I am the mother of two children born with hearing loss. I decided to write about our journey navigating through this process on my blog, My Battle Call, and my Facebook Page. Our family chooses cochlear implants to provide our children access to sound. There are many different communication modalities. And there is no one-size-fits-all way.
I have put together some useful tips for anyone who is communicating with people who are Deaf or hard of hearing (HH). Understanding and acceptance are key.
Hearing loss is invisible. But someone Deaf or HH doesn’t hear like someone with typical hearing.
If you speak in a quiet voice, they can not hear you. Use a clear, loud speaking voice.
When they are in a place with background noise, it is tough to hear (outdoors, a gym, a restaurant, on the playground, near the ocean). Face the person. Get in close proximity.
If they don’t hear you the first time; don’t get frustrated. Just repeat it. No need to shout.
People who are Deaf or hard of hearing make very different choices; the Hearing loss is unique and people choose very different ways to navigate.
Avoid covering your mouth when you speak; they can’t read your lips if they can’t see your mouth.
Tap them on the shoulder and get their attention before you speak to them.
If you talk from across the room or with your back turned, they will miss most or all of what you say. Hearing devices work best 3-feet away from the speaker.
Don’t leave them out by saying, “never mind.” It’s isolating. Many people with hearing loss experience social anxiety. Make sure you include them.
When using a cochlear implant, if the magnet on the device is off, the cochlear implant does not work, and they can’t hear anything.
Be patient. Frustration cuts. People who are Deaf and hard of hearing often read body language better than the average person.
Most people born Deaf or hard of hearing never know the cause.
Listening with implants and hearing loss is exhausting. People need time to decompress and recharge. It is much harder than it looks.
Understanding social nuances can be challenging when you are hard of hearing.