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October 2, 2011 12:56 AM   Subscribe

29 years old and hearing myself for the first time SLYT "I was born deaf and 8 weeks ago I received a hearing implant. This is the video of them turning it on and me hearing myself for the first time :)"
posted by Tarumba (80 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Reminds me of this earlier post (similar, but with babies).
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:03 AM on October 2, 2011


That video is markedly different to this video.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:03 AM on October 2, 2011


I'm totally crying right now. That is unbelievably awesome.
I'd recommend some music, but I'd hate to be that guy.
posted by Sphinx at 1:04 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how her speech is so good if she's always been deaf.
posted by parrot_person at 1:04 AM on October 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


She wasn't "born deaf" the way that people seem to think "born deaf" means. Deafness isn't black and white. It's frequencies/shades of gray.
posted by autoclavicle at 1:14 AM on October 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


(To make things more confusing, this also isn't a cochlear implant—it's an Envoy Esteem implant.)
posted by autoclavicle at 1:18 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please read the previous thread before leaping into a debate about how miraculous this technology is.
posted by hermitosis at 1:18 AM on October 2, 2011


autoclavicle: "She wasn't "born deaf" the way that people seem to think "born deaf" means. Deafness isn't black and white. It's frequencies/shades of gray."

Right. Her speech is clear and "normal" sounding, so she obviously has been able to hear to some degree. Her quote is a bit misleading in that.
posted by zardoz at 1:28 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, then: I don't understand how her speech is so good if she's never heard herself before.

(not knocking the video, just have the same question after watching, in addition to being happy for her)
posted by BurnChao at 1:33 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her quote is a bit misleading in that.

Well not completely, although it's very simplified. Hearing people don't understand that there's a difference between being "hard of hearing" and being "deaf," or that "deafness" itself is pegged at -90 dBL.

For example, I just say I'm half-deaf in each ear because my hearing loss is -45 dBL/ear. That seems to help hearing people understand that I have limitations but also some abilities.

For her, I think she described herself as being deaf because that's what hearing people understand her limitations. It's not a lie or misleading, it's more that people don't understand the nuances of deafness.
posted by autoclavicle at 1:36 AM on October 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


She wasn't "born deaf" the way that people seem to think "born deaf" means.

But the video is titled "hearing myself for the first time", which -- not to be angry or accusatory-- can't really be true, because at 1:02-1:08 on the video she responds "no, not really...my laughter sounds loud" with perfect volume and diction.

When you are born completely deaf, it's a race against time, because hearing is "experience-expectant", and if you don't get some necessary input by childhood the hearing aspects of the brain are rewired to do something useful: "One doctor has said "There is a time window during which they can get an implant and learn to speak. From the ages of two to four, that ability diminishes a little bit. And by age nine, there is zero chance that they will learn to speak properly. So it’s really important that they get recognized and evaluated early.""
posted by dgaicun at 1:36 AM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'll be accusatory - the title of the video is bullshit.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:37 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, then: I don't understand how her speech is so good if she's never heard herself before.

I hope this makes sense:

She has heard herself, but she just hasn't heard as many frequencies before while hearing herself speak.

It's sort of like, say you have ear plugs in. Everything is dampened yet you can hear yourself when you talk, but it's not great. This is akin to removing the ear plugs.
posted by autoclavicle at 1:39 AM on October 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Saw this on HuffPo recently, and while there may be a debate on exactly how deaf she was to begin with, there's no faking that reaction. She seemed to credit her diction on being a language geek. Nonetheless, a very sweet moment.
posted by Gilbert at 1:41 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


dgaicun — for what it's worth, she didn't get a cochlear implant, this is an Envoy Esteem implant.
posted by autoclavicle at 1:42 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dgaicun - I've talked with a Deaf signing instructor who was pretty damn clear (and an accomplished lip reader). He said that he had no hearing, but I don't know what his hearing was like as a kid, of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:51 AM on October 2, 2011


Has she had hearing/speech therapy since she was a little kid?
posted by Gator at 2:27 AM on October 2, 2011


