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Hearing loss is commonly called the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or observe your hearing loss, and no one can sense your frustration and stress. The only thing someone can sense is their OWN frustration when they have to constantly repeat themselves.

Unfortunately, individuals with hearing loss seldom get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why communicating your hearing loss to others is essential—both for building empathy and for participating in effective conversation.

Here are some tips you can use to let others know about your hearing loss.

Full disclosure of your hearing loss

Telling others about your hearing loss might be awkward or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll avoid many other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and causing others to repeat themselves, for instance, can produce situations that are a great deal more uncomfortable.

When disclosing your hearing loss, strive for full disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please talk louder.” Instead, explain your hearing loss and recommend ways the other person can best communicate with you. For example, you might say something like, “I’m partly deaf in my left ear due to an infection I had several years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help a lot.”

Provide others with communication tips

Once you divulge your hearing loss, others will be much less likely to become irritated and more apt to make an effort to communicate clearly. To help in this respect, offer your communication partners some tips for more effective communication, such as:

  • Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t yell across the room or from another room.
  • Face to face communication is critical; visual signs and lip reading help me understand speech without straining.
  • Get my attention before speaking with me.
  • Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to yell.

Your friends, family members, and work colleagues will appreciate the honesty and guidance, and you’ll avoid having to cope with communication issues after the fact.

Manage your hearing environment

After completely disclosing your hearing loss and offering communication tips, the final consideration is the control of your environment. You want to present yourself the best chance to hear and communicate clearly, and you can achieve this by excluding disruptions and background noise.

Here are a few tips:

  • When eating out, pick a calm, serene restaurant and choose a booth away from the middle of the restaurant.
  • At social gatherings, it’s best if there is no background music or sound emanating from a television or radio.
  • Find quiet areas for conversations.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to the host ahead of time about special preparations.

Planning ahead is your best bet. Approaching the host prior to the party will give you your best chance at effective communication. And the same applies to work; reserve some time with your manager to review the arrangements that give you the best chance to realize success. Your supervisor will likely appreciate the initiative.

Request professional help

As soon as hearing loss starts to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s about time to search for professional help. Modern hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their capacity to filter background noise and improve speech, and they may be just what you need to enjoy an active social life once again.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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