How Technology Has Changed Accessibility in Our Lifetimes

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					                                                          VOLUME 41, NO. 2 ! SPRING 2010

                      Technology News and Commentary for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

             How Technology Has
             Changed Accessibility
                in Our Lifetimes

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TDI WORLD - SPRING 2010                                                                                                           21

                                          text message is usually close enough to         remote CART. Sprint already provides
                                          be helpful.                                     this service, which it calls Remote
and suppliers while on the go. Finally,                                                   Conference Captioning, for the federal
BILL GRAHAM of Cary, Illinois,            I have enjoyed using faster broadband
                                                                                          government and for several states,
has bilateral cochlear implants and       services for video communication via
                                                                                          but there is no federal mandate for
typically uses VRS and voice carryover    Skype. Being able to speechread and
                                                                                          people in all 50 states and territories.
to get things done.                       hear the other person at the same time
                                                                                             is has meant that many people with
                                          really helps to improve my speech
Let’s let them take it from here.                                                         severe hearing loss like myself who
                                              discrimination. It has also been great
                                                                                          don’t use VRS have not had e ective
DANA MULVANY                                      to see my mother’s cat, which
                                                                                          communication access through the
                                                    enjoys pawing my mother’s arm
Probably the biggest                                                                      relay service for teleconferences, while
                                                      to try to get her attention while
change that’s                                                                             people who use VRS have been able
                                                       she is talking to me.
occurred for me with                                                                      to participate in teleconferences at no
telecommunications                                   I am looking forward to              additional charge. (CapTel is not fast
is the availability                                  eventually getting a hearing-        enough to keep up with the speech
of Web CapTel, an                                   aid compatible mobile phone           rate of a teleconference, whereas VRS
online service o ered                             that has a forward-facing               interpreters generally are.)
by Hamilton Relay and                          camera so that I can speechread
                                                                                          I think it needs to be publicized
Sprint Relay for people with hearing      friends and family who use Skype,
                                                                                          that more hard of hearing people
loss who can speak to the other           and which has simultaneous voice and
                                                                                          would have much better speech
party. I use this a great deal when I     data so that I can use Mobile CapTel
                                                                                          comprehension if they’re able to obtain
am calling someone I do not know          with it. However, I see a need for TDI
                                                                                          simultaneous video and audio for
or if I have trouble understanding        and other consumer organizations
                                                                                          speechreading purposes.       e audio
his or her speech. I like being able to   to work on making mobile phone
                                                                                          also needs to be high quality, but
use a cordless phone with a hearing-      plans more a ordable to people
                                                                                          unfortunately, many mobile phone
aid compatible headset so that I can      who need Mobile CapTel.         ere is
                                                                                          companies seem to discard the low
still hear as well as possible but have   currently no truly a ordable plan for
                                                                                          frequency sounds that hard of hearing
mobility, and I like to be able to read   people who do not anticipate using
                                                                                          people very much need to hear in
the transcription on my computer.         many voice minutes but who need
                                                                                          order to understand speech. Poor
                                          to use both voice minutes and data
I have a CapTel® 800i phone that                                                          quality audio can have a particularly
                                          to use Mobile Cap Tel for emergency
uses an Ethernet connection to my                                                         adverse impact on more severely
                                          purposes. We also need to be able to
DSL router. I also have a CapTel 800                                                      hard of hearing people since they can
                                          receive incoming calls, but most of the
phone, which can be used with two                                                         hear only a limited part of the speech
                                          discounted programs for deaf people
phone lines to receive incoming calls.                                                    spectrum to begin with.      e FCC
                                          do not give the subscriber with hearing
                                                                                          does not appear to have minimum
 Google Voice is another signi cant       loss the ability to receive incoming
                                                                                          standards for audio quality, however.
technological change for me. I use my     voice minutes. I am concerned that
free Google Voice number to let people    many people with severe hearing                 I’m thankful that TDI continues to
call me on all of my phone numbers:       loss simply will not be able to a ord           address telecommunications issues for
my cell phone, my landline and my         a mobile phone that can meet their              deaf and hard of hearing people at a
Vonage number.       is increases the     communication needs. Using a text-              national level. I’ve truly enjoyed the
chances of being alerted to a phone       only plan will not work for people who          excellent conferences that TDI puts
call and lets me use the caller ID        are used to using CapTel at home or             together every two years.      anks,
information that my cell phone            work.                                           TDI, for all the work that you do on
provides. If I am not able to answer                                                      behalf of deaf and hard of hearing
                                          TDI has already collaborated with
the call, Google Voice uses machine                                                       people!
                                          organizations like Hearing Loss
transcription for the voice message                                                                              — Dana Mulvany
                                          Association of America (HLAA)
and sends the text to my email address                                                                                Rockville, MD
                                          to try to get captioned telephone
and my cell phones. I can listen to       available in all 50 states without any          ARIELLE SCHACTER
the message on the Google Voice           state restrictions, and I appreciate
web page, and see each transcribed                                                        I cannot hear the ambulance rushing
                                          its e orts in doing that.     ere is
word highlighted as the message is                                                        through the night, nor do I hear the
                                          also a need for teleconferences to
played. Although there can be many                                                        gossip uttering through my school.
                                          be accessible to people with severe
mistakes with the transcription, the      hearing loss through the provision of
                                                                                                                   Continued on page 22
22                                                                                            TDI WORLD - SPRING 2010

