Making mixed reality more inclusive for hard of hearing – Call for Participants

On behalf of Dr Lauren Ward (University of York, lauren.ward@york.ac.uk)

Want to play games to help us understand how we can make mixed reality more inclusive and accessible?

Sky and Reflex Arc, with the XR Stories project at the University of York, are investigating how to design more accessible and inclusive experiences for diverse users. We have designed a new mixed reality game and are taking expressions of interest to be a user tester.

Who are we looking to participate? We are initially recruiting individuals who are hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted.

When? Leeds: October 10th-14th, York: October (Dates TBC). You will be contacted to book a specific time and date – sessions take approximately an hour.

What will I have to do?

Go to Eventbrite and register your interest. The researchers will then get in contact to organise a session and go through the formal paperwork for the study.

You will then be invited to Sky’s UX Lab in Leeds or the University of York’s Labs in York. These spaces are like a living room and you will get to play around with some new mixed reality TV technology. The researcher will then have a chat about what you thought of the game (what worked, what didn’t, would you use technology like this again?).

Find out more

To find out more about the study and how we use your data, read the full information sheet or contact XRusertesting@gmail.com

Aural Diversity Network presentations

The videos from the first and second Aural Diversity workshops are now available on the general website here or by clicking the links below. Special thanks to Colin Bradburne and Nilanjanaa Jayant (University of Leeds) for help with editing and caption correcting!

Workshop 1: Hearing Care and Hearing Technologies

University of Leeds, September 1st & 2nd, 2021.
Led by: Dr Alinka Greasley.

Workshop 1

Report

Videos Day 1:

Videos Day 2:

Workshop 2 Hearing Sciences and the Arts and Humanities

Thursday January 13, 2022
Online-only, hosted by University of Nottingham and University of Leeds
Led by: Prof David Baguley, Dr Alinka Greasley and Prof Andrew Hugill

Videos

The videos from the third workshop on psychoacoustics and acoustics will be available soon.

The Aural Diversity network aims to develop interdisciplinary approaches to hearing difference and seeks to address important issues such as how aural diversity is perceived in disciplines that deal with sound and hearing, how the acoustic design of places and products can be improved for a diverse population, how hearing care can be improved through increased understanding of different needs, and how new knowledge of aural diversity could be used to improve accessibility, inclusion and equality. The network is gaining momentum and we now have over 150 members representing researchers and practitioners across a wide range of disciplines including music and performing arts, sound studies, humanities, healthcare, hearing technologies, transport studies, psychology, and environment.

If you would like to find out more and join the mailing list, go to: www.auraldiversity.org

AG 18/6/22

 

Musical Scene Analysis study – Call for participants

*** Participate in a new study on musical scene analysis ***

The Hearing Aids for Music project highlighted that people with hearing loss often experience difficulties identifying instruments and hearing melodies when listening to music. Those with greater levels of hearing loss tend to experience greater difficulties.

A new study led by the University of Oldenburg, in collaboration with the University of Leeds, is investigating the ability of people with hearing loss to hear out a melody or instrument from a musical mixture. Participants will engage in listening experiments which will help researchers to establish under what conditions they are more likely to be able to do this. Results will inform current understanding of the effects of hearing loss on music perception and enable further development of existing hearing aids for listening to music.

What will be required of me if I take part?

If you would like to take part, you will be asked to engage in a listening experiment which has three parts.

First, in a pre-test, you will engage in short trials to test whether you can detect a tone in noise.

Second, you will decide whether a single target instrument, which was played to you in advance, is part of a subsequently presented instrument mixture or not. The mixture is manipulated in various ways (for example, the number of instruments is varied, or the loudness of the target instrument compared with the other instruments is changed).

Third, you will be asked to complete a survey on previous musical experience, level of hearing loss and demographic data (age, gender, education).

The whole experimental session will last approx. 30 minutes and you will be paid for your time at a rate of 12 EUROS/£10 per hour. To take part, you need be in a quiet environment, ideally wearing headphones without your hearing aids, but if you need to use your hearing aids (e.g. direct streaming) we ask that you tell us at the end of the survey what set-up you were using.

You can read information about the study and access the listening experiment here. You will be provided with further information about what the experiment will entail and what we will do with your data in the introductory pages, enabling you to give informed consent.

If you have any questions about the study, please contact Robin Hake (robin.hake@uni-oldenburg.de) or Alinka Greasley (a.e.greasley@leeds.ac.uk)

The project has received ethical clearance from the University of Oldenburg and the University of Leeds (Ref No. FAHC 21-030)

 

 

Enhance Music

Dr Alinka Greasley awarded EPSRC funding to improve music listening for people with hearing loss. 

Some more good news for the start of 2022! Dr Greasley has been awarded EPSRC funding for a new multi-institution interdisciplinary project that will develop novel signal processing approaches for music to be used in hearing aids and consumer devices.

Combining expertise in signal processing, music psychology, and hearing sciences, the Enhance Music project will develop transformative approaches to music processing by hearing aids through the organisation of a series of machine learning challenges. In these challenges, algorithms to enhance music listening experiences for those with hearing loss will be evaluated by and according to criteria set by panels of participants with hearing loss. The project is running across the Universities of Salford, Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham, with partners Google, BBC R&D, RNID, Logitech, Sonova and the University of Oldenburg.

