“You can’t see that I’m deaf” – Calls for ‘invisible’ disabilities to be heard in Wales

A man who is deaf is calling for a better understanding around the disability and how it can be prevented in young people.

Steve Allen, 53, from Canton said unlike wearing glasses, issues with hearing are not always obvious when in public.

After complaints from his colleagues about him shouting at work, Mr. Allen decided to have his ears checked and it was then he discovered that he was moderately deaf .

You know I’m not deliberately loud. This is the way I hear things”

According to recent statistics, more than half a million people in Wales are deaf or hard of hearing which costs the Welsh economy £1.2 billion every year.

“It wasn’t an act in work or a show I was just trying to understand my condition”

He described it as a “relief” when he was given the results and that he could do something about it.

Advances in technology mean there are ways in which people can choose to better protect their hearing.

For instance, many smartphone users can get phone alerts which detect when they are in a “high volume environment” such as concerts or listening to loud music.

Also, people are able to access protective wear at live music events such as free ear plugs to stop damage.

Mr. Allen said he didn’t have these things growing up, but he thought maybe if he had, there would be a possibility that his hearing may have not have been as badly damaged from music events which he attended every weekend.

“There were no sort of defenders… nothing. There was just a big bang with two speakers blasting out. ”

His warning comes as the Senedd hosted a ‘Let Wales be heard’ event to promote awareness about ear health.

Matthew Thomas, an audiologist in Cardiff urged more young people who notice a change in their hearing to get tested, with hearing aids being a “last resort”.

The screening service provided by private opticians or through the NHS can quickly let a patient know if there is an identifiable issue and what course of treatment may be required.