Five Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hearing Loss

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. Read more about this here.

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 into something crisp and clear restoring your vision to normal. With hearing aids, this is not the case. Hearing aids amplify sounds, but this only makes them louder, not necessarily crisper or clearer. Hearing aids also have a tough time differentiating among sounds so that background noises like the hum of the refrigerator or the air conditioner are amplified in addition to the more important sounds of conversation. This can actually make it harder to hear in certain situations!

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 hearing loss?

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246 thoughts on “Five Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hearing Loss

  1. Also, it is absolutely NOT appropriate to make fun of people for not hearing well or mishearing. Sometimes it feels like hearing loss is the last disability that society feels like it is perfectly acceptable to make fun of. I can’t tell you the number of times that I mention to new people that I am hearing impaired and they say, “What?” or “I can’t hear you,” or mouth words at me with no sound, as if I wouldn’t notice. It is very frustrating to say the least. You wouldn’t go up to someone in a wheelchair and say things like, “Oh look, your legs don’t work!” or other such ignorant things. DON’T poke fun of my hearing loss! It’s not something I’m doing to you on purpose!

    Furthermore, get your own hearing checked! Most people ignore their own hearing, and deny that hearing loss is a problem for a minimum of 7 years before they get fed up and get help. By this time, the parts of the brain that are responsible for understanding speech have deteriorated. People come in, scraping the bottom of the hearing chart, spend a lot of money on hearing aids and want to miraculously get back to 100%. It’s not possible because you let the problem go for too long. The longer it is let go without help, the less you can get back. The best time to get help for hearing loss is as soon as it starts happening! You’re not doing anyone any favors by ignoring the warning signs and neglecting to get help, least of all, yourself. Hearing loss is sneaky, and happens so gradually over time, you might not realize it’s happening. Get regular hearing checks, and get help as soon as you’re experiencing a problem. Your brain, social functioning, family, friends, and whole life will thank you!

    • These are great points and the only thing missing is that one on a fixed income does not just drop in and get hearing aids at $3-4000. Sometimes it feels a bit like a scam when hearing is so important and many cannot get the help they need.

    • I have an hearing problem. I get tired of asking people to repeat what they just said. I can ‘t help it. I had an hearing test and it said I had a hard time of hearing high decibles. This could be from coaching and teaching PE and using a whistle for so long.

    • not only hearing aids. What about my grandson who has an implant for both ears. His processors and batteries are very very expensive. I just don’t understand why there’s soooooo much talk about Autism and NOTHING about the hearing impaired. My grandson is in the 11th grade and now we find out on our that his hearing impaired teacher quit and now he’s stuck with his sub. We don’t know what her credentials are or any thing. You would think the EC director or school would have enough nerve to have let us. There is only one other HI teacher in Davie. Seems like every time there’s a great teacher something always happens to her. If they are there for the student and goes the extra mile they say she wanted to be transferred ( which we do know of a couple of times who DID NOT) or they got something else to which we found out they had no say in it. His processors are thirteen years old and the company I not making any more or equipment to repair them. How would any adult like it if there hearing depended upon an aide? How would they fill if there source of a teacher just up and quits? This county DOES NOTHING TO KEEP THEM IF THEY ARE GREAT WITH THEIR WORK! Now there is just one HI (hearing impaired teacher) left in the county and she is elementary. Davie has never had more than two at any given time and heaven forbid if YOU ACT ON BEING YOUR CHILDS ADVOCATE. So in closing there should be just as much information and education out there for the deaf and hard of hearing as it is for Autism or any other disability.

      • Thank you for sharing your experiences. It can be very frustrating when others do not understand the seriousness of hearing loss. I agree we need to educate the public on this important health issue!

    • Alina, you are spot on with your reply. The issue of teasing and bullying should be included as #6 in this very good list of 5 Things.

    • I have my hearing tested regularly and anticipate getting two hearing aids within the coming year. Since insurance doesn’t cover this (unnecessary?) expense, I have to save my Social Security to afford…
      Also, my husband has a serious hearing problem but is in denial… All I ask is that he go for one hearing test, but he refuses, or more aptly, says yes, then ignores the follow up.

  2. As usual, you nailed it Shari. Now we need to get these points in front of people everywhere. Newspaper and TV commercials and more. I’m considering handing out little 3X5 cards with your 5 points on them at gatherings, or when I meet people. :-). What’s so distressing is how those closest to me seem to have the hardest time working with me and my disability. Of course that’s because we’re together more so it’s more noticeable, but nevertheless, fatigue sets in and I find that being alone is more successful than being social – and therein lies the rub. I love conversation and it seems that the ability is slipping away, one consonant at a time.

    • You took the words out of my mouth, especially about the people close to me. I also love to converse with friends and family but it seems to just tire me out. I recently purchased new hearing aids, so now my friends and family think I should hear perfectly again and I try to tell them they enhance my hearing but its not that simple.
      I really like these articles because it helps me understand I am not the only one who battles this problem. Thank You.

    • I think it’s very important to not only continue to converse with other people but also to listen to podcasts, radio and TV with whatever devices you have. I agree with you it is extremely frustrating but I think you lose your ability to hear by not having something intelligible to listen to, be that a person or some other voice in your ears. It’s like brain training. I actually try to talk a lot to strangers when I go shopping just for practice. Sometimes I have no idea what they are saying, depending on the environment. But I keep trying.

      • The brain training is a very accurate way to put it. Very important. It’s also important for family…especially. not walk away from you talking…impossible to gear or understand that. I also hate it when someone shouts at me afyer I have said i can’t hear you…or I don’t understand what you said. Shouting like that is degrading. Mumbling or speaking fast and low is very frustrating. I have a hsrd tome keeping up with newscasters too..thx fir listening..

      • I used to give my psychotherapy clients a how to list for communicating with HoH. Since many were Vietnam era folks, some needed it as much as I did! It made a big difference, especially after I had them read it aloud, ask questions, try out the new behaviors and sign a copy in their charts! Some took it home for friends & family. It was a great bonding experience, since they knew a vulnerability of mine, they could expose theirs safely.

  3. I wish that more businesses, particularly restaurants, would realize how difficult and physically painful excessively loud environments are for those of us who are hearing-impaired. There are many restaurants that I would love to patronize but can’t because of the noise. There are also stores that I will not set foot in because of the blaring music.

    • I agree. It is hard to fine a nice place to eat and enjoy conversation because of the loud music. Also when shopping. Sometimes it isn’t even music, just noise!

    • I totally agree, I didn’t realise the extent of all the noise out there until I lost my hearing. I no longer go to supermarkets!

      • There are hearing aids that have multiple settings, usually three, that you can adjust to compensate for your surroundings. Granted, they are not ALL perfect for everyone and every surrounding but you will never know until you give them try.

