I have just about had it with people who totally do not understand hearing loss. Sitting around the picnic table on my deck with family, when suddenly my niece turns to me, taps me on the shoulder and says out loud, “are your hearing aids on?”
I looked at her with complete contempt and disgust. Afterall, she knows I am hearing impaired, knows I wear a hearing aid…….ah! but she’s hearing and she’s clueless. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell hearing people that wearing a hearing aid does not give us 20/20 hearing, they still don’t get it, can’t comprehend it, and in my opinion, so afraid to imagine what it’s like to be without it.
I’m getting to the point in my life where I am tired of educating the hearing on hearing loss and deafness. I’m tired of being nice about it and most of all, I’m tired of hearing peoples lack of wanting to understand hearing loss. I most recently discovered the only way to give hearing people a small taste of what it’s like to have even a mild to moderate hearing loss is to give them a taste of it.
I do workshops for school staff on early detection and understanding hearing loss. One day, while preparing my powerpoints, I was trying to figure out how to bring the audience into the life of hearing loss. And it hit me, I need to allow my audience to get a sense of what hearing loss sounds like to us. So, I searched the web and found several programs that I could set up to have the audience listen to a man, woman and childs voice and what it sounds like to hear those voices at different degrees of hearing loss. I also purchased several hundred packaged earplugs online to have each person experience a 35 db. hearing loss (thats if the individual did not have an unknown additional loss) toward the end of the presentation.
What I discovered by giving everyone the earplugs and moving along with my presentation was that everyone was so baffled by what they could or could not hear and the difficulty they were having with the speech discrimination. Some people refused to put the earplugs in both ears, some pulled them out after a few minutes but everyone was totally thrown into a new light about hearing loss. My experiment has been so successful that I now use the earplugs and what hearing loss sounds like for all my presentations to make my point. I also always carry earplugs on me, just in case I need to do a quick lesson.
Getting back to my niece. After several minutes of people joking around about my hearing loss, I pulled out packages of earplugs and handed them out. I told everyone to put them on and continue with their conversations. At first, no one took me seriously, but the look on my face told them, they best listen. They listened and listened they did. There were lots of “what did u say?” “Did u say blue or hue?” “Look at my lips and try to read them.”
After ten minutes, I got a big apology from my niece as well as my nephew as well as lots of questions. I guess deep down inside I do care and can’t help but feel the need to educate the hearing. I guess I also learned a lesson here and that is, I need to be patient, as patient as I expect the hearing person to be with me.