Hearing Loss LIVE! Podcast

Hearing Loss LIVE! Talks with Cristina Duarte of InnoCaption

January 17, 2022 Hearing Loss LIVE! Season 2 Episode 3
Hearing Loss LIVE! Podcast
Hearing Loss LIVE! Talks with Cristina Duarte of InnoCaption
Show Notes Transcript

Hearing Loss LIVE! sat down with Cristina Duarte of InnoCaption to talk about hearing loss and communication. She's a CODA (child of Deaf adults) with a passion to better the quality of conversation for those with a hearing loss.

In this podcast she talks about her youth, InnoCaption and wait for it.. A new feature that InnoCaption will be rolling out to it's users.

Caveat Julia Stepp of Hearing Loss LIVE! contracts with InnoCaption through her CART Services business and will give you an inside look on why she loves working as a steno writer with InnoCaption.

If you prefer your podcast as video you can find us at https://youtu.be/OhsC9O4p-fg

Support the show

Hearing Loss LIVE! Talks with Cristina Duarte of InnoCaption.

Julia: Hello, welcome to Hearing Loss Live. Today, we are super excited to introduce Cristina
from InnoCaption.

We are pretty big fans of InnoCaption as you
can tell.

Caveat, I do contract with them as a steno
writer.

I write about that in my blog, so if you're
a steno writer joining us today, read about
it.

If you have questions, come to us at Hearing
Loss LIVE!, and I am happy to answer questions.

Cristina, can you give us a little background
on InnoCaption and your connection to the

hearing loss community.

Cristina: Sure, absolutely.

Thank you so much for having me.

My name is Cristina, and I'm the Director
of Regulatory Affairs for InnoCaption.

And what that means is I make sure that the
company, because we're regulated by the FCC,

that we stay in compliance.

I also help out a lot with the management
of the company and interact a lot with the

community, which is probably my favorite part
of my job.

What we do is very personal to me, because
I am a CODA, child of deaf adults.

Both of my parents were born with profound
hearing loss, both into hearing families.

They both learned to sign when they were in
their 20s, actually at Self Help for the Hard

of Hearing, which is now Hearing Loss Association
of America.

And growing up, I was always helping my parents
answer the phone back before there was telecommunications

accessibility.

So I remember from a very young age, answering
the phone, Duarte's residence, Cristina speaking,

I had my whole spiel down, I was very proud
of myself.

Honestly, I loved doing it.

As I got older, my dad is actually a biomedical
engineer, and he is very into assistive technology.

He does custom loop systems actually.

So he would go to all of these exhibits for
hearing loss and for deaf individuals all

over the country, and would test out different
telecommunications solutions.

He traveled all the time when I was younger,
and my phone would always ring, it would always

be him, when I was younger landline, and as
I got older, my cell phone, and it would always

start the same, hey, Cristina, this is dad.

I'll be like, hi, dad.

He's like, how do I sound?

I'm like, you sound good.

And over the years, all the calls at some
point became a disappointment, whether it

was like, oh, slow down, I can't keep up with
you, or, I can't really hear too well on this.

And so it kind of became something I expected
that I would get these calls from my dad,

and at some point, something would go wrong.

And you'd be like, no, you know, the technology
isn't quite there yet, but thanks, I love

you, I'll talk to you later.

Years ago, trying to think of what year, my
dad called me from, Hearing Loss Association

of America, and he called me from the InnoCaption
app.

He was there, they were on an exhibit, and
for the first time, it was like, I was talking

to a hearing person on the phone.

I was kind of talk faster, and then talk slower,
and he was still right there with me understanding

everything I was saying.

I was like, oh, my God, dad, you need this.

So that was my first interaction with the
InnoCaption app.

We got involved in advocacy shortly thereafter,
and we both got involved in the company.

So it's something that is very near and dear
to my heart.

My father is one of the co-CEOs for the company
now, and I had my job first, not nepotism,

and I really love what I do.

I feel like I've been talking forever, but
really quickly, the difference between the

InnoCaption app and everybody else on the
market is as Julia already mentioned, we use

live stenographers to produce the captions.

In the last couple years, we've also implemented
an automatic speech recognition solution based

on user feedback, and our users actually get
to choose whether for a call, they want to

use automatic speech recognition, or a live
stenographer, and they can switch as their

accessibility needs change.

So everything we do, puts our development
based on community feedback.

And I think that makes what we have really
special.

- I'll turn it over to questions in a minute.

Yeah, and, you know I know there was a lot
of nervousness about the speech-to-text addition

to InnoCaption.

And I'm here to say, it does not affect whether
you're a steno writer or not in any way.

I think it's been a help from some of the
clients.

