HoHoHo is time to come up with a gift for your favorite HoH? Well this week we talk to you about shopping for your HoH and with your HoH.
We hope this holiday season you look into a communication tool and we would love to hear from you on how it helped with whatever your holiday gatherings look like!
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Whatever your holidays look like for 2021, we here at Hearing Loss LIVE! wish you a full and happy holiday season!
Today, Hearing Loss LIVE! Talks shopping with your HoH.
Julia: Welcome to Hearing Loss LIVE! This week, we're going to talk to you about shopping for HoHs. Or maybe you are going shopping for this holiday season. We're going to share some things we know about shopping and maybe some, some gift ideas you can give to your loved ones. Chelle Wyatt, can you talk to us about experiences with shopping?
Chelle: I went shopping about a month ago with my middle son, Everett. And he's pretty good he can hear, so he kind of fills in for me every once in a while. But he also doesn't step in, unless he really needs to. He kind of waits. He hovers in the background. Because we were like, oh, Starbucks, you know, pumpkin latte [laughing]. And it's always noisy in those places, because of the machines and talking and stuff like that. So I was having a hard time listening to the, or understanding the cashier. And I just finally told her I'm, I'm about deaf in here. So I'm not going to hear you. Here's my order. And Everett, I think he was going to step in, I saw him step up. And then when he saw that I took care of it, he stepped back again. So that was pretty cool and nice of him. He's, Everett is my like easygoing child [laughing]. You know, he's always helpful, but not overtly, you know, in my face or anything like that. So he's a good boy. We also did some shopping, and I remember we went into this game store, our family is really big on games, and I found a dice game that I really like, can't remember the name of it now, but we're gonna try it out tomorrow night. So inside there was this lady cashier, and she was, blah, la,la, la. And she's a voice that I don't hear well, and the mask was on, and my mask was on. Thankfully, the store wasn't too busy at that hour. So we got by, but I broke up my speech-to-text app and I showed her this is, this is how I'm going to understand you. And you can watch too. And people are always so amazed at that technology. And so few people realize it and you know, with with one in five people with a hearing loss, retailers could stand to train their people on speech-to-text, to whip this out when necessary. Because I mean, masks have really blown us out of the water with communication. So people are genuinely, genuinely happy to just to know about the technology. And that was the biggest thing there. I think, you know, there's other times when people are behind me, and I don't know it, and Everett would pull me back a little bit, or tap me on the shoulder to let me know if somebody is back there. So it's easier when you have a hearing person with you [laughing], who understands because not all hearing people are really understanding. And, and he's so easygoing about it, instead of like, here, you need to get out of the way somebody is behind you [laughing]. That's not, that, that rush ruffles my feathers a little bit when people do it like that. But we had, we had a pretty good time shopping together. And you know, I can do it on my own, too. I no, no problem being on my own. We just happened to be thrown together that weekend. And with that, why not go to the mall. When I'm alone, I'm very upfront about my hearing loss. I let cashiers know and show them my speech-to-text same as I did with Everett. And it goes pretty easily. One of my favorite SayWhatClub stories from the 90s was a guy who said he always kept big bills when shopping so that he never had to hear what the total was. He could just hand over a big bill and get his change back. And in the end he had all this change, he said. But he would just convert it into big bills again [laughing]. So some sneaky ways to get around hearing loss sometimes, too.
Julia: Thank you, Chelle. I know with Grandma, you know, she would lipread so well that most of the time, I didn't need to step in. But every once in a while, and I don't even know that we had a plan on this, it just happened. She would finally give in and she'd get this look and look at me. And I would know that was my cue to kind of rephrase whatever the question was being asked of her. And it worked out really well, I think. So if you don't have a plan, sometimes you can make one sometimes it just happens. I think. Michele, what are your thoughts about shopping at the holidays, or just in general?
