Michelle has experienced hearing loss from her early childhood and it has deteriorated as she has got older. She gets very tired, and at times struggles to lip read along with her hearing aids. She said that without her hearing aids she would not even be able to hear her cat meow.
Michelle wishes to apply for a hearing assistance dog. She rents a flat and invited the landlords for afternoon tea to explain that she needs a hearing dog and hopes to be put on the waiting list. Unfortunately they refused her permission to have a dog in her flat and she is devastated that she has to forget her dream.
A hearing dog would have alerted Michelle to people knocking on her door or ringing the doorbell. It would also have alerted her to the phone ringing, someone calling her name, the microwave beeping and a range of everyday sounds she misses. The biggest support a dog would provide for Michelle is being with her at night to offer safety and alert her to unusual noises.
Michelle had intended to take her dog to work with her as she has a career where she has constant contact with the public who do not understand she is deaf. This can sometimes restrict her ability to undertake her job successfully.
As Michelle is very high functioning with her hearing loss most people, including those who know her well, can fail to notice the difficulties she is having communicating with them. Having a hearing assistance dog would remind people she has frequent contact with that she needs their continuing support.
A hearing support dog would give Michelle a far greater degree of independence in her daily life. An accessibility law would ensure that people who require an assistance dog are protected by law and cannot be denied this human right.
This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.