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Deaf travels with Oasis Overland

Oasis traveller Helen tells us about her experience on our Trans Africa Expedition Crossing the Equator on the Oasis Trans Africa ExpeditionPacking my bags for my 9 month UK to Cairo trip around Africa wasn’t easy, it had to include a year’s worth of batteries for my 2 Cochlear Implants (Hearing aids) which weighed a lot! I also had to pack all kinds of spare parts for it, a drying kit and a spare Implant (ended up needing it!). I’m profoundly deaf (100% deaf) and I rely a lot on lipreading to understand others and I was VERY nervous about doing this trip in terms of understanding people and getting along with them! After we all got together and arrived in Africa, I asked my tour leader if she could tell everyone that I was deaf and to get my attention before speaking to me or to make sure that I can read their lips clearly, that light is on their faces, no shadows on their faces or even having the sun in my eyes which prevents me from lipreading! I realised I could lipread most people easily and learnt to adjust to lipreading the harder ones and we all helped each other out, so that worked out well. I also know British sign language so I taught some of my fellow travellers to learn some of the basics signs for fun and also just in case I need to sign in situations where I can’t wear my CI (Cochlear Implant) i.e. swimming in the river/sea. Oasis Overland travellers Trans Africa Expedition 2013-14I loved the layout of my overland truck because all the seats were facing each other so I was able to follow most conversations. This was also one of the reasons I chose Oasis. I made sure I sat in the middle most of the time so that it was easier to ‘watch’ people. This certainly made truck life a lot easier. The thing that I struggled the most with was evenings. After a long day of lipreading (listening with eyes is hard work!) sometimes my eyes would hurt and I would get a headache. It didn’t help that light conditions went down with the sun and made it difficult to understand what was going on.

The cooking and food preparation was fine as there are lights over the tables. Sitting together and eating, I made sure I sat where the truck lights were behind me so therefore most light would fall on people in front of me. We would have a talk from the trip leader about plans for the following day/week. Sometimes I couldn’t see which was fine as I’m tired at this point. Sometimes I would use my head torch on people so I could follow important conversations. After we all cleared up most people would be near the kitchen lights so I would ask or someone would explain what I missed and what time I need to get up for breakfast and I preferred that as I could ask questions about it to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Helen at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro! Doing fun activities was no problem at all. I would tell the instructor that I’m deaf and they would explain all I need to do or watch out for before the activity starts whether it was quad biking, shark diving, sky diving etc. My advice to other deaf/disabled travellers is to let people know what your needs are then I’m sure your fellow travellers would be happy to help you – like mine did with me.

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