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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Shall I SHOUT then?

Hi Guys
I had some top tips given to me yesterday by a lady suffering from a hearing lose. She can hear high tones but not low ones so many people's voices are just lost. And this is a disability suffered by many older people as the symptoms seem to creep up on you.

Going out for a meal, to a busy event or to the theatre can be a nightmare. You just can't hear the other person so there are 3 alternatives that I see. First tell the other person, secondly not say anything but watch their lips and face and nod or disagree by guessing, and third to just not go out.

And staying at home seems normal for many. They'd rather miss out on socialising than not hear and feel left out or being embarrassed by their companions who start shouting or worse.

 You can tell the other person and hope they use common sense and maybe look at you when they talk so you can see their lips better and so connect hearing a little with seeing. Many people react by shouting close up which doesn't help. It doesn't make hearing clear, just puts up a bigger barrier.
  Most people with a hearing impairment will have some lip-reading experience so its very important that you don't cover your mouth. Just look at the person trying to hear and talk clearly without shouting.

The other major issue is the lack of, or ignorance of hearing systems. These are either infra-red or induction loops which we will describe in another post. It is your responsibility to remove barriers for disabled people and in this case you need to make adjustments that will allow them to hear, and this generally means supplying a devise that will improve hearing so that a system must be installed where necessary. You'll have noticed these devices in shops and offices, and at most reception areas. They are kept switched on and the person with a hearing aid switches it to the "T" position. This enables them to pick up the signal and hear the receptionist or whoever.

Unfortunately many devices are switched off, often under the misconception that the hearing aid wearer should ask for it to be switched on. This is not necessary, they are designed to operate off a permanent power supply. And there are battery operated portable models that can  be taken into meetings if necessary.

In larger rooms, theatres and movie houses etc then either the whole area or designated parts are covered. The problems here are that when a deaf person says they need the hearing system sometimes the staff don't know which seats are covered, or the headset has a flat battery or the whole system is switched off. The lady I spoke with said that recently she was seated in the back row so not only was the hearing system not working for her but she couldn't see the signer or the text that was shown each side of the stage.

Not having a system is  have service users, customers, clients, patrons or whatever you call them in your work, then you must have a system avaulable and staff who can use it. In addition there should be suitable signage and the device should be regularly checked and a record kept.

 We have some English/Welsh bi-lingual tactile signs available

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