While approximately 1 in 6 people in Australia will experience hearing loss in their lifetimes, the issue is not talked about enough. As a result, there are many misconceptions about it as a medical condition, and we asked our Facebook audience to weigh in on their most frequent and frustrating experiences.
Asking people to repeat themselves doesn’t have to be awkward, nor does asking them to turn music down or face you when they’re speaking. There’s no shame in speaking up about whatever it is that’s preventing you from hearing a conversation, and chances are it’s less awkward than unintentionally ignoring someone, guessing what people are trying to say or misunderstanding someone and finding out the hard way later. Bev S. said her biggest frustration is getting left out of conversations, which can be easily avoided if you’re just upfront about the issue from the start.
All disabilities are visible
In most circumstances, hearing loss is undetectable to the naked eye, especially as hearing aids become more advanced. Even if you tell them, people may easily forget to accommodate your needs. Toni B. said hearing loss’s invisibility makes it more of a burden socially, as you often need to remind people multiple times that they need to communicate slightly differently when you’re around.
Hearing loss jokes are funny
They aren’t, plain and simple. And we always hear them. Jenni I. said she’s sick of people’s attempts to mock the situation or make light of it. Tell your friends (or whoever) you’re not laughing not because you didn’t hear the joke, but because it’s not funny.
We chose what to hear
Selective listening isn’t limited to people with hearing loss – humans have a natural tendency to only hear what they choose to. That being said, people with hearing loss can’t turn it on and off at their leisure (wouldn’t it be great if we could!?) – we either heard you or we didn’t. Sue M., who has partial hearing loss, said it frustrates her that people think she can control which “parts” she hears.
Hearing aids fix it
An overwhelming amount of We’re All Ears readers agreed this is the most frustrating misunderstanding about hearing loss. “People think you just put your hearing aids in and like magic your hearing is normal…it is SO different to that!” Cece L. told us. Well put, Cece – a band aid doesn’t heal a wound, a cast doesn’t amend an arm, and an aid doesn’t “fix” a problem. What they can do is make life much easier for you, improving what you can hear and making you feel much more comfortable in social situations. If you have hearing aids that aren’t helping, then it’s best to visit an audiologist to make adjustments.