        Yes, they are very expensive and not everyone can afford them. But for those that can afford them and really need them, you owe it to ourself to give them a try. Most hearing aid manufacturers will give you a full money back guarantee for a certain period of time if you do not like their product or it does not work for you.

        Investigate every possibility to help you hear better. I procrastinated for a long time before I admitted to myself that I needed help. Since that day, my life has made a change for the better because I can hear so much better!

      • You are so right! Why the incessant LOUD piped-in music? At restaurants, I frequently explain my hearing loss, ask for a quiet spot and ask for the music to be turned down – usually they do all of them… after all I’m there max one hour (which I point out if the music doesn’t come down). I don’t mind telling people about my hearing loss, at all.
        I no longer use the phone because I can’t understand folks, I tell medical people when my wife is doing the talking part of setting appointments, I tell them then and remind them when I get there. My dentist is great about turning the music down.

  4. I wish I could condense this and wear it (like on a tee shirt or something). These are the primary things. Saying them over and over — well, I won’t say it doesn’t help. It helps a little with those who are disposed to, hey, listen.

  5. Great article. Point 3 is so huge, I tried to explain it in a post a couple months ago which you can check out here:

    Also point 5 is big too. However its important for those of us with hearing impairments to remain patient and understanding. I’ve gotten mad at my girlfriend a time or two for looking out the vehicle window while talking on a long drive and that doesn’t really help anything. We need to remember that being conscious about communicating is a task many don’t consider and remind people to do so politely and respectfully. It may not seem “fair” because we are the ones with the impairment, but self-advocacy is our strongest way to improve our situations.

  6. Thank you so much for your article. I related to every single one… and then some. Now to get it into the hands of others who people who are hearing impaired try to communicate with. I am deaf in my left ear and my right has profound loss but I am able to wear a hearing aid. I have a genetic condition called otsclerosis combined with severe tinnitus. The newer hearing aids that are digital as opposed to the older analog ones make adjusting to properly hear not as easy as just pressing a button and being able to hear clearly. That’s the biggest obstacle I’ve had and feel for others who might not be able to express to their audiologist how the sounds, the high and low tones, need to be adjusted. Luckily I have an awesome and patient audiologist. But because of my hearing loss I don’t socialize nearly as much. I cannot tell you the last time I saw a movie. And when shopping recently with my daughter I told the clerk of my hearing situation, she begin talking to my daughter and not me! So, YES, I related to every single point. So much in our society is based on the ability to hear… and to hear clearly. That is not the case. Please keep educating the public…

    • Don’t forget most movie theaters have closed captioning. The theaters around us have the devices that fit into the cup holders. It is not as convenient as TV closed captioning but it works and allows you to go to the movies when other family members or friends want to go.
      We have a disability that makes it difficult for us to function in many environments. But it’s what we have and we need to make ourselves visible so the proper accommodations will be made for us. Some days it’s exhausting but there are museums and theaters and other public places that have already made accommodations because they are required to by law. But enough hearing impaired people aren’t using them. My feeling is that as we keep making ourselves visible it will gradually change. And our children or grandchildren will have better accommodations because we were out there pushing.
      Plus I constantly hope there will be a Steve Jobs for us someday! Imagine what we would have by now!

      • Most of the movies theaters in the Philadelphia area have Sony glasses that place the captions in the glasses. They are wonderful! The version that has a screen attached and is placed in the cup holder are not worth using because you need to look away from the screen and refocus your vision for near to read it, therefore missing the action on thescreen. Advocate for the Sony closed caption glasses.

      • IMO the thought that “most” movie theaters have CC devices….not true. In large cities, maybe. In smaller communities, no. ADA should apply: every establishment MUST have accessible ramps, toilets and wider doors…… but not require accessible audio or visual As a teacher for the deaf and hoh for 38 years, I am constantly advocating for…and growing weary of ….the struggle to help the hearing “get it”…

  7. Please don’t forget to mention cochlear implants. Some of us wear those and STILL don’t hear normally albiet much better than we did with hearing aids.

  8. Write it down for me. Please. Don’t just TELL me when that event is, where to pick up the kids, what day the parent teacher conferences are. Mention it–and then jot it down, because chances are good that I missed something. And for heaven’s sake, don’t belittle me for ASKING you to write it down, or tell me “Well I TOLD you that! “

  9. All great points. Thanks.

    I love the “write it down” suggestion. In the business world I’ve gotten into the habit of saying “hey can you send me an email? I want to make sure I have that right.” Or words to that effect.

  10. I really admire each and every one of you for all the struggles and can feel your “pain”. While we are on the subject, how do we help those who are fully deaf from birth and do not speak and that no device would help them? The majority of hearing people just look at hearing loss the same. I know there is ASL culturally deaf which isn’t the same. Its a major headache trying to explain to families as well as the hearing world. I have been deaf for 55 years and am 60. I haven’t been in any of the groups til I was 35 except for speech therapy in the early years. I came in contact with HLAA about 5 yrs ago. Not active, but go to their meeting at times. A great group. Circumstances have limited me. Just wanted to say I have seen distant between the 2 groups. Not really fully understand why. I do know that I was stuck between the 2 worlds as I was mainstreamed. I have heard their stories on both sides and have compassion on both. Seems to me we all should merge (unlikely) and be an advocate for each other. I had my 1st CI 30 years ago and can assure each of you they came a long way. It was part of an experimental program. I see a very bright future ahead for CI as well as other improvements.

  11. As a Vietnam vet who depended on a battery of 155mm howitzers firing daily over (our) heads to keep us from being overrun, I say, “What? What’s that you say?” Okay, yeah, I have a raging case of tinnitus, and I don’t like listening to people anyway. But yes, I know what you’re talking about. If I understood you correctly.

    • Robert, as a former counselor who worked with combat vets – I know just what you experience. However, it is super important to keep communicating. One factor in “I don’t like to listen to people anyway” is PTS. You sit along the walls in restaurants, you isolate, you are likely short tempered… those are all things HoH do to cope with hearing loss as well. Get thyself to a Vet Center. Join a VN Vets group. You don’t have to talk, but you will. You will find a group who understand without lots of words what it is to be a VN vet today and most have hearing loss in varying degrees. Get out there, you stood by the howitzers and you can stand to step out of your comfort zone and be vulnerable by starting with the group. The other vets will never judge you for any part of who you are. I guarantee that you will experience life quite differently after you take the risk. HoH and PTS share coping skills and vulnerabilities…don’t let them stop you from knowing others who really know you like most people never will.
      HoH counselor (ret.), Lizzie

      • I never would have thought of this. I am not a vet. I have always felt judged by vets because of that. And, I feel that is unfair. I also think that may be my own “projection”. Yet, your point rings true: the similarities between PTS and HoH. Thanks. One can not grow until leaving the comfort zone. My friend here asks me whether I am going to go out and find a VN Vet group. I smile.

