Friday, October 29, 2004

Tooning Deaf Ears

How cool is this?

Two of my special areas of interest - cartoon strips and the disabled - intersected on Thursday nite when some most excellent cartoonists (noted for their animal 'toons) came together to fundraise for NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans. Hilary Price of Rhymes with Orange, Mark Parisi of Off the Mark, and the amazing Lennie Peterson, formerly of The Big Picture and now of a gazillion other artistic pursuits, were all there.

Some of you will know that The Big Picture was kind of a weblog in pictures and featured Lennie's cat, Ginger, who died very recently (in real life and in the strip). Lennie stopped the strip after that, but obviously he has not stopped his work on behalf of animals. Go Lennie!

Thanks to Mike for pointing this out to me. Made my day.


Popcorn, politics and profits

Intriguing article in the Globe and Mail about a Human Rights Commision complaint that's been lodged in Ontario to have all theatres equipped with closed-captioning capacity. If successful, it would only apply to Ontario, though.

Interesting - they describe the cost of equipping the theatre with "rear-view captioning" as being $20,000 per theatre. Now, I know how these things work - captions flash on a sort of LED board at the back of the theatre (reversed right-to-left) and patrons look at them in a mirror mounted on their cupholder (so that they appear correctly).

You're telling me an LED screen that can read captions (an existing technology) and a bunch of mirrors on sticks cost $20,000 per theatre?

It's surely another example of technological price-bloat, an area where it seems to me that the deaf and hard of hearing segment of society seem particularly preyed-upon. (You can't tell me that it costs $360 to make a dirt-basic TTY phone. My niece has technology more complex than that in toys costing $24.99.)

Or maybe I'm just paranoid :)

Well, anyway, more power to 'em with their complaint; but two days does seem a bit of a drive just to see the new Peter Jackson flick.


Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Second Life

I am not a fan of celebrities so much as I am a voyeur and critic of them. I don't confuse actors with roles and I don't have much time for spoiled rich folks whinging about their privacy being invaded or the emotional rigours of "becoming" their character while surreptitiously glancing at a watch which costs 10 years' worth of my salary. I am, frankly, too socialist for that. (I gossip about their flaws and foibles, oh yes, bitchily.) Actors, let's face it, are neurotic by nature, often shallow and vain; it goes with the territory. There's nothing wrong with that, but lionizing them as people rather than as performers is pitiful.

I am especially appalled at the guttings of grief that people pour out because someone famous has died. Such grief deserves to be reserved for the people you know and love, not the people you erroneously think you know and love because of the noble character they played in "Revenge: Blood and Glory IV".

But I must say I felt a genuine twinge at the recent death of Christopher Reeve. Not because he played "Superman". Not because he was a handsome man leading a charmed life, struck by tragedy. And not even because he became such a powerful advocate for the cause of spinal injury research. But because, even before he died, he had entered my field of vision as a very real role model of living what I think of as "the second life".

The second life is the life you have to build after something - usually catastrophic - happens to wipe away not only the life you had, but the future you had envisioned for yourself. The death of a spouse or of a child. A serious accident, a serious injury. Blindness, deafness, disability.

Your future was written with reasonable expectation in the sand of your life and a wave just washed up and wiped the slate clean. And you have to start over.

And how you do that defines your second life. Some people are paralyzed - emotionally and figuratively, as well as literally. Some crumble. Some hide. Some give up and accept the image of themselves the world hands them. Cripple. Dependent. Helpless. Welfare case. Victim. And some just do their very best to pick up where they left off and build that second life - with massive detours, to be sure, but with a future and goals and plans.

That's what I admire about Christopher Reeve. He picked himself up and started living again. He was convinced he'd walk in his lifetime and I, for one, would not have been remotely surprised if he had. Pleased, but not surprised. He threw himself into spinal injury research, yes, but he didn't define himself by that work. He defined himself by his personal goals: he was going to move a muscle (and he did). He was going to have sensation again (and he did). He was going to be in an upright position again (and he was). He was going to get off his hated respirator (and he did).

