Darren is deaf and uses hearing aids. Here, he talks about some myths and presumptions about his disability that he’s encountered over the years.

I am deaf and I also wear hearing aids. Because of this, some people think that I can hear so they call my name and if I don’t turn around they shout as if shouting is going to make me hear! This is not the case. I only wear hearing aids so that when I am in work (and yes, I work like everyone else) I can hear the fire alarm which is very, very loud! It also helps if there is someone who can let me know there is a fire so that I can get out safely.

I communicate with most people by lip reading. People think that if they talk very slowly and over-exaggerate words this makes it easier for me to read their lips, which is incorrect. It’s far easier to read lips if you talk at your normal speed and say words naturally. I find it very difficult if men have beards or moustaches that cover their top lip as it makes it challenging for me to see their lips properly and understand what they are saying.

The world is changing and in some ways is making it more difficult for someone who is deaf. A good example of this is the fact that bank branches are leaving the high street. Telephone and internet banking is becoming the ‘norm’. This is very difficult for a deaf person as I cannot hear someone speaking on the telephone and they need to verify who I am.

Another example is when I have a problem that needs to be sorted quickly, for example, a burst pipe. I email my local council and explain that I am deaf and have a problem that needs sorting. They then ring to discuss this, I then have to email again to say I am deaf and cannot hear the telephone and they take days to come back to me. It’s too late by then, as I’ve already learnt to scuba dive because my house is filled with water from the burst pipe!