A very interesting This American Life piece about receiving a cochlear implant later in life without having any prior hearing experience. The ability to filter out background noise is critical, and it has to be acquired fairly early on.
posted by lumensimus at 2:40 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just remember this when you people start going on your tears about us transhumanist "weirdos" who want to bio-integrate with computing devices
posted by AndrewKemendo at 4:26 AM on October 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Seriously people, why do you care about the details? Can't you infer enough of it, isn't her tears of joy enough? Actually, who cares if she even heard normally before. Scrutinizing this is like the cynical version of explaining a joke.
posted by rowancluster at 4:42 AM on October 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


Well, this FPP is right in my wheelhouse. I'm deaf -- technically speaking, the term is "severe-to-profound binaural sensorineural hearing loss". More than 90 dB loss in both ears, across most frequencies. (Only exception is bass, at 65 dB for 125 Hz and 75 dB for 250.... which is why unmufflered motorcycles and low-flying airplanes drive me nuts.)

My parents figured out that I was deaf relatively early in my life, at six months. As a toddler I wore a pair of hearing aids, the kind with the battery pack in a little pouch strapped to my chest -- this was the middle seventies. I also received speech therapy from the get-go, and was "mainstreamed" into a normal education rather than one for deaf children, for two reasons: exposure to the hearing world, and a better education. Deaf education back then was abysmal. I did pretty well in school, wearing hearingaids and slowly improving my listening comprehension and enunciation.

To this day I still get complimented on the quality of my speech. I've gone about in public without a hearing aid and held reasonably long conversations with people who don't realize I'm deaf, but even with hearingaids on, there are certain tells I believe "hearing" people can detect: first, a slightly nasal or flat quality to my speech, and softly pronounced consonants like 's' and 'th', which together can appear as slurred speech. So, yeah, it's not as magical as it seems. I really have to be alert and work at my enunciation -- if I'm tired, I don't focus as well, I mumble, and my speech suffers.

So... am I deaf? Yeah. Take out my hearingaids and I can't hear human speech. I can still speak "normally", but it's a lifelong challenge, and will continue to be one. This girl will face the same hearing and speaking challenges for the rest of her life, even with a cochlear implant. That said, the challenges are very subtle for deaf people like us who've been fortunate to receive speech therapy at an early age. Being a bibliophile also helps enormously.

Summary: It's a two-way street. Hearing is not the same as listening comprehension, and speaking well depends very much on how one translates heard sounds into distinct language, communicating back to the speaker, and correcting errors on the fly. Same process one learns with a foreign language, really.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 4:48 AM on October 2, 2011 [113 favorites]


"When you people" - when who people? If transhumanists are 'weirdos', it's not because of that. What an odd thing to say.

And as for 'cynical version of explaining a joke', there's a difference between cynicism and skepticism. Skepticism is the right attitude when faced with some heartwarming story about science and medicine that doesn't quite add up, because some people use emotional impact to hide or distort facts, especially in this area. So yeah, caring about the details is important if you don't want to be duped. Sorry about that!

As for the OP: I'm glad I've learned the term experience-expectant, as that's part of my life history too. I think there is some evidence that neuroplasticity might not go away as totally as thought, but we're a long way away from rebooting that early developmental process.
posted by Devonian at 4:52 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joyful, cathartic, and makes me glad I live in the era I do. Thanks, Tarumba.

And thanks, Jubal Kessler, for describing your experience. The foreign language comparison helped me get it.
posted by Songdog at 5:08 AM on October 2, 2011


holy shit, if that part about not being able to speak ever because you didn't learn before four is true, that is fucking horrifying

i am thinking about all the stuff i'll never be an ace at because i didn't do it when i was a kid :(
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:12 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


before nine, excuse me
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:13 AM on October 2, 2011


You know, every time you say something, I do feel alluded for a few seconds. Like, are you hinting I didn't develop well? JK (kinda)
posted by Tarumba at 5:15 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the babies with cochlear implants videos were circling, I thought it should be played before any "cut science funding" argument in politics. Add this one to the playlist.
posted by DigDoug at 5:50 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


From her Youtube channel:
"My whole life I've been complimented on how well I speak. I don't really have an answer for you other than I have always had a passion for reading, grammar, and English. My hearing loss was/is considered severe to profound. I've worked very hard to be able to interact and blend in.....only thing I can say is 'God is good'."
She says she will be on the Today Show on Monday morning. Perhaps we'll learn more then.

