July 13th 2015
Source: ID 13857983 © Borislav Mishev | Dreamstime.com
In 2009, about 2.25% of the Swiss population used one or two hearing devices. That is about 1/5 of the total number of hearing impaired individuals. These stats were found by using questionaires and infos from http://schwerhoerigkeit.info. Unfortunately, the results are not very accurate and so some assumptions had to be made. The data comes from the state office for statistics as well as the IV.Es where 75000 hearing aids were disposed of.
Today, six years later, the numbers have likely risen. This means that a significant proportion of the population is affected. According to the studies, only hearing aid users are counted. Since hearing loss is very variable, the actual number of hearing impaired people in general (CI, deaf) is much greater. And it will continue to grow, since we are getting older, and hearing loss frequency increases with age.
This means that we the hearing impaired, and I mean all of them, are participating in our day to day lives in ever increasing numbers. Our society unfortunately is not yet quite equipped for this. Our society hurries along, under enormous pressure from time, and there is less and less time to be understanding and patient for factors that slow one down such as age or hearing impairment. Hearing impaired people tend to need a little bit more time to understand, or in other words, until their brain has processed what was said. Repetition requires patience and patience is what some people lack. This is like when an old person needs a bit of time to cross the road and the impatient drivers speed right past.
Since the hearing impaired and the aged are still members of society like everyone else, a solution must be found for this growing subpopulation. Part of the solution are of course the modern communications methods such as Whatsapp and Skype. However, more is needed to really include others. Respect, patience, tolerance and understanding is also necessary. A hearing disability is often invisible. Older people who sit alone in their rooms or apartment are also invisible.
Through my volunteer work, I hope to contribute in my own small way to the comfort of both groups. Statistics indicate that were it not for the volunteers, then the Swiss economy would not be functioning. Behind every statistic, there is a real and actual person who only wants on thing: to belong in the society they live in.
And that goes for us as well, the “statistically” hearing impaired. We are not statistics, we are real actual people who enjoy life. That we hear less than others does not mean that others can’t hear us. If we make ourselves visible and our voiced loud enough, then we will better be able to fit into society, just as we have always wanted.