I’ve experienced and I’ve come to realize several things about myself and my hearing loss over the past year. First off, my hearing loss has deteriorated over the past year in my good ear. My “bad ear” has always been in the profound range with no speech discrimination, therefore, I was never able to benefit from a hearing aid. My “good” ear, which I wear an aid on, has gone from a moderate sloping to severe hearing loss to now being very close to profound from the low frequencies to the high frequencies. Fortunately, my hearing aid works for me but without it, I am totally deaf and have no speech discrimination. There, I’ve said it, I am deaf with a small “d.”
Back to what I’ve experienced. For years I have been focusing on educating “hearing” people. Some were more receptive than others but as a group, the “hearing” population cannot truly understand our “not hearing.” Afterall, the hearing person can’t see our hearing loss, most of us speak beautifully, we’re articulate and clear (as well as smart and resourceful), and therefore the hearing person treats us like a hearing individual. It’s so much easier for the hearing person to understand and be empathetic to a “deaf/Deaf individual, especially if that deaf person’s speech is “unclear” or the Deaf individual is signing. Most hearing people, if interested, will attempt communication with a Deaf / deaf individual. However, when it comes to the person with hearing loss, we are quickly told we are not “listening,” or not “paying attention,”
Most recently, I found myself very obsessed with two separate occurences with family members about my “not listening” and my asking for an individual to “rephrase or give me the subject matter.” Sometimes I can’t help but feel I may have not remembered something said vs. “not hearing.” Whatever the case, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to be angry, disappointed or hurt by those I love and who can’t seem to grasp what I am going through. I mean let’s face it, it can’t always be about me, which is what I’ve been told.
The hearing person is frustrated by my not hearing, misunderstanding them and ocassional requests for rephrasing. Sometimes the hearing person may just feel that what they said was “irrelevant” or not important enough to repeat, though I tell them if it was important enough to say it to the group present, why wasn’t it important enough to make sure I understood it?
I know many of you will write, that the individuals are being insensitive however, I am tired of educating, which is what it always feels like. I don’t want to be angry. I want to keep my sense of humor intact. I am blessed with having a good sense of humor and making people smile and laugh. I am resourceful and savvy and I have an incredible knack for reading people, which I wish I could bottle and market.
I want to rise above the insensitivity because the truth is, I want to be happy and live in the present. I want to find the karma and surround myself with people I love and who love me. I am a very picky person when it comes to friends. I want to surround myself with certain type of people and I am so fortunate to have the most understanding of friends who I know love me and who when they found out I was losing my hearing, ran out and took a sign language class. I also know, that in spite of differences in our understanding of hearing loss, I have family who love me. We all need to find our comfort zone with ourselves and with the outside world. I will always be an advocate, an educator and a tough NYC woman with a sense of humor to help me get through my deafness.
In addition, I want to devote my time to advocating for global captioning and being included. I want online videos to be captioned and the availability of captioning be in all languages. The computer has opened up the world for the deaf and hearing impaired, don’t cut us off now. Don’t isolate us by not allowing us accessibility to online videos, online news, online webinars and online You Tubes. Until voice recognition can be perfected, we need CART or captioning provided by social media. I don’t want to rely on my family and friends to keep me in the loop, I want to remain independent and be able to just turn to any channel or online video and know what is being said.
Hearing loss and deafness is not a problem that strikes the elderly only. We are seeing more and more hearing impaired individuals between the ages of 12 and 45. So, the next time you are told the television is playing too loud or you hear a voice in your head saying, please repeat or rephrase, remember, that could be your spouse asking you to lower the t.v. and that voice asking someone to repeat or rephrase, could be your own.