Monday, March 4, 2024

Effective Communication with Hearing and Vision Loss: A Guide to Better Understanding

Communicating with someone who has severe hearing loss or both hearing and vision loss can seem daunting. However, with a few practical tips and a bit of patience, you can make the process smoother and more enjoyable for both of you. Here's how to enhance your communication skills and foster a deeper connection with your loved ones facing these challenges.

For Those with Hearing Loss:

Securing Attention: Begin by getting their attention. A gentle tap on the arm or saying their name can make all the difference. It's about respect and ensuring they're ready to engage with you.

Face-to-Face Is Key: Always communicate face-to-face. This not only shows respect but also utilizes visual cues and lip-reading, which are crucial for understanding, especially in noisy environments. Avoid speaking from behind or to the side. 

Speech Clarity Over Volume: Speak clearly, not louder. Shouting can actually make it harder to understand you. If something doesn't get across, try rephrasing rather than increasing your volume.   

Minimize Background Noise: Background noise can be a major barrier. Turning off distractions or moving to a quieter spot can help hearing aids work better and make your words clearer.   

Non-Verbal Cues: Don't underestimate the power of a smile or a gesture. These can provide valuable context and enhance understanding.   

Check Understanding: Periodically, ensure your companion follows the conversation by asking for their feedback or summarization. It shows you care about effective communication.

Patience and Support: Be prepared to repeat or rephrase information. Showing frustration can make communication more stressful than it needs to be. Be kind and patient. 

Write It Down: For complex information, writing can prevent misunderstandings and ensure clarity.

Remember, effective communication is about making it easier for both parties. Being open to discussing and adjusting your methods can significantly improve your interactions.

For Those with Both Hearing and Vision Loss:

Communication with individuals who have dual sensory loss requires additional strategies:

Touch as Communication: A gentle touch can reassure and signal your presence, setting a foundation for effective communication. But ask for permission first. 

Embrace Technology: Explore devices designed for dual sensory loss. These can be game-changers in how you connect. This could mean hearing aids that also vibrate or use of smartphones or watches that can connect to the hearing aids. 

Simplicity in Language: Use clear, concise language. Complex sentences can be harder to process, so simplicity is key. At least start that way. As communication together continues with hearing aids in and glasses on it will get easier to have more complex conversations. 

Optimal Lighting: Good lighting can aid those with partial vision in reading lips or catching facial expressions, enhancing understanding.   

Tactile Signing: For those familiar with sign language, tactile signing can be an effective way to communicate.   

Narrate Your Actions: Describing your actions and surroundings verbally can help in orienting and including them in the environment and activities.

Understanding and respecting personal preferences is crucial, as is exploring different methods to discover what works best.

Dealing with Refusal to Use Aids or Glasses

Sometimes, individuals may resist using hearing aids or glasses. In these cases, consulting with professionals and focusing on positive motivation strategies can encourage acceptance and usage.

The Key to Success: Consistency and Inclusion

Maintaining open lines of communication about preferences, strategies, and what works or doesn't is essential. Including the person with sensory loss in these discussions emphasizes respect, autonomy, and their integral role in successful communication strategies. After all, it's about enhancing their quality of life and happiness as much as it is about facilitating smoother interactions.

By adapting these practices and maintaining a flexible, patient, and supportive approach, you can help create a more inclusive and understanding environment. Remember, it's about doing the best you can and adjusting as necessary. Here's to happy families and enriched lives through better communication.

About me, Stephen M. Frey

I am an architect and artist that lives in Vermont with my wife Marita and sons. Earlier in my life I had mild hearing loss. In fact I was probably born with it. Over time my loss has increased in severity. I have used behind the ear aids since 2010 from Phonak in both ears. Before then I used older in the ear technology. It wasn’t great. But it was the best my parents could afford. I’m forever grateful!

I started wearing clunky and huge older fashioned behind the ear hearing aids in fourth grade. They were enormous and I thought ugly. I put them away for many years during middle, high school, and early years of college. That was because wearing them made me stand out and other kids made fun of me. (Or at least that is what I thought!) 

Then as I grew older I wanted to really understand what friends and family were truly saying. This helped me overcome years of insecurities. Since my post college and graduate school years  I have worn my hearing aids as much as possible and haven’t looked back since. 

They really help me communicate and live a normal life. Plus it’s really amazing hearing your son’s first words and the birds sing. And the hearing aid technology keeps advancing! 

If you need words of encouragement or someone to talk with about your own hearing aid and communication journey, or that of someone you love, please contact me. I am happy to talk and most of all, listen. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

What is design cultivation about in 2024 and beyond? The new Singularity


Braking cars on the interstate, copyright Stephen M. Frey
What are we waiting for? 

What does cultivating design mean today as compared to over ten years ago about the time the last DC blog post appeared here? 

Can I say I do not really know except I know a few things remain true. 

Cultivating design or design cultivation as I call it here means seeing to learn and learning to see. For me design means reflecting on the who, what, where, why, and when of things and experiences we have everyday. What lies underneath the pen or pencil, or stylus we use to write, draw, sketch or muse in a sketchbook, an iPad, or touchscreen notebook. 

