To mark World Disability Day, we spoke to Asha Hylton, Paediatric Critical Care Sister at King's, who has profound hearing loss. Asha shares her story to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities.
"I work as a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Nurse, looking after some of the most unwell children in the country. I am also a Nurse in Charge of the unit, providing support, and leading my team.
"I have a severe and profound hearing loss from birth and wear bilateral hearing aids. My primary method of receiving communication at work is to lip-read, but it’s not always possible especially if there is a sizeable ward round taking place and if there are various background noises (ICU is not the quietest place in the hospital!).
“I make use of British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters as an aid to mitigate the communication barriers that I face at work. By not having to locate who is speaking in the room allows me to feel more involved when BSL Interpreters are present in the ward. I have a brilliant team, who are supportive, and this makes all the difference. Additionally, I use assistive listening technologies for a myriad of things and have my adaptive stethoscope.
“A patient recently came to our attention having been triaged through the hospital’s weekend emergency clinic. Their main method of communication was BSL, and the hospital staff was encountering difficulties trying to book a BSL Interpreter at such short notice. I was approached and was more than happy to help out. The patient was very grateful and happy that they were able to receive the due care and attention that they needed. Equally, the staff members appreciated my help and were very relieved that we could get to the bottom of the issue at hand and see to the patient’s needs.
“World Disability Day is important because we need to put a stop to the normalising of ableism and make people realise that not all disabilities are visible. I am passionate about explaining to people that deafness is not experienced in the same way for every deaf person. Two deaf people in the same hearing loss category will not have the same audiogram results thus will have different needs relative to their level of deafness.
“If you need additional help or reasonable adjustment, please do not hesitate to speak to someone before attending your appointment. I know that the staff here are always happy and willing to assist you and make your appointment(s) a more comfortable experience.
“There are many resources online where one can learn basic BSL. It has been over 25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act passed, we still have a long way to go in terms of realising true accessibility and inclusion. If you do come across someone with a disability, the most important advice I can give to you is to ask the person how you can best support them and do not go by any preconceived ideas or assumptions.”