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.

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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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235 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!

    Liked by 4 people

    • 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.

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    • 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.

      Liked by 1 person

    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  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.

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    • 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.

      Liked by 2 people

    • 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.

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      • The brain training is a very accurate way to put it. Very important. It’s also important for family…especially. ..to 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..

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      • 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.

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  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.

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      • 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!

        Liked by 1 person

      • 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.

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  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.

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  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:

    https://hearington.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/seeing-hearing-impairments/

    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.

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  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…

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    • 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!

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  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.

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  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! “

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  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.

    Liked by 1 person

  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.

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  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.

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    • 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

      Liked by 1 person

      • 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.

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  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.

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  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

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  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!

    Alicia
    spashionista.com

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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      • 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.”

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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…”

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  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.

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  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

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  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?”

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  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….

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  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.

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  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.

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  35. 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.

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  36. 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.

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  37. 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.

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  38. 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?

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    • 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.

      Liz

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