Chelle: long pause while Michele-
Michele: Sorry, my captioning cut out and I didn't see my name. That's the the parrel of not being able to hear the audio, I have to wait on the captioning and for some reason that cut out there. So I figured you all were waiting on me. Sorry about that. You know, Chelle talked about shopping with people, and they're stepping in for you. And back when my kids were pretty, still pretty small. I had a huge hearing dip and I wasn't functioning really well. And I found myself stepping aside and letting others speak for me. I think I was leaning on my family way too much. And it made me feel awful. And you know, when you need help, that's great. But it has to be on both people's terms. And you know, some people rely on other people more than others. I've always been fiercely independent. And so it made me feel bad about myself. So I decided almost overnight, I needed to figure out how to navigate the world with this huge hearing dip. And the way I did it was with shopping, is how I started. And I decided that I would put myself in those scenarios that just wigged me out. I would purposely go out and try to figure out how to tell people that I couldn't hear because up until that point, I didn't have much of a need to tell everyone that I came in contact with that I couldn't hear. So one morning, I got the kids off to school. And I went to a shopping mall. I didn't go to my neighborhood shopping mall, because I didn't want to see people that I knew. I went to an out of the way shopping mall. And by the end of the day, I had gone in every store and practiced how to tell people I couldn't hear. And I stumbled and I fumbled and I was embarrassed and I felt humiliated. But by the end of the day, I had kind of desensitized myself from that. I didn't take it personally. And you know, some of the worst screw ups, I would tell people "I'm experimenting today, trying to figure out how to tell people that I can hear. So you're part of my experiment." And they would be like, "Oh, cool." Just looking at it in that context, really took that anxiety out of it. And so I've never liked shopping. I've never been a big shopper. It was a necessary evil back then, with four kids. But I used it because I was uncomfortable. You know, you always walk into a department store and a salesperson will talk to you from across the room ask you if you need any help. So what I do now is I always go right up to the first salesperson and say hey, "I'm just gonna look around, but you need to know I'm deaf. So when my back's turned, I'm not going to hear you talk to me." And you know, that works great. I don't get into those awkward situations much anymore because I take control of it. The other thing that always kind of wigged me out was going into the dressing room, you know, in a nice department store the attendant would always come and ask you if you were finding, how everything was fitting or offer to get you a different size. I had no idea they were talking to me on the other side of the door. So that was always kind of awkward. So now I always tell, if there's an attendant I say, "hey, you need to know I can't hear through the door. I'm a lip reader." And that solves all of those awkward moments that come up, that come up during shopping. So I kind of look at shopping as my training ground for becoming comfortable with, with who I am as a person with profound hearing loss. And it works, it's, you know, I still do it. I still run into situations that just throw me and I use that as a practice. And I actually set those scenarios up when I'm out in the world shopping. Because, you know, most of the time, if you're on the out of the way, place, you don't see people that you know, so you're probably never gonna see these people again. So who cares if you mess up? I mean, I mean, it's just not that big of a deal. But it is a big deal when you don't know how to do it. So shopping was, is. By yourself, you have to do it by yourself. And it's a great way to gain some self confidence and figure out how to navigate the world that you can't hear.
Chelle: I'll add to Michele here that it's a never ending learning experience, in a way, okay. I have 30 years of experience with hearing aids, and hearing loss, and while I'm a lot better at it, I still run up against situations. So don't think we have it all figured out. Because we really don't. You know, the minute I think I'm doing good, and I get kind of cocky about it, something come in and slam me up against the wall and go, Oh, my gosh, that was a true learning experience [laughing]. So don't ever think you're completely done. It's an ongoing process, I think we just learn to deal with situations as they rise better for the most part. And then we don't let them rattle us. One of the other things I'd like to share is for like hearing people in our audience. And you know, if you're hard of hearing, be sure to share this with your hearing friends, family, cashiers, people out in public, gestures. Do gestures. I mean, that snaps in things like, no amount of lip reading and hard of hearing this. So, you know, if you're a cashier, and we're having trouble understanding, the total flip, flip the little monitor around, and let us see it, give us time to look up at the monitor if it is visible. And you might see a lot of us doing that. Pay attention. Because I'm always looking at the monitors at the grocery store here because they're very visible now. And they might tell me the price, but you know, it's hard to hear the number. So I'm, I look up and look down. And if you see that that person's hard of hearing, most likely, and they're having a hard time understanding what's being said. You can walk people over to certain places instead of syaing. "Oh, it's in the back corner" or "in the middle of that wall over there." Take a minute walk them over. And that's not a gesture, but that's a work around. So my husband's really good at gestures. And I don't think I said that right. Did I say that right? Okay. Um, so he he can gesture his way through conversations. Amazing. Amazingly. I mean, he's pretty good at it. He can tell a whole story with gestures for friends of mine that use voice and sign language and I'm not sure how he does for Michele. Sometimes I think he uses them but I think he gets he feels put on the spot at times. So, but gesture's easy way to help people. You know, paper or plastic they hold up both for me sometimes if if I'm asked key that day and not anticipating well. Think about gestures everybody.
