Monday, January 23, 2012

The strike is over! We beat 'em!

Okay, there was really no strike, but I'm morally obligated to quote Newsies as much as possible.

Success! Netflix seems to be mostly back to normal, showing 74 pages worth of subtitled content (up from 17 pages last week).

I don't know if our emails and calls and tweets and blog posts had anything to do with it or not but regardless, it would be a good idea, after all of that, to say, "Thank you." There are two sides to the advocacy coin: asking for help and appreciating it when it's offered. So often, we master the first but don't give the second any thought.

If you'd like to thank Netflix and show your support for subtitled and captioned content, here's how you can contact them:

Submit an email through the Contact Public Relations form
Call them at 1-866-501-1604
Follow and send tweets to @netflix@netflixhelps and @neilhunt

I should say more eloquent things now but that cold I've been expecting for over a week has finally made an appearance so I'm going wallow and (thanks to Netflix!) watch old episodes of Ugly Betty.

Are you back on the Netflix bandwagon? Hit up the comments below!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update on Netflix subtitles

Gaaaah. My brain hurts. I have not been this wound up about something since the last time I was out of Nutella

Anyway, I finally got a Twitter response from @netflixhelps that said, "We're working on it." (I tried to get a screenshot but I'm techno-dumb at the moment and can't figure out how to do it on my trusty old laptop. It's probably as easy as picking your nose but whatever, have I mentioned that my brain is fried? Also, I've been on a Mac all day at work and I'm pretty sure some things just get lost in translation when I get home to hang out with my PC.) I also noticed a couple of other tweets from @netflixhelps to other users, assuring them that the subtitle issue was being dealt with.

But you know me, I can't let things go and my favorite question in the world is, "Why, God, WHY?" So I tried to give Netflix a call but apparently every piece of technology I touch turns to sh-... um, crap, and my Captel app wasn't working on my phone. Blergh. So then I turned to Sprint Relay Online to try and make the call and after 10 minutes of registering for an account and blah blah blah, I was finally able to use the online relay service to call Netflix.

The representative I spoke to was polite and professional. I saved a transcript of the conversation and when I asked what was up with the subtitles, the representative said: 

its a glitch in our system that came up recently it is also been affecting letting people know whether or not a title is available in HD but it is an issue that we are well aware of and we re scrambling to get this fixed as quickly as we can (SOUNDS PLEASANT) ga 

I asked if deaf and hard of hearing customers would be refunded for the days of lost service and was told that:

thats not something that i have any input on but i can certainly pull up ur account and take a note of that and if they do choose to give out compensation then u would be notified via email ga

I also asked if they were working to get subtitles back on all previously subtitled content or just some of it:

we will most definitely be working on recoverying all subtitles for the titles that had them previously and wer er also just working on getting subtitles and cc for all titles in general
 I wanted to give him a virtual fist bump for that last part alone.

My friend Shanna was kind enough to share this story on her own blog as well as on Facebook. I appreciated reading her friends' feedback and personal experience with Netflix. One person in particular, who has been subscribed to Netflix for a few months, noted that the subtitle issue had popped up before but rarely lasted longer than about 24 hours. I also learned that Netflix publishes its own page of subtitled content. At the time of this publishing, the list was up to 17 pages (there were only five or six pages this morning), so I hope things will be back to normal soon.

I appreciate that Neflix is aware of the issue and is working to resolve it, and I especially appreciated the courteous and professional conversation I had with the representative. However, I would like to see Netflix provide more consideration if or when this issue pops up again. For instance, a quick informational email, blog post or notice on the website indicating that Netflix is aware of certain issues and is working to resolve them would go a long way in quelling people's (okay, my) frustration. I'm thinking of something like, "We value you as a customer and as such, are working to restore subtitles as quickly as we can. We appreciate your patience as we investigate the matter." That's just gold right there. In my oh-so-humble opinion. ;)

Thanks to all of you who commented on my last post, tweeted or re-tweeted information and blogged about Netflix subtitles! 

Netflix subtitles in the Wii

I did it. I'm a cop-out. A hypocrite. If my life was Newsies, I would be Jack when he goes to work for Pulitzer. I'm a scabber, you guys!

Remember that rant and rave of yore, where I raged against Netflix for not providing subtitled content? Wellll Phlixie convinced me I was missing out and I couldn't resist the siren song of being able to watch Ugly Betty reruns whenever I wanted and finding out what the Dowton Abbey hoopla was all about, so I buckled. Folded. Sold my soul (This seems to be a theme as of late. So far, 2012 is shaping up to be the Year of the Doormat). And in December 2011, the roommate and I signed up for Netlix.

And let me tell you, it has been a glorious month. I'm reacquainting myself with first loves like Scrubs and making new friends like Switched at Birth. I've dabbled in the Dr. Who waters and starting thinking in a British accent because I watched so many BBC shows. I love television, don't judge me.

