As part of Deaf Awareness Week 2021, Deafblind UK’s Louise Goldsmith shares an insight into a day in her life and highlights some of the challenges she faces.
“I am always anxious about waking up on time in the mornings. I can’t hear anything when I sleep, so an average alarm clock could not wake me, even on its loudest setting.
So instead, every morning I am woken up by my Smart Shaker 2, which is under my pillow. This is a small circular device, roughly the same size as my hand, which vibrates under my pillow.
I bought this device from the NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) shop and it requires a free app to be installed on your smartphone. From the app you can set the alarm along with all the other device settings.
I also have a vibrating alarm clock. It looks like a normal alarm clock, but it is attached to a small vibrating pad which is placed under my pillow. Unfortunately it tends to fall out of my pillow during the night, so I do need the Smart Shaker too!
Today is a busy day for me, I have decided to go into town and have a look around the shops, visit the beauty salon, book a hair appointment and then grab some lunch.
After getting dressed and leaving the house, I drive into town. I found a spot in the car park and pay via an app on my phone called Ring Go. I never usually have change on me, so the app is handy, but the main reason I use this app, is accessibility.
In the past, I have often come across ticket machines that are broken and there is usually a phone number to call to purchase a ticket. This is hugely frustrating as it is totally inaccessible for me. Then when I first met my partner I noticed how he always paid via his phone and decided to install the free app myself.
At the beauty salon, I remind them that they left a voicemail on my phone which I can’t hear! They were very understanding and explained to me what the voicemail was about. This happens a lot. I do have a message on my voicemail asking people to text me, instead of leaving a voicemail, but sadly this is often ignored.
Next I go to the hairdressers where I need to book an appointment as I am unable to call them by phone and they don’t have an online booking facility. In these cases it is really time consuming to have to go and visit people in person. If more businesses had an email address to contact, or provided online booking, this would save me a lot of time!
On the way back home, I go to Tesco to buy some lunch. I am more comfortable using the self-checkout, because I find it difficult to have a conversation with the cashier in a very noisy location, with lots of background noise.
If I do have to go to a till I try and stay alert, in case I miss a question. When I place my items on the conveyer belt, sometimes the cashier asks me a question which I usually miss because I am not facing them. This happens on a regular basis and feels embarrassing. I usually ask the cashier to repeat the question again and answer successfully. It feels like a little weight lifted off my shoulders!
When I arrive home, I settle down and watch TV in my bedroom. I then hear a strange rattling noise. It is hard to distinguish noises and I am often confused where sounds are coming from or what is making the sound. Then I notice my dwarf hamster is running around her wheel again! It makes a lot of noise, especially at night. This does not really affect me at night time, because I can’t hear anything once I take my hearing aids out.
I usually tune into Netflix, because this service is accessible for me. So far, Netflix has not failed to disappoint me in terms of accessibility as all the films and series that I have watched on Netflix have been subtitled! Sadly, when I attempt to watch the news in the evening on a mainstream channel, the subtitles are always delayed and sometimes inaccurate, so I usually give up watching it after the first five minutes!
By the end of the day if it has been particularly busy and worn me out, it is nice to take out my hearing aids and hear nothing. Sometimes that is quite relaxing. Before I go to bed, I set my alarm from my phone once again. I am anxious and hoping that it will wake me up… fingers crossed!”