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How I changed my attitude about hearing loss

At the beginning, I fought tooth and nail against being one of those people who wore hearing aids. I realised that all of my stress and anxiety had been caused by the fact that I was trying so very hard to fit into the hearing world.

This all changed after I went through having my hearing loss diagnosed. I adjusted to my hearing aids and became a part of the deaf and hard of hearing community. 

Officially finding out about your hearing loss

Officially receiving a hearing loss diagnosis is very different to being aware that you are hard of hearing. Our friends and relations often tell us that we could do with having a hearing test. And yet it is only once we take the plunge and take a test, that we make things official.

You see, before the test it’s all too easy to fool yourself into thinking that maybe, just maybe, you’re having an off day and that tomorrow will be a much better one. You tell yourself that everyone has hearing problems in a modern noisy society. And of course there is always that old standby, the, ‘what if it’s just a minor complaint, some ear infection that’ll clear up in a day or two.’

“You see, before the test it’s all too easy to fool yourself into thinking that maybe, just maybe, you’re having an off day and that tomorrow will be a much better one.”

As you can see from my observations above, I have a rather healthy imagination, but most people do. Especially if they’re over the age of 50. Let’s face it, we often get just a little settled in our ways. We know who we are, and what we do and do not like. And many of us, males in particular, don’t like making a fuss. Unless it’s man-flu of course.

Being told that I have hearing loss, was really no different than any other big change. It came as a shock, despite knowing I had a problem at the back of my mind. As a change, it was most unwelcome. I fought it, went through the five stages of grief. Trust me, hearing loss is no different to you in an emotional sense than a bereavement.

“…hearing loss is no different to you in an emotional sense than a bereavement.”

We call it a ‘loss’ with good reason.

Jumping to negative conclusions about my hearing aid lifestyle

 Before my official hearing loss diagnosis and receiving my Phonak hearing aids, I was leading an active life. No, I was not leaping out of aircraft or performing Hollywood stunts. I was not even attempting Pilates, which looks every bit as dangerous as stunt work. But, active, I was. I walked most days and belonged to the local health club. I went swimming three times a week, used the gym and enjoyed saunas and steam baths.

Having a pair of hearing aids appeared to me to be something of a double-edged sword. Yes, I had been given a hearing boost, though it wasn’t like I had imagined. Yes, I had expected to have my hearing magically restored. The reality was somewhat different and was taking me time to get used to, but I knew it would seriously impact my life.

I knew this fact because my audiologist had told me so. She had explained my hearing loss and the fact that it wouldn’t improve. In my case there was a good chance that it would get worse over time. I honestly don’t know what was going through my head in those early stages, but I’m inclined to think that it was very cartoon like with old quivering gentlemen holding up ear trumpets and shouting out “I beg your pardon?”

Read more: New to hearing loss? 3 ways to be an advocate for your hearing loss journey

I do remember very clearly sitting in my chair and thinking that my life was about to change. And not for the better. At that time I assumed that I would never be able to go to the gym again or go swimming. I had hearing aids and because of these delicate little plastic things balancing behind my ears, life would be on a permanent go-slow.

My new life with hearing aids

Although it was hard adjusting to my hearing aids at first, I quickly learned how to insert them into my daily routine. In the early days it’s a bit tricky having to remember to remove them each time to have a shower or bath and if it’s raining hard. However, that said, it’s no different to, for example, wearing glasses. (Unless of course you happen to wear your spectacles in the bath or shower.) I know for a number of years I have taken off my glasses before a shower and now, I also take out my hearing aids. Just as easy. Once you’ve made it into a habit, it becomes just another routine part of your daily life.

One of my major worries was the way my behind the ear, BTE, hearing aids were fit. Looking at these tiny things, which reminded me of a little Bluetooth earpiece, it seemed to want to defy gravity. In my mind, were a million different scenarios of its demise: flying out of my ear, feeling uncomfortable, being distracting, embarrassing, or get lost or destroyed.