He was going to walk.

It would have been easy to do what he had done before his injury - just "be a celebrity" for the cause of spinal injury research, just smile and try to look good, bask in the public's adulation. And he did some of that. But he did the hard work, too, the rehab, the rebuilding, the stuff that hurts.

He had built a marvelous second life. And it is too pathetic that he died as a result of something as ignoble as a pressure sore at just 52. And that's why it made me sad.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

All rise for the honourable ronniecat...

God, I'm loving this. Guess what I got in the mail yesterday?

A summons for jury duty.


Never been called before in the 21 years I've been on the voter's list. This year, they call me.

Now, the irony is, I am a huge crime and legal buff, and I have always wanted to be on a jury.

I have a mental image of our good friends the Irony Gods, sitting around in their long white robes with their feet on the coffee table having a cup of tea, all trying to think up something to annoy me. One of them says, "Wait a minute! You know all those cheap true-crime paperbacks about notorious trials she buys at second-hand bookstores? I have an idea..."

I kind of balked at the thought of having to stand up in a room in the jury pool and announce that I am as deaf as a fence post, but fortunately there is a form you can send in asking to be declared "ineligible or exempted". Ineligible means that by merit of your occupation (cop, clergyman, etc.) you can't be a juror; exempted means that you're otherwise qualified but can't serve for one of a series of reasons. The pertinent one for me would be: "a person who suffers from a physical, mental or other infirmity that is incompatible with the discharge of the duties of a juror". Or maybe "a person who is unable to understand, speak or read the official language in which the trial is to be conducted". Toss-up. Exemption salad. Anyway, coincidentally I got a copy of my audiogram for my files on Monday so I can photocopy that and send it along with the form. That - a graph which reads flatter than a dead skunk on the 401 - should do it.

Just as well. With my luck the case would turn out to be some snoozer about a loser of a town clerk who embezzled $2500 from the Council coffers.

At least, that's what I will keep telling myself as I cry myself to sleep every night over this lost dream, (SFX: racking sobs)...


Monday, October 25, 2004

O! Canada!

Here, as promised, the ASL version of "O! Canada!" It reads pretty strangely in English. And it is positively beautiful when signed.


Thee Canada Our True Home Country Land-Area
O! Canada! Our home and native land;

We Show Country Respect, True Support-Love
True patriot love in all thy sons command!

Proud We Watch Over Canada, Country Grow-Expand
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

Country True North Strong Free
the true north strong and free;

Their-Thee Canada Country-Land
From far and wide, O Canada

We Cherish-Protect
We stand on guard for thee!

God Look Down Area Protect Continue Beauty Free
God keep our land glorious and free;

Thee Canada Country-Land
O! Canada

We Cherish-Protect
We stand on guard for thee;

Thee Canada Country-Land
O Canada,

We Cherish-Protect
We stand on guard for thee!

Hi, Evaluation Team, look at how... uh... something I am!

So, if you can imagine it, I am already obsessing about the CI evaluation.

The first question was Husband's: the trip will require one overnight stay - should we drive down the night before, or stay down the night after? Hmm. I thought, "I won't sleep the night before anyway... I can doze in the car on the drive... I think I'd rather go in knowing I had a relaxing evening at a local hotel coming up..."

But the questions surrounding the most important audition of my life continue to pile up.

How should we dress? Professionally, to remind them that a) we take this seriously, and b) I am a good, taxpayin' contributin' member of society - for now? Or casually, like people who aren't at work today and aren't all, anal-retentive yuppies, an' stuff?

What about sign language? Do we impress them with our progress and our commitment to "total communication"? Or do we downplay it as a way of reinforcing how much I need the CI to get by?

Do I mention the constant, loud tinnitus? Is that a sign I am ready to 'hear' with a CI? Or is it 'radio interference', which will lessen my chances of 'hearing' clearly with one?

Do I show them how independent and confident I constantly work on being? Or do I emphasize how bereft life without hearing has made me, how much I need to get out of this prison?

