Hello, anyone home?

Welcome to Hearing Wellbeing where we look at the lighter side of 50 million people saying ‘What? Huh? Excuse Me’.

Have you ever been looking at the sun whilst talking to someone?  They move to block it and suddenly you don’t know what they’re talking about.   It’s because their faces are in shadow and you can’t see what they’re thinking.  Add a hearing issue and it’s a nightmare because you are used to focussing on facial expression and body language to work out what is happening.  It’s usual to panic!

With ordinary hearing you lean forward to hear better.  With a hearing issue, you can lean forward  instinctively or out of politeness yet it’ll make little difference.  Why’s that?  No worries; there are lots of ways to sort it out.  Here’s one.

Make your life easy by having people stand where you can see their faces.  If you can’t make the person move and let’s face it, people don’t like it 😉 here’s an experiment to try.  Move around so that your head is blocking the sun.  Slowly, or they’ll get scared and run away!  See the person frown and concentrate.  They might even lean forward to hear better.  Talk about what you did and see if there’s any reaction.  They might remember where to stand the next time but it’s unlikely.  The important thing is that you know.

Feedback welcome.  Next blog is about sunglasses.

PS. It’s going to take some time to get the appearance of this blog right as it’s the first one. .  We’re blogging anyway.

Can you see the birdie? Let it merge with the background like your tinnitus.

Steve the tetrapod and his stapes – *‘What we see is governed by what we expect to see’

Professor Jenny A Clack*  studies the dried-out, literally.  Dried out bones and it’s exciting because of what she found.  Like looking for a jigsaw piece, you know it’s there in front of you but you can’t find it amongst the others.   She found digits, loosely described as fingers which previously  had been thought of as a bone broken into three parts.

Using the ‘what if’ principle, what if they were paddles attached to the four limbs? It would explain how he could swim through swamps and move on land.  It was a phenomenal discovery.

Then she found a stapes, a tiny bone in the ear that conducts sound.  It had been overlooked by other palaeontologists, including her boss, who thought it was just part of the dust.  When she looked at it and didn’t understand, she wondered. …

The stapes did not look like the finely tuned ones found in humans.  It was the wrong shape for hearing and wouldn’t be able to filter sound.  Steve couldn’t hear!  Then she thought,

‘What was there to hear?’

There were no animals and no birds at that stage of evolution.   That means there was a time when hearing was not present because it was unnecessary.  Wow!

The onslaught of noise that our ears have to cope with today is enormous.  What if the stapes in human ears can develop a coating or harden and therefore be unable to conduct so much sound?  What if it is a protective mechanism against overloading the brain with information it doesn’t want?  Maybe hard-of-hearing is not a retrograde step. Maybe the process is not a negative at all.  It is evolution and we are at the forefront!

Professor Jenny Clack, who now has stacks of awards in palaeontology, took part in a TV programme from the BBC called ‘Beautiful Minds’.  She said:

‘What we see is governed by what we expect to see’.

Iphone Hearing App. Techies, Geeks And Hearing-Aid Wearers Help Req.

iPhone 2g, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4

iPhone 2g, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (Photo credit: reticulating)

Nice shape Dodge Airies in hearing aid beige. ...

Nice shape Dodge Airies in hearing aid beige. Rare to see a K-car in such good shape these days. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know anyone with a hearing issue who has tried the Iphone hearing app? If yes, can they or you hear clearly with it?

How would we find out how the app. works?  I’m wondering if there is some sort of telecoil on a chip?  Is that sci-fi?   We’re looking for a way of making more hard-of-hearing people able to hear on a mobile.  Amplified mobiles have hearing loop program.

Can we talk about making up a spec. for a manufacturer in the hearing market?   My ideas of sound great, look great would make a manufacturer scream in frustration – way too broad a definition.  We need techies and geeks and people with hearing issues thinking and talking to come up specific ways of making us hear better.

We might even be able to persuade them to have (your name/company name/ group name) and their brand name as a version of the phone.  Anything’s possible right?

Visual and hearing clues for lip-reading

Lip-reading ‘Glass of Ice’

read my lips

read my lips (Photo credit: Reza Vaziri)

Lip-reading ‘Glass of Ice’

Oops,  I realised you might not want to comment, so getting out the answer..  Usually it’ll be mid-week and Saturday.