Julia: Yeah, gestures, is it an easy way to help with with a hearing person helping the hearing loss person. I love that you guys make it clear. It's not our job to speak for the person with hearing loss. Again, every family is different. So maybe you've got that way and it works for you. And that's fine. But I think a lot of times hearing people just assume that they should be talking for the person with hearing loss and they just shouldn't. But your gestures made me think of you could even even you know, I don't know when this happened. But there was a time that this happened and I must have done a gesture because I could hear even though I wasn't standing next to my grandma, I remember hearing that and seeing her face and knowing she was not catching what was going on. So I gestured something? It had something to do with the hat. And it was just an enough clue in to say, "are you asking me--" Um, I wasn't even standing next to her. I think I was over looking at something else. So. But I love that you guys make that comment. And you know, I really wish retailers, especially at the holidays, wouldn't it be nice to offer not just to -- well, one is sensitivity training. Come on, everybody's all stressed out anyways, that that helps everyone, including staff and people they wait on. But understanding if you just automatically every person have the ability, if you don't already to turn that price thing around, or, or have something there that's running, I'd love to figure out how to get into the bigger retails and help them with a training and understanding and just make it part of their every day, how they service people. And it's right up there with customer service. Telephone calls for me. Needs a lot of training there. Maybe that could be its own, like 10 week blog or something. [laughing].
Michele: You know, we all come upon those people who are very intuitive customer service people who just seem to know that you're, you have a hearing loss or you're deaf. And usually it's because there's somebody in their life that they've learned from, but other people are just very intuitive. And they know because you're concentrating so hard on reading their lips, that you're reading their lips, they just know. And I love to get people like that. But that's, you know, not the majority, I don't think. But when I get someone like that I tell them you are really great at connecting with your customers. You should approach your boss and ask them if you could give a little informational talk about how to communicate with people who are different. And don't assume that someone is being rude or whatever, if they don't answer you, they might be deaf. So you think about that, you know, that would probably benefit your coworkers. So I'm always out there advocating for people, even people who have no connection to hearing loss if they're a very good customer service person, I say thank you and compliment them on it and share that with your coworkers. You know I went to the eye doctor last week and I was making my, well actually I went in to make my appointment. I was in town and I went in the office to make my appointment, and the guy there let me come around the desk to look at the appointment schedule on the computer instead of trying to tell me what days. And you know, things like that are so meaningful. I wasn't really shopping although I was shopping for new glasses. But those kinds of things and those kinds of people when you have a barrier are just invaluable. So we really love people who are intuitive.
Thoughts, Michele? [background "yeah"].
I wanted to do a little FYI to once in a while you'll see one of us break out in laughter try to hide something. The captioning is not always accurate. So Chelle I said hearing loss and it came up Harry nose. So I was laughing about that. So when you see one of us laughing or out of character, it's probably the caption.
Julia: Yeah, share'em with us. Those are sometimes funny. There was a funnier one, they were calling Chelle slide something or something it was I should have wrote it down real quick. So we know that the holidays are here and so for you hearing people, or maybe you're a Hoh who likes to buy your own HoH Hoh gifts, let's give some ideas Chelle of what there is out there that they might want to look for, for this holiday season to give their loved ones or give themselves. I like to give myself by the way.