  12. Such valid exact points. I know I have told many people all of these…but it’s like the old “you can lead a horse to water” cliche.
    Two additional points…Please do not compare your “loss” with mine. I know people are trying to be empathetic….however hearing loss can be such an individual thing. at times, when someone says “oh I don’t hear well either”..I look and see no hearing aids, see them following conversations just fine…and I tend to withdraw even more.
    Also, I am not being anti-social..but I desperately need my “no hearing” time. The few times I attend a social event, I need to wander off by myself..just to regroup.
    Above all, a simple smile can help one stay connected. Words are not needed, a smile or a nod from across the room and I feel much more included than the “I said Hi to the deaf person” approach. It takes me a lot of effort, it takes a lot of courage to step into a party or event. I set goals for myself, and give myself permission to not hear it all. I have a bag of coping skills, and yet still the tears can find me if it all goes wrong. If you give me a smile, or a nod, that’s an anchor for me..and makes the rough seas just a bit smoother.

  13. I wish teachers could consider children with h earing loss as children with a lack and could give them more importance as giving them much more time and repeating if necessary

  14. I tutored hearing-impaired students in college, and was close friends with a sign language interpreter so I understand better than most the effort required to interact with the hearing community. Your five points are beautifully explained. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!


  15. My husband gets frustrated that I can’t hear him – he talks way too fast and mumbles, and talks as he walks from room to room – and then tells me to throw out my hearing aids and get new ones that will “work”. I tell him they ARE working, all they do is amplify the sound around me, not help me hear conversation better.

  16. The hearing people in our lives need constant reminders, gentle reminders. Many people just do not have the imagination to put themselves in our place. It’s easy to shut your eyes and imagine what it’s like to be blind, not so easy to imagine how it is not to be able to hear.
    As a single parent, I raised four children who had to struggle daily to get my attention. What I learned was how well they adapted.
    I made them take some of the responsibility. I said, “If I didn’t hear you, how can I know that I didn’t hear you? You need to get right in my face and make sure I heard you when there’s something important you want me to know.”
    In my professional life I made sure I was in a position of being the person with important information that others needed. That way people were more inclined to be patient with me because they realized sooner or later that effectively communicating their needs to me was the only way they would get what they needed.
    Being an intermediary such as a receptionist or secretary was much harder. People would become very angry and impatient if I asked them to repeat themselves. All they wanted was to get past me to the person they wanted to speak with.
    I learned these things very quickly.

  17. My type of hearing loss is central, meaning the difficulty is in how the brain processes sounds rather than difficulty hearing sounds themselves. Best I know to explain this type of loss is imagine being trapped in a room with tvs and radios covering every surface and each is the same volume but each is a different station playing simultaneously with no on off switch. All the various noises and conversations overlap competing for my attention. By the end of the day, I am extremely tired and irritable from the constant struggle to separate out and understand the important stuff from the background noise.

  18. I think my biggest problem is just people being aware around me about what works. I make mistakes and I shouldn’t feel a flipping fool because it is a struggle and I can’t help it. Speaking clearly.. Even texting or writing notes.. When I can’t understand. So many times people get frustrated but forget its even moreso for me.. They choose to bypass me talking around me and that feels absolutely horrid. So I just remove myself more often than not.. They don’t ask me how to communicate.. I don’t want to make peoples lives harder but there are ways we can work together better.. We really do need to raise awareness.. Thank you.. I will share on face book.

      • I know it’s frustrating when u r in a noisy environment to be able to hear anyone trying to converse with u n when u r on a highway in a car it’s difficult to hear someone talking to u or even with the window open u hear the winds or cars passing by makes it harder to hear the person in the car u r in. When in a car or anywhere at night time, it’s too dark to even read the lip of someone talking to u. U need light to see.

  19. I wear both glasses and hearing aids and find that there is no absolute perfect “fix all” for everyone. My glasses need adjustments yearly and still, I am far away from having perfect eyesight. Just because you can get glasses to correct what is wrong with your eyes, ALL cannot be corrected.

    I have upgraded my hearing aids to the latest technology, which has greatly helped, but they are still not perfect. I have leaned to live with my special needs and the degree of correction they have given me and less about that which I cannot change. This allows me to enjoy my life more and worry less.

    Please enjoy your lives while you can because today, no matter how bad it may seem, is better than a tomorrow that does not arrive. One day it will happen, so enjoy each day to the fullest despite your imperfections.

  20. I have hearing loss as an adult and would agree with all 5. I would love to see you do “Five Things I Wish Every School Administrator Knew About Hearing Loss.” My family has been working so hard for years to educate school staff about hearing loss for my son. I had no idea how little gen ed school staff knew about hearing loss. They expect when a child wears hearing aids their is no longer any hearing impairment. The school audiologist confuses everyone more saying yes he has good access to sound. In audiologist terms this means he is consistent wearing his aids and FM system. To the non audiologist the statement is often interpreted as his hearing is all good with his aids on. The executive director of special services told me directly to my face that my son needs no services as he has good access to sound. I feel like we are in the dark ages when talking about hearing loss. Modern hearing aids have come so far, yet still don’t amplify higher frequency well, where most hearing loss is. I don’t even bother wearing my aids at work due to all the background noise.

  21. My dad has experienced hearing loss for years, and I’m sure he would agree with everything you said here. It is a definite challenge.

  22. I agree with a lot of these points but disagree about the allowing others to speak for me. My friends and family often help me out by answering questions I don’t hear, if they know the answer. For example, I am paying but don’t hear the question about the receipt they will say “Yes, she does.” Because I always do. Or they may answer the waitress if I would like another drink because they know I didn’t hear but want one. Making the person repeat themselves just causes more work for everyone and often I don’t hear them even the second time.

    I see it like holding the door open for someone who has their hands full. It is not demeaning, It is a kind, loving, helpful thing to do.

    But I have had several friends tell me they have been approached later by others lecturing them about what an awful thing for them to do. That is not right. Not all of the disabled have the same preferences.

    • Hi Marie. Thanks for sharing your point of view. You are right that everyone has their own preferences for some of these things. The most important thing is to let others know what you want. Thanks for your comment.

  23. My daughter and son both have Usher Syndrome, which is hearing loss combined with vision loss. They both struggle in a million little, often unnoticed ways to get through their days. I appreciate your five points very much – I’ll be sharing them.
    I would add to the list one simple thing: LESS IS MORE. Less volume, less speed, fewer words.
    When you’re talking to a hearing-impaired person, especially a child and they didn’t understand what you said, please don’t simply say the same thing over, at the same rapid pace, just at a higher volume. Slow down, maybe simplify your sentences to include fewer words, and make sure to enunciate.
    I can’t tell you how many times my daughter said in frustration, “I know they said SOMETHING, it just went by too fast and too complicated for me to sort out.”

