Category Archives: hearing loss

Hearing Loss Memes

I look for hearing loss memes to post on our work Facebook page. Some are funny, some are true and some are way off base.  Let’s take a look at memes.

This happens all the time with people who have hearing loss and there’s a variety of reasons. We can sense the other person’s agitation and we still didn’t hear it so we nod and let it go. Or someone is in deep denial still and afraid to admit they can’t hear.

There are a few fixes. One, we ask the other person to rephrase instead of saying “what” or “huh” a third time. We can repeat the parts we heard and ask them to repeat only the words we didn’t hear. If the other person doesn’t know we have a hearing loss, we can start being upfront about it and hopefully their agitation goes down. We can also chose to make these learning experiences for the hearing person. Hearing aids don’t correct hearing like glasses do for vision.

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Wrong! They are called hearing ‘aids’ for a reason, otherwise they’d be called hearing miracles.

My high frequency hearing loss prevents me from hearing some consonants so conversations are like the wheel of fortune. Let the other person know that gesturing aids communication or have them use the ASL alphabet to finger spell the word.

HL meme 2

Excuse my language but this one bugs the shit out me. Yelling and shouting does not help most people with hearing loss. Plus, its in the ear (decibel damage there) and the person is not facing me. I hear with my eyes and my ears. Yelling in my ear or at me will only piss me off.  I will reach out, put both my hands on each side of your face and have you face me. That’s the correct way to communicate.

Hold everything! This might be funny to hearing people but let me tell you there are huge mistakes in communication here. You cannot talk to us like normal hearing people, it’s setting up communication for complete failure so you too need to change your ways. Number one, get my attention before you start speaking. Number two, be sure you face me so I can see what you are saying too.

For the hard of hearing people; tell the hearies in you life to face you. Be upfront about your hearing loss and your needs. Don’t just say “I’m hard of hearing,” tell people what you need to facilitate communication. Ask for a booth or a corner table at a restaurant to help block out some noise. Make sure your hearing aids have a program for noisy situations (the program should drop the noise level a few notches and have microphones on focus forward). Sit in well lit areas so you can see what’s being said even if you don’t think you lipread.

HL meme 7

Turn up your hearing aid! He said, “your money or your life,” not your money or your wife.

Um, how is he supposed to “hear” through a mask? I’m sure he uses lipreading with his remaining hearing. Volume will not help, lipreading and proper enunciation makes a big diffidence.  Does the guy with hearing loss know how hears, does his wife? Have they been properly educated about his hearing loss? Do they know hearing aids don’t replace true hearing? I’m thinking they don’t.

There is something to this one. What I heard compared to what was said is often a lot more fun! As long as we both have a sense of humor, it’s lots of fun. Go with it and laugh.  Another round please waiter!

Hearing aids pick up all kinds of noise, not just speech and it can be awful. It will make me clench my teeth so hard I can’t concentrate anymore. Maybe we had too much noise all day and we just need a break. Or we were lipreading for hours and need to rest the brain which brings me to…

HL meme 5

It is so much work and so tiring. If I’m already tired, there’s no way I can keep up so please excuse me from certain social activities at this point. I’ve learned my limit.

HL meme 12

Don’t we wish! Why did hear that and not that? I don’t know but it’s not selective hearing I promise you that. Maybe good acoustics help or the rotten acoustics wrecked my hearing. Maybe I was looking at you and maybe I wasn’t. Maybe you enunciated better than usual or your mumbled. There are so many variables when it comes to hearing loss.

HL meme9

Without captions or a hearing loop I can’t hear you in certain situations. If you want to include me and other hard of hearing people accommodate us and we’re happy to go out to those lectures, pep rallies and workshops. Otherwise you get “what” and we feel isolated while in a crowd.

Hearing loss still has too many misconceptions, there’s still a lot of educating to do and our job is to correct them. If you are hard of hearing please advocate for yourself because when you do, you educate the hearies. Figure out what is is you need to hear and stand by it, you deserve it.

