Monday, January 28, 2008

Behind The Scenes - Pepsi Super Bowl Deaf Commercial

CNN Money has published an article on the PepsiCo Super Bowl deaf commercial.

Also, here is a "behind the scenes" clip link on YouTube!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hearing Impaired and CI news

The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. It also mandates the establishment of TDD/telephone relay services.

I frequent other hearing impaired and CI blogs and just had to share this bit of news with my readers. Karen, a hearing impaired blogger that I read regularly, was recently denied service at a Steak 'N Shake drive thru window by the general manager because she would not place her order from the drive thru speaker. All she wanted was two milkshakes, one for her son and one for herself. ABC news and Fox News picked up the story. You can see and read about it here and here. This is making news all across the Internet on deaf and hearing impaired blogs and websites. I will be following the events of this story because it is clearly in violation of the ADA regarding public accommodations. And I'm glad Karen is sharing her story. We need more people like her to speak out for those who can't. And, she isn't asking for money or anything, either. . .she just wants Steak 'N Shake and other similar establishments to be aware of the needs of those who are disabled.

This struck a familiar chord with me and I thought I would share some thoughts on this. The ADA has been around for quite some time. It is pretty sad that there are still businesses and organizations out there who still don't (or won't) educate their employees to accommodate the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing (and other disabilities). I can relate to Karen's disbelief and frustration so well because I've been there. I cannot tell you how many times I've stared and cried at the phone because someone didn't have the time or patience to have a simple conversation with me. I, too, struggle at drive-through windows but not as badly as I used to before my cochlear implants. I used to give my order at the speaker and then just drive up to the window. Most of the time I'd have to reorder again at the window but that was never a problem. If I had a friend or one of the kids with me, they would usually climb over me in the driver's seat to reach the speaker and make the order or interpret for me. My local Starbucks has a video order confirmation screen that shows what I ordered, how much it is, etc. I appreciate that.
I (and many others) look forward to the day when drive thru windows, airport announcements, websites, & movies, etc. are captioned and easily accessible.

Our kids have always been my "ears" for me. We taught our children their manners at an early age and to speak clearly and articulately. Because Steve traveled a lot and wasn't always available, I depended on them to translate for me on the phone and in public so that I could "get the message."

Marissa works at the local Dairy Queen and usually works at the drive-thru window. People who are hearing impaired are the least problematic for her. She says that their deaf customers are so regular that they don't have to say anything! And they do drive up to the window to place their orders. Most of Marissa's coworkers know me and are very accommodating to me when I show up. When Marissa is working and I start ordering at the speaker (like I did today), I will usually hear, "Hi Mommy!" I love that. And she gives me free ice cream!

In other news, two friends who recently went bilateral have had their CI's activated and are doing wonderful! I got an email from Dixie, who was implanted in December, and she is off to a great start in an ear that has not been aided in four years.
She says she is a happy camper with both ears hearing for the first time since her 20's (she is my age) and knows that each day will be better than the previous day. She has already noticed that sounds on her left side (new ear) are making it much easier for her with surround sound and hearing. You go, girl!

Michael Chorost, who wrote the book, Rebuilt, was activated this past week and describes his first two days here. He has waited almost two years for this! I am so thrilled and love reading about his descriptive experiences.

On the insurance front, I'm gaining a new appreciation for those who do insurance. It isn't fun and I'm finding that most agents (not you, Marcy) are clueless when it comes to cochlear implants! Some are saying that it is a pre-existing condition and won't cover my programming expenses and batteries. I've never been denied coverage for normal things like hearing tests, etc. because of my hearing loss. And some agents have very OLD information, saying cochlear implants are still in the experimental stage. And others know exactly what cochlear implants are and the needs surrounding them. I have spent a good portion of my week in several meetings, reading, reviewing, filling out forms, scanning needed documents, and emailing, etc. We need new health and dental insurance by the end of next week! Stay tuned for my next update!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pepsi Super Bowl Deaf Commercial

You have to see this! This PepsiCo ad, featuring PepsiCo employees, will be aired on February 3, 2008 during the Super Bowl pre-game program. It is slated to air on the FOX network and is designed to bring greater awareness of the American deaf community to a wide audience. PepsiCo will also sponsor captioning of the entire Super Bowl broadcast. I hope it wins the Best Super Bowl Commercial contest - that is, if there is one! (Note: The video has no sound and is captioned for HEARING persons so there is nothing wrong with your speakers.) Enjoy!

P.S. I don't drink soda but if I do, I prefer Pepsi over Coke!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update coming soon. . .

