During January, the Dublin city-centre branch of Specsavers contacted Sound Advice. Some students from Trinity College had requested support for a Hearing Awareness Day for Rag Week 2012, and needed ideas for the specific day.
With practical assistance from Specsavers’ Hearcare unit and suggestions from Sound Advice, the Trinity students planned their hearing-awareness day.
The volunteers’ ears were completely filled, using syringes with the purple, pliable material from which hearing-aid mould-impressions are made. Sound effectively could not travel from the volunteers’ outer ears into their inner-ears, for processing by their brains. Therefore, they were voluntarily deaf.
The students’ insights to limiting their hearing, were fascinating.
- Being deaf for a day… it was really awkward, obviously. We were really lucky we could still hear a bit because otherwise I dunno what I would have done. I had a group lab on the day and we found it really hard to communicate because 2 out of 5 of my group were deaf. It made it effectively impossible for us to work together and in the end we pretty much gave up and agreed to meet up and do it again at a later date. They say only 7% of communication is through words but god is that a crucial 7%. I got really worried even at lunch time about how I was going to order food in a shop without the ability to hear the person behind the counter. There is a lot of stuff like that that you wouldn’t even think about as an issue when deaf. – NO’M
- Being deaf was like being underwater. It was frustrating and the hardest thing was pitching your voice to others cause even if you could hear them a little bit, you couldn’t tell how loudly or quietly you were talking at all because it sounded so loud in your head. Also, if you were eating you couldn’t hear ANYTHING over the chewing noises in your head. The whole world sounded muffled and the ear stuff was itchy and it felt so amazing getting it out after having it in all day. – EM
- Being deaf was the hardest challenge of the week for me. Even though we weren’t entirely deaf, and more hearing impaired, I found it extremely frustrating. I noticed little things like not being included that much in the conversation because you couldn’t contribute that much, and just general confusion about who was talking or what was going on around you. I realised that we often take for granted the ability to hear, and that, if impaired by hearing, one really has to pay so much more attention to the little things, which is a difficult challenge. Overall, the day really raised both my awareness, and also that of my friends, who had had to go the extra mile to communicate with me. – SC
- Going deaf left me stuck inside my own head, without being able to communicate with people I was beginning to feel isolated and alone. I would generally be left out of conversations as I was unable to properly contribute to them. It was difficult communicating with people, relying on visual aids and hand gestures. Ultimately it left me with a new appreciation for my senses and hope that someday we can make it easier for those with hearing loss – JM