Those who knew me before my accident and severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the severe hearing loss and distortions that have resulted from the TBI know that I LOVED listening to podcasts! I have missed them (reading a transcript of a podcast isn’t the same thing… trust me). My HAPPY NEWS to share is I discovered that the Google Chrome web browser has made live captioning possible (and it looks like another app I just discovered for transcription does as well: Ava). This includes video AND PODCASTS. I am THRILLED! So far you have to use Chrome on a computer but here’s hoping they make it mobile-friendly (for iOS and Android).
This happy pop culture discovery this week has me thinking about the role podcasts used to play in my life and how that has changed post-TBI. I share my pop culture thoughts in this weekly post.
Chrome (the Internet Browser by Google) now has the ability to caption video and audio that you stream on the browser. Find out more here: https://blog.google/products/chrome/live-caption-chrome/ Ava, an application for iOS, Android, Mac and PC also has similar functionality (although I am still exploring it and have mainly used the live transcribe feature on Chrome). Find out more about the Ava application here: https://www.ava.me/
When I learned this news I immediately went to try it out for myself and happily found that not only does it work but it’s relatively easy to put in place to make the live transcription appear on your Chrome browser. You just need to make sure you’re using the Chrome browser. Go to Preferences, then go to Advanced and Accessibility and click on the “Live Captions” option.
If you were a podcast listener or you have heard about podcasts you might be interested in, Chrome captioning works to caption podcasts as long as you play the podcast on a web-based podcast player using Chrome, such as: Spotify, Player.fm, Cloud Caster, Stitcher, Podchaser, Castbox. Podcasts are a great free educational and entertainment resource that are a free option for gaining information on a variety of topics.
I am now realizing that I used podcasts as a great way for me to consume pop culture content when I was debilitated by Fibromyalgia pain and chronic daily migraines. That’s why I consumed them so heavily before my TBI and why I miss them so greatly now. I realized I used podcasts to cope with distracting me from the pain and as an odd way for me not to feel so socially isolated (listening to people talk on a pre-recorded podcast is a lot easier to manage for someone in debilitating pain than having real social interactions). A sad revelation, I suppose, but it made me realize that losing my functioning hearing caused me to lose a powerful coping mechanism (listening to podcasts and audiobooks). Well, even though my hearing is most likely like this forever, at least I got one of my coping mechanisms back this week!
As we talked about in my brain injury support group, celebrate the small victories! Although this victory doesn’t feel small. It feels monumentally large! Ever since the accident 4 years ago, I have been trying to figure out how to navigate this new life with new disabilities (my hearing and mental processing are the major ones). The thing that has struck me the most in my journey as a person with severe hearing loss is that technology seems to have forgotten about those with hearing loss or deafness. The lack of captioning on things is frustrating and unfair. The lack of technology to help ease any burden is horrible. I am pretty technology savvy and an early adopter of a lot of technology. So when I say there is a lack of technology for hearing help, I truly mean it. That’s why my discoveries this week were so monumental. Long overdue. But still monumental.
I started to look up podcasts over the last four years that I’ve missed and fell down the rabbit hole! There are so many out there and my interests are so broad that I will be enjoying podcasts again for a long time.
Another very happy result of discovering this transcribing functionality in Chrome was that I was able to attend my monthly brain injury support group (we now meet on video conferencing) and by using the Chrome captions my support group meeting that is typically not captioned WAS! This was huge for me because reading lips and attending an online meeting is very taxing and tiring for my brain injury (so the captions made the meeting less taxing). I haven’t fully explored the Ava application for computers since I just installed it. But it boasts similar capabilities to Google Chrome live captioning of online content (both video and audio). To think I went from ZERO live captioning tools to TWO in one week!