“Deaf,” “deaf,” “hard of hearing,” “hearing impaired”…
There are many words that describe someone with hearing loss. Some of them are used to describe how much you can hear, others elicit positive feelings, and other more negative. Other terms are viewed as politically correct, while unfortunately in some places it’s still common to use words like “deaf and dumb.”
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from terms that belittle people with hearing loss, but there are still situations that we run into that make us think, wow, we still have a long way to go.
So, what do you think? How do you describe hearing loss to your friends, family or people you aren’t that close with? Does it matter?
“The idea behind “hearing impaired” is that we are lesser human beings and must be fixed to function.
Those who suffer (dare I use “suffer”?) from mild to moderate hearing loss do not necessarily identify with the term deaf—a word that is historically loaded and also carries a distinction between capitalized and lowercase “d”. Uppercase “Deaf” reflects a community and a culture of identity, and carries pride similar to that of ethnic and religious groups. Lowercase “deaf” can reflect only severe to profound hearing loss, or hearing loss on the whole, depending who you ask.” – Christina The Name I Call Myself
In “Health and Hearing (Part I)” Stu talks about his journey in finding a reason for his hearing loss and his path for self healing with alternative medicine…
I wanted to know why I had lost my hearing and what – if anything – I could do about it. I was willing to go wherever it took me.
Like most people, I depended on conventional western medical diagnoses, treatments and therapies for my health needs. So I had no idea where to go if not there. I was hardly in perfect health, but at 29 there were enough physical tics to suggest a look under the hood wasn’t a bad idea. I wanted to find an alternative path to health and wellness… something outside the box.
I was connected to a group of fellow travelers – many with serious ailments of their own – who turned me on to an astounding array of things to try. Acupuncture, spinal and TMJ adjustments and bite plates, colonic irrigations, meditation, massage, yoga, tai chi and an overwhelming variety of magic foods, supplements, drinks, etc. I jumped in with a vengeance at a sizable cost, as insurance companies weren’t covering much outside the conventional medical box.
Naïve to be sure, but I held out hope that one day, with the next chiropractic adjustment, colon cleanse, hour of meditation, or fruit smoothie my hearing would literally click back into place like turning on a light switch. So I was diligent. Fanatical. And though that did not happen, something else did.
Lifeguarding requires patience, attentiveness, responsibility and (most importantly) the ability to jump into the water at any given moment. That’s why for me, as a hearing aid wearer and person with limited non-direction hearing, it’s been the perfect job.
Of course, not everyone has believed the role would be a good fit for me…
I’ve always loved swimming. I used to swim competitively, but I had to pull out when I got too busy with school. I have to say, this was probably one of the hardest things to let go of, because it was such a big part of my life.
I missed the pool so much. The adrenaline from swimming competitively, the kick from winning a race, the peacefulness of silently gliding underwater… I just wanted to be back on poolside again.
In April 2014, the opportunity arose for me to do the RLSS (Royal Lifesaving Society) Pool Lifeguard Qualification, however due to my hearing loss, I didn’t think it would be possible. I spoke to the training provider and asked them if it would be achievable, and luckily they agreed to make adjustments for me. Continue reading “Confessions of a teenage deaf lifeguard”
We were still getting used to the fact we had a mini human who was awake most of the night when we found out that Harry was deaf. He was just 7 weeks old when he failed the Newborn Hearing Screening.
After a series of tests and a very intensive ABR he was confirmed as profoundly deaf with no threshold of hearing. The emotions hit us like a steam train and immediately we felt worried and scared for what the future would hold for our perfect baby boy. I remember that day so clearly; when my partner Scott and I held each other close and cried ourselves to sleep. We almost had to mourn what our idea of a perfect child was, and come around to the fact that our experience as first time parents was going to be a little different than what we had expected.
We spent a good few days feeling extremely upset and worried for our little chap. Our baby was the only deaf person we had ever met. It was a completely new thing to learn about. I started to panic when I left him alone to sleep, as I thought he would wake up and be scared because he couldn’t hear us. It took me a while to realize that actually Harry had never known any different, and he shouldn’t be scared because to him the world had always been silent.
It was as quick as the day after Harry’s diagnosis when we had a phone call from our local Teacher of the Deaf. The amount of information being fed to us was quite overwhelming, but comforting knowing a support system was already in place. She came over soon after to introduce herself, and we immediately felt confident that our son wasn’t going to be forgotten about or left behind. She explained that she would help us with his development from Day 1 until he finished his education, which filled us with hope and a lot more confidence than we had initially had.
Hi there, let me introduce myself. My name is Ellen, but my friends call me Ellie. I live in Norfolk, UK. Some of you may know me as Deafie Blogger. I’m 18 years old, and I’ve been profoundly deaf since birth. I wear two digital Phonak hearing aids, which allow me to communicate through lip-reading and speech. I don’t use British Sign Language, although I’d love to learn one day. I’m a typical teenager, and I love being sociable, spending time with family and friends, travelling and swimming.
