Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

There are all kinds of handicaps. Some people are born with them. Other people acquire them though illness, accident, or aging. Some handicaps are visible and some are not.  Most people are ready, and willing to help people who are having difficulties due to most of these problems, in any way they can.  The problem is, certain handicaps actually have the opposite effect. 

Deafness is an invisible handicap. People often have no patience for it.  My audiologist offered me a tiny little hearing aid that would do the job of helping me hear very well, and nobody would even see it. She laughed when I told her I would rather have a bigger one that people could see.  I prefer people to understand why it is that I make them repeat themselves, or face me when they talk. I figure that if I give that visual reminder, they wouldn't forget.  I was wrong, of course.

Let me lay out a few rules for those of you who know people with a hearing loss:

1.  Don't talk to them from the far end of the house.  They will know you are talking but they will not know what you said.

2.  Don't start talking and then turn your back and walk away before you are finished.  Many of us rely on being able to read your lips, and even if we can't, your sound waves are going out in front of you.  What flows back toward the person you walked away from is distorted and hard to understand.

3.  Keep your hands away from your face.  Like I said, it helps if we can actually see you talk.

4.  If you normally talk a mile a minute, do try to slow down.  It's hard to catch what you are saying if it's all jumbled together.

5.  Get the deaf person's attention before you start to speak to them.  Simply calling them by name would likely help.

6.  If there is another sound in the room, like a TV or a radio, make sure that other sound is not between you and the person with the hearing loss.  That other sound will be picked up more easily than your voice when you are beyond that sound.

7.  If you want to have a conversation, it would be greatly appreciated if you turned off any competing sounds first, if that's at all possible.

8.  If you are being met by a puzzled look, even after you have repeated yourself several times, find another way to phrase what you are trying to say. Hearing aids may make sounds louder, but understanding what those sounds mean is not always as easy as you may think.

9.  If you know the hearing impaired person can hear better in one ear than the other, try to position yourself accordingly.

10.  Don't snap at us if we don't respond.  We have a Hearing Problem!

Please try to help us the same way you would if we were blind, or missing body parts, or had other more obvious difficulties.  We are doing the best we can with our particular handicap.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this list! We're learning all about it these days. Miss A. had her CT last Thursday. We should have the results in the next few days and it should give us clearer picture of what we need to do to help her.