It’s hard trying to have a conversation at the Columbus Café in Botany Town Centre with the constant buzz of background noise.
As part of the Silent Leadership Challenge, Times Newspapers has taken on a series of challenges to create awareness about those with hearing problems.
This particular challenge involves having a discussion with chair of Howick Local Board, David Collings and Times publisher Reay Neben at a busy cafe, wearing bright yellow hearing protectors, to experience how frustrating it can be for the hearing impaired.
Even before we can start the discussion, David admits to having a hearing problem.
“All those years of being DJ and playing loud music; also being in heavy industrial areas (as an electrician) have taken its toll on my right ear.
“When I am talking to people who are on my right side, I have to run around to hear what they are saying,” he says.
“In fact when I play music at parties I’m am never sure if I am playing it at the right level- for people to enjoy and also have a conversation.”
Catching on to a three-way conversation with hearing protectors is tough.
It’s easy to understand why people with hearing problems can feel alienated or lose interest in a conversation.
How many times can you say `Sorry, can you say that again?’ asking people to repeat themselves?
Reay, who is passionate about being involved with the local community, admits that she too has a hearing problem….but like many, has put off wearing hearing aids.
“As kids we listened to loud music blaring in our headphones and that affected us later in life,” she says.
“Which is a huge concern for the younger generation who are constantly glued to their headphones and digital gizmos and hardly ever look up?”
“Wish they don’t make the same mistakes we did.”
- The funds raised by the Silent Leadership Challenge are used by the National Deaf Foundation to support its work including advocating for the rights of people with hearing loss, promoting full captioning of broadcast media and supporting a range of projects to help those with hearing loss and their families.
- To donate to the Silent Leadership Challenge: https://silentleadershipchallenge2017.everydayhero.com/nz/the-foundation-team-2017