"Jen, you don't need to worry about that. You're deaf! You can't hear a thing I'm saying if your back is turned to me. You have to see me and read my lips to know what I'm saying. The military would never take you."Mary's words changed my world...Prior to that, I had no idea that I was hearing impaired.
- I can choose whether or not to hear certain things. Not every sound is something I want to hear well or hear at all (screeching brakes and police sirens, for example.)
- While I feel that I can do my job better when I wear my hearing aids, it is nice to take them out at home--especially when my kids are loud. It's nice to turn down their volume by taking my aids out!
- It is kind of cool being able to lip read! I can secretly spy on conversations occurring across the room, or tell my husband what the coach is saying on the sidelines of televised football game--even when there is no sound.
- What I lack in hearing, I make up for with other senses. I am very attuned to others' body language and facial expressions. People often don't have to speak in order for me to recognize their feelings.
- Hearing aids are very expensive. Even the smallest repairs cost more than $100. As a result, when something happens to my aids I can't always afford to fix or replace them.
- Lots of media is focused on the hearing world and doesn't accommodate those who are hearing impaired.
- YouTube videos can be captioned easily, but very few people who upload videos take the time to caption them.
- There are some amazing podcasts out there, but I often can't hear everything they're saying. Very few podcasts offer transcriptions (1. thank you NPR! and 2. See this helpful site for tips on how to transcribe your podcasts by using a script or using Dragon Naturally Speaking software.)
- Netflix recently began captioning some of their streaming content (applause!) but they still have a long way to go. It would be amazing if all videos included captioning!
- Close-captioning on live broadcasts is often not very accurate. There are lots of misspelled words, typos, mistakes and a great deal of lag--the words come long minutes after the picture.
- Movies, live performances, speeches, and sermons rarely offer accommodations. When they do, they are bulky headsets that are so uncomfortable they detract from the enjoyment of the event.
|photo credits: CSAIL|
- Don't assume you need to talk louder unless you are asked to do so.
- Don't over enunciate or exaggerate your lip movements. Lip readers can read the movements of normal speech, but it is impossible to read someone's lips when they are over-articulating.
- Try not to speak to us when our backs our turned. Face-to-face contact is best for verbal communication.
- Do communicate in writing when possible. Phone calls and face to face meetings are sometimes difficult to follow.
- Be patient. Those of us who are hearing impaired sometimes miss things. If we know we've missed something we will ask you to repeat it ("what?" "huh?" "Could you please repeat that?") But sometimes we don't even know we missed something! If it looks like someone doesn't hear what you just said, try repeating it.
- When in doubt, ASK! I think just about anyone with any type of disability would welcome your questions over your assumptions. Don't be afraid to ask! It is more offensive to have someone stare at my hearing aids, holler in my face, or exaggerate their lip movements than it is to have them ask directly about my hearing impairment.