How to Tell Others About Your Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is identified as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or experience your hearing loss, and no one can sense your difficulty and stress. The only thing people can experience is their OWN aggravation when they have to constantly repeat themselves.
Regrettably, individuals with hearing loss infrequently get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why communicating your hearing loss to others is crucial—both for attaining empathy and for participating in productive conversation.
Here are a few tips you can use to communicate your hearing loss to others.
Full disclosure of your hearing loss
Informing other people about your hearing loss might be awkward or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll prevent many other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and causing others to repeat themselves, for instance, can create situations that are even more uncomfortable.
When disclosing your hearing loss, shoot for complete disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please talk louder.” Rather, describe your hearing loss and suggest ways the other person can best communicate with you. As an 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.”
Suggest how others can best communicate with you
Once you divulge 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 suggestions 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 critical; visual signs and lip-reading help me with speech comprehension.
- Get my attention before communicating with me.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to yell.
Your friends, family members, and co-workers will appreciate the honesty and guidance, and you’ll avoid having to cope with communication obstacles after the fact.
Manage your hearing environment
After fully disclosing your hearing loss and offering communication tips, the final consideration is the management of your environment. You’ll want to give yourself the best opportunity to listen and communicate clearly, and you can attain this by reducing distractions and background noise.
Here are a few tips:
- When eating out, pick out a quiet, tranquil restaurant and select a table away from the middle of the restaurant.
- At social gatherings, it’s best if there is no background music or sound coming from a TV or radio.
- Locate quiet areas for conversations.
- Don’t be afraid to speak to the host beforehand about special preparations.
Preparing in advance is your best option. Approaching the host prior to the party will give you your best chance at effective communication. And the same pertains to work; reserve some time with your boss to review the preparations that give you the best chance to achieve success. They’ll appreciate the initiative.
Request professional help
Once hearing loss starts 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 improve speech recognition, and they may be exactly what you need to enjoy a lively social life once again.