Hearing Hacks London Meetup: a new hacking community for hearing loss?

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For our second London Meetup we met at the UCL again, we had a spacious room that could have accommodated more than 30 people so the eight of us sat comfortably around a big table. This format significantly improved communication, as we could all see each other’s faces.

After an initial round of intro, I asked everyone to write down three things that frustrated them and three things that have helped, or solutions and wishes that could improve life with hearing loss, both in technical and social areas. I like to think that there are two main groups of things that we can do to improve life with hearing loss:

1. we can adapt to the world using technology e.g. using hearing aids, assistive devices etc.
2. we can adapt the world (people) to us e.g. train friends and family how to speak to us

Armed with pens and post-its, we all set off for the task and the room went quiet, everyone focussing on writing down their thoughts.

Several post-its later, after the last pen stopped writing, we started reading our thoughts to each other: the results were astounding! Many ideas we came up with were actually easy to build!

Solutions to note:

Flintstone Simulation, this satisfies the recurring frustration that it is hard to explain how hearing loss works
– Our member Candice sells ‘speak up’ badges on eBay, she brought some to the Meetup, you can see them in the photo gallery from the event. Please Candice post the link in the comments if you like

Ideas to note:

– Trip advisor app for quiet places
– Badge/Light that lights up when other person not speaking up, less intrusive than interrupting
– Write/Test script to tell other people how to speak to us

I’ve transcribed below most of what I could read from the post it notes, some were not legible to me so if I have missed anything please add to the comments.

Next Meetup

At the end of the event, we all agreed that each one of us would try to develop a hack to show at the following Meetup, the good thing of having both tech and non-tech ideas is that literally everyone can contribute.

So the next event will be a show and tell but if you didn’t manage to build anything do not worry at all. In fact, we’ll build solutions/hacks at the Meetup itself. No technical skills required.

UCL researcher Aisling and Nasir will help us implementing one or two of our ideas and everyone is welcome to help. At this stage, probably the most doable ideas are the Trip Advisor app for hearing loss and the LED badges but we’ll confirm later this week.

At the end of the Meetup we’ll record a video of what we have achieved, we’ll caption it and post it on the blog/facebook etc. so that more people can get involved even if they can’t take part in the London meetup.

I won’t hide that I am incredibly excited for the turn that our Meetup seemed to have taken, it’s gotten very practical and actionable very quickly. We are building a hacking community. Very exciting times!

If you want to join the Meetup please RSVP here: http://www.meetup.com/Hearing-Hacks-London/events/231134850/.

Photos from the event here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a0shr427k8l4n9k/AAAnKPYJde454l2EEUxizarOa?dl=0

If London is too far for you, wait for our end-of-Meetup-video and connect via Facebook or email me if you want to get involved: hello@hearinghacks.com.


Solutions (Social/Non-tech)
– Optimised script to tell people how to speak to us
– Share to office – talk, slides
– Remind people
– II Say name first to catch attention
– Quiet sections in restaurants
– Don’t cover mouth when talking
– Not invisible: more people around you aware
– Family education: what’s out there?
– ‘Speak up’ Badges
– Train people to speak up (organised training with family/best friends rather then sporadic please speak up which won’t work)

Frustrations (Social/Non-tech)
– Office gatherings are too loud. Can’t fix
– Squash, any sweaty sports
– People with normal hearing don’t get how it is
– II Social environments noisy, can’t hear
– Difficulty in explaining difference between deaf/HOH/SSHL
– Need for a way to show people what it’s like to have different levels of hearing loss e.g. simulation
– II Tiring to explain to everyone that I need speech treatment
– Hearing words in noise
– Lack of knowledge of hearing loss in public
– Background music in pubs/cafes/restaurants
– Few support groups
– At the office:

– being alert in open space ‘if people’ start talking to us. Solution dummy headphones perhaps? Work more From Home?
– distance communication hard in large open spaces

– Lack of emotional support from hospital
– Lack of info from the audiologist

Frustrations (Technology)
– Hard to speak on the phone (without made for iPhone or good streamer)
– No fitting software/app
– Noise processing not good enough
– Sound test at audiologist quiet room: “How does that sound?”. Ridiculous question
– II Not waterproof -> stress if sudden rain, sports, sauna, swimming pool
– Cinema’s no subtitles, comedy clubs?? Should be hearing loops or wireless systems
– Pure tones test only is not an accurate test, speech test not the norm at the audiologist
– Not being able to upgrade more often like with cell phones. Can’t sell used hearing aids (maybe marketplace is a solution here?)

Solutions (Technology)
– Flinstone simulation > Madlionne can build a recording with your own hearing loss values
– Trip advisor for public places/venues
– LED light/badge that lights up when other person not speaking up
– Self-fitting for different situations
– Real-time playback of words in certain situations > improve settings
– Better info about settings / adjustments
– Streamer good for podcasts, tv and sometimes calls (new ones)
– Upgrade hearing aids when possible (beware of high end traps)
– Mimi Music interesting app to listen to music without hearing aids
– Sound panels to reduce reverb at the office and at home
– More transparent awareness when new models coming out e.g. blog, group

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