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10 easy tips to explain hearing loss to children

tips to explain hearing loss to children

When I was growing up with a hearing loss, as well as during my job as a lifeguard working with children, I always noticed that children would stare at my hearing aids or my swimming molds.

They were often in shock or became intrigued of these funny objects in my ears. They would ask me what they are, what they’re for, or even try to poke or touch them! This sparked my idea for this blog!

Deafness is quite simple, but if you try to explain it to somebody, whether they’re adults or children, I’ve found that most people find it so hard to grasp a simple context… “I’m deaf.”

An understandable statement turns into something that has a million unanswered questions.

“If you wear hearing aids, you must be able to hear?”

“How much can you hear?”

“So, can you hear me IF I SPEAK LIKE THIS?”

“I don’t get it, if you’re deaf but you can hear me, you can’t really be deaf?”

For children, it can be quite odd or fascinating if they’ve never come across a deaf person before. People often say children learn from a young age, so if they understand different cultures and disabilities when they’re young, it puts them in the best place for the future.

Here are some of my suggestions when discussing hearing loss with children:

10 ways to explain hearing loss to children:

  1. “I can’t hear very well and my hearing aids help me to hear better. If you put your fingers in your ears and listen to me talking, can you hear me?” (hopefully they will answer “No”)
  2. “My ears don’t work the same way yours do, I wear these hearing aids to help me hear better.”
  3. “Can you can hear airplanes, telephones ringing and doors shutting? I can’t hear them.”
  4. “If you try and talk to me, make sure I can see your mouth. It will help me to see what you are saying.”
  5. “If I don’t hear you, tap me on the shoulder to get my attention.”
  6. If they’re wearing glasses or use glasses, use this as an example and say, “glasses help you see, these hearing aids help me hear.”
  7. “People become deaf for many reasons. Sometimes babies are born like that, other people might become sick. Some may begin to lose their hearing as they get older.” (maybe explain if a Grandparent is deaf/Hard of hearing.)

To explain sign language to children:

  1. “Some deaf people talk with their hands. It’s called sign language. They use different shapes for different things. This one means ‘Hello’ (show them)” 

Read more: Learning Sign Language with a Baby or Toddler

2. I’ve heard someone use this, but I personally wouldn’t use it myself: “I’m a robot, I have cyber ears!” (aka hearing aids)

3. Play a hearing loss related game with them, to bring some fun into the subject. 

Do you have any other tips to explain hearing loss to children? I’d love to read them below!

Author Details
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.