Technology - Archive

New Interactive Studio Allows Deaf Children to ‘Hear’

July 29, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research, Technology
by Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
Article Source

In a spectacular merging of engineering and acoustics, The Cooper Union in New York City has created a unique learning environment for deaf and hearing-impaired children.

By installing an interactive light studio at the American Sign Language and English Lower School in New York City, the studio displayed entertaining images and graphics on an interactive screen. The pre-kindergarten children using the 270-square-foot space get to learn through their interactions with the moving images and light pulses and the displays allow them to actually understand the intricacies of sound, despite the fact that they can’t actually hear.

“We are creating a learning environment in which deaf and hearing-impaired children can explore and appreciate the various qualities of music and sound through the interplay of light and vibration,” said Melody Baglione, a professor at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. “We have developed technologies enabling the children to visualize sound.”

Read More  . . .

Fly-inspired tech could find use in better hearing aids

July 24, 2014 in Community News, Technology
By July 23, 2014
Article Source

When it comes to animals with good hearing, flies might not be the first one you’d think of. The Ormia ochracea fly, however, has a unique hearing mechanism that allows it to precisely determine the location of a cricket based on its chirps … it then deposits its larvae on the cricket, which ultimately consume the poor insect. Scientists at the University of Texas Austin have now duplicated that mechanism, with hopes that it could find use in applications such as next-generation hearing aids.

In the case of larger animals such as humans, the brain is able to ascertain the source of a sound based on the split-second delay between its being detected by the left and right ears. Insects, on the other hand, are so tiny that sounds register on both sides of their body almost simultaneously. Although they’re still able to “hear” by sensing vibrations made by sounds, they generally can’t tell where those sounds are coming from.

Ormia ochracea is different from other insects, however, in that it has a miniscule seesaw-like structure in the sub-2-mm space between its ears. Even in the four millionths of a second that it takes for a sound to pass through that space, it still causes the structure to vibrate, plus the sound undergoes a slight phase shift.

Like a full-size seesaw (or teeter-totter, if you prefer), any movements the structure makes are amplified by the fact that its two ends simultaneously move in opposite directions. This means that the phase shift will cause one side of the mechanism to dip noticeably lower than the other, thus letting the fly know the sound’s direction of travel. According to UT Austin’s assistant professor Neal Hall, it’s roughly equivalent to a person being able to locate the direction of the epicenter of an earthquake, by analyzing the delay between the tremors being felt by their left and right feet.


Hall and his team built a similar structure (seen above) that incorporates a flexible silicon beam suspended on two pivots. Integrated piezoelectric materials in four sensing ports convert mechanical strain in that beam into electrical pulses, allowing the device to simultaneously measure both the amount and direction of sound-induced flexing.

Additionally, at 2.5 mm, the device is only about one millimeter longer than its natural counterpart.

The scientists hope that once developed further, the technology could be used in compact low-power hearing aids that are are better able to discern conversations from background noise, along with possible military applications.

Read original article . . 

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Sources: American Institute of PhysicsUniversity of Texas Austin






Rocky Run Middle School – CyberRams win grant to develop APP

July 17, 2014 in Community Events, Technology


Fairfax County Public Schools
Article Source

The Rocky Run Middle CyberRams team is one of four teams nationwide to win a STEM-in-Action grant from eCybermission, an educational outreach program of the U.S. Army focused on using science, technology, engineering, and math to solve a real problem in the community. 

Team members Ravi Dudhagra, Diego Gutierrez, Rishabh Krishnan, and Adityasai Koneru developed a computer program—Decibel mApp—to address the problem of noise-induced hearing loss that uses GPS technology to provide users with a map showing decibel levels the user experienced throughout the day. 

Team members worked with a local pediatric otolaryngologist, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and computer programming engineers to develop the app.  The CyberRams won the grant, worth up to $5,000, because their plans were determined to provide the greatest possible impact in their community, and hopes to have the final product ready to go to market in a year.


Thanks to Patience Battisti

Advocates for deaf, blind pressure Apple for more-accessible apps

July 17, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Technology



Christina Farr
Monday July 14, 2014
Article Source

SAN FRANCISCO — Advocates for the blind are debating whether to use a carrot or a stick to persuade one of their oldest allies, Apple Inc, to close an emerging digital divide in mobile technology.