When Chelle and I were working for the state,
there was a discussion about InnoCaption and

so I'm gonna do COVID pandemic.

It was a coffee chat that was like, I have
caption call, I can't get through on the phone,

I don't know what to do, I'm very stressed.

And one of the InnoCaption users spoke up
and said, you need to get this.

It has speech recognition, so my call is picked
up, and as soon as a steno writer is available,

it immediately transfers over.

I don't have dropped calls, I can get out
in emergencies, and the speech-to-text is

pretty good.

So I have heard that firsthand, and I know
there was some concern, but I'm here to tell

you, it really doesn't affect us.

We're busy.

And with the post pandemic, I think we're
gonna continue to see those hybrid busyness

on what's needed for people to work from home.

- Yeah, just to follow up on that Julia, we
saw incredible volumes during the pandemic,

and our users were so pleased that they were
still able to place calls.

We joke that we were ready for a pandemic,
and we didn't even know it.

We had our automatic speech recognition on
beta, and we had, the system that you're talking

about, our CART priority system setup where
users who feel like, CART is what best meets

their accessibility needs, can choose that,
and then no matter what, their calls will

go through.

If we're experiencing surges, it'll start
with ASR, and then automatically transfer

over to a CART provider, when one's available,
and we just received such great feedback on

that.

People were very happy.

Julia: Chelle, you wanna give some experience,
you've got firsthand experience working with

InnoCaption and using it as an app, and tell
us your thoughts on it.

Chelle: Okay, yes.

I have had InnoCaption on my phone for years,
and long time had huge anxiety about the phone

because without captions, people would get
mad at me.

So I pretty much stayed away from the phone
until I absolutely had to.

And then one day, I think it was at the Minneapolis
Convention for HLAA that I was there, and

I had to call in for a taxi or a ride to the
hotel.

Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, I finally pulled
up my InnoCaption, I used it.

And I'm like, whatever do you do?

So I started using it really regularly after
that.

I think when the pandemic came in, and I was
on the landline, kind of caption phones, and

I was having issues, so I would switch over
to my InnoCaption app, and I hardly ever had

any problems there.

And through the pandemic, I got even more
comfortable with the phone, because InnoCaption.

And I've tried others, I like them, but I
still just prefer InnoCaption and I'm comfortable

that it's the, somebody was right there saying,
ring one, ring two, ring three, so I know

it's ringing.

I've been on another one where I don't get
that, and I'm like, huh.

You know, is it ringing, or is it not ringing?

I don't know what's happening.

And I'll hang up because I like to know that
somebody's there with me, otherwise that anxiety

just comes back.

So for the first time in a long, long time
in years, I am actually using the phone without

anxiety.

So I really appreciate the InnoCaption app.

Cristina: I love hearing stuff like that from our
users.

I think your experiences, not uncommon from
what I've seen from family members, my friends

in the community, there's a little learning
curve and a lot of people have phone anxiety

before they use InnoCaption, or any other
assistive technology for the first time.

You're in a position where for so many years
you've relied on other people or other means

of communication, and especially if you've
had those experiences, I've watched my parents

have them before accessible technology where
there weren't captions and they're like, I'm

sorry, what, what, and people aren't very
patient, to the point that my parents even

if they didn't want me in the middle of a
call would pull me over and say hey, can you

help me there?

And with those experiences obviously, you
know, I will never understand because I'm

hearing, but I am a very empathetic individual,
so I feel like I kind of internalize that

stuff and that's part of the reason that I
love this technology so much.

I think it's interesting.

I'm sorry Chelle, did you wanna say something?

You talking about the ring prompts and the
nonverbal cues, I do a lot of advocacy and

education about this.

As Julia mentioned, when we first launched
automatic speech recognition, we not only

had concern from CART providers, but we also
had a lot of concern from the community.

I remember sending out the email, saying that
we had this as an option and having longtime

users, email me personally just very desperate
being like, oh, my goodness, are you guys

getting rid of CART?

And that's when I added to all my presentations,
this advocacy and education about people's

accessibility needs and how they're all different.

First of all, we are not getting rid of CART.

Where you talk about how important it is for
your accessibility needs to have those nonverbal

cues like ringing, so you know what's going
on, we developed the ASR solution, because

we were hearing from users and people who
weren't our users that wanted to be saying,

well, for my accessibility needs, I don't
feel comfortable having a third party on the

line.

It didn't matter that it's confidential, we're
regulated, so it's highly confidential.

Our stenographers only hear one half of the
conversation, unless it's a conference call,

and we have all of the security procedures
in place, everything's encrypted, but for

them, I had people say, well, my functional
equivalents will never be met until I can

call my long distance girlfriend, and know
that somebody can't even hear half of the

conversation, or everybody in my life has
incredibly clear voices, automatic speech

recognition works well for me, and that is
my preference.