Hearies, it takes too to make communication work. Do your part because we did not chose hearing loss, hearing loss chose us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Accents & Hearing Loss

My husband and I took a belated honeymoon/anniversary trip to Costa Rica a few weeks ago.  I decided to go minimal knowing we’d be moving to a different part of the country every few days.  I left my usual purse at home, using a super small, flat purse to carry only a few essentials.  Knowing it was going to rain every day and be super humid, I decided to leave my hearing aids at home.

I know some of you out there are gasping at the thought of leaving hearing aids behind.  Hearing aids are just too expensive to lose and I didn’t want to chance it.  I’m fairly comfortable not wearing hearing aids here at home but I’ll admit, I was a little worried about how I’d hear English with accents there.  Lucky for me I was going with a hearing person. Still I didn’t want to lean on him too much, I was sure I’d find ways to communicate as needed.

Our first driver spoke very little English.  I was super tired after flying all night in a tin can, packed tightly together.  Airline seats don’t go back far enough to sleep without pecking corn (my head falling forward again and again as I tried to sleep).  When I’m that tired, I can’t hear at home either so I only knew our driver was talking but understood very little of what he said.  Ken said he couldn’t really understand him either.  I fell asleep in the van which was more comfortable than the plane believe it or not.  We stopped for a picture at one point and when I had a hard time understanding him, he resorted to gesturing.  Perfect!  Gesturing is universal.

We went to a restaurant and the menu was in both Spanish and English. I thought I’d try the Spanish words since I was in their country.  “I’ll get the hamburguesa atun.”  He looked down at me and said, “You want the tuna sandwich.”  I almost laughed out loud.  I think he meant “Don’t massacre my language.”  I didn’t try ordering in Spanish again sticking to English.

We stayed in three different towns in different parts of the country.  We stayed in Manuel Antonio the first few nights which mostly resting up from our plane ride over.  Then went to la Fortuna the next couple of nights where three activities were planned; the hot springs at Tabacon, a trip to the Arenal volcano and the Fortuna waterfall.  We had an English-speaking guide for the volcano and waterfall, he was very good about facing me.  He was a biology student so he and Ken got along well, he even convinced Ken to eat a few termites…no I didn’t even try.  Ken said it was ‘woodsy flavored.’

Over the course of the trip I realized the same rules apply abroad as they do in the states.

  1. If having a hard time, I told them I couldn’t hear well.
  2. I told them I use lipreading.
  3. If I could relax, I could hear/lipread them, especially after spending more time with them.

My favorite hard of hearing moment  of the trip was while we were Tamarindo and went out on a catamaran for snorkeling.  I’m not one to jump in the ocean so I stayed on the boat while the others splashed around.  I was happy with mojitos, the view, the sun at least and getting to know some of the crew who were super accommodating. I was sitting at the back of the boat relaxing and one of crew members sat down next to me.  He said, “I know you don’t hear well and that you are learning my lips…”

And I thought perfect, yes!  I’m always learning people’s lips.  I’m learning their lips, the words they use, their facial expressions and their accents.  I was certainly learning his lips.  To continue…

“…and you’re learning my lips but I don’t know how you understand me so well.”

Well… I grew up near the Mexican border in California so maybe Spanish accents are a little easier than I thought they would be?  That’s what I told him but after more thinking maybe it’s a combination of things.  Maybe I spent enough time with him?  Or was it that he made sure he faced me?  Maybe some people are easier to lip read accent or no accent no matter what.

I had a grand time and I would not hesitate traveling in other countries.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Travel forth my hearing loss friends!

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My friend on the boat.

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Me on the boat.

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A restaurant in Manuel Antonio.  The tourists loved the monkeys and the locals thought of them as pests.

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Hot spring bliss.

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Fortuna waterfall

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Melwin was another person who was easy for me to understand.

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In the jungle leading up to the Arenal volcano. Andrey was easy to understand as well.

