"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Most Marketable Skill

Bob Clary the Community Manager at Webucator contacted me some time ago and asked if I would share my thoughts for their 2014 "Most Marketable Skill" campaign. It is an honor to be asked to participate.

The "Most Marketable Skill" in my opinion is good communication. Before you think of all the classes you may have taken in "communications", or all the things you may have read, I have something different in mind for you to think about. I approach communication with the focus on access and inclusion.

MILLIONS of Americans suffer with hearing loss. 23% of new hearing aids are being prescribed to our returning veterans who have lost their hearing while serving our country. They are returning home and having to struggle with not hearing telephone conversations or the tv as well as they used to. Because we are living longer, the baby boomer population is dealing with having to cope with hearing loss more than any other generation. Captions are our Access to Language. We use captioned phones, watch captioned tv programs, captioned movies and captioned online videos. Captions are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

If you are going to have commercials or online videos, caption them. You will reach MILLIONS  of people by doing this simple thing. If you don't know where to go or to start, I suggest you visit Collaborative for Communication via Captioning. You can also find captioners at Caption Match.

The telephone is usually the front door to any business. It is by phone most appointments are made. If this is the first contact you or your company have with clients, chances are, you may be missing out on gaining more clients simply by not taking time with them on the phone the first moment you answer.

Have you ever picked up the phone and waited only 1 or 2 seconds, then hung up because no one respond right away when you said, "Hello"? You may have disconnected someone who is Deaf or has lost their hearing, or has a speech impediment and they are calling through a Telephone Relay System.

Telephone Relay Systems take longer than conventional calls because the Calling Agent or Relay Operator must first relay what you are saying to the caller. If they are using a captioned phone, such as many with hearing loss use today, they must first type your words to the caller. Then, the caller reads what was typed and then they respond with their own voice. This can take time. Don't assume all those calls you get are "breathers" on the line. Chances are, it's a relay call, and if you say "Hello" and wait for a response, you may very well have a new client.

If you have a speech impaired client calling, you will hear the voice of the Relay Operator speaking to you on their behalf. The client will type what they want to say, the the RO will read their words to you.

Video Phones for the Deaf work similar. Instead of a Calling Agent typing, however, the call is facilitated by an ASL interpreter. When the client makes a call, they are connected to an interpreter. The interpreter will sign to them what you are saying, then the client will respond in ASL and the interpreter will tell you what they are signing. 

In the case of all kinds of relay calls you must speak slowly so your words can be relayed to the caller. Avoid saying "tell them". Speak to the client. Ignore the Relay Operator. They are not the client. Speak directly to the client.

Take time to learn about these kinds of phone systems and practice learning to take time with your phone calls. 

ALWAYS provide an email address in your advertisements and contact page on your website. Many people with hearing loss and deafness today prefer to communicate via email because when we try to reach out by phone with relay systems, the person on the other end doesn't wait long enough and  hangs up on us.

Not all American citizens speak or use English. We have another American language. American Sign Language. However, we don't do a lot of business with mainstream if we can't communicate. In the ASL or Deaf Community, if something needs to be done, chances are, the person who knows ASL will get the business. The Deaf Community will tell their other deaf friends, and their friends of deaf friends, even their hearing friends.

I highly recommend for everyone to take a basic ASL class. If you take 2 ASL courses, you will get on quite well with any culturally Deaf person. Besides learning the language, you will learn better communication skills in the course, as well as become familiar with Deaf culture itself.

Once you become familiar with ASL and Deaf culture, you can put up a sign in a highly visible area "ASL spoken here." You will be getting many new clients as the word spreads that you are "Deaf friendly". 

There are many aspects to the topic of communication skills, and I hope my perspective of inclusion and access help you become not only more aware of clientele who use ASL, or phones and tv differently, but helps you be successful in meeting their communication needs and your services so you can proudly say you are inclusive and accessible.

Webucator is offering FREE monthly Microsoft training because they believe it's a crucial hard skill to have right now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"What's That Sound?" New Smartphone OtoSense App Answers the Question for Deaf and People With Hearing Loss

Today's Guest writer is Sebastien Christian. I'm excited about this new smartphone and iPhone app he has developed. Thank you, Sebastien for stopping by and telling us about your app and how it came it about. I'm so glad someone came up with something like this!
Thank you, Joyce, for letting me share my story with your readers.

As a speech and language pathologist, I have been working with and for deaf and hard of hearing people for 15 years, helping them to develop their communications abilities using sign and oral languages. During this time, I also studied semantics and physics, earning a master's degree in both, and began exploring the use of technology in helping people to live more autonomous lives.

