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      A Christmas story of travelling with hearing loss

      The Deaf Traveller tells his tale of travelling with hearing loss to get home for Christmas on a train that he’s not sure where it is going. This is because the train does not have the right deaf awareness or effective communication tools for the 1 in 6 people in the UK with some form of hearing loss. Luckily, a Christmas miracle soon appears to ensure he has a stress-free journey home.

      By: Edward Rex | 12 December 2018

      ‘You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why!’

      Singing under my breath, it had a nice calming effect on me as I stared bleakly into the heavy snow from my carriage window on the train. You may ask, why did I need calming?

      I had no idea where I was actually going.

      With train cancellations announced on the platform on the screens earlier, a train coated with frost slowly rolled in whispering that it could truly be the North Pole Express. I looked up expectedly at the screens to find there were no information displayed at the screens about this particular train.

      Suddenly, a Father Christmas style voice announced on the tannoy, yet I couldn’t make out the words. Looking around, everyone started stepping onto the train. Quickly grabbing a fellow passenger, I asked about the train to which his reply was

      ‘It’s replaced a cancelled train and won’t be another one for a while yet.’

      But which cancelled train? All I want to be is home for Christmas, drinking mulled wine and out of the cold. Looking around, I couldn’t find any staff on the platform to enquire to lip-read and have a face-to-face conversation. So, I did the next best thing, I got on the train. After all, I didn’t want to look like a frozen snowman on the platform if I’m waiting any longer.

      The train soon set off, with more tannoy announcements. There were no screens to display information. How were the one in six people in the UK with some form of hearing loss able to understand?

      So, as we rolled through the bleak midwinter, I waited expectedly for the ticket inspector. Surely, they would know where we would be going?

      No one came. I would need a Christmas miracle.

      Minutes later, I got it. An angel in the form of a middle-aged woman got on the train at a stop and sat across me, brushing off the snowflakes before giving me a welcoming smile. She soon clocked my hearing aid and mentioned her husband was looking to have one because of his age-related deafness and could she ask me any questions about it?

      So, we chatted, about the difficulties she was having at home with her husband, who insists on turning the TV up, cancelling his social events with his friends because he couldnt follow conversations, missing hearing the knocking on the door especially when she brings in bags of shopping and needs help! But solutions are available, whether it is getting a hearing aid from your audiologist, there are assistive technology, there is deaf awareness and communication tips. She soon relaxed and said thank you for giving her peace of mind to know by Christmas, they would have a jingle of a time!

      Then the tannoy crackled again. Noticing that I was straining to hear what was being said, she asked me if I was struggling to hear what was being said. I told her that I wasnt even sure where this train was going and what stops were being made.

      Ah! You need to get off at the next stop to change trains because of a fault on a line earlier on.

      This was it. This was what I needed. A simple piece of effective communication, not made available by this train company, can make a journey stress-free was fulfilled by the kindness of this stranger.

      Bidding her farewell and Merry Christmas, I got off at the next stop and changed trains to my final destination without any fuss or delay armed with presents for my loved ones.

      But it really goes to show that deaf awareness and effective communication on travel operators needs to be put in place to ensure that those with deafness or hearing loss can have a stress-free journey to start their Christmas holidays.

      Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, Im now at home surrounded by my loved ones singing together Christmas carols to my hearts content and tucking into a big Christmas turkey!

      Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you have your Christmas miracle too.

      Read more posts from Ed here: The Deaf Traveller

      Edward Rex, the deaf traveller on the train platform
      Edward Rex, the deaf traveller in first class

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