  24. So is it wrong for me to share this with all my work colleges just so they have an understanding of what I go through every day or does it seem I’m looking for sympathy?

  25. I saw no mention of tinnitus. The sounds created by your own brain compete with purposeful noise. It’s hard enough to have hearing loss, but when you have three or four loud high pitch frequencies being projected, it’s darn near impossible to discern speech!
    Unless you’ve been there, it’s pretty hard to relate to.
    I thought is was worthy of mention.

  26. Agree with all of these! all I would add is – don’t talk behind me – kinda the flip side of look at me when you talk but so few people remember, even family. Also if we are in a noisy environment it is going to be double hard for me to understand what you are saying.

  27. Another thought, it’s not nice to tease someone with hearing. It’s like teasing someone who talks with a lisp. They can`t help it if they have a speech impediment. And in that vein, people who insist on talking with their hand over their mouth are not only being rude to people with hearing loss but to everyone else.

  28. On the side topic of belittling, teasing, making fun of, joking about etc. the Hearing Impaired.

    It IS the last disability that is considered shameful, somehow being HoH causes judgementalism to rear it’s ugly head. Many of us don’t do anything about getting help because we are ashamed or embarrassed.

    It IS the last disability that is joked about and for which people are demeaned.

    It is a disability that even family members who see us struggle to understand ask: are you sure you need hearing aids? you’re just ignoring me! Oh, s/he tunes me out when s/he doesn’t want to hear me.

    At work this disability can result in you being questioned: Are you alright? or Can’t you HEAR anything? No, you need to try to understand this stuff better!

    Now, lets get off our pity-pots, people. People are ignorant and each of us can become wonderful educators. Get out there, be brave and talk about your hearing loss. The more people meet us and learn, the easier it will be for society to change.

    I consider it a bit of an honor to say, “I really want to communicate with you. I’m HoH and need your help and here’s how…”

  29. Shari! You have obviously turned over a huge rock and revealed scores of bugs that are crawling around the HoH community. I feel I have finally discovered my support group 🙂 . It occurs to me that the epidemic insensitivity the general population have toward those of us who have hearing loss is because they hear quite well in comparison. They are simply ignorant of the hearing impaired experience. What’s needed is training. What if HLAA set up booths in malls across the country (so easy to say) and asked people to insert those in-ear protectors that shooters wear and then try to hold a conversation with two or three people – in a noisy mall. I wonder if this would accurately mimic hearing loss? I intend to try this soon with my partner in life. I’m not sure this is a valid experiment but it is at least a start.

  30. I think medicare should cover hearing aids at least new pair every 3-5 years. They cover part of eye glasses. I think many accidents could be prevented if a person is hearing better

  31. The ADA – there needs to be education there to help them see us as “Disabled.” I don’t want to blame the ‘victims’ here… However, I wonder if some of the problem is how many of us Fake It. What if we all stopped nodding, saying “hum, interesting” and just said, “This environment is so loud I have No Idea what you’re saying!” Wonder if the ADA getting a deluge of complaints from us, companies, families and businesses that said – Make it a Requirement to provide Hearing Loops – Magnetic whatevers everywhere… What would they do?
    Also on the theaters having the technology to let us hear through our HAs… Not in any but Mega-cities. When I ask locally I get quizzical looks and “huh?”

  32. One last word about entertainment. I stopped going to Opera or Symphony because of the cacophony of noise my ears couldn’t handle.
    Recently, I was invited to “Go to the MET” to see a Live Televised Opera. If you like drama, emotion, music and understanding what’s being said/sung…. You MUST go to one of these presentations at a local (or semi-local) theatre. Inadvertently they have provided the HoH with a rich, emotional experience that is understandable. Gorgeous productions that give more in depth focus to main characters and to the pageantry and splendor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
    After we left the theater, we talked and talked about the story, music and production. I was included because I understood and was swept away just as were my friend. Wow!
    A small thing that makes me deeply happy and content, even though I am HoH. A pleasure to share with y’all….

  33. Well I need a flashing light on my head to explain to drivers why they are just behind me at 2 mph and I don’t get out of the way. And flowers for my wife when she gets mad because I’m not listening ) And t 5 in the article of course.

  34. A couple things added might be helpful. I have been impaired for quite a while and wear aids. I’ve noticed a time delay while the brain computes what’s being said, a sort of analyzing input from facial and lip movements plus the context of the words pertaining to previous conversation. More than a few times I have people ask if I heard them, when I have ,but still processing.
    I now look people directly in the face when their speaking and I think people appreciate this rather than find it disconcerting. Who wouldn’t like some one giving their full attention while they are speaking. One last thing, I hope people realize if we talk too loud, that it’s hard to gage volume of our own voice with hearing aids.

  35. Great article. Thanks for sharing this 5 tips. I think understanding these will really improve the quality of the life of the person with a hearing problem.

  36. I just find it so amazing how people react to my hearing loss. They look at me like Im stupid, they are impatient and they continue to talk to me from the other room even though they know better. I want to hear what others have to say so much that sometimes I pretend that I hear and that often comes back to bite me. Im just trying the best I can and its so frustrating. I feel like its a disability but I look normal so people have no patience. Especially when its my own family!! It makes me feel so unloved when this happens. I didnt ask for this.

  37. Trying to explain to people what it’s like living with hearing loss is very tricky. Great article. Point number 4 comes up alot when I’m speaking to people with hearing loss.

  38. I started losing hearing at a young age. Currently, I only have on hearing aid in the right ear because it was the worst of the two when I got it. I am in need of one for the left ear, but I cannot afford it. I work in an office setting, and this past fall when the amplifier had to be replaced, I was without my BTE device for several weeks. Several long weeks of almost complete silence. I had forgotten just how isolating that silence can be, and as I am the only person I know who lives in this vacuum, I struggled to get through those weeks of snarky comments, jokes at my expense, rolling eyes, and dismissive attitudes.

    My comments on what I wish hearing people knew:

    1. My hearing loss was not a choice. I don’t choose not to hear them. I just can’t. So rolling their eyes me when I have to ask them to repeat something 10 times because they refuse to write it down, IM, or text me, doesn’t make me feel comfortable. It makes me feel like a burden. I don’t have selective hearing (because really, don’t they think I would CHOOSE to hear the way they can?)

    2. My hearing loss is not a joke. Silently mouthing words and then asking me what you said is not funny. Saying what to me a dozen times then laughing is not funny.

    3. I cannot hear them with their heads turned away, with their hands covering their mouth, or when they talk behind me. And coming up behind me and grabbing my shoulder because they are angry I am not listening to them is not good to do with someone who is HoH and has PTSD from abuse.

