Someone once asked a man how he was. He replied, “I’m going through hell!” Said his friend: “Well, keep on going. That is no place to stop!”
OK, people with hearing loss, think quickly now. What’s the most challenging aspect of going to the hospital, doctor, or dentist?
The eye exam where you can’t see the technician’s lips (or any face-part) because of the lights are inyour eyes?
The masked dentist who’s clearly trying to ask you something but you can’t say ‘pardon’with a mouth bolted open by metal bars?
The doctor in a rush who doesn’t make eye contact?
These situations are the tip of the ‘healthcare communication barriers’ iceberg. You’d think that doctors and other health professionals wouldknow, instinctively, or at least have beentaught, how to communicate with us. The truth is, they are just as likely to break our rules of engagement as any random, untrained person. What’s more, the average healthcare environment is usually not an accommodating one.
But we should never, ever, have our health compromised because of hearing loss!
While many health issues are beyond our control, we do have a say– and a responsibility – in creating effective communication. We can take the lead by identifying the problem (this examining area is too noisy for me to hear you well) and some solutions (speak up, Doc, and/or write it down!).
But as for the question about the most challenging medical situation – my vote goes to the nightmare of “Waiting for Your Name to be Called.”
If I could hear perfectly,
For just one day
I’d ask everyone to whisper,
Just to feel, for just one day…
The exquisite naturalness of
Of hearing perfectly.
By Gael Hannan, in honour of National Poetry Day in Britain, 2016.
Conversing with a hard of hearing person is much easier if you, the ‘hearing’ person, are aware of the hearing loss.
If you don’t know that the person you’re talking to has a hearing problem, you’re forgiven (somewhat0 for looking off into space as you prattle on, or mumbling, or putting your hands in front of your mouth. It’s understandable that you might speak softly, indistinctly, or use unconnected phrases with no verbs. And how could you possibly know that your facial expressions and body language should match your actual words?
Here’s a little quiz.
What chance of success do these two people share?
A blindfolded, first-time archer trying to hit the bulls-eye from 100 feet.
A hard of hearing person trying to understanding all your words when you’re facing away, chewing gum, or not moving your lips.
Answer: The success rate for both would be approximately zilch, nada, zero-ish.
In the hearing loss world that I live in, there are HoHs and there are Pros:
HoH: Refers to a person who has hearing loss and who may also identify as hard of hearing, hearing-impaired, or hearing aid/cochlear implant user. (This term does not refer to all those affected by a person’s hearing loss, such as the moms and dads, life partners, children, and friends.)
Pro: Refers to someone who works in a hearing healthcare field, such as an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist, but this category also can include an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor, hearing aid manufacturer, and/or an assistive technology sales rep.
…now that we’ve got that out of the way…
If you’re a HoH, you have most likely—hopefully—met a Pro by now. You made an appointment, walked through that door and sat down to discuss your hearing with this Pro. (Just asking, did you check out the certificates on the wall? You want to see something official hanging there, with more substance than proof-of-participation in an online hearing aid course.)
At every meeting with your Pro, there should be a two-way conversation, an exchange of information. The Pro will ask you questions about your lifestyle and your hearing loss has affected it. They’ll ask you—although not in these exact words—how you’re coping. She or he should explain the Big Picture of hearing loss—the things you need to know about your hearing that will help you move forward. At appropriate times, you’ll discuss different communication strategies, including assistive technology.
This past June, I was honoured to help open and close the joint convention of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People.
I am honoured to be featured in the September/October 2016 issue of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s magazine, Hearing Loss. My article, Hearing Loss Isn’t Funny, takes a look at what people consider humorous about communication challenges – and what isn’t.
Click here for the HLAA site.
If there’s one thing you don’t need when you have hearing loss, it’s another reminder that you have it. We get plenty of reminders throughout the day—every day—with sounds we can’t quite understand, people mumbling, and captioning that’s missing when we need it.
So why on earth would I mark my body with an inky rendition of a cochlea to remind me that I’m hard of hearing, a HoH?
For several reasons, actually.
To read the rest of this fun article, please click here to read it on HearingHealthMatters.
Do you use captioning? On TV, perhaps, or in the theater, or on internet videos? Perhaps you enjoy CART (Communication Access RealtimeTranslation) at live events?
It’s not easy to explain the simple power of turning the captions “ON” for people who have difficulty hearing the spoken word. It’s the difference between dark and light, confusion and clarity, misinterpretation and understanding. Instead of being locked outside in a storm, we’re chatting with friends around a fire.
In whatever form we use it, captioning brings the spoken word to life. It turns blah-de-blah-de-ya-da into meaningful conversation. It gives us access to people, and that’s what we’re all here for, right? So what happens when we lose the words, when there’s no captioning to fill in the blanks?
Watching the Rio Olympics for 10 days, captions told me what was going on in the events—especially helpful if you don’t understand the finer points of a sport, or the rules, or even what they have to do to win. Captioning keeps people like me in the game. Otherwise all I see is a bunch of guys or girls running around, attached to paddles, balls or bicycle handles. They’re jumping up in the air or down in the water. It’s easy enough to tell from the players’ faces and the crowd’s reactions that points have been scored or the game has been won. But when the TV camera angles aren’t good or if the camera isn’t on the commentator’s face, I need captioning.Continue reading this post on HearingHealthMatters – click here.