We often read about the experiences of wheelchair users, visually impaired, autistic or people with down’s syndrome but rarely do we come across articles or blogs about people with hearing impairment. The reason behind this trend is not clear but it seems that within the disabled community there are few sub communities, some of which we know very little about. It can almost be that the community of people with hearing impairment are quite isolated from the wider disabled community- almost like they have their own world.
To gain a better insight into the world of people with hearing impairment I spoke with Reem Khorshid, a newly graduated architect who happen to have been born with hearing impairment. I asked Reem to list ten things that distinguishes the experience of people living with hearing impairment to the rest of the disabled community.
- You are more likely to be verbally abused, sworn at and honked at in the street for not hearing the surrounding environment.
- You will get used to being laughed at for nor hearing someone who is calling you and this will become a norm and you have to either explain or politely say: sorry I was not concentrating.
- You know you can be rejected for a job that you have applied for simply because you failed the phone interview which you have already mentioned and pleaded on your application/email that you don’t want any phone call. But they will just call you anyway because they can.
- Being at an airport and you heart skips a beat with every flight announcement that is announced as it could be your flight being delayed or taking off or gate change, and you won’t know as you can’t hear the announcement. The same applies to train/metro stations.
5. When you are called in a doctor’s clinic and people would look at you like: are you really Reem? You don’t know your name? why are you not answering?
6. You can never watch certain movies ever, only if they have subtitles, sometimes if I do go to see a movie without subtitles I envy people for the jokes they get to laugh at.
7. People insisting on sending voice notes because they don’t want to type and disregarding my request of text only messages, as though because the sound is coming from my phone I can hear it.
8. The fact that I have a phone makes people (even the ones who know that I have hearing impairment) think I can receive calls and speak via handset ignoring the reality of my condition and my need to communicate in a different manner to the majority of people.
9. When having a meal at a restaurant which does not have the right provisions such as hearing loop and you are forced to ask the waiter to speak loudly and everyone at the restaurant ends up hearing what I want to order. Plus obviously the strange looks that soon follows too as people are puzzled by the loud waiter and I.
10. Socialising can sometimes pose a problem too as going to the cinema is a problematic if the film does not have subtitles so I end up not knowing what everyone is laughing at if I do go. Another example is if my friends and I go to a cafe and music is being played, my friends will sing along with it and I am sitting there clueless as to what they are humming along to.