 

The Hard of Hearing Wand

There are times I wish I could wave a wand to make others hard of hearing for a day or two.  I’m not supposed to wish hearing loss on anyone, I know, but some people need to learn empathy.  I don’t wish on it everyone, just a few of the very difficult people I run across. I wish I could have waved it over the lady in the salon who insisted I keep answering the phone even though I got names, numbers and information wrong all the time (this was before caption phones).  I would have waved the wand over another lady, a secretary,  at an assisted living home I worked at as hairdresser.  She never would come close enough for me to hear/see her properly  like I was contagious.  Or my ex-husband who would hated to repeat and would say, “I SAID…”  And the people who won’t stop moving their heads when I’m trying to lipread them.  So maybe I’ll wave my wand around a bit here on my blog.

Here’s some things I’d specifically like hearing people to understand:

Words full holes and the mind racing to fill those holes at the sound of speech hoping it makes sense at some point.  It can be exhausting.

hearing loss looks like

See the difference?

Why hearing aids aren’t called ‘hearing miracles’.  Yes they help but they do not make my hearing perfect again.  Then you’d know why the question, “Are your ears on” makes me twitch.

ears on

Yes my ears are on.

Now that you are experiencing temporary hearing loss, try hearing someone from another room; to hear a voice and not understand most of what’s said.

in the dark

It’s like being in the dark.

How about talking on the phone with a disembodied voice (very similar to above)?  No lips to read, no body language to take cues.

hearing in the dark

Yes!  I’m still in the dark.

You like watching TV and movies?  Try it with a hearing loss and you’d know just how hateful it is without captions.

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That’s all we hear on TV without captions.

 

This is for the people who think they are funny, who repeatedly say “huh” as a joke.

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To feel what it’s like to be dismissed and excluded from conversation with the words “Never mind.”

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Those words are a wall.

That’s just to few people.  Thank goodness the majority of the people I run across are good with accommodating me.  I keep my focus on the good people mainly and I happen to know a lot of them. Mostly I’d use the magic wand for good; to restore confidence, take away pain and give hope to more people with hearing loss.

At the ALDA convention last year in Scottsdale, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing did give hearing loss to a number of people for a day without a wand.  They got people to agree to wearing custom made ear plugs and asked them to wear them for a day.  It was eye opening to all those who participated, giving them more empathy towards those in their lives who have hearing loss.  If you are interested, Dianna Nanez, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, wrote about her story.

What could you add to this list?

 

Acceptance of My Hearing Loss

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In 2007 my hearing took a big drop and I knew it because three year old hearing aids were not powerful enough anymore. It saddened and concerned me since I couldn’t afford new hearing aids but life continued as it had in spite of it. I needed a few more repeats than I used to and co-workers at the salon helped me with the phone more often. They helped without hesitation or questions. I had family and friends who acted as my translators while running errands around town and because it was a smaller town, people knew and accepted me. I had no idea I had such a wonderful support system in place.

support system

At the end of 2008 I moved out of state to a big city away from my support system. I moved with confidence in myself, my abilities and belief that people were helpful. That confidence took a pounding! Even though I landed a job right away, there was no one to help me with the phone anymore. Making matters worse, something in the building made my t-coils hum rendering my hearing aids useless. I took my volume control phone to work thinking that would help but words were still garbled and I couldn’t get names or numbers right. There were people who called to hear my voice and say “never mind, I’ll call back later.” (Why did I understand that!) It didn’t help having a co-worker who pressured me to answer the phone. Soon I began to loathe the phone…and the salon.

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My hearing aids had no idea where to focus.

The salon, though beautiful, was an acoustic nightmare. My hearing aids wouldn’t function, meaning I couldn’t hear clients in my chair either. I became a boring hairdresser with nothing to say, unable to create the necessary bond with clients. Most of my first time customers didn’t come back to me. Every day I went into work a little later and more often than not I came home crying. Who knew a hearing drop would affect me this much well after it happened?

I quit after 6 months of torture. My working life as I knew it ended. Ever since I was 18 years old hair had been my anchor. If all else failed I could do hair but the wind was knocked of me here.

