Have you ever wondered what every day life might be like if you were deaf? If you have a passion, such as music, could you put yourself in a deaf person's shoes and imagine life without it?
That's what KISS FM’s Pandora Christie did this week when she paid a visit to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People’s training site in Saunderton, Buckinghamshire to learn about the impact of deafness and find out what life is like for someone who can’t hear music.
Pandora, who is best known for hosting the award winning 10am-1pm slot on popular radio station KISS FM every weekday, as well as the renowned KISSTORY slot, met with hearing dog recipient Dionne Nelder to learn how deafness can destroy people’s confidence and wellbeing, and the life-changing difference a hearing dog can make.
Pandora says: "Speaking to Dionne about her deafness and learning how she lost her hearing throughout her 20s really touched me. My 20s were some of the best times of my life and I remember being surrounded by music and friends. Instead, Dionne was becoming deaf, growing more and more isolated and losing her ability to hear music altogether.
"I can’t imagine how it must feel to lose your hearing, having your whole world turned upside down. I didn’t know that it can happen to anyone, it doesn’t have to run in your family for you to lose your hearing. It can happen simply happen over time or all of a sudden with no real cause."
Article continues below >>
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, which turns 35 in 2017, is the only UK Charity to train clever dogs to assist deaf people, alerting them to crucial sounds that others take for granted every single day. The effects of hearing loss can be utterly devastating, robbing people of their independence and causing them to feel isolated, too often causing anxiety and even depression.
Pandora, as well as meeting Dionne, also met some of the clever dogs-in-training and specialist dog trainers to learn all about how a hearing dog is trained and just how they can help. The Hearing Dogs’ demonstration team treated her to a private demonstration showcasing some of the signals and alerts performed by these life-changing dogs every day in the home and out and about.
She says: "When I watched the Hearing Dogs’ demonstration team I was completely overwhelmed by how intelligent they are and by how eager they were to please. For those of you that might think these dogs are worked too hard or might not be enjoying it, I’ve seen with my own eyes how much they love the training and it looks as if they treat it like one big game.
"I learned how people’s lives have been changed by having a hearing dog and how much happiness, security, love and positivity they bring. I now understand how lonely and isolating deafness can be, and that deafness really is a totally invisible disability. It must be so tough and I’m so grateful that there is a charity like Hearing Dogs training these amazing creatures to help."