I asked some young adults what they would want people to know about living with a hearing loss. Here is what they said:
Hearing technology can change your life, but it takes work to make it work. Having a good support network of friends, family, professionals to coach you through the journey is everything. There’s a lot on our minds socially that probably wouldn’t occur to most people (is this restaurant/bar going to be too loud? what if my battery dies and I don’t have any more? Am I being annoying asking them to repeat things so many times?).
If you know someone with a hearing loss, being aware and having empathy for some of those feelings could go a long way. It may technically be a hearing “loss”, but from where I stand I’ve gained it all back and then some. No complaints and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
Honestly… just that we are just like anyone else, except that this is our thing that makes us interesting. It takes a lot of work, not just auditory-wise, but visually, mentally, physically, emotionally to be an active participant in a conversation. It requires a lot of multitasking and focus, most of which people fail to recognize.
Everyone’s hearing loss is different. Some people will have the capability to hear the slightest sounds while other’s wont.
I struggle with conversation which may technically be audible, but since I rely on context and guesswork to bridge the gap for what I don’t explicitly hear, it sometimes gets me into trouble. Think of my conversational dynamic as Google autocomplete search; I usually get it right, but I rely on my lexicon, experience, and expectations to draw the complete picture. It’s fairly accurate, but not foolproof. In order for me to hear well, context is critical – if I am not expecting to hear something or if it comes from an unexpected direction, I have a harder time processing it.
I want people to know that I’m not being rude or oblivious when I don’t answer someone, like when someone says excuse me softly from behind. I just didn’t hear them.
Living with hearing loss is anything but a disability and that is the first thing people should know about people that are living with a hearing loss. Just like a hearing person, there are benefits and disadvantages to hearing noise, but nevertheless we are almost like everyone else just with a few advantages- being able to do our work silently, not hearing our parents yell at us (just kidding mom and dad), and having diversity from everyone else. The hardships come with struggling in loud places, concerts, and restaurants because of the overwhelming amount of conversations, music, and other loud sounds.
Although, some hearing people do struggle with these experiences, which shows that there aren’t many differences between us. This question could be answered by anyone, including a hearing person, because there is nothing major that is set apart because people with hearing loss are just like everyone else.
I was born with a moderate to severe hearing loss and have worn hearing aids my entire life. I want people to know it’s not as easy as I make it look. Specifically, in order to follow conversations and speakers, I must concentrate at all times, which is exhausting.
Although I understand advocating oneself is an important life skill, I wish I wasn’t in the position to constantly be on top of it.
We want people to know it’s not that bad to be deaf. It has allowed us to have some great opportunities to go places like the retreat and meet people. And it’s nice to be able to shut off your devices sometimes and shut out the world.