Anyone with answers to the above questions is cordially invited to email them to ronniecat at ronniecat dot com ...


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Movie Night in Canada

Hi, everybody,

Just a quick post to say that, yeah, I got the tube "yankered" out yesterday (that's a little in-joke for the folks from rec.arts.comics.strips, heh heh). It really hurt but it was also really fast - Dr. H. pretty much just grabbed that sucker and pulled and twisted. It felt just like a cork coming out. Only with pain :)

I yelled, which I am embarrased by and a bit ashamed of, but I did and it was involuntary and that's that. Then I came home and went straight for a nap, because I am sheerly exhausted now, not as in "What a day! I'm exhausted!" anymore but as in an exhaustion that is manifesting itself physically in headaches, shakiness and trembling, feeling faint and nausea. I went out for a few hours last night to socialize, then we came home to watch "This is Spinal Tap" which is about the best antidote for anything unpleasant that I can think of. Today we did a couple of light errands and I just spent the rest of the day crashed out, and I am feeling better already. Husband is so good about this, he can see, I think, when I am at the end of my rope and he is just there for me and lets me vegitate on the bed watching tv and looks out for me. It's been a very tough week on him, too. (His mom is out of hospital, though, and doing fine, so that's one worry lightened.)

I looked at my stats for this page yesterday and saw that in the last month, we've had visitors from the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Uruguay, Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. (We're very big in the Scandinavian countries for some reason, which I'm guessing is like Gowan being very big in Japan or Modabo being huge in Germany or whatever.) So that's pretty cool. We R International.

At class on Thursday we learned family relationships (mother, father, cousin, nephew, etc.) and, believe it or not, the national anthem. "O Canada" is not translated literally (ASL is not SE or Signed English, so it doesn't necessarily follow English grammar patterns) and on paper it reads like a car accident. But if you are thinking in ASL mode it makes sense, and when you see it performed, it is positively stirring. I'll type in the lyrics in my next post.

Got to go. It's "Movie Night in Canada" (I kid you not: due to the hockey lockout the CBC has poor Ron McLean hosting movies from a hockey rink, God's sake) and I have a flat screen tv, a cold Labatt's Blue and a goose down duvet acessorized with two warm cats upstairs, with my name on all of it.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

People unclear on the concept

Of all the theories about whether Bush was wired during the debates and what "Bush's bump" might be related to - a tiny, near-invisible mic in the ear canal, a molar telephone, or "the place where Dick Cheney attaches the strings", the most ludicrous theory was posted on this website, which suggested a cochlear implant.

At first I assumed that the author was erroneously referring to a tiny ear-canal microphone as a CI, but he even includes a link to a site on CIs.

Somebody is very unclear on the concept - not to mention the wisdom of opening up the President's skull when there are far simpler technologies that would serve the alleged purpose.

It was pretty funny, though, to imagine the adorable urchin on the CI website referenced as being the bearer of a sinister technology being used to trick the American people and the world.


Mr. Cop and Mr. Oblivious

Ever since reading this press release from the Canadian Hearing Society about a deaf Ghanian immigrant's run-in with two Toronto police officers, I'd been waiting to find out the outcome of the case. Today I happened to catch this online. My eyebrows took a quick hike northward. Two cops, one deaf immigrant... a late night trip to a parking lot... well, I guess the courts have spoken.

I haven't had to deal with a police officer or similar authority figure since going deaf, but it's something that's in the back of my mind and it's kind of an anxiety thing. I think back to last summer when I had a US Border Guard holding a weapon scream at me because I didn't leave enough space between my car and the one in front of me, which he was checking. "YOU - BACK!" he yelled, and I knew what "My heart was in my throat" actually felt like as I threw the car in reverse and backed up. What would the outcome have been if I couldn't hear what he was saying? Or the time in Pearson Airport, just post 9/11, when the gate attendant was threatening anyone complaining about the idiotic overbooking of our flight by 30 seats with "security". How much easier would it have been to get myself in trouble if I could only understand half of what was going on?