Wednesday night, though, the honeymoon came to an abrupt halt. Nothing in my queue was subtitled. The subtitle button was gone. I rebooted the Wii. I tried to run a system update but there wasn't one available, so I know the software is fine. I checked the settings. Twice. I tested several shows in my queue by just playing it, thinking they moved the subtitle setting elsewhere. Nothing.

I checked on it again this morning, hoping it was just a fluke... but still, the subtitles are suspiciously absent.

Sad face, sad face, sad face.

Netflix customer service does not provide an email address, so I turned to social media for help. I posted about the issue on Netflix's Facebook wall (thrice!... which they deleted... thrice!) and bombarded Twitter with the problem. So far, my tweets have gone unanswered but on Facebook, I discovered that I wasn't the only person having issues:

To be clear, this is not an issue of "Why doesn't Netflix provide more subtitled content?" (For the record, as of last night, Phlixie listed over 5,000 titles that were available with subtitles. This afternoon, the number had dropped to 2,300. The plot thickens, but I digress.) 

My concern is that subtitled content was available through the Wii and now it is not. When are the subtitles coming back? Why are they not working for the Wii? Is the issue with Netflix or with Nintendo? Are other platforms affected? Is there anything I can do to bring them back? 

So far, my attempts to reach out to Netflix have led to dead ends. Will you help me get the word out to Netflix? Post your concerns on their Facebook page (they will delete it but at least you made some noise).  Mention @netflix, @netflixhelps and @neilhunt in your tweets. Call Netflix at 1-866-501-1604. Write a blog post. Tell your friends. 

And Netflix, if you're listening... help a girl out, huh? Answer some tweets. Check your Facebook. Your customers would be eternally grateful.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Some say looooooooove....

I'm back on eHarmony. I'm weak, don't judge me. I got suckered in by the free weekend and before I knew it, I had signed up for a three-month membership. Whoops.

I keep going back and forth, though, over whether to mention my hearing loss on my profile. On one hand, I want to be upfront so that there are no surprises. You know, if someone kept something like that from me until we'd exchanged several emails, I think I would wonder what else they might not be telling me. I don't want to appear deceptive. On the other hand, sharing that kind of information is pretty personal and I'd rather someone got to know me as a person (and me get to know them better) before divulging my hearing loss. Hearing loss is easy to misunderstand and I wouldn't want someone to see "hard of hearing" in my profile and run the opposite direction because they think it is something scary and foreign.

I also wonder how a relationship works if one person can hear and the other is hard of hearing. Would my friends who are hard of hearing with hearing spouses/significant others chime in here? In my more melodramatic moments, I'm convinced that NO ONE will ever GET me if they are not hard of hearing themselves and in my more mellow moments, I remind myself that I'm a person first, and that personality and heart trump hearing loss... I think?

Talk to me. What are your thoughts or experiences on being in a relationship when you are hard of hearing?

I posted this a while ago, but I think it's worth sharing again... I hope it makes you smile!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thankful for you

(Much of the correspondence that takes place among my church seems to end with the same affection: "Thankful for you." Hence, the title, apropos to this sincere story of appreciation for my church family.)

Today, I went up to my church to help wrap gifts for Affordable Christmas - an event that gives families in our community an opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts at extremely reduced prices. It's an amazing way to get to know the people who live in the area where the church is and I really enjoyed chatting with the families who came. And somehow wrapping gifts seems so much more fun when it's for someone else! :)

Before I went up to the church for my shift, though, I was battling anxiety and almost wanted to back out. I knew that the gift wrappers would be in the gallery, an area that tends to render almost everyone hard of hearing on Sunday mornings because it's not the most acoustically sound (ha, see what I did there?) place in the building. In other words, it be loud up in there! I only have one good hearing aid right now while I wait for new ear molds to arrive at my audiologist's office. I can't lipread and wrap presents at the same time. How was I going to engage with the shoppers and wrap their gifts at the same time, unable to filter out the dull roar of background noise?

But I was convicted that not going would be worse, so I made my way over and asked the gift wrap coordinator if she could pair me with another gift wrapper so that someone would have my back if communication became a problem. She happily teamed me up with another volunteer who graciously answered questions that I missed  hearing and helped carry on conversations with the shoppers. While all that was going on, we worked together to wrap gifts. I'm so thankful for those two ladies who were willing to help me be part of the team!

That led me to reflect on the other ways I'm able to serve my church family. I help our children's ministry most Sundays and there have been a few times where I wondered if I was the best person for the job. Trying to field questions from parents and volunteers, help volunteers troubleshoot the check-in process, interact with kids who haven't learned how to enunciate yet... all in the very same gallery that reaches fever pitch every week. Shouldn't someone with better hearing be doing this? Would I serve my church family better by stepping down and letting someone who is better equipped step up? Am I making Sunday mornings more complicated for other volunteers who have to do their own jobs in addition to helping me communicate?

