Source: Rheinfall Schaffhausen, Picture of the author
Last week we had two teenagers, 17 and 15, visiting. Although we know
the two, sister and brother, from birth and we see each other at least
once a year, it is different to accompany them for a week without their
parents, all the more because we are not used to children, let alone
teenagers … And exactly this was the intention to get to know us a
little better and to spend a nice time together.
On beforehand I already had some thoughts about communication, especially because I would be “on route” on my own for 2 days with the two of them. Although both of them know that I am hearing impaired, whether the communication would work over a longer period of time was a nice challenge for me.
But now I can tell you that we not only survived the week very well,
but also had a wonderful time! Had fun, combined with lots of walking
and travelling with public transport through Switzerland. Both of them
were especially pleasant and easy to care for guests, which, as I have
heard, is not a matter of course for teenagers.
And the communication also went without a hitch! At the beginning I just told them that in communication it was important for me that they should not talk too fast and preferably clear. And that’s exactly what they did. When they talked to me, they even looked at me, talked a bit slower and more clearly. They also repeated things as if it were a matter of course.
In short: they accept my hearing impairment as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
Although it sounds a bit biased (and of course it is ), I can only say that they can serve as examples for many good hearing adults.
Education and environment have a huge influence on the children’s
development, but they are no guarantee that they will grow up to be
people who accept other people for who they are. But as an old proverb
says, “Young learned, old done”, it is important to sensitize the young
generation. That they learn early that people with an impairment or a
disability are not different from other people, but are themselves.
That with mutual respect and a little consideration for each other one can live together excellently.
In this context, a few months ago I registered with ProCap, the largest association of and for people with disabilities in Switzerland, for a sensitisation project in schools, training institutes and companies and I am already looking forward to the many encounters.
And our young guests? We have delivered them to their parents in good health and are happy that they would like to return next year. The invitation stands.