Wednesday 13 January 2016

Things Deaf Girly can't hear

So, last week I wrote a blog post about things I can't hear, which the launched a discussion on Twitter about all the things that made a noise that I couldn't hear and that others couldn't hear.

It was a revelation! So many things beep, whistle and chime that I never knew about before. Things like contactless payments in shops and Oyster barriers. The latter was my absolute favourite discovery. The fact that if there's no money on your Oyster, the barrier beeps more angrily rather than just beeping you through.

Since I went a lot deafer in my teens, I've retained a kind of audio memory bank, so that when I know a noise is happening, I can imagine it. I use this a lot when listening to familiar classical music that I once heard more of. I simply imagine the violins, flutes, oboes and other such high-frequency instruments and add them along to the bass that I can hear.

This is not always successful with music I don't know though. FJM remarked the other day that I will often sing a completely different tune to what is playing on the TV, but that works perfectly with the bass – I kind of do an accidental vocal mash up on TV theme tunes.

This also translates weirdly across lots of music. I will often think that two completely different songs sound alike because of their similar bass or beat. It's like my head is a DJ mixing desk – a deaf one, that can't sing in tune and that isn't privy to about two thirds of useful sound.

So anyway, like I was saying, I've got quite good at imagining sound – so now that I know that Oyster card barriers beep when you pass through them, I've started imagining it in my head. And when my card didn't work and I barged through the barrier without realising the other day, much to the embarrassment of FJM, I imagined an indignant beep.

This morning however, I was reminded that there is just some things that you cannot imagine. Such as an announcement on my bus that I couldn't hear. I tried to work out if the bus driver was telling people to move down inside the bus, or not stand on the top deck, but none of the sounds sounded familiar.

'Oh well,' I thought, 'No one is running from the bus screaming so it can't be that urgent. What's the worst that can happen?' and settled back into reading FJM's Economist that I nicked for my journey this morning – it's very interesting and nice change from my terrible guilty pleasure that is The Daily Mail. Ten minutes later I looked up from an article about North Korea and realised that the worst that could happen was that the bus driver was announcing a diversion and driving in completely the wrong direction to the one that I needed.

But what I don't understand is why the driver didn't press the computerised announcement for this that sets of the scrolling subtitles. I know there's one that goes 'This bus is on diversion, please listen for further announcements' because I've read it hundreds of times. If he'd just put it on this morning, I wouldn't have been the crazy woman running in heels, bobble hat bobbing to get to her desk on time.

I did however cheer myself up on arrival to work by imagining the lift pinging as it arrived on the ground floor and pinging again as it deposited me on the right floor.

So thank you for getting involved and letting me know all about the things that make a sound.

It's made my week.


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