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. . . so my friend, who is deaf-blind and who can no longer lipread, could hear me when we were out and about. It struck me afresh how noisy the world is and gave me a new perspective on the sheer unnecessary volume of life. I wanted to shout at children squawking unnecessarily and their parents letting them: “Don’t you know how HARD it is for someone who can’t lipread to hear a female voice over that terrible shrieking?” I was desperate to stop the roar of traffic punctuating our conversation. I itched to switch off the blast of canned bloody music.

That’s why your bloomin’ shrieking kid is anti-social, not because it’s to do with some fusty notion of children being seen and not heard, or because the sound is painful, but because it makes normal social intercourse in the vicinity more difficult, and that’s for normal hearing and sighted people. And you haven’t even scratched the surface of people who can’t see well or hear well, or both, or have sound processing disorders or feel overwhelmed and overstimulated by sound. That’s what anti-social means – the clue’s in that little adjunct, social.

You don’t have to understand deaf-blindness, but please, have the gumption to see that if there’s a blind person coming towards you with a dog in harness and they have someone on their other side – MOVE OUT OF THE WAY. The person guiding isn’t going to disengage from the blind person just to let you through. If the guide has to move, the blind person has to come too, and the dog – so really it’s a lot simpler if you, random sighted person coming in the opposite direction, can kindly give us a bit of room. Besides, both companion and dog may be looking out for obstacles that you can’t spot because you’re sighted and it doesn’t mean anything to you.

People just cram their ears with so much external gunk and stuff their eyes with the ever-moving world minimised down to an iPhone screen that they forget to truly listen to and look at the world around them. As a society, we gorge ourselves on external stimuli, making ourselves more self-absorbed, so that we hear and see less of what really matters – we don’t even look around to process what’s going on around us.

Do you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what other people might need among the hustle and bustle of life?

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