Sharing the challenges he has faced as a deaf dentist, Walid Hassoon calls for more inclusion and compassion within the profession.
Working as a deaf dentist in the midst of a Covid pandemic has had its challenges.
I was born with Pendred syndrome, which causes profound hearing loss. Diagnosed at two years old, I have been wearing bilateral hearing aids ever since. Consequently, I have become reliant on lip reading to communicate with colleagues and patients alike.
With the introduction of mandatory masks within the workplace as Covid-19 swept across the world, suddenly what was a hidden disability became glaringly obvious.
Stripped of my main means of communication, I faced constant barriers from frustrated and exasperated colleagues having to repeat themselves. Like anything, it was a challenge I had to overcome.
Reflecting on discrimination
Embarking on my dental journey as a student, I was fortunate to have had many inspiring teachers along the way. These teachers refused to allow my deafness to define me or hold me back.
I was well supported as a student. I had a provision of a note taker during lectures and an FM radio aid system. This helped transfer the amplified voice of the lecturer directly to my hearing aids via a receiver.
However, to access this vital support is often a lengthy and bureaucratic process which required immense perseverance and time. I was often backed by my supportive parents to facilitate this.
Graduating as a dentist is one of my proudest moment. I entered the profession eager and enthusiastic to have a long and successful career.
I get enormous satisfaction from the hands-on nature of our job making tangible differences to our patients smile and dental health.
As we embark on a post Covid world, I must reflect on the discrimination and employer misconceptions I have faced. As we tried to contend with a new terrible global disease, I felt that there wasn’t enough inclusion and acceptance of our workforce. Through no fault of their own, they felt marginalised and had their needs excluded.
Ever the optimist, I hope that with the new PPE advancements, the lessons learnt and with a compassionate attitude we can allow all staff members of various backgrounds to feel valued, part of the team and thrive in this great profession.
Find out more about Denplan.