Stories like this one don't reinforce my confidence. I think cops are used to instant obedience and they get very angry very quickly if they don't get it. And the deaf don't - can't - obey immediately. And the thought that the 'offender' may be deaf doesn't seem to occur to them, at least in these cases. Some education, it would seem, might be in order.

Tomorrow I get the tube removed from my ear, which has been itchy and sore all day, as if in protest. I hope it isn't infected or something (which I presume might mean he couldn't do it tomorrow). I reeeeeeeealy want to get this over with.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Oh, yeah, and there's Nazis in the bathroom just below the stairs

Stressed-out. Anxious. Wound up. Unsettled. Exhausted.

Not looking forward to Friday.

Not sleeping.

Not in a great place right now.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Random acts of giving a damn

Sorry my posting's been spotty. Work is quite overwhelming right now, although I hope it'll get better after a major meeting Tuesday we've been gearing up for for a month.

I want to say thanks to everybody who sent me emails with good wishes, encouragement, and support at my getting the CI evaluation appointment. I was surprised by the number who took the time! All very much appreciated. It's you guys who are getting me through this.



Even strangers and acquaintances.

Much has been written -- some of it by me -- about the challenges of getting through everyday dealings with clerks and cashiers, cops and waitresses, bank tellers and drycleaners, when completely deaf. But I think it is worth mentioning the people who barely know me and yet who have responded with uncommon instinct and kindness.

There's the staff at the nearby Hallmark card store, which work and personal needs see me visiting about once a week. I had to mention I had gone deaf to them very early because they were used to dealing with me as a hearing person. The staff there, and especially a woman who I think is the manager, make a point of walking up to me, making eye contact, and clearly mouthing, "If you need anything, just ask." Polite. No fuss. Just helpful. Sales staff anywhere could take a lesson from how these people care for a deaf customer.

There's the server in the diner where Husband and I usually eat Saturday morning breakfast over the newspaper (best hashbrowns ever), who remembers my "usual" and just asks how I would like my eggs done -- eliminating lots of confusing questions and answers.

There's the staff at my local pub, who have learned to sign "thank you" and "you're welcome" so we can exchange those pleasantries when doing business; who write "How are you? How was your day?" on my little notepad. And listen to my answers, and have little written exchanges with me about the courses they're taking, or the new apartment or roommate -- the stuff of college kids' lives.

There's the clerk at the blood testing lab (with which I am all too familiar), who sends me directly on to be tested when I arrive because she knows it's hard for me to lipread when my name is called if I wait in the queue.

A little closer than a stranger is my hairdresser, possibly the only straight male hairdresser in Canada, who responded to my hearing loss with incredible solicitousness and kindness and who speaks very patiently and clearly to me, and who figured out a different way to cut my hair so that I could style it when I was forbidden the glues or sprays or gels (hair products are forbidden during MRIs, CT scans, and a number of other tests I was doing several times a week). He's the front man for a successful local rock band that's opened for many a touring show, and I reviewed him years ago when I was doing entertainment reporting (positively, thank God -- wouldn't that be awkward?). I told him that I was awfully glad I hadn't gone deaf before I got to hear his wonderful road stories about touring and opening for and performing - or just hanging - with everyone from April Wine to Blue Rodeo, from Trooper to the Tragically Hip, from the Guess Who to Bryan Adams to the Crash Test Dummies to the Barenaked Ladies and even, God help us, Loverboy.

So let no-one fool you. The stupidity and impatience and density and condescension exists. We are still some way from being in a place where no handicapped person ever encounters the 'deer-in-the-headlights' look and the "Oh shit -- what do I do now?" vibe from someone in the service industry. But let's never overlook the grace and kindness we do encounter, as 'different' people, out there, every day.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Whaddya MEAN I gotta come back?


