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A Magic Wand

By Chelle Wyatt

There are times I wish I could wave a wand to make others hard of hearing for a day or two.  I’m not supposed to wish hearing loss on anyone, I know, but some people need to learn empathy.  I don’t wish on it everyone, just a few of the very difficult people I run across. The lady in the salon who insisted I keep answering the phone even though I got names, numbers and information wrong all the time (this was before caption phones) would have been a good one to wave my hearing loss wand over.

I would have waved the wand over another lady, a secretary,  at an assisted living home I worked at as hairdresser.  She never would come close enough for me to hear/see her properly  like I was contagious.  Or my ex-husband who would hated to repeat and would say, “I SAID…”  And the people who won’t stop moving their heads when I’m trying to lipread them.  So maybe I’ll wave my wand around a bit here on the blog.

Here’s some things I’d specifically like hearing people to understand:

Words full of holes and the mind racing to fill those holes at the sound of speech hoping it makes sense at some point. It can be exhausting.

hearing loss looks like
See the difference?

Why hearing aids aren’t called ‘hearing miracles’.  Yes they help but they do not make my hearing perfect again.  Then you’d know why the question, “Are your ears on” makes me twitch.

ears on
Yes my ears are on.

Now that you are experiencing temporary hearing loss, try hearing someone from another room; to hear a voice and not understand most of what’s said.

in the dark
It’s like being in the dark.

How about talking on the phone with a disembodied voice (very similar to above)?  No lips to read, no body language to take cues.

hearing in the dark
Yes!  I’m still in the dark here.

You like watching TV and movies?  Try it with a hearing loss and you’d know just how hateful it is without captions.

no captions
That’s about all we hear on the TV without captions.

This is for the people who think they are funny, who repeatedly say “huh” as a joke.

not funny

To feel what it’s like to be dismissed and excluded from conversation with the words “Never mind.”

never mind
Those words are a wall.

Focusing on the good

That’s just too few people.  Thank goodness the majority of the people I run across are good with accommodating me.  I keep my focus on the good people and I happen to know a lot of them. Mostly I’d use the magic wand for good; to restore confidence, take away pain and give hope to more people with hearing loss.

At the ALDA convention last year in Scottsdale, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing did give hearing loss to a number of people for a day without a wand.  They got people to agree to wearing custom made ear plugs and asked them to wear them for a day.  It was eye opening to all those who participated, giving them more empathy towards those in their lives with hearing loss.  If you are interested, Dianna Nanez, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, wrote about her story.

What could you add to this list?


4 thoughts on “A Magic Wand”

  1. I just told someone yesterday “I wish people came with a hidden switch and I had the ability to switch their ears off for a day.”

    I’d like to switch hearing off for the lady who told my CART captioner to take a break (no lunch break was scheduled during a political convention I was attending as a delegate) that I didn’t need to hear what was coming up, as it wasn’t important.

    I’d like to switch hearing off for the woman who told me to “call her” even after I told her emailing and texting were better ways of communication for me because I’m deaf.

    I’d like to switch hearing off for the people who dropped the ball and didn’t caption the Delegate 101 orientation I was invited to attend for first-time state delegates before a political convention that was captioned–seems someone should have made the connection.

    I’d like to switch hearing off for the people who organize events and don’t really think critically about what “accessible” really means and don’t seem to care when and where it falls short.

    I could go on, and on, and on, and I’m sure many others could too. ~~Michele

  2. WoW, Chelle – you’ve opened a BIG can of worms. IMHO – most people in the hearing world take hearing for granted. It takes exceptional people to show empathy & and help facilitate the communication. It’s a two way street. “We” have to do our part and “they” need to do theirs. Some people can remember to accommodate you for a few minutes before forgetting while others just don’t comprehend. Also there’s the things you mentioned (“ears on”, “never mind” etc). Over the years; I’ve seen and experienced a very wide (infinite?) range of situations. Some examples; in the early 80’s, a co-worker thought I was wearing a miniature radio behind my ear. In the mid-90’s – while working on a special project team member was surprised I talked about a song on the radio. She thought I was deaf – don’t know why she thought THAT.

  3. It is all about education. I had to have fun with the magic wand idea after talking about it to my boss. Communication is always a two way street and probably the majority of the population don’t have good communication skills.
    Miniature radio? lol

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