So even for me when we started developing
it, as somebody who grew up in the community,

my experiences with automatic speech recognition
hadn't been great.

Especially 'cause my dad is from Portugal,
and he has a hearing loss, so automatic speech

recognition doesn't even know what to do with
him.

Half of the time, it's spitting out curse
words or stuff that people start giggling

during meetings.

Luckily, he has a great sense of humor, so
he'll see it and start laughing too and be

like, no, no, no, guys, that's not what I
said.

My mom was using automatic speech recognition
'cause they didn't have a CART provider presenting

to some parents of students, she teaches deaf
education.

And she was saying, oh, my name's Meg Duarte.

I have a master's in deaf education, and the
caption said, I have a master's in defecation.

So she got a laugh after the fact, I think
as soon as she processed and went through,

like, they knew what I meant, right?

But so we do a lot of education on the differences
between CART providers and how CART providers

can provide those nonverbal cues, not only
ringing, but dogs barking, children crying.

And as a hearing person, I know I take that
for granted a lot of the times and a lot of

people I do know too to be able to know there's
a dog barking, let me say something like,

oh, you have a dog?

I have one too, what kind do you have?

Or a child crying, oh, is everything okay?

Do you need me to call you back?

But without those, you could be in a position
where somebody's child is crying, if you haven't

disclosed your hearing loss, they don't know
that you have a hearing loss, and you're just

continuing to talk through that child crying
and not to mention what that background noise

can do to automatic speech recognition captions.

So the strengths of automatic speech recognition
is, where people have very clear, vanilla

voices, that have been trained on automatic
speech recognition, those captions are very

fast.

They're very fast, and they can be very accurate
if you have a very, very, very clear voice.

Now, you have some kind of speech pattern
beyond the realm of what it's been trained

to do, and those captions can quickly become
useless.

I was watching a webinar with a continuing
legal education course, and the speaker, I

feel like I've become a good judge of where
automatic speech recognition will do really

well, and where it's gonna struggle.

I'm listening to this speaker, she has a very
clear voice.

And I'm thinking oh, she's gonna do great.

Her captions were terrible on automatic speech
recognition.

So I started listening closer, and I realized
she was nervous, and her voice was shaking.

And automatic speech recognition didn't know
what to do with that.

So I always tell people, even if automatic
speech recognition is your preference, there

will very likely be calls whether it's the
person's speech pattern, an accent, or even

connectivity, that you will need to switch
over to a CART provider to get usable captions.

And then that CART provider can probably tell
you what's going on on the line, whether it's

oh, you have poor connection, speaker far
away.

Our CART providers are trained to work for
our users as if anything they hear, they tell

you, dog barking, bad connection, beeping,
muffled speaker.

Automatic speech recognition just isn't at
that point and is unable to provide those

kinds of cues.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

did you have anything that you wanted to add?

Chelle: I just tried to touch a bit on the anxiety
again, before captions, where I was struggling

as a hairdresser in salon, which is very noisy
anyway.

Trying to be on the phone in a new salon,
everything new for me because I moved, and

having people call me, and this is how rude
some people are.

Maybe they just don't know, they don't understand,
but people, there was this one lady who would

call, and if she heard my voice she'd say,
oh, it's you, I'll call back another time,

and hang up.

And I would just go home crying after these,
all day of phone calls similar to that.

And then you also spoke about confidentiality
and people being uncomfortable with somebody

being there.

And I've lost two friends who would not use
the caption because somebody is listening,

and I'm just not comfortable.

And could you please just call me without
them?

And I said, I won't understand hardly anything.

And she said, well, it's okay, I just wanna
hear your voice.

And I'm like, but what about my part of the
friendship?

Cristina: Chelle, real question, what kind of crimes
were your friends trying to plan with you

that they were uncomfortable having a CART
provider on the call?

You can tell me after?

But like, I'm just kidding.

Chelle: Yeah, though I have nothing to say, I mean,
there's nothing to hide.

And I've had people, when I work for the state
come in, and say oh, I can't have the government

listening to me.

And then my head is always, what the heck
are you saying, I'm following calls you know.

So I get you.

To me, I have nothing to hide.

It's just, I wanna have that conversation
with friends, if me.

Cristina: You know, I think, and part of why we developed
automatic speech recognition was we had a

small small handful of users who felt the
same way.

And you know, at the end of the day, everybody
defines their own accessibility needs.

As a hearing person, it's not up to me to
say, oh, this will work for you, this, 'cause

who knows?

