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She Is Not Safe In Sound

| Working | November 24, 2016

(My parents are waiting to go through airport security in the UK. My mother is profoundly deaf and uses a cochlear implant. Without it, she can only hear loud, indistinct noises – sirens, drills etc. Even with it, she has trouble hearing in the airport. Because part of the implant is internal and would set off the alarms, she has to use a different security gate without her aids before getting patted down. My dad explains this to the security officer.)

Officer: “You won’t be able to use this gate with your wife; you have to join the normal queue.”

Dad: “Could she wait until I’ve been checked through, so that I can help on the other side when she comes through?”

Officer: “No. Don’t worry; it’s fine. I know what I’m doing. You join the queue and I’ll just process her. It won’t take very long.”

Dad: “She won’t be able to hear anything you say when she’s removed her implant and hearing aid, so would you be able to sign or write any instructions you have for her? Or wait until I’ve come through?”

Officer: “Yes, yes. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.”

(My dad reluctantly joins the queue, while the officer takes my mother over to the other gate. She removes her aids and puts them in a box, then goes through the scanner. A DIFFERENT officer comes and does a vague shooing wave at her. Confused, she goes back through the scanner and returns to him. He starts picking up her arms like a doll to do the pat down (instead of demonstrating what he wants her to do). The original officer is just stood staring at them.)

Officer #2: “Do you have any other metal objects on you? Any loose change? Are you wearing a belt buckle?”

Dad: *from the line* “Excuse me! My wife is deaf; she can’t hear what you’re saying!”

(Officer #2 continues in an absurdly slow, loud voice. He stops his pat down and is pointing at her handbag. My mother looks at my dad, completely bewildered and panicked.)

Dad: *frustrated* “Can you at least give her the aids back, please?”

(Officer #2 ignores him, but my dad manages to get to the front of the queue, where he’s able to go and assist my mother with the irritated Officer #2 and pointless Officer #1. My mother was upset and embarrassed for quite a while afterwards. On the way home from holiday, the Italian security staff were very helpful and accommodating. I guess they have more understanding with language barriers?)

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