Communicating effectively with the hearing world.

Posted by joangela @joangela, Sun, Sep 22 9:07am

What are your words of advice to communicate effectively in the hearing world? Basic things like going to the grocery store and communicating with the checker and not getting looks like you are crazy. Do you hold up signs? Do you try and explain that you have a hearing loss or that you are deaf? What are your communication methods?

My hearing loss is moderate so don’t have too much trouble in relatively quiet places like the grocery store. But in noisy places I sometime hold out my remote mic (ConnectClip for Oticon Hearing aids) and say would you wear (or speak into) this microphone? It helps me hear better with my hearing aids. Or if it’s for a speaker I ask them to wear it and say this mic goes directly to my hearing aids. I’ve never had anyone object. They are usually very interested. And bystanders often want to ask me about it for their hearing.
Or you can just say “I’m a little bit deaf” then ask them to speak up or tell what part of what they said you missed.

REPLY

Generally the answer is to advocate for oneself in a friendly way so they know what's going on, People do want to help. In the grocery store I might point to my ear and say (something like) "Beg your pardon, I missed that, I'm hearing impaired. Will you please repeat?" When on a phone call with a stranger I will start by telling them (cheerfully) that I'm hearing impaired and I miss things when people talk fast, so please slow down for me. I've always received respectful and kind responses. In the course of the conversation if they speed up their speech and I need to ask them to repeat something, that introduction has already smoothed the way. Also when in a class or lecture I introduce myself as hearing impaired to the speaker in advance and ask them to repeat the questions and comments from the audience because I usually cannot hear them. I also place myself front and center in the room so I can see and hear the speaker, and if I cannot hear something I wave and gesture toward my ear.

REPLY

I like that connect clip that you use in noisy environments. My hearing aids are called signia and I will have to ask my audiologist about that feature. Thanks for the pointer.

REPLY
@ner

Generally the answer is to advocate for oneself in a friendly way so they know what's going on, People do want to help. In the grocery store I might point to my ear and say (something like) "Beg your pardon, I missed that, I'm hearing impaired. Will you please repeat?" When on a phone call with a stranger I will start by telling them (cheerfully) that I'm hearing impaired and I miss things when people talk fast, so please slow down for me. I've always received respectful and kind responses. In the course of the conversation if they speed up their speech and I need to ask them to repeat something, that introduction has already smoothed the way. Also when in a class or lecture I introduce myself as hearing impaired to the speaker in advance and ask them to repeat the questions and comments from the audience because I usually cannot hear them. I also place myself front and center in the room so I can see and hear the speaker, and if I cannot hear something I wave and gesture toward my ear.

Jump to this post

I totally like your way to communicate on the phones immediately letting them know you are hearing impaired.
I am definitely going to start doing that regularly.
As far as things like at the grocery store, I am going to try harder to communicate my hearing disability. I have just run in to a number of people that weren’t compassionate, and I realize that is not everybody. 😁. Thank you.

REPLY

People don't know what a hearing impaired person doesn't hear or understand. People assume everyone is hearing. So when asked to repeat they often say the same thing with the same poor result. For me certain places or situations are impossible for oral communication like noisy places or over the speakers at drive-up windows. I mostly just avoid putting myself in that position if possible.

Sometimes avoiding is impossible. If I can't understand someone I often gesture that I don't understand, without speaking, pointing to my ear. Or I have found that using Sorenson Buzz Cards (phone app) is helpful. I can type in something like "#1, no fries, to go please" at McDonalds and show them the text on the phone without voicing anything. Or I have another screen prepared that reads "I'm unable to understand you – please write" and have a paper and pencil for them. The more I speak the more they talk back in a way I can't understand. People generally don't know how to communicate with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, so we have to tell them how to communicate with us. Some people understand right away and some never get it.

I also use an Oticon Connect Clip. I find it important to be prepared to use it. People don't realize how long it takes to turn on the Connect Clip and change hearing aid program on a phone or remote control. So I try to do all that before ever engaging a conversation with that device. I've had great success with speakers wearing the Connect Clip, they are very cooperative.

