Hi there, let me introduce myself. My name is Ellen, but my friends call me Ellie. I live in Norfolk, UK. Some of you may know me as Deafie Blogger. I’m 18 years old, and I’ve been profoundly deaf since birth. I wear two digital Phonak hearing aids, which allow me to communicate through lip-reading and speech. I don’t use British Sign Language, although I’d love to learn one day. I’m a typical teenager, and I love being sociable, spending time with family and friends, travelling and swimming.
Of course, I’m proud to be deaf, because I wouldn’t have achieved what I have, if I was hearing. I would just be ordinary. I am passionate about deaf awareness, no doubt about it. Over the past year I’ve really gotten interested in blogging and deaf culture, and I’m hoping that I can enthuse and encourage other deaf teenagers to prove that they can achieve anything they dream of. I love writing about everyday situations in the life of a deaf person, with the aim of making others feel as if they’re not alone.
When out and about with my dog, Tilly, I have been known to refer to her as my ‘unofficial hearing dog’ as a bit of an ice-breaker when meeting new people. I do this as a way of letting them know they’re talking to a deafened person and that I might not be able to follow everything they’re saying. I’ve also used the term in my writing and in my event speaking in the context of telling people about the five year waiting list there is for an official hearing dog. And, I sometimes speak about how, when I lost my hearing suddenly, I suffered panic attacks and a loss of confidence in going out of the house without my husband. I felt I just couldn’t wait that five years for a dog and so we started looking for a rescue dog to adopt to keep me company and help me feel more secure when my husband goes out.
Tilly is a rescue Westie – an ex-breeding bitch from an illegal ‘puppy farm’. She lets me know when someone’s at the door (by barking and running to the front door or if we’re in a room where the door is closed, she lets it be known she wants to get out of that room so she can run to the front door). However, when the phone rings, the smoke alarm sounds or the burglar alarm goes off, she does absolutely nothing at all. She is clearly not a proper hearing dog!
There is a clear legal foundation for providing access to healthcare services for people with hearing loss. The Equality Act 2010 requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to make their service accessible for people who are disabled, and states that they must anticipate and promote these adjustments rather than make them on a responsive basis.
So, why is it that the Health Service is so behind in terms of making reasonable adjustments so that patients can understand what is being said to them during examinations and consultations? And, where are the legal challenges to the shoddy status quo?
One of the things I love about being part of this community is the international perspective. It’s a real eye-opener learning about the experiences of fellow hearing aid users in other countries. In this post, I’d like to explore the issue of a lack of ‘follow up support’ for adults new to hearing aids here in the UK and I would love to know if you have a different experience where you live. Of course, there may be some great local initiatives in the UK that I don’t know about so, if you have some examples of good practice, this would be a great place to share them!