It pays to be pushy with hearing loss

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One of Australia’s leading advocates of hearing loops will be making the 10,500 mile journey from his home in Canberra this autumn as one of the guest speakers for the International Hearing Loop Conference in Eastbourne.

Pete Halsey, is chief executive of the ACT Deaf Resource Centre, and recently visited Hearing Link’s Sovereign Harbour offices to discuss developments Down Under and plan for the conference.

“I am really looking forward to the conference and visiting Eastbourne again,” said Pete. “I attended the first conference in Zurich in 2009 which was a wonderful experience, and I know we’ll have a great conference in Eastbourne in October.

“Hearing Link is a wonderful charity. They work very hard to create greater opportunities for people with hearing impairments which allows them to manage their lives better.”

The ACT Deaf Resource Centre was founded 25 years ago by Pete who has been hearing impaired since birth and wears a cochlear implant.

A community organisation, it provides information with a referral and advocacy services to those who are hearing impaired, deaf and who have chronic disorders of the year.

Over the past two-and-a-half decades, the ACT Deaf Resource Centre, which serves the Australian Capital Territories with a population of around 380,000, runs a hearing aider programme, organises workplace presentations and hearing awareness training, and provides hearing loop hire and sales.

“We are doing a lot of good work, but it is fair to say that the UK is ahead of Australia in terms of what it does for the hearing-impaired,” added Pete.

“How I manage hearing loss is to be upfront and sometimes I have to be pushy.

“Unfortunately, not everyone is like that. I will make sure at a meeting that I can see the person who is speaking and sit near the front at a conference so if that means asking someone if they wouldn’t mind moving, I will ask.

“If there is a loop system working, but the speaker won’t use the microphone because they think their voice is loud enough, then I will insist.

“I am trying very hard to persuade Government and business organisations in Australia to put loop systems into meeting rooms and on front desk counters.

“The culture, unfortunately, is not very good. There is acceptance of the problem, but what it needs is education.”

One in six Australians have a hearing impairment, and in the senior age group that ratio is one in three.

“Being hearing-impaired is tough, it is lonely and it is very tiring because I have to live with it each and every day. But with right equipment and the right attitude, my quality of life is very good. Take it away, and my quality of life would disappear. Communication is everything.”