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Many people with hearing loss find it difficult to talk about their experiences and their needs. Although most people have some degree of hearing loss once they reach the golden years, it can remain a challenge to talk about the experience of hearing loss, particularly with younger people.
Some find themselves feeling unwilling to admit hearing loss because it might make people treat them differently. Others think it is a sign of getting older, although we know that hearing loss is not limited to elderly people. Still others don’t want to deal with the challenges presented by hearing loss, preferring to pretend like they don’t have any limitations. Although many people feel these forms of hesitation when it comes to disclosing hearing loss, real solutions only come once the problem is acknowledged.
Even if you are willing to acknowledge hearing loss in one context, perhaps with your close family members, the act of disclosure is not a one-time event. Each time that hearing loss presents itself as a problem, you will need to find a solution to make communication possible. Although that first act of disclosure is a step in the right direction, not all ways of talking about hearing loss are equal. In order to have the most success in accommodating your conversational needs going forward, keep in mind the following types of disclosure.
Types of Hearing Loss Disclosure
The first style of hearing loss disclosure is a misnomer, because it is not a disclosure type at all. “Non-disclosure” is an approach that circumvents talking about hearing loss and jumps straight to what is needed for accommodation. For instance, a person with hearing loss might simply say, “What was that,” “Say that again,” or “Can you speak up?” Each of these phrases masquerades as a disclosure of hearing loss, but these statements can be easily misleading. If a person doesn’t know that you have ongoing hearing loss, they might think you simply weren’t paying attention or that background noise got in the way. Without saying that you have hearing loss, you can’t get the ongoing support you need.
The second style of hearing loss disclosure is called “basic disclosure” and involves simply telling a person that you have trouble hearing. This common form of disclosure is a step in the right direction, and the people you meet will be able to do their best to help you. However, without suggesting how they can best help you, there can be missteps when it comes to accommodation. For instance, a person might drastically raise their volume or slow down their speech to the point that it is embarrassing for you. Although people don’t mean to do it, then can also take on a condescending tone, as if talking to a child.
In order to avoid these missteps in accommodating hearing loss, “multi-purpose disclosure” is the best approach. By not only telling a person that you have hearing loss but also explaining what they can do to help you, you have a better chance of being able to communicate in the present moment as well as going forward. Simply saying, “I’m hard of hearing. Can you come closer to talk?” the person will not only know what to do but will also be able to support you moving forward.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Although accommodation of hearing loss can be helpful in any given conversation, the bigger picture of hearing loss requires professional help. If you know that you have hearing loss or even if you suspect it, visiting us for a hearing evaluation is the best way to find out what treatment options are available to you moving forward.
After a hearing test and consultation, we review the options that work for your individual form of hearing loss, including what new features and functions are available in hearing aids. Depending on your needs, some new hearing aids are compatible with smartphone apps to adjust the sound profile and overall volume, and some can even connect to media through Bluetooth, essentially doubling as earbuds, as well.