I have people come up to me all the time and
say, sell me on your platform, why are you

better than everybody else?

And everybody else at my company probably
hates me for this but I'm like, well, I'm

not gonna do that.

I don't know what your accessibility needs
are, I'm very confident in our technology,

I can tell you the technological differences
between the technology, I can tell you what

we use, but I strongly encourage that you
try everything and see what best meets your

needs.

Am I pretty confident that at the end of the
day, you will come back to InnoCaption?

Yeah, but if you don't, that's okay, too because
for me, I would rather somebody find a solution

that truly meets their needs, that they're
happy with, than to retain a user that there's

something better out there for them.

Go ahead Julia, sorry.

Julia: I was just thinking because, as a contractor,
we have training for FCC regulations.

So you put a training for us together once
a year, I think it is.

And I always love it because it reminds me
my job, it's hard as a CART provider, so there

are clients I have, they just want, like at
a college level, I'll use it, they just want

what the professor says, they don't care what's
going on behind them, they just want me to

capture what the professor's going on.

There's other students who are like, yeah,
I wanna hear what this conversation is over

here, and I'm happy to do that.

And we get kind of complacent, I'll be honest.

Hopefully I still have a contract at the end of this,
but her trainings are great because it reminds

us how important to write, dog barking, to
write, noise in background, to let the caller

know, I'm not trying to caption badly, I can
barely hear because it's so muffled.

And that's not what I write, but it's important
that they know that we are there for them.

And I think the pandemic, I could be wrong,
caused some controversy on, who could use

what, I thought it was pretty clear myself.

I think InnoCaption did a great job making
sure people have what they needed during a

pandemic, when, I'm sorry, Zoom, your automatic
captions suck, and everybody's on Microsoft

Teams and Zoom, and you're expected to understand
these auto captions and so the ability to

have access in the way that the client needs
was so important, I think in my mind.

And I think sometimes we forget that.

I have many contracts all over the place,
and I will say, as a CART provider, best scenario

for hearing, is like something like this.

But that's not always possible for whatever
reason, whatever the comfortable is, whatever,

so that InnoCaption immediately went after
we need to make sure clients can still have

access to their jobs.

I thought that was just outstanding of them.

The other part of that, when a client is struggling,
they can come to Cristina and say, how do

I talk to my employer?

And they are willing to help them with, here's
a list of CART providers, you can take it

to your employer.

And I remember in an HLAA meeting, Hearing
Loss Association Chapter, we brought her into

Salt Lake, you talked about how you're willing
to go to clients, employers, and explain the

differences.

And I think that's something that's very,
very important and should be understood.

That's my soapbox, sorry.

Cristina: Yeah, well, no, absolutely.

During the pandemic, people, everybody struggled.

It was incredibly difficult for the Deaf and
Hard of Hearing Community, it was difficult

for the hearing community, because everybody
all of the sudden, even people who weren't

technologically savvy were forced into this
online environment, and I had to do a lot

of advocacy and education.

I had users approach me saying, my employer
is nervous.

They want me to use these automated captions,
it's not working for me.

I want to use InnoCaption, it meets my accessibility
needs, but my employer's concerned about the

security.

So we started doing security assessments.

I've done them for years on a smaller scale,
but during the pandemic, I was very busy talking

to multiple large organizations in the medical
field, financial field, showing them how we

were secure, and providing that level of education
to let them know as a telecommunications relay

service, we're bound by certain rules.

I also did a lot of advocacy about contracting
directly with CART providers and telling employers

who approached us saying, oh, we want to open
an account for our employee.

First off in Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone
Service, which is what we are, it's how we're

classified, in the federal government, we
are not able to allow businesses, it's called

an enterprise account.

So it's the user themselves that signs up
for it.

And that's how it should be, because the user
is supposed to dictate what works for them.

A user can decide, you know, either InnoCaption,
on demand meets my accessibility needs, and

I want to use it for this meeting, or, we
have users who haven't disclosed their hearing

loss, they were getting by, until they had
to go virtual, and then all of a sudden, they

had to find some solution, where they didn't
have to request accommodations from their

employer.

We heard from somebody who had previously
had issues and they had a laundry list of

reasons why they were not gonna tell their
employer that they were starting to get a

hearing loss, and they were just so grateful
to have the option to connect through InnoCaption

to get those captions privately.

And my point in all this is that, I've done
a lot of advocacy talking about the difference

between contracting directly with a CART provider,
and using InnoCaption.

InnoCaption is, everybody has said on this
call, is a wonderful service.

Our CART providers are on demand.

What that means is when you call into Zoom,
that CART provider only has that dial, and

they're not here looking at the screen with
you, they can't see the participants, they

don't know who's speaking, they haven't received
prep material.

