I decided to try using the phone with my new hearing last Friday. I asked my colleague Patrice to read part of one of our careers handouts and I would just listen. I know Patrice’s voice well and felt comfortable with calling her. I told her to expect to have to repeat herself a lot. The handout read;
During a PhD in Pharmacology, Jill collaborated with Pfizer studying the effect of newly synthesised peptides on the growth of cancer cells. During this collaboration, Jill expressed an interest in technical sales to one of the Pfizer project managers. He put Jill in touch with the commercial division. Through this contact she obtained some temporary work on a particular sales project at the end of her research contract. When, eventually, the project became successful Jill was offered a permanent job.
I dialled and there was silence. I listened hard. There was still silence. I hung up and then I realised what I had done. I had dialled Text Relay, the UK’s national text relay service, and my Geemarc phone automatically switched over to VCO (voice carry over) which meant the voice part of the call was cut off as the text appeared. I had dialled in the usual way as I would for a person unable to hear. I felt so stupid! I picked up the phone and dialled Patrice again, this time, dialling her direct. (I felt so FREE! FREE of text relay! FREE of slow cumbersome telephone text calls! FREE of a long wait to connect to someone at the other end. It. Was. Fabulous.) Patrice picked up and I could hear this robotic female voice. Not Patrice’s. Oh …. this was so confusing!
I popped my head round her door and she said it is some sort of answering machine. So I tried calling her again. This time, the strange voice kept talking…. and talking …. and talking. I couldn’t understand a word. Then I caught ‘Through this contract she obtained some temporary work ….’ and I realised Patrice had taken over where the answer machine had left off, and I was able to read the rest of the excerpt. I was unable to understand the words but I knew what she was saying when I read the handout. When Patrice turned around so I could see her face through her office window, and lipread as well as hear her, I understood every word she said.
I was using Advanced Bionic’s T-mic (at 100%) which is a microphone situated at the entrance to the ear canal, the voice was loud and clear. It was just tinny, different from real-life, more robotic. This patented microphone means I can position a phone receiver in the same way a hearing person can. No need for trying to listen through a microphone at the top of my ear and angling the phone’s handset into all sorts of strange positions so I can catch a clue. I discovered that I could hear a telephone voice better when I changed to another program on my cochlear implant, which has a higher IDR (input dynamic range) of 70 and no ClearVoice added.
I hung up and Patrice said she thought that piece of prose was rather hard. Pfizer? Pharmacology? Synthesised? Peptides? Yes…. I think I made it a bit tricky for myself there! So I suggested we pick one object and talk about it. Patrice picked up a raffle ticket from Hearing Dogs and went back to her office. I picked up the phone when it rang and she asked me questions about this ticket. What is the first prize? What make of car? What is the second prize? What is the third prize? How much is the ticket? When is the closing date? The dog likes the beach doesn’t he. The dog has got something, what is it. (Huh?) I felt silly asking Patrice to repeat herself so much, but I managed to get about half right. I was thrilled. I was very suprised to realise we had been talking for 15 minutes. When she came back to my office, we compared raffle tickets and found I had an old one. Different picture, different dog, different closing date. Bah!
I then collared another colleague Zara. I asked her to phone me and tell me the objects that were on her desk. Short simple sentences! I repeated the objects after her …. stapler, money, phone, pen ….. and got about half right. It was hard, as they were just single words and Zara’s accent isn’t English, but I did much better than I expected.
Now, I’m determined to get at least one colleague to talk to me on the phone every day at closing time.
– Don’t call me – I’ll call YOU!