Hearing loss is identified as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or observe 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 repeat themselves.
Sadly, those with hearing loss rarely get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why disclosing your hearing loss to others is crucial—both for winning empathy and for participating in productive conversation.
Here are some 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 avert many other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and compelling others to repeat themselves, for instance, can create situations that are much more uncomfortable.
When disclosing your hearing loss, strive for full 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 converse with you. As an example, you might say something like, “I’m partly deaf in my left ear because of an infection I had years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help out a lot.”
Suggest how others can best communicate with you
Once you divulge your hearing loss, others will be much less likely to become frustrated 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 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 speaking with me.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to shout.
Your friends, family members, and work colleagues will respect the honesty and pointers, and you’ll avoid having to cope with communication problems after the fact.
Control your hearing environment
After completely disclosing your hearing loss and presenting communication tips, the final consideration is the control of your surroundings. You’ll want to give yourself the best opportunity to listen and communicate clearly, and you can accomplish this by removing disruptions and background noise.
Here are a few tips:
- When eating out, find a calm, tranquil 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 emanating from a television or radio.
- Find quiet areas for conversations.
- Don’t be fearful to talk to the host in advance about special preparations.
Planning ahead is your best bet. Approaching the host before the party will give you your best shot at effective communication. And the same applies to work; set aside some time with your boss to review the preparations that give you the best chance to succeed. Your supervisor will likely appreciate the initiative.
Seek professional help
Once hearing loss begins to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s about time to search for professional help. Today’s hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their capacity to suppress background noise and enhance speech recognition, and they may be precisely what you need to take pleasure in a lively social life once again.