    4. Hearing aids do not cure hearing loss. I mean…..

    5. When I reply to what I think I heard, and the response makes no sense, the correct thing to do is not to mock me.

    6. Stop asking me why I’m being so rude and ignoring them. I don’t need to “wake the f up” or “just learn to pay attention” or “stop using my selective hearing.” I’m not using it as an excuse.

    7. Don’t yell at me to turn the TV down and use the captions, informing me that “they make things like that for people like you” and then come into the room and sit down and complain that the captions are on because they are annoying.

    8. Don’t ask me to come over and promise “only a few people will be there” only for me to find out there are dozens of people on top of music and other noise and then get annoyed I’m not talking to anyone.

    Just a few things off the top of my head, but I tried not to repeat what was in the post. Thank you for this.

  39. I can communicate effectively with my husband and many of my friends because they speak slowly and enunciate their words when we communicate. I have asked my son repeatedly to talk slowly and enunciate when he speaks with me. He says that if he does so, he is not being “himself”. He says that I am the only person who doesn’t understand what he is saying, and that it is up to me to “communicate” to him that I can’t understand him by telling him (each time) that I can’t understand him. If I were to do this, I would be saying it 500 times a day. Why can’t he just slow down and enunciate when he talks to me instead of expecting me to repeat to him (ad infinitum, ad nauseum) that I can’t understand him?

    • Hi Mae and Shari,

      I am both HoH and a Marriage and Family Therapist. I might have some tricks you can try. My family has the same problem, thankfully they all learned that it’s not me that’s the problem.

      It’s possible that our children feel hurt that we don’t respond to them the way they wish we would. I know my sons had a hard time, both felt rejected and lost, when my hearing loss became severe.

      One trick is to get a really heavy duty pair of ear protectors. The over the ear kind. Have the child (teen, adult etc) put those on and spend as much of a day as possible with them on. They will gain immense insight into hearing loss. No earbuds!

      Another would be to enlist your Audiologist. Ask if your child can sit in the sound booth with the ear plugs in and do the spoken words hearing test only in reverse. The Audiologist says the words at the volume YOU can hear. This way the person in the booth has to decipher the words while only hearing the level of sound you hear.

      As an MFT, I will say that teenagers (in particular) tend to be selfish and self-centered and they have little compassion for parents who aren’t meeting their expectations. They are on stage (hence the “I won’t be ‘me’ if I speak differently.”) and trying to figure our who they are and which direction they should go. It’s a horrible time of life – I’m so glad we survived!

      Consider finding a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and meeting a few times. MFT’s are trained in Systems Therapy. You have a family system that isn’t functioning at optimal level. The therapist can assist with communication skills training to facilitate true communication for your family.

      I think it will always be a struggle at home and out in the world. HoH folks don’t seem “impaired,” we look normal, we sound pretty normal and we CAN hear (no matter how tiny the hearing is and how much assistive technology we use). Remember, the problem is not you. The problem is mechanical, it is physical. I have a bad knee – but I am not a bad knee and I don’t need to let that identify me.


  40. I would add if I don’t hear you or the person by you, DON”T say she can’t hear anything, You can’t have a conversation with her. It is a lot easier for people to speak a little louder Than it is for hard of hearing folks to hear a little better. We can’t squint our ears.

    • Oh MJ I so wish they did too. But they can’t by magic. So I’ve taken it upon myself to let people know in many ways(I talk to my family members and friends, I was lucky enough to be able to write a guest blog, I share good articles on Facebook, etc.) and am so thankful for people like Shari to help us all get the word out. With both Facebook and my guest blog I’ve had some long time friends (who’ve known me before and after hearing loss) tell me – “I really never knew. Thank you.”

      It’s hard. But we have to own it and help educate others. Peace my friend 😉

    • “they” may not know, but “we” do….we all face our own differing battles. Sharing your frustration with caring people in your life at the appropriate times is a healthy practice.

  41. If I’m in a restaurant, I can usually understand the conversations better if I’m in a booth, because people are situated either right next to me or facing me. I don’t have an extreme hearing loss, so I don’t really have as many problems in quiet situations, but I do hate it when I go to a restaurant with a bunch of other ladies and everybody is talking to people waaaay down the table instead of the people near them and stuff.

    • That’s interesting because I’d rather NOT sit at a booth. If I sit where my back is resting on the back of the seat, I am likely too far from the speaker across the table to hear best. If that’s the case, then I’m leaning forward and straining to hear, especially if the other person is leaning back against THEIR seat.

      • That is interesting. I guess it depends on the size of the booth. It is up to all of us to experiment and see what works for us as individuals. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • Obviously depends on the individual and the group and the restaurant. What I have found that if in a larger group (8 or above) it’s going to be difficult whatever. These groups tend to be at long tables so I try not to sit at the end but in the middle of one side. That way I have the most chance to see the person’s face and be closer to more people.

        With smaller groups and when going to dinner with my father who is more HOH than I, we try to find a booth. And even better a corner booth and have my father sit in the corner. That way the two side walls shield from restaurant noise and other diners. Again, this is the opportunity to speak up and ask for the seating you would prefer. I find most restaurants are very accommodating unless extremely busy.

      • Well, when dining with large groups, I like booths better than those really long tables because sitting in a booth basically forces the other people sitting there to talk mostly to the people in that booth, whereas if you sit at one of the long, three-to-five-tables-squished-together places, the other people will tend to try to talk to people who are like three seats down the table, and I’m stuck just kinda sitting there barely talking to anyone. 😛

      • I think the number of people makes a difference. Even if I sit in the middle of the table –if it’s larger– I’ll likely not be able to hear the most distant people. I’m speaking about a small table for 2-4 people which is better for me.

      • Try to book a circular table but preferably not in the centre of the room .. go on be a nuisance! Bon apetite!

  42. This is a great discussion! I have HA’s that allow me to focus on the conversation in front of my face and they block out some of the noise behind me. I used to sit with my back to the wall – now I sit with my back to the room. I just realized I was blocking the bounce of sound that hit the wall and letting in the room noise. Now I block the room noise and the bounce of sound isn’t so bad that I can’t hear my close companions.
    I do think that no matter what – eating out is really hard. I praise restaurants who have sound management in place. When we walk into a restaurant that hits us with a roar of sound – we give our regrets and leave. Our friends have learned to check with us on which restaurants are best when our group has plans.
    I hope everyone is using breathing techniques to manage stress, tension and anxiety in situations like this. Breathe deeply and quickly in – say to a 4 count – then hold for 3 and out slowly – say to a 6 or 8 count. Do it 3 times while smiling and not talking. I believe it makes my experience better and helps me hear more easily.
    Best Year to all!

