Hearing loss is commonly called the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or experience your hearing loss, and no one can experience your difficulty and stress. The only thing people can sense is their OWN aggravation when they have to constantly repeat themselves.
Sadly, those with hearing loss rarely get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why communicating your hearing loss to others is vital—both for attaining empathy and for engaging in effective conversation.
Here are some tips you can use to let others know about your hearing loss.
Full disclosure of your hearing loss
Informing others about your hearing loss might be embarrassing or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll avoid many other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and causing others to repeat themselves, for example, can make for situations that are much more uncomfortable.
When revealing your hearing loss, aim for complete disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please speak up.” Instead, summarize your hearing loss and recommend ways the other person can best speak with you. For example, you might say something like, “I’m partly deaf in my left ear because of an infection I had several years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help a great deal.”
Provide others with communication tips
Once you disclose your hearing loss, others will be less likely to become aggravated and more apt to make an effort to communicate clearly. To help in this regard, offer your communication companions some tips for better communication, such as:
- Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t shout across the room or from another room.
- Face to face communication is important; visual signs and lip reading help me with speech comprehension.
- Get my attention before speaking with me.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to shout.
Your friends, family members, and co-workers will appreciate the honesty and pointers, and you’ll avoid having to deal with communication obstacles after the fact.
Manage your hearing environment
After fully disclosing your hearing loss and offering communication guidelines, the final consideration is the management of your surroundings. You’ll want to present yourself the best chance to hear and communicate clearly, and you can attain this by eliminating distractions and background noise.
Here are a few tips:
- When dining out, select a quiet, serene restaurant and choose a table away from the center of the restaurant.
- At social gatherings, it’s best if there is no background music or sound emanating from a television or radio.
- Find quiet areas for conversations.
- Don’t be fearful to speak to the host beforehand about special arrangements.
Planning ahead is your best option. Contacting the host before the party will give you your best chance at effective communication. And the same tips pertains to work; schedule some time with your boss to review the preparations that give you the best chance to be successful. They’ll appreciate the initiative.
Seek out professional help
Once hearing loss begins to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s about time to seek professional assistance. Modern hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their ability to filter background noise and enhance speech, and they may be precisely what you need to take pleasure in a lively social life once again.