Sometimes I sign (ASL) as I speak and that is enough for some people to realize that I'm hearing impaired and respond appropriately. Once in a great great while someone will actually know ASL. That's very rare.

I advocate for hearing loops whenever I get a chance. I've asked our local bank to install a loop system at the drive-up window and I've asked the VA clinic to install a loop system at the check-in desk. Those countertop systems are inexpensive and work well (after people learn how to use them). AWARENESS is a big key to successful communication

REPLY
@joangela

I like that connect clip that you use in noisy environments. My hearing aids are called signia and I will have to ask my audiologist about that feature. Thanks for the pointer.

Jump to this post

My problem, aside from the usual inability to hear electronic voices, like automated checkouts or drive-up windows, is meetings. I'm involved in a big pilot project about local water supply, as well as being curriculum director for a lecture series, plus fisheries and trail meetings. I've been deaf in my right ear for decades, but didn't have anything but age-related HOH in my left ear until recently, when Meniere's went bilateral, bring distortion and recruitment plus, of course, tinnitus. Pairing my new IPhone with my aid and utilizing our own WiFi setup has solved the phone problem for the time being, but groups remain difficult.

I got a clip mic just before a water meeting last Thursday, knowing that it probably wouldn't help much in such a large room with a high ceiling…speakers would be way too far away for it to work, but I had hoped it would work for smaller breakout groups. There were close to a hundred people in the room, often all talking at the same time. I tried putting the mic on the table in the center of the small group, but there were so many voices all around us that it was impossible for the mic to pick up the closest folks in our breakout group. It also didn't work while we were eating dinner…too many people, too much noise. The people in my immediate workgroup of the project are all aware that I can't hear well, but only one of them really makes an attempt to situate himself so that I can hear–and over half of those folks are at least 60-plus!

Some people "get it" while others just don't. Every week, I load donated bread and then distribute it to local charities the next day. Of all the people I interact with while doing that, only one makes an effort to face me while speaking. Two of the people are close friends…in spite of reminders that I need to see what they're saying, they talk while they're loading freezers or moving around, in and out of the room. The person I must interact with the most fortunately uses e-mail a lot and I can now hear her soft voice via the phone…some of the time.

The bright spot is the lecture series. As long as I sit in the front row on the right side so that my "sorta" hearing ear and aid are facing the speaker, I've been able to follow reasonably well, given that most use PowerPoints (which I enable if need be). This is a group of older folks learning about a variety of topics, lots of whom wear aids. I asked the pres. to give the mic to guests so that everyone can hear who they are; that's been working about half the time, a big improvement. Since I work with all the speakers before their programs, I've added a request to repeat questions from the audience, and that works well with most. Being able to use phones again is huge, as I contact speakers before their programs to discuss tech details.

Big groups remain a big problem. After Thursday's four-hour water meeting, I came away with virtually no new information, except what I saw when there was some sort of visual display. However, this is perhaps the most difficult room we've met in to date. It will be interesting to see if any future meetings are held in a room with a loop–possible if it's a major hotel here on the sparsley-settled coast. My requests for minutes (imagine that!) of meetings have been unsuccessful so far; before this downturn, I took minutes for my workgroup and circulated them, but no one else is willing to make the effort, nor do all of them share their PowerPoints (if they use one!) with the group on the project's website. I've skipped two trail meetings, as they were always difficult in the past: the dozen or more directors sit on three sides of four tables arranged in a "U" facing each other rather than the audience of 50 or so folks. Anyone who testifies sits in a chair facing the directors. No mic, ever. This typical agency setup for a meeting has always been difficult for me; now it's flat impossible.

REPLY
@joyces

My problem, aside from the usual inability to hear electronic voices, like automated checkouts or drive-up windows, is meetings. I'm involved in a big pilot project about local water supply, as well as being curriculum director for a lecture series, plus fisheries and trail meetings. I've been deaf in my right ear for decades, but didn't have anything but age-related HOH in my left ear until recently, when Meniere's went bilateral, bring distortion and recruitment plus, of course, tinnitus. Pairing my new IPhone with my aid and utilizing our own WiFi setup has solved the phone problem for the time being, but groups remain difficult.