I mean, how could a tiny little rubber dome attached to a plastic tube ever survive? Just as we are always hearing that people often think of themselves as either a glass half full or glass half empty type, so my thinking had switched tracks. I’m by nature an eternal optimist and tend to always look for the sunny side of things… well except perhaps where life’s little challenges are concerned.

Okay, I’m not too fond of change. There I’ve said it.

So my point here, is that when faced with this new challenge, my reflex action made me view it as a negative lifestyle alteration and one that would threaten everything I held dear. Talk about mountains out of mole hills. The reality was life changing, but in a fantastic way. Let me explain my apparent moment of confusion.

First, wearing hearing aids is something that you get used to and a lot quicker than you’d expect. They are tiny and beautiful in my opinion, but don’t take their size to mean weak. In fact, they are tough little things, as long as you treat them well.

“They are tiny and beautiful in my opinion, but don’t take their size to mean weak. They are in fact tough little things, as long as you treat them well.”

If you have one or two BTE aids, they are not permanent fixtures, which means, that you can take them out whenever you feel the need.

I have never had one of my aids fall off or even move. Trust me, I’ve even shaken my head rather roughly just to check. I have had them knocked off my ear, but by either my glasses or a hugging child, waving their hands about. The hearing aid has remained perfectly fixed in my ear and has caused me no discomfort. I have just had to put it back in place behind the ear and carry on.

Spinning a negative attitude to a positive attitude

So, what was my big turning point?

It was learning the difference between Deaf and deaf.

Read more: What are the differences between d/Deaf and hard of hearing?

I became aware that being Deaf, with a capital D means being part of a rich and vibrant community, which doesn’t communicate verbally. For many people within the community, British Sign Language, BSL, in England and American Sign Language, ASL, in America are their native languages and these are signed. This was so interesting. Because I can tell you that coming from a hearing world, this information was certainly news to me.

Also, I learned that there was a choice, some people who wore hearing aids still considered themselves “hearing people with hearing loss,” while others embraced being deaf with a lowercase d. I realised that all of my stress and anxiety had been caused by the fact that I was trying so very hard to fit into the hearing world. Suddenly, I became aware that I am deaf and maybe I have been for at least 10 years, but just didn’t know the fact.

“I realised that all of my stress and anxiety had been caused by the fact that I was trying so very hard to fit into the hearing world. I suddenly became aware that I am deaf and maybe I have been for at least 10 years, but just didn’t know the fact.”

That one little four-letter word was all it took to turn me into a very happy and very confident person.

Fighting against being deaf was only fighting against my own nature. I instead embraced my deafness and discovered a world of joy, pleasure, and acceptance. I do everything I did before my diagnosis and so much more in addition. Not every day is bright with chirpy smiling people. No, it most certainly is not. But my optimism has returned and I now look for the best in things, yes, even in the challenges.

Being part of the deaf community

Discovering the deaf community has opened up many new areas to me. I am involved with two charities Action On Hearing Loss, who recently invited me to become a member of their research panel and Hearing Link, who I have offered my services to as a volunteer. Since my own local community is lacking in resources for D/deaf and people with hearing loss, I’m going to make a difference myself. If each of us did one small act, something to bring awareness to the hearing community, our world, because we all share it, would be a much better place.

My personal challenge to you, is to embrace your hearing loss, find out what it means to be deaf and trust me, it’s not about being disabled, because my deafness has enabled me in the most astounding ways.

“… embrace your hearing loss, find out what it means to be deaf and trust me, it’s not about being disabled, because my deafness has enabled me in the most astounding ways.”

Look to our community and beyond. Find out what’s going on, research for yourself. Visit d/Deaf charity websites and make yourself acquainted with who you are. Volunteer, if it appeals to you.

I was recently taking a course in Deaf Awareness and a video clip was shown from an American television show, called “Switched At Birth, The ASL episode”. During the excerpt, the teacher standing before a class of teen students made a simple statement. Those words, in my personal opinion, should be a slogan for each and every one of us, they were:

“Not hearing loss, deaf gain.”

We who experience hearing loss gain admission into areas of a beautiful community peopled with wise, witty and noble people filled with joy and optimism.

Come in and enjoy your own deaf gain.

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Can We Talk?

