Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Deaf Girly & Twitter

This morning, I was frustrated because the programme on Rugby and head injuries I'd downloaded onto iPlayer iPad app to watch on the way to work didn't have subtitles. I was frustrated because this hardly ever happens anymore. Especially not on iPlayer.

This year, I've been frustrated that the subtitles didn't work when I visited Odeon. It was annoying. I ate plastic cheese – that was horrendous.

But what I have to remember is that things have changed.

They really have.

When I look back at my early blogs – I can't believe I've been writing Deafinitely Girly's ramblings for more than eight years now – so many of my posts were full-on rants about how many things were inaccessible to me in London.

If I went to see a subtitled movie it was a massive event. It normally didn't work. This year, I have successfully watched four subtitled films at the cinema. Things have changed.

Other blogs I wrote were about my difficulty in contacting customer services for companies. Anything from British Gas and O2 to car insurance and doctor's surgeries.

But things have changed. And the thing that's changed it the most for me personally is Twitter.

Now, I don't even consider calling a company if I have a question, a problem or something I want help with. No longer do I struggle with the automated options, the beeps, the strong accents and the fact that I am a deaf person trying to make a phone call.

Nope. In the last two years alone, I have sorted out my phone via the @O2 Twitter peeps, sorted out a meter problem via @BritishGasHelp and got @TheAA_UK to email me about something when I couldn't find how to contact them by email on their website.

Yesterday, I had a text from DPD to let me know they were going to deliver a parcel to my flat. The postcode was wrong. I was at work. Online, I could alter the delivery so that I could pick it up at the DPD depot, but I still had a lot of questions, such as 'Would they hand it over if I didn't have documentation with that postcode on?' and 'Had I changed the day correctly online?'

Forgetting about the power of Twitter for a moment, I lifted the phone (I know!! Why do I even bother?) and got trapped in an automated recorded message with loads of options and no way of hearing them. And then I remembered Twitter. And Tweeted @DPD_UK. They got straight back to me. They followed me and continued the conversation over direct message. And by the end of the day it was sorted. Just like that. No tears of frustration. No roping poor, unsuspecting – but never complaining – friends and colleagues to sort it out for me.

'This must be what it's like for hearing people when they call up customer services,' I thought. But do you know what, I think I'm luckier. I don't have to go through a million options on the phone before getting to a real person. Real people are on Twitter for these companies and more than happy to help me... and most likely anyone else who Tweets them.

Twitter has totally changed how I interact with companies for the better. So many of the struggles I used to blog about are disappearing little by little, year by year.

Amazing huh?

There is however just one final thing I want to fix. And that is having a GP surgery where I can make appointments online. So I don't have to get someone else to make an appointment for that embarrassing problem (NOT THAT I HAVE ONE BY THE WAY) and so that I can finally take control of most aspects of my life.

So yesterday, I trawled through all the GP surgeries in my area until I found one that I could make online appointments with. And I'm going to join it. I am ridiculously excited about this.

Sure, there's still things that could be improved, and I'm sure I'll rant about them at some point, but today, I'm quite happy to say that from Deafinitely Girly's point of view, things are changing. It's not so hard anymore.

Have a lovely day peeps

DG
x






Friday, 25 September 2015

Deaf Girly works out

So I've blogged about it before, but I am a bit of a fan of the subtitled workouts you can download from iTunes. I have a couple now – a Pilates one where the woman says 'Good job' so many times, I actually want to throw her and my laptop out the window, a dance one that I am completely and utterly useless at, and a HIT one, which I think is brilliant.

 The thing I love most about a HIT (high intensity) workout is that you have to work hard, but the end is in sight at all times. So recently, before settling down to work from home, I've been doing one of the four workouts that are included in the download.

 But there is just one thing that frustrates me, and it's not my hearing – for once – it's my eyesight. As my Pa once said, when everyone else was queuing up for the good hearing and vision qualities, I was making a beeline for the 'good taste in handbags' one and missed the senses boat. So not only am I deaf, but I am also incredibly short sighted – as in 'glasses slipping down the nose from the weight of the lenses' short sighted.

 Without my glasses or hearing aids, I am literally helpless – as I once discovered while camping in the middle of a French forest when I went to the toilet (in the great outdoors) but forgot to put my glasses on, turned my head torch off for privacy and ended up unable to work out where the hell the campsite was anymore. I had to stand there and shout until someone came to my rescue and guided me back.

 I KNOW!

 Anyway, so because I do the HIT workouts before my morning shower, it means that I don't yet have my contact lenses in and this means doing a workout in my glasses, which when you're doing press ups and burpees and trying to read the subtitles from all manner of angles, is not very productive. I kept missing what the instructor was saying, my glasses kept falling off and it really wasn't working. 

But then I remembered I recently invested in some prescription swimming goggles – quite a life changing addition to my swimming technique as I no longer do granny breaststroke with my glasses on – so I quickly got them out of my gym bag and popped them on. And do you know what? They kind of worked.

OK, so I was sweating so much my eyeballs felt like I'd popped them in a sauna, and my hair got a little matted, but I could read the subtitles mid press up, burpee and whatever else she was yelling at me to do.

 But a quick glance at my reflection confirmed that I looked like a complete nutcase, working out in prescription swimming goggles... so if there's some magical solution I haven't heard of, please do let me know.

