Family smiling

Hearing loss is identified as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or experience your hearing loss, and no one can feel your difficulty and stress. The only thing someone can feel is their OWN aggravation when they have to constantly repeat themselves.

Unfortunately, those with hearing loss rarely get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why communicating your hearing loss to others is essential—both for attaining empathy and for participating in effective conversation.

Here are a few tips you can use to let others know about your hearing loss.

Full disclosure of your hearing loss

Telling others about your hearing loss might be awkward or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll escape many other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and compelling others to repeat themselves, for example, can make for situations that are much more uncomfortable.

When disclosing your hearing loss, aim for complete disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please speak up.” Instead, summarize your hearing loss and recommend ways the other person can best talk with you. For instance, you might say something like, “I’m partly deaf in my left ear because of an infection I had years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help a lot.”

Suggest how others can best communicate with you

Once you divulge your hearing loss, other people will be less likely to become irritated and more apt to take the time to communicate clearly. To help in this respect, offer your communication partners some suggestions for better communication, such as:

  • Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t scream across the room or from another room.
  • Face to face communication is critical; visual cues and lip-reading help me understand speech without straining.
  • Get my attention before communicating with me.
  • Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to shout.

Your friends, family members, and work colleagues will respect the honesty and pointers, and you’ll avoid having to cope with communication obstacles after the fact.

Control your hearing environment

After fully disclosing your hearing loss and offering communication tips, the final consideration is the control of your environment. You’ll want to present yourself the best opportunity to listen and communicate clearly, and you can accomplish this by reducing disruptions and background noise.

Here are a few tips:

  • When eating out, find a calm, tranquil restaurant and select a table away from the middle of the restaurant.
  • At social gatherings, it’s best if there is no background music or sound emanating from a TV or radio.
  • Find quiet areas for conversations.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to the host in advance about special preparations.

Planning ahead is your best bet. Approaching the host prior to the event will give you your best chance at effective communication. And the same applies to work; reserve some time with your supervisor to review the preparations that give you the best chance to achieve success. Your supervisor will likely appreciate the initiative.

Seek professional help

Once hearing loss begins to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s time to seek professional assistance. Today’s hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their capacity to filter background noise and improve speech, and they may be exactly what you need to take pleasure in an active social life once again.