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Cochlear Implants, hearing loss and more! I carry an interesting perspective: someone who had normal hearing growing up, lost it all slowly as an adult, then regained it with cochlear implants. So I'm deaf, but I can hear - a true miracle. If you'd like to know more about me and my bilateral cochlear implant experiences right away, my two books have a wealth of information - see the links below. Check out the list of upcoming events too - perhaps one day we'll get to meet!


Monday, June 27, 2011

TV Interview Now on YouTube!

It's finally here -  the LTV East Hampton television talk show program, ACCESS with Richard Rosenthal is now on YouTube!
Part 1 (Parts 2-6 below)

This interview is groundbreaking and unique because Richard Rosenthal has a hearing loss, so he zones in on the real issues and important perspectives about hearing loss.  I met Richard about 25 years ago at an event at the League for the Hard of Hearing (now called the Center for Hearing and Communication), and we had much to talk about, as both of us were interested and dedicated to advocacy for people with hearing loss.  Our paths diverged over the years, but we finally connected once again when Richard saw the promotional materials for my second book, Listening Closely.  He found me on Facebook, "friended" me (pretty impressive for an octogenarian!) - and invited me to appear on his program.  That was an offer I couldn't refuse, and we did a day trip out to East Hampton from New Jersey. 

A big thanks to Richard and LTV East Hampton for allowing the two half-hour programs to be uploaded to YouTube so that even those not in the LTV broadcast area can watch these programs.  Richard won the prestigious Alliance for Community Media award in 2010 for the quality of the work on his ACCESS program.

You'll notice that Richard uses headphones and a person FM system (transmitter w/microphone and headphones w/receiver) to communicate. That delivers the sound directly to his ears, and works well for him, as you see in the interview.

You'll also notice that these video segments are captioned.  Just click on the CC button to turn the captions on.  The captions should be showing when the CC button is red.  Getting these videos captioned is another interesting story. 

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a lovely young woman, Nari French, from Australia, who had been searching for books for her mother, who is deaf and has bilateral cochlear implants.  She found Listening Closely on Amazon.com and read the author bio, where it mentions my advocacy for open captioning of live theater performances.  It turns out that Nari has her own captioning business, The Captioning Studio, and does open captioning for live theater performances in Australia!  At the same time, we both were connected to a new captioning advocacy group, CCAC -  http://www.ccacaptioning.org/ - whose members are both consumers and captioning providers. (For more info contact:  ccacaptioning@gmail.com )

I posted to the CCAC group that I needed to have these LTV videos captioned, and Nari was the first one to respond, offering to do them pro bono.  She made me an offer I couldn't refuse!   With the cooperation and collaboration of LTV and Richard Rosenthal, these videos are now making their captioned debut on YouTube!

Thanks Richard, everyone at LTV, Nari, CCAC - and everyone else making this happen.  It takes a village!

Arlene Romoff on Access with Richard Rosenthal on LTV
Aired June 2011
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Saturday, June 25, 2011

WICKED captioned at the Kennedy Center

I promised to talk more about the captioned live performance of WICKED at the Kennedy Center - one of the highlights of the HLAA convention held in Crystal City, just outside of Washington DC.  This was also an enormous challenge for the Kennedy Center, as it had to prepare for 600 convention attendees, eager to enjoy the show - with captions!

As I've mentioned, and is noted in my book, "Listening Closely", I've been involved with advocacy for live theater captioning since 1996 (prior to getting my cochlear implants), when we were successful in getting the first open captioned performance at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.  I've also been attending the LEAD arts access conferences, sponsored by the Kennedy Center. Here's the brochure from the 2010 conference - flip to Page 5 to see me using a neckloop and infrared receiver, while trying out a handheld device for museums -

The captioned performance was a sight to behold - as the show's stage set and the theater itself are grand and impressive.  There were LED signs on either side of the stage, and 5 more hung from the balcony so that people in the rear orchestra could also read the captioning.  The theater was looped temporarily for this occasion (so people with t-coils on their hearing aids or cochlear implant processors just had to turn them on), in addition to having 600 receivers available for the infrared system.  It was all taken care of so professionally that no one suspected what grandiose preparations had taken place behind the scenes.
According to Betty Siegel, Director of Accessibility at the Kennedy Center, this was like planning for D-Day.  And for David Chu of C2 Caption Coalition, he had the daunting task of coordinating seven LED screens - some with two lines of text and some with three - aside from all the electronics involved.

Betty borrowed LED signs from everyone they knew - George Mason University, Gallaudet University, National Museum of the American Indian, C2, Inc and from as far away as VSA Arizona.  David Chu, C2, Inc. worked his way thru countless technical glitches, and then did an absolutely stellar job with the captioning itself, ensuring that the timing and scrolling was precise on all 7 signs (so good that two hardened stage hands were overheard to say it was "amazing" and the best they'd ever seen). And, of course, there were support staff collecting the signs, coordinating with the production office, dealing with tickets, and so much more.

