went to a Christmas Party, there were 30 or so people attending, and as the
party wore on the noise level went up, my hearing ability went
down. Yes, this happens to most people, and we just talk louder to
each other to make a conversation. But if you are hard of hearing in the
first place, people don’t know you have a ‘disability’ because you can’t see
it. I admit I am becoming hard of hearing, though most wouldn’t know it, and I
began to feel isolated because I couldn’t even hear the person sitting next to
me and I started feeling invisible. Other hearing-impaired people will
understand this so well.
cases, hearing aids are worn to improve low-level hearing impairments that fall
well below the thresholds set by any regulations for hearing disabilities. The
logic here is that wearing a hearing aid helps to provide some assistance for
hearing loss or impairment, and this eliminates, to some degree, the state of
disability. Therefore, you cannot be classified as having a disability just
because you wear a hearing aid.
Bit of a
Catch-22 situation isn’t it.
suffer from slight sight loss, you would wear glasses, right? You go off
to the optician, spend some time having your sight tested, then find frames
that ‘suit you’, and people complement or admire your ‘aid’ to seeing.
Before you take the step to wearing glasses, jokes about ‘arms not being long
enough’ or ‘blind as a bat’ abound, and it’s all socially acceptable.
But, be a
bit deaf, and see what happens. You look blankly at the person talking to
you, try to work out what they might have said, and maybe because you have the
gist of the conversation, you are able to make some - probably noncommittal –
response. Admit you can’t hear, and people roll their eyes behind your
back and try shouting - not always the answer, as anyone who is deaf will tell
you - or they say, in an exasperated voice ‘oh it doesn’t matter’, and you are
dismissed as being a half-wit or something.
aid for hearing loss is somehow not as socially acceptable as wearing an aid
for sight loss. You don’t go to a showroom and pick something that ‘suits you’,
and people don’t complement or admire your ‘aid’ to hearing. They are ‘hidden
aids’, as if being deaf is shameful and should be concealed.
to the World Health Organisation, disability definition can be broken down into
three categories: Impairment (this looks at the physical appearance of
the body), Activity Limitation (this deals with the limited physical
movements or hindrance due to the impairment), Restrictions in
participation (this involves the notion that society has reduced your
involvement in certain situations because of your impairment).
impairment falls into all three categories mentioned to some degree. Some
organizations define disability by breaking down the severity of the loss.
Thus, the exact disability classification that a person’s hearing impairment
will fall under depends on the impairment’s precise diagnosis. Therefore,
hearing impairment may fall under four categories – profound, severe, moderate, and mild.
any idea how many people are affected by hearing loss? In Portugal, I
understand one in 10 suffer from some type of hearing loss - and it’s not just
confined to old age. There are thousands who suffer from mild hearing
loss, and currently, there are 60,000 people in Portugal that are deaf sign
language users, and among that number are 100 working sign language
loss is a serious condition that can sometimes be resolved with a very simple
solution that greatly improves the quality of life. Devices are available
in both analogue and digital forms and come in a variety of types, shapes, and
sizes – behind the ear, in the ear, in the canal and completely-in-the-ear.
Hearing aids available on SNS tend to be large in the ear, but ones from the
private sector are almost invisible, and there are all-singing-all-dancing devices with controls from an app on your phone – but believe me, you need a
mortgage to afford them!
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.