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Five questions you should never ask someone with hearing loss
While hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions in the world, it is also one of the least discussed or understood. Oftentimes, people seem to speak rather insensitively towards those suffering from hearing issues. What’s worse is that they usually they don’t even realise they’re doing it. To get some clarity, we consulted those closest to the issue – our Facebook fans! Here are the top inquiries they face frequently and unfavourably.
“Do you wish you were hearing this right now?”
Is there anything more hurtful than implying someone’s shortcoming was their choice to control? Denae H. thinks no. If someone is struggling to hear something – whether it’s a movie, music, or simply a conversation – it’s best to ask what you can do to improve the quality of hearing rather than asking if they’d like to hear it. Making them feel included in the conversation or situation is always best.
“What caused your hearing problem?”
Hearing loss is never a choice, and often its cause cannot be traced to one specific instance or issue. Trish R. said it’s best to let someone share their situation rather than probe about it, as it makes her feel like she owes people an explanation. “I think people think they’re being sensitive and concerned when they ask, but really it makes me feel like a broken toy.”
“Do you know sign language?”
Asking if someone knows sign language jumps to many conclusions, namely that they are deaf. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being deaf or proactively learning sign language, it can be annoying when people make assumptions or imply that someone should know it. Joy L. said she gets asked about sign language a lot, and it makes her feel like she’s obligated to know it, even though it wouldn’t be necessary for her in order to maintain a normal life.
“Are you listening?”
Similar to number one, this question implies that someone is in control of their condition and can simply turn it on and off. John H. said this is the worst thing you can say to someone with hearing loss, as it makes them feel like they’re in the wrong for something they simply can’t help.
“Have you tried _____?”
Snurd G. was one of the many people who had an issue with this one. While their intentions may be to help, people who make suggestions – especially those who don’t actually suffer from hearing loss – can appear as know-it-alls. To avoid making someone feel as though they aren’t fully aware or knowledgeable of their own condition, it’s best to leave advice to the experts.