When I suffered sudden sensorineural hearing loss, it was a very isolating experience. Before I discovered Phonak BiCROS aids, I was pretty much unable to converse with people other than by using a Sonido device. The Sonido is a handheld device the size of a cordless phone, which has a microphone and amplifier and a socket that I plugged a ‘one good ear bud‘ in. I was mortified at having to use it outside of the house but it was the only way I could go back to work and do my job as a trainer.
When I first became deafened, however, I suffered terrible vertigo and sickness and I had several days where I couldn’t move my head at all. The only thing I managed to focus on was my mobile phone, and so I found myself turning to social media to combat the isolation I felt.
Through using Twitter, I started to make new friends and, with one of those friends, I started something on Twitter known as ‘#Yorkshirehour‘. Since March 2012, every Wednesday between 8 and 9pm, we’ve facilitated a Twitter hour to help Yorkshire people promote their businesses, events and charities and I’ve made more and more friends — many of whom I’ve now met in real life.
The success of #Yorkshirehour was overwhelming and within a few weeks, the topic was regularly trending in the top ten most talked about topics in the UK each Wednesday evening. Since then, the @Yorkshire_hour account has gained over 24,600 followers and the format has been replicated all over the UK.
Knowing how much social media helped me through such a difficult time in my life, I set up the @Hearinglosshour account in February 2015 and launched #HearingLossHour, which takes place on Twitter at 7pm GMT on the first Wednesday of every month. I’m hoping it will be a similar success and more importantly, I hope it will help others not to feel so alone.
When I went deaf, I didn’t know anyone else my age with a hearing aid and my friends didn’t ‘get it’. I felt very lonely. I would have loved it if something like #HearingLossHour had existed — and so I’ve set this up to help other people in the same boat as me.
#HearingLossHour is a time and ‘place’ where people with hearing loss can share experiences, exchange tips and ask questions. It is open to anyone with hearing loss and to service providers too.
Since its launch on 4th February 2015, we’ve covered many topics including tinnitus, accessibility in banks, hearing loops, holidays, subtitles/captioning, and assistive listening devices. People from as far away as Germany and America have taken part in #HearingLossHour, which demonstrates the power of social media in bringing people together. People have shared experiences, tips and recommendations. It has been very exciting to be the catalyst for such exchanges.
Here is my invitation to you to join this evening, Wednesday 3rd June 2015, 7-8pm GMT. If you’re new to Twitter, there is a page about how a ‘Twitter hour’ works.
Tonight’s questions are:
Q1. “Which are the best blogs or Facebook pages for people with hearing loss?”
Q2. “Which is your favourite alarm app to wake you up in the morning?”
Together, maybe, we can start a silent revolution.
Photo credit: Aspinall Ink