I get that skepticism is reflexive for a lot of people, but sometimes it's just tacky. This aint high stakes politics or science; this is a woman experiencing a kind of joy that few people can comprehend. Essentially saying that she's full of shit without having any special insight except for "her diction is too good" just makes you look arrogant and foolish.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:59 AM on October 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


She says she is severely/profoundly deaf and has been since birth. Here's how she explains her speech:

"I was born deaf and have worn hearing aids from the age of 2, but hearing aids only help so much. I have gotten by this long in life by reading lips."

“My whole life I’ve been complimented on how well I speak. I don’t really have an answer for you other than I have always had a passion for reading, grammar, and English. My hearing loss was/is considered severe to profound. I’ve worked very hard to be able to interact and blend in…only thing I can say is ‘God is good’.”

Envoy Medical, the company that fitted her with the device, has a set of videos of people sharing their experiences with the Esteem device. They are advertisements, really, but interesting. For example, one man says that he was surprised to learn that candles make a sound when the flame is flickering with the wax, and that he had no idea that cat purrs were something loud that you could hear.
posted by Houstonian at 6:04 AM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: Skeptical of severe-to-profound hearing loss.

*sigh*
posted by kuanes at 6:09 AM on October 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I get that skepticism is reflexive for a lot of people, but sometimes it's just tacky.

Amen to that. Perhaps she might have been clearer in her YouTube title. Something like: I was born deaf, but by that I mean deaf in terms of the medical definition, in that the sounds I hear are terrifically muffled and I can't hear many frequencies, and not the way people who are not deaf use the word deaf, to mean "can't hear anything at all," and I am hearing my voice for the first time, but, by the first time, I mean I have heard a muffled version of it that is scarcely audible, but enough that, with enormous amounts of work, I speak in a way that, from a few words, will sound considerably better than the "deaf voice" most people expect to hear.

I suppose that might have quelled some of the objections. But, then, did the objections actually need to happen? Her title actually reflect her experience, just without, apparently, enough exactness to keep people from playing the increasingly popular game of online skeptic.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:25 AM on October 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah, this just isn't doing it for me. Maybe if she was blind as well, or missing her nose.
posted by orme at 6:30 AM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


The thing that struck me (before I read that by "deaf" and "hearing myself for the first time" she meant something other than what I assumed she meant by them) was not that her speech was good -- although I did notice that -- but that she understood the meaning of the sounds that the other lady was speaking while her eyes were covered.
posted by Flunkie at 6:31 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I meant to add:

Jonathan's Cochlear Implant Activation at age 8 months
posted by Flunkie at 6:34 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing that struck me (before I read that by "deaf" and "hearing myself for the first time" she meant something other than what I assumed she meant by them) was not that her speech was good -- although I did notice that -- but that she understood the meaning of the sounds that the other lady was speaking while her eyes were covered.

I had the same experience watching the video. My thought was, 'Wow, there's a lot that I don't know about being deaf,' and not 'How can I use this insight to get me some skeptic cred?' Not saying that's what you did. I'm using the point to address some other comments that seemed out of line.
posted by jwhite1979 at 6:38 AM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had the same experience watching the video. My thought was, 'Wow, there's a lot that I don't know about being deaf,' and not 'How can I use this insight to get me some skeptic cred?' Not saying that's what you did. I'm using the point to address some other comments that seemed out of line.
Before I say what I'm about to say, I want to be clear that I do understand that you are not saying that's what I did. Now:

I've read the comments in this thread. Maybe I missed something, or maybe some have been deleted, but except for one ("I call bullshit" or something like that), I didn't see any that struck me as "trying to get skeptic cred" or any such. The closest things I saw, other than that one, were questions like "I don't understand, how can she speak so well if she's never heard herself". Questions that were not phrased in a confrontational way at all, that seemed to be asked in good faith, and that were perfectly natural questions given that she said she never heard herself before.

