Why I Write About Hearing Loss

I’m celebrating an anniversary! I know this because recently I got a whole bunch of emails from LinkedIn connections saying, “Congratulations on your work anniversary!”

As I am mostly retired from paid contract work, this was confusing. Then I remembered that LinkedIn congratulates people for any position they hold, paid or volunteer – say, that’s nice of them, hey?

So, they reminded me that this month marks a full Six Years that I’ve been writing the Better Hearing Consumer (BHC) column for the Hearing Health & Technology Matters (HHTM) website which had started a few months earlier to provide “timely information and lively insights for audiology professionals and everyone who cares about hearing loss”.

Hooray for me and hooray for HHTM!

When I was six years old, I could tie my shoes, could read (I think), and was allowed to cross our street by myself if I looked both ways and then back again. Life was exciting. As a six-year veteran of writing for HHTM, I’ve produced approximately 300 columnsone column a week, every week including many from guest writers – I’ve written a book on hearing loss and I’ve made new friends and followers around the world. How exciting is that?

Hearing loss has come out of the closet and gone mainstream. When I first became an advocate, I knew only one writer, Bev Biderman, author of one of the first and best books on getting a cochlear implant. Now there are many of us, all with our own ‘voice’ and particular hearing loss focus: Katherine Bouton, Arlene Romoff, Shari Eberts, Karen Putz, Neil Bauman, Glenn Schweitzer, to name just a few, as well as the legion of fabulous bloggers on social media who produce important work.

We’re the people who have hearing loss and we write about what we know – living with hearing challenges, including tinnitus and vertigo, day in and day out. We write about our love/hate relationships with the hearing professionals who serve us. We write about how our family and friends are affected. We write about the strangers out there who don’t understand our needs – and by gosh, we’re going to explain it them!

Why do we write about hearing loss? I can’t speak for the others but these are my reasons.

Because I can. Hearing loss is my main personal health and social issue and I’m passionate about making the world more hearing accessible. And, like most blog or book writers, it’s a labour of love, not a cash cow. If anyone out there has become rich writing about hearing loss, I’d like to talk to you (and pick your brain).

Because I have to. Something makes me do it. I write from the trenches, telling it like I see it, feel it and hear it. Some days, the life with hearing loss is stressful and isolating. Other days, it’s not so bad. Some days, it’s hardly an issue (those would be the days when the tinnitus is quieter than usual). Technology is our friend. Simply put, writing (and talking) about hearing loss makes it more understandable to myself and therefore easier to deal with.

Because I write well. If I didn’t write well, I would have said that I write good. But good is an adjective, not an adverb, which is required to describe the verb ‘write’. End of grammar lesson.  (Also, I only know I write well because people tell me I do…and hey, you’re still reading, right?)

Because it helps other people. At the very least, it gives them a different point of view, or something to try, or even just the comfort of knowing that someone else is going through the same thing, just as I draw strength and ideas from other writers’ words. Words matter. They have the “power and energy and the ability to help, to heal…” (Yehuda Berg)

So this is a Happy 6th Anniversary card to myself. I deserve it. Also, I don’t think that people give the 6-year mark – of anything – enough importance. When I was six years old, being able to cross the street by myself was a big thing. Wow, if I could do this, what next big thing was around the corner?

It’s not just about hearing. It’s about being heard.

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.

7 Comments

  1. And what wonderful and inspirational six years they have been. Congratulations on your anniversary. You write and talk about hearing loss (and telecoils & hearing loops once in awhile) very bestest!

  2. I am patiently awaiting a surgery date for my cochlear implant and so look forward to reading your column. You are an inspiration. Keep up the good work.

  3. Happy 6th!!! Thanks for doing what you do and doing a marvelous job at it!!
    For those of us that cannot write as great as you we appreciate it!
    Keep up the good work!!!!

  4. And we appreciate it. The only thing that bothers me is the focus on “hearing loss,” which is negative. Those born deaf or hard of hearing have never lost anything. Those who lose hearing later in life may have a harder time … and this puts a negative spin on it straightaway. Just food for thought.

    1. May, a more positive term has been sought and discussed for years. The best we can do is choose and use terms that we are most comfortable with, and let our positive attitudes fill in the gaps.

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