Hearing loss exists on a spectrum. Some have profound or complete hearing loss that doesn’t respond to treatment. Others have mild to moderate cases that may go unnoticed by those around them.
Regardless of severity, it’s important to know how to support your family, friends and coworkers with hearing loss. Let’s examine a few of the best ways to do that.
Don’t Assume Hearing Loss Makes Someone Less Capable
People with hearing loss are often stigmatized. Don’t assume that someone with severe hearing loss is less capable of doing their jobs or functioning in the world. They may need different accommodations than those without hearing loss, but this has nothing to do with ability or intelligence.
Don’t Minimize Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss
While some make the mistake of assuming that people with profound hearing loss are less capable, they may also think that someone with mild to moderate hearing loss doesn’t have a “real” problem.
However, it would be wrong to minimize their experience or assume they don’t need support. The type of hearing loss a person has does not always correspond with their personal struggle.
Believe What Someone Tells You About Their Hearing
Many people with hearing loss have what’s known as an invisible disability. This means their condition is not immediately noticeable to other people.
You may be surprised to find out a friend or coworker is hard of hearing. However, it’s important to not let that surprise come across as casting doubt. Saying things like “I had no idea” or “You seem to hear just fine,” may seem like you are minimizing their condition.
Research shows that nearly 60% of Americans with disabilities feel that others question their disability.
This doubt can stop people from disclosing their condition, which prevents them from accessing available accommodations they may benefit from.
Make Communication Easier
If someone confides in you that they have hearing loss, react supportively. Thank them for sharing and ask if there are ways to make communication easier.
Try to think ahead and be inclusive. Examples include:
- Making sure captions are on when watching a video or in a virtual meeting.
- Learn effective communication strategies like facing them and avoiding covering your mouth when you speak.
- Consider the noise level of certain environments before making plans.
- When in doubt, reach out privately ahead of time. Say something like, “Is there anything you need to make communication easier when we go out to eat at Table 32?”
Supporting and respecting those with hearing loss makes it more likely that they will feel comfortable asking for what they need.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s hearing loss or your own, call Ear, Nose & Throat Consultants to schedule an appointment today.