7 of my favourite deaf awareness initiatives for 2017

18 05 2017

woman hiding her mouth

How Deaf Awareness Week is breaking down barriers

It is Deaf Awareness Week in the UK, May 15 to 21, and in the theme of celebrating collaborative work, I want to share with you some of my favourite 2017 awareness initiatives. There were many to choose from, but the ones mentioned below touched my heart.

The purpose of this week is to share knowledge around the fact that 1 in 6 people in the UK is deaf or hard of hearing. It’s important to know how you can communicate with us and include us in everyday life. This week is dedicated to highlighting how you can communicate with deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Spreading awareness aims to improve peoples’ understanding of deafness, hopefully leading to better support and accessibility.

Even though there is no ‘typical’ deaf or hard of hearing person, you should be aware of the possibility that a deaf person might join your seminar, workshop or eat lunch at your restaurant. Are you aware of our needs? Have you made it easy for us to communicate with you and join the conversation? If not, I hope this year’s awareness week inspires you to make changes.


10 things I wish audiologists had taught me

3 05 2017


Audiologists and hearing rehabilitation

Gianluca Trombetta: A new course to the rescue

When my audiologists finally convinced me to start wearing hearing aids at age 20, I expected to immediately have perfect hearing. But of course, that did not happen. And then I found myself with questions and in situations that I did not know how to handle.

What was I to do when my hearing aids did not work? How should I tell my work colleagues about my hearing loss? How do I properly enjoy my dinner out or a day at the beach? And what technology accessories are relevant for my needs?

I was disappointed and frustrated by what I felt was a lack of support from my audiologists. But I’ve learned that hearing aids are just the start of the hearing rehabilitation journey, the term I use to describe a comprehensive approach to improving your hearing.


Marathon training: Day 32

10 03 2013


The dreaded calf muscle cramp reared its ugly head in my left leg again this week, during my street sprinting on Tuesday. I had warmed up with a slow one mile jog but I hadn’t stretched before my run. I did a street loop with the group as a warm up, then we started sprinting in small groups. It was great to run with the local runner’s group and get some moral support as I pounded the streets – the thing was, this week our route took us past my house – again, again, and again, as we did loops – all I kept thinking was ‘I want to be at home with my feet up and a cup of tea with my dog’! Throughout this run, I felt as if my lungs weren’t big enough and I couldn’t get enough oxygen into them, although my breathing was regular and I kept up my pace. It was cold and brutal, but it was good.

On Wednesday I attended a workshop where the theme was disability access, led by a disabled trainer. With no deaf awareness. The upshot was I ended up lipreading everyone in the room, twisting round constantly in my chair to do this, and the trainer kept moving around as well. I asked her twice to stay still so I could lipread her, and she suggested that I move around the room to lipread her. Don’t think so! So, for the rest of the week I have been unable to look to my left / right without a jolt of pain from my neck down my shoulders and back.

Last Saturday I was able to run up the killer hill with my personal trainer in the park we train in. This Saturday’s session saw me, for the first time, able to run up Killer Hill No.2 without any help – this hill is steeper so I was very pleased! Unfortunately, next week I will be expected to run up both hills. Talk about shooting myself in the foot!

Warming up and stretching are so important, to avoid injury and to take care of injury. Here’s a great article on stretching, warming up, and cooling down.

This week’s workout stats;

  • Distance: 17.8km / 11 miles
  • Time: 3.35 hours
  • 1,922 calories burned

Gotta up the mileage!

C.I.B.O.R.G. D.A.Y.

27 02 2010

It’s my big day. Bye bye crappy hearing aid. Hello bionic ear. I’m calm. Still asking myself, Am I REALLY deaf enough for a cochlear implant?


I got to the hospital and sat in reception, listening to my iPod with my last few minutes of bilateral hearing, until they called me upstairs to the B ward at the Royal National Throat Nose Ear hospital in London. I went through all the prep with 2 nurses – a form detailing any medical problems, and they took MRSI swabs, my blood pressure, and temperature. I met with the surgeon who marked my neck on the left side, he said the surgery should take about 2 hours. The anaesthetist also came to talk to me, then my friend Karen arrived. I chatted with her for the rest of the morning as my surgery was scheduled for 1pm.