Karen Putz isn’t shy about her hearing aids. Not only do they allow her to more fully participate in life, they also give the people she interacts with a visual cue that they need to accommodate her hearing loss. That, she says, can be really helpful.

“Several of my other deaf friends had said they wear hearing aids specifically for that purpose, (so that) other people know that they had a hearing loss,” said Putz.

This mom of three hard-of-hearing kids finds people to be very accommodating of her hearing loss, and believes that most people are anxious to do what they can to help ease communication.

”All you have to do is take that first step towards whatever it is you want to do, and people will accommodate,” said Putz. “People will adjust; people will communicate.”

Nanci Linke-Ellis, a bi-lateral cochlear implant recipient who was born hearing but lost it following a childhood illness, agrees.

“You’re constantly educating people,” said Linke-Ellis. “It’s not that they don’t care; it’s just that they don’t know what to do.”

For instance, Linke-Ellis suggests that if you find yourself trying to talk in a noisy environment, and you don’t have a technological fix like an FM system, you can move the conversation.

“(If there is) somebody you really want to talk to, you take them out of the room and you go to a quiet place and you talk to them,” recommends the entrepreneur, who believes that the only true disability in life is a poor attitude. In addition to moving the conversation to a quieter room, Linke-Ellis also has another suggestion.

“Let’s say there’s a word I can’t hear (for example) ‘assist.’ So, I would say, ‘Use another word; use a word with a consonant. Use different words and I will eventually get it.’”

Try these tips the next time you talk with a family member, coworker, or friend with hearing loss. By making a few simple adjustments, you’ll both get more out of the conversation:

 

1. Shorten the Gap

In loud environments with lots of background noise, like a family get-together, move closer to narrow the space between you and the person with hearing loss. Conversations across the room, or from one room to another, are difficult for everyone, and almost impossible for someone with hearing loss.

2. Attention, Please

Get your friend or family member’s attention by using her name, or lightly tapping her shoulder. Wait until you’ve established eye contact before starting to talk.

3. Face-to-Face

Speak clearly and maintain eye contact with the person who has hearing loss, because lip-reading and visual cues from your facial expressions help provide context and comprehension.

4. Limit the Distractions

Televisions, vacuum cleaners, loud music, and other noise can cover what you’re saying, making it even more difficult for someone with hearing loss to distinguish your voice from the noise. Keep the conversation clear by turning off or moving away from loud distractions.

5. No Need to Shout

Speak naturally, in your normal voice. Speaking more clearly and slowly can help those with hearing loss understand what you’re saying.

6. Know Your Audience

Hearing and understanding require focus and can take a lot of energy — for anyone. Someone with hearing loss, however, has to work even harder to follow a conversation, particularly in a group of people. Simply understanding this will help you be a better conversational partner.

7. Practice Patience

Be aware that when someone is first learning how to use a hearing aid, it requires a great deal of concentration. Be patient and, if necessary, take a break for a little down time; you can pick up the conversation again later.

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Why I finally decided my dad needs hearing aids

Have you ever asked your parents if they can hear the birds? Or if they are able to enjoy the tones in music like they used to?

I’ve been working in the hearing aid industry for a couple years now, but it wasn’t until recently that I had a conversation with my parents about hearing loss, and how it is truly affecting their life.

My siblings and I have joked about my dad’s poor hearing for years. I don’t remember if there was ever a point where it started, but rather – as it often is – it got gradually worse over time.

Losing his hearing

My dad loves music and has a record collection in the hundreds. Growing up, our home would radiate with melodies and beats, as vinyls, CDs and cassette tapes boomed through the speakers. These moments where we sang and danced in the living room have left me with some of my most fondest memories, and a resonating passion for ’70s folk and early ’90s grunge.

As we got older, there were many incidents that warned us that my dad couldn’t quite understand what was said. Like when we would introduce him to a new friend, named “Nancy,” and he would repeatedly call her “Karen,” or when he would make up lyrics to songs he hadn’t heard before.

We learned to never expect a response from him if we tried talking to him from the backseat of the car while he was driving.