So for them, they're jumping into this call
with zero context.

And for the duration of an hour call, hour
and a half, you could have three to four CART

providers who handle that call.

You'll never know, because the way our system
is designed the captions stay fluid.

I'm not a CART provider, but I've heard that
it is incredibly taxing on your body.

So when it is long calls, they will hand them
off after a while.

A CART provider that you contract with directly
will likely be able to provide you with higher

levels of accessibility because they are in
that Zoom call.

So they can see Julia's talking, Michele's
talking, Chelle's talking, they can label

participants, but they'll also know ahead
of time, the context for the conversation.

They'll know what we're supposed to be talking
about, they'll likely, if it's InnoCaption,

they'll go ahead and put it in their dictionary.

So all of that, kind of shows why, especially
in highly technical meetings, or where an

employer knows that you have a hearing loss
and is willing to provide that, you should

still advocate and push for it.

And I would tell that to consumers, our users,
and I would also tell that to employers who

contacted us.

And luckily, almost all of them would say,
oh, you know, I never thought about it that

way.

Okay, great.

So they can use this if we don't have CART
for some reason, or for their phone calls,

but if it's a big meeting, so we'll continue
even though we're remote to contract with

CART.

I'm like, okay.

So that kind of goes back to this, everybody
decides what meets their own accessibility

needs.

We have some people who for every call they
use, video conference, they will use InnoCaption

because that meets their needs.

We have other clients who will use it when
their regular CART provider isn't available,

or somebody doesn't show up, and they're gonna
be without captions.

So we really have users all over that spectrum.

Chelle: So yeah, just one quick question.

So when people are, you know, in these Zoom
meetings, and we see the phone number that's

all we know, because I thought, I tend to
think that when people call in because a lot

of people have Bluetooth technology to their
hearing aid, so I thought that it was just

an amplification thing, but it's also possibly
them using InnoCaption?

Cristina: Absolutely.

So when you dial into Zoom, and it gives you
the option to either use the computer audio

or to dial in, our users will select dial
in.

So while everybody else is relying on their
computer audio, they're using the phone audio.

Julia: I'll say one thing too, 'cause I have contracts
before I worked for InnoCaption.

A lot of my pricing was based on college.

College is 16 weeks at a time, one of those
weeks is usually a break.

When I first started working with colleges,
federal aid was not available in summer, so

it was fall and spring.

So I would have to price myself to be able
to survive 32 weeks of the year without work.

It's not cheap to be a steno writer.

The machine itself, it lasts forever, but
it starts at 2500 for a good machine, computers,

technology, licensing's a couple 1000 a year,
all of that.

So, it was you know, hit or miss, and you
don't know how many students you're gonna

have.

I try to do on site here locally before
I take anything remote CART for colleges in

other states, but I might have one student,
who's a full time student or I might have

three part time students, or I might have
one hour.

So by adding InnoCaption, which again, when
I was first told about them, I'm like, this

is too good to be true.

It's not.

I tell them, this is when I'm available, they
give me whatever amount hours they need covered

in that availability, I'm still able to get
to campus and cover a student, and it has allowed

me to keep my prices down.

So those meetings where I, you know, maybe
would have charged 150 an hour so that I can

cover the full day or whatever, I can have
a lower amount.

And that's me personally, everybody's different
a little and that's a whole other blog and

podcast.

I'll get into on CART provider someday.

But for me, it is allowed stability, it's
allowed, you know, my kids, one of them's

headed to a doctorate program,

I don't have to worry about whether I have
a college student next semester or not to

help cover it.

It's just that it's the stability that I can
work, as long as I can hard line, I can work

anywhere, right?

I can choose when I want to work, and for
me, I mean as great as it was when the kids

were little to have all summer off, by the
time August got here, and I hadn't heard from

a college, I was panicked.

You know, I'm the main provider in our family
and it was, oh, my gosh, am I gonna have to

close my business this time around.

And I kinda was there when I first applied
to, okay, I blogged about this, but I gotta

tell my Kevin story.

We have the cutest couple in HLAA, and in
2017 HLAA, Hearing Loss Association, American

National Chapter held their conference in
Salt Lake City.

And there's a whole other blog on, why they
didn't hire CART providers locally, and then

a bunch of companies complained about the
CART that they had at this conference that

I'm going to go to someday.

But one of the sessions was InnoCaption.

And Kevin, he's the hearing spouse of one
of our Hearing Loss Association member, comes

running over to me, "I gotta tell you about
this company," he's so excited.

And he commences to telling me about InnoCaption,
and they'll work with your college schedule,

so you don't have to give up college students.

