Category Archives: red wine

Next Generation Text Service – hello is anyone there?

I don’t consider myself a Luddite when it comes to new technology but the New NGTS app is proving to be a real challenge.  This new service is for people who can’t hear on the phone – relay assistants are connected into the call and can type what the other person is saying so you can read it on your phone/tablet/laptop/PC – you need never miss a conversation again, how amazing!  You can download the NGTS app to your Smartphone so you can make and receive calls anywhere (as long as you’re connected to the internet).

It sounds like the answer to my prayers in terms of finally being able to communicate using a mobile phone again but at the moment it’s a case of balancing my very high expectations against my limited technical ability, never a walk in the park!  I’ve never used a text relay service before so am still learning about how it all works.  I also have lots of questions which the site doesn’t answer so have just whizzed off an email to their helpdesk to ask for support – oh joy of joys, I can expect an answer in up to 5 days!  Just as well it wasn’t urgent!  Apparently there are quite a few teething problems and there’s a lot of chatter on Facebook about it so at least I’m encouraged by the fact that I’m not the only one.

As much as I relish the thought of being able to use these new apps to make life simpler, I can’t help feeling sympathy for people for whom the internet, apps and software downloads are an unfamiliar and challenging world.  My Mum, for example, doesn’t use (or want to use) a computer which means that life and communication becomes very difficult – finding out what’s on at the cinema, getting quotes for new insurance, finding out when the next bus is due.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but not for everyone.


Laugh? I could cry!

I’m really getting my head around this new Soundz Off WordPress blog now – it’s actually quite easy once you know what you’re doing – so my next technical challenge is to get this new blog to appear on the Soundz Off website rather than the old blog that was there before.  I can honestly say that having hearing loss has forced me to learn more about new technology than anything else would ever have done, including learning about:- hearing loops in public places including teaching supermarket and hotel staff what loop systems are and how they work; trying out personal listeners; experimenting with dozens of different types of phones for hard-of-hearing people; how to link streamers to televisions; ipods and TVs; how to link iPods to my personal loop so I can listen to music on aeroplanes without being deafened by the sound of the plane engines; writing blogs and linking them to websites; linking websites to Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages and Twitter; learning how to Tweet (cheep cheep); linking my iPhone to anything and everything wi-fi; the list is endless.  I can honestly say that the majority of people would have given up and gone home by now.  Sometimes I feel like screaming (or crying!).

I guess it’s all fuelled by my absolute determination not to let hearing loss get the better of me or hold me back from doing anything I would have done before.  So to all you folks out there who think you’re having a bad day??? You have no idea!  Laugh? I could cry 🙁


Next Generation Text Relay Service – my ass!

One of things I find particularly ironic (and blood-boilingly irritating!) is when new services which are supposed to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing fail to take into account the fact that we’re DEAF OR HARD-OF-HEARING!!!!  Here’s a perfect example, take the recently re-launched Next Generation Text Relay Service which allows deaf people to call some-one on a phone.  Yippee – I jump up and down with excitement at the thought of being able to ‘hear’ all my phone conversations perfectly again! When it’s all working properly a remote operator listens to the replies (from the person called) and then types the responses so they appear on your PC or tablet and you can read (rather than listen to) what they are saying.  Brilliant idea – sounds good so far yes?

Wrong!  I’ve just spent half an hour reading through all the instructions, downloaded the app, tried it out and, guess what?  No joy.  If it all went to plan then your phone links automatically to the service and you are now in contact with the world.  Brilliant, hooray….. but NO!  You have to ring a special number to connect your phone to the NGTR service.  Sounds great, I’m getting excited, almost there, but ….. what do you get? A recorded message saying …… what?  I DON’T KNOW, I’M DEAF OR HARD-OF-HEARING!!  How are you supposed to work out how to fix it if you can’t hear what’s it’s saying?  It’s amazing there isn’t an iPhone-shaped indentation in the wall from being chucked across the room in sheer frustration!!