Eventually, we grew accustomed to his ridiculous responses, which often made us ignite in gleeful laughter. To be honest, my dad’s regular misunderstandings fit him quite well. It became part of his personality.

“…my dad’s regular misunderstandings fit him quite well. It became part of his personality.”

As many people could say of their own, I claim my dad as one of the kindest, most selfless, and hardest working people I know. Since the day my twin sister and I were born he worked nights, weekends and holiday shifts at a paper factory in Indiana. We knew the warehouse as a place we could get free, glittery, sticky paper. For him, it was a place he could check into day after day, funding his simple life with three kids.

The routine of pressure, stress and labor would leave him exhausted at the end of each day, and the job evolving around heavy machinery would eventually play a huge impact in his health. In one instant, he lost part of his thumb in a machine accident. But it wasn’t until recently that we realized the slow damage his career has done on his hearing.

Hearing Loss among Blue Collar Workers

Of course, my dad is not alone, and many blue collar workers are exposed to loud noise on a daily basis.

“Studies show a strong association between occupational noise and noise induced hearing loss, an effect that increased with the duration and magnitude of the noise exposure,” according to The World Health Organization.

For example, the risk of hearing loss among “blue-collar” workers in construction jobs is 2-to 3.5 times greater than “white-collar” workers in other industries, according to the WHO.

Last year I had the privilege to travel with Hear the World Foundation to the Appalachian region of Kentucky, as a staff volunteer for Sonova. The rural town reminded me of the people back home and the communities that sprouted up around once-booming labor industries. In Appalachia’s case, it was the mining industry that ran the economy in the hallows, as employees were provided a comfortable salary to spend their days underground, in loud, dark and dangerous spaces.

Read more: Hear Appalachia: Reviving a Quiet Community

My colleagues and I were there to fit former miners with hearing aids. When I had the opportunity to talk to some of them, they told me that protecting their hearing was more of a matter between life and death. Wearing hearing protection meant that they wouldn’t be able to hear warning signs at work… like the ceiling caving in on them.

“Wearing hearing protection meant that they wouldn’t be able to hear warning signs at work… like the ceiling caving in on them.”

While I was on the volunteer trip I also had the opportunity to meet an audiologist named Bob DeNyse, who happened to have an office near my where my dad lives. We talked throughout the trip about his years as an audiologist, his work, his life and passions. I told him that when my dad was ready, I would love for him to take a look at his ears.

Getting a hearing test with an audiologist 

That day came a few weeks ago, as my dad, who is preparing for retirement, said he would like to get a proper hearing test so he could purchase hearing aids – if necessary – while he was still covered with his work insurance. He had hearing tests before at his work, but it would consist of someone coming to his office to do a quick check, followed by him walking away with an audiogram – which was as indecipherable to him as a Spanish Novela.

Read more: Understanding Your Audiogram

I suggested he make an appointment with Bob to get a proper hearing test, then I could help advise him on what hearing technology he would like best.

What happened after my dad’s visit with Bob is what made me really understand the importance of having an audiologist in one’s hearing loss diagnosis, and hope for success in returning to a full life of hearing.

A message from his audiologist

“As you suspected, (your dad) has a bilateral hearing loss, essentially symmetrical, predominately in the high frequencies, consistent with his history of working around loud machinery,” said Bob, in a long email sent to me a few days after the appointment.

“Subsequently, his perception of high frequency speech sounds is compromised.  And if you add the variable of him conversing with someone with a high frequency voice, such as yourself and probably your sister, he is going to miss a few sounds. (Ex. “Hey Dad …. are you thirsty?,” to which he may respond, “No, I think it is Wednesday…”) After reviewing the audiogram and discussing the recommendation, he is ready to use hearing aids….but, he says he may not use them until he “retires’ from his job. He could use them now, but that is between him and you all.”

“Ex. ‘Hey Dad … are you thirsty?,’ to which he may respond, ‘No, I think it’s Wednesday…’”

And all of the sudden, I got it.

My dad’s hearing loss really is affecting his life.

I shared the email with my mother and siblings before talking to my dad. We discussed the options and the severity, then I finally gave my dad a call.

