You Know What They Say About Hearing Loss: Wisdom from the Weary-Eared

Gael Hannan
April 14, 2020

Until humans can grow another set of lips at the back of their heads, you need to face me when you talk to me.

I’m always one dead battery away from hysterics.

No number of fresh batteries will make a hearing aid work, if its wax guard is filled to overflowing,

We can lipread only when your lips actually move while talking.

When I ask you to speak up, that means a bit more volume, not a sonic boom.

My tinnitus can beat out the sound of your voice any day.

“What am I saying?” This is what people ask – without sound and with super-stretched out lips – when we admit to being able to lipread. For the love of God, can you mouth something original? Try this: “Please feel free to punch me in the face for testing your lipreading ability.”

People don’t develop a better sense of vision, smell or touch because their hearing is challenged. We use those senses in a better way to help us understand people. If my vision had improved as my hearing got worse, I wouldn’t be wearing these contact lenses and reading glasses.

When someone tells you they are hard of hearing, don’t expect them to laugh when you say, “I’m hard of listening!”

Also, please understand that when someone tells you they have hearing loss and you immediately say “What?”, if we laugh it’s only because we’re polite. Our base instinct is to give you the stink eye because it’s, like, the 5 millionth time we’ve heard that stupid joke.

I don’t care what Helen Keller said. Hearing loss may cut us off from people, but it also cuts us off from things, events and music.

It’s a myth that people with hearing loss are spared from a lot of noise, that life is quieter for us. Fact: Noise bothers us as much or more than ‘hearing’ people. Another fact: Life isn’t quieter for us, it’s just missing a lot of information.

Would I rather be a ‘hearing person’? I dunno, well maybe, but no, because my hearing loss became my passion and my advocacy. However, I can’t speak for the hundreds of millions of other people with hearing loss.

People with hearing loss aren’t grumpier than everybody else. We frown at you because we are concentrating hard on figuring out what you’re saying.

We need captions. Turning up the TV doesn’t replace the need for captions. If they cover up something you want to see at the bottom of the screen, go watch TV in another room. Thank you.

When we misunderstand, or need a repeat, asking us “do you have your hearing aids in”, will earn you a quick, and hopefully painful, stomp on the foot. Of COURSE, we’re using our hearing devices! Do you think we deliberately leave them out in order to test if our hearing has improved?  Oh, duuhh.

We like invisible hearing aids only if they help us hear better. Our goal is not to look attractive to you, but to communicate with you. 

And our big honking cochlear implant sound processors? We think they’re beautiful.

My audiologist is my friend. My audiologist is my friend. My audiologist is my friend.

People should not have to save up to buy a hearing aid. Saving up is for new shoes or a horse. Hearing aids are medical necessities that should not be denied to someone because they can’t afford it.

Hearing aids need to be handled with loving care. They can easily be misplaced or sucked up into the black hole of the universe. Dogs will eat them. Cats will play soccer with them. New ones are expensive.

People with hearing loss, what bits of wisdom can you add?





  1. When people say “your hearing aids are so tiny, I can hardly see them,” I smile and say “I don’t care if they are large or small. The important thing is that with them I am able hear and I am proud to be wearing them.”

  2. Another tip to add:
    Don’t be an asshole to a cashier who asks for a repeat. They might actually be medically deaf, not being intentionally ignorant.
    Multiple instances of this “misunderstanding” can become enough to break a person. Please just repeat it, and be nice about it! It might be you someday.

  3. I am such a fan of your writing- Gael.
    You never fail to brighten my day!

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