Sunday, 26 May 2019

How to talk to people that cannot hear you.

Image result for awarenessAnother well-meaning blogger who doesn't appear to understand the basics of hearing loss or how to raise real awareness about it.  These tried and never viable suggestions keep being trotted out as awareness by rote and sheer habit despite not being all that successful.  The real awareness should be with us and it isn't.  

It also assumes we are lip-readers and, that lip-reading is highly effective under set conditions, another myth.   Anyone today with a hearing loss will by default accept text is the most reliable method bar none.  Technology that enables that to happen is the only real in to those with hearing loss.  The article does not even cover the degrees of loss or, the abilities of the individual or medical conditions that prevent any of the suggestions noted from being viable, its a 'one size' fits all that fits nobody.  

What suits you won't suit me etc....  The basic 'ask me what will work...'  is a complete question mark.  If you can understand THAT request.........  The blog would not have been an issue of response but for the fact, it is tagged as for 'deaf and Hard of hearing'.  Just more abuse of those definitions and they are ALL at it.  I don't think you should create awareness by telling people what they should not be doing, as it may well work for others with hearing loss.  Don't do this, and don't do that, is a turn off.

The Article:

Is there a person with hearing loss in your family? If so, then you know all about what to do —and what not to do— for effective communication, right? Are you a person with hearing loss in a family where everyone else is hearing? If so, you know how difficult it is for your family members to remember and carry out the communication basics, right?

For most people, it’s just not easy to making the changes necessary for effective conversations. Assuming that there have been some preliminary talk about the basics – face me when speaking, don’t yell or over-enunciate and don’t starting talking to me until you’ve got my attention – the problem, to my way of thinking, boils down to things:

The person with hearing loss has not learned how to let others know their needs or understand that these needs must be expressed over and over again. Why? Because they expect their loved ones to rise to the situation and understand that every conversation is in danger of going down the communication toilet.

The hearing person is not a mind-reader, can’t tell if the hearing person is in communication difficulty, and so assumes that all is well. Why? Because they had a similar conversation yesterday in the same place, and the relative seemed to be coping, when in fact he or she may actually be fluffing (pretending to understand).
These two common scenarios are like a water balloon – perfectly designed to explode into an emotional mess. The person who can’t hear well is anxious at being cut out of the flow and the family member is impatient with the hearing aid user who doesn’t seem to stay engaged.

There are about two million variations on this scenario, which is played out, every day in lives affected by hearing loss. It takes time and practice and open dialogue to create conversations that approach what they used to be like in the family: spontaneous, humorous, or at least, free-flowing.

I know what I’m talking about, because I’ve been having the hearing loss conversation for 60 years. Sixty years! So believe me when I tell you – don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Here are the steps the HEARING people need to take to get back to the good stuff.

Get the person’s attention before starting to speak. A little wave, a little tap, putting your face in their line of sight – these are good things.  Don’t start a conversation from another room. Just don’t. If we answer, it’s only to say something like – “Are you kidding me? You think I understand you?”  Face the person – always. Whether we know it or not, we are speech-readers, and can understand you when we can see you.

And because of point #3 above, please ensure your mouth is free of food, gum, cigarettes and spinach stuck in your teeth… We won’t understand you because of the first three items, and we won’t be able to concentrate because of the last.
Don’t yell or over-enunciate. Neither of these are helpful – the first one hurts our ears and the second one makes you look stupid.

We don’t do dark. We understand better in a well-lit room, with little or no background noise.  If you’re not sure if I’m understanding, ask me. (Just in case I’m not assertive enough to ask you to do something differently.)  And never, never, never say ‘never mind’, if you’re asked to repeat yourself. It’s hurtful and if there was a reason you said it the first time, that’s a good enough reason to repeat it.

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