If you’re facing the challenge of hearing loss, you know how frustrating it can be. But it doesn’t mean you have to drastically change your lifestyle or give up the activities you enjoy. There are effective ways to accommodate hearing loss that fit into your personal, everyday routine. Here are some tips from the experts:
Discover new technologies
There are more assistive technologies today than ever before to help those who are hard of hearing. Hearing aids are the most well-known assistive device, and hearing aid technology has progressed so much that there are various styles, shapes and sizes of hearing aids to suit your exact needs. Some of the optional features include directional microphones, mobile phone attachments, and compatibility with other Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) that can help you accurately recognize the sounds around you.
Another remarkably helpful technology is the use of captioning. All new television models offer captioning options so that people with limited hearing ability can read simultaneously as they watch. There are also captioned telephones, such as CapTel, which allow people with hearing loss to enjoy a phone conversation in a similar fashion. CapTel users can hear the caller but also read captions during the call to be certain of what is said.
Katherine Bouton, a former New York Times editor who is living with hearing loss recently pointed out that many people prefer phone calls over email and texting because “the sound of the human voice conveys emotion that the written word can’t…the immediacy of a back and forth conversation is the closest thing to being there in person.”
Rely on visual cues
Many individuals with hearing loss prefer to speak with someone face-to-face so they can read emotion, body language and other visual cues that help them interpret speech. Even if you have limited hearing ability, don’t underestimate the amazing power of your brain: A recent study published in Nature Communications showed that the brains of people who are deaf or hard of hearing adapt to compensate hearing loss by becoming more sensitive to others’ body language and facial expressions.
Meet others who have hearing loss
Finding others who are successfully coping with hearing loss can be very helpful. The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is a great resource for meeting others who have hearing loss, and you can become active in your local community. Check out their website for your local HLAA chapter.
Interdependence is OK
Don’t hide your limited hearing ability from other people. Asking others to talk more slowly or to repeat the funny line you missed in a movie does not make you “dependent.” According to one blogger with hearing loss, “being dependent would be asking them to narrate the whole movie.” You can still be independent while being interdependent with others.