  43. I hate it when I explain to someone that I am HOH and ask them to repeat themselves and then they continue whispering. Again I have to say “I can’t hear you. Can you please repeat that?” Then they repeat it and are still whispering. I actually had a family member roll their eyes at me at Christmas when I had to repeatedly ask them to “say it again.” That really made me angry and hurt to be treated this way because of my disability, especially by a family member.

    • I have a couple of tricks I use in these situations. After I’ve stated “Remember, I’m hard of hearing.” and asked the person to speak more slowly or raise their volume and they’ve not listened (lol):
      I say “Could you say that in a different way, please. I’m just not getting it and I know it’s important to you that I understand.”
      Should that fail: I
      look at them utterly blankly and say: “I’m sorry, were you speaking to me? I didn’t hear a thing you said. You know I am Hard of Hearing, right?”
      And last…. particularly with family:
      “Well, I’ve asked you to speak up, restate and to look at me and you’ve not done so. I guess you don’t care that I understand what you’re saying. Excuse me.” and walk away.
      That list goes from least to most assertive.
      I always try to make a group announcement, at the beginning of festivities with family, stating that I’m Hard of Hearing and may not be able to understand under the noise of others words flying around. I position myself for best hearing (facing away from the biggest source of light) and set my HAs on the setting that closes off noise behind me.
      Good luck, Lisa.

    • Eye rolling? That’s a daily thing at my house when I say ” I didn’t hear you”. I get it from both my 16 yr old daughter and my husband. Th y are the ones who are supposed to be most sensitive to my hearing loss, but they are not. My husband tells me if I don’t hear something then I need to say ” I didn’t hear you” instead of trying to guess what was said. But if I don’t pretend to hear, I get the eye roll when I speak up and say I didn’t hear.

    • Lisa I know what you mean my children often roll their eyes when I can’t hear them or when I aske them to repeat they say “it doesn’t matter” my problem is they sometimes think I choose not to hear because sometimes I hear them say things that they think I shouldn’t have heard. I would love to have a leaflet or something to show them that simply explains that sometimes pitch and tone make a difference. I love the Wheel of Fortune analogy it is so true.

  44. As a RN and a hearing impaired person with HA’s I find that in stressful situations sometimes it is hard to clearly articulate to families what needs to be said for them to understand. Most of the time it isn’t a problem but occasionally it can be. I recently, just this week asked a physician to explain and answer some questions for a family. Later I asked them again to please talk with family and then proceeded to let them know the questions so they could be prepared for the answers. I also reminded him of my hearing impairment and that although I may know “in my brain” what I want to say it doesn’t always come out that way and can be confusing to others. That MD then responded while chuckling that I was wrong that that had “nothing to do with your hearing impairment” proceeded to chuckle while in the presence of other doctors who didn’t know my disability. I have a BSN and have been practicing nursing for 20 years. I was belittled, embarrassed, and humiliated to say the least. I wish that people could understand that concept about speech recognition with hearing impairment and the ability to speak in stressful circumstances. These are all great tips. Thanks for the article. I’m sharing.

  45. When organising Conferences, I always position a table in the centre middle of the room for anyone who is hard-of-hearing, and request speakers to use the microphone, look to the audience when speaking, ensure their lips are visible (lighting is so important), and to always repeat the audience question before answering it.
    In the past, I have tried asking the audience to always step forward to use the microphone for their questions, and it just doesn’t work – there is always some audience member who says “I’ve got a big voice” and proceeds without. So, if the moderator/speaker always repeats the question into the microphone, it helps in 2 ways – the audience gets to hear and understand, and the speaker gets extra thinking time for answering the question!
    I have ensured the above whilst working with Quota International clubs around the world.

  46. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was a teenager. By then it was to late. I was dead last in my school. I gave up very early. I thought all teachers sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown. They said I had A.D.D. Got that wrong. Thank god they didn’t have the drugs back then because they would have had me on them. I spent junior and senior years in rehabs and a halfway house anyway. My childhood was a total humiliation. I developed a very low self esteem and took any escape I could. Good advice but most people never get it.

  47. I agree with all of these 100%. I am so tired of people saying “Never mind” when I ask if they can repeat what they said. And I feel SO EMBARRASSED whenever I blurt out the wrong answer. For example, someone asked, “What do you think of the day today?” and my answer was just “Yes”, then he looked at me kinda weirdly and I felt my face burn. I mean I heard him but apparently, I heard something differently. I also hate going to school dances because the music is so loud that I can barely hear people.

    • OMG YES I TOTALLY KNOW ABOUT ANSWERING WRONGLY! Oops, umm sorry, but yes, I do understand and it’s very annoying. With my situation, I have to repeat things so many times that I get bored of it and just reply with “yeah, I know,” or “Sure” or something, and sometimes I answer wrongly. It’s super frustrating. I know your feels :3

  48. as an hearing impaired it not an easy way road ,full of surprises in life but we got to love our self and the rest live it up to God. nobody perfect in this world.
    self love.

  49. I have health issues and live alone. I have been hard of hearing all of my life but nobody believed me until I was in my 30’s. The dr’s did an xray and gave a me sound test which confirmed what I had been trying to tell people all along. I ended up with hearing aids but they wasn’t helping much. I now have a cochlear which is still not 100%. I hate talking on the phone and making appointments. I try to email them and tell them my situation but they reply back just to tell me to call. It’s so frustrating

    • Please, please give this a try Beaty! I have this device and it helps so much with making appointments and talking to my sister and friends. It is Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).
      Please, this is free and available to anyone who has an audiologist!

      1). Go to
      2. Click the green “Request Phone” button at the top of the page.
      3. Enter the Promo Code CPE428928 and your contact information.
      4. Click “Save”

      If you prefer, you can call CaptionCall Customer Servide at 1-877-557-2227 and give them your information (this wouldn’t work for me – I can’t hear on the phone!).

      All you need to get started is:
      * High Speed Internet Connection.


      • Gina,

        First thing is that you need internet, if you don’t CaptionCall won’t work.

        You sign up with CaptionCall. They bring a phone to your home and enable your account to use your tablet or favorite device. They set you up, explaining everything and you try the phone while they are there.

        When I make a call, I either use my phone or my iPad. I use the phone just like a regular phone – it doesn’t go through phone lines though, it uses the internet! Free Calling! I talk to folks normally and when they speak, there is a small delay as their speech is written out on my phone screen and I answer using only speech.

        Boy is this great, I can understand every word because I see it.

  50. Though I don’t have hearing loss, both of my daughters had profound losses. I have a little idea of what they deal with, in that I have Tinnitus, which masks high frequency sounds. The constant 2000hz whistle I have competes with speech, often requiring me to ask people to repeat and turning up the TV and radio. Background noise makes it worse. Hearing aids do nor help as my hearing is normal, all that is offered is masking it with white noise, which I don’t do. Id love to be able to turn the noise in my head off!

