Even though I have been totally deaf in my right ear since childhood, most people who have touched on my life are surprised to learn that I have a hearing disability!
Uncle Stavely, from the famous British comedy series, I Didn’t Know You Cared is blatantly hard of hearing and is famous for his: I heard that. Pardon? See youtube link to I Didn’t Know You Cared
Although the Clinic nurses who canvassed the schools and screened us all for hearing loss had suggested that I should rather sit at the front of my classes, and not at the back where the hooligans tend to congregate, my chosen seat in most classes was at the back, protected from any potentially misheard questions that I might stumble over my words blurting out an answer, and risk the ridicule of my classmates as the completely wrong answer reaches their ears!
Once school was out, and the motor industry beckoned, I had evening classes to attend where in my young maturity, I tended to sit closer to the front of the class because here was a subject that required sharp focus to keep the student in touch and my natural affinity to anything mechanical meant my blurted answers were backed up with knowledge of the subject and an intense interest!
Speech discrimination is such a vitally important ingredient in our progress from our, most of us sheltered, childhood through to that take no prisoners wide World out there! Our responses to questions asked or statements made, is a pre-condition to our level of advancement in our relationships, (with our tutor!), our schooling, our business life and if you’re a politician, whether the people believe you or not!
The utopia for a hard of hearing individual would be to be in charge, you making the statements and no back chat, you hear! The reality though is that communication is the name of the game and communicating our wants and needs and making sure you have a grasp of what is being directed at you, the listener, and what response your co-chinwagger or audience is expecting
So the vital questions and answers or simply communicating each other’s thoughts is all about discriminating the speech of the speaker, what you make of it and the accuracy or relevancy of your reply. When the returned replies and looks you get start getting vague and the spark fades to a dull glow, it’s time to clam up or redirect your thought, (if any), and attention!
From the classrooms and workshop, enter the noisy environments of restaurants, parties and motor bike racing! After making many completely wrong answers that surprise even the most hardened of listeners, the hard of hearing individual who hasn’t had the benefit of a hearing aid, or her / his lip reading is not up to scratch, has to find ways to communicate and still keep relationships normal and hopefully to be seen to have a cool personality!
Inside your crash helmet your ears are somewhat disconnected from your noisy steed, and anything that someone might mouth at you! When that throttle is wound back against the stop the exhilaration is all in the speed, your control of those two wheels and how your bike defies gravity and friction at each corner! Here your hearing is not a major factor!
That quiet restaurant where you might want to take your squeeze for a romantic evening will not be in business for long! If it’s so quiet, there just aren’t enough patrons! The noisy restaurant where you see her lips moving but all you hear is wah wah wah, is the norm and it is here where you’ve got to seat yourself correctly to maximise your communicating experience! Unless of course you feel you don’t want to listen anyway!
Music, where the sound travels through your very body making your hearing a secondary factor, is certainly a great platform from which to communicate and that almost always leads to dancing and what better way to talk and listen than through your gyrating bodies! The music at parties is generally played so loud that nobody can hear a thing anyway, so we all end up expressing ourselves with our cool moves!
This is where my psyche degenerates into the hooligan, although as mentioned elsewhere my family reckon it’s just a lame excuse! I develop an attitude of if you can’t impress verbally, dance your way to success! My mine worker gumboot dance rendition never fails to get them going! And my air guitar…? What can I say!
Cat Stevens, who was looking for a Hard Headed Woman ran into some fancy dancers who didn’t have much to say, they may have been vapid but chances are they couldn’t hear a word he had to say!
After Hard Headed Woman there are a whole string of Cats Stevens hits! You might want to listen on!
St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:
Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:
Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:
The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades: