In the wake of World Hearing Day on March 3, Vinnies’ Ability Links Hunter-Central Coast and their partners have launched ‘Listening In’, a community-based research effort to improve opportunities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
It starts with a simple online questionnaire to find out more about what’s needed and what’s available in our communities, and ends with a call-to-action asking volunteers to find out and report back on what’s working, and what’s not.
Ability Links’ partners – Deafness Forum of Australia, Deaf Children Australia, Hear For You, and Word of Mouth – have helped shape the questionnaire, which aims to build awareness and address some of the many gaps that people who are deaf or hard of hearing struggle with on a regular basis at venues and events.
Hear For You CEO David Brady said one of the most consistent issues raised by deaf and hard of hearing teenagers was the lack of communications supports at community events and venues.
“Teenagers feel frustrated about missing out on what is being said at events, and feel excluded from the fun enjoyed by their peers and family members who have normal hearing,” he said.
Roz Keenan, CEO of Deaf Children Australia, said she had asked many times for a refund at the cinema when a hearing loop hasn’t worked.
“Because otherwise, two of my children would have had full access but not my third child who is deaf,” she said.
“We have to advocate for changes and higher awareness.”
One in six Australians are affected by hearing loss. By 2050, that number is forecast to reach one in four Australians, making it the second most common health condition – more common than asthma, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
This year’s theme for World Hearing Day was ‘Hear the Future … and prepare for it’ which aims to highlight the expected rise in prevalence of hearing loss over the coming years globally, and how we should respond.
The Listening In survey can be completed at surveymonkey.com/r/ListeningIn until March 18.