Drawing on her expertise from the HAFM project, Dr Greasley will lead on the development of audio quality measures for music that will be used for machine learning optimisation, forming sensory and listener panels of individuals with varying hearing abilities and mapping perceptual dimensions affecting their listening experience.

The project will increase the number of researchers considering personalised music listening for people with hearing loss, driving new technological solutions and subsequently improving access to music, with the proven health and wellbeing benefits that brings.

More information about the project, which will start in June 2022 and run for four and a half years, can be found here:

Characterising the effects of hearing loss and hearing aids on the neural code for music

 

Good news to start 2022! Dr Greasley has been awarded Medical Research Council funding for a project which will explore how hearing loss and hearing aids affect auditory processing of music.

The project, a collaboration with UCL Ear Institute led by Principal Investigator Professor Nick Lesica, will study the neural code for music with and without hearing loss and hearing aids to characterise the internal representation that underlies normal and impaired perception, and to determine how hearing aids might be improved for music.

Her role will be exploring how people with different levels of hearing loss perceive different musical genres, and whether specific problems (e.g. difficulty identifying instruments, distortion) are experienced to a greater degree with some genres than others.  This will inform the stimuli to be used for the main experiments and provide important data about the types of difficulties experienced which will help hearing aid users and audiologists.

The project will run May 2022 – April 2025 and we will soon be advertising for a data analyst.

The project is looking for someone who has expertise in statistical and machine learning methods for large-scale data analysis, and experience applying these methods in the context of music, audio, hearing, and/or neuroscience. If you are interested, you can find more information here or contact musicandhearingaids@leeds.ac.uk.

 

ENT & Audiology News articles

PI Alinka Greasley and Co-I Harriet Crook have contributed articles to the ENT & Audiology News special issue on music, which you can access here.

The first is an article ‘Clinical strategies for improving music listening’ in which we outline counselling and technical strategies that audiologists report using in their practice to help improve musical experiences for hearing aid users. You can access the article here.

The second is an article on ‘Supporting music listening through cochlear impact services’ which argues for the role of active music participation in supporting (re)engagment with music for cochlear implant users. You can access the article here.

Any questions or comments, please contact musicandhearingaids@leeds.ac.uk

 

AD Launch Event

Looking forward to hearing a diverse range of talks at the Launch of the AHRC-funded Aural Diversity Network next week (Sept 1-2).

You can access the full programme here:

There is still time to sign up (free registration) if you are interested in attending. Click here

Visit www.auraldiversity.org for more information.

 

Hearing Care and Hearing Technologies Workshop

Workshop 1: Hearing Care and Hearing Technologies

University of Leeds, September 1st & 2nd, 2021.
Led by: Dr Alinka Greasley.

This workshop will examine the ways in which hearing care and hearing technologies currently address hearing differences, and how they might be improved in the future in an interdisciplinary context that includes the arts and humanities alongside technical and scientific fields. It will address questions such as: In what ways do hearing healthcare practitioners (e.g. audiologists, hearing therapists, medical practitioners e.g. ENT specialists) address aural diversity in their practice? How can we improve hearing care through increased understanding of different hearing and listening types? How have hearing and assistive technologies been designed over time to account for hearing difference? What new developments would improve hearing technologies for aural diversity? How could changes in hearing care and hearing technologies affect developments in the arts and humanities?

CALL FOR PAPERS

Deadline for submission of contribution proposals: EXTENDED from July 16th to JULY 30TH 2021

In what ways do hearing healthcare practitioners address aural diversity in their practice? How can we improve hearing care through understanding of different hearing and listening types? How have hearing technologies been designed to account for hearing difference? What new developments would improve hearing technologies for aural diversity?

The Aural Diversity Network ‘Hearing Care and Hearing Technologies’ two-day workshop will examine the ways in which hearing care and hearing technologies currently address hearing differences, and how they might be improved in the future in an interdisciplinary context that includes the arts and humanities alongside technical and scientific fields.

The goal of the network is to bring together researchers and practitioners to develop interdisciplinary approaches to understanding how people hear differently. Whilst we hope to receive contributions from hearing care practitioners and hearing technology experts given the focus of the workshop, we hope to receive submissions from those working across a broad range of disciplines such as music and performance arts, sound studies and soundscape, sound environment design, acoustics and noise studies, transport, and speech.

Submissions may consist of proposals for:

  • Spoken papers, demonstrations, workshops, thematic symposia.
  • Symposia are intended to include contributions from multiple geographical locations.

 

Please note: due to the online format, poster presentations will not be supported. Live captioning and British Sign Language interpretation will be available throughout.