As digital life increasingly moves to the world of smartphones and tablets, some disabled people with visual, hearing and other impairments are feeling more left out than ever.

As baby boomers retire and age, the number of people needing help is multiplying. Many advocates for the disabled believe federal law requires that apps be accessible, but courts have not ruled on the issue. Few disabled want to risk alienating Apple, considered a friend, by fighting it.

Mobile apps that work well can transform a blind person’s life, reading email on the go or speaking directions to a new restaurant. Some young blind people no longer feel the need to learn Braille to read with their fingers, when Siri and other computer voices can do the reading instead. Captions on videos and special hearing aids bring hearing impaired into the digital fold.

But when apps don’t work, life can grind to a stop. Jonathan Lyens, a San Francisco city employee who is legally blind, has a hard time browsing for jobs on professional networking site LinkedIn.

“The app is insane. Buttons aren’t labeled. It’s difficult to navigate,” Lyens said. When it comes to social-media apps, new problems arise with every release, he said. “I get nervous every time I hit the update button.”

Read more . . .

The Sorry State of Closed Captioning

July 15, 2014 in Advocacy & Access, Captioning / Relay, Technology

Streaming video now must provide subtitles for the hearing impaired. There’s no guarantee of accuracy, though. One solution: crowdsourcing.

The Atlantic

Article Source 

Imagine sitting down to watch an episode of Game of Thrones—and hardly being able to understand anything. That’s the case for non-native English speakers or any of the 36 million deaf or hard-of-hearing Americans. HBO doesn’t expect its viewers to have a knowledge of High Valyrian; that’s why it takes care to offer subtitles to viewers understand exactly how Daenerys intends to free the slaves of Essos.

If only most online streaming companies took as much care in everyday captioning.

Machine translation is responsible for much of today’s closed-captioning and subtitling of broadcast and online streaming video. It can’t register sarcasm, context, or word emphasis. It can’t capture the cacophonous sounds of multiple voices speaking at once, essential for understand the voice of an angry crowd of protestors or a cheering crowd. It just types what it registers. Imagine watching classic baseball comedy Major League and only hearing the sound of one fan shouting from the stands. Or only hearing every other line of lightning-fast dialogue when watching reruns of the now-classic sitcom 30 Rock.

As of April 30, streaming video companies are now required to provide closed captioning. On all programming. There’s no doubt that we’re in a better place than we were even five years ago, when streaming video companies weren’t required to closed-caption any of its content.  But, there still is a long way to go in improving the accuracy of subtitles. Netflix and Amazon Prime users have bemoaned the quality of the streaming companies’ closed captions, citing nonsense words, transcription errors, and endless “fails.” These companies blame the studios for not wanting to pay for accurate translations but excuses aren’t flying with paying streaming video subscribers.\

Marlee Matlin, the Oscar-winning actress and longtime advocate for better closed captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, recently mentioned . . .

Read more  . . .


InnoCaption technology for phone calls at NVRC – TODAY 7/15/14

July 15, 2014 in Captioning / Relay, Technology



Come to NVRC and Check Out the New InnoCaption Technology!
Chuck Owen will be in Washington, DC Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  Chuck is the CEO of InnoCaption, which has recently launched an innovative captioning app for smartphones. InnoCaption is revolutionizing how deaf and hard of hearing persons communicate by making it possible to use the smartphone as it was intended – accessible, convenient, and mobile. Through the use of its patented technology in conjunction with live stenographers, InnoCaption provides fast, easy, and accurate real-time captioning for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and want to use their own voice to talk, but need assistance to understand what is being said by the hearing person they are calling or responding to.
If you would like to learn more about this free, innovative captioning service,
Chuck will be at NVRC TODAY 7/15/2014 at 3:30 pm.

