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.

@dollyh

I am also heading to purchase another set of HAs. Just had a hearing test at Starkey’s home office in Eden Prairie,MN. It was so thorough. Tuned them up, cleaned, and counseled about use of the product. Glad I did it. I’m also a proactive with my hearing loss. Would love to hearing what aids you lie. Thanks for posting.

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Curious to know if the Starkey audiologists included information about the value of telecoils in hearing aids. If not, make sure you tell them! I spend my summers in north central Minnesota, where most whom I meet that have hearing aids, have Starkey aids. Very few of them know what telecoils are, much less what they can do. Starkey makes a qualtfy product, but hearing aids without telecoils are like automobiles without air conditioning. You don't need it all the time, but when you do you don't want to be without it! I've had great success with Widex.

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@linkeellis Disclosure is a really interesting question. For a while, I said I was "hearing impaired." But then a few members of the Deaf community told me I had to refer to myself as "hard of hearing," so I switched to HOH. I then did a research project on how people tell others about their hearing loss, which helped me think through other ways to disclose. Now, I try to say something like, "I wear hearing aids, can you look at me when you're speaking?" I found it is easier when I give people something they can do to help me hear them better, otherwise they just stare at me blankly. I am unable to attach the link to the paper, but you can search for the title: "Revealing Hearing Loss: A Survey of How People Verbally Disclose Their Hearing Loss"

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@briguy

When it's necessary, I usually say I'm "hard of hearing" or just "I don't hear very well sometimes." I used to say "hearing impaired" but have tried to get in the habit of using the "preferred" term, although it doesn't hold much more appeal for me. (I've read articles that say "hearing impaired" is "almost universally resented" by those to whom it is applied, so I try to respect that even though it doesn't matter to me personally. I believe language matters, but the terms seem mostly neutral and whatever word is used isn't going to change the reality of my hearing loss. Also, as the OP suggested, "hearing impaired" seems to be more immediately meaningful to hearing people.) I cope with hearing aids and have tried to become better with speech-reading techniques. This has been a struggle, albeit a positive one, because I'm naturally introverted and have always had a problem with making eye contact. As I said, I don't mind the labels, but I do get sick of jokes and become quite annoyed when speakers in large gatherings say, "Is it OK if I don't use the microphone?"

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I have a hard time hearing- moderate to severe range and using the term hearing impaired is simple to understand. I feel though people are less patient with me as I am losing what few friends I have. Less people are patient due to technology advances. They rather interact with their devices rather then with peoplr. I rather be with books. Being active means I am out more then I would be otherwise

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@bookysue, I so support your comments. I get so irritated when people find my hearing loss humorous or when they get irritated when I ask them to repeat their words or ask them to face me when they talk. I often get so frustrated that I just mentally “check out” and don’t even attempt to participate in the conversations around me. Then some people assume I am stupid, totally deaf, or just aloof and rude. I turn down most invitations, and that results in even more isolation for me. I am currently shopping for new hearing aids for my severe hearing loss. I especially hate not being able to fully participate in the many conversations at family gatherings. Young people especially just do not understand.

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@capausz

@bookysue, I so support your comments. I get so irritated when people find my hearing loss humorous or when they get irritated when I ask them to repeat their words or ask them to face me when they talk. I often get so frustrated that I just mentally “check out” and don’t even attempt to participate in the conversations around me. Then some people assume I am stupid, totally deaf, or just aloof and rude. I turn down most invitations, and that results in even more isolation for me. I am currently shopping for new hearing aids for my severe hearing loss. I especially hate not being able to fully participate in the many conversations at family gatherings. Young people especially just do not understand.

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You get it- but supposedly being isolated is not good so I try to communicate by talking to folks while off riding a bike/ walking. I figure the Inteteraction is good at any level.
Curious- having a severe hearing loss- arn’t you a candidate for Cohlear- I am and I have a moderate to severe loss. I know it depends on what type / what causes it and whether born with a loss or late deafened. My doctor who is aware of who I am and I need/ want says I can hold off a year. I love music and Cohlear is not the greatest with that.

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I come from the hearing world, and most people would have no knowledge of my hearing loss. I was just hard of hearing, or not don’t hear too well. Since my hearing loss is worse now, I find that I do not communicate or even actively persue a friendship because my hearing loss is so profound. I was always a huge people person, but no longer. So if I communicate with people outside of my family, I tell them I have a severe hearing loss.

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@reallyrosie

I find myself saying "I can't hear you" because normally that's what happens…people speak before ever being introduced. It makes the other person flustered.. repeating or shouting. So then I explain I'm deaf ….and get this sick smile look of pity sorry glance away. Sigh. I want to grab this speaker and say "hey I really would like to engage with you in conversation" but it's his or my next on line in the supermarket or where ever…and that's the end of that attempt to break thru social isolation.

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I know exactly what you mean. I am right here with you.