I got a clip mic just before a water meeting last Thursday, knowing that it probably wouldn't help much in such a large room with a high ceiling…speakers would be way too far away for it to work, but I had hoped it would work for smaller breakout groups. There were close to a hundred people in the room, often all talking at the same time. I tried putting the mic on the table in the center of the small group, but there were so many voices all around us that it was impossible for the mic to pick up the closest folks in our breakout group. It also didn't work while we were eating dinner…too many people, too much noise. The people in my immediate workgroup of the project are all aware that I can't hear well, but only one of them really makes an attempt to situate himself so that I can hear–and over half of those folks are at least 60-plus!

Some people "get it" while others just don't. Every week, I load donated bread and then distribute it to local charities the next day. Of all the people I interact with while doing that, only one makes an effort to face me while speaking. Two of the people are close friends…in spite of reminders that I need to see what they're saying, they talk while they're loading freezers or moving around, in and out of the room. The person I must interact with the most fortunately uses e-mail a lot and I can now hear her soft voice via the phone…some of the time.

The bright spot is the lecture series. As long as I sit in the front row on the right side so that my "sorta" hearing ear and aid are facing the speaker, I've been able to follow reasonably well, given that most use PowerPoints (which I enable if need be). This is a group of older folks learning about a variety of topics, lots of whom wear aids. I asked the pres. to give the mic to guests so that everyone can hear who they are; that's been working about half the time, a big improvement. Since I work with all the speakers before their programs, I've added a request to repeat questions from the audience, and that works well with most. Being able to use phones again is huge, as I contact speakers before their programs to discuss tech details.

Big groups remain a big problem. After Thursday's four-hour water meeting, I came away with virtually no new information, except what I saw when there was some sort of visual display. However, this is perhaps the most difficult room we've met in to date. It will be interesting to see if any future meetings are held in a room with a loop–possible if it's a major hotel here on the sparsley-settled coast. My requests for minutes (imagine that!) of meetings have been unsuccessful so far; before this downturn, I took minutes for my workgroup and circulated them, but no one else is willing to make the effort, nor do all of them share their PowerPoints (if they use one!) with the group on the project's website. I've skipped two trail meetings, as they were always difficult in the past: the dozen or more directors sit on three sides of four tables arranged in a "U" facing each other rather than the audience of 50 or so folks. Anyone who testifies sits in a chair facing the directors. No mic, ever. This typical agency setup for a meeting has always been difficult for me; now it's flat impossible.

Jump to this post

Do you give your remote mic to the speaker to wear? That works well for me. Also, it’s not perfect, but a speech to text app on your smartphone will get you a lot, if not all, of the Speech around you. It works better if it’s not too noisy, but even in noise you will get some of what is said. Best choices I’ve seen are Google Live Transcribe (Android only) or OLLI or Translate (Apple and Android). Roger makes a multimic that is designed for conference meetings. I feel your pain and have the same problems. If only these types of rooms were all looped or at least had FM systems as required by the ADA.

REPLY

Last week's Water Meeting is an example of everything that can be wrong! Very high ceiling in a big room with all hard surfaces, lots of glass. Multiple speakers, so having them use my mic didn't seem to be a very good idea. The speakers either had NO Powerpoint or a very basic one that just hit the most important points. All the speakers had problems making the PowerPoint move to the next slide when it was supposed to. Due to the high ceiling, the mic the speakers used had echos and feedback. One of the "facilitators" read somewhere that it will energize the crowd to do exercises where everyone moves around, all talking as they do so. At least I wasn't the only one who failed to hear which direction we were to move next…The entire room was full of confused people stumbling around, trying to hand off the paper they had to the right person. Some people had three papers, while others had none. Meanwhile, the person with the mic tried to shout over all the noise.

The various work groups (which meet far more often) are generally a dozen people or less. The mic I bought is supposed to work if placed in the center of the table for small groups. I'm going to try it out during lunch tomorrow at the lecture series–each table seats eight people, and I've learned to just quietly eat my lunch and smile from time to time because it's impossible to hear in a room with several tables of people talking. In the past, sometimes I've just skipped lunch and gone for a walk.