Hope for better hearing

When I told my dad that his audiologist suggested he get hearing aids, he wasn’t thrilled, but he seemed open to the idea.

“I’ll never get my hearing back though, will I?” he asked. “They always told me my ear hairs were dead so my hearing won’t come back.”

“Well, hearing aids should allow you to hear most of the sounds that you haven’t been able to hear,” I said.

“Like the birds?!”

“You can’t hear the birds, dad!?” I asked, shocked I hadn’t known this fact.

“Well, maybe some of them if they’re really loud. What about music? Will I be able to hear music again!? I would love to be able to hear music like I used to!”

And that was it. I decided my dad has to get hearing aids.

“Will I be able to hear music again!? I would love to be able to hear music like I used to!”

My family, audiologist and I haven’t yet decided on what model hearing aids to get my dad, but we are thinking about Phonak’s rechargable hearing aids, especially because he has a hard time handling small things, like batteries, because of his thumb injury.

Honestly, the price is still looming over our heads, but now that I know how much hearing again could help my dad have a more enjoyable life, price doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

All that really matters is that he’s he able to enjoy life’s wonderful sounds as he used to.

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Finding happiness after hearing loss

Have you found joy and happiness elusive after your hearing loss? Does having a hearing loss influence how much happiness or joy you allow yourself to experience? Can you be happy after losing your hearing? 

Ever thought of it that way?

I didn’t until recently when I discussed my journey from a successful music career, to sudden onset bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss in my late 20’s, and back to music again. I said that after my hearing loss I had lived a life with a serious “joy deficit.”

The reasons may seem obvious, as among other things a loss of my career and music, but that quote made me wonder how I could say that. There have been so many years after hearing loss to adjust and so many moments, people, places and experiences that must have been happy and joy producing. Weren’t they?

How Senses Play a Role in Experiencing Joy

Shortly after, I  read a book about joy and how important senses are in experiencing it. I began to understand better what may have created that “joy deficit” in my life. Sensory challenges – not only my loss of hearing music, but also the partial loss of sight –  had limited my experience of happiness and joy.

But was music the only thing that brought me joy all these years?

All the challenges I had because of my hearing loss seemed to cancel out all the joy in my life. Simple conversations and activities seemed to illuminate other deficits and inevitably influence the isolation, loneliness, and anxiety I can feel.

Social Consequences of Hearing Loss 

Untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences for older adults. A study done by the National Council on Aging reports that people with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids. The study also found that people who don’t use hearing aids are considerably less likely to participate in social activities.

OK, but what about those who have been treated and fitted with hearing aids and cochlear implants? Don’t they experience depression, anxiety and social isolation too? And to what degree?

According to the study:

“Hearing aid users reported significant improvements in many areas of their lives, ranging from their relationships at home and sense of independence to their social life and their sex life. In virtually every dimension measured, the families of hearing aid users also noted the improvements but were even more likely than the users to report improvements.”

What is “Happiness” in your Life?

I had to think back to what had previously brought me joy. Much, but not all, came back to my music – listening to it, playing, composing, recording and most of all performing it. Music was the landscape of my life. Shutting it down was a terrible blow and one from which I did not recover quickly or easily. My current pursuit of these activities should be indication enough of my passion for them and their importance to my life and happiness.

But was the loss of music the only reason I experienced a “joy” deficit?

As I do, you probably know folks with hearing loss who have not recovered well even after they get hearing aids or implants. The pain, fear and embarrassment are just too much for some and can become overwhelming. They were for me for a time as well. Thanks to discoveries about the brain, hearing technology, hearing rehab and vocal work, I have found music again.

But have I found that elusive joy I have been missing?

I’ll put it his way. I have found great satisfaction in working hard to reclaim my musical life with exciting results. My story has given me a pretext to write and speak about hearing loss. But I’ve also learned hard lessons along the way. For too long a time I forgot, or did not appreciate enough, other things that brought me joy and happiness. Because I did not hold onto the memory of those things long enough, I did not fill that reservoir of sensory and emotional experiences. So, I had little to draw upon it when things got tough. Instead, I felt that life meant compensating first and living second.

