I like the idea of creating a more objective way to describe hearing loss that is easy to understand and to communicate to others, similar to the 20/20 metric used in vision. But hearing is more complicated than vision, which may make this method overly simplistic. In my latest article for Hearing Tracker, I discuss the pros and cons of the proposed Hearing 20/20 program. An excerpt from the article is below. To read the full post click here.
What is 20/20 Hearing?
The term “hearing loss” is an awkward and imprecise way to describe a complex concept. When I mention to people that I have hearing loss, sometimes they assume I do not hear any sounds at all and use sign language to communicate. Other times the opposite occurs, and because I wear hearing aids, they expect me to hear things perfectly. For most of us with hearing loss, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. We hear well in some situations but struggle in others. It can be confusing for people who have not experienced it themselves.
These contradictions also make it tricky to explain our hearing loss to others. It is hard to know what words to use, or how to describe how hard of hearing we actually are. The current characterizations of “mild” or “profound” hearing loss leave a lot to the imagination; and for people with hearing loss, the descriptions don’t often ring true. How can we call hearing loss mild if it disrupts communication? It certainly doesn’t feel mild when it cuts us off from friends, family or co-workers. I’ve often wondered if there is a better way.
What is a Hearing Number?
One suggestion was offered this October, when several hearing loss companies and non-profits teamed up to launch a new public health campaign known as Hearing 20/20. In it, they put forth a new and objective measure for hearing. Similar to the well-known 20/20 standard used to represent typical vision, this program suggests we use a 20/20 metric for typical hearing too. They call this a hearing number and assert that we should all know ours, just like most people know their measurement of vision.
For more discussion, continue reading on Hearing Tracker.