I’ve always loved and firmly believed in this quote. I often think about how reading and hearing loss are related to one another. Particularly my love for reading, everything from fiction to non-fiction to song lyrics.
My hearing loss and love of reading are intertwined. I don’t always retain information that is said out loud. As a result, I have always been drawn to the world of books, news, etc. I never wanted to fall behind my hearing peers in daily conversations. I quickly learned to stay in the loop by reading and remembering the (sometimes) most unnecessary facts. My brain is compensating for my inability to retain sound. It does this by allowing me to remember nearly all the things I’ve read down to the tiniest of details.
It’s never felt like an extra chore or something “I had to do.” Rather, it’s become a passion of mine. I’m genuinely captivated by the things I read. Reading also has the power to challenge my way of thinking and/or understanding of the world around me.
Reading has always been a safe space for me. It’s one place where the information is the same for me as it is for my hearing peers. It’s a tiny sliver of life that I have control over. I can choose how much or how little I want to read. In contrast, I have no control over what I am able to hear or not hear.
“[Reading is] one place where the information is the same for me as it is for my hearing peers.”
Reading a story is a place where you have power. You can completely create a vision of the world to which you’re being introduced. You and the person next to you can be reading the same exact thing and have completely different visions or interpretations of the text. The ability to create and be part of another world is quite fascinating and humbling. But more importantly, it’s a world I can fully be a part of without missing the sometimes important details as a result of my hearing loss.
On another, yet similar note, music and the stories told through music are such a large part of our culture. I love music. As someone who relies heavily on lip-reading, I can often hear the music fine. I still struggle to properly understand what is being said. Growing up and still to this day, I thoroughly enjoy looking at song lyrics while listening to the song. This way I can follow along without completely butchering the words! It makes a load of a difference knowing the right lyrics. This helps you better gauge the story being told and the intentions of the songwriter.
Even research suggests links between reading and hearing loss. “A study done at the University of California San Diego has shown that deaf people’s parafoveal vision does not cause reduced vision on the fovea and they actually have a wider range of sharp vision which researchers found and can actually aid them in complex visual tasks such as reading,” according to Natalie Bélanger’s research paper “Skilled Deaf Readers Have an Enhanced Perceptual Span in Reading.”
So, I have to wonder if I would be as grateful for reading or the ability to obtain knowledge if I didn’t have hearing loss. All this to say, as I allow myself to reflect, gratitude for my hearing loss continues to grow with each passing day.