The 5 Most Common Reactions To Hearing Loss
Let’s face it, we’ve all come across a wide range of reactions to hearing loss, from mild embarrassment to the extreme joker desperate to make light of the situation. Most people do not know how to react, how to communicate effectively with a hearing impaired individual, or perhaps do not have the patience to do so hence the sometimes extreme reactions.
It is important that individuals know how to communicate with hearing-impaired people of all ages and degrees of hearing loss so that we can combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Below is my guide to the 5 Most Common Reactions to Hearing Loss I have come across and how NOT to do it.
1) The Joker;
You know, that one person who thinks it’s funny to cup their hand over their ear and loudly exclaim “You’re what?”. It’s not funny the first time, let alone the millionth time but somehow you always find yourself politely tittering at their playground joke as if you have never heard it before.
2) The Shouter;
Another common reaction is shouting. People often believe that talking louder will help us to hear them better but volume is not the key and it actually makes life a lot harder for us, especially if we are trying to lip-read.
3) The Embarrassed Face;
Us Brits often get embarrassed when faced with disabilities/issues we do not know how to deal with and become quite quiet, preferring not to attempt communication in case we get it wrong. A reaction even I can relate to.
4) The Tutter;
I’m sure many of you will have come across this person; the one who tuts at you when you ask them to repeat a word/phrase or sentence as if you are putting them out. It often makes me feel embarrassed for having a hearing loss and that I should be apologising for it. Not cool.
5) The Apologiser;
I think constantly apologising for everything is another British mannerism and whilst their intentions may well be good, it can become annoying very quickly.
So now you know what NOT to do in this situation, I have 5 helpful tips for what TO DO to ensure that you can communicate effectively.
1) Speak clearly and at moderate (normal) pace;
There is no need for you to slow down speech or shout, in fact, this can hinder lip-reading.
2) Do not over-enunciate / exaggerate facial expressions;
Again, this can hinder lip-reading as words get distorted.
3) Try to choose a well-lit environment;
This is an important tip; well-lit environments mean we are able to see your face clear from shadows or obstructions which is particularly helpful when lip-reading.
4) Face the person you are speaking with;
Again, this will assist lip-reading
5) Ask the individual what works for them;
Everyone is different, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another so by asking, you are showing that you want to improve communication and care about their needs. Bonus points for you all round.