In Australia, 1 in 6 are affected by hearing loss. 1 child is identified every day with impaired hearing and 1 in 1000 babies are born with significant hearing loss. That’s just the Australian figures. Deafness occurs throughout the world so it is plausible to say, that people with hearing issues is a big issue.
The problem is that deafness is an ‘invisible’ disability. While businesses are required to have disability access and treat those with disabilities with respect, very few include deafness in their planning of having a disability friendly business.
It is interesting how some people treat those who are deaf or hearing impaired. They forget that hearing-impaired people are good at reading lips and so talk in front of them, sometimes quite derogatorily, and at other times about issues that they would never speak about, in front of a hearing person.
Then, the majority of people when they are told that you are hearing impaired, tend to do one of three things. They make an excuse to get away – It doesn’t matter that you have been talking to them for the last ten minutes, the minute they find you have a hearing problem, usually because you have, to keep asking them to repeat themselves, they make an excuse and leave.
Or, they will start yelling at you – as though screaming at the top of their lungs is going to help – it doesn’t. All yelling does is make it harder to figure out what is being said. Or they will speak to you really, slowly – I mean really, slow to the point, you want to slap them across the head and say I’m deaf not stupid.
I know, I have these things happen on a regular basis. I am hearing impaired. Not a huge amount but enough to cause problems. I hear parts of words and sentences, so I take what I hear and what I see, put it in the context of where the conversation is taking place and come up with the most logical sentence. If it sounds logical and fits the context I run with it and I’m pretty good, the majority of people, wouldn’t know I had a problem unless I told them. Although there are times when I totally mishear and then people figure it out but it can be quite funny.
But just because someone is deaf or hearing impaired doesn’t mean they can’t do anything. We can work. Okay, you may need to have some equipment modified, but it’s not a huge amount. Sure, you have, to make sure we’re actually looking at you when you speak, but at least we’re listening. The bonus is that when you do have deaf people come in, you have someone who can sign to them. That’s a win – win for everyone.
But we work as hard as anyone else, maybe even harder. And there are those who dance and sing even though they’re deaf. How? You don’t wear shoes, you feel the beat through the floor and you just have, to trust your pitch is right, if you sing.
I have heard that there is an app or one that is being developed that is designed to help those who have trouble hearing. My understanding is that those who you converse with have, to have the app but basically, it picks up what the person is saying to you and prints it out on the screen.
Deafness is an issue for many, but instead of yelling, or talking slowly or walking away, just speak in a normal tone of voice, because we are normal people, we just don’t hear as good as most, and if you have, to repeat yourself, so be it.