In one sense I withdrew. Socializing felt like a nightmare, all around me was English but it may as well have been Spanish. It was nothing but a crush of noise that didn’t make sense. I stayed home more often and started cleaning houses for money because cleaning didn’t require hearing. I became an introvert after being social most of my life.

During this time I joined the SayWhatClub again seeking solace. SWC helped me once before and I was sure it would help me again. They listened to me, they sympathized and they helped me get back on my feet again slowly but surely. I started to spend more time on my computer reading and replying to emails. To my husband it seemed like I was withdrawing from reality but it was more like healing instead.

There is a local HLAA chapter here, an advantage to living in the big city. My extrovert self sent me to a meeting. I needed people and I needed people who would understand. This was one of my best moves. I experienced CART/live event captioning for the first time. I didn’t have to hear, I could see the conversation as it happened right there on the screen. I met people who knew to face me and speak a little slower. I admired several people for their advocacy efforts and decided I wanted to be like them when I grew up. I became a regular at the meetings and it wasn’t long before I was part of their steering committee.

The meetings are held at the local Deaf and Hard of Hearing center. I started attending their hearing loss classes and captioned lectures/workshops. Coming in from the outside world, I felt the weight of hearing loss fall off my shoulders. I discovered a place safe for me.

A few years later I started attending hearing loss conventions and WOW! Here was another world created just for those with hearing loss, an ultimate place to learn and socialize without fear. There were loops and captions in every workshop making it easy to be there. I had tons of energy leftover to hang out with new friends.

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The HLAA convention in Rhode Island had a workshop called Hard of Hearing and Exceptional: Landing the Job and Achieving Career Success led by Malik El-Amin. I remember him telling us to be in control of our hearing loss, don’t let our hearing loss control us. Control my hearing loss? My hearing loss ruled my world. How would I ever own it? Even though I couldn’t grasp the concept at the time, those words continued to bounce around in my head.

I continued with my hearing loss groups. I achieved a small victory in getting captions at a workshop. I became a hard of hearing assistant at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing center teaching hearing loss classes to others. I attend workshops on advocacy and go to the state capitol to show support at the legislative level. I also got back into doing hair out of the salon this time by going to home bound people’s houses. Even if some of those things put me out of my comfort zone, I pushed myself forward.

None of this is new to my writing, you may have seen it throughout my posts. What’s new is I’m confessing acceptance of my hearing loss and I wouldn’t change my journey. I’m comfortable with it and I learned to be in charge of it. I’ve been through hell because of it but I can’t hate my hearing loss anymore. This is difficult to explain because few people reach this level. I tried to talk about it once and botched it. Hopefully I don’t sound like I’m from another planet this time.

In short, here’s my hindsight:

  • I realized some years ago that most everyone has something to deal with; depression, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, ADD, hearing loss and so much more. I’m not the only one trying to figure how to live well with an affliction. Sometimes we feel like we are the only ones in the world with a cross to bear but we aren’t. Talking to others about their issues keeps a balance.
  • In the last 5 or 6 years I read every book on hearing loss I could get my hands on. I joined hearing loss groups and attended their conventions. I feel less isolated being around others who also have hearing loss. Through them, I acquired a nationwide network of people with hearing loss.
  • Without hearing loss, I would never have met some of the neatest people I know. If I had to chose my hearing or my friends, I’d keep my hearing loss. I treasure the people it brought me to.
  • I took a lipreading class. It’s hard and I’m not anywhere near a perfect lipreader but it helped. I started teaching the class. Repetition is a good teacher. Let go of hearing/seeing every word, catch what you can and let the rest go. If nothing came through, ask for a repeat or better yet, a rephrase. Letting go of hearing every single word took a lot of weight off my shoulders.
  • I learned to advocate for myself personally and in public. It gave me confidence. I learned to advocate through workshops, classes and support groups.
  • Volunteering for hearing loss organizations gave my hearing loss a purpose. There are an estimated 48 million people out there with hearing loss. Many of those people could use help and guidance of some sort. After you’ve learned a thing or two, return the favor and pass it on. My volunteer efforts looked good on my resume and I was hired to be a hard of hearing assistant for the state. Your volunteer efforts could lead you to a magical place.
  • Relax. It took me years to relax in social settings. Once my confidence built up I relaxed more. The less I stress, the more I hear with my ears and my eyes.
  • I don’t have to be a part of everything. I pick and chose what I’ll do and won’t do. Am I too tired for speechreading? Then no. Will the sports movie my husband wants to see have captions, no? Then I’ll pass on that. I’m not interested in extreme sports anyway. Should it be accessible? Yes but this one’s not my fight.

