Hearing Loss Or Not — Everyone Loves Captions!

People with hearing loss LOVE captions! They help us combat hearing loss exhaustion by reducing listening effort, help us fill in words that we miss during a speech or when watching a movie, and give us confidence that we can participate more fully in a number of different listening situations. It turns out we are not alone.

A recent visit to Verizon Media’s Accessibility lab taught me that everyone loves captions, even people without hearing loss! I had always suspected as much as I watched my husband with typical hearing using the captions at Broadway shows and other events over the years, but now there is proof.

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What A Different Perspective Can Teach You About Hearing Loss

I approached the wall with trepidation. It was inversion week at my yoga teacher training. Inversions are postures that take your head below your heart. They include classic poses like downward facing dog and restorative poses like legs-up-the-wall pose (yes, you just lay there with your legs up the wall), but they also include rigorous poses like headstand and handstand. We were about to try handstand.

The teachers described the many benefits of these perspective shifting poses. There were health benefits like improved circulations, a boost in energy, and stronger core muscles, but also psychological benefits like increased confidence, and literally a change in perspective. Plus, they are fun. I was nervous, but eager to give it try, especially in this controlled environment with a lot of supervision.

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Hearing Loss: When Dinner is a Disaster

Someone at the end of the table was telling a funny story. Someone else jumped in to add a related comment or share an anecdote. Interrupting was the norm. As was covering mouths with hands when speaking. The pace was rapid fire. The background noise was incessant. But nobody seemed to mind. There were smiles and laughter and joy — a celebration of the camaraderie and interconnection of the group as each person enjoyed this special connection with new friends.

Except for me. I was at the other end of the table, too far from the speaker to get in on the action and too overwhelmed with the pace of the overlapping chatter to even try. In the moment, I felt isolated and alone, but strangely, also gratitude. I realized how lucky I am that I spend most of my time in the land of well-trained conversation partners. I vowed to try to remember that feeling the next time my family and friends forgot to talk so I could hear them.

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Can Hearing Less Ever Help You Understand More?

I have always been a conscientious student, so at my recent yoga teacher training, I worked hard to hear every word the teachers said. I arrived early to position myself in a good seat that had clear sight lines for lipreading but also avoided the loud ceiling fan that the mid-day heat often forced us to run. I concentrated, I listened actively, and I took notes to solidify the concepts into my notebook for later review. It was effective, but also exhausting.

When I mentioned how tired I was at dinner one night, my instructor offered a strange suggestion. “I think you should try to hear less,” he told me. “The most important information will be repeated multiple times. Focus on that, not on getting every detail. Hearing everything will only wear you down.”

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Can Hearing Loss Be Mistaken For Being Unfriendly?

I recently attended a four-week Yoga Teacher Training in Fiji! It was an exhilarating experience, filled with several amazing firsts and a handful of challenges. I developed many new skills, a deeper appreciation of my yoga practice, increased confidence in my ability to learn and assimilate new information, and of course, some new insights into how to manage my hearing loss journey. And that was just the first week!

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