Hearing loss: How do you identify yourself to others?

Posted by linkeellis @linkeellis, Feb 7, 2019

As a long time member of the hearing loss group, and part of the entire dDeaf community, I find that many people have very definite ideas as to how they identify themselves: deaf, Deaf, hearing impaired, hard of hearing, stone deaf, can’t hear really well or some other term. I find myself changing my self-identification based on whom I’m talking. If it’s a culturally capital “D” Deaf person, I say I’m hard of hearing; to hearing people, I say I’m hearing impaired or oral deaf (because they know what that means: I speak); and to my hearing loss peers, I say I’m deaf (because I am). It’s a constant dance when I’m around Deaf people. The ASL community has many issues with deaf people who communicate orally and believe everyone should sign. But that’s not how many people come into the hearing loss andor deaf world. I’m curious to know what others do. There is no right or wrong here.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss group.

@cherriann

Yep, no what you are saying. My brother who has an even greater hearing loss than me, has a great advocate in his wife. In social situations she will repeat parts of what others are saying more loudly when she can detect he isn't hearing it. She has perfected this so it blends in almost seamlessly and doesn't call attention or interrupt the conversation going on around them. Unfortunately, not everyone has someone with them to do this when these occasions arise.

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Exactly! those are the people we need. How to cultivate them is a good question. Cloning illegal….can u ask her how she developed her skills? Could she train others?

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@reallyrosie

Exactly! those are the people we need. How to cultivate them is a good question. Cloning illegal….can u ask her how she developed her skills? Could she train others?

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I don't think there was any special way she developed her skills. They've been married for over 50 years and my sister in-law can judge just by watching and listening when my brother is hearing. Watching my brother's face I think was part of it….she can tell quite accurately by glance whether he is hearing conversation. And of course, just by his response or lack of response! He has always been an engaging person, so if he is quiet, it is indictive that he isn't hearing well those who are speaking.

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It would be really wonderful to have a helper like that, but that's probably not likely that most of us will. I guess we'll just have to do our best. I've found after moving to senior citizen situation that the 65+ population is more likely to be aware and supportive when they realize I have hearing loss, and also pretty patient, since many of us seem to have one or another disability. But for the most part, I'm just past the point where I can participate fully in group discussions – a loss for sure. Ah well, at least there's the internet and so far I can comprehend fairly well in a one to one conversation.

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I guess I always expected the social isolation since I'd seen my father and grandmother lose their hearing. I'm grateful for HLAA – I just wish there were more support groups in my area – I can only get to one a month, and it's an hour and a half away.
Our last meeting was about music – apparently one problem associated with hearing loss is that people lose the ability to pick up the melody out of all the different sounds. That's definitely happened to me. At my last few concerts I could hear the sounds OK but they seemed sort of random and uncoordinated (I just thought the performers were really bad). However, when I listen to familiar music I still get the melody and enjoy the music. So far I can have a good experience listening to Spotify (like Pandoro or I-tunes) by having my phone stream music directly into my hearing aids.

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This might be because I'm older now but I get the feeling that some folk think I may be "losing it" because of age and not because I don't hear well. Fact is sometimes I just don't pay attention due to it being too tiring to keep up in a crowded or noisy situation. I have been SSD since childhood due to ear infections and have a Baha (bone anchored hearing aid) on one side and very minor loss on the other. Sometimes I do say "I have a hearing loss" and even point out my implant. It may surprise someone then they go back to speaking exactly as they were. I would say I'm a HOH as Gael Hannan pronounces it but then they'd really think I'd gone around the bend. It would get their attention though. Once upon a time I had a very rude person almost shout at me when I didn't respond quick enough, "What's the matter? Are you deaf?" I don't think I said anything because I was so stunned that someone would even think like that. In a group I may focus on one individual conversation for a while and then drift to another as most people do. I guess pointing out my need hasn't been all that successful no matter what I say. Patience is a hallmark for most of us with hearing issues.

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@suzyd

This might be because I'm older now but I get the feeling that some folk think I may be "losing it" because of age and not because I don't hear well. Fact is sometimes I just don't pay attention due to it being too tiring to keep up in a crowded or noisy situation. I have been SSD since childhood due to ear infections and have a Baha (bone anchored hearing aid) on one side and very minor loss on the other. Sometimes I do say "I have a hearing loss" and even point out my implant. It may surprise someone then they go back to speaking exactly as they were. I would say I'm a HOH as Gael Hannan pronounces it but then they'd really think I'd gone around the bend. It would get their attention though. Once upon a time I had a very rude person almost shout at me when I didn't respond quick enough, "What's the matter? Are you deaf?" I don't think I said anything because I was so stunned that someone would even think like that. In a group I may focus on one individual conversation for a while and then drift to another as most people do. I guess pointing out my need hasn't been all that successful no matter what I say. Patience is a hallmark for most of us with hearing issues.