There’s probably more to this list. It’s been hard to put my finger on just what brought me around to complete acceptance. It doesn’t mean it’s all a breeze now. I get mad and sometimes I get hurt. The difference is I snap out of it quicker because I know what to do. I take the experience and think, “What can I do to make this better next time?” If I can’t make it better, maybe it’s not worth my time and effort.

There could be another big drop in my hearing in the future. That would mean more anxiety as I feel my way around, figuring out what works best again. It will shake up the world as I know it. I’ll have my fits and I’ll have to reach yet another level of acceptance to some degree. However, I already have super role models in place so I won’t be so alone should it happen again.

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So be upfront about your hearing loss. Talk about it. Learn about it. The more you know the easier it is to work with. The more people you know, the more help there is available.

 

Why I Don’t Identify as “Hearing Impaired”

I had to back up and think about my statement on Facebook the other day. I don’t identify with being hearing impaired and I know several others with hearing loss who don’t identify with it either. I’m not everyone and I’m not most people because some have said they don’t mind the label hearing impaired. I didn’t get my first pair of hearing aids until 23 yrs old and the lable I got then was “hard of hearing.” Since that was my first label maybe that’s what I’m most comfortable with??? I just can’t do the ‘hearing imparied’ for myself.

I looked up the definition of impaired:

1. Diminished, damaged, or weakened

2. Functioning poorly or incompetently

3. Having a physical or mental disability:

n. (used with a pl. verb)

People who have a physical or mental disability considered as a group

Truly, I felt all of the above at one point. Mostly that was before gaining support from others like myself, learning better coping strategies and educationing myself about high frequency hearing loss. Since then, the only time I’ve felt dimished, damaged or weakend is when I haven’t been given proper accommodations. When given those accommodations, I feel included, empowered, fully functional and able to participate.

Before learning better coping strategies, I may have seemed mentally incompacitated when I bluffed and guessed wrong. Once I gave up bluffing, most situations improved. When I took control of my hearing loss, more situations improved. When I educated myself and others about high frequency hearing loss, communication and relationships improved. I had to learn a different style of communication.

A different communication style plays into my current thinking from my past. When my middle son was in grade school, he was 2 ½ grade levels behind. When I took him to school in the morning he dragged his feet and sometimes cried before getting out of the car. He knew he was the ‘slowest’ child in class. Every day when I picked him up, I could see his self-esteem falling and it broke my heart. I demanded the school test him and they found out he has an auditory processing disorder. Because of all the ear infections as a baby/toddler, he learned visually instead of through his ears so he has a different learning style. Schools teach the auditory method. They wanted him to adapt. He didn’t even qualify for extra help while at school because his average peer was one grade level behind and since he was only “one” grade level behind, he was fine! I could not stand by and watch his self-esteem continue to plummet.

Instead, I researched his learning style and found out many kids are visual learners such as ADD and dyslexic. More and more kids were becoming visual learners but the schools won’t change. I took my son out of the public school system and homeschooled him for a couple of years teaching to his learning style. He blossomed, he caught on and he started learning again. I told him all the time he wasn’t the one who failed, it was the school who failed him.

When we moved to a different state he went back into the public system with an IEP (individualized education plan) in place this time. A few years later in high school he had it figured out, we dropped the IEP and he assimilated into the school without distress or low self-esteem. Success! He wasn’t impaired, he needed a different learning style.