I know, I know. . . I need to write in here! I compose entries in my head all the time but no one benefits from them unless I write them down. These last few weeks have been extremely busy trying to get in a new routine and get caught up around here. And I'm still behind. I should have resigned from my job a long time ago. The Christmas tree and stockings are still up and our Christmas cards still aren't sent out. . . *sigh. . .

We had Internet issues for over a week and I could not get on the Internet at home. I finally got that fixed with a new router (and am now the new IT department in this house!) Now I am trying to find health and dental insurance for our family since our COBRA benefits run out soon with Aetna. Since we are self employed, we stayed with them as long as we did because of my cochlear implant surgeries and Brad's medical issues. Trying to navigate and figure out the best insurance policy is challenging and has consumed quite a bit of my time. I know very little about this stuff because we always had a group policy where someone else took care of the details for us.

I filled out an online questionnaire last week and that was a HUGE mistake. The phone rings constantly and the caller ID shows one insurance company after another. And when they leave a voice message they talk too fast, making it almost impossible for me understand them or for the CapTel phone to get the captions. When that happens, they get crossed off my list. (It would be nice if people would make a conscious effort to talk slower and clearer on the phone, not just for the hearing impaired but for everyone.) I have narrowed agents down to two people that I can deal with locally and have meetings with them this week. Any suggestions, recommendations, or ideas would be welcome!

More later. . . stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of my readers, friends, and family!

I'm sitting here in our breakfast nook watching the sun come up over the foothills of the Smokies from the kitchen window. The birds are flying around the feeders (but I can't hear them because the windows are closed.) The house is still "asleep" except for the four dogs in the house. And two of them (Gus & Leon) are playing and having a wrestling match right next to me. *sigh* (I just put them outside because they were getting too rowdy!)

December was a full and extremely busy month in our household with holiday preparations, parties, work, family, and all. I did take some time to rest TWICE with two cabin retreats in the mountains. We had a gift certificate that we needed to use up by the end of the year but could not use it over Christmas break so Marissa and I spent her birthday weekend in Pigeon Forge in early December. We were able to have some mother-daughter time, rested, played Scrabble, and shopped. The weekend went by too fast but we have decided that we are going to do this again.

We had all of our children home for Christmas, including Jason and our new daughter, Jessica, from Texas. After Christmas, we all left for a family cabin retreat in the Smokies for four days. I was hoping to have some time to write and blog but we had limited Internet service. We spent most of our time in our pajamas, slept, ate, played games, talked, relaxed in the hot tub, made s'mores by the fire, etc. I found rest at last!

I was hoping to hear an owl while we were in the woods. (I forgot to listen for one when Marissa and I had our retreat earlier.) Jason and Chris heard one but by the time they got me outside, it was gone. Our cabin had a tin roof and it rained several times. . . what a neat, soothing, and relaxing sound that was! At one point there was a torrential downpour and the rain was so loud! I sat in a swing on the porch several times wrapped in a blanket and just listened to the sounds of the woods. I've been bilateral for 10 months and it seems like it has always been that way. . .I love hearing with two ears and everything seems so natural and normal. I thoroughly enjoyed all the sounds of Christmas, especially the music. I just can't get enough Christmas music and would have it on 24/7 if I could. The Josh Groban Noel Christmas CD has been my favorite this season, especially "The Little Drummer Boy" song. Marissa says that I'm starting to sing in tune, too. I'm talking more on the phone and can understand people talking to me without reading their lips.

I'm also realizing that I do have some residual hearing left. Steve snapped his fingers next to my ear yesterday while I had my CI's off and I "heard" something. It was a sharp, crisp sound. I asked him to do it again and I heard it when he duplicated the sound (it took him several tries.) I also hear "something" if I slam a cupboard door too hard or make another loud sound (like banging pots and pans around.) Interesting. . . I had noticed it several months ago but thought it was a fluke. These sounds are not vibrations but something different. Maybe my brain has shifted and is allowing me to "hear" these sounds without the hearing aids or CI's masking them.

Last Thursday was my last day at work at the credit union and it was bittersweet. It was very difficult to leave a job that I loved. It was hard to say "so long" (but not goodbye) to a wonderful group of coworkers and friends. . .but, my focus for 2008 will be working with Steve and building our business, traveling with him on his trips, advocating for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing for East Tennessee, writing my book, and spending time with a new grandbaby that is on the way! *big smile!* Yes! We will be grandparents for the first time and I will get to hear all those baby sounds I missed the first time around with our four children!

May 2008 be the best one yet for y'all with God's richest blessings!