Disclaimer: I have never trained or obtained a degree in the science of hearing healthcare. I do, however, have a lifetime of training as a person with hearing loss and I’ve worked with a lot of hearing care professionals. I’ve got a few hot tips to share.
If you have hearing loss, you most likely spend time on the internet reading up on it: how to get rid of it, how to cope with it, how not to go insane with it. I know I have.
Or maybe you’ve learned most of what you know from other people with hearing loss and from the consumer hearing loss organizations. I definitely have.
I’ve picked up a lot of useful ‘stuff’ on my endless laps around life’s hearing loss track. I’ve learned to be grateful for technology and to be open to new technical discoveries that can make my life easier. I’ve learned how to have my needs met. I’ve come to believe that I have the right to hear and to be heard.
Unfortunately, most of this useful stuff did not come from my audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. For the first four or five decades, my providers were practicing their profession before the introduction of the client-centered care concept and before the current mind-blowing explosion of assistive and smart technology. They did what they knew best – provide me with hearing aids.
Today, however, hearing professionals need to know about emerging technologies and new standards of professional care to help ensure their clients’ communication success. If they don’t describe and recommend other devices and practices to complement the almighty hearing aid, they are doing their clients a gross disservice.
It’s not rocket science. (I wouldn’t understand it if it were.) But I do understand the simple steps that people with hearing loss and their service providers need to take to reach their mutual goal: a client who lives successfully with hearing loss.
A Short Course to Success for Hearing Professionals
In Hearing Professional School, learn all the technical stuff about Audiology and Technology. Also, telecoils. Then, learn what your clients must learn – usually from someone who is not you – which are all the other communication strategies that complement technology. You can learn this by going to a consumer hearing loss conference.
When you’re ready to start serving clients, find the best way to articulate all that you’ve learned. Just don’t dumb it down or Einstein it up. Keep it real.
Here are some other suggestions based on the experience of gazillions of people with hearing loss.
- Speak clearly and ensure the client understands.
- Be honest. Paint the Big Picture of the journey to better communication. Explain your vision of what would help them and then ask if they have a different vision. Come to an agreement. Write it down, spit in your hands, and shake.
- Ask questions. Listen. Be empathetic.
- Use plain language, avoid jargon.
- Respect the wisdom within the client.
- Involve client in all recommendations.
- Provide written information.
- Allow and encourage family participation.
Don’t forget to stay up to date with the latest apps that make your clients’ lives with hearing loss so much easier.
An Even Shorter Course to Success – for People with Hearing Loss:
People with hearing loss also have responsibilities.
Admit your hearing loss.
Get help – not only from the hearing professional who took the above course, but from other people with hearing loss.
Use technology and other strategies such as speech-to-text, speechreading, etc. Be a sponge for communication tips.
Tell people what you need. All the time. Don’t be shy, you have the right to be included.
Communicate using best practices. No bluffing!
Repeat as necessary – go back for more help when you need it. And you will need it. Hearing can change and technology can improve.
I’m sure I’ve left out a few things. But it boils down to this: I need a superb and caring professional to help me hear and communicate at the best possible level.