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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch Portsmouth

We are supporting Deaf Awareness week 2021

Deaf Awareness Week is an annual event which aims to raise awareness of Deafness and hearing loss, which is faced by 1 in 6 people in the UK. This year the national theme is ‘Coming Through it Together’. Throughout the week, we will be using our online campaign to engage with our community and encourage them to celebrate Deafness, raise awareness of best practice and use the week for demonstrating change and positivity. It is estimated that there are approximately 11 million people, both adults and children, in UK with a hearing loss which makes it the second most common disability. However, as an invisible disability, it so often goes unnoticed, making it easier for those living with hearing loss to be ignored or forgotten. “It has been challenging to communicate during the covid-19 pandemic, as I am used to lip reading and the face masks makes this impossible”. Hearing loss in older people Hearing loss increases sharply with age – nearly 42% of those aged over 50 years have hearing loss, increasing to about 71% of people aged 70+. About 400,000 older people live in care homes and are disproportionately affected by hearing loss, with approximately 75% of residents having a hearing problem. Unassisted hearing loss has a significant impact on older people leading to social isolation, depression, reduced quality of life and loss of independence and mobility. Words describing deafness and hearing loss There are no rights and wrongs about the words used to describe a person’s hearing loss. However, generally accepted definitions are as follows:

  • Deafened – people who were born with hearing and have lost most or all of their hearing later in life.

  • Hard of hearing – people who have lost some but not all hearing.

  • deaf (lower case ‘d’) – people who have hearing loss; they may be born deaf or become deaf. They mix well in the hearing world and may communicate orally and may also be users of sign language.

  • Deaf (upper case ‘D’) refers to people who are members of the Deaf community and who communicate almost exclusively with sign language.

  • Hearing impaired – anyone with any level of hearing loss.

  • Acquired hearing loss – people who were born with hearing but have lost some or all of their hearing.

  • Congenital hearing loss – born with hearing loss which may become progressively worse.

Here are some Deaf Awareness top tips:

  • Face the person while you are speaking.

  • Don’t turn away.

  • Repeat yourself if necessary.

  • Never say ‘It doesn’t matter’ If the person doesn’t understand you.

  • Don’t give up!

  • Write it down or draw a picture.

  • Speak one at a time.

  • Don’t talk over each other.

  • Keep your mouth visible.

  • Smile and relax.

  • Don’t speak too quickly or too slowly.

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