Deaf Awareness Week, 2-8 May: #MyDeafStory - Georgina Daugherty
6 May 2022
To help mark Deaf Awareness Week (2-8 May 2022), which aims to highlight the impact of hearing loss on everyday life and increase visibility and inclusion of deaf people, staff member Georgina Daugherty has shared her #MyDeafStory below:
I was born profoundly deaf in both ears and hear only with the aid of a Cochlear Implant in my right ear.
I was one of the first people to receive a cochlear implant, in September 1996 - when I was around two and a half years old. Medical professionals weren’t sure how long this new technology would last, or whether it would work at all, but 25 years later it’s still working for me and has made a profound impact on my life.
Thanks to the cochlear implant, I can communicate like a “hearing person”. My disability is both hidden and sometimes visible (if you notice my cochlear implant when my hair is up for example). You might not realise that I am deaf because I communicate like a hearing person but hearing through a cochlear implant differs from normal hearing and takes time and effort to learn/relearn. I don’t solely rely upon the implant (which isn’t 100% effective), I also utilise social cues like lipreading and body language.
Cochlear implants work in two parts; the internal device which I received in September 1996, and the external device which was fitted a month later, and have had updated throughout the years. In the early days, when I was younger, the external device had a battery pack so large that I had to wear a vest to carry it. Now, thanks to technological advances, it looks like a hearing aid and fits snugly behind my ear. One of the main differences between a cochlear implant and a hearing aid is that an implant connects through a magnetic connection to the internal device that was placed in my head, just behind my ear.
I am very passionate about disability awareness and education, both for people living with disabilities and those who don’t. Hearing loss affects 12 million people in the UK, and approximately 466 million people globally. Imagine what an overwhelmingly positive impact it would have on the deaf community if more people took the time to learn about disabilities.
Raising disability awareness will positively impact both staff members and patients. For example, if we were to improve deaf awareness within the Trust this would have an overwhelmingly positive impact on patient care as they would feel understood, and appreciate that staff have taken the time to learn more about disabilities, and perhaps even learnt some sign language to make them feel more at home.