As the mist of the loading page clears, I assess the situation. The PowerPoint presentation inevitably greets me. I see the pretty pictures and the flat font. As the first slide gives way to the second, the first barrier slams into place. I see now that The Hearing Battle is afoot. The slide is the opening parry of the presentation’s offenses. It’s not a knockout blow but one that’s simply searching for the attendees comfort level. Yet, even though I know it’s nothing major, I feel like I’m missing something. That’s when I realize I cannot hear a bloody thing.
Ok. No problem, this is an oft repeated problem of mine. I know exactly what to do. I spy the little speaker icon in the web application and spin the wheel to the top. But any hopes of a quick victory are dashed. I’ve cleared the first level, but still can’t hear. The next slide is moved into place and the weight of the information is steadily increasing. If I don’t fix this quickly, I’m going to miss some important points. Luckily, I have another maneuver to try.
I step back and find my laptop volume. Knowing it will give me a better shot at hearing, I get a running start and using that volume to pole vault up up the next level. I successfully clear that hurdle and find myself firmly entrenched on the second level. As I hear the faint echos, I know I’ve dealt my opponent a mighty blow. But he’s not done yet.He flips to the next slide and now we’re really getting into it.
There’s some really good stuff on that page but I am only getting half the picture. Those quiet echos are taunting me. I know they contain the information that will really bring the point home. I grit my teeth and know I’ve but one more shot at this. If this doesn’t work, my opponent, who I now recognize as Vlad the Volume Impaler, will win this round. He’s left me with many a scar. So many prime opportunities that are only available thanks to web cast technologies, have been lost to me thanks to the doughty arm of this diabolic villain! With bated breath my hand rises slowly to my last volume wheel, the one on my hearing aid. As yet another slide falls by the wayside, I move the wheel up a little and the echos become whispers and then hushed tones and then finally normal volumed voices. I release the breath I was holding. I’m safely ensconced on the 3rd level. I can now hear the presenter talking of how metadata is better suited for organization than sub-folders. The battle is done. I have won.
Technology is great, I’m learning so much because I’m afforded the opportunity to attend so many seminars virtually. This, however, is fraught with challenges. I had neither to the time nor the money to attend the ALA Midwinter Conference. Thanks to technology, though, I was afforded the opportunity to attend a virtual conference in which some highlights of the meeting were outlined. I attend many of these virtual conferences and love it. The volume trouble I have on TV is easily conquered with closed captions. Streaming videos have only begun to develop that technology. Virtual conferences, at least the ones I’ve attended, haven’t even started. However, when I saw this: ALA’s Serving Deaf Patrons I grew excited. Just because there are problems those of us that are hearing impaired are exposed to doesn’t mean the weapons to fight the battle aren’t being forged behind the scenes. I look forward to the day when I get to enter the virtual conference on the same level as everyone else.