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I now apply that to my hearing loss. I haven’t failed, the set mode of communication has failed. More and more of us are becoming hard of hearing. Are we dimished, damaged or weakened? No, we have a different mode of communication that doesn’t fit standard society. Society is the one who makes me feel dimished, damaged and weakened, if we let it. It is part my fault not getting proper accommodations when I don’t educate others.

Why is everyone expected to be the same? We’re not. We all have different needs.

Is it my fault when others don’t accommodate me? Not neccesarily. I now know education is the key and I educate others almost every chance I get. Unfortunately there’s more educating to do, a lot more. I’ve learned things through trial and error. What works for me may not work for everyone. I apologize if I offend people, it was not my intent. I only know how the word ‘impaired’ affects me.

I can’t identify as deaf either. I’m somewhere between the worlds because I still use what’s left of my hearing and my eyes too. I have learned some sign language but I’m far from Deaf. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to label us, we all have our own ways.

There’s another word in the definition of impairment I don’t agree with; disability. I feel like I have a lot of ‘ability’ in the right environment. I like what these people have to say:

disability

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I’ll add if could accommodate people, there would be no disability.

Please, share your views. I do my best to keep an open mind and I can be swayed. When some people use “hearing impaired” I don’t say anything because I know they mean well. When the state uses it to define me, I got a little riled up. It may take me a few days for comments to soak in but I really do consider all views.

Advocating Within Family For Hearing Loss

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My family accommodates my hearing loss and I don’t acknowledge that enough because it’s my normal. So I want to say right now to my family, thank you for helping so much over the years. You are all wonderful people and I appreciate you. At work and in person, other hard of hearing people tell me they don’t get accommodations from their family. It makes me feel sad and then I wonder what I’ve done to make it possible in my family.

For instance; My now 3 adult kids and I played Cards Against Humanity a week or so ago. (Cards Against Humanity is the adult version of the Apples to Apples card game we played when they were little. You can look it up on Amazon and read the reviews which are funny themselves.) Each person takes turns being the ‘card czar’ which means they read out loud a black card with one, two or three blanks and the rest of the players fill in the blanks with the cards in their hands. Each kid as card czar automatically handed me the card to read when they finished reading it out loud. I didn’t make that a rule. Maybe I asked to read the card myself enough times it became a habit???

Am I just lucky? After talking to my mom it’s not luck, it’s a combination of things. She refreshed my memory which triggered other memories.

Anger once helped get my point across. Years ago we were out camping one night, sitting around the fire. It was my family, my sister’s family and our parents. We had a big fire so faces were lit and I probably only had a mild/moderate hearing loss back then so I could follow conversation filling in the gaps most of the time, except sometimes I couldn’t. I asked for a repeat and I got the dreaded “Never mind.” My mom said I became really angry and told everyone how unfair that was. I was trying to hear, I wanted to hear and that’s why I asked for a repeat. Don’t ignore me! My mom never said ‘never mind’ again and I don’t remember the rest of the family saying those words much either.

Anger is not the recommended way to get accommodations. I’m supposed to be nice when asking for help and most of the time I do. However, now and then I think anger is needed to make an impression. We can tell others how we feel but sometimes we’re not taken seriously until we blow up. That’s what happened while we were camping and it had a lasting affect.

Tears drove another point home. About ten years or so ago we had a family reunion in Colorado which required a full day of driving. At some point I took my turn at the wheel while my dad sat in the backseat directly behind me. He asked me to back off the car in front of me because a rope was flying loose on the trailer and he was afraid the load might come loose. I didn’t hear him after a few times so he reached out and smacked the back of my head to get my attention yelling out what he’d been saying. I felt my face flush and tried to keep the tears back. Here I was 30 something years old and getting smacked in the head for something that wasn’t my fault. My mom who was sitting in the front passenger seat yelled at my dad that I couldn’t hear and he needed to speak up. I could not wait to get out of the car and get out of the drivers seat. When reminiscing about it, she said, “It wasn’t the best way to get your attention but he was worried about an accident.”