 Have a fab weekend peeps

 DG x

Friday, 18 September 2015

Deaf Girly's volume control

One of the things I most hate about my deafness is the times that I lose my volume control. When I'm yelling and don't realise it.

This usually happens on public transport – perhaps because my good lower frequency hearing means to me it's very noisy so I shout over it, or perhaps because my deafness is hell bent on humiliating me in front of a sea of strangers who, being Londoners, don't do talking on public transport except in extreme circumstances.

As a result of this, I tend to whisper on public transport and when I slip up, hope that whoever I am with – usual FJM – lets me know that I am YELLING AND EVERYONE CAN HEAR ME.

So anyway, last night I went to the gym and as always before I left home I took out my hearing aids. I like to watch iPlayer on my phone with subtitles and headphones to support them. It's an ace way to spend an hour on the bike or cross trainer.

FJM joined me and on the way home in the car I was telling him about something and he started to laugh...

Wondering what was funny, I noticed his hand was on the volume control for the car radio – he'd been trying to turn my volume down...

*blushes bright red*

Apparently I was yelling so loudly (I do this when I am not wearing my hearing aids as I don't 'hear' my voice in my head as clearly), and he'd had quite and early start and busy day at work, that he went into autopilot and reached for the radio controls in the car.

But it got me thinking, a volume control for me would be amazing. To alter my voice to makes sure it matches the background noise that hearing people hear. So that I don't shout on public transport, whisper in crowd situations and yell when I'm not wearing my hearing aids.

I guess with my hearing, I am lucky enough to have that volume control. I mean hearing people can only reach for ear plugs to make things quieter. Whereas I have loads of choices. If I want 2D sound with no high or middle frequencies to speak of, I can take out my hearing aids. If I want 3D sound I can wear my hearing aids with Sound Recover on. If I want less sound, I can turn them down. Less 3D, I can turn Sound Recover off, more amplification – there's the T-loop setting and my portable loop.

I don't think I'd ever really appreciated all the options open to me hearing wise. OK, so it's not perfect hearing and I can't ever switch my hearing to 'Hear a podcast' setting, but it's really nice to have options.

Luckily last night, while FJM didn't have the option to turn my volume down using a control, he could just tell me to stop yelling, after we'd both stopped laughing our heads off that is. And that makes today a very Thankful Friday.

Happy Friday peeps.

DG
x

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Thursday, 3 September 2015

Deafinitely Girly and Prom number 63

Yesterday, I told someone at work that I was going to a Prom and the first thing he thought was that this was a high school prom involving big dresses, limousines and layers and layers of fake tan. And, while I was flattered he thought I was the Dougie Howser of the workplace and merely masquerading as a 34-year-old woman who was actually still at school, I was relieved that I was actually off to a musical Prom.

I'd chosen this Prom because I thought that FJM might like it. It had a guaranteed easy-listening hit of a Mozart Piano Concerto (No 27 in B flat major) smack bang in the middle of Messiaen's Hymne and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major. And he did like it.

I did, too. Thanks mostly to the seats I chose.

If there's one thing I've learnt from going to the Albert Hall it's that I sometimes 'lose' the sound. But with seats in the choir – facing the rest of the audience and, most crucially, overlooking the orchestra, I was able to read the conductor, which helped me work out who was playing when and of course what tempo, and most importantly during the piano piece, 'hand read' the pianist – a very wonderful and enthusiastic Igor Levit, who did an encore, before the interval. Brilliant eh?

After my previous experience with Messiaen I was pretty sure that Hymne would be 12 minutes of largely unintelligible sound, and it kind of was. The high strings were totally out of my frequency. But this meant I was able to play around with my hearing aids and see which settings helped, and which didn't.

My Phonax Naxos hearing aids have Sound Recover, which moves the frequencies I cannot hear into a frequency I can. In the Sound Recover setting, I could hear quite a bit more, but it sounded even more discordant that I think perhaps Messiaen himself intended. Without Sound Recover, I lost the entire string section save for the cellos and bass. And then I decided to take my hearing aids out. After all, until three years ago, I attended all classical music concerts without my hearing aids.

I will never do this again. Without my hearing aids, it was almost entirely silent. The difference was so marked, I frantically searched the orchestra and watched the conductor in the vain hope there was just a really long rest in the music. But they were all moving.

'Do not cry,' I told my frustrated (and a little bit devastated) self. And so I, totally didn't, hold it together until the Mozart.

And if the Messiaen had me crying tears of frustration, the Mozart had me weeping tears of joy – yep, I was the crying blonde girl in the choir yesterday if you were there. As the strings started and the piano began, although I knew there were lots of notes quite simply not reaching my ears, there was enough that I could imagine the complete score. I could recognise the comforting phrasing and lilting melodies I grew up listening to before I got really deaf.

And I could follow Igor Levit's hands on the piano and see what he was playing.

I was happy again.

And then came the Bruckner with its low bass notes and emotional second movement. And I absolutely didn't weep my way through this either. Nope. That was definitely not me snivelling between FJM and the rather bemused old chat next to me.

Standing up to cheer my head off – probably a bit louder and 'Pretty Woman'-like that FJM would have preferred – I realised that I just have to focus on the positives with music. That I can still hear enough to make it enjoyable. That it is still enjoyable. Provided I choose my pieces well. And that means that Messiaen is out...

And Mozart and Bruckner are most definitely in.

*beams

Happy Thursday peeps

DGx


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