What a time to be hard of hearing. I often contemplate the fact that I was born at the right time to have a hearing loss. If I was alive 100 years ago, or even just born 30 years earlier I would have a much harder time going about life.
In this day and age of technology, there are many assistive devices out there that enable me to hear more and communicate with people. Right now, the best technology for hearing loss exists.
Hearing aids open my world up to sound
First and foremost, hearing aids and cochlear implants allow people with a hearing loss to hear supplementary or even at all. Without hearing aids, I hear just about nothing unless someone were to yell directly into my ear. With my hearing aids, I’m able to hear voices, different instruments, beeps, hip-hop, the ocean, my dog yawning, fire crackling and a variety of other sounds. Hearing aids change my hearing loss drastically. Specifically from no sound to wading into a shallow depth of the hearing world.
Phone calls are no longer an inconvenience
Since I lip-read, any voice communication without a visual is very difficult for me. Therefore, I rely on technology such as texting and emails as my primary source of communicating when not vocal. I have memories when I was younger of attempted phone calls with our speaker-phone which meant the other person repeating something multiple times and abundant guessing on my end. During my middle school years, texting was invented and opened up new doors. A slow start for that type of talk but to my benefit, that changed and is now used heavily by many people. It is not as much of an inconvenience lacking the capability to make phone calls as it used to be.
Closed captions changed how I enjoyed entertainment
Closed-captioning and subtitles are other luxuries that I have the privilege of utilizing. I remember watching TV/movies with my family as a child before and missing out on the entire premise or story of the entertainment. I would have asked what was going on or what was being said between characters. Watching TV usually consisted of trying to understand what I could and living vicariously through other peoples’ emotions. The hardest part was seeing my family laugh while being in the same room, watching the same movie/TV show and not being able to share that experience. It was a pivotal moment when CC became available and I no longer felt excluded from those moments.
Imagining life without this technology
If born 30 years earlier, I would be without any of these life-changing benefits. My world would be much shallower without hearing aids. Communication would be very hard, employment would be very scarce, my range for ability would be smaller. I would not hear peoples’ voices, enjoy music or decipher different sounds. It would be less likely for me to fully enjoy movies or television. I would not be able to reach out to people independently via phone calls. Instead, I would rely on physical, visual and snail mail communications. A lack of hearing separates me from more then people with full hearing abilities. However, it’s not nearly as isolated as it could have been which makes me lucky!
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