FACING a trip to the shops or a night out with a group of friends can become a major headache for Julie Hollister
The 47-year-old mum-of-three has been wearing a hearing aid for the past seven years, but her hearing has been deteriorating ever since she her mid-20s.
She is supporting a campaign, backed by the Eastbourne Gazette, called “Let’s Loop Eastbourne” which aims to ensure better coverage of hearing loops in the town’s shops and public places.
“Quality of life for me is not brilliant at times,” explained Julie, who lives in Hailsham.
“When it is blowing a hooley, or there is a lot of people around and it’s quite noisy, then it can be very difficult to hear.
“When I go out and am speaking to someone one-to-one, then it is fine, but if i’m going on a night out with my friends to a restaurant you feel so isolated because you cannot pick up on the conversation. It is not a lot of fun.”
Julie wears a bilateral hearing aid, but this does not work well in noisy environments. However hearing loops are more effective in public places and which can wirelessly deliver sound directly into hearing aids.
For Julie and the two million people in the UK who rely on hearing aids, these hearing loops are a life-saver.
Hearing Link UK has recently conducted an audit on hearing loops in Eastbourne.
They visited a number of premises and public places in the town to see how effective those loops were, and the results were disappointing.
Many places had the loops equipped, but they were ill-fitted, not maintained, or simply not working.
“Hearing loss is a process of acceptance which you have to work out and adjust to,” added Julie.
“I know I will never get the spontanaeity I once had.
“You have this sense of disorientation, it is confusing if you are in a busy place and you become uncomfortable.
“When you are in your own home you can have the equipment set up there which alleviates the isolation. But once you step out of your front door, the isolation is there.
“Unlike someone who is blind or in a wheelchair, there is no badge you can wear that you have hearing difficulties.
“I fully support the need to have more hearing loops set up and working in Eastbourne because it will help to improve the quality of life for a lot of people.
“It will make a huge difference to me and from a retail point of view you would imagine that shops would want to come on board to accept our custom.”
l In Friday’s Herald: find out how bad Eastbourne’s hearing loops are - how good or how bad is Eastbourne’s crematorium?