Hearing loss is referred to as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can see or observe your hearing loss, and no one can experience your difficulty and stress. The only thing people can sense is their OWN frustration when they have to constantly repeat themselves.
Regrettably, individuals with hearing loss infrequently get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why disclosing your hearing loss to others is essential—both for attaining empathy and for participating in effective conversation.
Here are a few 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 awkward or distressing, but in doing so you’ll escape several other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and requiring others to repeat themselves, for instance, can produce 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 talk louder.” Rather, explain your hearing loss and suggest ways the other person can best speak with you. As an example, you might say something like, “I’m partially deaf in my left ear due to an infection I had years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help out a great deal.”
Provide others with communication tips
Once you divulge your hearing loss, other people will be less likely to become frustrated and more apt to take the time to communicate clearly. To help in this respect, offer your communication partners some suggestions for more effective communication, such as:
- Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t scream across the room or from another room.
- Face to face communication is critical; visual cues and lip-reading help me understand speech without straining.
- Get my attention before communicating with me.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to yell.
Your friends, family members, and work colleagues will respect the honesty and pointers, and you’ll avoid having to deal with communication obstacles after the fact.
Manage your hearing environment
After completely disclosing your hearing loss and presenting communication tips, the final consideration is the management of your surroundings. You want to give yourself the best opportunity to hear and communicate clearly, and you can accomplish this by removing disruptions and background noise.
Here are a few guidelines:
- When dining out, pick a calm, tranquil 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 coming from a television or radio.
- Locate quiet areas for conversations.
- Don’t be hesitant to speak to the host beforehand about special preparations.
Planning ahead is your best bet. Contacting the host before the event will give you your best chance at effective communication. And the same advice applies to work; schedule some time with your supervisor to review the arrangements that give you the best chance to realize success. Your supervisor will likely appreciate the initiative.
Seek out professional help
When hearing loss begins to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s about time to seek professional help. Today’s hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their capacity to suppress background noise and enhance speech, and they may be precisely what you need to take pleasure in a lively social life once again.