow the movie the same way I do at home with closed captioning. Although I saw all the words, please don't ask me to explain the ending of "The Words" and whether the story within a story was fiction or truth. My husband and I are still puzzling that out!

I can't emphasize enough what a difference the captions made for me. Going to the movies was FUN for the first time in a long time. Thank you, Doremi* and thank you, Marcus Cinemas. I am more excited than ever to spread the word about accessibility at the theater through Show Us the Captions!

*Learn more about the Doremi CaptiView device at their website

P.S. I highly recommend "The Words" film too. In the movie, Jeremy Irons wears a visible hearing aid which was an unexpected bonus for me. His character is not shown as having any trouble communicating or understanding speech. He wears his hearing aid as casually as other actors wear eyeglasses. I doubt most viewers will even notice it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

New Slide Show Explains Show Us the Captions! Campaign

There have been a number of questions directed my way about the Show Us the Captions theater advocacy campaign.

I hope this new slide show helps answer any questions you might have. It's not too late to get involved. We'd love to have you join us in telling local cinemas everywhere, "Show Us the Captions!"

[Please note, there is no narration to this slide show because I have a bad cold. But you may hear two sound effects, which I have captioned. This show is best viewed full screen.]

Monday, September 3, 2012

Show Us the Captions! Is Going National

August 6 - ALDA Chicago Board Members
at Marcus Cinema, Orland Park,
the first location scheduled for the event.
Show Us the Captions! is growing. From our start in Chicago, the event has attracted interest in Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, and Utah.

To spread the word, Collaborative for Communication Access Via Captioning (CCAC) has created a new page on their website to promote the project and provide updates. The Facebook page launched in July has received 47 likes so far. Most of these were from America, but we have been liked by people from Greece, Cyprus, U.K., Belgium, and Canada.

If you haven't visited us yet on Facebook, please come join the conversation. On that page, I've shared a few sneak peek websites featuring movies due for release in November as well as promotional ideas and tips for organizers. CCAC has also actively posted with helpful updates and links. We want to hear from you there if you plan to participate.

In more good news, the Association for Late Deafened Adults will place a Show Us the Captions! flyer in every conference bag given out to convention goers at their national event in South Carolina this October.

Later this month, I plan to promote the event at a deaf festival in Crown Point, Indiana. My friend John has volunteered to come with me and tape video interviews for a YouTube promo clip.

Contact me at if you want to become involved with Show Us the Captions! and have any questions or ideas for the event's organization and promotion.

Previous posts on Show Us the Captions!
Show Us the Captions - this November
What's the Big Idea, Sarah?