If anything, the comments that struck me as strange from this thread (other than the single "I call bullshit" one) were those that were acting as if people were horrible for asking a perfectly natural question based on a perfectly natural (if incorrect) interpretation of how the lady herself described the situation.
posted by Flunkie at 6:45 AM on October 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Seeing the words "misleading" and "bullshit" kind of set me off. You're right though that the majority of posts were not inconsiderate.
posted by jwhite1979 at 6:49 AM on October 2, 2011


I see the skepticism as less like "no way, she's lying!" and more like "hmm, that's interesting but there are some gaps. I wonder what the rest of the story is."
posted by arcticwoman at 8:01 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


holy shit, if that part about not being able to speak ever because you didn't learn before [nine] is true, that is fucking horrifying

Well, it's not that simple or clear-cut. It is possible to learn to speak as an adult. It's also possible to learn to speak as a deaf kid.

Now, it's a lot more work than learning to speak as a toddler with full hearing. And people who learn to speak under those conditions can end up with what's sometimes described as a "deaf accent." That can lead to pretty serious social stigma. (What's worse, an especially strong deaf accent can be mistaken for a sign that the speaker is mentally handicapped by hearers who don't know any better.)

The original quote talked about learning to speak "properly," and I suspect that this is what they're talking about: "If you want your kid to grow up speaking unaccented English, get them a hearing aid or a cochlear implant early." But that's not the same as "not being able to speak ever" if you miss a critical period in the kid's life.

The bigger problem with getting a hearing aid or implant late in life is that severely deaf people who do that often end up having trouble processing auditory information. In other words, whether or not they learn to speak, they often have trouble learning to hear, and so end up relying on lip-reading etc. anyway. But people who got some auditory input as children — because they only had partial hearing loss, or got a hearing aid early on, or weren't deaf at birth — don't tend to have that problem, and can generally learn to make use of whatever new auditory information they receive if they get a stronger hearing aid later on.

Please don't take any of this as taking an implicit stance for or against hearing aids, cochlear implants, oral or manual education, or whatever. The only strong opinion I have on any of those issues is "Holy shit, guys, this is all really complicated."
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:09 AM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I worked for a few years in the Deaf community as an interpreter.

Deaf, in the Deaf community, is with a capital 'D', to signify that it is a culture, much like how we write Asian culture, African culture etc... Sign Language is an official language (although many countries refuse to acknowledge it).

Many Deaf people are forced to learn how to talk/verbalize, by hearing people, when they are young.

Hearing implants are highly controversial in the Deaf community. Many Deaf advocates see it as hearing people, once more, forcing their values and culture on an oppressed group. Last I heard, there are no long term studies on the impact of hearing implants. Many Deaf advocates do not see their deafness as an handicap or something that needs to be fixed.

There’s a new teen American TV show on right now called “Switched at Birth”. It’s about a Deaf girls integration in to the hearing world. A lot of common issues raised by Deaf people are addressed in the show.

Here’s a Pepsi commercial playing on a common story/joke in the Deaf community: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAXhpXVWXVI&feature=related . (Sorry – don’t know how to do the direct link thing!). The joke takes many forms, but the one I heard is a Deaf man is looking in the middle of the night for his Deaf friend, who is in one of the many motel rooms. He comes to the motel and leans on the horn of his car. Woken up by the car horn, the hearing people turn on their room lights. So, the man knows his Deaf friend is in the one room that did not turn the lights on.

It’s a very visual joke and much funnier when told by a Deaf person. A lot of times – ASL, like many languages, does not translate well in to English.
posted by what's her name at 8:13 AM on October 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


We have enough cynacism in this world. And there are posts that deserve it. Let the girl be happy beyond words and tears that she heard loud and clear someone speak to her and her own voice. I'm sure if it was us, we would have the same reaction.
posted by stormpooper at 8:15 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please read the previous thread before leaping into a debate about how miraculous this technology is.

OK, hermitosis. I did. And I'm an atheist. And it's miraculous.

mi·rac·u·lous Adjective /məˈrakyələs/
1. Occurring through divine or supernatural intervention.
2. Highly improbable and extraordinary and bringing very welcome consequences.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:55 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's wonderful that some people are recommending music now in some comments. Imagine hearing your favourite bands for the first time when you're 29. They have asked her to try Iron Maiden, too.
posted by Tarumba at 8:57 AM on October 2, 2011


Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Btw, folks who haven't read through the Deaf Culture debate in the previous thread are missing out on a (to quote hermitosis near the end) "fantastically challenging and interesting" discussion. There's a bit of grar, but not too much, and the issues raised are fascinating.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 AM on October 2, 2011


I get that skepticism is reflexive for a lot of people, but sometimes it's just tacky.

