People are often sensitive and understanding of physical disabilities, except when it comes to hearing loss. Those with a hearing problem are often made fun of and ridiculed, which worsens their sense of loneliness and social isolation. It is important to be sensitive and aware about the proper things to say when speaking to someone who has a hearing problem.
When speaking to someone who wears hearing aids and for some reason is unable to hear what is being said, people sometimes say “oh just turn up the volume on your hearing aids!” This is often far from the solution. Hearing aids are not magical devices that simply amplify sound to crystal clarity when the volume is turned up. In fact, this can sometimes hurt the ears of those with hearing aids.
Most of the times, the problem is not with the hearing aids, but with the person who is speaking. It is important to enunciate slowly and clearly when speaking to someone with hearing loss. Turning up the volume won’t magical make hearing loss disappear! It is important to remember that no matter whether a person is wearing hearing aids or not, they still have hearing loss. This means that it will be more helpful to them if you cooperate and enunciate your words more clearly so that they can understand.
Another rude thing that people often say to those with hearing loss is “never mind!” This statement is not only rude, it is dismissive and implies that the person you spoke to is not important enough to get your time and attention for them to be able to understand you properly. If this happened with someone who has regular hearing, chances are you would repeat the sentence in case they missed it the first time. It is important to help hearing impaired individuals feel included and you can do so by simply being a bit patient and repeating parts of the conversation they missed.
People often make rude jokes and comments that link deafness with hearing loss, whereas these two conditions are often mutually exclusive. Simply because someone has a hearing problem does not automatically mean that they’re deaf and saying something like “are you deaf?!” is never a good idea. Hearing problems are tough enough to begin with without having any added social ridicule added to the mix.
Showing some empathy and acceptance towards people with hearing loss goes a long way in helping them feel valued and respected. Simply because they are hard of hearing does not make them any less precious as a person, and their hearing disability should never define their worth. Be open-minded and think twice before making snap comments and sarcastic gestures towards hearing impaired individuals. It may be a moment of fun for you, but it may scar them for a lifetime.
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