Book Review: “Living with Hearing Loss and Deafness” by Samantha Baines
Who is Samantha Baines?
Samantha Baines is a comedian, actress, broadcaster, and author. She was diagnosed with hearing loss in her twenties and her book is an honest and comprehensive guide to all aspects of hearing loss.
Samantha writes from experience and as an ambassador for Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) as well as a promoter for high street audiology providers. She acknowledges that a perk is free hearing aids privately, but that does not detract from the value of the information she provides.
The book itself
Samantha’s sense of humour is well placed and whilst describing her personal journey, she documents interviews with individuals, some of whom grew up with hearing loss and others, like herself, experienced it in adulthood. She includes the views of audiologists and other professionals, which creates a broad perspective.
The topics open up debates on terminology preferences, such as ‘hard of hearing’,’ hearing impaired’ or other such terms to describe hearing loss. In addition, the subject of disability is raised and discussed. Some people are happy with hearing loss being an invisible disability but others would not consider it a disability, rather that they are disabled by society, given limited accessibility in many aspects of day-to-day life.
My daughter came across the book and intrigued, I ordered a copy. I was not disappointed because it is up to date, informative and engaging. The book is divided into four parts, and it is easy to dip back into chapters of interest at a later stage. On a practical front, there is a useful travel section and a chapter devoted to hearing loss in the workplace and how companies can support it. On the emotional front, Samantha addresses sex and deafness, a subject that many people may wish to ask about but feel constrained to do so.
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“Owning your deafness”
The chapter on “Owning your deafness” speaks volumes about the positive side of coming to terms with hearing loss, compassion, resilience, and a broader perspective.
In this chapter, Samantha explains that a deaf journey for someone growing up with it has a very different beginning to someone who develops hearing loss in later life. She was in shock following her diagnosis and it had taken her ten years to reach the point of seeking help, which is not uncommon. However, irrespective of the beginning, everyone faces the same barriers to accessibility and societal prejudices and the need to come to terms with their deafness.
Samantha emphasises the need for a supportive network of friends, family and outside organisations to ensure wellbeing and mental health. It provides advice on how to address those important issues and avoid isolation.
I recommend reading it because it is informative, thought provoking and a handy reference to the many issues hearing loss presents. It is good to remind ourselves that we are not alone and that there is support available whenever we are ready to receive it.
You can order your copy here