I am a student at Macquarie University, I am hard-of-hearing and I am an Ai-Live user.

My hearing loss is at a level where I can hear most things quite clearly, however, sounds in the high frequencies are hard and I rely on lip reading to ensure I hear everything. I think my level of hearing loss means I think I can get away with a lot in terms of not needing support. I would like to think I am very capable and am often too proud to ask for support even at times when I may need it. This is where Ai-Live comes in as the perfect, non-intrusive captioning support I need to get the most out of university studies.

The fact that I can be writing notes on my laptop anywhere in the lecture hall and have the option to be able to just casually open Ai-Live in a tab in my browser and get live captioning at any time is remarkable. It is the safety net that I have always wanted. Gone are the days I used to whisper to my friend or a confused random and ask what the teacher or tutor had just said, now I just let one of the live captioners tell me EXACTLY what was said, not some rushed gist of the topic that I would get from my friend next to me.

Each lecturer and tutor is different. Some are awesome orators, who know how to enunciate when they speak and make an effort to make eye contact with the lecture, but sadly these kind of lecturers happen to be few and far between. More often than not the tutor or lecturer has very little idea about how to engage with an audience and even less of an idea about how poor speaking technique affects my ability to hear and ultimately hinders my learning. Ai-Live ensures that I don’t need to worry about how good at speaking my tutor is because now every tutor is live captioned in the exact same text.

I am taking some particularly wordy and dense subjects this semester, ranging from copyright law to international PR and advertising, so Ai-Live is feeling more useful than ever in terms of being able to fully understand the content. I have to concentrate harder in order to ensure that I hear everything and for the 2 hour lectures on consumer behaviour and integrated marketing this can be very mentally draining, so I am always glad that I have Ai-Live to fill in the gaps where I may have not had full concentration.

In terms of Ai-Live use at university there is nothing more valuable than the transcripts. These pages are worth their weight in gold. Not just to review the lecture, but as far as quality study material goes, having the lecture essentially typed out for you is the best thing since sliced bread. From tutorial homework to generally creating notes for study, these documents would benefit any student, not just those who are hard-of-hearing. Transcripts ensure that even when there is group work or a general discussion where I can’t use live captioning and get involved simultaneously, I still have a place to review all the key content.

I am really enjoying university so far this semester. I know it is early days and I will probably end up being stressed very quickly and my view on university will be drastically different as the semester progresses, but with the help of Ai-Live, university is for the moment, really interesting and I feel like I am learning a lot.

Written by Oliver Loffhagen, 2nd year Macquarie University student

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