Watch: What you should know about hearing aids
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that people assume that hearing aids help the deaf and hard of hearing hear and understand everyone crystal clear. They don’t,” Phonak hEARo and YouTuber Jessica Flores says.
Jessica explains in one of her latest videos the way we actually hear sound with our brain is much more complex than just needing a volume adjustment if we can’t hear.
As amazing as hearing aids are, they do not restore hearing or help a deaf or hard of hearing person hear as a person with normal hearing would.
Jessica talks about how hearing aids amplify sound, which might help someone with a mild hearing loss, but if you have a more severe hearing loss it doesn’t always help.
How hearing works
So is hearing as simple as turning up the volume? Not quite.
“When you listen to someone talk the nerves in our ears are not just sending the brain information about volume,” Jessica says. “How loud or how quiet something is. Our nerves are also sending the brain a crap-ton of information so we can understand speech.”
Hearing aids help with hearing sounds that you may miss, but they do not make speech clearer and easier to understand. Jessica describes speech as a “weird alien dialect underwater.”
How to talk to someone with hearing loss
With this in mind, it’s important to remember a few key things when talking to someone with hearing loss.
1. Face the person when you are speaking to them
Many deaf and hard of hearing people read lips and it makes it easier to try and understand what is being said if the full face is visible.
2. Repeat yourself if asked
If someone asks you to repeat what you said, simply do so. Don’t feel like you have to raise your voice or shout.
3. Ask what works best
All deaf and hard of hearing people have different methods of communication that they like best. The easier solution is to just ask what works for them.
Read more: How to talk to people with hearing loss