  51. Hi – the worst thing for me is when I am with a friend, and that friend KNOWS VERY WELL that I have hearing loss, and yet he/she continues to speak softly. AARGH!!! I ask them once to please speak a little louder, which they do, but then they immediately “forget” I guess and go right back to speaking softly. I don’t get it. If I knew my friend or relative was hard of hearing, I would remember that, be mindful, and be conscious of it at all times, speaking louder than I usually would. I guess they just don’t want to expend the energy it takes to speak a little louder. Sigh

    • I hear you! I get this with my 16 year old daughter- she will speak quickly and barely above a whisper and when I ask her to slow down and say it again louder, she will roll her eyes at me and say “never mind” or ” I’m not repeating myself “. I told her she may be deaf one day!

      • Hi Tina: Absolutely. The teenagers seem to be the worst when it comes to speaking fast! I love your answer to her, “You may be deaf one day.” I remember making fun of my mom a few years ago (feel HORRIBLE about it now), about different age-related things, and her reply to me was, “You’ll be old one day.” I will never forget this. Makes me feel so bad now. Hopefully your daughter will be able to understand how difficult it is for us and be a bit more sensitive. Take care

    • Awww, I’m sorry about that, and I know the struggle is real XD But I can’t really complain because almost all of my friends are very loud and talk slow, so it is nice :3

  52. I have had a hearing loss since 4th grade or unknown reasons and got my hearing aids in the end of 5th grade. I COMPLETELY agree with everything this says, especially the exhaustion and having to repeat things. What I hate most is when I ask people to say a phrase again and they think I am being rude and don’t repeat it. Before I got my hearing aids or even knew I had a hearing loss, after school I always needed to have ‘alone time’ which no one in my family understood until my hearing issues were discovered. Thank you, this helped when I was explaining things to my friends!

    • Having had 2 deaf daughters , I learned some of what was shared, but learned more when I acquired Tinnitus! My hearing is normal, but the tinnitus blocks out many high frequency sounds. Add background noise to that and I have many of the problems you describe! One of my daughters , when I described what I hear, whistles, hissing and rumbles, 24 hours a day, said”Oh Mom that’s awful! ” This from my profoundly deaf daughter. We did have something in common!

  53. Every one of those is right on the money. I’d add “Don’t just say ‘never mind’ instead of repeating yourself when I ask what you said.” Oh, that drives me crazy. I’m single-sided deaf, not emotionless. “Never mind” is extremely hurtful, especially when it’s said often.

    One of my workarounds for eating out: When I eat in a restaurant, I ask to be seated by a wall, with a wall behind me too, if possible. I sit with my good ear facing the wall, so that sound from my table bounces off the wall or walls and I have a better chance of hearing it. With no one behind me, there’s no cross-talk to interfere. I make it clear that I do not mind waiting extra time for that kind of seating and don’t mind if others who came in after me are seated before me. I’ve learned that waiting for the right table is worth it.

    It would be helpful for those in positions of serving people to understand we don’t ask for special seating arrangements so that we can be difficult. We understand that you want to rotate where you seat people so that all servers get fair treatment. However, I’m at your establishment because I want to enjoy it. I cannot enjoy it if I cannot even hear my dinner companions. I’ve had mostly good experiences, but there have been a few times where I’ve had to ask to be moved to a different location from what they chose, or I’ve simply been refused special consideration–as in “We don’t do that here” and then they proceeded to seat me in the middle of the room. I refused to sit and we left after words with the management. Ridiculous. We’ve never been back.

  54. I have been deaf in my right ear since birth, I’m 36 now and my immediate family still forgets. Thank goodness for texting!

    Every time mom visits, she complains about my poor speech, inability to hear, or my confusion in loud setting. My dad has been yelling at me forever to get a hearing aid, even though multiple doctors and ear people have said there’s no point, the nerve ending in my ear are stunted and it would just make a screeching noise for me.

    I know everyone thinks I’m kind of the oddball black sheep of the group, but I really just prefer to stay home. Big gatherings I avoid, and talking on the phone drives me nuts. I’m always terrified to take my kids somewhere because if I loose sight of them, I can’t find them easily.

    Thankfully I found someone as reclusive as myself (prior military) and we get along well. Neither of us can hear a thing, but we yell across the house and have conversations anyway. Most people think we are loud and aggressive, we aren’t – we are loud because we are deaf. Ha!

    • Check out having CaptionCall brought to your home, hooked up & added to your mobile device. Fed pays! Sam’s club used to put the applications in but ant audiologist can do it for you. You SEE what others are saying ( after a bit of delay).

  55. I have central hearing disability, and a few things that irritate me is that if I have to ask people to repeat what they said, more often than not they get impatient really fast and start yelling, or say never mind. All of which I find insulting and really unhelpful for self esteem. It happens to me almost daily and being excluded from whatever conversation you’re trying really hard to have,just to be blown away with a “never mind” is very alienating. Also in school a lot of background noises were distracting, and I missed a lot of what was being said by the teacher even though I had to sit as close as possible to the teacher, and I would come home completely exhausted. I always told my teachers of my disability and gave tips on how to make sure I’m paying attention; but the majority of the time they ignored these tips, and made no effort to accommodate my needs. I also recently contacted a school for information regarding their programs by email and stated that I had a hearing disability, yet the insisted to talk on the phone instead, which is incredibly difficult for me because of the sound distortion and crackling.

  56. Im so happy to read this. These are the exact things i face in my everyday life. Sometimes even worse than them. But im glad that there are some people out there who know how bad it feels, who can undrrstand my pain of losing my proper hearing ability. May god bless you all with good health like never before. Amen

  57. I have been deaf in my right ear all my life and I can’t tell the direction of sound. It can be dangerous and, of course, is annoying. Eating at round tables is really difficult because I can only hear two or three people to my left–the rest I can’t hear–and I can’t carry on a conversation. Also, flat screen tvs don’t have very good sound, but I get closed captions (thank goodness). And cell phones are not as clear as landline phones, especially when people use speaker phone. Voices are distorted and go in and out. Very frustrating to say the least. My parents started to lose their hearing as they aged, and now the hearing in my good ear is starting to diminish, so I hope some breakthrough will occur in hearing-aid technology, as hearing aids haven’t helped me so far (nerve deafness of inner ear). But I am really thankful for the one ear I have. Otherwise, my world would be so different!

