Hearing loss is something that affects tens of millions of Americans every day. It can be a frustrating situation that makes communication more difficult between friends and family alike, and can have a huge impact on everyone involved. As an invisible problem, it’s sometimes hard for normal-hearing people to understand how to appropriately empathize with those of us who have hearing loss, but not to worry! Here are a few misunderstandings that people with hearing loss have noticed others having, and how to correct them.
Hearing Loss Is Tiring
People with normal hearing understand speech nearly automatically: their brains do all the work behind the scenes to hear sound, identify speech, and transport it to short-term memory. For those of us with hearing loss, things work a little differently. Some sounds make it through, but we need to play a kind of guessing game to determine all of what’s being said. This takes work! We have to lean on context clues to try to make sense of mushy consonant sounds. All of this has to take place while the conversation moves forward, so our brains get tired much faster than normal.
You can help us out by enunciating clearly, facing us when you speak, inserting some short pauses between your words, and stopping periodically to ask if we’re catching what you’re saying.
We’re Not Rude or Slow
Sometimes we might not hear you speaking to us, especially if you’re saying it from behind us or from another room. We’re not trying to ignore you! Similarly, if we get something wrong or respond to a question other than the one you asked, it’s simply because we didn’t hear everything and we came up with different words than you said. This happens between normal-hearing people, too, but we might do it a little more often.
Make sure you have our attention before you start talking. Say our name or touch us gently on the arm to get our attention, and make sure we’re facing each other before you talk. If we get something wrong or can’t hear you properly, you don’t have to shout. You might wish to speak a little louder, but don’t yell (that only makes your voice distort).
Hearing Aids Aren’t the Same as Glasses
Glasses take the blurry world and make it crisp and clear, exactly the same as if you had normal vision. Our sense of hearing works a little differently. While some people are able to hear just about normally with hearing aids, some hearing loss is profound enough that not all the sound can get through no matter how loud it is. Hearing aids can also sometimes have difficulty with significant dynamic changes, so when your voice is sometimes yelling and sometimes soft it can be very difficult to track, or even painful. If we’re wearing hearing aids, you don’t have to talk louder than normal, but clear enunciation and more frequent pauses are always appreciated.
Let Us Speak for Ourselves
Sometimes people think they’re being helpful by answering questions for us, trying to speed things along. While it may be necessary to repeat things once or twice, always let us answer for ourselves. It makes us feel very helpless when we’re not allowed to speak on our own behalf! Please give us the time to understand.
Keep Simple Tricks in Mind
As mentioned above, there are small ways you can modify your speech to make yourself more understandable to us. Get our attention, face us when you speak, and keep your lips visible whenever possible. We’re doing our best to hear you, so try to meet us halfway!
Hearing Aids Are Important
If you or a loved one is dealing with hearing loss, hearing aids are an important tool in keeping the lines of communication open! Modern hearing aids can help a lot with reducing background noise and favoring speech, and even improving spatial awareness. They may not restore hearing to normal, but they can make a huge, positive difference in the way we hear and perceive the world.
Make an appointment today to get a hearing test and find out if hearing aids are right for you. Those who get hearing aids today say they’re satisfied with them at a rate of 95%! Try out a set today and feel what it’s like to hear the world again!