Communicating effectively with the hearing world.

Posted by joangela @joangela, Sep 22, 2019

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?

Some good ideas

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@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.

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We should all be advocating and educating about hearing loops in large group settings where one is trying to hear a speaker. The personal remote mics work quite well in small conversation groups if people are willing to pass the microphone when speaking. It takes some education, even then. There is really no excuse in a large meeting to not have some type of assistive listening system. Besides hearing loops, there are FM systems and Infrared systems. Both FM and IR require the use of receivers, while loops simply require the individual to use the telecoil switch in their hearing aid to tune in. Sure, you can give a speaker your remote mic, but once you do that you won't hear the people near you. There's a lot to learn, but once you do, it's really not all that difficult to use the technology available to us. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires communication access, but we have to request it in advance. Regardless, it takes the effort to know what works and educate about it. Advocacy.

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@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.

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@ner, same same. Even though it' not politically correct, I also use the term "Hearing Impaired" so they take my requests to face me, say my name first, etc…seriously. If I say "Hard of hearing" they tend to not modify their behavior; and then get frustrated by my requests they repeat themselves. So, I self-identify as "hearing impaired."

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@arrowshooter

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

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Hi @arrowshooter! I also struggle with the :07 seconds it takes to get the connect clip mic to pink (on). I did recently learn that one quick button tap will stop my phone audio, but I wish a 2nd tap would start it again. Nonetheless, it gives me a chance to switch over to a live conversation more quickly. I am learning ASL, and sometimes sign a bit to indicate my challenges. Imma try those buzz cards.

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@banshee

@ner, same same. Even though it' not politically correct, I also use the term "Hearing Impaired" so they take my requests to face me, say my name first, etc…seriously. If I say "Hard of hearing" they tend to not modify their behavior; and then get frustrated by my requests they repeat themselves. So, I self-identify as "hearing impaired."

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@banshee

I've used all sorts of definitions over the years and have great success with "I read Lips". Don't even have to say please face me etc as
the majority of people seen to look up and do that right away. So often, they will turn around to speak to me rather than just keep on talking while their back is turned.

FL Mary

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@imallears

@banshee

I've used all sorts of definitions over the years and have great success with "I read Lips". Don't even have to say please face me etc as
the majority of people seen to look up and do that right away. So often, they will turn around to speak to me rather than just keep on talking while their back is turned.

FL Mary

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@imallears ( love the name! )
I never thought of saying "I read lips" but that's great. It lets them put 2 + 2 together in their head!

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A lot of people don't seem to understand hearing loss. They think you either can hear or you can't. That's not so true. Sometimes I can, from the context, figure out the meaning if they wait long enough. Sometimes I am exhausted at the end of the day and literally CANNOT HEAR something I would have been able to understand earlier that same day (Cognitive Load much?). Sometimes pure amplification does nothing because my loss is more about distortion. An accent totally distorts the sound for me. Sometimes I heard all except the first word. I'm sure there are individual situations that make the extent of your loss vary also. I will continue to try to educate others, in an upbeat way, if they are open to it.

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@banshee

Hi @arrowshooter! I also struggle with the :07 seconds it takes to get the connect clip mic to pink (on). I did recently learn that one quick button tap will stop my phone audio, but I wish a 2nd tap would start it again. Nonetheless, it gives me a chance to switch over to a live conversation more quickly. I am learning ASL, and sometimes sign a bit to indicate my challenges. Imma try those buzz cards.

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Banshee, if your Connect Clip is "on" all you have to do is switch your hearing aid program to "connect clip" program and the mic will be live instantly. But you are correct, to turn the connect clip to on with the connect clip buttons it takes too long.

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I use the hearing aid buttons to turn it on. Why would you think it would take longer to do so? Also, don't forget to lower the volume of your hearing aid or you will get too much noise.

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@maryjax

I use the hearing aid buttons to turn it on. Why would you think it would take longer to do so? Also, don't forget to lower the volume of your hearing aid or you will get too much noise.

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To turn on the Connect Clip it requires a "long push" (3 – 4sec.) of the main button. To activate the mic it requires another "long push". I think that is where "Banshee" got the 7 second delay. Once the Connect Clip is on then activating the mic, whether by a remote, phone app, or hearing aid buttons is almost instantaneous In my case the quickest way is to use my phone app.

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