Ratchet up the bravery setting

One of the best things I’ve read about deafness recently is on the SayWhatClub website.  Michele Linder and Chelle Wyatt (Michele and Chelle) write posts about lip reading but, as they rightly point out, you can’t lip read unless people are looking at you, speaking at a reasonable speed, standing in a good light (and so on) and THAT doesn’t happen, more often than not, unless we take charge of the situation and ask for what we need.  So their latest post is less about the mechanics of lip reading and more about how comfortable we are (or are not) with our hearing loss and making other people aware of it.

That’s a big topic.  Continue reading

Text 999 (and other stuff about phones)

Copyright: Krisdog / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: Krisdog / 123RF Stock Photo

Are you signed up to text 999 (in the UK)?  I wasn’t until very recently but I am now.  It’s very simple to do (follow the instructions on www.emergencysms.org.uk) and is designed so that people with hearing difficulties or speech problems can easily get help in an emergency.  Once signed up, you can send a text to 999 with the information you would give on the telephone (what the problem is, where exactly it is happening and which service you need).  The emergency services then text you back within two or three minutes.  That’s slower than ringing them but if you can’t make a call it could be a lifesaver.  Continue reading

The power of doing small things

Copyright: indomercy / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: indomercy / 123RF Stock Photo

A few weeks ago I received a letter from my credit card company.  They were very happy with how I was managing my account, the letter said, but they were reducing my credit limit.  They didn’t say why.  If I wanted to keep my existing limit (I did) that was fine, it was my decision.  Just ring the call centre on……….

AARGH!!!!!!!

The letter didn’t include an address to write to……

DOUBLE AARGH!!!!!

I am so sick of this.

However, my new strategy kicked in.  Continue reading

“If you have a question please phone our customer service hotline” – or not.

Copyright: yayayoy / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: yayayoy / 123RF Stock Photo

Alex Orlov recently wrote a post for the Limping Chicken in which he bemoaned the total inability of a variety of companies to respond to his requests to text him rather than phone him.  The Tesco delivery driver, IKEA, BT, BUPA, the Halifax – they all ignored his explanations that he couldn’t hear on the phone and proceeded to ring him anyway.  You can read his post here.

I so sympathise.  I don’t personally ask companies to text me because our house is off the map for mobile phones.  You can usually get a signal if you go to the top floor and stand near the window, holding your phone at ceiling height but – strangely enough – I don’t stand there all day just in case someone sends a message.  If a company wants a mobile number for text messages I pretend I don’t have one.

What drives ME to distraction is the very similar problem of companies insisting that you telephone their call centre if you have a problem. Continue reading

Ring Ring

 

Not being able to hear on the telephone has been gradually eating away at my confidence for a couple of years now, ever since my hearing declined from missing the odd word on the phone to missing most of them.  My worst experience was realising that a close family friend was telling me that someone had died but not being able to understand who.  It was his wife.  So I don’t answer the phone and I don’t make phone calls.  My lovely husband fields things for me but it’s still pretty humiliating.  And no, that’s not too strong a word.  Not being able to make a phone call is not the “me” I’m used to being.

But there has been a miracle, in the form of the Next Generation Text Service (NGTS).  “Wozzat?” you say, and indeed none of my deaf or hard of hearing friends had heard of it.  Essentially it is a specialist switchboard service, where the operators listen in to your conversation, and type what the person at the other end is saying so that you can read it on your computer, tablet or smart phone.  It is provided by BT and it is free.

I found the whole concept a bit mystifying to begin with.  How would my husband get calls, or make calls, if our telephone was linked to this service?  Would we need two telephones?  The Hearing Link Helpdesk came to my rescue, with a clear, detailed and incredibly rapid answer to my baffled questions.  (Even better, the answer came from someone with a similar level of hearing loss so I immediately felt confident she knew exactly what I meant).  And of course you don’t need two phones.  There is a prefix (18001 for outgoing calls, 18002 for incoming) which you just link to your normal number.

So I used the NGTS app to link our phone to the service (which took a couple of tries but wasn’t too difficult) and had a go.  Friends, it works.  You open the app on your iPad (or other tablet, or smart phone if you have one, or computer), dial the prefix, dial the number you want to call and words start appearing in front of you.  “Ring ring”, it says.  “Ring ring”.  Then “the call has been answered” then “Hello, Bill Bloggs here GA” and, knowing that Bill is there you GA (go ahead) and say…..well, say whatever you want to say.  Just typing it is making me smile.  It really works.

It is clunky compared to a normal conversation, because of the delay whilst the operator types what the other person is saying.  So with friends I am still mainly using e mail to communicate.  But it can be very useful when I’ve needed an answer to something more quickly than I could guarantee an e mail response.

The first time I used NGTS was when I needed to pick up some new glasses from the optician.  They had said they would be ready on a particular Sunday but, on the day, I was starting to think maybe I should wait a few days in case they hadn’t arrived.  Then I remembered “I can ring them”.  So I did, the new glasses were ready and I drove into town with a smile on my face.  It sounds ridiculous, but you become so used to not communicating that it feels really liberating when you can.  Previously I would either have risked going into town knowing that it might be a wasted journey, or waited a few days to be sure.

On other occasions I’ve used the service to make appointments.  I had abandoned the telephone on these occasions because I would sometimes mis-hear what the appointment was and turn up at the wrong time.  Or else spend embarrassing ages on the phone saying “so the appointment is for 10am on Monday….have I heard you correctly?” and then not be sure what they had said in reply.  Now I’m confident again and have won back some independence.  I’ve even managed to sort out a tricky problem with my pet insurer’s call centre.  Eureka.

So I cannot tell you how delighted I am with NGTS.  I tell all my friends with hearing problems about it (and indeed all my friends who haven’t got hearing problems………).

 

Image copyright:  damedeeso©123RF.com