Compared to other health conditions, hearing loss is one that society seems to have little sensitivity towards. As our Facebook fan Wayne T. put it, “if a near blind person were in difficulty, would people be rude to them? What about a person with a physical handicap? Well, same should go for industrial tinnitus.” With a little help from our Facebook audience, we’ve compiled a list of the top three things you should avoid saying in the presence of someone with hearing loss.
“Just turn your hearings aids up”
What people fail to understand about hearing aids is that they are not a magic solution to hearing loss and that turning them up doesn’t always alleviate the issue. Betty C. said it took a long time for her family to understand that hearing loss is something the entire household may have to deal with sometimes and cannot just be resolved by the click of a button. “I wish they would understand sitting towards the front of a theatre or leaning in at a loud restaurant has nothing to do with turning up my hearing aids,” she said. “It’s just more comfortable that way.”
“Oh, never mind”
“If I ask someone to repeat what they just said, which will happen even for people without hearing loss, it’s frustrating if someone replies with ‘never mind’ or ‘just forget about it,’” Michelle L. said in our Facebook comments. While she admitted the person probably doesn’t even realise they’re doing it, Michelle said it often feels dismissive and exclusionary – as if she wasn’t an important part of the conversation to begin with. A better alternative would be politely repeating the statement or asking which part of the story they missed.
Any insinuating comments about deafness
What many people don’t realise is there’s a big difference between hearing loss and deafness, and people tend to assume the one always leads to the other. Like any condition, ear issues come in stages and there’s no blanket statement or generalisation that can describe every person’s experience. As a best practice, it’s best not to bring up deafness to someone who may be struggling with their hearing.