NCRA Shares Best Practices at HLAA Convention

July 3, 2014 in Captioning / Relay, Technology



Targeted News Service
July 02, 2014
Article Source

VIENNA, Va., July 2 – The National Court Reporters Association issued the following news release:

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the country’s leading organization representing stenographic court reporters, broadcast captioners, and CART captioners, was represented at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s(HLAA) Annual Conference held June 26 – 29 in Austin, Texas, during a session that focused on captioning quality as it relates to recent legislative and regulatory measures that have advanced through Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

NCRA member Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, co-founder of LNC Captioning in Portland, Ore., and chair of NCRA’s Captioning Community of Interest, was joined by Adam Finkel, NCRA assistant director of government relations and co-chair of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance. NCRA has long worked closely with HLAA through its involvement with the Alliance.

The educational session provided attendees with a history of captioning laws and regulations, as well as best practices for ensuring live captioning quality as the broadcast industry comes into compliance with recently approved new FCCregulations. The new regulations require program creators and distributors to make their best effort to insure that captions are accurate, synchronous, complete, and do not obscure important information. The new regulations also apply to online video shows that originated on television.

“I could not have been more pleased to represent NCRA at the Hearing Loss Association’s Annual Convention. It was incredible to be able to connect with so many fierce advocates for broadcast captioning and CART captioning, and to brainstorm ways to help make these services more readily available to consumers across the country. The topic of the FCC’s captioning quality guidelines attracted great interest and numerous questions from attendees,” said Finkel.

During the session, Studenmund and Finkel cited best practices supported by NCRA which urge captioning companies to provide periodic quality reviews of individual captioners, alert clients immediately if a technical issue arises, and respond in a timely manner to issues raised by clients or viewers.

According to Studenmund, who also serves as vice chair and commissioner of theMount Hood Cable Regulatory Commission in Portland, many captioning companies are pleased with the new FCC regulations as well as the increase in the number of broadcast stations that are now offering live captioning instead of the electronic newsroom technique which can often lead to confusing or incorrect translations. Early feedback indicates that the use of live captioners for broadcasts has led to many improvements in the quality of captions being included in broadcasts, she added.

Read more . . .

The line between wearable technology and prosthetics is blurring

July 3, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Technology



Washington Post
Article Source

Remember when wearing any kind of prosthetic device – even something as simple as a hearing aid – immediately marked you as being Soundhawk-1somehow afflicted with some sort of physical deficiency? Those days could soon be over thanks to the emerging number of ways that wearable technology is changing how and why we use technology to improve our five human senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

Importantly, it’s not just athletes who are turning into “superhuman” performers as the result of using the new generation of high-tech prosthetics. It’s also average people with a sense of style who are designing new types of prosthetics that look nothing like the prosthetics of the past – they are stylish, sleek and designed for the high-tech lifestyle. In other words, wearing them may no longer stigmatize you.

Take hearing, for example. In the past, you’d buy a prosthetic device – a hearing aid – that would help you overcome a hearing deficiency. Wearing one in public would mark you — unfairly, of course — as someone whose auditory skills were on the decline. People who saw you wearing a hearing aid would assume that you were “old” – with all the negative connotations that term carries in a society centered around youth.

Fast-forward to 2014 and now wearing a hearing aid could mean having access to enhanced hearing that makes you the envy of your friends.Soundhawk’s new “smart listening system” basically turns you into a “hawk,” in the sense that you can pick out sounds from anywhere, focus on them, and tune out the noise. Soundhawk also plays nice with your smartphone, meaning that you can have a superior hearing and communication experience when interacting with others while making a call in a loud room or on a busy street. That may not immediately sound like a big deal, but how many times when using your smartphone do you ask your friends or colleagues to repeat what they just said? How many times have you missed an important point at a loud, crowded restaurant?

Read more . . .

FCC moves to caption the Web

July 2, 2014 in Captioning / Relay, Technology

The Federal Communications Commission is taking another step to make the Internet more accessible, voting next month on rules for closed captioning online video clips.

The vote, planned for the FCC’s July meeting, is the result of a years-long push — and Chairman Tom Wheeler’s personal interest — to increase accessibility online.

But the companies that would have to do the legwork to get the closed captions on online videos are warning the FCC to avoid unreasonable technological demands and timelines.

Accessibility concerns, especially for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, have been a prominent issue for Wheeler since being sworn in as chairman late last year.

Earlier this year, the FCC moved forward with requirements that will allow users to send text messages to emergency services. Those requirements are aimed at helping, among others, the deaf and hard-of-hearing who are unable to make voice 911 calls.

