A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

How to Ask

In Accommodations for Deaf, advocating, Assistive Listening Devices, Closed Captioning, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss on August 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

By: Sara Lundquist

caution hearing loss

When to ask, how to ask, and who to ask.  These are all question that flood through my mind when I realize I am not getting what I need at an event or in a situation.  I will be an advocate for my children, and for a cause until the end of time but how do you become an advocate for yourself?  I had made a New Years Resolution that I was going to stand up for myself and make sure I can get what I need.  This post is my public display that I am not holding up my end of the bargain.

I will tell people I am hard of hearing.  People may ask how much loss do you have, I will tell them I have a moderate severe loss and what that means.  I am open with that information but I don’t say what would make this conversation easier on me.  I have discovered that is incredibly hard in my book.  People hear the words hard of hearing they see hearing aids and they assume all is fixed and you can hear just fine.  WRONG so wrong, I need you to face me, I can’t have a noisy fan or other noise around.  I am not proficient in speech reading or in sign so I have to rely on the residual hearing I have.

I have had a few instances that have come up recently that I should have spoken up to enjoy the experience to it’s fullest.  I didn’t speak up and ask anything and for that the fault all lies on me and my pride, or fear, or whatever is festering with this issue.

Last night my daughter and I attended a movie at a little country church that is used for an outreach ministry in our area.  I attend a Bible Study at this church and it is a place of incredible peace for myself.  My daughter and I got to the church and got our popcorn and drink and settled in to watch the movie, Heaven is for Real.  Watching a movie in a candlelit century old church was magical.  It was a beautiful thing watching the movie on a sheet being held by clothespins strung across the front of the church.  What would have made the night better is if I could have heard the dialog.  I maybe heard 10% of the movie.  When I watch tv at home I either use closed captions or I stream the movie through an assistive listening device that goes right to my hearing aids, I love this option, I usually use both.

surflink media

Did I ask for captions…NO.  Did I come early and ask to hook up the assistive listening device to the movie which would have taken two minutes…NO.  Why, I guess I just don’t want to draw attention to this issue.  I did bring my portable streamer unit.  I tried it but it mainly picked up the fans and I just got an amplified Charlie Brown teachers voice effect for the dialog of the movie.  I had a great time last night seeing friends and neighbors but I just had this kick in the butt feeling why didn’t you say something or stand up for yourself.

I need help in this area.  I need a shot of confidence that I deserve to understand what is going on the same as everyone else in the vicinity of me.  I came home last night and my husband said to me, “Bet you couldn’t hear the movie tonight.”  No I couldn’t, he keeps telling me nobody cares if you ask, there may be three other people there that missed this line or that and maybe wouldn’t have minded captions.

I need to learn how to do this at events like this or even a movie theatre.  It is just easier to watch a movie at home and not have to ask.  This is a huge learning curve I have found.  I don’t like to ask for something normally so this is just way out there for me.  I need to shove back my shoulders, hold my head high and get the idea drilled in my head that I deserve it.

This I guess would be my New Years Resolution part 2 of just ask, stand up for yourself, you are worth it.

stand up darling

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  1. I recently was blessed in a BIG way by getting a Hearing Ear Dog. Of course there are people who are confused and apparently don’t read. I have heard parents explain what the guide dog does for the blind. When you start traveling with a big dog that wears a vest, and for which you had to get a physical, travel completely across the country and get people training for a couple weeks, you would think, people would “get it” that you are hearing impaired. The big orange letters that say Hearing Dog seem like a clue. I have had people ask me why I take my deaf dog with me? I do not mean to diminish anyone’s situation or be rude in any way. But the educational 15 minutes to explain Hard of Hearing, is more than the average Joe and Jane want to know. Another of my classmates looked at me and said, “Just say you are deaf. It is a much shorter conversation.”

    The other day I was in the grocery store in line for a Starbucks. A man I had never seen, nor knew, approached me and was clearly angry. This was not a moment for a conversation on Hard of Hearing. He asked me in a most unpleasant and assertive tone what I had the dog for? Being a social coward, I smiled to project “FRIENDLY” and “Hope you are not packing heat.”
    I replied, I am deaf.
    What?
    I am deaf.
    Oh. Clearly he dropped his anger off. It was a BIG “Oh!”

    I am a late HOH due to ototoxic drugs treating breast cancer. I neither have breasts, nor a lot of hearing, but am happily alive. I don’t hear my phone. I text mostly. Talking on the phone successfully requires that the planets align. I have assistive technology that helps sometimes, but mostly frustrates me. I don’t hear the door, the microwave, the dryer, etc.

    I struggle with self advocating. When a place has had some assistive device they are great, and I am often the first person to ask for the assist. My church said they would get something. A year ago they said that. I admit I thought that if you were HOH, hearing aids fixed it. Well, I certainly have a deeper understanding now. I asked the lady at the McDonalds window what assistance they provided for the deaf? (big symbol on window). She said that she and the person just fumble through it. Stuff like that makes me angry, because fumbling through with notes and attempts at lip reading, or the clerk shouting are NOT accommodations. How can I advocate for myself, if it just ends up being a hoax?

    The biggest insult though, comes from deaf, who know that us late HOH are crappy at signing, and want to make friends. But, for them, we are inconvenient. Neither part of the deaf culture, not able to fully participate in much of the hearing world. At least they are honest and tell you right off, “Oh, I don’t bother with new deaf/HOH. It is too much trouble.”

    Yeah, I got that. It is too much trouble in a lot of places.

  2. About 3 or so years ago I had a harsh lesson in public events. Going to banquets and such is not just about what I’m going to wear anymore, it’s thinking seriously before hand HOW I’m going to hear. Your husband is right, most people are willing to help in any way they can if only you ask. We just need to get in the habit and it is hard to advocate for yourself but it gets easier after a few times. I don’t dread asking for help anymore, it’s just part of what we all do and think of it this way; even though it’s hard for you at first, you are paving the way for the next time you need it and for the next hard of hearing person who comes along. It’s about educating hear’ies and the more they know, the more they can help the next person too. It’s a good cycle. 🙂

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