Five Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hearing Loss.
22 Jan , 2016
(Most of this article was written by Shari Eberts)
It is hard to explain to others what it is like to have hearing loss — the lack of clarity in speech, the sensitivity to loud noise, and the exhaustion that comes with heavy bursts of communication. It is an invisible disability so it is often misunderstood, downplayed or even ignored — sometimes even by those closest to you. But it can have a huge impact on your life, and the lives of those who love you.
Here are the five things I wish everyone understood about hearing loss. Please add your thoughts in the comments.
1. Hearing loss is exhausting. When you have hearing loss, hearing takes work. This is hard for those with normal hearing to understand since hearing is so automatic for them. The best way I know to explain it is as a game board from Wheel of Fortune. Some of the letters are filled in, others are blank. The contestant (or listener in this case) is trying to make sense of the assorted and incomplete sounds he or she is hearing and turn these sounds into a word or phrase that makes sense in the context of the conversation. Not easy, especially since the conversation does not pause while you are doing this extra processing.
2. I am not stupid or rude. I might answer questions inappropriately or miss the point of a conversation now and then, but I am not stupid. I just misheard what you said. And if I don’t respond to your greeting or an “excuse me” at the store, it is not because I am ignoring you. I just didn’t hear it.
3. Hearing aids don’t work like glasses. Glasses transform blurry images automatically into something crisp and clear restoring your vision to normal, with no effort on your part. With hearing aids, this is not the case. Hearing aids amplify sounds, making them louder. But you still have to get used to your new way of hearing.
4. I do not need you to speak for me. I am neither a child nor an invalid. If someone asks me a question and I don’t hear it, please repeat it so I can answer for myself. Doing otherwise is insulting and demeaning.
5. A few simple tricks can help a lot. Face me when you speak to me and keep your lips visible. Don’t try to talk to me from another room and be sure to get my attention first before speaking. I want to hear you and am trying my best. Following these rules will let me know that you are too.
Readers, what do you wish people knew about your hearing loss? Share your thoughts with us, and with one another, here on the A Atlantic page. We would love to read your own personal thoughts and insights. We wish to not only care for your needs and to inform and educate, but also to be a place where you are able to feel a part of a community.
Most of this article was written by Shari Eberts.
Shari is a hearing health advocate and writes and speaks on this topic upon request. In 2015 she was named a HearStrong Champion for her work to change the stigma surrounding hearing loss. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of both the Hearing Health Foundation and Hearing Loss Association of America.
IMAGE CREDIT: Shari Eberts