                                               speech discrimination. I never miss     members and even a cab if I have to do
                                                   hearing my phone ring: I can        so! I can also check email on my pager
Lunchroom conversations                               feel its vibration a er a call   using its browser function.
are quickly interrupted                                or text has been received.
by my e orts to                                                                        I use built in screen-enlargement
                                                        Texting is amazing since it
understand lost and                                                                    so ware on my computer—both at
                                                        doesn’t require complete
forgotten words, only                                                                  work and at home. is magni es what
                                                        sentences to be understood
to be promptly rebutted                                                                I see on the monitor so I can navigate
                                                       — great when you’re in a
by “Never mind.”                                                                       more easily. In addition, when I use MS
                                                      rush, as I always seem to
High school is hard—a                                                                  Word I can adjust the font and style so I
                                                    be. When it comes to texting,
mine eld of social drama                                                               can read it more easily.
                                                I can participate equally with my
intertwined with classes—and                hearing friends; ere is no spoken          I also have used Nextalk Internet
becomes even more di cult with a            conversation to miss. It’s a silent,       relay services, adjusting the font and
hearing loss. I have a moderate-to-         subtle, and pervasive technology —         the contrast to meet my low-vision
severe loss, which means that I cannot      what teen does not text? — that allows     needs. I also frequently use instant
be afraid to say, at least once a day,      me to fully communicate rather than        messaging (IM). Again, I can adjust
“I’m sorry, but what did you say?” to       stand out like a sore thumb. ( at is,      the font and contrast to meet my
a teacher, a friend or a classmate. As      unless my thumb is sore from texting.      needs. It is a convenient tool to reach
a result, I wear a hearing aid in each      LOL!)                                      people. Sometimes it is easier to talk
ear that, along with the help of other                                                 to people using IM and Internet relay
technologies, allows me to be an            Not everybody wants to stand out
                                                                                       services than Video Relay Service. I
independent teenager.                       for something they have no control
                                                                                       also use state telecommunications
                                            over (i.e. a disability), least of all
At school, my free time is spent                                                       relay services from time to time using
                                            me. While I do not hate my hearing
sitting in the hallways, resting on                                                    a large print TTY. English is my rst
                                            loss, I feel frustrated whenever the
bags, talking to friends. Every time I                                                 language and sometimes it’s easier to
                                            technology that is supposed to help
walk through the halls, trying not to                                                  understand highly technical concepts
                                            me become a normal hearing teenager
trample on someone else’s bag or legs,                                                 in words rather than in signs.
                                            is a conspicuous declaration of my
I always see at least one girl texting on   disability. I am grateful that the 21st    I also use videophones and Video
her phone covertly or I get a glimpse       Century Communications & Video             Relay Services.      ese services
of a little white wire stuck into her       Accessibility Act of 2010 guarantees       are great because they produce
ear, trying to mask it with her hair so     that technology will be accessible. As     conversations at a very natural
the teachers don’t see it. Well, it took    technology advances and is accessible      pace, which is di cult with text-
me a year, two months (…and seven           to people with hearing loss, my own        to-voice relay services. I need VRS
days, but who is counting?) to buy my       capabilities will grow and my hearing      interpreters and other people who use
  rst real cell phone, since shopping       loss will probably become invisible.       sign language to wear high-necked,
for it was di cult: Not many normal-                                                   high-contrast clothing so I can see
looking phones had email capability                             — Arielle Schachter
                                                                    New York, NY       their signs more easily. I have had
(so I could still communicate if                                                       occasions where I needed to transfer
my hearing aids broke) and T-coil           ELIZABETH SPIERS                           to a di erent interpreter or request
compatibility (so I get optimal                                                            my friends to put on a dark
performance with my hearing aids).          I am hard of hearing and have
                                                                                                smock or top so I can see
   e T-coil mode on a hearing aid helps     low vision. I use technology
                                                                                                   them more easily, which
prevent sound interference — buzzes         quite a bit in my everyday
                                                                                                     is why I actually prefer
and hums that make understanding            life — both at work and
                                                                                                      text-to-voice relay for
speech di cult. T-coil compatibility        in my personal life. I
                                                                                                      certain calls. However,
was the requirement above all               have a Blackberry 8705e
                                                                                                      if my special needs are
requirements: I was sick and tired of       pager, which I use o en.
                                                                                                      in place—for example,
my inability to hear on phones.             It is a few years old and I
                                                                                                    interpreters who are
                                            am probably overdue for
I worshiped my phone like it was a                                                                appropriately dressed and
                                            an upgrade. However, I like
deity as conversations are actually                                                            who ngerspell more slowly
                                            this pager because it is very easy
much easier for me by phone                                                              for me — Video Relay Services
                                            to use — it is hearing aid compatible
(thanks to T-coil compatibility)                                                       really work best for me. I had a phone
                                            and I can adjust the font to 14-point
and texting than face-to-face due to                                                   interview recently for a job that was a
                                            bold, which makes it easy to read. I
environmental noises and my low             can use my pager to call hearing family

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