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Wow, I can sure relate! I have also felt sometimes that people are thinking I'm feeble-minded, etc. when I don't hear them immediately or have to ask them to repeat what they've said. Being hearing impaired does not mean our minds are impaired! I have a young friend in his 30s who has been hearing impaired since birth, and he also encounters people that think he has a learning/mental disability because of his difficulty in hearing. So though hearing loss is more prevalent with us older folks, those that are younger with hearing impairment also face some of these same issues. There is a need for much better public awareness and education in how to communicate with respect and dignity to those with hearing disabilities.

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@suzyd

This might be because I'm older now but I get the feeling that some folk think I may be "losing it" because of age and not because I don't hear well. Fact is sometimes I just don't pay attention due to it being too tiring to keep up in a crowded or noisy situation. I have been SSD since childhood due to ear infections and have a Baha (bone anchored hearing aid) on one side and very minor loss on the other. Sometimes I do say "I have a hearing loss" and even point out my implant. It may surprise someone then they go back to speaking exactly as they were. I would say I'm a HOH as Gael Hannan pronounces it but then they'd really think I'd gone around the bend. It would get their attention though. Once upon a time I had a very rude person almost shout at me when I didn't respond quick enough, "What's the matter? Are you deaf?" I don't think I said anything because I was so stunned that someone would even think like that. In a group I may focus on one individual conversation for a while and then drift to another as most people do. I guess pointing out my need hasn't been all that successful no matter what I say. Patience is a hallmark for most of us with hearing issues.

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@suzyd
Hi, You said a mouthful! I wear 2 Phonak BTES, profound loss. Back when I started to lose my hearing in my mid thirties and was still working, so many people thought I didnt’t get it. This was way before I started to advocate for myself. Now than I am approaching 78 (really?) I have found it so easy to be upfront with everyone I come across and I have found that if I say “I read lips, I need to look at you” or something to that effect, it seems to get their attention .
And yes, we can only do one on one conversations and that stinks in so many ways. Music is horrible also. I have tried many assisted devices and none really help that much. I have a wonderful Audi who will let me try anything without any upfront payment.

If I am approaching a new group of people, I announce upfront, with a smile of course, that I have a severe hearing loss and what I need to do. I am not shy about telling people what I need from them but it takes a person time to get use to doing that and not feel any shame or shyness. As for that person who yelled at you..well I thoroughly enjoy putting rude ill mannered people down.
You’ll know what to say next time. I like to have a sense of humor about it and sometimes an attitude is necessary. It’s not my fault. If they are interested, I can give them a brief understanding of my hearing loss…if not…oh well. I have also found younger people
really receptive because, chances are, they have a relative who has hearing loss.

We’re all so tired at the end of the day. I think we are better drivers…always looking…and maybe more observant…although sometimes not.

Someone made a comment about the culturally deaf community and I have met a few really really rude Deaf ladies who were so annoyed at my futile attempt at signing. One turned her back to me. I know basic phrases but most of the HOH people at the HHLA meetings I go to speak and sign at the same time. I’m not around them enough to practice.

My 2 cents
Regards from Mary

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@suzyd

This might be because I'm older now but I get the feeling that some folk think I may be "losing it" because of age and not because I don't hear well. Fact is sometimes I just don't pay attention due to it being too tiring to keep up in a crowded or noisy situation. I have been SSD since childhood due to ear infections and have a Baha (bone anchored hearing aid) on one side and very minor loss on the other. Sometimes I do say "I have a hearing loss" and even point out my implant. It may surprise someone then they go back to speaking exactly as they were. I would say I'm a HOH as Gael Hannan pronounces it but then they'd really think I'd gone around the bend. It would get their attention though. Once upon a time I had a very rude person almost shout at me when I didn't respond quick enough, "What's the matter? Are you deaf?" I don't think I said anything because I was so stunned that someone would even think like that. In a group I may focus on one individual conversation for a while and then drift to another as most people do. I guess pointing out my need hasn't been all that successful no matter what I say. Patience is a hallmark for most of us with hearing issues.

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suzyd your post has encouraged me to share my lack of patience and defense of myself when someone reacts to me in a negative way. I am learning, I hope, to advocate for myself with out striking back. You can't lose your sense of humor although it is a challenge. A tour guide once pinned me against a wall inch by inch shouting in my face that she knew how to handle the situation because her aunt couldn't hear either. It was really funny but it's still embarrassing because it draws attention …and so it continues.

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Some friends are really wonderful and always speak loud enough for me to hear. I find that others seem to get angrywhen they need to repeat something, so especially in crowds I eventually just stop trying to hear and disengage.

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