Hear2day is a South African resource and action group for persons with hearing impairment formed in early 2007 by a group of such individuals and a few hearing health specialists. It was formed out of the need to communicate with other persons with hearing impairment and the desire to improve hearing and communication abilities. From 6 members, it has grown into approximately 50 current members, associates and friends, the originating branch being in Plumstead and the other located in Tableview, Cape Town.
Our strong desire to assist others and to create awareness of this very silent disability became more fervent once we realised that no official bodies exist in South Africa that advocate for the protection of the rights of the hearing impaired. A further realisation that even the State is ignorant of the plight of the hearing impaired, generally assuming that adequate provisions are made for the hearing impaired, under the deaf disabled people category.
Members meet regularly, at least once in every five to six weeks, to discuss their individual problems in the hope that others can provide them with advice or possible answers.
However, it became very clear to us that our problems are generally rooted in the lack of access to communication devices in public buildings, the public broadcaster, hotels, banks and other civil service providers. This absence makes it exceedingly difficult for the hearing impaired to partake actively in civil society.
As a result some of us have reverted to request assistance from our loved ones, friends and even friendly strangers. Always in need of aid, always asking for help and never being able to simply and relaxingly go about our business.
More disturbing is the fact that there are other citizens with hearing impairment, less fortunate than ourselves, who are relegated to the fringes of society due to their inability to communicate as a result of their hearing loss.
They are unable to access a decent education and in some instances lack even basic education. For some of them, their futures have become predictable since it has been determined that these people should rather concentrate on using their other faculties, such as their hands, to contribute to the South African society, Yes, most of them have become craftsmen or women, with no other choice in earning a living. Off course it is not impossible for a person with a severe or profound hearing impairment to acquire tertiary qualifications, it is just exceedingly difficult!
Despite our disability, most members of the support group are professionals and active contributors to the economy. Mainly, our achievements are attributed to our family’s unequivocal and loving support and encouragement. One thing is certain, none of us had any State support to improve our hearing abilities.
Being faced with many daily challenges, but able to afford some new technology hearing devices, we are managing. Forming a support group of likeminded individuals presents the hope that we can help each other overcome communication difficulties, more importantly work towards improving communication possibilities for persons with hearing impairment ,less fortunate than ourselves.