My name is Amy Morton and I am married with two children aged 8 and 6. I am a Holistic therapist by trade. I have a hearing loss from birth caused by a virus my mum had whilst she was pregnant with me. The virus caused my nerves to be damaged so unfortunately all of my high-frequency range never developed. I wasn’t diagnosed till I was 3 years and 9 months due to the fact there was no testing from birth at that time.

It has been a challenge at times during my school years and growing up, however, I was successful and happy in my holistic beauty career for 12 years. I gave up my treatment room in St Albans to be a full-time mum to our dear daughter and that took me into a world of other challenges. I learned then that there was a real lack of deaf awareness for the hard of hearing. I then went on to have another child, our son, and was kept busy as a Mum but I always wanted to see what I could contribute to awareness campaigns for the deaf. My son is the eldest in his year, which meant I had him at home with me for longer than normal and so this year was the first year I’ve had that window of time. When the pandemic started it was of course a very anxious and worrying time for everyone. However, I felt safe in our little bubble and as much as homeschooling was challenging it was a safe environment for us all.

When the lockdown restrictions were lifted and masks were made mandatory, I felt I was in another lockdown as I rely on lip-reading to help understand people. Lip-reading is an essential aid to help me to communicate with others.  At the start of the summer holidays, looking after two children combined with the requirement of wearing masks, filled me with anxiety and worry: “What challenges was I going to come in contact with?” “I’m going to have to be more open about my needs.” “Are people going to understand?” “The children need a summer holiday – what am I going to do?” 

We are a very active family and I have two very energetic kids. Fortunately, we were invited over to Jersey by my husband’s parents and with a low Covid-19 rate there we enjoyed some normality for a whole month. I was so grateful for that time. Returning back to the UK was horrendous and I was crippled with sadness returning home, no-one could really understand why I was so upset. 

The children were so excited to start back at school and we were looking forward to getting back to some semblance of a ‘new normal’. Unfortunately, masks started to increase and to my panic the Government had advised schools that parents should wear masks when collecting their children from school. The day I got that email from my children’s Headmaster I felt so anxious. However, I came upon an article from the RNID (previously known as Action on Hearing Loss) website that said you can ask another person to lower their mask if they need to make themselves understood. I emailed my children’s school and notified my immediate friends of the situation. I was just filled with worry that I would have so many awkward conversations to deal with. “What if a parent needs to talk to me?”  “What if I don’t hear them and they think I’m rude. “

The coping mechanism I had perfected for nearly 39 years was now not useable!

I decided that with my children both now in school, I could start raising awareness of these new deaf issues and I created an Instagram and Facebook profile. I did this initially on my own and then with some marketing support which I funded myself.  My knowledge of social media is limited, and I needed to get the message out there so that everyone understands what we, the deaf and the hearing loss community, are going through – and so “LIVING WITH HEARING LOSS” was born. 

Before now I wasn’t very forthcoming about my hearing and communication needs but for the first time ever, I was forced into having to make these known.  I discovered the ‘exemption card‘ for people with hearing difficulties and emailed the school explaining about it. I also wrote to all the parents in the school via the newsletter. My children’s Headmaster was very supportive and through that opportunity, the awareness started to grow. Parents were messaging me saying they hadn’t thought at all about how the new rules around masks and social distancing would affect the hard of hearing and the deaf community.

My dear family and friends have been a huge help and support. I will always be grateful and still am for their ongoing support.

I have started this campaign to enable customer service businesses to offer themselves up as lip-reading friendly and to educate establishments about the exemption card. 

It’s a simple campaign and one that will raise people’s awareness and, the big plus is it will enable the hard of hearing and the deaf to enjoy their shopping experience and communicate with the staff.

This my gift to you all – the gift of clear communication, a more positive release from lockdown and a warm welcome from the customer service sector which we didn’t receive last time. In short, a more compassionate public. I hope for it to be ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ as I will continue this work going into January and beyond. 

Remember that we are in this together so look out for the poster and please don’t be shy about using the exemption cards. If you know of any businesses that you use regularly that you would like to sign up to the campaign, please get in touch and I will send you a campaign pack. Also, if you would like to help support this campaign by becoming a volunteer that would be much appreciated.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and please stay safe.

I would like to say a personal thank you to Aston Hearing for their very kind support and for featuring me in this newsletter. I have been a client at Aston Hearing for 4 years now and absolutely love my hearing aids and the service I have from you guys is always warm and friendly so “thankyou” x

Click here to download a copy of the exemption certificate to carry with you and use where needed.