Every since I was teenager I’ve had trouble hearing front to back or vice versa in the car. To top it off my dad doesn’t project his voice at all while he’s talking having learned as a kid, “kids are meant to be seen and not heard.” He grew up with that and still abides by it. As my hearing got worse, it was harder and harder to hear my dad anyway, never mind being in the car. I can’t remember him losing patience with my hearing since that incident.

Help from hearing people in my life made an impression on my kids. As typical kids, they tried getting away with things by staying just under my hearing threshhold. The older two kids tortured their little brother in the car making sure I couldn’t hear until he yelled thus making me yell at him. They loved pushing his buttons and knew how to do it quietly. The other adult passengers would tell me what really happened so I started keeping an eye on the kids with the rear view mirror. Another time my sister was with me and one of my kids started talking smack about me and of course I didn’t hear. My sister turned around and laid into them all telling them I was their mother and they had better respect me. It happened another time with my mom in pretty much the same fashion. That’s when the kids learned that not all adults had hearing loss.

Education has been the biggest key to getting other people to understand my hearing loss; what I can and can’t hear and why I hear the way I do. For 15 years I didn’t understand my own high frequency hearing loss for no doctor or audiologist took the time to explain it to me. All I knew was I couldn’t hear birds, bugs, children’s voices and some women. About 7 years ago I ran across the book Missing Words and it made a huge impact on me. Now I understood my hearing loss and why I could hear but not understand and why words had missing holes. After that, I could tell others how I heard and why. I shared the news with my family and when they understood where I was coming from they were better about facing me when talking with more patience than before. I also went on a writing spree opening this blog to try to share with others what hearing loss is like. Maybe there were other hard of hearing people who had never been told either so I wanted them to understand their hearing loss too. We aren’t alone and we can keep on sharing with each other. I haven’t stopped learning.

Persistence plays another role (within reason). Hearing people have hearing habits so it takes some time to break those habits to replace them with new ones. Most of the time it takes gentle reminders but occasionally it takes hitting the roof over a pet peeve that happens repeatedly. I hate to say it but it can take years to get those close to you to adapt totally but when it happens, it’s worth it.

Over the years I ran across hearing people who never understood hearing loss and didn’t want to learn about it either. The doors in the mind slammed shut. One of those was an ex-husband of mine who liked to use my hearing loss against me like asking me about getting a golf membership from across the house and when I didn’t answer that meant it was okay! Why bang my head against a brick wall my entire life? We had other issues as well so it was time to move on.

There was a lady I worked with who acted like hearing loss was contagious and it pained her to talk to me within 25 feet. I worked around her as much as possible doing us both a favor. There was another co-worker who thought I could hear because I did so well one on one that she insisted I answer the phone which was pure torture for me (before CaptionCall phones were available). I wound up quitting that job because I couldn’t make her understand and trying to manage the phone was stressing me out. That’s 3 bad people I’ve encountered in about 20 years. I don’t dwell on them nor do I let them color my world. Most people are good people and want to help.

That’s what has worked for me. After some personal memory mining with the help of my mom, it wasn’t the smoothest ride but it wasn’t the roughest either. It helps that I have such an open minded family who are willing to help.

How’s your family life? What’s helped you?

How to Build Self-Confidence as Hard of Hearing

Many people with hearing loss have low self-confidence. It is possible to take charge of hearing loss (instead of hearing loss ruling life) and build self-confidence up again. Begin building confidence in your personal environment. Starting small, choose something comfortable to work with and simply start.

Some of the suggestions for building confidence below require interaction with other people so make sure you have the right attitude. Make a pledge to be passive NO more and practice being assertive instead. Passive behavior is staying in the background not wanting to cause problems. Being assertive means to let people know your communication needs and ask for their help. Avoid being aggressive and demanding.

self-confidence meme

We all awesome!

Here are some suggestions to work with.

