Maurice Corry MSP, Eilish Barry, Elizabeth and Teri Devine, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, after finding out about 'Moving On' service for young Deaf people looking to move into education, training or employment, and 'Hearing Forces' service supporting older veterans with hearing loss.
"I finally found my place... "
Eilish Barry, Administrative Assistant, Action on Hearing Loss
When I was born, the doctors believed there was something different about me. I was first diagnosed as profoundly Deaf when I was three years old. At the time I was diagnosed I was given hearing aids to allow me to hear every day sounds. After my hearing began to deteriorate, my parents decided to learn BSL from a local Deaf lecturer. Some friends and family members didn’t agree with this, instead they believed I should only be taught how to use speech and lipread. However, I feel extremely proud of my parents for teaching me to use both BSL and oral communication. I feel that my ability to use both communication methods has improved my quality of life and made it easier for me to communicate with the Deaf and hearing communities.
When I was growing up, I attended a Deaf primary school which I really enjoyed as my teachers and peers knew the best way to communicate with me and allowed me the extra time I required to complete a task. This all changed when I attended mainstream high school. I began to feel extremely isolated and had to concentrate twice as hard as my hearing peers to focus on the interpreter and teacher. I became angry and frustrated as a result of moving from a Deaf school into mainstream school.
Not long after my 16th birthday I decided to leave school and pursue a course in childcare which involved going on placements to various nurseries. Unfortunately there were many communication breakdowns which meant I was left standing watching the children all day instead of getting involved. I decided that childcare wasn’t for me, and began an Introduction to Construction college course. I really enjoyed all the practical work involved in this such as painting, plastering, roof tiling and wood work. However, I wasn’t allowed to progress onto my next year as I have a visual loss in addition to my hearing loss.
I finally found my place working in the Action on Hearing Loss office as an administrative assistant within the ‘Moving on’ project. I soon realised that I can do anything as long as I have the right equipment, such as ZoomText and magnifiers. Over the past few months I have gained confidence mixing with my hearing and Deaf colleagues. I have also attended various courses the ‘Moving on’ team have planned which has enhanced my CV. I enjoy working as part of a team and working out solutions as “a problem shared is a problem halved”. My team knows the best ways to communicate with me which makes me feel comfortable and no longer isolated.
Images above courtesy of David Cruickshanks
What Action on Hearing Loss and Deaf Awareness Week mean to me
Tom McCarthy, Chair, Action on Hearing Loss National Advisory Group – Scotland, UK
Volunteering for Action on Hearing Loss is a cause close to my heart. I was born with a bi-lateral hearing loss which was only diagnosed when I was three years old. I was lucky and had access to great services to support me through my formative years. This included some brilliant audiologists who kitted me out with the latest hearing aids, teachers of the deaf who taught me alternative strategies when my hearing failed me and NHS care which monitored my ongoing development.
Ultimately all of this enabled me to progress right the way through the education system into a satisfying and rewarding career. However these services and those that I now rely on as an adult are under pressure like never before. Some of this is partly due to the political decisions around public spending, however shifting demographics, changing needs and the endless march of technology also create challenges in providing services in the 21st century.
This is where I believe Action on Hearing Loss has a hugely influential role to play. By helping people like me connect with others with a hearing loss and giving us a voice, we are able to lobby our political leaders to protect the services that we all depend on. AoHL also have a hugely important role to play in the provision of services supporting people with a hearing loss live meaningful lives and achieve the things we all take for granted: to work, to socialise and live purposeful lives.
This year in Deaf Awareness Week I wanted to pay tribute to all of those fantastic people who dedicated their lives to enable me to live my life. I also want to urge our political leaders to do what they can to protect the services the deaf community requires and lastly to pledge my support to Action on Hearing Loss to support them to advocate on behalf of all people with a hearing loss.