The reply to ‘Hearing a Glass of Ice’ is that lip-readers don’t understand what’s been said 70% of the time.  Expect that when you are lip-reading anyone.  Don’t get hung up on it, as it is reassuring to know that other people have the same issue.  It came from the biggest UK D/deaf/hearing charity and has to be taken as a story as I don’t know what questions they asked to reach that conclusion; it might be higher than 70%.  Needs more investigation IMHO.     If you are registered as ‘hearing xxx’  with any Sensory Loss Team or often your Doctor,  you can ask for a Lip-speaker to be present in employment interviews, appraisals and hospital appointments.  It costs a lot so you could offer to read what they say off a laptop.

Some people are great at lip-reading and will get it right most of the time.  One guy, deaf from birth, said he couldn’t lip-read at all.  That was partly a confidence issue.  In Manchester, the moment the staff knew he was deaf, they looked straight at him and spoke clearly.  He was delighted!

Angle matters.  A deafened guy said he could lip-read when the person sat at right angles.  Have you tried to speak to someone while you’re doing that?  It’s really difficult.  The old natural action used to be to look at someone when you speak.  Now everyone is too ‘busy but we need it.  You could try lip-reading someone sitting sideways to you.  It’s a good way of observing and giving you a rest!

When you sit directly opposite someone to lip-read, all of their emotions are flung straight at you.   In the US and it’s slowly spreading to Europe, Counsellors are taught to sit slightly sideways to avoid getting all the emotions of their clients.  Look at movies where psychiatrists are.  They sit behind a huge desk or they sit behind a sofa- that would be useless wouldn’t it? 😉  How could you lip-read from behind lol?

There was the kindest, loveliest man once who was so friendly to every person.  He had no hearing from birth yet he never let it stop him and he started off conversations with strangers, always accompanied by that friendly smile.  He had to go into hospital and his daughter said she found a Doctor shouting at him.  He hadn’t come round from an operation because they weren’t using the right stimulus.  Shaker*?  Would that have worked?  Doctors need to know … and they need to be taught.  You’re best placed to tell them.  Well, he was in the hospital for two weeks, having every test imaginable.  No-one knew until he came out that he had been absolutely terrified.  He had no idea what the problem was, what the tests were for, or even if he was better now.   His ‘treatment’ is why the rest of us need to make people with ordinary hearing aware of the issues and how to solve them: different angles of sitting, lip-speaking, shaker and the biggie, kindness.

*Shakers – ring, flash, shake – TBB = to be blogged?

Hearing A Glass of Ice

“Would you like a glass of ice with that?”


“ I got you up to ‘a’”

so I learn forward and ask her to repeat.  Nope, no good, nothing at all.  It’s hopeless, she’s getting impatient and I’m conscious of the next customer beside me.  Then a young guy walks behind her, holds up a glass and says:


“Oh, yes, thanks .”

Such a relief.  He realised that I couldn’t understand and used a combination of visual and hearing clues.  More visual than anything else, but I could make a guess at the word ‘ice’ when he was showing me the glass.  Credit where it’s due, that was in Costa Coffee.

If you have ordinary hearing, say the first sentence in the mirror.  Switch off your voice if you can, otherwise it’s cheating!  Tell me if you can lip-read it without exaggerating your normal speaking.   Tell me if you can understand any of it.  There’s a reason for asking that I shall forget if you don’t reply 😉

Repeat Ad Infinitum And Get Your Just Desserts!

Easter eggs // Ostereier

Easter eggs // Ostereier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My Mum - egg agent

My Mum – egg agent (Photo credit: exfordy)

The fruit jelly with Prosecco  had not set overnight and having decided to make a quick Eve’s pudding instead, I grated the apple, weighed out flour sugar, butter and found we had no eggs.  Drat, round to neighbour, Margaret, who was out.  Dash back inside and ring up Mum.

“Can you bring some eggs?”

“I’ve got eggs.”

“No, some eggs, two, round here?”

Teen is grinning and waving arms around but I ignore him, regrettably.

“What sort of question is that?”

“It’s an egg question.  Is there some problem? If you don’t have any,  I can go next door.”