Amen to that.
posted by mediareport at 9:53 AM on October 2, 2011


I never get tired of these videos.
posted by vito90 at 10:42 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


For her, I think she described herself as being deaf because that's what hearing people understand her limitations. It's not a lie or misleading, it's more that people don't understand the nuances of deafness.

It's how I describe myself as well. It's simply easier to self-identify that way, instead of getting into the particulars of what I can and cannot hear with strangers. I am deeply uncomfortable sharing my physiological particulars with others, and it's none of their business anyway.

Simply by saying I'm deaf, it expresses whatever accommodation need I might have, while maintaining a degree of privacy. Getting into the details tends to devolve into some kind of debate or test of what I can and cannot hear, which while probably well-intentioned, is highly invasive on a personal level. It's much easier all round to label myself as deaf, and then everything beyond that is just bonus for everyone.


In any event -- good on this woman. Congrats! Yay, Science!
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:25 AM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I had a similar reaction the first time I heard the Decemberists.
posted by Decani at 11:42 AM on October 2, 2011


This is very cool. I saw this yesterday and I was curious about how she spoke so well, so thanks for pointing out her comment.
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on October 2, 2011


I don't think this has been mentioned here yet; the same Youtube account has a very silly baby video from two years ago. The way the woman talks in it sounds a lot like people I know with hearing loss.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:47 PM on October 2, 2011


I'll be accusatory - the title of the video is bullshit.

Hmmm...

Seriously people, why do you care about the details? Can't you infer enough of it, isn't her tears of joy enough? Actually, who cares if she even heard normally before. Scrutinizing this is like the cynical version of explaining a joke.

Thats great that this young woman is happy. I have no problem with that. Go science.

But what I have a problem with is the way this video is shown to represent this technology. Its not that the video is popular because it is using the most extreme example, or even a usual example. Its that they have used a
young
white
"normal" speaking
female

to show the results. Its why its popular. I have no problems with this young woman, and I even envy the joys she will encounter in the next few days of her life...but what I do have a problem with is that the reason this is popular, all over the news, and even on metafilter is because the subject here is a

young
white
female.

And the media has a love affair with that.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:03 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


sorry. run-on.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:03 PM on October 2, 2011


No, that's not the correct analysis. It is popular because of her emotional reaction. It's really cool, and we need some positive stuff once in a while. Also, the tats.
posted by found missing at 1:25 PM on October 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't care that she's young, white, or female. I'd be just as fascinated by this video if it was some wrinkly old dude of indeterminate ethnicity. Because for me, it's all about the "Holy shit, science is cool! Look at all the happy there!"

I like it when people are overwhelmed with happy.
posted by MissySedai at 1:39 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't care that she's young, white, or female. I'd be just as fascinated by this video if it was some wrinkly old dude of indeterminate ethnicity. Because for me, it's all about the "Holy shit, science is cool! Look at all the happy there!"
I get that, and I like seeing the happy, too, but I still think it's kind of a sentimental way to think about this stuff. I mean, this little dude didn't seem to enjoy hearing for the first time at all, but science is still cool, and I'm not sure that his distress tells us anything significant about cochlear implants.
posted by craichead at 1:56 PM on October 2, 2011


hal_c_on: "young white female"

Really? This may sum up your reaction (and possibly why some media may jump on it) but to me it was seeing SOMEONE react with positive and quite raw emotion.

I think part of the interest in this type of video is:

1. we all need to see good things happening, when we surrounded by news that is not good
2. we sometimes like to see "REAL" reactions to things as opposed to been saturated with actors acting emotional situations.
posted by greenhornet at 1:58 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


hal_c_on, to be frank, your interpretation seems totally out of left field to me.
posted by Flunkie at 2:05 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here I was waiting for the preservation of Deaf Culture side to swoop down and shit all over this. I guess we have to figure out how many db's of hearing loss is "deafness" first.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:51 PM on October 2, 2011


Here is an infant from South Africa having a reaction after being able to hear for the first time. This is a cochlear implant, and he was not able to hear ANYTHING before. Here he is 2 years later. Magic like Clarke.

