The Additional Challenge of Shorthand

Next week, I’ll have an idea about whether or not I should take my NCTJ 80wpm shorthand exam at the end of April. It was whilst thinking about this decision, that I realised how beneficial learning the written language can be for a deaf person like me. Since then, I thought today I would talk about how shorthand could help the hard of hearing, or those with a mild/moderate hearing loss like myself.

Shorthand Pen and Notebook
With shorthand being as much of a listening skill as much as it is a writing skill, deaf people may find it challenging. Photo: Wannabe Hacks on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

For some deaf people and those with auditory processing disorder, it can take a while for us to ‘hear’ a word. In my case, when I am talking to someone with an accent, it’s often a matter of picking up the sounds, identifying them as words and then applying them to the context. But, when it comes to shorthand, the time pressure means you don’t have time to process what you hear – writing in shorthand is very much a thoughtless action.

When I think about it like this, I remember how learning to play the drums 10 years ago helped me and my co-ordination. Back then, it was terrible but I have since achieved Grade 8 and played at many concerts. If this was a motivational post, then you could say that I’ve overcome a challenge and proved that ‘anything is possible’.

But when it comes to shorthand, this time I’m testing this ability to process information quickly. Learning to play the drums improved my co-ordination, but it’s unlikely that learning shorthand will ‘cure’ my deafness or greatly improve my processing skills. First one thing, deafness cannot be ‘cured’ (at least not yet) and for another thing, this ability to ‘process’ what I am hearing is very much tied into my deafness, so that won’t change either. That being said, it’s certainly helped with my listening skills and thought processes.

At each level, the speed of the speaker reading a passage increases by 20 words per minute (I have to take my 60, 80 and 100 words per minute exams). This therefore means that I have less time to think before the next word is hurled at me out of nowhere. If I think too long on a certain word or mistake I’ve made, then I could then end up losing an entire sentence.

Thankfully, I passed my 60 words per minute shorthand exam earlier this year. At that speed, taking a message down should be instinctual – where all of the three steps I previously mentioned, plus converting the word into shorthand – should all take less than a second. Thankfully, at 60wpm, that is currently achievable. Now it’s a matter of increasing this to 80wpm.

On the whole, I suppose it comes down to not letting your disability stop you from doing what you want to do, but I promised that I wouldn’t get motivational…

What is your biggest challenge, and what have you learnt from it? Do you know shorthand? Comment below!

Liam

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Deafinitely Challenging: The Constant Ringing of Tinnitus

Imagine a kettle that never stops boiling. This is perhaps the best way to describe tinnitus. In medical terms, it’s often described as being a whistling or ringing in the ear which is permanent. Personally, I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. It is permanent and with this week being Tinnitus Awareness Week, I thought it would be interesting to share my experience of living with tinnitus, as well as what you can do to prevent yourself from developing the condition.

Man covering his ears.
Photo: Coty Schwabe on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Admittedly, the origins of my hearing loss and tinnitus have always been a bit of a blur. However, since the early teens I can remember struggling to get to sleep at night because of tinnitus. Almost like reverse psychology, your mind tells you not to think about the loud ringing inside your ears, but naturally you only focus on it more. Whilst my hearing aids have masked the ringing during the day, not everyone is in my position.

For that reason, I cannot stress how important it is to listen to music safely. I have often seen cocky teenagers eager to show off their tastes in music on a busy train to London. The worrying thing about it though, is that if I can hear their music from the other side of the carriage, then God knows how loud it must be in their own ears.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that tinnitus is currently incurable and once your hearing is gone, it’s gone. There are many articles online which state the loudest volume – usually 80dB – which you can expose your ears to. Granted, music can be a wonderful thing – but is it really something to lose something as important as your hearing for?

Do you know someone who suffers from tinnitus, or do you have it yourself? Let me know about your experience with the condition by commenting below! 

Liam

Tinnitus Awareness Week runs from the 8th February to the 14th February. If you would like to find out more about tinnitus, or learn how to fundraise for the British Tinnitus Association, then you can click here. This blog update is also part of my ‘Deafinitely Challenging’ series, where I explore the main difficulties for deaf/hard of hearing people in the UK.

Age UK launches lip-reading quiz | The Friday Article

A quiz, which challenges hearing people to lip-read ten silenced videos, has been released by Age UK Hearing Aids as part of this year’s Lip-Reading Awareness Week.

The quiz, which contains ten questions, asks participants to guess what is being said in silenced and looped videos by reading the speakers lips – as well as asking players to select the correct answer to the speaker’s question.

In an article promoting the quiz, Age UK Hearing Aids said: “Lip-reading is an essential skill for many with hearing loss problems, and alongside the use of hearing aids it helps those who are hard of hearing to understand others.

It adds: “It is a challenging skill to master and requires a lot of patience and concentration, which many of us with good hearing take for granted.”

Alongside the quiz, the article also offers tips for hearing people on how to better help a deaf/hard of hearing person to lip-read them. Those interested in learning how to lip-read can also find information about lip-reading classes as well as a site called ‘Lipreading Practice’.

If you are interested in completing the quiz, you can find it here.

Liam

The Linguist’s Curiosity

Words have always interested me. As a writer, I have to select from an array of words which ones communicate what I want to say. I’m even using words now!

For those who don’t know, I am deaf/hard of hearing, and what interests me is British Sign Language (BSL). Primarily because it doesn’t involve words…

Therefore, it would be interesting to learn a new unconventional language, that involves a different method of communicating aside from speech. Not to mention that should things get worse hearing wise, I’ve got fluent BSL under my belt!

However, sadly BSL can be quite costly. Instead, I was advised about going on a lip reading course. This would not only be cheaper, but would be a handy skill regardless of hearing ability (though it definitely helps!).

So I’ll have to look into that! I’ll let you know of any progress!

Anyone know any sign language? Or know how to lip-read? Comment below!

Liam