I was totally calm and remained so for the whole CI experience – I think this was because I had done so much research and watched a video of CI surgery, and I had the courage of my convictions, I knew I was doing the right thing. This morning, on my way in, I tried listening to my iPod with just my left ear, and I couldn’t even follow the melody of my favourite U2 songs, whereas I was easily able to do this with my right ear. Rock on!

I was given a hospital gown, stockings to stop blood clots, and plastic knickers(!). Wow, this was a whole new fashion thing going! I eyed them nervously until the last minute, the nurse had to almost force me to get all that gear on. The stockings made me laugh as they have holes in the bottom of them … to tickle my feet when I wake up maybe?


I walked upstairs to the operating theatre’s recovery room with a nurse and hopped onto a bed. I was to get a general anaesthetic. The nurse covered me with blankets and hooked me up to monitors, with monitor pads stuck to my chest. The anaesthetist had a huge syringe which looked like it was full of milk. He gave me the anaesthetic and looked at me …. I looked at him … he looked at me .. I started laughing and said “It’s not gonna work is it?!” then the next thing I remember is waking up, I was wide awake very quickly and they took me back to the ward with a big grin on my face. It was the best sleep ever and I wanted to do it again! My surgery had taken 4 1/2 hours.


I felt very happy and wide awake. David had arrived and he and Karen had been waiting for 4 1/2 hours, they were worried as they had been told surgery would be about 2 hours. I had no pain at all apart from over the ear where the bandage was too tight – it felt as if my ear had been bent over before being bandaged up. I asked the nurse to loosen it for me and that helped a little.

The surgeon came to see me, Prof Saeed from Manchester, who has 15 years experience of CI surgeries, and I am his 294th CI patient – so that’s a very experienced CI surgeon! He said all 16 electrodes are working and the operation was perfect, he was totally thrilled. He asked me to close my eyes and smile, to check that my face is working ok. I then had dinner, I was starving by then, and I discovered that I can still taste food – I had been told I might lose my sense of taste after surgery. I showed the internal part of the cochlear implant to Karen – I had a dummy one with me – and my nurse was absolutely fascinated by it. From the moment Karen and David arrived, I didn’t stop talking, and I was chatting to Amanda and a few other friends via my Blackberry, so I feel as if my hospital stay has been a very enjoyable social event with a good sleep thrown in!


I tried to settle down for the night but there were too many pillows, the ward was too warm, my stockings were tight, the bandage was hurting, the tinnitus was roaring like a freight train in my new CI ear. A nurse spoke to me about my pillows but it was dark on the ward and she is dark skinned ….. I gave up at that point! Too tired to explain good communication tactics! I eventually got to sleep after 2AM.


A nurse poked me awake – grrr – to take my blood pressure and temperature. Another nurse came to take the bandage off and she pointed out a big swollen bruise on my chest which I hadn’t noticed. Must have got that when the surgeon had to put his foot on me to keep me down …

I had breakfast of cornflakes, tea and toast. I went back to sleep and woke to see Karen there. The nurse removed the tubes and needles from my hand and we headed off to the xray department, where they xrayed my head. The xray is to check the CI has been put in the right place. I collected my discharge note, sick certificate, and confirmed my checkup date. I got dressed and had a quick lunch, then we left for home.

FRIDAY 1PM : Home 🙂

I was able to walk and my balance was good, but I felt quite unreal and had to walk slowly. I wore a pashmina to cover up the crazy hair, I’m not allowed to wash it for a week. The pashmina worked well as it was light and comfortable. The scar looks good, it’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and my hair will cover it anyway. I think it looks like a very professional job.

There isn’t any pain in the ear itself. The ear is numb and it’s sore going down the neck, and I have a sore throat/jaw/shoulders/head, bruises on the back of head and chest, it hurts to turn over or to get up, I feel like I’ve done 500 situps, but overall, the operation is a breeze really, and I wouldn’t have any qualms in going through it again for a 2nd CI if I go for that. I’d get to have another go at the drugs and pants thing. I think the worse thing was the tinnitus yesterday, I didn’t expect it to get worse, and to the level that it did, of a freight train, so that was a shocker.