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@jswest

@linkeellis Disclosure is a really interesting question. For a while, I said I was "hearing impaired." But then a few members of the Deaf community told me I had to refer to myself as "hard of hearing," so I switched to HOH. I then did a research project on how people tell others about their hearing loss, which helped me think through other ways to disclose. Now, I try to say something like, "I wear hearing aids, can you look at me when you're speaking?" I found it is easier when I give people something they can do to help me hear them better, otherwise they just stare at me blankly. I am unable to attach the link to the paper, but you can search for the title: "Revealing Hearing Loss: A Survey of How People Verbally Disclose Their Hearing Loss"

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@jswest, such a great point about giving people something they can do. Many may not know what to do other than speaking louder.

You will be able to post links in a few days. There is a brief period where new members can't post links. We do this to deter spammers and keep the community safe. Clearly the link you wanted to post was not spam. Please allow me to post it for you.

– Revealing Hearing Loss: A Survey of How People Verbally Disclose Their Hearing Loss (abstract) https://journals.lww.com/ear-hearing/Abstract/2016/03000/Revealing_Hearing_Loss___A_Survey_of_How_People.8.aspx

Unfortunately the full paper is behind a paywall. Jessica are you able or permitted to upload the full text? You can upload PDF files to a message on Connect.

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@colleenyoung

@jswest, such a great point about giving people something they can do. Many may not know what to do other than speaking louder.

You will be able to post links in a few days. There is a brief period where new members can't post links. We do this to deter spammers and keep the community safe. Clearly the link you wanted to post was not spam. Please allow me to post it for you.

– Revealing Hearing Loss: A Survey of How People Verbally Disclose Their Hearing Loss (abstract) https://journals.lww.com/ear-hearing/Abstract/2016/03000/Revealing_Hearing_Loss___A_Survey_of_How_People.8.aspx

Unfortunately the full paper is behind a paywall. Jessica are you able or permitted to upload the full text? You can upload PDF files to a message on Connect.

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would love to read full paper on how people disclose their hearing loss. do i need to sign up to their site or can we do so another way?

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@wassy2019

would love to read full paper on how people disclose their hearing loss. do i need to sign up to their site or can we do so another way?

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@colleenyoung, thanks for sharing the link! @wassy2019, the article is attached here. I hope you find it interesting – let me know if you have any questions!

Shared files

West 2015_Revealing Hearing loss (West-2015_Revealing-Hearing-loss-1.pdf)

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so kind of you to forward- thank you!

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I'm another that tend to say I'm hearing-impaired to hearing people. Cause I find that it lessens the tone of the "cannot hear part". Whereas "deaf" may make them think that you cannot hear anything at all which usually isn't the case, particularly for those who wear an HA or CI.

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Hi. Good question. It is different, depending on who you are around. I come from the hearing world. I have always had some hearing loss, but it wasn’t until my 40s & 50s, that my hearing loss became so profound. If they don’t know this, in public places, depending on their communication with me, I can get some strange looks. I probably didn’t hear what they said, and they look at me like I am crazy. 😂. Sometimes I find that I have to explain that I don’t hear well, or that I have a profound hearing loss. There are a few times I even show my hearing aids. Woah, that gets them. Then I am put into their disabled or whatever category.
I do not know sign language, but someday I plan to. Being from the hearing world, I never thought about it, or that it would ever be needed. Now, I do need it sometimes and so does my family.
JoAngela

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@joangela

Hi. Good question. It is different, depending on who you are around. I come from the hearing world. I have always had some hearing loss, but it wasn’t until my 40s & 50s, that my hearing loss became so profound. If they don’t know this, in public places, depending on their communication with me, I can get some strange looks. I probably didn’t hear what they said, and they look at me like I am crazy. 😂. Sometimes I find that I have to explain that I don’t hear well, or that I have a profound hearing loss. There are a few times I even show my hearing aids. Woah, that gets them. Then I am put into their disabled or whatever category.
I do not know sign language, but someday I plan to. Being from the hearing world, I never thought about it, or that it would ever be needed. Now, I do need it sometimes and so does my family.
JoAngela

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@joangela
Hi, You sound much like me…starting losing hearing around the 40s to a profound loss in my 60s and here I am in my 70s. I either say “I don’t hear well” or “I read lips” and sometimes add “I need to look at you to hear” I also point to my hearing aids. As you said, it depends on the situation.
I took sign language classes about 15 years ago and met a great group of people . I go to most monthly meetings of HLAA but unless you are are around others who sign on a regular basis, you will forget all you learned. My friends and family are all hearing . I’ve retained some words and phrases but I tell people that I don’t sign . You develop a family style way of signing….making up your own signs. May I suggest you learn what is called Pidgin signed English…PSE….uses a combo of ASL words and English and is easier than sign. Even my friends who are proficient signers tell me the Deaf community can’t understand them or they are doing it wrong. Friends who do sign talk and sign at the same time so you will remember what you learned. However you have to associate with them on a regular basis. All my regular friends and family are hearing. ASL is a beautiful language, though.

Regards fro Florida Mary

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@imallears You sound like me I took sign language but lost all I knew since I didn't use it We have a deaf man in here and I can understand him some and a lady that does sign she signs in her church but I can't remember any I wear h.a. but have to have people look at me when I talk but can't keep up with those that speak fast like my family here so I miss out on alot Oh what are we to do 😋

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