It has 36 views.

hal_c_on, to be frank, your interpretation seems totally out of left field to me.

It should seem that way to you.

I don't care that she's young, white, or female. I'd be just as fascinated by this video if it was some wrinkly old dude of indeterminate ethnicity.

That's probably true. I'm not saying everyone is a racist. I'm just saying that just like in traditional media, stories about young white females that touch the heart are given a bit more weight. Thats all. I'm not saying that anyone is racist for liking it. I'm saying that you're seeing a young white female go through this rather than another demographic because this is what the media gives weight to.

Thats all.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:59 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think there's some truth to what you're saying, hal_c_on, but there are some other factors at play.

First, there are considerably less videos like that of adults. Part of what makes the video striking is the way in which she talks about the experience ("I don't want to hear myself cry.")

There's also something having to do with media literacy. She put up the video herself, so that lots of people could see it. Most of the other videos people have linked here were put up for friends and family (see the lack of tags, descriptions, etc.). It looks like the main place where the video blew up was Mashable. I would imagine she or someone she knows sent it to them.

And yes, she's attractive. That's okay.

These other videos are great too! I actually kind of love the one linked here, and it speaks just as much to the transformational power of medical technology. What if we discussed them as being related and also interesting, not somehow in competition with each other?
posted by roll truck roll at 4:26 PM on October 2, 2011


hal_c_on, I understand and sympathize with your critique. However, I don't feel that this 'blew up' because she is a young, attractive, and white female. Her reaction was very moving.
posted by 200burritos at 4:51 PM on October 2, 2011


here is another sweet one, recommended when I saw hal_c_on's link.
posted by Tarumba at 5:30 PM on October 2, 2011


"For example, one man says that he was surprised to learn that candles make a sound when the flame is flickering with the wax, and that he had no idea that cat purrs were something loud that you could hear."

My old roommate's deaf mother had no idea that car turn signals clicked. When she got her ... very high tech hearing aids? I think? Anyway, when she got them, she thought there was something desperately wrong with her car because every time she went to turn, she'd hear this odd clicking noise. It took her about a week to figure out it was the turn signal. Because turning the turn signal on is something you do so automatically after you drive for a while, it took a little for her to realize the clicking started when she flicked the blinker on.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:31 PM on October 2, 2011


I'm saying the title of the video is bullshit because it very, very strongly implies that she has always been completely deaf; that she has never heard her own voice, at all, ever; that she's hearing sound - sound of any kind - for the first time; and that the very first sound she hears is her own voice. 'Born deaf' + 'hearing myself for the first time'. Browsing through the gushing media about this makes it clear that's what most people think when they see it, and that that is precisely why it's getting so much attention - because taken together, that's pretty fucking amazing.

Now we find it's 'Oh, I've actually been wearing hearing aids since I was two. The sound wasn't great, though. I mean, it was sufficiently great for me to develop absolutely perfect diction, and to have no trouble whatsoever interpreting speech with my eyes covered three seconds after this thing was switched on, but it wasn't DTS 8.1.'

'Mostly deaf girl who's been wearing hearing aids for more than two decades hears voice with full clarity for first time' isn't quite as catchy, though. Maybe if the lady in the other video I linked up top was a little more prone to editorialising in her headlines she'd have a 3.7 million YT hits and a bunch of media attention, too. Because that really was somebody hearing for the first time - jumping with fright and shock at the slightest sound.

If my skepticism is tacky, I don't give a shit. You're the ones who'll be trying to justify why you were crying at the online funeral of the next Kaycee Nicole, not me.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:32 PM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't care that she's young, white, or female. I'd be just as fascinated by this video if it was some wrinkly old dude of indeterminate ethnicity.

I don't think hal_c_on's point is that any given Mefite would have a completely different reaction if this were, say, a 60-year-old Asian man. The point is that we wouldn't even be watching it, because the media wouldn't have paid attention to it, because they've figured out that the public as a whole is more interested in watching certain types of people than others. I don't know how anyone can deny that. Not every point worth making is an attack on a Metafilter commenter to be defended against, and not every comment on Metafilter needs to be interesting to everyone. If you're not interested in media criticism, that's fine, but some people are.
posted by John Cohen at 6:01 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know how anyone can deny that.

thanks man.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:08 PM on October 2, 2011


Still say that isn't why this is popular. DENIED.
posted by found missing at 6:13 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If my skepticism is tacky, I don't give a shit.

