Just use a headset already

In times of Covid-19, social distancing and home quarantine, many people resort to meeting their people via (video or telephone) conferencing. You call your coworkers when you work from home, after work you have a with call with Aunt Amy, and later in the event you join your nerd group of friends that you play the latest boardgame with.

I don’t have a clue about virology or any of the medical stuff, but if I could give you one piece of advice in these times: do your peers a favor and use a headset.

A person wearing a mickey-mouse style headset with a fixed microphone. The headset is connected to a laptop.

To some people, especially the gamers, this might be the obvious way to do conference calls, but I noticed that even for my tech savvy colleagues this isn’t all that obvious.

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Talk: Hear how you like to hear

A while ago, I mentioned the research project Hear how you like to hear. The researchers want to find out how users use hearables and what requirements they have for hearables. They have a very human-centered approach, which I like a lot, as it includes that hearing is very subjective and not everything about hearing can be captured in an audiogram.

The project is soon coming to an end. Peggy, the main researcher, gave a talk about the project and the results (the talk is in German, the slides are English). In particular, she found out that 90% of hearing aid users don’t find it important that the devices are small. That is pretty much the opposite of what the hearing aid industry is still selling. Great project, I hope there are more like this in the pipeline.

To teachers of students hard of hearing

I found this article a very good selection of advice for teacher of students who are hard of hearing: https://medium.com/voices-through-silence/how-misunderstandings-about-hearing-loss-are-hurting-our-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-students-ad4b55711742

While my hearing got bad after I already finished high school, I can only imagine what burdens a hearing loss puts on students. I hope this article reaches a lot of teachers to be good allies for those affected.

Why 90% is Not Cool

I recently stumbled upon this talk by professional real-time captioner Mirabai Knight about why human captioning (still) matters:

I highly recommend watching the talk in its entirety. I found it super interesting and learned a lot. However, if you have only 5 minutes, I suggest watching starting at minute 10:38, which contains my personal highlight.

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Finally real Bluetooh

I have been waiting for this for a long time: finally hearing aids are on the market which can be connect to (Android) smartphones without any clunky adapters. It took so long, because Android only started to support low energy bluetooth (in Bluetooth 5.0) on Android 10.

Enno Lenze sums up the first experiences with it in this article (in German).

If you are wondering now “Didn’t Phonak do something like that for a while already?” The answer is: not exactly. The Audeo Marvel and Bolero Marvel do bluetooth to any phone without adapters, but they kind of bend bluetooth to their will. I have yet to test this in practice. We will see how they perform in contrast to the new Bluetooth 5.0 devices.

Just Use a Microphone Already

I recently stumbled upon this article which totally resonates with me: A Note From Your Colleagues With Hearing Loss: Just Use a Microphone Already

It is awkward enough to have to ask a speaker to use a microphone in front of the full audience. It is even more awkward if they refuse to do so. You’d be surprise how often “No, thanks, I am good” is the answer.

However, my low light so far was: ‘No, I don’t like to use the microphone, I don’t want to feel tied to the podium and prefer to walk around.’ It seems to be hard to assess the priorities of ‘convenience for me’ and ‘necessity for someone else’.