Hearing loss is a common, hidden condition. Hearing loss causes obstacles that are not evident to others. As a result, we must pay special attention to individuals who must work extra hard to communicate and participate in everyday conversations about which we know little.
If we keep alert and educated, we may employ communication strategies that assist individuals dealing with a sense we take for granted: hearing. Here are five things that those with hearing loss wish you knew.
“We get tired.”
Hard-of-hearing people want you to know that they need to work hard to catch up on such details. In reality, having hearing loss means you have to constantly exert themselves to remain engaged in a conversation. When one or more people are involved, they must work much harder. When there is background noise, which many people can filter out but those with hearing loss cannot, the strain is amplified.
Hard of hearing people are always thinking about how to position themselves physically to pick up on any communication. They must consider where they sit (away from noise and windows), how to face a person when speaking, and stay on track when conversing with multiple people. There’s also the effort expended to “fill in” the gaps in the dialogue they’ve missed.
“Hearing loss is stigmatized.”
People who require glasses have the edge over those who are deaf. Wearing glasses notifies us that the person has a vision problem and is less stigmatized than wearing hearing aids. Glasses can be worn for practical reasons, fashion reasons, or both. With hearing aids, however, this is not the case.
According to the Center for Disease Control, hearing loss affects approximately 30% of the population in the United States. Hearing aids are not commonly accepted, especially among the younger population, due to negative stereotypes and a lack of knowledge and awareness. Hearing aids are not visible and are usually made to blend in with the ear, putting the onus on the user to either alert others of their condition or discreetly strive to keep up.
“We’re not ignoring you.”
Expect the regular ebb and flow of a discussion to be disrupted when conversing with someone with hearing loss. At times, your questions may go unanswered, and responses may be wrong or ignored. This isn’t because the person with hearing loss is intentionally being rude; they haven’t heard you.
It is not rudeness or a lack of etiquette that is obstructing what would otherwise be a regular communicative interaction; instead, it is their invisible state that is obstructing what would otherwise be a regular communicative connection. It’s critical not to presume that a missing or unsuitable response is misinterpreted as harsh or ignorant. It would be highly beneficial if you could repeat, articulate, and slow down your words to allow for greater communication among all parties concerned.
“We can speak for ourselves.”
It is not a good idea to be arrogant and answer on behalf of hearing loss persons. If you are patient and adapt to the conversation, you will most likely benefit everyone. Speaking louder isn’t always the solution, and speaking on behalf of another person might be embarrassing for them and reflect poorly on you.
Remember that you are the one who can assist in communication without making the person with a hearing impairment feel inferior or even excluded.
“We appreciate it when you follow these tips.”
Make eye contact with the individual you’re conversing with. This will allow them to read your lips or assess your mood and tone. Don’t look away while speaking. Don’t talk with your back to the camera or from a different room. If you are requested to repeat what you have said, please do it slowly and clearly.
We invite you to make the first call and set up an appointment to help you achieve your hearing health goals. Don’t put off obtaining treatment for hearing loss for another seven years as most people do.
Give us a call if you know someone who appears to be suffering from hearing loss or if you are concerned about your hearing health. We look forward to assisting you in getting started on maintaining your hearing health today and in the future.