A few years ago while I was traveling for work with my colleague, who is deaf, I soon realized that there was one problem that had no real solution yet: awareness of important industrial and environmental sounds.

Within days of learning of the challenges my colleague was facing while traveling, I developed a provisional application that turned her smartphone into a personal alerting device with flash and vibration, triggered by a high frequency noise like a fire or smoke alarm, something which she is unable to hear when she removes her hearing aids. For my colleague, my quick fix solution meant getting a good nights sleep while on the road, and for me it was the beginning of more research and development.

Now, nearly two years later, Ive developed OtoSense, a mobile app that is capable of learning the sounds of your everyday life, including the doorbell, the microwave beeping, the oven buzzer, a dog barking, your telephone ringing, knocking at the door, as well as the sounds of fire and smoke alarms. As a mobile app, OtoSense notifies you by flash, vibration and you can have any sounds notify a friend or family member via SMS text.  

Like my colleague, who was seeking a good night sleep while traveling, OtoSense gives you the freedom to go anywhere in your house, outside, and at work or school  and be aware of the sounds that are important to you. 

In sharing news of OtoSense with Joyce, she wondered why someone hadnt thought of this before. Well, there is technology, but in our opinion its expensive, bulky and it does not include all of the sounds that we encounter in modern life.

I hope you'll join us now in trying OtoSense, designed to make your life easier.  In our opinion, technology should be accessible and affordable to be considered useful. OtoSense will be available on Android phones and tablets  (The Google Play Store) starting Monday, September 8th and on iPhones and iPads in October.  You can learn more about OtoSense, watch demonstration of the app, see the feedback from focus groups and sign up for updates on our website www.otosense.com

In the meantime, you can email me at explorers@otosense.com Thank you! We look forward to connecting soon.

Sebastien Christian.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

When someone undermines your dreams...

I have been very fortunate to have only inspiring, encouraging, positive, supportive family and friends in my life today.

The poster below states:

"When someone undermines your dreams, predicts your doom or criticizes you in any way, remember, they're telling you their story, not yours."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Last Train to Clarksville" ASL interpretation by Stephen Torrence

I've been doing a bit of traveling the past couple of weeks, and while taking the train, this song was on my mind. This is a great interpretation by Stephen, aka Captain Valor. I've been a fan of his for some time. This video is CAPTIONED!


Learn more and help Stephen out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/CaptainValor

Friday, August 15, 2014

Xpressive Handz Joyce Edmiston wins Oticon's "Focus on People" Award for Advocacy

Thank you so very much for supporting me and helping me win this NATIONAL award! 

It is a great honor to not only be nominated and selected as a candidate, but to have been voted by you and so many others, not just in the US, but around the world as Oticon's 2014 Focus on People award winner for "Advocate of the Year".  

Please share this press release with as many people as you can. Oticon is truly a company that puts "People First", just as their motto claims. This non-profit based company gave the winners in each category a brand new pair of state of the art hearing aids, Bluetooth accessories to go with them, $1,000.00 donated to their charities of choice, as well as a $1,000.00 prize money. They covered all the travel expenses, meals and hotel costs of our stay for the national convention.

During our tour of the company, we learned that many of their employees stay for decades because they are extremely well cared for and they enjoy the mission behind the company and the president of the company Peer Lauritsen to put "People First".

Too many companies today put money and numbers first. It is a wonderful thing to find a company that sincerely cares about people!   


Joyce Edmiston and Oticon President Peer Lauritsen


Growing up with hearing loss, Joyce Edmiston lost many opportunities to interact with others, make friends and advocate for herself.  Over time, she gained the courage and wisdom to make her voice heard. Today, she freely shares her hard-won knowledge as a vocal advocate for people with all degrees of hearing loss through her popular blog Xpressive Handz.  Edmiston is among the outstanding individuals with hearing loss honored by the 2014 Oticon Focus on People Awards, a national competition that celebrates individuals who are helping to eliminate negative stereotypes of what it means to have a hearing loss.   

This is the third year that Oticon, Inc., sponsor of the national awards program, has invited the public to cast their votes to help determine who among the 12 finalists would be first, second and third place winners in the Adult, Student, Practitioner and Advocacy categories. More than 10,000 votes were cast by people from across the country and around the world. 

As the first place winner in the Advocacy Category, Edmiston was recognized on August 14 at a special awards ceremony at Oticon, Inc.’s US headquarters that was attended by hearing care professionals from across the US. As part of her award, Edmiston has designated Hearing Loss of America Association, Lancaster Countas her choice for a $1,000 donation from Oticon, Inc. 

