Is the theme for this years Deaf Awareness week. According to one website “deaf awareness is about ‘promoting the positive aspects of deafness’ and ‘promoting social inclusion’. Most importantly its about helping people that are deaf. When asked what deaf awareness meant for them, one person said: ‘I want my family to include me in their conversations.'” Knowing that deafness impacts around one person in 6 means that many of us work or socialise with people who are deaf. Many of us are part of families which include people who are deaf or suffer from reduced hearing. One of the difficult things many of us struggle with is to ask those around us ‘personal’ questions. Asking people we know to be deaf if the workplace is as well suited to their needs as possible, or if the place chosen for a night out is ok is a step that can be uncomfortable. It is a great deal more difficult to address hidden needs. Many people who are deaf have not made their condition known to people around them.
My work involves providing presentations to Architects and other professionals involved in the construction and management of buildings about technology that can improve the experience for deaf visitors and employees. It is clear from these seminars that while none of these professionals would ignore the needs of people with mobility needs, that far too often they don’t know how much of an impact their provision or lack of it has on deaf people. Yet all of us will be impacted by hearing loss as we get older and depending on the extent to which we are exposed to loud noise over protracted periods. It is never too early to check out what provision has been made for us ahead of time.