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Hearing Week 2012 – Can you tell?

8 March 2012

Hearing Week 2012 – Can you tell?

A toddler in the playground. A child walking home from school. Teenagers texting, a mother, an elderly gentleman… One in six New Zealanders has an invisible disability. Can you tell?

Hearing loss affects over 700,000 people in New Zealand, from newborn babies to the elderly. Hearing Week is running from 25-31 March 2012 and this year we are profiling the many different faces of hearing impairment.

“It’s not always easy to know if someone has a hearing loss and we need people to under-stand what hearing impairment is and how to communicate effectively with people who are deaf and hearing impaired” says Louise Carroll, CEO of the National Foundation for the Deaf.

“Hearing losses can range from mild to profoundly deaf and if it occurs later on in life issues of grief and loss are very real for some affected people. In coping with this loss, technology offers a great source of hope to many.”

As technology advances many hearing impaired people are benefitting from hearing aids, remote microphone hearing aids and cochlear implants. All of these have made a huge positive difference in the way that those who are hearing impaired communicate.

“Nevertheless, communication can be exhausting for a hearing impaired person even with an aid,” says Ms Carroll. “And if people have had a hearing loss for a while and have not had rehabilitation support, the language pathways in the brain change, making communication more difficult.”

There are still many people who can’t afford cochlear implants, hearing aids or remote microphone hearing aids and either aren’t funded or aren’t funded sufficiently to get the equipment they require. One of the greatest challenges that the deaf and hearing impaired community faces is this lack of funding for technology.

“Access for all people with disabilities is one of the pillars of the New Zealand Disability Strategy,” says Ms Carroll. “The government has a lot to do to make this a reality.

“We are calling for the formation of a cross government working group to identity and address the issues facing deaf and hearing impaired people in New Zealand.”

Communicating with a hearing impaired person

• Face the person who is hearing impaired
• speak clearly
• speak slower
• don’t shout
• if necessary write down the points you are trying to make.


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