Important dates:

  • 5th July 2021 Registration opens
  • 16 July 2021 Deadline for abstract submissions
  • 30 July 2021 Review outcomes
  • 27 Aug 2021 Final event programme
  • 1-2 Sept 2021 Network event (online)

Submission guidelines for single paper or demonstration:

  • Structured abstract of max 300 words
  • Empirical studies: Background, Aims, Methods, Results, Conclusion and Implications
  • Non-empirical studies: Background, Aims, Main Contribution, Conclusion and Implications
  • Demonstrations: Background, Aims, Main Contribution & Practical requirements.
  • Indication of topic, thematic highlight, and whether part of a symposium

 

Submission guidelines for symposia:

  • Structured abstract of max 300 words for symposium as a whole: Background, Aims, Main contribution.
  • Overview of presentations including titles, authors, and selected hubs.
  • Structured abstract for each contribution, following the guidelines for single submissions, submitted separately

 

Your proposal must further include:

  • The title
  • The authors’ names
  • Type of proposal (presentation, workshop, demonstration, symposium)
  • Your institutional affiliation(s)
  • The email address of the lead author
  • Where you are based nationally/internationally
  • What time zone you are in (-5 UTC Americas, +1UTC West-Europe, +4 UTC East etc.)

 

How to submit: Please submit your proposal via email to: info@auraldiversity.org

Hear me out

I recently took part in one of the University of Leeds Pint of Science episodes, delivering a talk about the development of hearing aid technology as part of a broader focus on the use of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare technologies.

If you are interested in viewing the show, which was streamed live on YouTube, you can watch back here From Ear Trumpets to Machine Learning: Putting the AI into Hearing (Ai)ds.

You can also download the slides here Ear Trumpets pdf.

Aural Diversity Network

We are delighted to announce that this month, the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) funded the Aural Diversity Network which will run for two years from July 2021, and the first network event will be led by the Hearing Aids for Music team at the University of Leeds in September 2021.

Background

Everybody hears differently! But our world is built on an assumption that everybody has the ears of a healthy 18-year old (BSISO226:2003; Sterne 2012). In fact, our hearing changes all the time. We experience varying amounts of hearing loss as we age (presbyacusis). Millions of people suffer from a range of more severe hearing losses related to conditions, disorders, traumas and shocks. And differences in hearing need not necessarily mean loss. Increased sound sensitivity (hyperacusis), aversion to sounds (misophonia), and tinnitus are experienced by many. Even having a cold can affect the way we listen.

The Aural Diversity network seeks to address this complex picture by researching differences in hearing and listening. It is not restricted solely to disability or deafness. Its objectives are to:

  • complement existing theoretical and practice-based research by exploring aural diversity;
  • review, critique and develop interdisciplinary methodologies for investigating aural diversity;
  • refine and develop thinking about enhanced access to the arts and humanities;
  • improve hearing care through increased understanding of hearing and listening types;
  • communicate findings to academic and non-academic communities;
  • build critical mass of expertise which is visible internationally and develop impetus for integration of aural diversity issues.

The initial network comprises the following groups:

  • core academic partners at the Universities of Leicester, Salford, Nottingham, Leeds, Goldsmiths, and Queen Mary University of London, with expertise in music, sound studies, acoustics, psychology, hearing sciences and audio technology
  • a wider network comprising a large number of academics and practitioners, artists and therapists, scientists and specialists, from many different centres, universities and organsiations across the UK and abroad;
  • several organisations, including: the British Tinnitus AssociationRNIDGNResound; the Noise Abatement SocietySound and Music; the Museum of Portable Sound; various Patient & Public Involvement groups; and many more.
  • The Attenborough Arts Centre, which has a tradition in accessibility is named as a Project Partner.

Workshops

The network will stage five workshops:

  • Workshop 1 (Leeds, Sep 2021): hearing care and technologies. How the use of hearing technologies may affect music and everyday auditory experiences.
  • Workshop 2 (Nottingham, Jan 2022): scientific and clinical aspects. How an arts and humanities approach might complement, challenge, and enhance scientific investigation.
  • Workshop 3 (Salford, May 2022): acoustics of listening differently. How acoustic design of the built and digital environments can be improved.
  • Workshop 4 (London, Sep 2022): aural diversity in the soundscape. Includes a concert featuring new works by aurally diverse artists for an aurally diverse audience.
  • Workshop 5 (Leicester, Jan 2023): music and performance. Use of new technologies in composition and performance.

The network builds on the Aural Diversity project led by Principal Investigator Andrew Hugill. It will benefit musicians and sonic artists by increasing understanding of hearing difference, leading to new audiences for accessible performance events. It will change compositional practice for a music that adapts to listeners’ needs. It will contribute to the study of hearing in literature, film etc. It will impact Soundscape Studies by challenging the widespread acceptance that current standardisations for perception of sound environments equates to standardisation of the ‘average’ listener. It will influence Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. It will help shape policy by improving the sound environment. It will benefit patient groups by understanding the experiences of people with auditory dysfunctions. It will inform healthcare practitioners to improve audiology and hearing devices.

The general public will be invited to attend workshops and included via the mailing list. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please use the following contact form and leave your name and email address. Feedback to previous conferences showed the value of allowing the public to steer the research. Participants stressed the importance of “a variety of voices and experiences, from academic to everyday life”. The network will maintain a website and social media, and publish peer-reviewed articles

We will post more information about the first network event, including a call for papers, in due course.