The first week in May is designated as ‘deaf awareness week’. This made me think of how being deaf in the times we are currently living adds an extra dimension to ‘lockdown’..
‘Stay home’ was the mantra, and so we stayed at home, many of us self-isolating. Me too.
We all started practicing ‘social distancing’. Me too.
Someone comes to the door, rings the bell. My hearing dog alerts me. By the time I reach the door, the delivery person has retreated down the driveway and stands two metres away. I open the door, hover in the porch and try to guess what is being said.
A muddle ensues.
Later, I take my dog for a walk. I pass neighbours enjoying a chat across their fences. They wave to me and call out something. I nod, I laugh, I wave…and walk on with no idea of what’s been said.
My neighbours have connected, I have pretended.
I pop to the village for extras. Standing a metre away from the counter, I stare foggily through the new, plastic, wall-to-ceiling-with a hole-in-the-bottom-for-money barrier. The cashier wears a face mask and visor, and I see his eyes staring at me. I guess he has spoken, but how do I know? Maybe he told me the price of my goods, but how can I know? The face mask completely obliterates every indication that he may have spoken. Not only making it impossible to lip read, the mask takes away any facial clues I may have used.
Every help for communication has been taken away.
This makes me wonder what it must be like for those in hospital who cannot hear. Struggling, ill, afraid and with no way of knowing even if someone is speaking to them.
My church now meets via Zoom. Thanks to my wonderful friend, Marilyn who types what is being said so that I can read the words, I am there! I connect. I know how my friends are. We pray.
But, what if I didn’t have Marilyn?
Covic-19 has been difficult for all. We, who are deaf or hard of hearing, find it extra difficult to connect. We can’t chat easily from the two metre distance, we cannot pick up the phone to chat to a loved friend or family member, but we can write a letter, send a text message or arrange to meet via video link.
And we can pray.
So, be aware, think how you can connect with others, especially those with a hearing loss, and stay connected.