Oh, fuck off with that bullshit. The entire point is that you don't understand her experience, and want to completely undermine it simply because you don't understand it. Hard of hearing/deaf folks (like me) in this thread have patiently explained it to you.

But it's not good enough, because she "lied"? Like we've said, she didn't lie. She had to simplify it for you to even be able to grasp what you were watching.
posted by autoclavicle at 6:34 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm saying the title of the video is bullshit because it very, very strongly implies that she has always been completely deaf; that she has never heard her own voice, at all, ever; that she's hearing sound - sound of any kind - for the first time; and that the very first sound she hears is her own voice.

Go read the video page. I can't believe people are seriously freaking out about the title when she says all of this right in the details of the video and the follow-up responses that show right at the top of the comments section.

The reason this video took off as opposed to the baby ones are because we're able to empathize more with an adult than a child.

Sure it's great when babies hear for the first time, it strikes a chord with us and we cheer for science, but it doesn't move us like this video does because we can visualize ourselves in her shoes and think about the sort of obstacles she's had to overcome -- and for a moment -- feel like technology will solve everything some day. She can actually communicate what is going on and react the way many of us would. You don't get that emotional tie-in with children.

But yeah, sure, if you want to take this beautiful moment and turn it into "White people only like white people, look at all of these non-white babies having the same experience with 35 views," - congratulations; hope you're proud.

While I agree that's why a lot of things go viral, that is not at all what this is, and it takes a pretty bitter asshole to think that about something as downright incredible as this.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:54 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think that anybody argues that, as a whole, youngwhiteprettyfemale (with tattoos) can draw people in. This particular video may not be a really a good example of that, though! The editing is PERFECT for Internet viewers and it really tells a story. The other videos of this aren't as striking (regardless of youngwhiteprettyfemale status).
posted by 200burritos at 6:59 PM on October 2, 2011


The point is that we wouldn't even be watching it, because the media wouldn't have paid attention to it...

Wait a minute--the "media" didn't have anything to do with this originally posted on YouTube, it was a video made and put on YT by amateurs--filmed by the woman's husband and posted by herself. Time picked it up as a feel good piece, as they have done with other health advances. The YT link, not the Time link, was posted on MeFi by Tarumba, who I'm assuming ran across it and thought it was a moving example of change in any person's life. (Tarumba, give us your take--was it that, or that she was young, white and female?) Could it have been that it was posted as an example of a fairly new type of implant, among others, as opposed to the older cochlear implant?

After watching this one, I watched a baker's dozen examples of implants of one type or another, mostly cochlear. One was an adopted young Asian girl, and another a young black baby. Both cried, I believe the girl's were tears of surprise and joy, and the baby was startled. Both were heartwarming, but the emotion was somewhat more subdued, and the film wasn't near as clear. Were I to choose between the three, I'd pick the one posted here. Others I watched were even more artistically done than this, but the digital manipulation took some of the spontaneity out--for me at least.

I suppose if this post devolves away from a celebration of a major life change, and the issue of a changes in implants is never brought up, so be it. Interestingly enough, I'd bet money that Tarumba didn't plan this post as an exercise in media criticism.

Obviously, where ever it goes, it goes.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:24 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tarumba, give us your take--was it that, or that she was young, white and female?

Like my title says, it was more the incredible experience of one day perceiving the world in a completely different way, mixed with my own thoughts of "wow, I never really value MY hearing". I thought it was so moving.

I don't think the pretty white female thing works with me, because I'm a Hispanic heterosexual woman. I think her tattoos are cool, though. I have the feeling I would have been moved by an 80 year old man from Sri Lanka going trough the same thing, just as much.

Until this morning, I had no idea of the whole controversy. I have never even met a person with a hearing impairment, or at least I'm not aware of it. It was simply garden variety internet browsing, and bumping into this video. I cannot have an opinion on the degree of her impairment, or the political/scientific/ideological/anthropological implications of the whole issue, simply because I know nothing about it.