It means asking questions about why something is the way it is. How did that something come to be the way it is today? In 2024, different forces come to play on the everyday that didn't exist in 2012 in the way they do now. In 2012, we were just two years into the last singularity event that occurred, the iPhone which truly ushered into the world unfathomable changes in everyday life. 

The singularity event then changed how we communicated, amplified the effects of emerging internet based applications and standalone programs, social media as we know it today. The portability of the smartphone and iPhone untethered us from our laptops, desktops and more. It also fed the media streaming revolution and millions now more than a decade later, cutting big Cable with ad free services, only to transform in the last few years to streaming services with adds again. 

But now, over a year ago now, another singularity came along that will no doubt transform our lives like the invention of the Smartphone and iPhone, those are large language models like ChatGpt, Dall-e and all the artificial intelligence enabled assistants and guide by the sides in all aspects of everyday life. Now we have new 'friends' we can ask advice, questions or tell them to draw pictures or make illustrations, do coding, answer phones and replace people performing routine jobs.  

What does this mean for cultivating design, with this AI enabled assistants by our side? What does it mean to be original and come up with ideas when now we can brainstorm with the help of AI pretty respectable ideas and more? Hopefully, we can use these tools to cultivate better design outcomes that more solidly solve today's and tomorrow's challenges.  But what do you think? 

(A note, this was not enabled by any AI tools in any way. I'm sure it shows. But it is authentic that way. My writing about cultivating design is authentic and not assisted.)  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Moving Others: Reviewing Dan Pinks "To Sell Is Human"

Courtesy Image
Daniel Pink's now not so new book "To Sell is Human, The Amazing Truth about What Motivates Others" connected with when I first read it in early 2013 with it's ideas reverberating with me everyday since.  I'm serious. Reading it confirmed something I knew intuitively, that "we are all in sales" and that selling isn't a dirty word, rather a reflection of basic human activity we do each and every day. 

      Pink shares how day in and day out we spend "40% of our jobs seeking to persuade others to act, choose, decide, select an idea, in some way to behave a certain way to achieve a desired outcome"  As Pink says, this is called "Non-sales selling". This behavior is basic to our existence. We all do it. Reading this rang true to me as a sole-proprietor architect and business person. 
      Everyday I seek to move people in my work, engaging in non sales selling and yes sometimes selling, and what better way to improve I found is reading Pink's book and acting on the ideas and research he shares.  Whether you realize it or not, everytime you post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and the like you sell yourself, your ideas, the things you find interesting.  
      You can continue doing so without clarity or understanding of this basic fact or recognizing you do it harness the aha moment and put it to good use. As Pink says, "It turns out that we are all natural salespeople. Each of us- because we're human--has a selling instinct, which means that anyone can master the basics of moving others." He goes on to say how the traditional catch phrase ABC, "Always be Closing" no longer applies, rather could be replaced with a new ABC, "Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity." 
      Attunement is fascinating to me for a number of reasons. Pink says "Attunement  is the ability to blend one's actions and outlook into harmony with other people." He believes you increase your power by intentionally reducing it, beginning each new encounter or interaction believing you are in a position of lower power or authority. Doing so helps you empathize with the other's viewpoint.  You walk in their shoes, understand their perspective better.
      Attunement is strengthened "by using your head as much as your heart - Top Sales people have strong emotional intelligence but they don't let their emotional connection sweep them away." You need to connect and empathize with your coworkers but not get sucked in too far, finding a balance and objectivity.
      A very direct way to explain attunement which I continue using daily is mimicking others in a self-aware, observant, respectful way.  Pink goes on to share many examples of this but for me I explain this as keenly observing those around you, picking up cues from them about how they're interacting with you and blending with them by interacting similarly rather than in sharp jarring contrast to them.  This blending translates to figures of speech, body movement and position, energy level together and more.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sometimes What Falls on the Ground is the Most Precious

Petals on the Pavement, Copyright 2013
      Walking this morning I came upon these fallen blossoms.  Like grains of sand individually they may be attractive, intriguing and such as individuals. Collectively laying there they form a pattern of interwoven beauty. 
      However, it is often what you can not see which is most revealing. The petals together created a wafting sweet spring like aroma on the wet pavement.  An interesting juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made.
      Spring brings to the forefront senses which lay dormant in the winter as growing things burst onto the scene.  This moment is an unlikely example of design cultivation.  Do you have ones to share?


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is the Bangladesh Building Collapse Economic Terrorism of the Haves Upon the Have Nots in Disguise?

So now with more than 1,000 dead from the Bangladesh factory collapse we think it's time we consumers wake up from our collective ignorance of where our products come from, whether they're made within a socially responsible and transparent framework and expect better from ourselves in our buying habits.  While the companies themselves may shoulder a great deal of the burden we consumers and the system we willingly participate in are to blame as well.

Retailers are Pressed on Safety in Factories by the New York Times offers an update as the death toll climbs over 1,000 and an overview of what's been happening this week in response to the disaster.  There's also an online petition you can sign from Avaaz here.

