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People with hearing loss experience challenges that are invisible. For this reason, we must pay attention to those that have to work extra hard to communicate and partake in everyday conversations that we think little about. The fact is that hearing loss is a prevalent unseen condition, and if we stay aware and educated, we can implement ways to communicate that help others that are struggling with a sense we take for granted: our hearing. Here are five things we should know:
We don’t think twice about gauging the nuances and subtleties in a conversation. People with hearing loss want you to know that they have to strain to pick up on such things. In fact, they have to continually exert themselves to stay active in a conversation. They have to work even harder when there are one or more people involved. The strain is even greater if there is background noise which many can filter out but the hearing impaired are unable to do.
Added to that is the energy exerted to “fill in” the blanks of the conversation that they have missed out on. The hearing impaired are constantly thinking of how to situate themselves physically in order to pick on any and all speech. They have to consider where they sit (away from noise and windows), how to face a person when they are speaking, and how to keep up when involved in discussion with more than one person.
People that need glasses have an advantage that the hearing impaired don’t. Wearing glasses alerts us that the person has impaired vision and carries much less of a stigma than that of hearing aids. Glasses can be worn purely functionally, fashionably or both and is not thought of twice. This is not true with hearing aids.
Due to negative stereotyping and lack of education and awareness hearing aids are not widely accepted, especially for the younger generation. Hearing impairment affects over 30% percent of the US population according to the Center for Disease Control. Hearing aids are not prominent and are usually designed to look like a part of the ear so that the burden is put on the user to either inform people of their condition or to quietly fight to keep up.
When you are engaged with a person that suffers from hearing loss expect that the normal ebb and flow of a conversation is often disrupted. Occasionally your questions will go unanswered and responses may be incorrect or ignored. This occurs not because of the intent of the person with hearing impairment, it occurs because they simply have not heard you.
It is neither rudeness or a lack of manners it is their invisible condition impairing what would otherwise be a normal communicative interaction. It is important that you do not assume a missed or inappropriate response is misconstrued for being rude or stupid. It would help greatly if you were to repeat, articulate, and slow down the pace of your speech to accommodate better communication for all involved.
Mind your manners
Being presumptuous and answering on the behalf of people with hearing loss is not recommended. If you are patient and adapt to the conversation chances are everyone would benefit. Speaking louder is not always the answer and speaking on another person’s behalf might be embarrassing for them and reflect poorly on you. Remember that you are the one that can help facilitate communication without putting the person with a hearing affliction in a position of inferiority or even exclusion.
Face the person you are speaking to. This will give them a chance to read lips or gauge your mood and tone. Don’t turn away and speak. Don’t speak with your back turned or from another room. If you are asked to repeat what you have said, please do so at a slower pace, with greater clarity and paraphrase. “I’m going to the movies” might be better received than “I’m going to the show.” Keep in mind that people fitted with hearing aids still have to work hard to keep up with you!
Absolute Audio welcomes you to make that first call and appointment to empower your goal of hearing health. Don’t wait the average seven years that most people do before seeking treatment for hearing loss.
If you know someone that seems to be suffering the effects of hearing loss or you feel that you need to check up on your hearing health give us a call. We look forward to helping you get started on the maintenance of your hearing health now and for years to come.