Chelle: Yeah, sometimes we have to buy for ourselves too, and that's okay. One of my favorite Christmas gifts was my husband buying me a living room hearing loop. I have hearing aids with the telecoil in them. SO he put it all up for me and hooked it up to the TV and I have my own personal sound system. And I don't get outside noise that comes with, with being out of the loop. Because the loop just shut down everything to only what's on the TV with just minor loud noises getting in so I can really focus on the TV. And I hear a lot better with that than I have with personal, infrared or FM system for TVs. But if you don't have hearing aids with a hearing, with a telecoil, feel free to get one of the other TV listening systems, especially if you're hearing and the hard of hearing person is just blowing out the volume on the TV [laughing]. I've seen a lot of people like that, and they come in and they've complained, "oh my gosh, I'm gonna be deaf if I keep listening to the TV at that volume, just like he is." And I would say, you know, just here, there's multiple different FM and infrared systems that you can get for the TV. I personally like the FM ones better. Because with the infrared, it needs to line up with a with the red dots, they line up to each other. And that's what conducts the sound. I don't know how it works. That's beyond me. But I know that's what happens. Because when I turn my head, I lose the line of sight with the with the dot and the TV Oh cut out on me. Whereas if I'm with the FM type of system, I can turn my head, move around and sometimes even go beyond that room to hear. So don't forget about Assistive Listening television systems. There is also, let's see, for people who don't have hearing aids or can't afford them, I know that over-the-counter hearing aids are coming in for people with a moderate or less hearing loss. I've tried an over-the-counter kind of hearing aid myself before, and I have more of a severe hearing loss, so it didn't quite work for me. I need more power. But if you have a moderate or less that those over-the-counter hearing aids will come out sometime soon, maybe you'll want to check out the prices. I have no idea yet because they're not out completely yet. You can also get personal amplifiers. I know at the center that I worked at, we had the Pocket Talker by William Sound. And we had the Mino know. And I'm not sure which brown that was now. But both are really good. Personal assistive listening devices. You know, they have headphones or earbuds or neck loops for people who have hearing aids and want more power. But the Pocket Talker works for people with a more severe hearing loss. Like it gets loud, like if my hearing aid to go out, I'll go get a pocket talker, because it'll help me. You know, you got to be afraid not to use it. Some people want to hide things like that. But I've been around people who are not afraid of it. And they put it out there so that they can hear me better. And I'm like, that's so cool. You know, they're, they're doing what they need to do to get the conversation. The Mino worked well for people with a moderate or less hearing loss. I just I think some of us who've had hearing loss for a long time and have it more severe. We need the power that the Pocket Talker gives us. And another thing that I recently bought myself, well no it's been a year now, was this Neosensory buzz band. I turn it on, and it clues me into my environment. It's got four little vibrating motors underneath, and it goes into patterns. According to whatever the noise is. Running water feels like a trickle through the vibe, the vibration motors and sizzling bacon feels the same as water. [Laughng] But I've been outside on the patio, and you know there's a lot of noise in the world and hearing people learn to filter that out and focus on what they need to hear. And we sort of learn to do that with our hearing aids, too. So this this creates a lot of noise at first. It's picking up everything and the first like few weeks, I was doing the buzz band I was like, I'm never gonna get it. Because it's just I'm so sensitive to all the vibrations going off around me. But they meant nothing until something comes along and it's got a real pattern to it. And I'm like, Okay, what was that? It's clued me. And now I can hear the crickets in summer through this, it comes in a wave, birds outside. There's a lot of birds I can feel through the haptics on it now. And so I don't hear fire alarms, smoke alarms in the house, completely beyond my range of hearing anymore. And I am not going to wear hearing aids at night [laughing]. I like to sleep peacefully. So but I put this time because I'm never going to hear the smoke alarm otherwise. And it has a sleep mode so that only picked up the most important noises. Voices have a pattern. It's kind of pricey. But to me, it's worth it. Because no matter where I go, it's with me. And it can clue, clue me into the environment. When I'm out walking, I can feel the car coming up getting stronger, stronger, and then as it passes me, it starts fading again. So just little things like that help me. And another thing that might help hard of hearing people and you can think about getting your HoH is an alerting system. We ran into Square Glow about a year or so ago. And that was so cool. You can set it up in certain places in the house with different colors. Green front door, blue back door, red smoke alarm, yellow something else. You can set it to different things and different colors. So I'm going to put these links on the website on the blog so that you can refer back to them and see what they are. You can, there's videos, you can find lots of information on these devices. Last thing, speech-to-text. Buy a speech-to-text year subscription for your hard of hearing person, whether it's with Ava or Otter, then they can use it as much as they want without worrying about running out of free minutes. In the days of mask. I use my speech-to-text a lot more. I can use it on my computer, too, to pick up other conversations like I'm in an online meeting or something without captions. So all wonderful gifts for hard to hearing people. Think about it.