Learning to Live with Hearing Loss 

Part of learning to live with hearing loss is letting go of things one may have thought was dependent on having perfect hearing.

Having music in my life again is wonderful, but I also have other things in my life that are helping me rediscover my happiness. I have love in my life and a patient partner and soul mate; brothers and cousins; nieces and nephews; friends; my work; years of travel and better fortunes, and the memories of them, and new ones waiting to be created. Joy.

I am enjoying, with even greater intent, those things that better connect me to my body – yoga, meditation, walking, exercising, and more. Joy.

My sweetheart and I swim in Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts (made famous by the writings of Henry David Thoreau). Joy. We love the mountains and the ocean. Joy. I love old New England Inns where recently I had a “joy moment” sitting on the porch of the very Inn I escaped to right after my hearing loss – and being now in a better place. Joy.

“If I were to be asked what brings me the most joy now, it’s not perfect hearing.”

Enjoying sensory experiences are not all dependent on perfect hearing of course, and all of them give us a window into what brings us joy. If I were to be asked what brings me the most joy now, it’s not perfect hearing. It’s family, friends, nature, love, sex, my work, my music and countless other things. It’s the joy that might be present at any moment that I will miss if I do not pay attention. It’s close up face-to-face exchanges, the visuals in life, the outdoors, the body, feeling the flow of life…and sharing that with others.

I lost many things when I lost my hearing. Joy did not have to be one of them. If not hearing, then I can use my other senses to see, smell, taste, touch, remember and experience those moments, people, places and things that bring me joy. It’s up to me to regularly quiet myself long enough to savor the joys in my life.

Choosing Joy 

Was I blaming my hearing loss for that joy deficit? Yes, I think I did in part. My joyless streak caused many difficulties for me – not enough time with family and friends, gaps in my relationships, not reaching out to the hearing loss community  and insisting that my social crowd be limited to those with good hearing. That’s changing and I am better for it.

Joy is a choice.

Dear friends and many guides have helped me understand something else – that joy is a choice. Any choice can become joyful by actions that we take – not just emotions that we feel. If we don’t pay attention in every moment, we will miss the good things. If we allow hearing loss to disconnect us from the other parts of ourselves and life, it will inevitably limit the joy we can experience.

Our emotions are connected to our senses and ultimately to our experience of joy.

Listen to music, sit by a stream, hike in the mountains, walk by the sea, visit a museum, read a good book, be among friends and family and try not to be moved. We fail the soul when we fail to allow our other senses to move us, even when hearing is limited. And we fail the soul when we purposely shut the rest of us down out of fear, anxiety or embarrassment.

It’s not surprising that many of us with hearing loss have found peace in spirituality, meditation, yoga, and in those people, places and things that through interactions and the senses bring us joy. We can mourn our hearing losses, but the resources to help us reconnect to our joy ARE out there. Don’t avoid getting a hearing aid and allowing a joy deficit to fester.

Find your joys – whatever they are – and hold onto them and nurture them selfishly.

How to be Happy after Losing your Hearing 

If you have a hearing loss, try a hearing aid. As the aforementioned study suggests, that alone may bring you happiness.

If wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant continues to distress you, take some time and contemplate the state of your own joy and happiness and ask yourself why they continue to be elusive. If perfect hearing is the only thing that you think will bring you happiness, you may be in trouble.

There are things I cannot do anymore, but most of them have nothing to do with my hearing. As I have grown older, and even less auditorially perfect, the number of things that can bring me joy has grown, but only IF I recognize them, appreciate them and hold onto them.

I don’t mean to be glib. The social isolation, anxiety and depression are real and not easy things to overcome. We try medications, therapy and other things to help. But it comes down to gratitude and those personal habits we practice to identify and express our joy that are at least as important.

Joy and happiness are choices. They demand making changes in perspective and behavior simply because the old ways are not going to work anymore.

“Joy and happiness are choices.”

Don’t miss the joy in each moment because of your hearing loss. When good thing happens, drink them in and build up that reservoir of joy inside you.