And he was so excited, and I'm like, yeah,
this is just got to be too good to be true.

And it must have been a slow year, so I'm
assuming that at one of the meetings, I was

worried about, what I'd have for fall.

And I remember, there's an assessment test,
you have to meet a certain speed criteria.

And if they, Brian, my boss said, I guess
he's my boss, I don't know, my contract manager,

says, hey, I'm gonna give you a test.

And I broke out, sweat everywhere, rolling
off of me, 'cause of the test anxiety I have,

and I failed the easiest test I've ever taken.

And I was so distraught, I think it took me
another month or two, seemed like a long time,

but anyways, before I went back and said,
okay, I'm ready.

So one of the things, there was an InnoCaption
commercial on Facebook, and on one of the

court reporting sites and some girls were
asking questions, and I gave my information

I said, contact me, I'm happy to talk to you
about it.

And I was able to say to them, call Wells
Fargo, call Bank of America, listen to those

computer recordings, call into Cochlear America,
their little word bank thing, and get yourself

comfortable and ready for a test, because
like me, they were like, a test?

We have to take a test?

It's all good, I'll walk you through this,
'cause I know how this is.

But yeah, and they do.

I can't say enough I guess.

Cristina: You know, that's actually why we'll let
CART providers do that initial test a couple

of times, because test anxiety is very real.

Julia, you are one of the best CART providers
I know, you failed the first test, because

of that test anxiety.

So I constantly remind people, I'm like, well,
this is why we need more than one opportunity,

and it's worked out very well for us.

Honestly, everybody who contracts with us
is just so highly talented, and to contract

with us, especially those of you who have
been with us for years, I mean, in the beginning,

we had to pay lower rates.

And as you know, Julia, we unsolicited have
raised the rates for our stenographers every

year.

We've been in business, but everybody who
works for us, contracts with us.

I feel like I've heard from so many people
talking about how they love what they do because

of the impact, they can feel that they're
making.

And I try to do my best, the whole team does,
to communicate whether it's during training

or a poll, during payroll emails, about that
impact.

I mean, we've heard from users, one of my
favorite stories, probably one of the only

times I've cried in public at a convention,
was we had this one user who got set up on

her phone and said, oh, I'm gonna give my
son a call.

I'm like, okay, great.

And she calls and she's like, hey, how are
you?

And he's like, mom, she's like, yeah.

And it was maybe like a two minute phone call
and it seemed very, very normal for a test

call.

She hangs up, and she just starts crying.

And in my head I was still very new, I was
like, oh my gosh, did something go wrong?

I was like, are you okay?

Wait, are the captions okay?

The captions looked okay.

And she was like, no, they were, my son lives
on the opposite coast.

I'm on a fixed income, and I hadn't heard
my son's voice in four years, we could only

communicate via text message.

I could not stop crying.

It's like these moments that even when stuff
gets difficult, and we're pushing through

with development, it's, you know, a lot of
that stuff happens, and it makes what we do

very worthwhile.

And I think, from what I've heard, that is
why a lot of people contract with us, it's

to get to be a part of that and provide that
accessibility where otherwise the individual

wouldn't have it.

Julia: Yeah.

It also has its days, where you have to take
a break and walk away for just a second, and

take a deep breath and start over again, because,
you know.

In the height of the pandemic, I wanted to
send a meme that said, you know, to all you

phone operators, I don't care whether it was
ASL Voice Relay, CaptionCall, CapTel whatever,

you know, your first responders and your essential
workers during the pandemic, and trauma is

real, right?

So I wanted them to know, and I didn't know
how to do it, and, I'm not an emotional person,

but it was one of probably where you just
get done at the end of the day, and you go,

okay, can I do this tomorrow?

Yes, because somebody is gonna need something
to have access, no matter what that's like.

But there are times that, yeah, the full moon,
I now keep it at a calendar on my desk, and

decide if I wanna work that week.

Cristina: And you know, Julia, that's why we have
the debriefing procedures in place, because

that's another part of confidentiality when
you're working with human beings is, we understand

very well that being a part of somebody's
life like that, even though you're essentially

a fly on the wall for it, you can hear one
side of the conversation, you're providing

these captions, but it can be incredibly emotional.

And when somebody has to deal with such an
incredible emotional load, that's been put

on them, that's not even theirs, they don't
get to follow up, they don't know how it ends,

we have procedures in place where our CART
providers can call me and they're trained

on how they can talk about their feelings,
the feelings that were elicited from the call,

very general terms, nothing that's personally
identifiable.

But so they have that outlet, because when
people don't have an outlet, it has to come

out somewhere, right?

