Everything You Need To Know About Hearing Loss But Didn’t Know To Ask

Hearing impairment is an isolating disability. And even though I have awesome hearing aids (they are Bluetooth-enabled, so I can answer my phone by touching my right hearing aid!), there are still times when they aren’t enough.

In noisy environments like restaurants, patrons chatting, and music or televisions playing all make it difficult to hear my own table mates. But the worse part? Being seated at the end of the row. I can only interact with the person beside or opposite me, and if they are listening to the person beside them, I’m just not in on the conversation.

But that’s not the fault of my table mates. It’s my job to let the people around me know that I have a hearing loss and where my optimal location would be (right in the middle).

So here I am, letting you know! And here are 5 things you can do to ensure people with hearing-impairments are included in the conversation.

  1. Make eye contact when you are speaking to them. Even though I don’t read lips, it still makes a difference.
  2. Speak up if you are asked to. I worked with a very soft-spoke person when I was in the corporate world, and she was great at speaking louder when I asked her to. First the first sentence. Then she was back to speaking at her normal volume. And I had to ask every time. For 16 years.
  3. Don’t walk away from them while you’re still talking. We can’t see your face and you’re getting farther away, neither of which is helpful.
  4. Book round tables at restaurants. If you know someone who is hearing impaired will be there (and maybe even if you don’t know that someone who is hearing impairment will be there) book the round table or booth if available. It’s an equal-opportunity table! I love round tables.
  5. Enunciate and move your mouth when you talk. Sounds obvious, right? And yet…I have a fabulous dentist. Love the guy. But when he talks, he doesn’t move his mouth! I don’t know how he does it, but I have to remind him every time I see him.

Even though these tips focus on ways to help those with hearing impairments, they are also just good habits to adopt. You may not know the person you’re speaking to is hearing impaired, but they might not know they are hearing impaired either. Four people in my family needed hearing aids and none of us knew about it until we were at least 40.

Last tip: Go have your hearing tested. Some Costco stores have a hearing aid centres where they not only test your hearing, but also have the best prices. And the government contributes $500 towards your first pair!

Thanks for listening,

Karen Mrkonjic

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