'Hears' to Life! as printed in Living Lake Country D/HOH products By Tami Klink July 6, 2009 6:27 p.m.
For those of you looking for some unique products pertaining to the D/HOH world, please check Wayne and Ann Wicklunds' website out. Below is a little information on this rather 'busy' couple. The link to their website is: http://www.hearingimpaired.net/welcome.html
I know that there are a lot of 'bad' companies out there, but these two really do walk the walk when it comes to offering unique products for those of us in the hearing loss world. I've done business with them as well as visited their displays at different conventions. They know what they are talking about and customer service is one of their many 'pet peeves'! Wayne and Anne Wicklund have found an area that has been long neglected. There are different aids for every handicap except hearing impaired. In 2001 Wayne began to lose his hearing - it didn't take long to realize that this invisible handicap was made more difficult by the people around him not understanding - even his friends said "he looks like he can hear!" I was never sure what that meant exactly. So we were determined to find a way to remind people to look at him directly and speak clearly so he could read their lips - we hope this helps you or someone you love.
When Wayne realized he could not hear as well as he should – he noticed there were things he was misunderstanding. He went to a celebrated Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, had surgery to correct blocked sinuses and was told there was nothing to be done for his hearing.
A couple of years after that, his hearing became worse – he went for a hearing test and discovered there WAS something that could be done. A technician was able to fit him for a hearing aid. However, within 2 years the hearing aid did not help. Feeling vulnerable and frustrated because no one understood that he could not hear – not family or friends – we determined to find a way to remind them. We developed a lapel pin to wear on his shirt so that people could see it and be alerted to the fact that they had to use special consideration when speaking with him. This led to a family of products and a new company was born. The products include lapel pins, window decals for car windows, door plaques for front door or office door, patches for jacket, vest or sweater, desk signs, etc. These are all products to aid the hearing impaired to cope with frustrations most of us cannot imagine. This is an invisible handicap that afflicts over 26 million Americans alone.
Snow works as a hearing dog. It was difficult to find products and services that help him do his job. It was becoming harder and harder to find the proper shoes to protect his paws, and vests to identify his job. Identification is very important if you want to go into restaurants and food stores. He decided to make his own - and being very stylish, they must match. And he was getting tired of the same old colors . . . and sometimes, he likes to color coordinate with his owner.
As circumstances changed, Snow began to work as a medical needs and mobility dog as well. These two are inseparable companions and share a bond that few people are ever lucky enough to experience. Have a great week!
Google Announces Automatic Captions on YouTube November 20, 2009
Every minute of every day, 20 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube. It’s hard to imagine so much uncaptioned video all in one place. On November 19, Google and YouTube launched an innovative software that will make more captioning available via YouTube. Thanks to this new software, whenever a video is uploaded to YouTube, the video owner now has an option to easily add captions. The software automatically creates time-coded captions for the text of the audio quickly, easily and for free. Those captions add value to videos: videos with captions are searchable by text. That’s good not just for people with hearing loss, it’s good for anyone who wants their video to be found on Internet.
Google has also found a way for viewers to get captions on videos already uploaded to YouTube. A viewer will be able to click on a key that says “transcribe audio.” That command will add captions to videos they want to see when they want to see it. This clever technique provides one answer to the question, how anyone possibly caption every video on YouTube? It’s all done by machine. It uses voice recognition technology to automatically caption, or “auto-caption” the video.
Google and YouTube are in the “beta testing” phase with 13 educational partners. Because viewer-added captioning relies on speech recognition technology, the captions are not yet perfect. In fact, Google admitted to a 20% error rate, far below the 2% error rate we have come to expect from good caption writers on broadcast television. YouTube videos that have music or noise or environmental sounds in the background will be even more problematic for accurate automatic captions. Still, it’s a huge leap forward for captioning on the Internet. This is unprecedented because it’s been done without mandates, and it’s free.
The passion of the Google team was evident at the event in Washington DC on November 13. Ken Harrenstien, the software engineer who helped develop the automatic captioning system and who is deaf, indicated the technology has never been applied on such a large scale. “This is something that I have dreamt of for many years,” Mr. Harrenstien said at the event. Someday, we do hope to see voice recognition software create more accurate captions. When the next American Idol video goes viral, we’d love to see the captioned version right from the start. In the meantime, the fact that Google and YouTube have put their weight behind captioning is a terrific development. We expect to see more and more video creators and producers understanding the value of searchable text captions that we can all enjoy.
July 2006 EEOC publication addresses employment rights of people with hearing loss
WASHINGTON - Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced the issuance of a new question-and-answer (Q&A) fact sheet on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to job applicants and employees who are deaf or who have hearing impairments.
Be sure to check out the new EEOC publication, which is the sixth in a series of Q&A documents about specific disabilities in the workplace.