There have been a lot of questions and discussions in the hearing loss community recently, of how best to describe deafness and hearing loss to family and friends. This is how I explain my hearing loss to others.
You may or may not know, but I have a hearing loss. It’s just a part of me, it hasn’t changed who I am.
According to the World Health Organization, over 5 percent of the world’s population has a form of hearing loss. We all have various levels of deafness, different communication methods and use hearing technologies. If there’s anything you want to know about hearing loss feel free to ask!
Here are a few simple considerations to help make life easier with hearing loss:
Communication is one of the main challenges we face, particularly in group situations. We can be quite good at hiding the fact we didn’t understand something or hear what someone said. It’s easy to get carried away in laughter or deep in discussion. If you can take a moment to repeat things, let us know the topic or repeat jokes, we will feel more included!
Hearing loss can be quite isolating. If you notice us excusing ourselves from groups, turning down social outings, please ask us if we’re ok. We do this because it’s easier to isolate ourselves than to deal with the hindrance of not understanding group chats, with loud background noises, but it can have a negative impact on our mental health.
We may prefer one on one situations. I’ll always be up for doing something fun just the two of us! There are lots of things to do, just a few small amendments like quieter venues, good lighting, off-peak times, it all helps!
Communication is a two-way process. If we didn’t get it the first time, we’ll get there eventually.
Please face us when talking, if we didn’t catch you, please repeat or explain things in a different way. If not, type or write it down. It’s easy to get frustrated if we don’t understand, as we feel the frustration too, so let’s work together.
Everyone is unique. Hearing, or deaf; we all have our own identities, traits, and differences. Just because we have a hearing loss doesn’t mean we wish to be treated differently. It’s a part of us.
Some of us have embraced it, others may yet to accept it, but we all want to feel included and loved, treated no differently.
What tips do you have for explaining hearing loss to friends and family?