Deaf Awareness Week
Welcome to Deaf Awareness Week UK (6-12th May) and allow me to take you on a journey through my experiences of living with deafness. I am totally deaf on one side and have some hearing in the other ear, boosted by modern hearing technology. I have been a hearing aid wearer for nearly 20 years but even now my deafness still catches me out.
Day 3: Driving
Whenever I get into my car, I am very conscious of my hearing and there are a number of reasons why driving becomes more of a challenge when you have a hearing loss. Although we rely on our sight to stay safe on the road, our hearing has a role to play also.
Road awareness and visual observations are crucial for all of us when driving. In my experience I find I especially need to look out for emergency vehicles that may be approaching as they can appear quickly and don’t always have flashing lights to indicate their presence.
Note to self: Concentrate and stay alert.
Talking to passengers can be difficult for me as my deaf side is closest to the front passenger. As the driver, I am not able to lipread and noise from the road and other vehicles can make it doubly hard to hear. This is really hard when your fellow travellers are softly spoken or forget I cannot hear well. I have often missed a destination from mishearing an instruction.
Note to self: politely ask passengers to speak up, especially if they are helping to give driving directions.
The car itself gives audible clues to faults and problems, the sound of something on the road, stuck underneath the car, or revving of the engine as examples, but these are often subtle and hard to hear. Fortunately warning lights and symbols should show up for serious mechanical faults but most people would often hear a problem first as an early warning.
Note to self: keep an eye on the rev counter and other instrumentation.
Lastly, I always carry spare hearing aid batteries in the car. I rely so much on hearing technology for safety and nothing is more annoying than losing all hearing due to battery failure.
Tomorrow: Dog walking.