Of course, I’m proud to be deaf, because I wouldn’t have achieved what I have, if I was hearing. I would just be ordinary. I am passionate about deaf awareness, no doubt about it. Over the past year I’ve really gotten interested in blogging and deaf culture, and I’m hoping that I can enthuse and encourage other deaf teenagers to prove that they can achieve anything they dream of. I love writing about everyday situations in the life of a deaf person, with the aim of making others feel as if they’re not alone.
All I wanted to know, after losing 100 percent of my hearing in the left ear in 1978, and much of the hearing in my right ear in 1980, was… why? Why did this happen to me in my late 20s while I was supposedly in perfect health? Why did it happen at the exact moment in my musical trajectory when I had reached a peak – winning acclaim, earning hefty dollars and with a bright future assured.
My plea was certainly to try and understand what had happened to me from a health standpoint after so quick and dramatic a loss. But more importantly, it was to see what I might be able to do about it. Other than telling me what happened, the doctors couldn’t tell me why – or what to do about it.
The polytomography showed no tumors. Steroids were administered to address potential immune issues, but there were no answers coming, and no drugs or surgery to help me forward.
They called it bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. A perfect term if you’re a hearing professional. A garbage term if you were me.
Nothing, they told me. This was for life – including the accompanying tinnitus in both ears. And there would be no turning back. Only a hearing aid stood between me and silence.
I recognize for many among the “hearing lost,” that information would have been enough to know, and a hearing aid would have provided the necessary accommodation. Carry on. ‘Nuff said.
But it never was and never has been enough for me, in part because of my personality, and also because I had the added impetus – or more accurately, desperation – to get back to music in some way, shape or form.
That’s the number of people with disabilities working in the US, compared to 68.2 percent without disabilities, according to United States Department of Labor’s September 2015 Disability Employment Statistics.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has laws that make discrimination on the basis of disability illegal, but my high school experience showed me the slippery ways people in power can bypass these laws.
In my first post-graduate job, a makeup salesperson at a major US department store, I received diversity training, which included many topics: language inclusivity; recognizing racial bias; respect of different religions. But what struck me was the topic of disability.
When I first entered the workforce, my parents encouraged me to hide my disability because I passed for able-bodied better than most people in my position. Any discrimination, they believed, would be brought by my openness, and they suspected it would be better for me to be quiet. Typically, I would have rejected this advice, telling my parents I would not be shackled by chains of ableism created by ignorant people, however, I was nervous about my post-collegiate future and felt adrift in the “real world” after almost 20 years of academia. I hated living at home and I wanted to earn money, but I was not sure if moving out and making a living would be possible if I was open about my hearing loss. Wanting to err on the side of caution, I nervously chose to go into hiding on my first day of work.
Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Armenia with theHear The World Foundation. Nazan Yakar and Christiane Schubert, who volunteered for the project, are both Audiologists with Phonak Germany. This is their account of the Hear Armenia 2015 project visit.
Our journey to Armenia began in May 2015, when Nazan and I first talked with the Hear the World Foundation staff about the option to volunteer for a project. Although there was no clear opportunity at the time, just a few weeks later we were lucky enough to be presented with a chance to support the Hear the World project in Armenia. We decided very quickly to accept the offer, as we’re excited about the opportunities to gain practical experiences in the pediatric field, aside from our daily business.
Slowly, we started to learn more about our tasks and about the Hear the World program in Armenia. We had several calls with former volunteers and staff who visited the Arabkir Hospital, where we would work. Together we brainstormed we would support the hospital best this year.
Before we left, Nazan and I collected several items from our pediatric products to bring along, such as Leo plush toys and books, Junior kit clips, cleaning tools and battery testers. Hear the World Foundation, as part of their yearly grant, also provided a variety of hearing instruments and Roger devices.
In a few months, we were ready to split the supplies, pack up our bags and head to Armenia!
In another lifetime I was a middle-school teacher. It only lasted for two years, but at that time I thought it might be my career.
I didn’t wear hearing aids then. Of the many difficulties I faced teaching classes of teenagers, I think some of them did have their root in my hearing loss.
First of all, I couldn’t understand soft-spoken students, and often had to make them repeat themselves. Uncomfortable for me, and also for them, especially if they were shy. The accompanying snickers from the rest of the class were certainly not a positive thing for the class atmosphere or my relationship with them.
I also had trouble when students made low-voiced comments or “talked back” in such a way that everybody could hear but me. It does make it difficult to ensure classroom rules are followed when so much can go on under your threshold of perception.
At the time, I didn’t realise how “bad” my hearing was (I knew I had some hearing loss). I didn’t realise that my colleagues heard that much more, and therefore had more information at hand to help them manage the class. Not hearing well clearly was not my only shortcoming in teaching teenagers, but I probably blamed myself more than I should have for the difficulties rooted in “not hearing things”.