Former Armidale local and chairman of the Deafness Forum of Australia David Brady shares his story with us for Hearing Awareness Week, August 20-26.
Mr Brady is also the CEO of Hear For You, a charity that provides mentoring for deaf teenagers to help them realise their full potential. He is also taking part in local council elections in North Sydney, where he now lives.
How did you become involved with Deafness Forum Australia and Hearing Awareness Week?
I was born with a severe hearing loss in both ears in Armidale in the early 1970s. My parents John and Ros Brady, who are both retired teachers, still live in Armidale. When I was 10 months old, after a number of thunderstorms, loud events where I slept too well, and at times not noticing my parents’ voices that led to my being diagnosed and fitted with powerful hearing aids.
My mother Ros took four years off from her job as a physical education teacher to teach me to communicate, through speaking and signing. By five years old, my listening and speaking was of a standard that I could attend mainstream school.
In completing the HSC I was the first deaf student to do so in Armidale. I went on to gain a Master of Science Degree that set me up for a successful career in sports management. I became heavily involved in community and representative sports, with the highlight in 2005 when I represented Australia at the Deaf Olympic Games in water polo.
How can people keep their hearing healthy?
Keeping your hearing healthy is largely about knowing how much loud sound you’re exposed to.
Loud noise can cause irreversible hearing damage, as it harms the delicate hearing mechanism in the inner ear.
Damage to hearing due to noise exposure is cumulative. The louder the sound, the less time you can safely listen to it – just because a sound isn’t annoying doesn’t make it safe. A “noise diet” could help.
Noisy occupations used to be the most common cause of hearing problems, but nowadays it’s also recreational loud noise, especially from personal music players and noisy clubs and concerts. That’s why hearing loss is increasingly affecting younger people.
Hearing loss is a paradox. It is so prevalent in the community, and yet has a generally low level of awareness and understanding. Much needs to be done to address the level of un-managed hearing loss in the community.
If you’re concerned that you may be losing your hearing, tackling the problem early can improve both your hearing and your quality of life, including your relationships.
Despite advances in hearing aid technology, there is still a stigma around hearing aids. Some people see hearing devices as a sign of ageing.
More than one in two farmers will suffer premature hearing loss according to research published by National Rural Health Alliance.
Tractors, workshop machinery, firearms and livestock noise are some of the most common causes of premature hearing loss. Many farmers were aware that they were losing their hearing, but did not do anything about it.
How can we communicate better with people with hearing loss?
People with hearing loss should not be afraid of explaining what other people can do to help with communications. Ask them to speak clearly but not to shout or over exaggerate words.
Also ask them not to cover their mouth when talking, keep their head up and to situate themselves so it is easy for you to see their face.