Know your hearing loss. Educate yourself about your kind of hearing loss, why? To be able to describe to other people how you hear. Once you know this, you can accurately tell others how best to talk to you. This might seem hard at first but it gets easier with time and you will become more confident asking for accommodation.

  • Please face me when talking; I hear better when sound comes straight at me.”
  • I lipread, please face me.”
  • Background noise affects my hearing; can we turn the radio off or down?”

Educate yourself about abut Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs). Which ones work better for certain situations? Which public venues have devices to use? Ask for them, use them. Try them out first by getting a loaner from DSDHH so you know what works best for you.

  • The PockeTalker for a long drive?
  • The FM system for a wireless connection at a presentation?
  • How about trying the CaptiView at the theater?

Be prepared, anticipate. Think ahead. Where are you going and what will be the listening conditions? What can you do to make it better?  With anticipation it’s easier to get around the hearing loss obstacles and in learning this, we can feel more confident about doing new things

  • Take an assistive listening system?
  • Show up early to get the best possible seating?
  • Contact someone a head of time to find out the setup and let them know what you need?

Set a small goal and achieve it. Start small, think of one thing you can do to put yourself out there again. The small successes will make you braver and you can build on your goals.

  • Go to a presentation with a personal FM system and ask the speaker to wear it. (Show up early to talk to the presenter or email ahead of time.)
  • Find a class offered for those with hearing loss and take it; speechreading, sign language, etc. In fact, get in touch with your state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center and see what they offer.
  • Go to a captioned Broadway show. There are lots of captioned shows around the country usually in the bigger cities. If you can’t find one near you, see if you can get in touch with someone like Turner Captioning who does captioning in many cities to see if she can help you find one or get play near you captioned.

Change a habit. It will seem hard at first but it will get easier with practice. Be patient with yourself and others but keep at it. Habits are hard to break but it can be done.

  • Be upfront about your hearing loss.
  • Ask people to rephrase instead of repeat
  • Mimic the way you want others to talk to you. Articulate with a moderate pace and always face them when talking.

Say what the heck and do it anyway. We tend to hole up and stay in our comfort zones. Once in a while say “yes” I’ll do it. Get out of your comfort zone and give it a try.  If it doesn’t pan out the way you planned, think about it. What could you do next time to make it better? What might seem like a failure could be a step to a success.

  • Go out to eat at a restaurant by yourself and practice ‘hearing’ alone.
  • Go to that party you usually avoid if only for an hour. Practice being assertive with your communication needs.
  • Go to see a movie and ask for an ALD.

Be who you are and stop being someone else. We are hard of hearing and it’s time to stop pretending to be hearing. We are hard of hearing and there’s no shame in that. It only means we have to do things in a different way.

  • Stop bluffing!
  • Ask for accommodations.
  • Use whatever you need to get by without feeling guilty or feeling weird.

Volunteer. Sometimes helping others is just what we need to feel better.

  • Volunteer for a hearing loss cause. There are several organizations to volunteer with; The Hearing Loss Association of America, Association of Late Deafened adults and the SayWhatClub.
  • Volunteer with hospice services. People in hospice care are Deaf and hard of hearing too.
  • Offer your specialty services with any organization and help teach them about hearing loss along the way.

More suggestions for building self-confidence:

  • Stay away from negative people; they are just going to drag you down. Find positive people to hang out with and find a group of hard of hearing people to hang out with to find positive role models.
  • Look good because when you look good, you feel good.
  • Stand tall. Straighten up and throw your shoulders back.
  • Start an exercise plan. Feeling healthy helps you feel good too.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. For all you know they are comparing themselves to you and finding themselves lacking too.

When you advocate for yourself you will become more confident and self-assured. In gaining confidence within your personal environment, you can take it to the next level and advocate in public. Later, you may even feel confident enough to advocate at the legislative level as well.

Remember, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be gentle with communication requests and don’t give up. As Dr. Seuss said, “And will you succeed? YES! You will indeed, 98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.”  Oh the places we can go if only we’ll try.

dr seuss