All of NDCS’s work on the Hear for the Future audiology campaign got me reminiscing over the weekend about my own experiences of audiology as a deaf child. Other people go to parties or relax over the weekend, but it was raining a lot so I thought I would reminisce instead.
One of my earliest memories involved a trip to audiology when my Mum went to town to visit the hospital for some hearing aid batteries. The audiology clinic didn’t have any, apparently, because of cuts. To this day, I can remember my Mum declaring loudly that she would never vote Thatcher again. Looking back, this was probably my first “political experience” as a child.
Until I was 11, I wore a very bulky round-the-body hearing aid, the kind you now only see in museums. My sister had had a behind-the-ear hearing aid about three years before me and I was intensely jealous that I had to wait. I think I may have tried to steal her hearing aid at one point.
One of the things now that strikes me most is that nobody in the audiology clinic ever talked to me directly or listened to me. For example, I hated wearing a hearing aid in my left ear when I was a child because I couldn’t hear anything. Instead, I would just ‘feel’ a wall of sound that was hurt my head. Despite my complaints, I was still made to wear it, and nobody spent any time looking into why I always just switched it off. In addition, nobody ever explained anything to me. It wasn’t until I was around 25 that an audiologist finally explained to me what an audiogram meant or how to look after my hearing aid. I knew very little about my own deafness.
Finally, I was often stunned by how deaf unaware some audiologists would be. All to often, talking to me with his back to me and without my hearing aid on, and then just shouting at me.
Sadly, I’m not a child anymore and not allowed to go into paediatric audiology clinics without getting into a lot of trouble. But the impression I get is that things are now much better, if not perfect. Waiting times are down, according to Government figures, and new modern digital hearing aids are freely available. Certainly, I’m very happy with my adult audiology clinic, which is full of audiologists who take the time to talk to me and make sure I leave with what I need.
All of this makes me feel anxious that the cuts to audiology training courses threaten to take us back to the days when my Mum, not the most political of people, turn into a raging hardcore activist, plotting to bring the downfall of the Government. I’ll be getting my dear Mum to contact her MP to avoid it getting to that stage this time around. If you want to do the same, the NDCS website allows you to pop an email to your MP in 3 minutes. It even works out who your MP is.
What are your experiences of audiology? Are you equally worried by possible cuts and shortages in number of trained staff? Have your say and leave a comment below. Be good to hear your memories too.