Imagine that the world around you becomes quiet. Imagine that as you grow older, simple day-to-day habits, such as talking on the phone, become a struggle. This is what happened to Manly resident Kim Roth, a 62-year-old art teacher, who at the age of 45 developed severe hearing loss.
Since returning to Australia after spending 15 years in the US working in the art sector, Mr Roth had been gradually growing his art classes. Recently, during one class, one of his hearing aids malfunctioned and left him with 50 per cent less hearing.
“It was really painful not hearing what my students were saying, and some began to leave my class, which really affected my confidence,” Mr Roth said.
Feeling overwhelmed by this new situation, Mr Roth recently approached the SSI’s Ability Links NSW program.
Ability Links NSW supports people with disability, their families and carers to help them build on strengths and skills and develop networks in their own communities. Ability Links coordinators called Linkers provide a locally based, first point of contact for people with disabilities who wish to access services in their local communities.
Mr Roth’s Linker, Enrique Ledesma, contacted the main hearing loss organisations to explain the situation and made appointments to attend them with Mr Roth to provide moral and practical support.
Eventually, Mr Ledesma found Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH), an organisation that offered to provide affordable hearing aids through their Hearing Aid Bank, established with the Audiology Clinic of Macquarie University.
“I would definitely recommend Ability Links without hesitation not just for those with hearing loss but whatever disability they may have,” Mr Roth said. “There is an absolute need for the role of connecting the individual to the community resources out there.”