How to Communicate Your Hearing Loss to Others
Hearing loss is regarded as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can see or experience your hearing loss, and no one can experience your frustration and stress. The only thing people can feel is their OWN aggravation when they have to repeat themselves.
Regretfully, individuals with hearing loss seldom get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why communicating your hearing loss to others is crucial—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
Telling others about your hearing loss may be awkward or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll prevent several other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and requiring others to repeat themselves, for instance, can make for situations that are even more uncomfortable.
When revealing your hearing loss, shoot for complete disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please talk louder.” Instead, describe your hearing loss and recommend ways the other person can best communicate with you. For instance, you might say something like, “I’m partly deaf in my left ear due to an infection I had years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help a lot.”
Provide others with communication tips
After you divulge your hearing loss, other people will be much less likely to become irritated and more apt to make the effort to communicate clearly. To help in this regard, offer your communication partners some suggestions for better communication, such as:
- Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t yell 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 work colleagues will respect the honesty and guidance, and you’ll avoid having to deal with communication obstacles after the fact.
Control your hearing environment
After completely disclosing your hearing loss and offering communication tips, the final consideration is the management of your environment. You want to present yourself the best opportunity to listen and communicate clearly, and you can achieve this by excluding distractions and background noise.
Here are a few guidelines:
- When eating out, go with a calm, serene restaurant and select a booth away from the middle 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 afraid to talk to the host beforehand about special preparations.
Preparing in advance is your best option. Contacting the host before the party will give you your best shot at effective communication. And the same applies to work; schedule some time with your manager to review the preparations that give you the best chance to be successful. They’ll 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 filter background noise and improve speech recognition, and they may be exactly what you need to take pleasure in a lively social life once again.