Saturday, April 19, 2014

Never Mind

The most frustrating part of being hard-of-hearing for me is having to ask people to repeat themselves. It's a nuisance, I know, for others to have to repeat their words over again and even again before I can understand what they are trying to tell me. It's not easy holding a conversation with me.

I'm accused of not listening. I'm criticized for tuning out. I'm chastised for not paying close enough attention.Truth is, I'm listening very hard. I just can't make sense of everything like I used to.

But the worst thing you could ever say to me is "never mind." Two little words that cut me to the core.

I understand that people get frustrated with me. And you may think that what you've said "isn't that important anyway", but if it was important enough to say once, it should be important enough to say again.

Please. Don't leave me out. Understand my frustration with hearing and listening. This cochlear implant hearing is really hard. Tell me what you said again. And again, if need be. I want to be a part of the conversation. Really, I do.

For hearing people, here are tips for speaking with someone who is hard-of-hearing: 

--Whenever possible, face the hard-of-hearing person directly, and on the same level. 
--Your speech will be more easily understood when you are not eating, chewing, smoking, etc. 
--Reduce background noises when carrying on conversations -- turn off the radio or TV. 
--Keep your hands away from your face while talking. 
--If it's difficult for a person to understand, find another way of saying the same thing, rather than repeating the original words. Move to a quieter location. 
--Recognize that hard-of-hearing people hear and understand less well when they are tired or ill.
--Do not talk to a hard-of-hearing person from another room. Be sure to get the attention of the person to whom you will speak before you start talking. 
--Speak in a normal fashion without shouting or showing impatience. Speaking too loudly often distorts words more.
--A woman's voice is often harder to hear than a man's, because of its pitch. A woman might try to lower the pitch of her voice when talking to the hard-of-hearing to see if that helps. 
--Speak slowly and clearly. Enunciate your words. Don't mumble.
--If you know from which side the person hears best, talk to that side. 
--It is better to speak directly face-to-face in situations where relatively diffuse lighting is adequate and lights the speaker's face. This allows the hard-of-hearing listener to observe the speaker's facial expressions, as well as lip movements to "speech read". 
--Persons with hearing impairment can also benefit from seating themselves at a table where they can best see all parties (e.g. from the *end* of a rectangular table). 
--Clue the hard-of-hearing listener in when you are going to change the subject of conversation. Doing so might avoid an unfortunate "faux pas" by them.. 
--Avoid abrupt changes of subject or interjecting small talk into your conversation, as hard-of-hearing listeners often use context to understand what you are saying.     
--If you are around a corner, or turn away, you become much harder to understand. 
--Don't walk away leaving the hearing-impaired listener puzzling over what you said and thinking you don't care. 

Many hard-of-hearing are embarrassed that they can't hear. Many avoid crowds or situations that make hearing difficult. Certain environments, such as radios, TVs, and ventilation systems are also a problem for the hearing impaired – especially for those that wear hearing aids.

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