Tuesday, 1 April 2014

My Hearing Dog Journey. Why, Who and What

Looking around the Internet, I found very little information on the process for applying for a Hearing Dog and the journey beyond. With this in mind I hope that creating this blog will fill in some of the gaps for people who will also be taking this journey and provide information on the process itself, the experiences along the way and the timescales involved. 

I also hope that this blog will help others understand more about what is often described as the forgotten or hidden disability that is deafness and raise awareness. Let's face it, although it is a 'forgotten' disability, 1 in 6 people in this country (the UK) are affected by hearing loss to some degree; that's nearly 10 million people which is an awful lot of people being 'forgotten' or perhaps disregarded to a large degree. 800 thousand people in the UK are affected either severely or profoundly by hearing loss and these are the people who are likely to benefit from receiving a Hearing Dog.

So what are Hearing Dogs? Hearing Dogs act for Deaf people in much the same way that Guide Dogs assist their Blind owners. A Hearing Dog is trained to alert their owner to certain sounds around the house and workplace (and out and about come to that) that they wouldn't ordinarily hear. Dogs are typically trained to alert their owner to sounds such as the doorbell, kitchen timers, alarm clocks and, of course, fire alarms and other alarms.

So, what about me? My deafness is congenital in that I was born Deaf. My mother, while pregnant with me, was a Teacher in Manchester. A pupil who had German Measles (Rubella) attended during the first two weeks of his illness when it is not apparent and yet is still contagious. As a result I was affected by the presence of the Rubella virus which affected my development in the womb. Rubella is very dangerous to developing foetuses as it can cause many problems including limb deformity, Brain damage and of course hearing loss.

My hearing loss is caused by the absence of many of the small hairs in a part of the ear called the Cochlea. The Cochlea is the part of the ear that detects sounds and converts them into neural impulses for transmission onto the Brain. My hearing loss is in the severe to profound range in both ears (I have bilateral sensorineural deafness) which means that I am unable to hear anything except the very loudest sounds without my hearing aids.

This blog will hopefully chronicle my own journey to receiving and living with a Hearing Dog as well as giving some insights and understanding about deafness and what it means to be deaf. 

I hope you'll enjoy the ride with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment