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Accessing and Circulating Experience with Technology

In the DALN's third interview with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing contributors, a Hard-of-Hearing college student named Warren Francis recounts using technology rather ingeniously to give his friends access to an auditory part of his world that words alone could not adequately describe. In the interview, he explains having used sound-editing software to remove from familiar pieces of classical music those sound frequencies outside his own range of hearing. He circulated the resulting "remix" among his friends to give them access to an auditory dimension of experience that was otherwise difficult - perhaps impossible - for them to grasp.

Earlier in the interview, Francis explains the nature and origin of his hearing loss:

I started to lose my hearing when I was six or seven years old. The nerve hairs in my cochlea started dying - from high frequencies down to the lower ones. They don't know why. Doctor's don't why. [...]My hearing [loss] stopped progressing after I had lost frequencies down to about 1500 hertz which is enough that I can't hear consonants like s, sh, t, th, f ... all those things.
(part 1, 14:37-15:22)

He then attests to the benefits he derives from sound technology that allow his friends to access the sounds of his world:

One of the things I'm very interested in is how people react when I explain what I hear or how I experience the world because I don't know what they hear, so the only connection I really have is to explain to them what I experience and see how they react and how that's different from their experience. One of the things I did was I took some classical music and used audio editing software to remove the frequencies I can't hear and then played it for my friends and then sort of watched their reactions to see what they thought. It's interesting. I get a lot from that.
(part 3, 00-42)

As recounted in his interview, Francis used technology to invite his friends to his own version of rhetorical listening. That is, he invited his Hearing friends not merely to bracket their differences and imagine themselves in his place; that would be an impossible and pointless task (Young 48). Instead, he sought to give his friends access to a new way of seeing him. For the DALN, he recounts having crafted an experience for them that was dependent on their ability to hear and be aware of the sounds that are missing; he crafted an experience that "can communicate across the distance and differences," one that "crosses, even while it respects, boundaries" (Young 50).

Access and Deaf Culture Access and Technology Access and Discourse
Jane Fernandes Jane Fernandes Brenda Brueggemann
Christopher Driscoll Warren Francis Anonymous

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