Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
“As my children became adults, they chose not to come shopping with me as they were saddened and embarrassed by how I was treated"
Hearing dogs make a huge difference to the confidence and quality of life of their recipients, like Wendy Martin, age 58 from Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Wendy was born hearing to a deaf mother and a hearing father.
When Wendy reached the age of 21, her work colleagues noticed that she had hearing problems and she decided to take action. Wendy had a stapedectomy operation to correct her hearing, and was reassured that the operation had a 99% success rate.
Unfortunately for Wendy, the operation was unsuccessful and she lost all hearing in one ear. In another twist of fate, Wendy later suffered the loss of hearing in her other ear during pregnancy - she is now profoundly deaf. Wendy talks to OX magazine about her experience.
“Deafness is an invisible disability and has caused me to suffer severe depression over many years. My deafness restricts me and I have suffered from workplace bullying and taunting, people often make jokes at my expense. This is hurtful and unnecessary and I suffer from feelings of isolation as being deaf, you are not part of the deaf culture nor the hearing world. I feel like I don't really fit in with anyone.
“A few years ago, I read about a local lady who had a hearing dog and I realised that having a hearing dog would help give my children their lives back because I relied on them so much. They answered the phone and the door for me. They would tell me when other shoppers were tutting at me because they had asked me to move and I hadn't heard them.
“As my children became adults, they chose not to come shopping with me as they were saddened and embarrassed by how I was treated. It's the invisible disability syndrome. People feel angry or annoyed as they assume I am ignoring them, when in fact it's because I cannot hear them. “
When I finally got partnered with my beautiful hearing dog Betty, I explained to family and friends it was just like winning the top prize on the lottery. It was like all my Christmases had come at once.
“Betty is now my ears. She wakes me up when my alarm clock goes off independently of any other family member. I've not experienced that level of independence for over 24 years! I can cook knowing she'll tell me when the timer goes off. She tells me when someone is at my door. I have experienced so much more freedom now.
“Most importantly for me though is that when I'm out and about, people see Betty’s uniform and instantly understand that I am deaf.
“I rely on Betty for so much and my children joke that they and my husband have moved down the 'pecking order' now she is around!
"I often think of my life before I got Betty, it was not a happy time. She has given me back my confidence and I never have that lonely feeling I experienced before. We have a strong unspoken bond. I no longer have anxieties about going to town alone because she is always there with me.”
For more information on Hearing Dogs for Deaf people please visit hearingdogs.org.uk
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