As usual, it’s up to me to sort it out myself.  How will I do this? By roping in my long-suffering husband to sort out my IT technical challenges or by chatting to others in the same situation (and experiencing the same frustrations) on deaf and hard-of-hearing forums.  So much for equal access to services!!  It makes me want to spit tacks!

equality my ass


What you think is what you feel

One of the things that really strikes me about the world of hearing loss is that there are so many other people out there in the same situation. Not only that, our shared experiences and access to modern technology can now bring us closer together with people we may never even meet!  I started Soundz Off after many years of frustration at not being able to find the information to help manage my own hearing loss.

A few months ago I started chatting to a lady, Tabitha, on a Facebook site and we not only enjoyed ‘virtual chatting’ but we also brainstormed the type of things we thought a site like Soundz Off should include.  The result has been a new lease of life for me – creating Soundz Off has made me feel empowered to actually do something about it, to create new links with people and organisations across the world.

I’m now getting messages from people and organisations worldwide asking if I can promote their products and services – I’m happy to do that because it makes life easier for others who are less technologically-minded or able to find that information for themselves.  It’s a privilege to be able to share thoughts and ideas with like-minded people and to spread the message far and wide about our joint efforts to overcome the barriers of hearing loss.  Not only that, together we can reach wider audiences and shout louder about all the wonderful advances in technology to make our lives easier.

As a Coach I always remind myself how every action I take moves me closer to my chosen destination – I turn anxiety into anticipation, I turn fear into energy/excitement, I turn worry into action.  As I always say: take a chance … because you never know how perfect something may turn out 🙂

what you think is what you feel

The age of new technology blows my mind!

Once you start delving into the world of hearing loss you discover there are some amazing companies out there doing wonderful things to support deaf and hard-of-hearing people.  Most of them were started by people who are either deaf themselves or who have hearing loss in their families – this gives them a unique insight into the communication barriers and problems we face on a daily basis.

121 Captions is a great example of a company getting OUT THERE and making a real difference in the lives of others.  Using the latest technology, 121Captions provides accurate live captions (within 3 seconds) of the spoken word (in 15 languages!) in meetings, conferences, phone calls, lessons, lectures – you name it, they caption it!  It’s not only useful for anyone who finds it hard to hear properly but also for people who need translation into another language.  In addition they provide specialist communication support such as lip-speakers and sign language interpreters as well as lip readers in court to help translate CCTV footage.  Amazing career options we were never told about at school!

121 Captions also does fun translations for the media – for example, lip-reading footballers at the World Cup (even though most of us could work out the swear words ourselves lol!) Quite often I suppose these companies start because somebody is passionate about overcoming barriers that they’ve experienced themselves … and overcoming something they thought they couldn’t ever do.

As a coach I’ve always been fascinated about why some people succeed and others fail, even if they face the same difficulties in the same circumstances.  A favourite phrase of mine is : “What you think is how you feel” and it’s never been more relevant then when you have hearing loss – if you think everything’s hopeless, then it probably is.  If you think “I’m going to overcome this” then you usually do!  121 Captions kindly invited me to write a blog for their website and what goes on in our heads sounds like the perfect topic!  Read it here:

121 captions

Hey gorgeous! You with the hearing aids!

I’ve often wondered what it is about hearing loss that makes so many people ashamed and want to hide their hearing aids.  Are walking sticks objects of derision? Are wheelchairs ugly? Are false limbs funny?  NO! So what is it about hearing aids that makes people want to cover them up?

Perhaps it’s the long outdated association of hearing aids as big, flesh-coloured, pink, plastic objects worn behind the ears of ‘old people’.  Well folks, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! You constantly see people listening to music with ear-buds in their ears while celebrities and famous people wear coloured ear buds on TV and Youtube all the time – it’s finally become ‘normal’ to see people with some kind of widget in their ears and nobody blinks an eye.  This has hugely reduced the stigma of wearing hearing aids and there are some amazing hearing aid designs out there now.  There’s also a huge range of colours for hearing aids and cochlear implants such as blue, pink, red, orange, neon, silver, tiger-eye – and some very creative folk making all kinds of accessories and jewellery to bling them up.