They're either holding it inside, which is
incredibly unhealthy, or speaking to somebody

else about it, which goes against federal
regulations.

So we develop these debriefing procedures
to ensure that our contractors do have a place

to go.

I'm not a therapist, but I just have a ton
of feelings, so you know, I can relate to

having a lot of feelings, and I'll walk them
through it.

Chelle: Michele, you've been very quiet.

Do you have any comments?

Michele: Well, I know we're probably going longer
than usual here so I'm not really saying much,

because I have not had any audio ability on
my cell phone for years.

And we talked about this a little before the
meeting, I lived in Germany for almost four

years, and so I disabled the audio, and I've
not been able to hear any sound on a cell

phone through years, because I have a very
profound hearing loss.

So I've been back in the States since December
2015, but I just was so out of the habit of

having audio.

I never added it back in, so I'm in the cities
this weekend or this week, and I stopped in

a T-Mobile yesterday and actually had them
add the audio feature back onto my cell phone.

So I will start using InnoCaptions very soon.

So I don't know a lot about it, other than
the rules, and all of that.

And I recommend it to people because I hear
such great things about it, but I don't have

much personal experience to share.

I will say that when I was in T-Mobile yesterday,
I used Otter app on my phone.

And the young man that I was speaking to was
very interested in the speech-to-text, and

he wanted to know why I was adding the audio
back in, and I told them that we were doing

a podcast today with InnoCaptions.

And he said, what's that?

And so I explained that, and I explained about
Otter and the other speech-to-text apps out

there.

And said, you know, this would be great for
your company, to know about, to teach all

of your employees to offer these things to
people who get cell phones, and they need

accessibility features, because one of the
biggest things about the Hard of Hearing Community

is how vastly unaware we are, and there are
millions of people who don't know anything

about anything that's available.

And so I think we have to kind of put that
also on the companies that provide services.

So I did a lot of captioning advocacy, I put
my captioning advocate hat on yesterday, and

he was really interested.

So I wrote down the names of things for him
to search, and he was interested in finding

more about it, because I told him, you know,
you probably come in contact with a lot of

people who have hearing loss, and he said,
yes.

So he was pretty excited about that.

So I always jump on an opportunity to tell
people about InnoCaptions and any kind of

speech-to-text, because it is so helpful.

Cristina: Michele, that's awesome.

Thank you for sharing about that, and for
advocating generally.

I feel like you're right, there are so many
people who have no idea.

I can't tell you how many people I encounter
in my life where they asked me what I do,

and I start talking of the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing Community, and they go, huh, that

never occurred to me how somebody with a hearing
loss would communicate on the phone.

And you know, we start talking about that,
and, I guess for me, because I grew up in

the community, it's just one of those things,
like really?

It's never occurred to you, 'cause it just
always occurred to me.

But that is truly wonderful that you are able
to do that advocacy.

I feel like at this point, a lot of people
in my life start running the other direction

when they see me getting out my metaphorical
soapbox, when people start talking about accessibility.

But yeah, hopefully the guy that you met will
share it with somebody else who can use it.

You guys are very right, it is on the company's,
it's on the company's, the states, the states

have programs that also do outreach to the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.

I know that InnoCaption is a small company,
we've done a lot of outreach through presentations,

and Google, and social media.

Honestly, what I find to be the most effective
and this may be because I don't do marketing,

our marketing team may have a different outlook
on this, but for me, I feel like we are able

to reach more users when we do small support
group presentations, because it's in an environment.

Even remotely where it's not intimidating,
you're able to kind of learn about the technology,

ask the questions that you have, and then
we're able to walk people through it.

Before the pandemic, we did a lot of that
in person, and hopefully we'll be able to

do more of that if this pandemic ever ends.

And, I feel like that and word of mouth is
what's best because the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Community for so long have been provided with
accessibility solutions.

I wanna make it clear, I am not talking about
even other IP CTS providers, I'm not talking

about any technology generally, just the community
for so long has been promised a certain level

of service.

So at least, you know, now a little bit but
when we first got started, it was very difficult

to explain the difference and be believed
that you know, if you try this, you know,

why don't you do a demo call.

I can't tell you how many people walked away
from me being like no, I know what that is,

it doesn't work for me.

I'm like no, we use different technology.

You wanna give it a try?

And, you know, 50% of people would be like,
okay, I have nothing to lose, I'll do a call.

And that is what sold them.

So when I do presentations, I always encourage
people to spread by word of mouth, because

you can see stuff on Google, you can see stuff
on social media, but I feel like at the end

of the day hearing from another community
member that you trust, and is credible, hey,

this is accessible technology that's worth
trying, really makes all the difference, because

especially for people who aren't tech savvy,
there's a learning curve.

