All of us have had some experience with people who have a hearing loss. When we have to deal with our own loss, we realize others do not understand what happens when hearing wanes. So the Reflection this week is on information coming from my own experience.
I was in my 50’s when my housemates in Gaylord, Michigan told me I did not hear well. I did not notice it, except that I asked to turn the TV up in the evenings. Therefore, to satisfy them, I made an appointment with a specialist in hearing disorders. The result of the test showed that I had loss that could not be repaired by surgery. My left ear had 75% loss and the right ear 60% loss. The cause was aging and heredity.
You may have heard people say everyone talks as if they have mush in their mouths. There is a reason for that. The first thing lost is consonant sounds, especially the initial consonant. Someone may be talking about a bell in the new building, and I would have heard fell instead of bell. I would mistakenly think that someone fell in the new building. You catch on quickly though, and watch the mouths of speakers. The “b” sound and the “f” sound clear things up for me by the position of the lips of the speaker.
If clattering dishes in a restaurant annoys you, know that people with hearing aids have that sound increased so that they wince with pain.
What do we do with our deaf friends? Here are a few tips:
DO: Speak clearly at a speed slightly slower than normal.
DON’T: Mumble or exaggerate your words.
DO: Keep eye contact.
DON’T: Cover your mouth or look away.
DO: Speak at a normal volume or slightly louder.
DON’T: Shout. This will distort lip patterns. Deafness causes a loss of pitch, not volume.
DO: If there is more than one person speaking, take turns to talk.
DON’T: Speak over each other- this is very difficult for a deaf person to follow.
DO: If they do not understand the first time, repeat it, and if needed try rephrasing it.
Remember; DON’T be afraid to check that the deaf person can understand you. Keep this motto in mind: Repeat, Rephrase, and Write it down.
Having hearing aids is a lot like putting your fingers in your ears as you did as a child. Your voice echoes in your head and gives you a different sound than when you speak and hear your voice at the same time. That same sound in my head happens with every word I speak now. Because of that, I speak much softer when I am wearing hearing aids and when I take them out my voice raises considerably. That is why I take them out when I lector. Otherwise, I seem to whisper into the microphone.
I was so glad to hear things after I received my hearing aids that the ticking of a clock was like music, and hearing bird’s song lifted my heart. I have to admit though, that removing my hearing aids makes for a lovely silent world; a world perfect for contemplation and meditating. So there are good things that happen even with handicaps!
Love your ability to hear and use it well. I can no longer go to concerts or listen to music in the car. All those “noises”really rattle my head. BUT, when the Academy has an outdoor concert, I can enjoy that very much because the sounds are not bouncing back and forth against walls or car doors.
Everyone has a handicap. Some are more noticeable than others. Love yours and put it to work for you and the Good, Wise, Gentle God who gave us each what we need.
Repeat, Re-Phrase, and Write it down.
Much love to all,