A hidden disability

W%20-%20alistaircampbell_1721720_mid (2)The story of Shari Eberts as told in her blog on Friday is a vital reminder of how many people within our nation respond to their hearing needs, trying to ignore their deafness. Writing a blog or having a tattoo like Alistair Campbell in the picture are big steps compared to the challenges that many people face to  arrange a hearing test. Alistair was tattooed as an act of solidarity with his daughter Charlotte as she gets used to wearing her cochlear implant daily as I wrote in August. Another challenge that some of us face from time to time is objecting when the speaker at a meeting asks if they can speak without the use of the microphone that has been provided as part of the public address system for the event. Often the sound system will be linked to a Audio Frequency Induction Loop System (AFILS) which is hidden but will ensure that people like Charlotte and Shari can hear all that is being said with great clarity. I work for a company that installs public address equipment and often gets asked to install AFILS in buildings. There are occasions when a suggestion by us that a loop may be needed as part of a sound system is met with apathy or disinterest by those who commission our work. However in many senses the worst of all worlds are experienced when loops are fitted  that have been poorly designed or use substandard materials. For most people, the distorted sound from a poor quality sound system will be so evident that they won’t hesitate to raise their concerns with the people operating the system or running the building. Sadly many of those like Charlotte Campbell or Shari Eberts or the nearly 3M people in the UK who wear hearing aids get so used to distortion in AFILS that they give up raising the issue and expect the worst from all systems, sometimes refusing to try any of them out. Tragically all too many people who install loops perform little or no tests as to how effective they are. Even assuming that the loop itself is adequate, the placement of microphones and cancellation of unnecessary noise in the room is often ignored altogether where there is no associated public address system to alert others to the problem. It is vital that people like Sheri, and the hundreds of volunteers who are members of Loop Up groups across the UK persevere in articulating the need for their disability to be recognised with the same sense of enthusiasm as many of us pay to other more identifiable disabilities. What I and my colleagues observe in our work is something we find disturbing, but clearly our motivation can be easily questioned as being for personal gain. This week we have had the news that Apple is seeking permission to remove components from future generations of their iphones that connect with hearing aids. It is vital that all of us stand up against this sort of appalling decision making, in USA is currently illegal to manufacture or sell a phone that does not include such components. We need similar legislation in this country and we must stop Apple in its tracks!


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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