Is this essentially quiet behind the scenes pervasive economic terrorism by the haves inflicted upon the have nots?  I don't like using the word terrorism but I can't think of an adequate alternative.  It makes me very uneasy using it but doing so wakes me up in a way I can not ignore. (Are there other words more apt, let me know.)

Here's one of the major reasons the companies are in this country....From this article

"Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, has the lowest minimum wage in the world — $37 US a month — which has helped it attract billions of dollars in orders from the West."
(After checking a variety of sources, this claim appears not true enough.  Cuba is $5 US a month, a number of former Soviet republics a little higher, Tajikistan $17 US,  India is $47 US, Vietnam $95 US, Mexico $102, China $137 US)

Here's the major kick and challenge to we 'haves' identified at the end of the article.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Growing Self Awareness of Technology Overload

Wordle: Too Much Information
A Word Cloud  Explaining How I feel
     This holiday season I am really overloaded by technology, so much so it's making my head hurt and I feel both annoyed, confused and conflicted by the media messaging coming at me from all directions.  I see and feel all the beautiful images and implied lifestyle of ultmate media experience.  I see families sitting in contemporary styled living rooms watching large flatscreens, heads bent down looking at tablets, laptops.  All together they appear it seems, but in actuality so far apart from one another.  I don't buy what I'm seeing in the advertising because I'm living in a media overload nightmare.  I think it's a tip of a proverbial socio-cultural iceberg. 
     I'm surrounded by screens of various sizes and shapes.  I'm uncomfortable seeing so many friends and family uncontrollably it seems bent over tablets, itouches, laptops vaguely interacting with one another, not making clear eye, mumbling answers to questions down to the screen but not across the room to the person asking the question.  If this is togetherness and family time why does my skin crawl ever so little sometimes when I look across to see a loved one head down on a screen, body in place, mind and focus elsewhere.
     I can't be the only one feeling a little weird about this can I?  I know all of this great cool tech at least in the commercials, web and multi-media advertising has us all living in a super happy fantasy world of better lives etc.  But is it really making us better people?  Do we know how to do things like basic communication, like....talking to one another?  I know that after a long day working on my architectural work surrounded by screens at my desk, where I frequently post strategic updates to my LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, flitting around doing work related research I feel a bit scattered. 
     In the last year or so, have you tried reading a newspaper article or picked up a magazine and tried reading an indepth piece, quickly realizing you can't because you're still scanning the pages like they were on a screen and you can't settle down to actually read like you used to.  I have.  Often.  I feel all of this tech and my unwitting behavior with it has led me to a self-created attention deficit disorder.   
     Backing up a little, let's set some context. In our home bookshelves we have an old children's book from the 1950's or so espousing the glamourous miracles of the technology then called television.  Looking at its simple colored illustrations showing how the technology worked, explaining the complex and mysterious ideas of programs of various kinds being beamed over airwaves into people's living rooms seems quaint today.  Often books like this or Norman Rockwell paintings depict entire family's sitting around a living room, a barber shop, restuarant or bar looking at a single TV or listening to a radio.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Seven Secrets of Exceptional Customer Service

While at VtSBDC training with Carrie Gendreau, seminar leader.
(This is just a series of cryptic notes...not a long form post fyi....)

Treat everyone as a guest, seek to connect, pay attention, listen hard

Be ready to help your guest, be ready, be prepared the moment the walk in the door.

It is important to keep and clarify expectations in the process of serving them.

Every single time, how we look, our first impression matters most. However take care not to pre judge or not to be preconceived.

The details matter. It is always about the details. Caring for details show we see the big picture and get it.

4 Ways we have contact with our guests

1. How we look
2, What we do
3. What we say
4. How we say it

Have immediate rapor and connection with your guests.

Say please and thank you at all times.

Develop an attitude of gratitude.

Never put down the competition.

Catch people doing things right and celebrate success.

It's all about what I can do for you, not what I can't.

Engage directly with guests somehow with your interactions. "Welcome to Moe's".

Show genuine interest by listening and show you're listening. Do so by possibly repeating back what you thought you heard. It shows you care and you are focused on them.

Say their name back to them. Of course we need to know their name.

Exceed our guests' expectations, (quotes on walls of restrooms stalls)

Rules of Customer Service:
1. Customer is always right. 2. Go back to number 1.

How can I exceed my customer's expectations?

See our guest's complaints as gifts and learning oppourtunities.

- Handle the challenge first, then the solution or reason.
- Show empathy
- Find a solution
- Offer a gift , coupon

Does your organization have a customer service mission statement and process which all buy-in to and follow? Whether a small services based business like mine, Arocordis Design, a larger retail or manufacturing entity, having a playbook and service ethos is critical.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Design Thinking is Infectious

Design thinking is a state of mindfulness. Why? This is because so many issues or layers come together when considered during the act of seeking solution. It is a complex one involving synthesis and Ideation.

Ideation? This is the doing of design. Ideation involves making and devising possible solutions, alternatives satisfying the design challenges faced. Picture a big bright blue funnel. You empty the ideas into it and they swirl together forming a new unknown solution. What do you think?