And it is an investment to learn a new technology
without being said, InnoCaption is designed

to be very user friendly and easy to use,
but I think, I talk to people all the time

who say, you know, I just don't really know
how to use a smartphone.

A couple years ago, I had a user call the
office and she was 93, she was great.

She was like, I just wanna start out by telling
you, I am 93 years old, I do not know how

to use this, but I got a smartphone today
because I want InnoCaption, I'm gonna need

you to walk me through.

I was like, okay, I can do that.

And she's like, okay.

I was like, well, hit the home button.

She goes, oh, honey, I don't know what the
home button is.

I was like, okay, let's take it a step back.

And we walked through, we got it installed,
and she loved it, it was great.

But yeah, so I kind of went off on a tangent
there, but word of mouth is really helpful.

So whether it's InnoCaption, or Otter, or
another accessible technology that you find,

and you're like, wow, this really works, it's
important that people are sharing that.

Which is why when people email me and are
like, well, I don't necessarily need InnoCaption,

but here is my issue, do you know if something,
I will find.

I talk to people, we share resources, information
sharing is key, and as a company, we need

to do that too, and we do.

Chelle: I just want to thank InnoCaption for supporting
the Hard to Hearing Community for so many

years.

You've done it at the SayWhatClub, the Hearing
Loss Association of America, the HLAA Chapters,

and I'm pretty sure you work with ALDA too.

So I know you guys are always so ready and
willing to support the Hearing Loss Community,

so thank you.

 Cristina: You know, it's what makes us, I said this
in the beginning, it's why I love my job.

I love interacting with community members
and getting to know our users, and it really

makes my day.

People are always like, I can't believe you're
a lawyer, are you sure?

I'm like, yeah.

It's just, I really enjoy people.

I love hearing people's stories and experiences
and having people share those with me makes

everything that we do worth it.

I would like to share with you guys a new
feature that we haven't even announced.

My dad was the first one that we heard this
from but you know, growing up in the community,

I've known forever, that a lot of individuals
in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

struggle with interactive voice response menus.

So where those machines that are like, oh,
what do you want, and it's like, representative.

My dad, if he says yes, because of his S,
it does not get it.

Now, it's only on DeskView for right now,
but we have a text-to-speech feature specifically

for those situations where interactive voice
response systems aren't understanding what

the person is saying.

So you don't have to keep either getting disconnected
or going back to the main menu, you can type,

yes.

And you can choose a female voice or a male
voice and it will say, yes, and computers

understand computers.

So it's pretty wonderful, we're very excited
about it.

Our engineering team has been working very
hard on that, and we recently put the beta

into DeskView.

We're very excited.

So give it a try.

We're not publicly announcing it right now,
that's normally how we do a lot of our features,

is we start slow.

So our power users start using them and can
provide us feedback, so we can make little

tweaks.

And then once we're like, oh, this is good
to go, then we do a big blast out.

So, I'm happy to share it with you guys today,
that that is something that we've worked on,

and we're very excited about.

Julia: That is super exciting for me, 'cause there's
nothing I can do as a CART provider on my

end with those phone calls, and I feel terrible,
but I.

So yay, 'cause everybody likes to have their,
I don't know, I hate speech-to-text.

Cristina: Yeah, I can't tell you how many times I've
been in the middle of something, and then

being grabbed by my dad, he's like, can you
say, yes, can you say, representative.

I'm like, representative, it always it always
understands you.

Julia: That's really cool to hear.

I'm gonna wrap it up.

Anything else, anybody, any thoughts?

Okay.

You can find InnoCaption in a link in our
blog.

So if you want more information or you wanna
check them out, click on it and follow the

link to InnoCaption.

If you are a president or a member of a Hearing
Loss Association group, whether you're still

meeting online or in person, I highly suggest
getting a hold of InnoCaption.

They do great presentation, including troubleshooting.

They did it for our Salt Lake Chapter last
year.

Gosh, has it been a year, maybe.

In a minute, that's all I know.

Anyways, they're great with that, and, I know
even for Salt Lake, there were two or three

people that immediately went out and got InnoCaption
apps after they showed them how they work,

and the differences, and they've been really
excited to have it.

We appreciate you as always for joining us.

Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel,
and like us, and forward, and all of that

stuff on our social media.

Send your hearing family to our podcast stations.

I believe next week we're gonna talk to you
about State Services, and so we'll have some

insights there and some issues we maybe hope
you can help us advocate I think, when we

get done with that blog.

Again, thank you for joining.

Thank you, Cristina for presenting with us
today, great to hear from InnoCaption.

Have a great week everyone.