What I found difficult during my hospital stay was communication with the nurses and surgeon – they were foreign and I couldn’t lipread them. Luckily, David can sign so he translated for me. It’s a shame the nurses and doctors don’t get deaf awareness training. It really is so important, so that the patient has a better hospital experience – it’s not just about the medical support, it’s about the holistic support. The psychological aspect is important as well. It’s like yin and yang. I had to constantly ask nurses to repeat, to look at me when speaking, to write it down. It was so frustrating and tiring.


I woke up to an amazing thing …. silence. No tinnitus! It has been coming and going today but it’s quieter than yesterday. At this moment, as I am writing this, there is silence. It is bliss. I have had constant tinnitus all of my life and it really sucks, but you can’t do anything about it except learn to live with it. I managed to get 7 hours sleep and I feel much more clear headed today. Physically I am really aching and don’t feel up to doing anything. The numbness on the left side of my tongue has gone away and my lips are becoming less numb. I’m amazed at how much better I feel.

I’m really happy because it was a good surgery and the surgeon was thrilled, and by having the CI on the worse ear, I had nothing to lose and so much to gain. It really helped to have such great support throughout from my friends that have CIs, they have been through it themselves and are great at offering reassurance and advice. My hearing dog Smudge was totally spoiled when I was in hospital, he really enjoyed all the fuss, new toys and treats, and is probably wondering when I’m going away again!

I’m so unbelievably TIRED, but I am a very happy bunny! For now, it’s back to the sofa for tea and chocolate biscuits…

Foreign coffee shops in England ~ can you understand me?

4 09 2008

Last week I was in Wimbledon and I got bored waiting for my friend to turn up, so I popped into a shop nearby for coffee. It was a little place called Tchibo. A staff member approached me and told me that dogs weren’t allowed in the shop. I explained he’s a Hearing Dog which is an Assistance Dog. She walked away and I thought ‘Whew, that was easy’.

Two minutes later, another staff member walked up and told me that dogs weren’t allowed in the shop. Now, this shop was pretty small and the staff members had been within ten feet of each other. I would’ve thought they could hear conversations quite easily in the shop as it was also very quiet. Or perhaps they just thought I needed telling more than once.

I explained again that my dog is a Hearing Dog, not a pet. That a Hearing Dog has the same rights as a Guide Dog for the Blind. She didn’t believe me. I opened my bag and dug around for his identity cards, one which states he is an official Hearing Dog and one which is an endorsement from the Department of Health. I showed her the cards. I pointed out his Hearing Dogs for Deaf People coat. She said they couldn’t allow dogs in the shop. I explained, yet again, that he has the same rights as a Guide Dog for the Blind. She said … (wait for it) ….

(Assistant) – But you’re not blind!

* Blinking rapidly in disbelief at what she’s just said …
(me) – Too RIGHT I’m not blind! I’m DEAF! And he’s my HEARING DOG! These are his identity cards. Do you think I’m making all this up?!

(Assistant) – You’re very rude!

(me) – No. I’m NOT being rude. I’m simply trying to explain to you my legal rights and your legal duty.

She stood there glaring at me. She just didn’t understand. No matter what I said. I sighed.

(me) – Why don’t you just leave me alone to do my shopping like everyone else?

I then turned around, ignored her, and she left me alone. After I left, I emailed Tchibo’s head office and explained what had happened. I didn’t expect to get a reply at all.

Well, surprise, surprise.

A couple of days later, I got an email from them and they said they were sorry to hear what had happened and would be investigating.

Today, I got a letter from Tchibo customer services. The letter said customer feedback is most valuable to them and they take all complaints very seriously. The sales assistants were not aware of Hearing Dogs at the time of my visit, they said. Ho hum. I had given them some free, personal training and they chose not to listen. Where does ‘not aware’ come in? I was assured this incident would not happen again and they had not intended to cause offence. They are taking steps to ensure such problems do not happen again.

