Announcing My Hearing Loss Helps Me Communicate Better

It takes effort to let people know about our hearing loss and educate them (perhaps for the umpteenth time) about what assistance we need from them to ease conversation. But what choice do we have? Good communication is a two-way street and without the critical step of self-identifying, difficult listening situations cannot be remedied. My latest article for HHTM discusses the importance of letting others know about your hearing loss.

See an excerpt below. Read the full piece on HHTM

Self-Identifying is Step #1 for Good Communication

During my last trip to the hair salon, I ran into a fellow parent at my children’s school. Both of our daughters had recently started college and we had much to discuss.

The questions were endless, but the conversation was challenging — at least for me — because we were both wearing masks. In the reverberant space, and without the help of lipreading cues, I struggled. I could have paused the conversation, mentioned my hearing loss, and whipped out my speech-to-text app to help, but it didn’t seem important enough. Perhaps that was a mistake. If we don’t let others know we are struggling, it is much harder to improve a difficult listening situation. 

Telling others about your hearing loss is the first step towards good communication.

Building Your Hearing Loss Script

How can you best let others know about your hearing loss? I used to avoid disclosing my hearing loss to others, held back by stigma. But now, I lead with this information. Whenever I meet someone that I am having trouble understanding, I let them know that I have hearing loss and ask them to:

  • speak louder
  • turn on the captions
  • talk slower
  • switch seats with me
  • or whatever I need them to do to help us communicate.

Being as specific as possible in our requests provides the best results. While people are often willing to help once they know you have hearing loss, they usually do not know how to assist. This is further complicated by the fact that each hearing loss is unique. The adjustments I need might not be the ones required by the next person with hearing loss they meet. The more detailed we are when describing the assistance we need, the more likely we are to get it.

Continue reading on HHTM for more ideas.

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3 thoughts on “Announcing My Hearing Loss Helps Me Communicate Better

  1. mama2russians – suburb of Detroit, MI, USA – I'm a stay at home mom. I have 2 children who have invisible special needs. I also have invisible disabilities (mostly deaf & constantly dizzy). I love to knit & crochet. We have 1 sweet dog & 3 adorable cats. We also have a 5' long reef tank! We also have a 4’ (1.1m) fresh water tank. The tanks were suggested by Easter Seals for calming the kids—it works for the whole family! Too many fish to count in the reef tank, lots of anemones (the green keeps splitting & reasimulating as water changes go!) Our son graduated in June 2022. Now he’s studying at Michigan Career & Technical Institute (MCTI) to learn how to work on engines, modify engines, maybe work on electric engines; or he can continue with woodworking. I’d like that!
    mama2russians says:

    I have 3 black masks (triple layer) that my friend embroidered for me. In bright orange, the Left side says DEAF, with an arrow pointing to my left ear. TheRight side says HEARS A LITTLE with an arrow pointing to my right ear. Only problem I have is when people only see the DEAF side & try to use ASL with me! LOL! I have to tell them I don’t know ASL. I have a hearing aid so I can hear if they speak louder & very clearly. Or I opt for the Ava app.

    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 Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. 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:

      Excellent! Thanks for sharing what works for you.

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