Did you know you can decorate your hearing aids with nail foils and crystals, get hearing aid jewellery charms, glitter moulds, coloured tubing, hearing aid scrunchies and tube twists?  Have you ever thought about pimping your hearing aids to match your outfit or wearing Hearrings to express your individuality in the same way that people wear fashionable spectacles?  It’s particularly encouraging for children and teenagers who, instead of being bullied for being different, are now being envied by other kids who want to know where they can get these hearing aid charms from – Disney characters, princesses, spacemen, cats, dragons, Superman … you name it, there’s a charm for it!  Hearing aids are finally – HALLELUJAH! – joining the modern fashion world and coming into prominence in a way that’s never been seen before.

The rise in popularity of ear cuffs is also driving the idea that a hearing aid can be a thing of beauty rather than something to hide – the photo on the left is a great example: how sexy and elegant is that!?! From my own point of view, it’s pictures like this that make me realise that I don’t have to hide my hearing aids any more either … in fact, as a self-confessed jewellery addict, the only question is: where can I get me one of these!!!

earrings fur coat

Are you strong enough to ask for help?

Have you heard of the 151 rule? Apparently it takes 7-9 times for us to actually notice a message via direct mail and up to 56 times to notice an advertising message (apparently most of us distrust adverts … no surprises there then!).  Surprisingly, it takes 151 times for us to hear something over and over again before the message actually sinks in and you do something about it.

That perfectly describes my journey to today when I’ve finally signed up for a programme of rehabilitation workshops run by Hearing Link.  I’ve seen it advertised but ignored it, read it and done nothing about it, thought about it but taken it no further, even tried to deny I need that kind of support, generally staring at myself in the mirror and thinking: “nope, that’s for people who REALLY need help.”  But lately I’ve been thinking differently.  Somehow those 151 messages have finally got through and I’ve been asking myself: “What are you doing?  Why deny yourself this kind of support when you know you need it?”

So I’ve mentally girded my loins and sent off my application to join a group of people who’ve accepted they need specialist support to help deal with life after hearing loss.  I know a lot about hearing loss, I’ve even started up this website to shout about all the things that can help people with hearing loss, but sometimes you just need somebody to talk to … someone going through the same process as you, someone further down the recovery road than you are.  It’s like a series of mental hurdles that you have to jump over, one at a time, as you run the race of life with hearing loss in a hearing world.  As a coach I spend a lot of time helping other people overcome barriers that hold them back.  Well today, I’m going to help myself get over some of those barriers and I feel so much better for it.  They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get tougher.  Well that describes it perfectly … and chocolate and red wine also help!

be strong enough

New friends and hearing loss

Every day brings something new and I’m learning all the time.  I just found out that Action on Hearing Loss will be writing a really positive review of Soundz Off in their magazine which is brilliant news – made my day!  I’ve also made a new friend – Jean – at Action on Hearing Loss who provided a link to a wonderful blog she’s written about life with hearing loss – well worth a read.  There are so many of us all in the same struggle to live life to the full when you can’t hear everything going on around you.  I guess part of winning the battle is not to let the b***ards get you down and to join together to share our triumphs and successes (not just bemoaning our lot).  As a wellbeing coach, I spend a lot of time supporting other people as they fight to overcome problems in their life – such as unemployment, redundancy, relationship breakdown, managing difficult people, health issues – so it’s very useful to have a lot of positive affirmations I can use to support my own emotional and mental wellbeing.  “You get what you focus on” so far better to focus on the positives and to enjoy the good things in life rather than letting life grind you down.  Life is what you make it – what will you make of yours?


Elton John warms the cockles of your heart!

Hearing loss involves a constant litany of struggles against ignorance, unequal treatment and downright discrimination – the battles we all fight on a daily basis sometimes just get you down.  HOWEVER!  You never know what you’re going to find when you start looking around to see who else is involved in the world of hearing loss and I’m constantly delighted by all the positive work being done around the world to help others with hearing loss, even if you never seem to hear anything about it.

A recent article in the Daily Mail about a deaf woman with a hearing dog was cute … so far, nothing new.  However, the hearing dog is blind – so he acts as her ears while she acts as his eyes for him in return!  How lovely is that?

Or have you read that wonderful article about Elton John and his husband, John Furnish, who support The Starkey Foundation to provide hearing aids to deaf children in the third world, helping them to hear for the first time.

These stories really do warm the cockles of my heart!

Starkey Hearing Foundation