Last night during a break in class, one of the other students approached Husband. She asked how I went deaf. (The fact that she didn't ask me is telling, isn't it?... the class is about learning to communicate with the deaf, but her instinct was still to choose the easy route and talk to someone else about me rather than to me. I'm not being mean, although I was slightly offended. She didn't mean any harm. She was just doing what comes naturally.)

She told us that she has a friend who went deaf just as I did and right around the same time (remember I mentioned earlier there was a spate of them in late June?). She also said that her friend had already been to Halifax for a CI evaluation. Emphasis on a. She has to go back again for at least one more.

Bah. Just when you see a light at the end of the tunnel it turns out to be another guy with a flashlight walking in the opposite direction asking you if YOU know a way out.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Oh my God! Finally! I got the call today from the Hearing and Speech Centre! My evaluation is November 12 and I get butterflies every time I think about it!

The website notes that "20 surgeries [per year, presumably] are now possible in Halifax (14 for Nova Scotians, 6 out of province)..."

Six out of province.

I feel terrified to be this privileged.

I don't know how long after evaluation the surgery usually happens. I jokingly told someone the other night I wanted to be hearing by Christmas. Now it is a theoretical possibility, although I don't expect it.

Lord, I hope I am a good candidate. I swear, I'll never take a sound for granted again. Not George W. Bush's migraine-inducing bizarre linguistic contortions. Not French pop radio. Not even the sadistic commands of a phone menu system.

I may still have to mute Ralph Nader's dispatches from cloud-cuckoo land, of course. One is only human.


Monday, October 11, 2004

A "one-person wrecking crew" gets through the week.

I've been quiet for a few days... the last week has been kind of stressful. The most important thing on our minds right now is that Husband's mom is unwell. Without going into details out of respect for her privacy, she's expected to be okay, but I don't have to tell those of you with aging parents that it is terribly upsetting when they get ill. I am extremely, extremely fond of my mum-in-law, in fact I call her "Mum" because Husband does. My own family is far away and she and my dad-in-law have been the best surrogate parents they could be to me, knowing how I miss my family. They are the much-loved matriarch and patriarch of a big extended family, and when they are ill, there is a lot of anxious worry. And of course I worry about Husband worrying, and the responsibility on his shoulders, and so on and so forth, world without end...

Last week, Husband was in Montreal for several days and it was the first time I had lived alone since going deaf. That was stressful, too -- hard on him, hard on me.

Hard on him because one can, if one is not careful, become a one-person wrecking crew without sound cues -- and I am still just learning the mistakes to be made, then learning how to avoid them. I have on three separate occasions walked blissfully out of a room leaving faucets on full-blast behind me -- no floods, thankfully. I have knocked objects off tables and books off bookshelves and strolled on without realizing it. I have broken a wine glass while putting away air-dried dishes because, I think, I didn't realize without aural cues that it was there and how harshly I was handling the dishes. I can't hear when the oven or the microwave timers go off. I left a debit card in the machine - didn't hear the "beep beep beep" reminding me to take it with me. While every experience is a lesson learned, and I have begun developing systems for making sure I am more careful, Husband was not particularly happy about leaving me alone for three days (especially in charge of the fretted-over indoor cats!). So we made checklists and posted them by the door ("faucet off?" "microwave off?") and I promised to go through each one every morning as I left for work (and I did, too); and I text-messaged him each day at 9 am and 9 pm; and I generally behaved myself because I understand how hard this is for him.

Hard for me because I found the time pretty miserable; I told him the house was far too "visually quiet" without anyone else moving at eye level. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fall asleep at night, but I did, almost instantly, every night, because I suppose my nervousness about any potential unheard intruder was outweighed by sheer exhaustion (besides day job I had class on Tuesday and Thursday nights and worked on Wednesday night as well). To be honest, an intruder never was a real fear, more of a, "y'know, theoretically..." We live in a very safe neighbourhood in a very safe city. It was odd a couple of times when the cats "started" simultaneously, obviously responding to some conversation or vehicle outside, but nothing ever came of it. So while his trip went uneventfully, I was extremely glad to meet his flight and am very, very happy to have him home.

