If we go by the dictionary meaning of both the words, communication and Hearing Impaired, they should not be in the same sentence. Grammatically speaking the sentence is an oxymoron. As per the Oxford dictionary an oxymoron is “a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction”. In our case, it may not be entirely true. This sentence is not an oxymoron. Communication is very important for people who are hearing impaired. I am a hearing impaired person or as some say, Hard of hearing and would like to share my practical experience and thoughts on communicating as a hearing impaired person and the challenges we face on regular basis.
First of all people need to understand that there is a big difference between the hard of hearing and people with normal hearing. .At times, I might say, the difference is huge! We are often misunderstood, people think we are not good at handling situations, or capable of sharing the problems of others or even lack a sense of humour. Well, it’s definitely wrong. We are capable of all the above and much more, what we want is that normal hearing people should be a little more proactive in understanding our situation.
Common Situations Faced By the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
I am listing below some of the common problems we face due to the mind-set and reaction of some people.
- The moment people realize that we are hearing impaired, they stare at us as if we were aliens. They fail to understand that our issue is only our inability to hear well; otherwise we are perfectly normal and equal in all respects. At times we are better qualified than most.
- Once the fact, that we are hearing impaired sinks in, people feel that we need sympathy, but hello! We do not need sympathy. This attitude has made us hate the word “sympathy”. So people, kindly do not sympathize with us, all we need is a little patience from you.
- Some people think that we are dependent on others just because we have a hearing loss, well folks; this is not true at all. We are not dependent on anyone. All we want is that you should speak clearly while facing us, so we can lip read you. Or be polite and repeat yourself if we happen to miss a few words.
4. We do have some limitations, yes we do. Doesn’t everyone? We cannot whisper, nor can we pick up whispers. But yes, we can certainly read facial expressions and to a large extent understand what’s going on.
5. We usually face trust issues, because of our hearing loss, we don’t discuss too much about ourselves. People think we are introverts, we are not. We do share our thoughts and secrets, but with people who understand us.
6. We may lack a little in hearing properly, but we are very good at listening to your eyes talk and your body language.
7. Most people think that talking about our deafness or our hearing aids is rude. Well, it’s not. We will be happy to discuss about our hearing aids and also flaunt its latest features like Bluetooth compatibility and internet connectivity.
8. Yes, we do have a little problem with loud parties and rock concerts. We prefer interaction in silent environments or staying at home reading or watching television.
Do we seem like someone who is always complaining? Not entirely true. We also enjoy the advantages of being hearing impaired.
Advantages of Being Hard of Hearing
We can cut off people who are toxic or plain boring. It’s like switching off our hearing aids or removing the batteries. And the world goes silent; at times silence is the best feeling ever. Yes, we can be wicked!
We perfectly understand that not all words are intended to be heard. God has given us the power to ignore negativity, keep toxic people out of our lives. Cherish this gift and always stay positive. There are pros and cons for every situation, we should try focusing on the tiny rays straight from the heavenly skies and not on the black hole in the universe. This helps us to stay calm.
We understand the feeling of being understood, our inability to hear well has given us the gift of compassion and understanding. We do not listen to others for the sake of listening; we genuinely listen to others irrespective of our hearing loss and personal problems.
My Advice on Communication to the Hearing Impaired
My personal advice to the hearing impaired people is not to consider deafness as a disability. Accept it, overcome it and be confident in what you are doing. With this attitude you will notice a huge difference in others attitude towards us.
Our confidence will enhance our personality. Work on building an identity rather than mourning about the deafness. Think about what you have rather than what you don’t have, communicate with others as if you are not hearing impaired. I know it’s difficult, but it’s all about acceptance and attitude and yes, we can do it. The idea is to move forward, our positive body language and smile can help us handle any situation.
The difference between reaching our destination and staying back is a positive mind-set and our communication skills.
Editors Note: Read our blog on tips to communicate with the deaf.
Dr. Niharika from North India is our 22 year old guest blogger. She suffers from moderate to severe Sensorineural hearing loss. Her disability has not stopped her from pursuing her goals. She has completed her MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine) from Punjab Institute of Medical Science and is planning to enrol for MD (Doctor of Medicine)