June 30, 2019. As volunteers for a non-profit organization dedicated to improving hearing accessibility and building awareness on hearing loss issues here on Prince Edward Island, we meet people of all ages and from all walks of life. The number one issue of importance to anyone with hearing loss is being able to communicate. This is one reason why the current petition being circulated that is asking for equal access to hearing aid funding for all Islanders, regardless of age, is receiving such support.
One senior who finds communication vital is 95 year old Ruth Brewer of Rustico. Although she is nearly blind and has hearing loss, she lives a very independent life. Annie Lee MacDonald visited her this winter when she purchased a pocket talker, an affordable option as she could not afford the cost of hearing aids.
Over the past few years, Island lawyers who participated in a project to improve communications with clients who have hearing loss have been ardent supporters and advocates for removing barriers and stigma surrounding hearing loss. (See PEI Lawyers & Law Community With Pocket Talkers and Improving Communication Between the Legal Community and Those With Hearing Loss) It was through her lawyer that Ruth learned about the pocket talker, as her daughter Dede Wilson noted: “My mum had used it in discussions with our lawyer at Stewart and McKelvey. It was wonderful for her and really changed her life. She then was able to call and order one from you.”
“Being able to hear brought me back from giving up on life to becoming human again.”…. Ruth Brewer
“The pocket talker is my lifeline”, Ruth Brewer said. “Being able to hear brought me back from giving up on life to becoming human again.” During another visit with Annie Lee this week, Ruth explained that there are many seniors like her who become tired of peoples’ impatience with them when they can’t hear, especially family who refuse to accept they have trouble hearing.
“Ruth is an amazing woman” says Annie Lee. “She was an advocate for many things in her active years and especially for convincing the government to allow nurse practitioners to practise on PEI. She says it took seven years. She is also very ready to advocate for the government to supplement the cost of hearing aids for seniors over sixty five. Communication is very important to Ruth.”
Indeed, Ruth signed the petition for equal access to hearing aid funding, bringing our total of signatures to 1,848, or 74% of our goal. (See Petition Update For Week 8 for more on this important initiative)
Individual stories of those with hearing loss are important as we build awareness of hearing issues, and encourage hearing accessibility. Please share your ideas and stories by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.
© Daria Valkenburg