My mum was knocked down by a car outside our house while walking home one evening; her head landed very hardly on the road shoulder that caused her to immediately fell unconscious.
We heard the commotion and shortly some relatives who stayed nearby came rushing in to inform us of her accident. She was hospitalised for weeks. Her eardrums were damaged by the massive concussion from the fall. Since then, she was left with only 10% hearing capability.
I was only 7 years old then. We neither have the means to seek further medical assistance nor did we have the knowledge then to approach any support groups to help my mum to cope with the rest of her life living in the world of silence. I can still recall people literally yelling or hurled insulting words at her at the fresh market when she kept asking for the hawkers to repeat the prices of things she wanted to buy. Some even gave her nick name as "Lung Kuai" meaning "Deaf Ghost" in Cantonese. She took it all in her stride.
Our house was the most noisiest one amongst the neighbourhood as all of us need to speak very loudly so that she could get a glimpse of our conversation. And during the evening hours, we will tune our TV to a higher volumn whenever she stayed up for her favourite channels.
When our family's finances had improved some years later, we bought her a pair of hearing aid which had helped her a great deal. She was then more receptive to traveling further away from home because she can now at least hear better and hence communicate more confidently.
She passed away 17 years later. I could still remember that we put her hearing aid into her coffin so that she could continue to hear at the other side of the world. This was actually more to console ourselves!
Her life has inspired me to do something for the deaf, for the disabled, perhaps to redeem myself for not being able to lessen the helplessness that my mum had suffered on the lack of awareness of the readily available help (which might not be even available then.) that are offered by various groups/NGOs for the physically challenged.
With courtesy of The Beautiful Gate Foundation, we can now learn to be more sensitive towards the condition and needs of the hearing impaired;
Explanations: Talk to them face to face and maintain eye contact. Use a normal tone of voice and talk slowly. Most of them are able to understand your speech from your facial expressions and lip movements.
Explanations: Pay close attention to your lip movements so that a hearing impaired person can understand what you are saying.
Explanations: Do not laugh, chew chewing gum or eat while talking to them. Not only is this insensitive but it will also make it more difficult for them to understand your speech.This is because they will be unable to "see" your lipmovements clearly.
Explanations: Try as much as possible to use short and precise sentences.
Explanations: If they are unable to "see" our speech, you may try use other words bearing the same meanings to explain things better. In some cases, it might be better to write things down.
Explanations: If they are unable to understand verbal communications, you may opt for writing, picture, facial expressions and gestures as other alternative ways to communicate with them.