Our Life With Hearing Loss – Haydn’s story
I met my wife, Sue, in 1975. She had always had hearing loss which was picked up at the age of 7. Later she had two stapedectomies one of which was successful and this gave her reasonable hearing. Sue has been extremely active in supporting the hearing impaired herself since training as an Aural Rehabilitation Teacher with Better Hearing Australia in 1994/5. Unfortunately her hearing has deteriorated and she now wears two hearing aids.
So, I have been aware of the needs of the hearing impaired since meeting Sue. It is only by close contact with someone with a hearing loss that you get to understand the problems they have at work and in social situations in communicating. I admire any hearing impaired person, or Deaf person, who holds down a job and or maintains their social life as there seem to be difficulties at every turn. Of course technology has been a great help over recent years but nothing replaces your original hearing.
Now that I also have a hearing loss and wear aids myself I can understand better the challenges faced by those unfortunate to have a hearing loss. A hearing impaired person has to struggle to hear in most situations. Hearing requires concentration and various skills like lipreading and recognition of body language. Often not all the words are heard and the brain has to go into overdrive to fill in the gaps. It is no wonder that the hearing impaired person gets tired.
Although there is more understanding of hearing loss and deafness in the community there are still huge gaps. For example if you go to a lecture or presentation often the room is not looped. The lecturer may want to move back and forth across the stage and hence lipreading is difficult, they may want the light on them turned off so the audience can see the slides (and hence lipreading is made impossible) and so on. Music on TV while people are speaking is another problem not solved. Announcements at airports and railway stations are often not understood by those with reasonable hearing so you can imagine how those with hearing loss get on. Doctor’s surgeries and hospitals with the TV blaring (rather that captions) make the hearing of one’s name when called out very difficult.
Surviving in the hearing world that we are part of is tough but it is not all bad. There are pockets of success, the captioned plays offered by The Canberra Theatre Company since 2005, the wonderful hearing augmentation system in Llewellyn Hall are two positive examples.
Our story is dealing with all these problems and assisting others with the knowledge we have gained over the years. We are also committed to supporting the Deafness Forum in changing the political landscape to make Deafness and Hearing Loss better understood and technological and other assistance part of the normal process in everyday life.