As someone who is creating videos and audios on consistent basis, there is a huge challenge for me as a deaf content creator to deal with the audio aspects of it.
I mean, how do you deal with audio if you are deaf?
I go over a couple of points on what I do to make things easier for me, but not without admitting that it will never be 100% perfect and how I would like it to be, simply because I can’t.
But just because you can’t do it as well as others, it doesn’t mean you stop and give up, as you can still find alternative ways to make it work for you.
You can listen to the podcast below or scroll down to read the transcript:
Announcer: This is The Hear Me Out [CC] Podcast. A place to hear stories from the deaf and hard of hearing people, and from your host, Ahmed Khalifa.
As a deaf creator, a content creator, the big challenge that I have is the audio of my podcast and the videos that I create. Because of course I’m not going to hear it as well as other people. And here’s the thing with audio, it’s so, so important.
I mean even people say that if you have a video, you can get away with bad quality video, but you can’t get away with bad quality audio.
And then if you are listening to the podcast, then of course audio is essential to make it work. We don’t want anything off beat, or the equalisation is wrong, or too much echo or too much background noise.
These are all of the things that I have to think about.
Thankfully over the years I’ve been practising a lot on my communication skills and just trying to make sure that I convey properly, but also be able to get started and get moving with creating podcast and video.
Living with multiple accents
Because this is the thing for me is that I’ve never been overly confident about speaking and using my voice. I know everyone says that they don’t like the sound of their voice, but I really truly don’t like the sound of my voice.
The thing is for me is, I’ve got a mixed up accent. I grew up in Northern Ireland and I had that accent, I moved to England and I picked up a little bit of that accent.
And now I live in Scotland and I have that accent, so it’s just kind of like a cocktail of accent, and I don’t know which one I speak to be honest. It’s hard for anyone to work out where I’m from.
That’s one challenge that I have and that is something that also stems from my childhood when I had to go through speech therapy because of the way I pronounce certain words or the way I say certain things is not the way it should be done, and that’s because when I hear it in a certain way, you assume that’s how it sounds like, and then you say it that way over and over again.
Growing up mispronouncing words
And it’s even more of an, not an issue as such, but it made it more difficult the fact that I was learning English because I was speaking Arabic and then I was learning English and then you have to learn the new language and you have to practise how you say certain words and how to pronounce…
But that was also the added challenge that came on top of it, which made it quite confusing for me to learn how to pronounce certain words at a time. Especially when also, you can’t hear it.
You just can’t hear what people are saying and you assume it sounds like that, and end up being wrong. And because of that, it becomes a habit.
An example would be the way I pronounce anything with C-H, so for example, Charlie. You know the way I pronounce Charlie was S-H instead of C-H, so Sharlie.
So obviously that’s not the same but the thing is, I was not able to pick up the fine sound that makes the C-H sound different to S-H. And that’s just one of the many examples that I can show you.
So being able to convey and to speak and to communicate properly has been something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I thought you know what? Just jump in and create podcast. Create video.
And even do public speaking, and in terms of public speaking, you can’t hide. Once you’re on stage, you’re on stage. But you don’t have to do podcast, you don’t have to video, I can back out and I can maybe just delay it or maybe just add something in the background to cover the noise, whatever it is. In public speaking, there’s no hiding. All eyes and all ears are on you.
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When process and editing audio
So that’s one challenge that I have as a deaf creator, and the other challenge is when you process and you edit the audio and the whole sound engineering side.
And of course I’m not going to be a professional, I don’t really think I would be able to anyway, but I don’t want to be a sound engineer.
But what I do want to make sure is that when I edit my podcast, I want to make sure that the quality is very, very good.
The thing is for anyone who creates videos and podcasts, there is always going to be some kind of editing afterwards. Just like photographers when they take a picture, they’re going to edit it afterwards just to enhance it a little bit.
And it’s the same thing when I create my podcasts and videos. And with the audio, it’s quite tricky of course because I’m not going to be able to hear certain things.
And I’ve had the message online and on Twitter, people asking me, so then how do you listen to it? What do you depend on? Well it’s tricky, because everyone’s different, but for me personally, there are several things.
One is that whatever I can I hear, I use that to my best ability and make sure that I have my headphones on. I make sure that I’m in the right environment so there’s no background noise, there’s no distraction around me, I’m able to focus on the sound. That’s important to me.
The second thing as well is that I literally look at the sound waves. So as I’m recording this, I can see the sound wave going, and I know that it’s being recorded because it’s there. But it’s also a way for me to look at anything that looks out of ordinary.
So for example, maybe there’s a spike, if I’m aware, maybe because I have said something too loud or something dropped, and it wasn’t heading from where I am, or maybe the music is going too loud above the sound. Whatever it is, I use that to my advantage.
So a combination of using the sound wave and my listening ability, whatever I have, and I make it work. The thing is obviously that’s going to be different to everyone else. And obviously the way I do it, maybe it’s not going to be the same with other people.
And I wish sometimes I can do better, I wish I could provide really really good audio, and maybe in the future, I’ll be able to outsource it and give it to someone who can make sure that it’s of high quality.
