Who We Are

HEAR! HERE! is your local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America [HLAA] serving Woodland, Davis and Yolo County. We offer informational programs throughout the year that are open to all. See this blog for times and dates of upcoming events.


Our e-mail address is: hearherewoodland@gmail.com

Monday, November 30, 2009

Machine-Generated Captions on YouTube!

View Google's Blog to see video

Ken Harrenstien software engineer for Google announced that the company's accessibility team has developed a system for using automatic speech recognition technology [ASR] to create machine-generated automatic captions [auto-caps] for certain videos on YouTube. Every minute of every hour of every day, 20+ hours of video are uploaded to the Internet with the vast majority of the audio content inaccessible to the deaf or hearing impaired. The new technology automatically generates captions for user generated video. Mr. Harrenstein who is himself deaf stated that while the captioning is not yet perfect "compared to nothing this is wonderful". The viewer will be able to select the closed captioning icon to view the captions, and will also be able to make the text larger or smaller and to change the background color to maximize the readability of the captions. The system is being currently tested by the 13 partners involved in the initial launch, including the local institutes of UC Berkley, Stanford and UCLA, before being release to the public.

In addition to the automatic captions Google also announced the launch of "auto-timing" which makes it significantly easier for YouTube video makers who wish to create captions to do so manually without having any special expertise. Google's ASR is able to use a simple text file that contains all the words in the video to figure out when the words are spoken in the video and insert them in the appropriate place. This system is in place and Google asked for users to provide them feedback so that they can improve and develop the system as needed.

These two systems are seen as a major step in Google's stated mission of making the Internet available and accessible for all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

HOT DOG of a Meeting

WOW, What a meeting we had last Monday.

To begin with we watched a DVD from the Sam Simon Program, headquartered in Malibu, on the training
and use of dogs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The program uses
carefully selected dogs rescued from the pound. These dogs have to be:

Confident: Outgoing: a Assertive: Friendly: and Healthy!

We also learnt that Hearing Dogs provide their owners an amazing variety of services including:
Alerting the owner to smoke alarms, door bells and phones that are ringing; Informing the owner that food has finished cooking both on the stove and in the microwave; Bringing back items the owner may have dropped; and Ensuring that the owner knows if someone is calling them or talking to them from behind.

  One very poignant moment in the DVD was when a ten year old boy talked about how he feels much safer when he is walking down the street as his dog will alert him if there is someone behind him. I think that hearing people so not realize how isolating being totally deaf can be and how that must be, especially for children. The boy's mother says that having a Hearing Dog has helped her son become more socially active with the other children in the neighborhood and by extension more of a typical teenager.
After the DVD we were treated to seeing two Canine Companions for Independence [CCI] dogs, Cali and Caspir and their owners, Don and Walis, do their thing!

Cali is a Hearing Dog and demonstrated all the techniques she has for keeping Don her owner alerted to what is happening around him. She responded to a timer going off, she noticed when Don dropped his keys and picked them up for him, she went and got his attention when Walis called to him from across the room.

Walis, the owner  of Caspir, gave the group an understanding of the rigorous training that CCI dogs have to undergo in order to qualify to be a certified  Hearing Dog. Only 20% of dogs make it all the way through the training. Training is spread out over the first 2 1/2 years of the life of the dog with the last 6 months or so being on training specifically for work as a Hearing Dog.

Owners are also required to go to two weeks intensive training during which they are matched with a dog.
There is final test where the owner and dog go out to a busy public venue such as a mall to test the dogs ability to perform complex tasks in a noisy crowded area.  

One thing that Walis told us that is pretty amazing is that she is teaching her dog Caspir to respond to American Sign Language...which she demonstrated for us.

It was quite impressive to see both these dogs working in public and being so very responsive to their owners. Both dogs ignored everyone else in the room until at the end of the class they were given permission to "release" and then they were just the friendliest dogs you could image.

YES, it really was a great demonstration and we have to thank Don, Walis , Cali and Caspir for giving up their time and sharing the wonder of these dogs with us. They made you want to run out and get a dog right away!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dogs at November Meeting!

What a treat! At next Monday's November meeting we will hear from members of the Canine Companions on the training of Hearing Loss Dogs! These are amazing companions for the people who can't hear the doorbell or telephone. Did you know that hearing dogs are allowed on planes when you fly? They can even let you know when your microwave signals "Food is ready"

A hearing loss dog will be on hand to demostrate...

NOVEMBER 16TH 2 p.m.


See you all there!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Walk4Hearing Over!

The walk is over. All seemed to go well I think. We received a final donation of $40.00 that took us just over our goal of raising $600.00 so thank you to everyone who contributed to the cause! We will keep you posted as to how the monies are spent.
Again, thanks everyone!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Walk4Hearing just five days away!

Just five more days until the HLAA 's Walk4Hearing is held at Long Beach. The good news is that HEAR! HERE! has raised $570.00 so far for this fundraiser. A percentage of the funds raised by the HLAA"S Walk4Hearing is sent back to the local chapters to help sponsor programs. HEAR! HERE!'s main program for the year is providing free hearing tests to pre-school children that otherwise might not receive this invaluable service. Each test costs $7.50 per child. So, obviously, the more we raise the more children we can help.

If you are reading this page won't you help by going to the link at the bottom of the previous posting and donating to the "Woodland Walkers" your local team. Any amount large or small will help give one more child an opportunity to be tested.