If I Were a Hearing Person….

When trying to remember a time of not having hearing loss, I can’t. That’s beyond the edges of remembering.  But I can dream…


If I were a hearing person….

I would wake in the morning, and immediately connect
With the sounds of house-life around me
Husband breathing, cats playing, cell phone vibrating
There would be no noiseless pause as I reach for the jar
Where my hearing aids have slept through the night
And then, once they’re in, even the silence has a sound.


If I were a hearing person….

I would not have to stand at the door of a party
Stomach clenched as I prepare for conversations
Saturated with the overwhelming din of the crowd
Not catching the names of strangers or the words of friends
I wouldn’t have to copy the smiles of others,
Which are the only things I can understand in this noise.


If I were a hearing person….

I would dine in a gorgeous, dimly lit place
With one romantic candle lighting the face of my handsome husband.
I would understand the server, and maybe order for both of us.
My husband might lean over and whisper in my ear
And I wouldn’t need to read his lips.

If I were a hearing person….

The captioning would be off, not covering up
The feet, the faces, the hands and the places
Because these are words I can hear and don’t have to see.
At the movies I would follow the action
And not poke my partner with “What did he say?”
Or maybe he’d ask me what a character just said,
And I would never say, “Sshh, I’ll tellya later.”


If I were a hearing person….

Talking on the phone would never have caused
A problem like the one on my very first job,
I answered the phone in the hospital clinic
And said, “Who is this, please – I’m sorry, it’s who?
Oh, I’m afraid Dr. Scott is not here, I’m sorry, he’s not.
What’s that you say? Oh, YOU’RE Dr. Scott!?


If I were a hearing person….

I would have heard my partner say, “Let’s get married”
Instead of seeing his soundless lips shape it.
What man proposes at 6 (in the morning!)
When she’s scarcely awake, with no hearing aids in?
He probably just considered it a practice
But I saw and said yes, before he could retract it!
(Don’t mess with a speechreader.)


If I were a hearing person,….

I wouldn’t wear hearing aids that start giving feedback
When you’re in a silent elevator ride with strangers
That wouldn’t cost some people 1 or 2 or 3 months’ salary and which need batteries that die on the one day your spares are in your other purse.


If I were a hearing person….

I would not have to fight for the right to access – so that I can see a movie, watch TV, understand a lecture, get an education, receive health care, sit on a jury, and do my job…just the same as all the hearing people.

And if I were a hearing person – I might wonder what it would be like to have hearing loss.

Am I asking too much from this dream-hearing-person?  In a dream, you’re allowed to be anything you want, and this is just an occasional dream – an escape from a bad hearing day.  But I’m not a hearing person and really, that’s OK.

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.


  1. I did have such dreams. It was nightmare. All the ratrace to run after the music of all the noises.

    By the way, the word “hearing” is meant to be sociological to designate people who can hear. For the audioological usage, use the language “I cannot (or don’t) hear”.


  2. Hello Gael:

    Thanks for this lovely piece that provides a different perspective about living with hearing loss, especially for those without hearing loss:

    Sometimes (or mostly), It’s hard to explain to someone without hearing loss exactly what its like to have and live with hearing loss. Maybe your style with this blog will help them understand a bit easier and will, as a result, make them more appreciative of hearing loss issues and thus, more supportive.

    Bye for now!

  3. Yup…that is what I feel like too. You’ve hit the nail on the head, Gail. But with your column, I feel part of a unique minority.

  4. I would never have to read comments like I did in the magazine Poets & Writers where I saw two professors from Boston University say there have been no great deaf writers, but there have been great blind writers. the other professor said he was looking for an ear in a writer who might apply for this supposedly wonderful creative writing program.

  5. I, too, have daydreamed about being hearing. Some days, I spend more time than I should thinking about all of the things I miss out on. I wonder, though, if we would be the same people we are now if we could hear all along.

  6. Loved this, especially, “Oh You’RE Dr. Scott.” Done that so many times.
    You forgot to mention, “if I were a hearing person, I would not have to spend 90 minutes in my audiologist’s office as she tried to figure out whether it was the hearing aid TCoil, the fm receiver or the fm transmitter that was on the blink, and watch helplessly as they’re all packaged up and sent back to the manufacturer.
    Just me and an inadequate older hearing aid (luckily held onto) for the next two weeks. That is, until after Thanksgiving, after a holiday weekend with family and friends, after a celebratory party that I myself am giving. Oh woe.”

    1. Gail, thank you. You’ve eloquently captured our challenges and frustrations.

      We HOH individuals need to be more assertive. Katherine, you should not have to go two weeks without your hearing equipment. My hearing aid dispenser has always given me a good loaner when my aid was being serviced. You can get a loaner car if your car is in the shop; it should be the same with hearing aids.

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