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10 Misconceptions about Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss is sometimes referred to as an “invisible disability,” because it’s not always obvious when people have hearing loss, and it’s not often talked about. Studies show that only 1 in 5 people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one, and on average, people with hearing loss wait almost 10 years before they do something about it. Why?

Sometimes it’s related to cost, but other times it has to do with the stigma that hearing loss carries. People might associate hearing loss with getting old or don’t want to wear hearing aids because there are ugly.

There are a lot of misconceptions that people have about hearing loss. I think it’s important to be open about hearing loss and how it can affect people’s lives, both positively and negatively. Help break down the stigma of hearing loss!

Here are 10 misconceptions about hearing loss that you should know:

1. Deaf people cannot drive

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Deaf people can totally drive! They just need to be more cautious of their surroundings. It’s all about visuals. (Read about my drivers’ training experience, and tips for passing a drivers test.)

2. Sign language is one universal language

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Sign Language is as diverse as spoken languages. Each country has one or more sign language, you may be surprised that there are about 130 different ones!

Some people with hearing loss use sign language, and others don’t! Although I wear hearing aids and communicate with speech and lip-reading, I’m also learning British Sign Language.

3. Deaf people are good lip-readers

CAN YOU READ MY LIPS?

Lip-reading is difficult, and not always accurate. Depending on how long someone has had hearing aids, or how well they can hear, some people lip read better than others. There are so many different lip-shapes and patterns, most of it is just guesswork. This is why Deaf people appreciate gestures, clues or signs to indicate the subject! It also doesn’t help lip-reading if people have accents, beards or moustaches!

4. Hearing loss only affects the older generation

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I don’t know why people think this! Maybe because the only ‘deaf’ person they know of is their grandparents? Well, obviously this is a myth! I’m 19 and I’m profoundly deaf. Some people are born with a hearing loss, others lose it later in life. Hearing loss can affect people of all ages.

5. Deaf people only listen to someone when they feel like it

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Due to concentration fatigue, people with hearing loss might not always have the energy to lip-read or focus on their hearing, especially if there’s background noise. If you feel like we’re ignoring you, perhaps we didn’t hear! In this case, get our attention before speaking as we might not have heard you!

Try these 7 things you can do to communicate effectively with someone who is hearing impaired

6. Hearing aids instantly make you hear

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Unlike glasses that can instantly correct your sight, people with hearing loss can’t just pop in a hearing aid and instantly hear! Depending on the level of someone’s hearing loss, hearing aids vary on power, and often need some fine tuning by the audiologist or hearing care professional to create the best listening features in each users’s technology. While hearing aids can make a big difference in one’s hearing ability, it’s not the same as someone with “normal” hearing.

Read more: Hearing Aid Fitting Day: Ups, Downs and Why It’s Worth It!

7. Deafness is hereditary

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Deafness is not always hereditary. Personally, nobody in my family is deaf. I’ll likely never know the cause of my deafness.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, contracted Meningitis when he was young and lost his hearing as a result.

8. If you talk louder, deaf people can hear 

hands-people-woman-meeting I once heard somebody compare this misconception to the body being like a microphone. Have you ever heard anybody talk into a broken microphone? It would sound quite loud with plenty of distortion. What’s the point? No matter how loud you talk, if a person has severe enough hearing loss they won’t understand you. That’s what hearing aids are for; make sounds like voices sound clearer and limit sounds like background noise. If you talk louder, it just sounds like you’re shouting at us!

9. Hearing loss can be repaired by medicine or surgery

pexels-photo (3) Currently, there is no “cure” for hearing loss, but there are studies and research around this topic. For some people with severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant surgery may help them hear better, but when it comes to repairing hearing loss through medication or non-implant surgery, it’s still an open topic. Maybe in the future there will be a new discovery, who knows?

10. Hearing aids are big and unsightly

Misconceptions about Hearing Loss

Hearing aids no longer mean wearing big, bulgy, beige hearing aids! Hearing technology now comes in all shapes, sizes and colors! Some are classed as ‘invisible‘!

I used to have purple Phonak hearing aids, now I have turquoise Phonak Sky Q hearing aids, I think they look awesomeMisconceptions about Hearing Loss