“Not sure if you received the invitation below, it would be wonderful if you could be our guest at this function on the 28th March. You are welcome to bring someone with you as well” Read the email I received a week ago from the Chairperson of AHLAD, the Association for Hearing Loss Accessibility and Development.
Stunned, I quickly checked my emails and realised that I never replied! Honoured to be invited as a guest to AHLAD’s brunch, celebrating ear care month and the wonder of technology, I could not think of anyone I’d rather share this morning with than my dad.
His progressive hearing loss has never fazed him. He is after all my son’s best friend, his Valentine, his role model, my hero!
Finally, after only email correspondence, I met Michele Tonks, Chairperson of Ahlad, and Sandra Maritz, Public Education and Awareness Officer for The National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA). I also saw many other familiar faces, key advocacy and education role players in South Africa.
I didn’t know what to expect, but left the event inspired and grateful to see all the work that is being done in our country. In particular, the proposed rejection of the term “hearing impaired” in National Disability Rights Policy. A rejection, which if approved, will lead to a great injustice to my son and father, and many other persons living with hearing loss since. The term “hearing impaired” is supported in legislation governing medical support services and reasonable accommodations within the education sector. The backbone of advocacy for my son in the mainstream school environment.
Furthermore, the use of terminology should be consistent across ALL policies. After all, there is a big difference in saying “my child has a hearing impairment” as oppose to “my child is hearing impaired”. It is the latter that implies that my child is broken and his ability is defined by his audiogram…Changing perceptions start at home and is driven in communities by families, supported by organisations/institutions. It is the context in which the term “hearing impaired” is used that is the issue, not the term itself.
I’ve gone off topic a bit with this post, but had to mention this since it is after all a very important issue that people need to be made aware of.
This morning was all about creating awareness. Sharing stories! And oh how I thrive on these stories!
- Dalene von Delft spoke about ‘Hearing Safe’ medication for XDR & MDR TB
- Fanie du Toit shared his road to independence
- Cindy Coetzee entertained us with her flute. An accomplished musician living with hearin loss.
- Phumeza Tisile shared her journey with XDR TB and hearing loss
- Hermien Louw focussed on the importance of early identification of hearing loss
- Elnette and Simoné Botha, both cochlear implant recipients, shared their stories
- Mariaan Botha told us more about the “Shake your Sugar” campaign
- Beth Engelbrecht from the Department of Health shared their statistics
Thank you AHLAD for focussing on turning the tide on accessibility to services, information and accommodations within various environments for person living with hearing loss.
I am always inspired when I watch this video of Simoné Botha, professional ballet dancer and bilateral implant user. Never ever underestimate your ability!