At the vote’s conclusion, Wheeler pledged — signing along in American sign language — that text-to-911 would be just one of his efforts as chairman to help the deaf and hearing impaired community.

Read more:

Smartphone Demonstration and Showcase at Gallaudet

May 29, 2014 in Technology



Hosted by the Wireless RERC and AT&T

No cost to attend - All are welcome - Soft drinks & snacks served


Introduction to the accessibility features found on the latest versions of the most popular smartphones:

  • iPhone
  • Android phones


  • Try out some of the latest smartphones, “phablets” (big smartphones), and tablets during our device showcase.
  • Experts on hand to assist with accessibility issues with your device.

Call or email Ben Lippincott for more information and to register:; 404-894-7034

Or register directly at:

When:     Thursday, June 12, 2014
Time:        1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Where:    Gallaudet University

Boston Univ. – Receives $2.75m NIH Grant to Develop Visually Guided Hearing Aid

May 27, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research, Technology



Released: 3/18/2014
Original Source 

Newswise — (Boston) – Boston University (BU) College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College was recently awarded a five-year, $2.75M grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to test and refine a prototype Visually Guided Hearing Aid (VGHA).

Gerald D. Kidd Jr., professor in the department of speech, language & hearing sciences at BU Sargent College and director of BU’s Sound Field Laboratory developed the VGHA prototype in collaboration with an international research team and Malden, Massachusetts-based Sensimetrics Corporation.

According to the NIDCD, 17 percent of Americans have hearing loss in one or both ears, and the prevalence of hearing loss increases with every age decade. For the majority of hearing losses that are not medically remediable, a hearing aid is the only viable treatment. However, only about 1 in 5 people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wear them. One reason, according to Kidd and colleagues, is that even the most sophisticated modern hearing aids come with a fundamental challenge: how to selectively amplify the sounds the listener wishes to hear while excluding unwanted, interfering sounds.

Read More . . . .

Infant Youngest In U.S. To Receive Brain Stem Implant At Boston Hospital

May 23, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research, Technology

CBS Boston
By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV

Original Article

BOSTON (CBS) — “Hi baby, hi sweet girl,” coos Jill Bradshaw to her 1-year-old daughter Elise, who is hearing her for the first time at a Boston hospital.

And with that, Elise becomes the youngest infant in the United State to receive an Auditory Brain Stem Implant. Elise was born deaf. She could hear nothing. Her medical problems meant a traditional cochlear implant wouldn’t work, but then she was enrolled in a pediatric clinical trial at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Doctors there performed complex and delicate brain surgery that worked. Cell phone video captured the miracle moment when an audiologist activated the implant. Elise turns toward the source of a sound. “I was just a nervous wreck going into that room that it wouldn’t work,” says Jill Bradshaw. But it did work. “I couldn’t stop grinning probably for 3 days. I was just smiling ear to ear,” she adds. Her parents were ecstatic. “It’s so emotional. I love you, that’s all you can say is I love you,” says Jill. “It makes the world a lot bigger for her now than it would have been,” says Elise’s father Jason.

Read More . . .

MotionSavvy Converts Sign Language To Speech

May 20, 2014 in Community News, Technology


MotionSavvy Converts Sign Language To Speech Using Leap Motion ControllerMotionSavvy

Sunday, May 18, 2014 – by Seth Colaner

Read more:

Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but deaf people can have a difficult time communicating with hearing people. The easiest method of interaction is sign language, but unless you or a loved one regularly use it, you probably don’t know how to communicate in ASL (American Sign Language). Thus, deaf people often must resort to a time-consuming back-and-forth with hearing people using pen and paper. 

Watch  Video . . .

Read more:

What You Need to Know About Text-to-911

May 16, 2014 in Community News, Emergency Preparedness, Technology



FCC’s  ASL & Captioned video on what you need to know about Text to 911

Click to goto FCC ASL captioned Video

Click to goto  ASL captioned Video
about TEXT to 911
(Video Not Mobile Phone Friendly)  Print Out Guide

Text-to-911 Guide (pdf)

2012 Woodson Grad Wins Scholarship

May 16, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness, Technology


Cochlear implants help him overcome deafness, find success.