How To Talk To Someone With A Hearing Loss
I recently read a study that found that those who suffer from some degree of hearing loss may actually have less-satisfying relationships. As someone who's been completely deaf in her right ear since approximately age 2, I found this really surprising.
It might as a surprise to you to learn that I'm partially deaf -- after all, I'm great at compensating for it. Seeing as there are nearly 50 million Americans (and nearly 9 million Britons) who are classed as deaf, partially deaf, or hard of hearing, chances are you're going to know a few in your lifetime. Here are a couple of simple rules to follow that help tremendously...
1) Don't shout, but don't mumble.
Try speaking with a clear voice and articulate your words if you can. If they're partially deaf, let them pick their seating first. I'll always try to place myself where I can hear you best.
2) That joke isn't funny anymore.
Believe me. I've heard them all. From you cleverly saying "What?" when I speak to you, to the good old fashioned "Deaf in one ear and can't hear out the other" gag. Really, it's not amusing. Would you laugh at a guy in a wheelchair or mock a blind person? No? Then maybe you shouldn't do that to other folks with handicaps.
3) Don't look away and/or cover your mouth.
Most deaf or partially hearing people read lips as a back-up. I know I do. If you cover your mouth while you're speaking, you're taking away one of the ways I have to understand you.
4) I'm deaf, I'm not ignoring you.
You've just dropped a hilarious joke or some great gossip and I haven't responded at all. Chances are, I didn't hear you. Don't be afraid to get my attention. I want to hear what you have to say.
5) Never say "Nevermind."
Nothing makes a deaf or partially-hearing person feel more like a tool than having to ask you to repeat yourself over and over again, but I wouldn't ask if I didn't want to hear it. I know it's annoying, but be patient with me.
Want to know more? Visit http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk or http://www.nad.org/.
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