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 4: Dog walking
My family and I are very lucky to have a lovely black Labrador in our lives and I walk him every day through the fields and woods in my neighbourhood. One of the pleasures of dog walking is the conversations you can strike up with other dog owners. A dog gives you an immediate means of introduction and I have made many new friends this way. But chatting to someone as I walk is often a challenge.
Being totally deaf on one side means I have to place myself with my aided ear closest to my fellow dog walker to give myself the best chance of hearing the conversation as we walk. Sometimes this is tricky, especially if it is a windy day as this outside noise can make it harder to pick up voices.
Note to self: keep a sense of humour!
I am not shy or awkward about my deafness, it’s just a fact of life for me, so I make a point of explaining to new acquaintances that I am deaf. This is usually a surprise, especially as by and large they haven’t noticed I wear a hearing aid and also because I am able to hear them.
I explain that I do lipread a lot of conversations but when I am dog walking it’s really all down to the high tech of my hearing aid.
Note to self: take spare hearing aid batteries!
On occasion I walk alone with my dog and we don’t see a soul around. I have the option to listen to music streamed via Bluetooth from my phone directly into my hearing aid, no need for headphones. This is very modern technology and I love it. It’s hard to beat walking along to the rhythm of your favourite music.
Note to self: remember how lucky I am to be able to enjoy this.
One of the pitfalls of dog walking with a hearing loss are that I don’t hear people approaching. Fairly obvious to remember to look all around when near a busy road but easy to forget when we are in the woods! I have sometimes found myself in the way of several cyclists who are coming up behind me as I haven’t heard them at all!
Note to self: Be more visually aware of what is around me.