Living with a hearing loss can be challenging and often hard to explain to others. People with normal hearing have no idea how the communication barrier, the sensitivity to loud noises, and poor speech quality can hinder your life and relationships every day. Because hearing loss is not a disability that is easily detectable when you first look at someone, it is often misunderstood. If you are dealing with hearing loss we know you will relate to this. If you are unfamiliar with hearing loss, we know this will be helpful for you to understand what people dealing with hearing loss go through. Here are 5 things people with hearing loss wish you knew:
I am not trying to be rude or ignore you.
I am sorry that when you speak I will not always answer you. I am working hard to decipher all the sounds around me. If I answer a question inappropriately or ask you to repeat yourself 5 times, be patient with me. If I am in your way and you say “excuse me” and I don’t budge, it is not because I am trying to be rude. Know that I just didn’t hear you and keep trying to communicate with me until I hear you properly.
I am not stupid. Please don’t treat me as I am, or answer questions for me.
Just because I can’t hear you or understand the first time, does not have any indication of my intelligence. I need patience. I do not need you to treat me like a child or as if I am incapable of communicating or making my own decisions. Do not jump to answering questions directed at me, give me some time to make sense of what is being asked of me.
Even if I am wearing a hearing aid, it is not a magic fix.
A common misconception is that a hearing aid works like a pair of glasses. Glasses completely fix (for the most part) someone’s vision. With glasses it is possible to go from being visually impaired to seeing 20/20. However, it is not always the case with hearing aids, because hearing aids primarily amplify sounds. Therefore, background noises are equally amplified with the more important parts of the conversation. It is not an easy fix and all situations are different.
I am exhausted and trying my best.
Like we said earlier, it is very hard for someone with good hearing to understand what is like for those with hearing loss. This is because for most people hearing comes second nature to them. However for us, hearing is hard work and everything takes a little extra effort. Situations that are fun and lighthearted for others, become work for us. Social gatherings, sporting events, family dinner, etc. all require extra focus and effort.
You play a huge role.
We don't want to ask to much of you, but when you spend the extra effort trying to communicate and using better practices it makes a world of difference. When you are mindful of speaking loud, clearly, and facing us it makes communicating a lot easier for us. When you choose to be intentional when you speak to me instead of shouting from the other room, it makes a difference. The way you communicate with me and your patience either makes things way easier or harder for me. If you are someone that is mindful of these things, we thank you!