Do you have a hearing loss book club? I highly recommend it.
Mine started several years ago with a few friends from my local Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) chapter. We all loved to read, but needed the extra motivation of a scheduled meeting time to help us find the time to do it. Well, at least I did!
At first, our meetings rotated among each of our homes. Surroundings were quiet, and food was simple. When the pandemic hit, we moved book club online, aided by auto-captioning and speech-to-text apps.
Whether in-person or online, the first few moments are spent arranging ourselves for optimal communication: Who should be facing who? What tech tools need to be set up and tested? Are the auto-captions enabled?
We started with hearing loss related books, but soon turned to other topics. Because of my book club, I have read many fascinating books I would never have chosen. The other members have been equally willing to read some of my favorite dystopian tales. The best part is the camaraderie and support we glean from this shared activity that we all enjoy.
Start Your Own Hearing Loss Book Club
Book clubs are well suited to people with hearing loss. Most take place in a quiet setting and because the topic is known, communication is easier. Plus, you can often pick and choose the members who make it easiest for you to participate.
Structure Your Book Club for Success
Whether your book club contains people with hearing loss or not, good communication is essential. Follow these tips for an optimal set-up.
- Keep the group small. A book club of four has worked well for us.
- Sit in a circle whenever possible to improve sight lines for speechreading.
- Set communication ground rules, like speaking one at a time and enunciating well. Some book clubs even use a talking stick or pillow to control crosstalk.
- Use a book club discussion guide. This helps organize the conversation, making it easier to know the context for other people’s comments.
- Keep food simple to minimize distractions that make conversation more difficult.
Book Club Guides Enhance the Experience
Our book club uses a discussion guide whenever possible. While we don’t always follow it to the letter, the guide often sparks interesting conversation and keeps us on track. Google “book club guide” and the name of the book and you are sure to find one. Most are free.
When Gael Hannan and I wrote our book, “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss,” we created a discussion guide for our book too. Get your FREE Hear & Beyond Discussion Guide on our book website.
Readers, do you have a hearing loss book club?