WHAT would life be like if you found it hard to follow simple conversations, couldn’t hear approaching traffic or struggled to do something as simple as order a coffee? Solihull News sent our reporter, HANNAH JENNINGS PARRY, to discover what it’s like to be deaf for a day.
MEETING with hearing aid audiologist Raspal Kaur at Specsavers’ hearing centre in Drury Lane, I was fitted with foam buds and moulding putty in each ear.
Suddenly the world was a much quieter place.
Walking down the road with Raspal, I had to strain to follow the conversation and found myself staring to try and catch what was being said.
Arriving at a nearby coffee shop, at first, it was surprisingly pleasant not to be overwhelmed with clanging cups, hissing coffee machines and the roar of conversation.
But then I realised I would have to order.
With no idea if I was yelling or whispering, I ordered a drink and was horrified when the sales assistant asked a question which I simply couldn’t hear.
Forced to ask again, the girl quickly repeated herself but, only while facing away counting change.
Feeling a flush of frustration, and feeling foolish, I asked again and finally understood she had only wanted to know if I had wanted anything else.
The relief of finally taking out the ear plugs was wonderful.
All the tension of having to concentrate intently on each word simply disappeared and I could once again relax and chat with ease.
Solihull suddenly seemed incredibly noisy; women’s heels clacking along the pavement, loud conversation, cars starting, all things I hadn’t heard whilst ‘deaf.’
Losing my hearing really opened my eyes to the difficulties thousands face on a daily basis.
Raspal said often customers had been losing their hearing for years before coming to them, put off by the stigma of deafness being associate with the elderly.
“It can be incredibly socially isolating,” she added.
“They can withdraw from family and friends as it is too difficult to try and talk in big groups.
“Even marriages can be affected as both sides become frustrated with one another. It can affect their whole life.”
Specsavers is running a Hearing Awareness Day on November 2, supported by the Mayor of Solihull, to encourage locals to get their hearing checked for free
For more information, visit www.specsaver.co.uk/hearing or call 0121 704 1125.