Julia: Thank you, Chelle. And I think in the month of December, we'll have an even more in depth. All about different apps and stuff. Yeah, haptics, all of that. So that's a really good little teaser on all this stuff you can learn. I do remember buying TV ears for grandma, she loved them. And the neighbors loved them. Because she was just blowing the condo out with her TV. And I do remember, we got her the Pocket Talker because she wanted it for bridge. And she just loved it. It allowed her to participate again in the conversation going around the bridge table. And we do Bluetooth. When my husband remembers to charge it. We Bluetooth the front TV, and he has a set of Bluetooth headphones. And it just goes right to his headphones. He really likes that. So those are all really good ideas.
Any other thoughts? Michele?
Michele: You know, I'm on a lot of hearing loss forums online and I see a lot of people lementing over the mask and saying I'm just going to stop going out in public. Because I can hear with mask and getting so frustrated. And you know, I understand that frustration and that attitude. But you're never going to learn anything new if you just stay home. So I want to encourage everyone if you've not tried the speech to text apps on your phone, please try them. I mean, I can't hear the audio of anyone. The masks completely take away my communication because I'm a lipreader. But when I use my speech to text app, people are blown away. They're like, wow, that's really cool. It's an opportunity to advocate and it helps you communicate. Be patient with it. You don't have to be be on edge. And if it messes up, you know, you just get all flustered. The more you use it, the more you get used to it and the better works. You also can get an external mic that plugs into your phone that actually makes speech come in clear. And the clearer it is and the less ambient noise and sometimes that external mic will block out the ambient noise, the clearer and more accurate your captions are going to be. So keep trying things new and ask for advice, you know, on forums online, people are always asking, you know, what are you using for speech-to-text? You know, what can I do? It's not accurate. So, experiment, but try it at least don't stay home.
Julia: Thank you, Michele, that that's good advice. Yeah, I and I always forget, I do have the microphone for my phone as well for my iPhone. And it does make a huge difference in clarity on what it picks up. So that that's a good idea. Yeah, don't stay home. At least don't use your hearing loss for why you stay home. You can be a hermit like me if you like but don't say it's because of the hearing loss. You need to you need to live your life and be happy, right? And communicate any way possible. Learn what that is. And if you have questions, you're always welcome.- there's great SayWhatClub, Hearing Loss Association of America, there's tons of forums out there that you can join and talk to. Or you can come to us bring your ideas or if you've had an incident happen, come to hearinglosslive.com. Drop us an email or a note and tell us your experience. Or if you're struggling come to us and let's sit down together and see what we can do to get you through that experience. Next week. And in staying with our holiday themes. We're going to talk about kids and grandkids. We all know those little voices are like pure hell for us during the holidays. So let's get together and have some discussion on things we do to help alleviate that pressure and be able to get together and enjoy our time. We look forward to seeing you next week. We hope you're enjoying our content. Please remember to like us on your favorite social media and subscribe to our YouTube page. We look forward to seeing you during the holidays. Bye.
Join us next week when we talk Hearing and our Kids and Grandkids.