Hearing loss is regarded as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can see or experience your hearing loss, and no one can sense your frustration and stress. The only thing someone can sense is their OWN aggravation when they have to repeat themselves.
Regrettably, those with hearing loss seldom get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why disclosing your hearing loss to others is vital—both for winning empathy and for engaging in productive conversation.
Here are some tips you can use to communicate your hearing loss to others.
Full disclosure of your hearing loss
Telling other people about your hearing loss might be embarrassing or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll escape many other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and causing others to repeat themselves, for instance, can create situations that are a great deal more uncomfortable.
When revealing your hearing loss, strive for full disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please speak up.” Rather, explain your hearing loss and recommend ways the other person can best talk with you. For example, 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 out a great deal.”
Provide others with communication tips
Once you divulge your hearing loss, others will be much less likely to become aggravated and more apt to take the time to communicate clearly. To help in this respect, offer your communication partners 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 important; visual cues 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 respect the honesty and tips, and you’ll avoid having to deal with communication obstacles after the fact.
Manage your hearing environment
After fully disclosing your hearing loss and presenting communication guidelines, the final consideration is the control of your environment. You want to present yourself the best chance to listen and communicate clearly, and you can achieve this by cutting out disruptions and background noise.
Here are a few tips:
- When eating out, pick out a calm, serene restaurant and choose 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 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 bet. Approaching the host before the event will give you your best shot at effective communication. And the same can be applied to work; reserve some time with your manager to review the arrangements that give you the best chance to realize success. They’ll appreciate the initiative.
Seek professional help
As soon as hearing loss starts to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s time to search for professional assistance. Today’s hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their capacity to filter background noise and enhance speech, and they may be exactly what you need to take pleasure in an active social life once again.