And they apologised. Sincerely.

And they even enclosed a voucher. Wow.

Kudos to them for doing something positive about staff training and deaf awareness, and for being willing to foster good customer relations.

– I might even go back and try those assistants out again *wink*

Deaf Awareness Week 2008 : Look at Me

1 05 2008


May 5th – 11th is Deaf Awareness Week. The theme is LOOK AT ME which happens to tie in nicely with my blog 🙂 The aim is to raise awareness of the different methods of communication which deaf people use to communicate and therefore highlight the different types of deafness. ‘Deafness’ doesn’t just mean sign language users – it also means deafened people, hard of hearing people, deaf-blind people, and those who have tinnitus.

UKCoD have listed some events that are taking place nationwide to raise awareness of hearing loss and give people opportunities such as lip reading class taster sessions, and seeing the inside of your ear using video otoscopy.

A couple of events caught my eye….

* a pair of new Phonak Audeo hearing aids (which are the business) suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss are being given away by The Hearing Care Centre in Colchester, Essex. These are worth £3,500. You’ll need to grab a copy of the Colchester Gazette during Deaf Awareness Week.

* a text messaging service will be launched by Northamptonshire Police Force Communications Centre (FCC) for deaf people in the county. Way to go!

Hopefully this event will get bigger and better each year – that’s up to all of us to make it happen. (Text and logo courtesy of UKCoD)

Did you know, nearly 15% of the population have some degree of deafness. If your organisation has not made adjustments to help deaf and hard of hearing people access your products and services, then you may be excluding a considerable number of people.

For every 10,000 of the population:

TEN will be born profoundly deaf. They probably get little or no benefit from hearing aids and mainly use sign language to communicate.

TWENTY will have become profoundly deaf. They may use sign language and probably also lipread.

ONE HUNDRED will be partially deaf. They may have difficulty following what is being said, even with hearing aids. Mostly they will lipread and some use sign language as well.

SIX HUNDRED will be hard of hearing. They will be able to follow what is being said with a hearing aid and will be able to use a telephone if it has an adjustable volume or has been designed to be used with a hearing aid.

EIGHT HUNDRED will be mildly hard of hearing. They may have difficulty following conversations particularly in large groups or in noisy situations. Some will wear hearing aids and many find lipreading helpful.

• British Sign Language (BSL) is the first or preferred language of around 70,000 people in the UK
• About 2 million people in Britain wear hearing aids, maybe another million would benefit from doing so
• Almost all deaf and hard of hearing people rely on lipreading to some extent
• Many combine signs from BSL with English in order to communicate

Here are a few examples of ways to be more accessible to deaf people:-

• Develop the skills of your staff so that they have the knowledge and understanding to communicate effectively
• Overcome the communications barrier by providing deaf awareness training, human aids to communication or the use of appropriate technology
• Make sure your building is deaf-friendly by providing appropriate systems, such as an induction loop
• Plan public areas carefully with deaf visitors in mind and try out your plans with local deaf people to make sure they work
• Use plain English in your literature making it easy to read and understand
• Improve telecommunications by making available textphones, fax, Typetalk, emails, SMS and videophones.

Remember – if a hearing person and a deaf person have trouble communicating, the problem is shared: communication is everybody’s responsibility.

Deaf Welcome Here

11 02 2008

The London Development Agency has funded a project called Welcome Hear, run by the Royal Association for Deaf People. RAD say –

Are you Deaf and do you work in London?
Do you have communication problems at work?
Do you have problems with your Access to Work contract?
Do the people that you work with need some Deaf Awareness training?
If the answer to any of these questions is “YES”, we can help!!

We can give your work colleagues free basic Deaf awareness training
We can give your work colleagues free basic sign language training
We can explain to your employer how Access to Work can support you at work
We can help you to apply for Access to Work
We can help you sort out your Access to Work problems

For more information, contact Radha Manjeshwar:

Email: radha.manjeshwar at royaldeaf.org.uk
Mobile: 07950503093
Minicom: 0207 613 3967

(This looks like a good deal! Who HASN’T had problems with Access to Work or ignorant colleagues?)