But right now, when you have a low budget, and you run a small business, it’s not something that I can do, unfortunately. But maybe one day I can do that, just to make sure that I can get that sound quality out there.
That’s something that really bugs me as well is that I want to be able to do anything that I can do. And there’s a saying out there that says:
“deaf people can do anything apart from hear”.
I can hear a bit of course, I can hear decently, but there are certain things that I can’t hear, which kind of effect the quality, which is in this case, the audio.
So it does annoy me, and I’ve had a couple of people commenting quietly about how they have had issues with their audio, but I can’t hear their issue. When they explain what they can hear, and I’m sure it’s perfectly valid, but I can’t hear that, so I don’t know how to fix it.
And that really annoys me because I want to take in the feedback, I want to take in constructive criticism and get better and better. So I do value the feedback, and I’m not having a go at anyone, but it’s just really, really annoying that I can’t do that.
So what I would like to say is that, if you can be patient as I continue my quest to improve as much as I can, I’d really appreciate it.
And I know it’s hard for some people to be able to listen to this, so the transcript is there, always, and I’ll always do that.
But at the same time for those who want to listen, I will do my very best to make sure the quality is as good as it can get.
How I can control sounds when editing audio?
The are things that are in my control. So even before recording a podcast, I’ve been looking at ways to make sure that the sound effect in my room is not effecting the quality of the audio.
So for example, you might be able to hear the echo in certain time when I speak, and that’s annoying. And it’s because I’ve got these bare walls and hardwood floor and sound are bouncing off the areas and obviously it’ll go into the microphone. So it creates this echo, and it’s not the best quality audio.
So that’s something in my control, and I can do something about that. And that is exactly what I’m going to do is I’m going to see how can I cover most of the hardwood floor as possible with a rug. I might be able to cover certain parts of the wall with a big padded canvas or some kind of acoustic panels.
I’ll do all that just to make sure that the quality is there. Because it’s really important to me that you consume it as best as you can. Whether it’s by audio or by reading or by watching and get videos, watching with captions or watching without captions.
Whatever it is, I want to do my very best.
The challenges are there. There’s nothing I can do about it, and I think it’s something that I’ve learned as well as that. We all have challenges. We all have something that we are dealing with, and maybe we can fix it. Maybe we can get around it.
Or can we? Because I’m going to get around it by doing things that I can control, which is, as I said, make sure that there’s less echo in this room, in this small room that I’m recording from.
That’s in my control. I can do that. I won’t be able to do the finesse fine tuning in terms of the equalisation, the bass, and the treble and all these things in my audio, but one day in the future, I might be able to do that.
And if I can do that, then that’s also in my control. Which is to make sure that I keep going, I keep creating these content, I keep growing as much as I can with my business and so on, so that I’ll be able to fund for that. And that is in my control. It’s up to me to make that happen.
Where there’s a challenge, there’s a solution
So I have learned that, yes there are challenges, but it’s up to you to see what you can do to get around it, to find a solution and to make it work.
So think about it in your situation as well, if that applies to you make sure you find a way to get around it. It might not be the solution that you’re looking for, but there might be another solution around the corner that you never thought of before.
So really what I want to say to round it up, to… first of all, thank you for listening and thank you for being patient in terms of how I speak and the sound effect and the quality of your audio. I do my very, very best to make sure that it works.
And also just to be patient as well, and I want to do better, so I do appreciate your patience while I’m doing it.
And if you do have any comments, if you have any feedback that might be useful for me, feel free to contact me. The social media accounts and address and my website link is in the show note. You can access it there, and you can contact me.
I value it. I really do value it. Just because someone said your audio is not great, but I realise you have issues, that not an offence to me. That’s fine. It’s one thing to be ignorant about it and say, you shouldn’t be doing this, or you don’t know how to do it, or just not really looking at the bigger picture.
So I hope that also makes you think as well in other people situation where if their audio is not great, there might be a reason behind it. It could be anything.
Maybe they don’t have the funds to buy a new microphone. Maybe they don’t have the right room available. Maybe they have some kind of speech impediment. Mayer they have Deafness like me where they can’t really listen to certain thing as well as other people can. It could be anything.
So be aware of that when you are listening to podcasts or watching videos. You don’t know what goes on behind the scene, but at the same time, I do value your patience and I do value you listening to the podcast.
In the meantime though, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review on your podcast platform that you’re listening to. I really really appreciate it.
And also, share it with someone who’d appreciate this podcast, that if they’re facing challenges, you could make it work. You could get around it. So don’t give up.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
- What is ‘audism’? Plus my personal experiences of facing audism - October 27, 2021
- ‘CODA’ movie review: my thoughts on the latest deaf movie to be released - October 13, 2021
- Deafness as a ‘hidden/invisible disability’ - October 6, 2021
Alan Elliot says
I hope all is well with you. My name is Alan Elliot and I am an audio professor at a College in Toronto, Canada. I enjoyed your podcast and I would like to discuss your experiences with audio recording and editing. Please let me know if that’s possible and I look forward to hearing from you.
Ahmed Khalifa says
Hi Alan. Sure, please send me an email via the contact page.