Amazing Things You May Not Know About ‘Hearing People’

In these insane times, I’ve noticed an alarming tendency to chunk people into a group, and then assume that they all do and believe the same thing. We blame everyone for every unnerving act that any random person in that group might do.

I’m not referring to politics or vaccine mandates or religion. I’m talking about the dividing line between people who have hearing loss and those who don’t. As a member of the hearing loss community, I find it jarring on social media to read comments by other people with hearing loss: ‘hearing people are idiots’, ‘hearing people just don’t get it’, ‘they treat us like we’re stupid’.  These are statements of prejudice, stirring all people who have the ability to hear well into the same bowl of nasty soup.

Many people who don’t have hearing loss don’t get it because it’s not their issue. How can they possibly understand all the nuanced communication challenges faced by a person with hearing loss? Yet, many of them do understand.

And while some people may be jerks, it’s usually not because they can hear well.

And yes, unfortunately, some people assume that because we have hearing loss, we have other challenges as well; when I voted early in the Canadian election, the official wanted to know if I needed help writing in my candidate’s name!

 But having made the plea not to assume all hearing people are the same in their attitudes towards us, I admit they do share a few weird tendencies.

Before becoming enlightened about people with hearing loss, they keep communicating in the same, ineffective way. You tell a masked speaker that you can’t understand them, because you read lips. They look at you for a moment – as if they are expecting you to get over this problem you just described. Then they (presumably) repeat what they just said, in exactly the same manner. I now respond, “Still deaf. Still reading lips.” I also offer a solution such as lowering masks if it’s safe.

How about this? They can tell where a sound is coming from – they don’t even have to look! They just know! And they don’t even have to ask – what was that sound? They know that it was this sound, coming from over there. Never fails to amaze me – and they all seem able to do this.

Another jaw-dropping super-power: They can carry on conversations from anywhere in the house! You say something in the kitchen – to yourself, maybe – and then comes the response – from the upstairs bathroom! That’s 15 feet up and 10 feet down a hall, and around a wall or two. To be honest, it’s not that they can hear, understand and respond that gets me, but how is a person supposed to have any privacy around hearing people? Very little escapes their super-ears. A private burp or toot is loudly acknowledged from anywhere – “I heard that!” Damn those hearing people!

Here’s a weird thing you may not know. Most of them respond well to directions and training! A hearing person can’t always guess what our individual needs are. We must tell them. And then tell them again. Then, they get it! True, some don’t, but maybe that’s because they simply don’t like you enough (for any unrelated reason) to put in the effort for good communication.

Another shocker. Almost all of them are not out to make our lives miserable. A mumbler isn’t talking that way simply to irritate you. It’s how they speak; maybe they come from a long line of mumblers. A person who talks without facing you is usually not trying to test your hearing. In the moment, they forget. It happens. Get over it.

The main reason most hearing people don’t understand hearing loss is because they are hearing people! And until they walk a mile in our shoes or need to communicate with us on a grand scale because they’re in love with us, or they are working with us, most hearing people need adequate training – from us – which includes clear information, demonstration of good communication and plenty of reminders. Then they’ll get it.

Aren’t ‘hearing people’ amazing?

 

 

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. Another funny, but right on the mark commentary Gael, thanks! As always you’re amazing and a wonderful advocate for people with and without hearing loss. Please say hi to Doug and stay safe!

  2. Back when I was working full time, I had a supervisor who didn’t really believe I was close to being totally deaf. She wrote in my year end review – “Bonnie hears what she wants to”. This was mostly because she had seen me talking with friends who know how to talk to me. But later she came down with an ear infection in both ears and she was off work for a couple of weeks. When she returned to work she said to me, “How can you stand it? I couldn’t even talk on the phone!! I would be nuts if my hearing hadn’t come back”.
    She was much more understanding of me after that.

  3. Yes
    They are amazing .

    My son is a great guy
    He can’t help it if he does not really get it.

    It was too much trouble to listen to me when I tried to explain my disability to him, through tall those years

    I’ve had hearing loss for over 30 years

    My 46 year old son has NEVER wanted to understand why I hear some sounds and not others.
    He doesn’t care that living inside my head is like playing wheel of fortune… the missing speech sounds. He really believed that I had “selective hearing” and that I was just being dramatic.

    Inability to localise sound

    He did not want to know until he watched Shari Eberts speak, in her amazing new film.

    I’ve been yearning for such a film, because I needed to find a way for him to pay attention … someone else had to tell him. Someone whom he had never seen or heard before. .. someone with the same, invisible hearing loss that I have.

    He said that he never really understood why we need to find adequate seating in a restaurant, so that I could read his lips

    He finally gets it. He apologized for all of the wise cracks and refusal to face me when he speaks to me and all of the other accommodations that I need

    He watched the fantastic movie with me.. that film is going to change the lives of millions of hearing people and their HOH relatives and friends

    You’re absolutely right.! Hearing people are fine people. They just don’t live inside our heads

    You hit the mail on the head, once again

    Bless you

    That film needs to win more than just the Cannes film festival award

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