Speaking of classes, we have only attended four so far, but I wish I could describe the revolution in communication that has resulted for me! Last Monday night I went out and met C. at the pub and we chatted as we waited for Husband to turn up, and I noted to myself that 35 minutes passed before she had to reach for the notebook. 35 minutes, in a conversation solely between me and her! Then, on Friday night just past, in the same situation, I noted it was 45 minutes before we needed to use the notebook to clarify a point. It's phenomenal, considering that two weeks ago C. was only learning the alphabet.

Part of the reason, I think, is because learning ASL and being around people who sign completely changes the way you communicate. You find out that signing is much more than Sign A = Word A. Instead, you develop a completely new, sort of expansive way of communicating, using your body, your hands, your facial expressions, even the direction you are leaning in, to communicate your message. You absorb this by osmosis, watching signers, almost unconsciously mimicking their easy communication flow. That, plus fingerspelling to fill in the gaps and introduce names, ideas and concepts into the conversation, is what is making it possible for me to have whole conversations with C. and Husband now without writing -- once you "get" that concept and absorb it, it's organic and grows on itself exponentially.

So one very quickly reaches a level of conversational ability that far surpasses one's actual vocabulary. It's a surprising and exciting, even giddy, development. It has changed much for me. On Friday the conversation came around to this, how things had changed for me in the past few weeks. I said that if I had been told back in June that the cochlear implant was not an option for me, my instinct would have been to "throw myself off the Princess Margaret Bridge". Now, I said, I realized that even if I got the CI tomorrow and it was unsuccessful -- or if I was denied it -- I knew that I would be okay. I'd get along. There was another life for me, another future for me. I was still counting on the implant, I said -- but all my eggs were not in that basket now. Most of them were. But I had these other eggs, over here, in this other basket.

C. said something remarkable to me in that conversation, too. She signed that since we began taking the lessons, "I don't feel sorry for you anymore." I found that incredibly affecting, actually. I think I even teared up a bit. Because I don't feel sorry for me anymore, either. But to know that she understands now, and that she doesn't, that was a very rare thing and I am so glad that it is true, and that she told me.

So it has been a rough week in spots but in the end, an optimistic one... maybe the very first where we are glimpsing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Happy Thanksgiving, eh?


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Where have you gone, Robert Zimmerman?

Hey, did you know that most of the videos on MuchMusic (Canada's MTV) are closed-captioned?

Don't watch 'em with the captions on though, dude.

It'll make you really sad, and occasionally very, very afraid.


Amusing Closed-Captioning Cock-Up of the Day

According to the captions, CNN's Bill Helms on October 6th's "American Morning" ended a debate between Bush and Kerry campaign representatives with:


Survey says, he probably said "Gents..."

(I know you must suspect I make some of these up or exaggerate them. On my future implant, I swear they're all true...)



Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Deaf as a Dog; Clever as a Cat

I have neglected to tell you about a small experiment I decided to try a while back. I wanted to see if I could teach the cats sign language!

A long time ago, when they were both kittens, Husband and I decided to use a consistent phrase that they would come to and would relate to food. The reason was that, in an emergency, we wanted a phrase they would respond to. So every mealtime, we asked, "Are you hungry?" The upward inflection of the question helped them recognize it, and now the phrase in any context will send them bounding to their food dishes. (In the emergency scenario, the theory is we'd say "Aha! Gotcha!" and scoop them up and throw them in their carriers.)

After learning some ASL, I took this a step further by adding the ASL sign for "hungry" to the phrase. I was curious - how long would it take for the sign alone, without the phrase, to mean "mealtime"?

The answer surprised me. I did the sign simultaneously with the phrase for the first time on a Friday. By the following Wednesday, Mojo had begun responding to the sign without me saying anything as a call to suppertime. Ronnie's progress has been more inconsistent... but then she's more stubborn. Sometimes she responds to the sign, sometimes not. Just like a cat.