So when the final curtain fell to a standing ovation, it all looked as though they do this kind of thing all the time.  Well, yes - they do open captioned performances all the time - but to pull this off without a glitch for 600 people - this is one for the Guinness Book of Records!  Memorable and wonderful!

Bravo to all who made this happen - allowing 600 people with hearing loss to attend an incredible show "with dignity."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

HLAA Convention 2011

I just returned from the Hearing Loss Association of America - HLAA (www.hearingloss.org) convention, held right outside of Washington DC.  It's my annual rite of passage, having attended this event for over 15 years.  Prior to the advent of cochlear implants, these were very sad but necessary gatherings - since hearing aids were not sufficient remediation for the many attendees with severe to profound hearing loss.  It was a place to lean on each other, and to learn about emerging technologies, assistive equipment, and of course, to forge lasting friendships.  Now with cochlear implants and sophisticated telecommunications technologies, there's a party atmosphere there - "happy" is an understatement!

This year, I was there in two capacities - as New Jersey state association president, and also as author.  I'm pretty seasoned in the state association role, but this new "author" title continues to amaze me - as it is an odyssey in its own right!  It seemed that the hard "author" work - the writing, the editing, the publishing - was just the preliminary.  Now it's all about THE BOOK.

I was very touched that people, who had already purchased and read Listening Closely, brought their copies from home for me to sign.  And others who lined up to have a book signed were eager to tell me their stories.  I hadn't really given a lot of thought to this part of the book journey - but it's a fascinating process, and adventure.  And a whole lot of people asked me what my third book was going to be about.  Good question!

I have more to say about the convention - like the 600 people from the convention who attended the open captioned performance of WICKED at the Kennedy Center - but that will have to wait for the next blog entry.  Stay tuned!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Social networking finds Chick Lit

If you ever wonder what they mean about "social networking," this is a prime example.  I was contacted by a lovely young woman, who saw my book posted on a website, was interested in it, contacted me on Facebook, chatted by email - and ended up interviewing me online about my book, "Listening Closely."  It's a whole new world out there!
Here's the website that has the interview - with thanks to my new friend, Melissa. 


Check out the book giveaway too - if there's still time to participate.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Embracing Technology

I'm admittedly new to blogging, and make no apologies about that.  I have, after all, written and published two books, which is surely a more daunting task.  I can't shake this nagging feeling, though, that the "younger generation" has a smugness that comes from being so comfortable navigating all these social networking tools - whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging - and probably other resources I've never heard of.  I've looked to my own children for advice (which they give freely and lovingly.)  I felt so proud when my daughter tweeted me that "@aromoff you are tweeting quite nicely" - indicating that I'm no longer an embarrassment and must be ready for prime time!  I've even sought the help of a 15-year-old, who gave me the sage advice to just "try all the menus - don't worry about instructions," as he set up the Facebook page for the Hearing Loss Association of New Jersey for us.

But now that I've started to blog, tweet, IM,"Like" and attempted other rituals of this digital age, it dawned on me - WHOA!! (and that term alludes to the command to a horse to stop and is not some secret acronym.)  I come to all this with a wealth of experience, the likes of which the current generation knows little about.  Let me explain - and definitely listen closely!

I'm really a techie - I was a math major in college, and a system's programmer in the early 1970's, troubleshooting and debugging - the programmer's programmer, poring through printouts of computer hexadecimal code (0-9, A-F). I've handled keypunch cards, and seen personal computers that had no display screen, just printed output. I taught my children's classmates to write simple graphic programs in Basic programming language.  So I'm no novice - and I don't shy away from a computer challenge. But there's more.

When I watched the moon landing in July 1969 with my grandmother in her living room, we marveled that her lifetime had spanned the horse & buggy and space eras.  I thought nothing could possibly top that - but I think we just have.  I remember going to a friend's house to see a color TV for the first time, amazed that the NBC peacock wasn't just shades of gray. All those hours learning "touch typing" in 7th grade on a "business model" Royal typerwriter, only to need those same skills now using "all thumbs" (an expression which had a decidedly different meaning then.) And "throwing the carriage" had nothing to do with strollers. I know about slide rules, too (look that up if you think it refers to baseball maneuvers) - I guess every generation has its own geek gear.  No MP3 players then, just records   (78, 45, 33 1/3) - giving way to tapes, hi-fi, stereo, transistor radios. Calculators came next, with the fanciest having "memory."  And I navigated all of this technology, of course, hearing the lo-tech way, with regular ears (for better and worse) - my original equipment.  Now they're bionic!

How can you TRULY appreciate the tech boom we're experiencing now if you don't know what came before? There's no substitute for having BEEN THERE.  It is my pleasure to supply that perspective.