The mic I just got is supposed to work with the Android tablet I bought for Live Transcribe. The tablet itself simply doesn't have a very good mic, plus you need to hold it upright in order for it to pick up anything. Initially, I thought that speech-to-text apps might be THE solution, but using them means I miss seeing what people are saying, their attitudes, etc. It certainly isn't like TV with closed captioning where you're watching the person speaking with the captions in the same space! (Not that we have much of that, as only one channel, which shows old programs, has captions. Really makes me cranky to hear that such-and-such company paid for the closed captioning on something I'm watching when it doesn't offer captions at all. I'm sure that problem is all good ol' Charter.)

REPLY
@ner

Generally the answer is to advocate for oneself in a friendly way so they know what's going on, People do want to help. In the grocery store I might point to my ear and say (something like) "Beg your pardon, I missed that, I'm hearing impaired. Will you please repeat?" When on a phone call with a stranger I will start by telling them (cheerfully) that I'm hearing impaired and I miss things when people talk fast, so please slow down for me. I've always received respectful and kind responses. In the course of the conversation if they speed up their speech and I need to ask them to repeat something, that introduction has already smoothed the way. Also when in a class or lecture I introduce myself as hearing impaired to the speaker in advance and ask them to repeat the questions and comments from the audience because I usually cannot hear them. I also place myself front and center in the room so I can see and hear the speaker, and if I cannot hear something I wave and gesture toward my ear.

Jump to this post

@ner
Hi
Definitely advocating for yourself and letting people know beforehand about your hearing is the way to go. This has been a successful strategy for me for years and not always easy for people new to hearing loss. Since people don’t like to repeat themselves or they say the dreaded words “never mind”, I have found it extremely effective to repeat what it is you DID hear. For example, if someone says we are going to the XYZ restaurant for lunch and you got everything but the name of the restaurant, you could say Where are we going for lunch? or we’re going to what restaurant for lunch?

FL Mary

REPLY
@joyces

Last week's Water Meeting is an example of everything that can be wrong! Very high ceiling in a big room with all hard surfaces, lots of glass. Multiple speakers, so having them use my mic didn't seem to be a very good idea. The speakers either had NO Powerpoint or a very basic one that just hit the most important points. All the speakers had problems making the PowerPoint move to the next slide when it was supposed to. Due to the high ceiling, the mic the speakers used had echos and feedback. One of the "facilitators" read somewhere that it will energize the crowd to do exercises where everyone moves around, all talking as they do so. At least I wasn't the only one who failed to hear which direction we were to move next…The entire room was full of confused people stumbling around, trying to hand off the paper they had to the right person. Some people had three papers, while others had none. Meanwhile, the person with the mic tried to shout over all the noise.

The various work groups (which meet far more often) are generally a dozen people or less. The mic I bought is supposed to work if placed in the center of the table for small groups. I'm going to try it out during lunch tomorrow at the lecture series–each table seats eight people, and I've learned to just quietly eat my lunch and smile from time to time because it's impossible to hear in a room with several tables of people talking. In the past, sometimes I've just skipped lunch and gone for a walk.

The mic I just got is supposed to work with the Android tablet I bought for Live Transcribe. The tablet itself simply doesn't have a very good mic, plus you need to hold it upright in order for it to pick up anything. Initially, I thought that speech-to-text apps might be THE solution, but using them means I miss seeing what people are saying, their attitudes, etc. It certainly isn't like TV with closed captioning where you're watching the person speaking with the captions in the same space! (Not that we have much of that, as only one channel, which shows old programs, has captions. Really makes me cranky to hear that such-and-such company paid for the closed captioning on something I'm watching when it doesn't offer captions at all. I'm sure that problem is all good ol' Charter.)

Jump to this post

I don't know that I like what I read, but it seems like a reality in your circle. Hope there are better times ahead for the hearing impaired. It sure didn't look like the people around the designed of that building put any thought at all into good communication for all.