I was reminded to tell you about my little experiment when I read this article today about a deaf dog which is doing well training to hand-signals. Now, while training a deaf dog to respond to signs is a novelty in the hearing world, in the world of assistive dogs for the deaf trainers have known for a very long time how well (hearing) dogs can respond to hand signals from their deaf owners, rather than verbal commands. I want to particularly highlight the Lions Club Hearing Dogs for Deaf People program, 'cause my Dad is a big-time Lion and has been involved with this program for a long time, and that's something I am very proud of him for. I also like the fact that the Lions use rescued dogs to aid the deaf, hitting two of my pet causes with one stone. (No, I am not thinking of getting one at this time; but if I lived alone, I know I would.)

The cats in a small way play a similar assistive role. If I am not in the room equipped with the alarm system they will let me know if someone is at the door. They also let me know if the phone is ringing - we all look at it, all three of us, sitting there, equally useless to answer it!

So with one sign more or less under our belts, I think it's time to double their repertoire. What's ASL for "clean your litterbox"?


Friday, October 01, 2004

"...For all our mental programs, press 3."

Boy, you're getting a bumper crop of blather from me today!

CapTel is an incredible and ingenious device and its use is spreading across the US. It is not, as far as I know, available in Canada yet. CapTel is a captioned telephone which works like having your own personal Closed-Captioner; when the person on the other end says something, a StenoCaptioner at the CapTel service quickly types it using speech-recognition software and it pops up as text-captions, in real-time, right on the CapTel phone.

The advantages of this to a deaf user are huge. When communicating with the 98% of the population who do not have TTYs, you don't need to use the clumsy relay-operator method; the person on the other end of the line needn't ever even know you are deaf. You merely read his remark (as typed by the silent StenoCaptioner) and respond verbally.

Alas, like all captioning using voice recognition technology, CapTel isn't foolproof. And as usual, hilarity ensues.

A woman on the ALDA (Association of Late-Deafened Adults) Listserv has a CapTel. She cites some of the garbled messages her phone served up to her:

What the person said: "I'll see if she can meet Thursday."
What the captions said: "I'll see if chicken meat Thursday."

What they said: [one of those hateful voice menus] "...For
environmental programs, press 3"
What the captions said: "...For all our mental programs, press 3."

What they said: "Just a minute, please."
What the captions said: "Justice admitted, please."

I particularly liked "...For all our mental programs, press 3."


Bafflng Closed-Captioning Cockup of the Day



They've got to do what?

Well, I am in a good mood, largely because John Kerry fairly handed Bush his ass on a plate last night. Of course, I could be biased, but Jimmy Breslin agrees with me.

Good class last night; we did some review; how to sign large numbers (hundreds, thousands, millions, etc.); education vocabularly; and sports vocabulary. I would've been happy if he'd just taught us the important sports, but I guess we do need to grow our vocabularies in all areas, and if I am ever in a life-threatening situation where knowing the ASL sign for "gymnastics" is the key to survival, I'm ready. (I'm also ready with kick-boxing, ping-pong, and karate, just in case).

I also saw Dr. Henderson yesterday. It's amusing, he can't do a thing for me anymore, really, so these are almost more like social visits, as if he says to himself, "hmm, wonder how they're getting along?" and has us in for a visit. He has called Halifax (thankyou thankyou thankyou) and the doc there, Morris, says I look like a good candidate and we just have to wait our turn. Politics rears its ugly head as each province in the region has a quota based on funding they contribute to the program. I am seized with doubt that this government is shoveling money at a hospital in Halifax to secure CIs for their people, although perhaps that's a little unfair.

The visit was not without some news, though - can you believe that after all I went through to get that damned tube put into my ear, they now have to take it out before the CI surgery? Bloody flipping heck! I couldn't believe it. Dr. H. promises "the procedure is much less invasive". Yes, well, yanking stuff out of holes is, compared to making holes to crams things into in the first place. But I am hardly looking forward to this exciting new development. That happens October 22, which I see is a Friday, so at least I get to sit at home and eat and sulk all weekend if it hurts :)