Over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – has disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). It is estimated that by 2050, over 900 million people – or 1 in every 10 people – will have disabling hearing loss.

These statistics were shared by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a report released in March 2018. Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (dB) in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30 dB in the better hearing ear in children.

Last Sunday, a “Hear With Us” event (#HearWithUs) was held at the Faculty of Integrated Technology Building, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, to raise public awareness on issues faced by the hearing impaired.

During the half-day event, a special video film production by Hoco Agency, a Brunei-based creative design, branding and advertising agency, was shown.

In it, Muhammad Nur’Azwan, the President of the National Association of the Hearing-Impaired (Persatuan OKP), and two other members from the association – Norsyehida and Izz – shared their perspectives on what life is like for them.

“I want to share how sign language can be another form of communication with everyone,” Muhammad Nur’Azwan, who has had hearing impairment since birth, said in sign language.

Handwritten Notes & Phone Texts

Norsyehida, who has had hearing impairment since the age of 2, said her late father had decided to transfer her to a regular school after pulling her out of Pusat Bahagia, a school for special needs individuals under the care of the Department of Community Development (JAPEM), Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

“It was challenging back when I was in college. It was difficult communicating with my friends who didn’t know how to sign. I would use handwritten notes and phone texts when communicating so that they would be able to understand,” she said.

She is grateful for all the love and support she has received from her family, teachers and friends.

“It lifts my spirits and helps me to not focus on my disability,” she said. “I would like to tell those with hearing impairment to not be shy. Just do your best!”

Don’t Shy Away

“My education is my main struggle because without it, I cannot fulfil my dreams,” said Izz, who was born with bilateral hearing loss. It was discovered when he was just 10 months old. He had his cochlear implanted when he was 6 years old with 16 channels switched on.

He hoped that people would not “shy away” from people with hearing impairment. “After all, we also want to be part of the crowd,” he added.

Would you be interested in learning sign language?


Have Your Say

What are your thoughts on the following statement: They are not disabled, but differently abled.

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