But every time I've raised the question with other volunteers or staff, the answer has been a firm "NO." If anything, they ask me what else they can do to make sure that I am able to fulfill my duties every Sunday. They don't let my disability get in the way of my ability to serve! They don't just minister to me and make me the object of their compassion and kindness - though they do that as well! - they equip me to serve along with them. They embrace 1 Corinthians 12, especially verses 14-26:

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Having the right heart and attitude toward someone who lives with a disability is so important for a church that is seeking to love the "weaker" members. Formal ministries and programs and schedules and plans and events can be good ways for a church to connect with those who have a disability, but all of those would fall short without the right heart. I'm grateful to be part of a church that faithfully preaches God's goodness in and sovereignty over the hard things like disability and takes the Bible seriously when it says that we are all one in Christ.

So church family, I am indeed thankful for you, and delighted to grow with you - for God's glory and our joy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hearing loss and personality

I'm not even going to try to be all "Oh hey, internet, hey, I missed you, didja miss me?"

Because we all know the answer is YES.

So I went to this party a couple of weeks ago. Almost everyone there was deaf or hard of hearing, so I was all, "Great! Finally, I can go to a party and be able to keep up with everyone!" I had visions of finally discovering my true extroverted self as I flitted from group to group, emerging as the social butterfly I was always meant to be.

I arrived at the party and dropped off my dish (Pillsbury cookies lovingly sliced by hand and baked - I know, I am out of control here - by yours truly) and chatted with a friend. Then I moved into a room with fewer people and chatted with... TWO friends. Things really got wild when I was making my way to the sink to get some water (after the crowd from the drink station had dispersed, of course) and I was introduced to ONE person en route. Then to top it all off, I joined a larger, chatty group in the kitchen... and listened to their conversation but didn't say a peep.

It was a pretty wild night.

Growing up, I always assumed my reluctance to join large crowds or even to try to new things was related to my hearing loss. Communication is difficult, so of course it makes sense to stick to smaller groups. I didn't like surprises because I was terrified of missing information and embarrassing myself. Because that was my experience, I assumed that hearing loss would affect everyone's personality the same way and render all of us insecure introverts.

But I've met outgoing deaf people who have never met a stranger and fearless hard of hearing friends who swim with jellyfish (I mean, literally swim through a school - gaggle? herd? - of jellyfish... this is not an euphemism for being killed by the mob). I'm so grateful for these friends and acquaintances who remind me that hearing loss is not the end and I can't use it as a crutch to not do things.

Now, I am not so sure how much hearing loss affects one's personality. I do believe that people who are deaf or hard of hearing might have particular mannerisms or tendencies - like maybe we just notice things more or are good at picking up on non-verbal cues or we avoid noisy situations. Things like that may be a result of hearing loss but those aren't necessarily personality indicators.

I'm learning that maybe I'm the way I am because... I'm the way I am. Maybe large groups wear me out and being alone recharges me because I'm am introvert. I don't speak up much in a group because I like to think things over for a while before sharing. Maybe new situations and change and meeting new people make me nervous just because I am one of those people who takes a long time to adjust to change. And that's perfectly fine. 

What do you think? Is there a relationship between hearing loss and personality? Do people who are deaf or hard of hearing adopt particular habits due to their hearing loss?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A bit of a break

Do I even remember how to blog anymore? It has been so long... whoa dang.

This is pretty much what I have been doing lately:

work work work work sleep work work work pretend to pack work work work NEPHEW!!!
work work work work a little more eat half a bag of taco-flavored Doritos in one sitting work work
work work work weddings galore work work work work zzzz......

You get the idea. But - knock on wood - the crazy part is has passed, so hopefully I will be back to blogging more soon!

Also, I am moving next month (nowhere crazy, not far from where I am now) and can I just say that so far, I think my new landlady is AMAZING? Why, you ask? I will tell you why. I told her I would need a fire alarm with a strobe light so that I can be alerted by the flashing light; I can't rely on my hearing aids to let me know if there's an emergency. Now, experience has taught me that when I ask for accommodations, I should do the research myself and provide the other party (landlord, boss, university official, etc) with the information they need to obtain those accommodations. So I told the landlady that I had heard that I could get a fire alarm for free from the fire department but that I had never experienced that myself. I said I would  research it and see if I could find out how to get one for free.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuut... she emailed me before I had a chance to look into it and said that her friend was engaged to a firefighter and she would ask him about it. And friends, next thing I know, they've ordered the device for me and not only is it a flashing fire alarm, but it comes with an infrared sensor that can go on my bedside table and a vibrating alarm that can be put under the mattress! She went all out!

It was really nice to have this one thing be something that I didn't have to think about. I'm really grateful that she was willing to meet the need and didn't expect me to do all the heavy lifting. Advocating for oneself is hard - and necessary - work, but it's nice when someone eases the burden a little.

Have you experienced someone advocating for you? What kind of accommodations do you use at home?

Happy weekend!