I do have other neighbours.  Quite what they will think of asking for something so specific, I don’t know.  I begin to imagine the scenario, when my mother says slowly,

“What sort of eggs?”

I’m thinking ‘egg-shaped‘ when I see Teen grinning.  I am just about to hand him the phone, as Mum also has bionic hearing when she says

“Do you mean ordinary?   I thought you meant chocolate eggs!”

It is Easter Sunday.   Needless to say, this joke was repeated around the family. As usual, Teen put the lid on it.

“But Mum you’re always saying that if someone doesn’t understand, you have to say it in a different way.”

I am, I say it, write it and quite obviously when in a panic, forget entirely!

Implant Compulsory For Mobile Phone Users

As part of a global initiative to cut background noise, it is announced today that all mobile phone users must have an implant if they want to talk on their phones  in a public place.

The implant consists of a tiny electrical circuit inserted under the skin above the ear*.  This will connect with the mobile when a call is made.  Sound is conducted through the skull and reportedly feels louder to  the person talking.  They speak  more quietly and reduction in the level of local background noise is noticeable.

Bone-anchored hearing-aids or BAHA are commonly used for people who cannot wear conventional hearing-aids.   Using existing technology means that the implants will be funded under current fiscal budgets.  For further details, please contact the Department for Corporate and Social Responsibility of any mobile phone company.

  • Please note this operation can only be performed by a qualified Audiological Surgeon

Hearing Wellbeing takes no responsibility for any action taken after reading this notice.

Posted at 00.30 hours GMT 1st April 2012

Tranquillity until you see the maverick HOH duck (copyright to Hearing Wellbeing 2012)

Thanking Facebook

Hearing Loop Conversor Pro

Conversor Pro Hearing Loop

‘Captcha’ is every webdeveloper’s nightmare, I’m reliably informed 😉

So thanks to Facebook for inventing the audio ‘captcha‘.  Trying to get into Facebook made frustrated tears well up, but we all have our frustrations, right?

So thanks to Faceboook for highlighting a huge, global problem: the waves of background noise that wash over all of us daily.

The  hearing-assisted can sort it.  What about the poor old ordinary hearing people?

Telephone manufacturers are running for cover.

“There’s a microphone right next to your mouth.” the sales guy said.

Only if your phone is long and fits the gap between your ear and your mouth!  It should.  That’s one way to stop people shouting into their mobiles.  It could also look extremely cool if you don’t mind wearing plastic on your face half the day.  Oops, sounds a bit like wearing a hearing-aid.

A Wrap . This image is copyright to Hearing Wellbeing's blog 2012 and no copying is permitted. Thanks.

No More Signing Back Into Facebook

An example of an unreadable captcha. Created u...

An example of an unreadable captcha. Created using free captcha generation software. Polski: Przykład nieczytelnego CAPTCHA, stworzonego za pomocą darmowego programu . Category:Captcha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forget about signing back into Facebook.

Having problems with working out the new ‘captcha‘ box?  Try the audio … or not.

The audio solution for the ‘captcha’ box picks up the biggest problem of 21st century communication: we cannot hear in background noise!

What a joke.  I couldn’t hear it,  blah blah enough to hear in the background noise.  Women cry, men kick things.  Someone else had to do it.  Try it, tell us if you managed to do it with a hearing issue.

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Cup Final Day!

Pensthorpe - The Wensum Discovery Tour - No En...

Pensthorpe - The Wensum Discovery Tour - No Entry sign (Photo credit: ell brown)

This shot and the one before were taken at a world-famous football club … on Cup Final Day.

Who in their right mind has a Conference at a football club on Cup Final Day? Hearing-Aid Audiologists. They would have missed all the action wouldn’t they?   No chance!  They all took the tour of the club and the grass before the conference started at 9.00 am.  (Great marketing strategy for getting guys to arrive early.)  If there had been a match, the conference would have been deserted!

There’s this door, you see, totally unmarked and I grew up with a Dad who always looks on the other side of all those places with ‘No Entry’ signs and apparently nothing special.

Hearing-aid Audiologists may be the cleverest guys in the world.  There must have been a good chance that this club would be in the final.  I’m ashamed to say that I thought they were all totally disinterested in football, until a supplier jumped at the chance of looking on the other side of the door!!!