Edmiston is passionate about the teaching of American Sign Language (ASL) in schools and has also formed a committee to educate local churches the need to provide captioned services for those who do not communicate by sign language. She volunteers with the Telecommunications Relay Service Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania PUC, the Collaborative for Communication via Captioning, and with HLAA at both local and state levels. 

“Individuals like Joyce Edmiston are inspiring role models for people living with hearing loss,” states Oticon President Peer Lauritsen. “The remarkable people who are honored in this year’s Oticon Focus on People Awards program have taken their unique circumstances and transformed their lives with a positive outlook that has enabled them to overcome challenges and accomplish goals well beyond what many thought possible.”  

The Oticon Focus on People Awards program was created in 1997 by Oticon, Inc., one of the world’s oldest and most respected hearing instrument manufacturers.  By celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of individuals with hearing loss, Oticon, Inc. aims to call attention to common misconceptions about hearing loss  
and motivate people with hearing loss to take advantage of the help that is available to them.   The company’s goal is to reach out to the 80 percent of an estimated 28 million Americans who could benefit from hearing solutions, but who fail to seek professional help.   

Oticon Winners: L-R Deputy Susie Cambre, Vako Gevelesiani, Joyce Edmiston, Susie Ternes Aud. CCC-A

Read the inspirational stories of all 12 winners of the Oticon Focus on People Awards at www.oticonusa.com. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Revisited: It's a Deaf Sentence

*republished from an earlier post:
I had a friend many years ago who lost his hearing when he fell down his back porch steps. He hit his head in the fall and his hearing was gone in an instant. He was only 5 years old.

I've been losing my hearing over the course of many, many years slowly, not even at a noticeable rate. We often play the "What if" game or "Would you rather be this, or be that". We tend to compare which is worse, and which we would rather have.

Life situations many times are not a matter of choice, they are thrust on us in unexpected ways. Then, there are times we are allowed glimpses of what is coming. Either way, we can either stop and just brace ourselves for the worst, or we can accept and prepare and find out what we can do with the situation. In other words, we can stop living altogether, or we can find out how to live with the unexpected situation the best way we possibly can.

I was asked this week by Sarah, whom I follow on Twitter, how I felt about the discovery that my hearing loss is no longer termed so much as "hearing impaired" but "deaf". In many ways it's a relief that I no longer have to play the "Can you hear this?" game as people ask if I can hear the little bell on the counter at the register in the store or the cell phone ringing, etc. They tend to ask Fabulous Husband, "Can Joyce hear this..that..and the other". We understand the curiosity, we're curious, too, but there are so many other things we could be discussing. By simply stating I'm deaf, the understanding that I can't hear those sounds is already there, and people will communicate more clearly and bypass the hearing test and questions and get on with discussing other interesting things.

So how do I feel about using the term "deaf" over "hearing impaired"? Life is the same, we continue to adjust and modify things where sound and communication are involved. We continue to  learn, adapt and live. I am deaf. It's not a death sentence, just a deaf sentence.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Longer I Live...


the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude,

to me is more important than facts. It is more important than

the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than

failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will

make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable

thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will 

embrace for that day. We cannot change our past ... we cannot 

change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot

change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the 

one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that

life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. 

