A well regarded speech therapist in her working life, Benita knew a lot of people with a range of disabilities.
Now at 88 years old, it was this experience that motivated her to become part of the panel in January 2020.
Living in Leicestershire with her husband (91), Benita also has a personal experience of disability as she and her husband have grown older and lost their hearing. Since joining the RiDC panel, she has taken part in various surveys about different products and services.
“It is very hard to get people to understand just how difficult it is for a deaf person to cope and to make themselves understood. We all had some insight into this when we started wearing face masks due to the pandemic, which makes it impossible to lipread. Initially it was only professionals who were wearing transparent masks but we all understood how much they aided communication.
“As you get older you do become disabled in ways you don’t expect. Everything in this world is designed for young men - and men with strong hands at that. Opening tins and bottles becomes very difficult as you get older and lose the strength in your hands and getting the tops of childproof containers is impossible.
“There are no mechanisms to tell manufacturers and service providers about the issues that you have with their products or suggestions for improving them, and that is so frustrating. Being a part of the panel makes me feel like I have a way of getting through to them.
“I worked for a time in California and was astonished by the power of the disability activists in America. They made sure that buildings and buses were accessible, for example. I think we could take a leaf out of their book and be more demanding: tell people what we need.”
** Please note the image displayed is for illustrative purposes only and is not Benita **