Sometimes a setting is optimal for conversation—like a quiet summer night—until something changes—like cicadas! As people with hearing loss, we must be willing to adapt—and ask other people to make adjustments too. My latest article for HHTM discusses the steps we can take to keep the conversation flowing, even in a tough listening environment.
See an excerpt below. Read the full piece on HHTM.
Cicada Mating Season Raises Havoc on My Hearing
Ah, summer! The warm weather and light breezes mark my favorite time of the year. I love swimming, and hiking and watching the fireflies blink on and off in the darkness after the sun goes down. It is a time for vacations, and laziness and long evenings on the porch with family and friends.
But at the end of each day as the sun sets and nighttime creeps in, the noise level jumps. Frogs start singing, crickets begin chirping and during certain weeks, the cicadas add their incessant high-pitched buzzing. Sometimes the background noise exceeds 70 decibels! With typical speech in the 60-65 decibel range, it can be almost impossible for me to hear over the background din.
How to Converse in Loud Environments
If a listening environment becomes more difficult, we must take whatever steps are needed to keep the conversation flowing.
Try these ideas.
1. Utilize communication best practices.
Ensure that everyone is following the ground rules for good communication such as speaking one at a time and keeping their face and mouth uncovered and pointed in your direction. Small changes in behavior can create big improvements in comprehension.
2. Brighten the lights.
If residual hearing is compromised, speechreading will be even more important. A well-lit environment makes it easier to see lip movements and facial cues.
3. Change the seating arrangement.
A circular table helps conversation by making everyone’s faces more visible and keeping voices projected toward the center and easier to hear. If a circular table is not available, put the people who are most difficult for you to hear across from you to aid with lipreading. You may also benefit from sitting in a corner or with a wall behind you to block out the distraction of noise from behind.
Continue reading on HHTM for more ideas.
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12 thoughts on “Hearing Loss: Someone Please Turn Down the Cicadas”
Yes those things are loud. I switched to a digital hearing aid which surprised me because it softened the sound of the cicadas. My old analog hearing aid amplified the sound so much that it was so hard to hold a conversation with my hearing peers if needed.
Interesting. Thank you for sharing your experience.
The mention of too much amplification from an analog aid reminds me of a question. I have heard that the longer a person waits to get hearing aids the less effective they are. It took me a looooong time to get hearing aids because when I first had an audiogram in my late 40s it was a “cookie bite/” That meant I could not get hearing aids because the amplification of the high of the high pitched sounds, which I could hear at 10 db, would be intolerable. So I had no amplification in the hearing range for 40 years. It seems now that digital aids allowed me to get hearing aids my comprehension is less than that of others with similar audiograms. Might that be because of all the years of uncorrected hearing?
Hearing is quite complicated so it is certainly a possibility. We must use it or lose it as the brain can rewire portions that are not utilized fully. But the good news is our brain can also rewire itself again over time. Practice (aural rehab) with hearing aids certainly improves their effectiveness. Thank you for your question.
Thanks Shari… I can’t see enough of information on this topic… Ate at Cracker Barrel at a round table last evening with relatives and couldn’t quote a sentence after event… heard little to nothing… even from folks next to me… all while wearing new hearing aids… today I hear weather radio perfectly in my car… it is an adventure… one needs to keep working at it…
It certainly is an adventure! Persistence and practice are required. Thank you for your comment.
Can you recommend online aural rehab? I think I could benefit with some practice.
That is a great question! I have not seen anything online, but perhaps others can recommend what they use. Thank you for your question.
There are so many great ones! To begin, all 3 of the cochlear implant manufacturers have listening exercises on their websites (Cochlear Americas, AB & Medel).
My favorite website to use is:
On this site they have 30 minute snipettes with some interesting stories (news, health & lifestyle, American history, etc.) But what I really like about it is that they speak very slowly. If it’s too slow for you, there are buttons that allow you to speed it up.
Podcasts are great, as well. You can listen to them on your computer or phone.
Angel Sounds: http://angelsound.tigerspeech.com/
This is a free computer program that can be downloaded to a PC computer.
To use on Mac computers, Parallels Desktop or Bootcamp (with Windows OS installed) is
Modules can be taken on sound discrimination, word recognition, music, etc. There is also a smartphone version.
Websites to Practice Speech Comprehension:
News podcasts with transcripts.
Book stories read by a variety of ‘actors’ with American accents. Subtitles accompany each page that
can be switched off. There are related activities provided for each story.
Technically for learning English as a Second Language – series of short audio stories with scripts on a
variety of topics. This site is divided into ‘easy,’ ‘medium’ and ‘difficult’ content.
These are 5-18 minute lectures on various topics with optional closed captions. They’re helpful because you can follow the presenter’s speech at your own pace, and practice listening to different words and topics. Besides just working on your hearing skills, you will find a lot of interesting and entertaining information for your personal enrichment. Some clips are available in different foreign languages which can be helpful for multilingual listeners.
I also enjoy listening to audio books. Many library systems offer audio books for free@
There are also many phone apps. Try Hear Coach, ESL Test, TOEIC, VOA Learning English
Thank you for sharing these fabulous suggestions!
This is a great list. Thank you!
Glad you found it helpful. Thank you for your comment.