And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes.

 ~~~~~ Charles R, Swindoll ~~~~~

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Amazing Resonance Experiment - the Sacred Geometry of Sound

"If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." ~ Nicola Tesla.

This is a stunning visual of what sound looks like at different frequencies.. Even though some of us may not be able to hear some or all of these, our bodies and minds are affected by the vibration, the energy and the frequencies of the world around us. AND, because our bodies are made of up 70% + water, these vibrations move through us. Even though I don't hear music as I once did, I often turn pandora on the tv and tune into a soothing Reiki or healing station because it's good for my health. I may not hear it, but my body and mind can feel it.

This video is CAPTIONED.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Let it Go" ASL music video interpreted by Ren and Keely

I was delighted to stumble across this fabulous ASL music video by Ren and Keely. I absolutely love the passion and the background of this video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. CAPTIONED!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Hit the Delete Button

This lovely post found its way to my inbox this morning.
Hit the Delete Button
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”
(Isaiah 43:18, NIV)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Our minds work a lot like a computer. The way we program our thinking will determine how our lives are going to function. You can have the most expensive, powerful computer you can find, but if you load the wrong software, it’s not going to perform at its best. In the same way, many people are not living a victorious life not because there is something wrong with them, but because of what has been programmed in their thinking. They start believing the lies, “I’m not talented. I don’t have a good personality. I’ve made too many mistakes. I’ve reached my limits.” Just like a virus can slow down a perfectly good computer, our wrong thinking can keep us from our destiny. If you’re going to live in victory, you’ve got to know how to hit the delete button.
When that thought comes that says, “You’re just average. You’re ordinary.” Hit delete and say, “I’m a masterpiece. I’m one of a kind.” When you hear, “You’ve seen your best days. It’s all downhill from here.” Hit delete and say, “My future will be brighter than my past.” If you will start hitting the delete button on those negative thoughts, your life will go to a new level, and you’ll experience the blessing and increase He has in store for you!
Father, thank You for loving me and making me in Your image. Today I choose to hit the delete button on negative thinking. I declare what You say about me so I can walk and live the life that You have prepared for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Friday, August 1, 2014

Part 4: Mastery of Change by Sean Morgan

Hello, this is guest blogger Sean Morgan. I have been sharing installments of my book "The Mastery of Change, Choosing Mental and Emotional Wellness" on Joyce's wonderful site. For the past few posts I've been focusing on letting emotions flow through our bodies and examining the underlying beliefs that cause them. The most powerful practice I have used in my years on this earth has been inquiry. Specifically the work of Byron Katie has been extremely helpful to me as I've worked through many arguments with reality. Over the years, using this technique, I've found a way to explain why it works. This is very useful to people with curious minds who may not the practice without a thorough explanation. I hope you experiment with the practice and that it brings you peace.
Using Inquiry To UnRoot A Belief
An Interpretation of the Mechanics of Byron Katie's Inquiry Method
This technique, when applied, can drastically eliminate suffering from
your life. Before I discovered it, I had no idea that my thoughts
were so filled with resistance to reality. Even so-called "positive
beliefs" about how "people should be kind" or "no one should go
hungry" were causing the opposite of their intentions. At first it
seemed that I had an unlimited supply of beliefs to deconstruct.
Indeed, I've spent years at this practice and I have not run out, but
I sure don't suffer as much anymore. This technique can be used in
the middle of the moment of suffering with great success. The process
is both relieving and humbling, and I am honored to share it with you.
1. Identify that you have a negative emotion by noticing the feeling
of stress in your body.
2. Entertain the idea that your perceptions are causing it, and you
have a choice to do something about it.
3. Be willing to explore the choice to let go of your beliefs in
order to avoid repeating negative emotions.
4. Identify the belief that causes the negative emotion by listening
non-judgmentally to the story of your inner voice.
5. Identify any other primary beliefs which are causing the secondary
belief (this is a broad, overarching system of beliefs or a mentality that causes all related thoughts and beliefs.)
6. Determine what the exact opposite of your belief is. If your
belief causes negativity, its opposite will cause positivity. Now you know the belief that will work better for you to be a happy and positive person. You'll find that the belief is always more loving, empathetic, allowing, empowering, and mature. The negative belief is always more petty, self-serving, unallowing, resistant, fearful, and unloving.
7. If you're willing, your mind will start to realize all the ways
that the new belief is true.
8. Think of specific ways that the new belief has always been true
for you in your life.
What does this stressful emotion feel like in your body? (ex: Nausea
in my stomach.)

Could your perceptions be causing this emotion?

Do you have a choice to do something about this situation?

Write down the story that the voice tells in your mind while you feel
this emotion.

What is the main belief that the story is based on?


What is the exact opposite of the negative emotion-causing belief?

List three specific ways the opposite of the negative belief is true
in your life.

Once your mind starts to explore a new way of interpreting reality in
a way that makes sense to itself through these references, a new
pathway is being engrained: one that causes positivity.
Are you willing to take responsibility for your emotions?
Can you recognize that you are poisoning your own being with negative
emotion-causing beliefs?
Can you recognize that you are affecting the world and everyone around
you in a negative way for the rest of your life if you hold onto this
Do you have the humility to let go of your most engrained patterns?
Are you willing to practice the new belief and recognize when the old
one rears its head again?
People identify with their beliefs and are afraid of loss or ego death
when they start to let go of them. Hang in there. You are not going
to die. This process is about proving to your rational yet fearful
mind that negative beliefs will not serve its survival. For more
information about Bryon Katie and inquiry go to TheWork.com.

Love Is The Answer To All Great Questions
Sean O'Donoghue Morgan