Thank you, Blue Horse! I still feel deeply moved by this vid, and no amount of beanplating will take that from me. Happy to share it, too.
posted by Tarumba at 7:46 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps she might have been clearer in her YouTube title. Something like: I was born deaf, but by that I mean deaf in terms of the medical definition, in that the sounds I hear are terrifically muffled and I can't hear many frequencies, and not the way people who are not deaf use the word deaf, to mean "can't hear anything at all," and I am hearing my voice for the first time, but, by the first time, I mean I have heard a muffled version of it that is scarcely audible, but enough that, with enormous amounts of work, I speak in a way that, from a few words, will sound considerably better than the "deaf voice" most people expect to hear.

"ERROR: Your limit is 500 characters. Please try again."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on October 3, 2011


(hit post too soon dammit)

SECOND ATTEMPT:

I was born partially deaf; I can't hear many frequencies. I am hearing my voice clearly for the first time, rather than a muffled version of it that is scarcely audible. I usually speak considerably better than the "deaf voice" most people expect to hear.

"ERROR: Your limit is 500 characters. Please try again."

THIRD ATTEMPT:

I was born partially deaf. I am hearing my voice clearly for the first time.

"ERROR: you are one character over the limit. Please try again.

FOURTH ATTEMPT, WHILE MUTTERING "FUCK IT":

I was born deaf and 8 weeks ago I received a hearing implant. This is the video of them turning it on and me hearing myself for the first time :)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:38 AM on October 3, 2011


This is one of the most disappointing threads I have seen on mefi in a long time. It's insulting to say that she is exaggerating or misrepresenting herself when you don't know her history, and it's none of your business. Seriously. I thought we've had a few threads about ableism but apparently the message has not gotten through.

My experience mirrors Jubal Kessler's almost to a tee. I had speech therapy for years and years. Most people can understand me fine, but I'm sure they can tell something's "off." I have an awful time communicating with overseas helpdesk folks. I don't identify as Deaf because I've never been part of that culture, but for all intents and purposes, I am deaf without my hearing aids. There's no way I could make a phone call and face-to-face conversations would be very difficult.

I would be ECSTATIC if I didn't have to wear aids. My particular hearing deficit is structural and cannot be helped by cochlear implants or this new Esteem thing, but if I could flip a switch and hear "normally," I'm sure I'd react similarly to this woman.

But I'm a white female who's not deaf enough to meet some people's criteria so I guess it doesn't matter.
posted by desjardins at 10:14 AM on October 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


one man says that he was surprised to learn that candles make a sound when the flame is flickering with the wax

Wow, really?
posted by desjardins at 10:16 AM on October 3, 2011


This, the same as the babies the last time this came up, brought me to tears. I don't care if she could partially hear before, or was able to hear somewhat with hearing aids. That is the most awesomely genuine reaction of happiness, PERIOD.

Having said that, I'm glad that her "misleading" title was the source of drama in this thread, and not another "being deaf is a culture, not a disability" argument.
posted by antifuse at 11:54 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want to say that I cried like a baby watching this video and the...uh...baby one. Regardless of the nature of her deafness or any other cynical crap people want to toss around in this thread, that was a very authentic moment of pure joy and awe and I'm thismuch better for having watched it, so thank you Tarumba for posting it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:55 PM on October 3, 2011


Wow, I'm amazed that some people are having a conniption fit because a few people, myself included, said they didn't understand how she could speak so well. For the record, I did not say I thought she was lying, I said I didn't understand. I was not expressing "skepticism", I was asking a polite question that occurred to me while watching the video. To me, a reasonable response to that would be to explain what it is I didn't understand.

Instead I and others are being accused of being "tacky", of calling the woman in the video (whom I didn't even realize was the one to label this thread!!) a liar, and all manner of things that I and we did not say. Obiwanwasabi appears to be the singular person here who is saying this video is "bullshit".

The response here is wildly hypocritical. You folks are basically yelling at us for questioning the validity of her experience, while totally disregarding the validity of OUR experience--our experience of being confused watching the video and having a totally natural reaction for someone not exposed to deafness.

posted by parrot_person at 10:35 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's an update.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:23 AM on October 7, 2011


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