Hear Together was delighted to be invited to talk with @deanjacksondj on BBC Radio Nottingham today!
Here’s some of what we talked about… you can find links below to the websites we mentioned.
Hear Together is a new charity for people of all ages with hearing loss in Nottingham & Nottinghamshire. It’s run by experienced SLTs & audiologists. Our focus is on providing community-based support, information & activities for adults, children and families and we’re passionate about people living well with hearing loss.
We were registered as a charity in April just as the world went into lockdown, but we’ve been working hard to get our website and Facebook up and running. At the moment, there’s just 5 of us working a day a week to get this off the ground because we know from deaf people how much they value the opportunity to get together with people facing similar experiences and to learn about ways to really live well with their hearing loss.
What services are out there for deaf people in Nottingham?
Well everyone at HT came from another great local charity, The Ear Foundation which sadly closed in March. We are looking to provide some of those services, but obviously we’re having to think carefully about how we do this to keep them Covid-safe.
We’ve asked people what they want from us and we’re doing our best to develop services in response.
So we’re trying activities like:
- We run Hear2Help clinics which are drop-in sessions for people to get their hearing aids checked locally so they can use them more, rather than having to wait to go to the hospital. We’re trying to set up a mobile alternative to the Hear2Help clinics too and we’ve recently got a grant from the National Lottery to provide some written resources to help people manage hearing aids in care homes.
- We’re trying out online social events and had a successful online social for a group of teenagers last month.
There’s also Nottinghamshire Deaf Society based on Forest Road, which has services for sign language interpreting, welfare and benefits support and lip reading classes amongst other things.
How can deaf people access/listen to music: can assistive tech help? What?
I think it’s a common misconception that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can’t appreciate music, they absolutely can! Your experience of music will be affected by a number of things, like the type of hearing loss you have, whether you use hearing aids or implants, your past experience of music and how much you listen to it. Enjoying music is also a really personal and individual thing, just like it is for hearing people.
Most hearing aids & implants are now designed to give a richer music experience which is shifting the expectation that deaf people can hear and enjoy music…we’ve noticed how much more deaf young people are listening to music through streaming or carrying portable speakers.
So there are lots of accessories to help you listen to music using your hearing aids or implants;
- Large headphones to sit over the hearing aids
- Accessories for your specific hearing aids/ implants which take the sound from your phone or TV to your ears ( through a cable, a remote microphone like Roger pen, or TV streamers or phone clips)
- Wireless using Bluetooth to stream directly to your hearing aids without the need for headphones
How accessible is listening to music for deaf people? Lip reading, captions, BSL?
Despite all the technology, there’s no getting away from the fact that listening to music can be really hard, there are still challenges and it’s often a case of finding work-arounds:
- Lyrics are easily accessed online- making out the words in a song is much easier when you know what you’re listening for.
- Apple Music gives direct access to the lyrics which are essential for me to engage & learn to enjoy new & old tracks
- YouTube videos are often captioned and there’s a trend for signed versions of popular songs online too
- Music can distort particularly when it’s live or there’s lots of other background noise, so finding ways to tune into the song like simultaneous videos or being near the front at a gig, can help for visual clues and lip reading.
- Phone apps to help tune a guitar, which use the phone’s microphone to listen to the sound of each string, and it tells me when they are too “sharp” or too “flat” so I can adjust the strings accordingly
- You can always try the app Shazam to find out what song is playing!
There are other ways to enjoy music too:
- There is also the vibration of music and the visual enjoyment of a show or a concert
- There’s even a Sound Shirt which converts music into touch-like sensation! It has sensors woven into the garment on the back, sides, shoulders and arms and conveys different elements of the music to different parts of the body.
There are training programmes to help you to improve your understanding and enjoyment of music.
- You can check what make of hearing aid you have, then go onto their website for more information about music appreciation. Some provide resources free to users or to anyone with a hearing loss regardless of which device they use.
- These can be particularly useful when someone is new to using hearing aids or implants; it is a skill that benefits from practice.
Challenges for deaf people trying to access the music industry
- Expectations and misconceptions. There is the perception that if you’re deaf, then you can’t hear and appreciate music. Parents and schools may not automatically encourage learning a musical instrument or taking it as a subject option.
- Tech doesn’t provide all the answers for everybody; there are limitations
- Accessibility and inclusion: music providers and teachers may have to find different ways to teach or present music to enable everyone to enjoy and learn it
There are some great organisations working hard to address these barriers:
- Music and the Deaf
- The important thing to remember is that deaf people can enjoy music!
- Exposure and engagement with music help to enhance your enjoyment of music, but it can also help to improve your communication skills in everyday environments.
- Words stimulate primarily the left hemisphere of the brain and rhythm stimulates primarily the right hemisphere, so it gives the brain a good all-over workout! For babies especially, this is really good for developing language.
- Start early! Singing repetitive songs, making sounds with objects & instruments, moving your body and songs with actions are all great for developing listening & language. Rhythm and rhyme, high and low sounds, loud and soft sounds.
- Be realistic with your expectations if you’re new to trying to listen to music. While expecting positive outcomes, set your immediate expectations low. Don’t expect to hear and enjoy the full orchestral experience on the first day or even in the first week or month. Allow time for your brain to make sense of all the new information.
See below for links to some of the topics we discussed.
Music training resources for adults and children
BabyBeats uses music, instruments, toys, and pictures to help little ones learn to listen and communicate through musical activities.
Musical Atmospheres is an online, interactive program for teenagers and adults that helps you explore all aspects of music and establish a firm foundation for musical memory.
Get involved in music
“Decibels enables people, especially those with disabilities, to develop their creativity and unlock their abilities mainly through the use of technology.”
Music and the Deaf https://www.matd.org.uk/
DeafRave is an organisation that puts on music events for deaf people by deaf people
Interesting blogs & insights