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3 May 2022 | Comment | Article by Simon Ellis

Deaf Awareness Week 2022

This week (2 – 8 May) is Deaf Awareness Week (DAW) and this year’s theme is Inclusion. This week aims to raise awareness of, and support, those who suffer with hearing problems and to promote inclusivity and equality. DAW also aims to highlight the many organisations who support deaf people.

Inclusion seeks to address the impact of hearing loss on everyday life and specifically in environments where those that are deaf or hard of hearing can feel isolated such as work, education, health or socially.

The UK Council on Deafness website highlights some of the difficulties:

Deaf individuals often feel unsupported, unwanted, invisible, and excluded. Deafness very often goes hand in hand with other invisible challenges, many of which are too vague to be noticed. One of these can be daily struggle mental health. This is especially daunting because mental health is unseen condition that can only be verbalised to be put in some meaningful perspective for both: those affected by it and the ones trying to help. If the voice is missing, as it is the case for the Deaf people, the suffering is doubled, and thus the impact of exclusion more prominent.

Signature, a National Charity, and the UK’s leading Awarding body for deaf communication qualifications (BSL) raise awareness that there are 12 million adults in the UK with hearing loss and has shared some very useful tips to use when communication with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Make sure that you have their full attention (Before you begin talking have their full attention)
  • Make sure the room is well lit (a well illuminated room helps a deaf person to understand what you are saying)
  • Learn some basic sign language (Having a basic knowledge of BSL is a great way to communicate)
  • Face the person and give eye contact (This will help those that rely on lip reading and facial ques)
  • Check they understand you (Check that the person is following what you are saying and adjust your method if not)
  • Don’t shout (Maintain a normal volume when talking. It can be uncomfortable for a hearing aid used if you shout)
  • Use plain language (complicated words are often harder to lip read)
  • Speak one at a time

Hugh James represents several thousand clients who suffer with noise-induced hearing loss and many also suffer tinnitus (often described as a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears). When speaking to our clients, we are often told that they struggle to hear and participate fully in conversations with their family at home, friends, and colleagues in social situations and at work. This can lead to feelings of isolation and embarrassment. Those with tinnitus may also find that their sleep is affected, leading to feelings of tiredness and irritability.

NIHL and tinnitus caused by military equipment can be debilitating, affecting all aspects of life – yet they are avoidable. In military circles, people have known about them for decades, but many sufferers prefer to remain silent, often out of loyalty towards their regiment or the MoD. Or perhaps they feel responsible, as it was their choice to enlist. Or maybe they don’t want to admit to suffering from hearing loss.

Deaf Awareness Week 2022. – UK Council On Deafness (ukcod.org)

British Sign Language (BSL) awarding body: Signature

If you’ve suffered hearing damage during your time in service – past or present – our team is ready to listen. Get in touch today.

Author bio

Simon Ellis is a Partner with Hugh James and has worked with the firm for more than 25 years, having trained and qualified here. Simon heads up the Military Department, advising and assisting current and former military personnel with various health conditions and injuries. He specialises in claims such as hearing loss, non-freezing cold injuries, compartment syndrome and military injury cases. He is often asked to advise on more unusual claims in the military context.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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