Monday, 29 August 2016

Supporting each other

So much of coping with a disability, is having a support network of friends, family, and work colleagues who understand your difficulties, and care enough to assist. In a way, they ‘fill in the gap’ and form a bridge between you and the activity so you can join in.

Lots of you already do this in all sorts of ways— by walking slower when shopping with an elderly parent; by waiting while your friend puts glasses on to read a note; by providing a meal or cleaning for a friend who is ill. There are any ways you can assist someone who has a hearing loss too: repeating a phrase they missed; facing them when you speak; turning off the radio/TV and shutting the door on the washing machine to reduce background noise.

People often say to me, ‘You look too young to be wearing hearing aids’. They are even more surprised when I tell them I’ve been wearing them for nearly 30 years. Having some sort of impairment in function is certainly not associated just with old age. Countless young people have had a serious accident or illness that has left them with some loss of function, and face many years of struggle, pain or unemployment as a result. Most people with a hearing loss are under 65 years old.

I have really valued the people who have made an effort to assist me when I have struggled to hear. 
This thoughtfulness doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated by anyone who has wanted to participate and been in need of some small assistance in order to join in. Simple things like repeating a key phrase e.g. the topic of conversation; providing transcripts of videos or talks; or offering me a chair closer to the speaker has helped so much. It enriches our lives and enables us to keep on being part of the community. This in turn, provides opportunities for us to contribute as well.

There are some great activities out there for people with all sorts of abilities – we just need a few more people who are willing to make small sacrifices and provide that ‘bridge’ between those who have every faculty on perfect working order and the rest of us who require some small assistance.

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