We people with hearing loss are very fussy. Communication has to be just so, and if we don’t get it the way we want or need it, we can get grumpy. Especially if we’ve explained it a million times to someone before. We do go easier on strangers, but if they are challenged by our requests, our good humor is a time-limited offer
So, let me put it very clearly, in every-day language, what good communication looks like for people – who through no fault of our own – have hearing loss.
How the heck am I supposed to hear and understand you, if you do the following?
- You don’t face me while talking to me. It’s that simple: face me and talk, or face away and don’t talk. If we can see each other’s eyeballs, we can chat. If I’m looking at the back of your bedhead, you better not be saying words.
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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.”
Keep reading this article on my site The Better Hearing Consumer ….