REPLY

Joangela, the reality is that once we have hearing loss, we'll always have hearing loss. There is no cure so we have to be aware of all the tools necessary to live with the condition. Amplification is one tool but it only helps. There will be times when the hearing aid battery or hearing aid itself dies. Other methods are needed. Communication strategies, lip reading, aural rehabilitation, and other Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) are other tools that people need to be aware of. We also need to advocate for ourselves to ensure we're doing everything possible to make it easier.
Tony in Michigan

REPLY

reply to joangela

The Siletz Tribal Center IS a beautiful building, located among tall trees, with the ugliness of the parking lot across the road. This is a lightly-populated area where many of us live away from others, on acres forested with old growth spruce. (Yes, there is some old growth left in western Oregon, mostly on small bits of land where someone like us lives in a house that has grown from a one-room cabin.) There aren't many local meetings, except for town councils where there usually are pretty good tech systems, just not anything so advanced as loops. My town has no other "industry" except tourism, which means lots of minimum-wage jobs during summers and unemployment during winters. Our grade school has such a low average family income that ALL kids are provided free lunches. This town of 8,000 swells to 50,000 during the summer, so tax dollars are invested in the infrastructure to support those extra people rather than in extras. The lodge complex where our lecture group meets was a lovely facility when it was built over 50 years ago, but has been sold several times recently, each owner ignoring repairs or improvements in the hope for a big sale. Although it was originally a conference center, it provides nothing beyond a lectern with a mike and a pull-down big screen for each lecture hall…our group brings our own projector. New owners are investing in "adventure" activities, like a zip line, to attract people from the metro area two hours away.

I find the groups of 8-12 around a table very frustrating. Yesterday, I tried placing the mic I had just purchased on the table top, hoping to hear the three people closest to me on my left, but it didn't pick up much. Since it's new, I hope it was simply that I didn't set it up correctly. This was a lunch group, so it's not practical to ask each person to reach for the mic when they speak. There were probably 65 or 70 people in the room, all talking, always a challenge. I wound up sitting quietly, smiling from time to time when someone appeared to be speaking toward me. I find it difficult to hear everyone even when it's a meeting of a small group in a separate room. There just aren't enough people with rich voices full of overtones!

REPLY
@imallears

@ner
Hi
Definitely advocating for yourself and letting people know beforehand about your hearing is the way to go. This has been a successful strategy for me for years and not always easy for people new to hearing loss. Since people don’t like to repeat themselves or they say the dreaded words “never mind”, I have found it extremely effective to repeat what it is you DID hear. For example, if someone says we are going to the XYZ restaurant for lunch and you got everything but the name of the restaurant, you could say Where are we going for lunch? or we’re going to what restaurant for lunch?

FL Mary

Jump to this post

I like you approach for better communication. Something that is very challenging for us to do, but it appears we must do.

REPLY

I am grateful to have happened on this discussion. While I do not have a hearing loss, my father did have a severe loss, which was very isolating for him. He suffered for years with poorly working hearing aids for his situation, and stopped being the social person he was because he didn't want to experience a mistake in groups. I learned some basic ASL that I also taught him, to help him in some settings. Thank you for allowing me to read all your comments, and I know that it was meant to be. I have been wondering about re-starting ASL lessons, and this has prompted me to do so.
Ginger

REPLY
@tonyinmi

Joangela, the reality is that once we have hearing loss, we'll always have hearing loss. There is no cure so we have to be aware of all the tools necessary to live with the condition. Amplification is one tool but it only helps. There will be times when the hearing aid battery or hearing aid itself dies. Other methods are needed. Communication strategies, lip reading, aural rehabilitation, and other Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) are other tools that people need to be aware of. We also need to advocate for ourselves to ensure we're doing everything possible to make it easier.
Tony in Michigan

Jump to this post

One thing is for sure everything is real when you have a severe and profound hearing loss and are deaf. Reality is right there in front of you. You are right, getting the best tools out there if you can, is a huge help. It is just not a replacement. I know this, as I come from the hearing world, where I too heard good enough to call myself a hearing person.

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.