Sometimes I Forget How Hard It Is for Me to Hear

Thanksgiving was the first time our extended family had come together in two years. All eight of us were hyped up, excitedly talking at once in our attempts to say everything we had missed sharing during the pandemic. Cross-talk abounded. Our voices reverberated and bounced around the high ceilings and hard surfaces of my in-laws new home. I didn’t care. It was wonderful to be back celebrating together.

After the meal, we gathered together to watch The Great British Baking show—everyone’s favorite. We had all held off watching the show until we could be together. As the opening credits rolled, I knew it was going to be a challenge.

“Let’s put on the captions,” I suggested and they were immediately engaged.

“Can we turn it up a bit?” my husband asked. I was happy he was the one that requested this additional action. He couldn’t hear at this level either. As the volume rose louder and louder, my sister-in-law said, “Wow! I don’t think we have ever had it this loud.”

She was not complaining, just observing. But I felt like crying as it hit me how hard it is for me to hear. During the pandemic, I had almost forgotten.

Sometimes I forget how hard it is for me to hear. Until I am sadly reminded by a difficult listening situation.

Had I Forgotten About My Hearing Loss?

In some ways, the pandemic constantly reminded me about my hearing loss. The masks, the move to virtual meetings, and the plastic barriers in stores all made it difficult to communicate easily with others. But these things made it harder for everyone else too—hearing loss or not.

Surprisingly, communication was often easier in isolation. My social and business meetings took place online—most often (especially if I hosted) with Zoom’s auto-captions activated. Captions were also available for pandemic entertainment like binge-watching shows on streaming services.

When I did socialize in-person, it was in very small groups with immediate family or very close friends. It was relatively easy for me to communicate because I had control over my environment, had assistive listening devices in place as needed and kept the group size small.

As we are able to socialize more fully in the coming months (fingers crossed), we may realize we have “forgotten” about our hearing loss during the pandemic. It’s time to review the tips that worked for us in the past and embrace these new opportunities to connect with others.

How to Watch TV with Hearing Loss

At my home, it is easy for me to watch TV. I have hearing-friendly equipment and supportive family members who are willing to listen at the volume that works for me. And we always turn on closed captions. Perhaps my husband has adapted too well since he also wanted the volume higher when watching in the larger group at Thanksgiving.

If you have trouble enjoying television programs, try these tips.

1. Start with the right equipment

Most TVs today come with undersized speakers. In order to enjoy good audio, an external speaker, like a sound bar is needed. This adds complexity, but also improves sound. My post When It’s Time for A Hearing Loss Friendly TV details my search for the right sound bar for me.

2. Turn on the captions

Rule #1 for TV viewing with hearing loss is to use captions. Most of the time they are quite accurate on pre-recorded content. Live news programs and sporting events are more problematic. If you experience issues with inaccurate or poorly synchronized captions (in the United States), please report them to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) using this form. Or reach out to the provider of the content directly.

3. Create a conducive setting

Set up your room for listening success. Avoid locations with high ceilings and hard surfaces. Instead choose a more contained space and furniture with soft surfaces like couches and pillows. Choose the best seat for you so you can see the captions and hear the sound.

4. Bring the sound to your devices

If you have Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, cochlear implants or headphones, you can use a TV streaming device to bring the sound directly into your ears. Or set up a small induction loop in your TV room and connect via T-coil. Non-streaming options also exist. Plug the transmitter into the TV and the sound is heard via a linked receiver like headphones or even wearable speakers. All of these options make it harder to watch with others since ambient noise is reduced.

Readers, do you sometimes forget how hard it is for you to hear?

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7 thoughts on “Sometimes I Forget How Hard It Is for Me to Hear

  1. Thank you for the FCC link. Our television captions have been in a horrible state for months – every third line is missing! I filed a complaint and will contact our provider when I have a couple hours to waste. 🙂

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your advocacy!

  2. I have Roku on my TV and have found a really nice remote control app or my iPhone that will also send sound to blue-tooth devices. Sometimes it is really nice but at other times, my connection is horrible.Try it out and see for yourself if you have Roku

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing what works for you.

  3. Jerry Henderson – Pownal Maine – Thank you for coming to my space. This is where I post thoughts, opinions and commentary on a variety of subjects at irregular intervals. I try to do something weekly, but have not nailed down a rigid schedule, like every Wednesday, yet. If you would like email notifications of new posts, you can make that happen right on the site. Simply enter your email address to subscribe. Also, if you would like to comment I welcome that. Just do so in the space at the bottom of any selected post. Sharing thoughts, opinion and commentary is a peculiarly human characteristic. It must be exercised to be enjoyed. Jerry Henderson
    Jerry Henderson says:

    IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE! Shari, this post was great. Your holiday hearing/understanding experience was exactly what I go through just about every day here at the active senior facility where we now live. As long as I am talking face to face to one or at most two other people I can feel 100% engaged.

    I think the pandemic has made it possible for all of us to disengage from vigorous social life without guilt. I hear quite well in those “disengaged” settings. If we want to have lunch in the dining room (vaulted ceilings and hard surfaces) the true nature of my disability comes to the front. This facility was designed with appearance as the primary objective. It’s impressive, beautiful and an acoustical disaster zone.

    So, I avoid groups when I can. I usually can.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad this post resonated with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experiences.

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