  58. I wish I had known much earlier about Shari Eberts’ FB page and blogs. That just so much sooner I’d have found understanding and support. The more our problems are discussed and shared not only with each other but with the insensitive uneducated “normal” world, it will really help. I am very intelligent and did well in school and am thankful that my teachers were sensitive to my needs. It’s the adult world that’s been tough for me. I was lucky and had a union job for 33 yrs – am now retired with a pension. But, even though I was a skilled cook and people loved my food, I was pushed out of a lead cook position due to my hearing loss and this also just happened to me with having an important volunteer job taken away from me because I ‘lacked leadership skills” It’s very hard. Groups in the normal world are very insensitive and discriminating. I think it’s easier to make individual friendships with nice people who accept you. Don’t even ask me about my family and my husband(s) Their attitude towards me has not been what it should have been and when I say anything about my hearing loss bothering them – they come up with 50 million different excuses and blaming ME for any relationship problems (“it’s your attitude, etc”

  59. This is a great article thank you for it ^^
    I am hard of hearing, i have hearing aids but they don’t help me, as u said they aren’t like glasses. So i find the most difficult thing is to explain that to people. Most of the times I say to them that I have hearing loss and i hear with hearing aids, they tell me you have hearing aids so you hear!! And that’s true I hear but I can’t distinguish letters sometimes cuz I’m lipreading and u know lip reading is not perfect! All this idea I have difficulty to explain it to people because i will have to explain a loot .. and that might not fit the situation. If u know some brief way to explain the whole idea let me knoow 😉 I will be grateful .

  60. Thank you so much for this article! Finally found something I can use to explain my condition, particularly my employer. I have conductive & sensorineural deafness (referred to as mixed hearing loss) and been like this since I was 2 years old after catching measles at that age. How I made it through school and all the jobs i have have done in itself is a miracle. I don’t have a well paid job & probably never will. I recently had an accident when I attended an acoustic concert (my ears are sensitive to high pitch noises), I have attended many concerts in my life without problems but this was my first time at an acoustic version, I took time off work due to the incredible tinnitus noises I was experiencing & had my hearing tested again which showed it had declined a fair bit in my left ear, this rendered my digital hearing aids at that time useless, i had to wait to 3 weeks for a new pair of aids, I was off work for entire period as my job involves a lot of communication. I returned to work & was hit with a written sickness warning as the reason for my sick leave constituted towards an unacceptable level of absence. This really angered me but I carried on in work & put in an appeal which took 7 weeks to reach a decision! Fortunately I won my appeal. Then all my emotions I had suppressed came pouring out causing me to collapse & got took into hospital, was eventually diagnosed with mental fatigue caused by the sickness warning/appeal process. I am now off work again due to this. I can’t thank you enough for this article as it is something I am going to present to my employer when I do return to work, I work for the UK civil service by the way. They class themselves as a disability confident leader!! Thanks again for this & good luck to everyone fighting for proper awareness of this incredibly misunderstood condition.

    • Oh my goodness! I am sorry you had to go through this difficult experience. I hope the post will help you explain your condition to others. Best of luck to you.

  61. I would like to add that I am looking for pity, I do not need people to feel sorry for me. I need people to think of ways to make communication better between us. Full accessibility is for everyone not just for a few. If I do not have full accessibility I do not have full information and can not make an informed decision as to what is best for me.
    A few tips that help me: 1. Check the lighting in the room, too high of a light will put a glare on everything, too low will make it hard for me to see your face.
    2. Cut the background noise, as much as that sweet music is it is harder to hear conversations it playing.
    3. In a group setting, speak one at a time. Not only is it rude to speak over top of each other, it is very difficult for me to follow what is being said.
    4. Make sure you have my attention before asking me something important.
    5. Check in with me to make sure I am getting the flow of the conversation, do not assume I heard it all.

    I know it seems like those of us who are hard of hearing, Deaf, are asking the world to accommodate us, but really you do it for others who are in a wheelchair, have canes, or other difficulties, why not for us as well. WE are not asking much just to be included that is all. Is that so hard to do? Thank you

  62. Something that I find helpful when I don’t hear something the first time is to ask the speaker to re phrase the comment or question: it really can make a difference😀

  63. This blog is priceless. My grandparents were totally deaf and I never realized just how difficult hearing loss can be until I began to suffer sever hearing loss a couple of years ago. I am constantly reminding myself to have a lot of grace for others, as they really do not understand. If we don’t explain what our needs are, they have no way of knowing!

  64. Hi I have been suffering with hearing loss that is getting progressively worse. I am a teacher and even with the investment of digital expensive hearing aids I am finding it harder and harder in the classroom. At the moment I do explain to the kids I have some hearing loss, accept the teasing that sometimes happens and crass comments from one or two students who thinks it’s funny, but I run over that with humour myself. The kids get it! But as time has gone on I am finding it harder and harder in my large classroom environment to hear answers. Occasionally I find myself saying, “yes that could be an answer” even when I haven’t heard what was actually said.
    I am seriously thinking about leaving the profession mainly because I feel that if I can’t hear my pupils I’m not able to do my job as effectively as it should be done. I am close to 55 next April and teaching can be a bit cut throat at the best of times around this age. I’d like to find out if I would be entitled to take invalidity as a teacher with my CARE pension? My place of work is not very sympathetic and even after asking my union for advice not much was forthcoming.
    It’s a shame to think along with this problem there are so many others that don’t allow us to stay doing what we love!

    • Hi. Perhaps you’ve tried aids like the MDEX where you wear a necklace type of receiver and the microphone goes near the speaker? Or aids used in large conference rooms may help in the classroom? I certainly do not know if these would help you but you may want to consider them if you haven’t. Usually audiologists will loan these out to you to try.

  65. Thanks so much for your article. I had shared before with my Facebook Friends that I am Hard of Hearing, but you described it so much better than I ever could have. I reposted this immediately.

    I also shared this with my immediate family. I have said all these things to them many times, but they have a tendency to “forget.”

  66. Shari thanks for your blog and your 5 reasons I have had a hearing for as long as I can remember have tried hearing aids but they were no good I love your comparison to wheel of fortune because that is exactly what it is like for me. I have never had anyone who understood this but sometimes I hear things that are spoken quietly (usually in a quieter environment) I know that sometimes it is about pitch and tone of the voice of the person talking but this adds to the belief in others that I have selective hearing or only hear what I want to hear which I find incredibly frustrating. Reading all the comments but others with very similar problems has been a help because having a hearing loss that is not deafness is greatly misunderstood and incredibly isolating. I can empathize with those people talking about restaurants in big groups where there is lots of noise in the background making it impossible for me to hear what is being said so I just drop out of the conversations because you can only ask someone to repeat themselves before you give up (usually because they have become frustrated). When I am walking beside some one I have to have them on my right side otherwise I struggle to hear them speak and when I go to position myself on that side often they move over stopping me from going to their left and then I have to explain what I am doing. I really feel that there needs to be a campaign to highlight the issues for those of us who have mild hearing loss and the difficulties we face and the frustration caused when people either say never mind or that you have selective hearing I did not choose to have a hearing difficulty but some people seem to think it is a choice. Well done for your blog.

  67. do you mind if I copy and paste your 5 things article and put on a sheet to hand to people.

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