Written by Kylie Webb, NF2
Life as we know it has changed dramatically since March when the Corona Virus reared it's ugly head. Gone is our freedom and, for a lot of people, our sanity.
As we practice social distancing to prevent spreading of the virus, virtual catch ups with family and friends, virtual staff meetings and Telehealth appointments have become the new normal.
Hearing loss in the current climate has added a whole new dimension of difficulty to what is ordinarily hard enough.
With a lot of staff members from my department working remotely, IT platforms like Teams and Webex are replacing face-to-face staff meetings. Although there is the advantage of being able to see the speakers faces, often there is a delay which makes reading lips impossible and the subtitle function is not always accurate.
The amount of concentration it takes to follow what is being said and try to fill in the missing pieces is draining day-after-day.
The implementation of mandatory face masks posed an even greater challenge. The ability to lip-read is taken away, facial expressions are limited and the sound is distorted. Despite a common misconception, raising your voice does not make the sound any clearer!
Unlike needing a wheelchair for mobility or having a plaster cast for a broken arm, hearing loss is a hidden disability.
The pandemic has certainly highlighted this. For the first time in a long time I have experienced feelings of inadequacy, frustration and loneliness over the inability to communicate.
When I contacted my NDIS Local Area Coordinator (LAC) to see if I could use funds for a headset that would make the virtual calls easier he recommend I contact Job Access.
Job Access exists to remove barriers for employment for people with a disability. The best part was, unlike the NDIS the application and approval process was quick and pain free!
I completed the eligibility form, which included things like diagnosis/impairment, my employment details (including a contact person i.e. manager) and an explanation of the problems I was having. The very next day I had a call from an OT who requested some further information regarding my diagnosis (surprise, surprise she wasn’t familiar with it!). The OT then contacted my employer to verify the information I had provided was correct.
Within a week I had a virtual assessment where I ran through the problems I was having with communication especially now I was working from home. Although all I was interested in was the headset, the OT spoke about a range of devices she thought would help with my job role.
I am delighted to say a few days later I was approved for the headset (Jabra Evolve2 85), an adapter to use the headset with my desktop phone, an iphone, a conference speaker (Jabra Link 950) and $6000 worth of work related Auslan interpreting services (live captioning) to use over the next 12 months. My delivery has arrived this afternoon and I can not wait to start using them.
I am so incredibly thankful for finding out about this service, for being approved and for how these items will improve my working life.
If you are having any problems relating to your disability at your workplace I recommend you get in touch with Job Access.