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Deaf Awareness Week 2020 4–10 May - Deafness in the time of COVID19

May 2, 2020 2:48 PM

Elizabeth Shepherd writes about deafness and what we can do to help.

Deaf Awareness Week

This year's Deaf Awareness Week is focusing on deafness that develops during life. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the UK are hard of hearing, or deaf. Deafness is invisible to most of the public, and can severely impact daily life for the deaf or hard of hearing. "Nobody understands how isolating deafness can be; it is not always a case of getting new hearing aids or watching subtitles", as an elderly person with acquired severe deafness recently told me.

Think about people you know with hearing loss; many will be elderly and therefore self-isolating due to the COVID19 lockdown. Evidence shows that deafness is associated with dementia; it increases the risk of developing dementia by 2 to 5 times, depending on the severity of hearing loss. The combination of self-isolation due to the pandemic and inevitable isolation of hearing loss is worrying.

How can we help deaf people cope with the isolation? It is difficult for people to keep in touch if they cannot use the phone, or hear the radio, and have to rely on sub-titles for their news and entertainment. Can they use social media? Video conferencing is immensely useful for families and friends to keep in touch but not much fun if you are deaf. What about other IT solutions? Are they accessible to your deaf friends and family? Are they able to use email, Facebook or WhatsApp or other social media? Do they use British Sign Language?

What can you do to help?

Action on Hearing Loss has resources online to help people with deafness during the Coronavirus pandemic, available here https://beta.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/coronavirus-response/

We would love to hear about your solutions to this dilemma so that we can share them with others as "we are all in this together" and people with hearing loss should not suffer disproportionately.

Other sources of information

https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk

https://www.deafcouncil.org.uk/deaf-awareness-week/

https://www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communications-team/we-are-all-together-human-rights-and-covid-19-response-and

https://www.buckshealthcare.nhs.uk/Our%20clinical%20services/A%20to%20Z%20of%20clinical%20services/Audiology/audiology.htm