Expecting people to understand hearing loss is a fool’s errand
I think it is fair to say that most people don’t understand the problems associated with having a hearing loss. Most people will assume that hearing loss is just about volume, they won’t know about directionality, not being able to understand different types of sounds, noise problems and so on. And I think that is completely fine, it is totally unreasonable to assume that everyone else has a good idea about how to help you deal with hearing loss.
I believe it is up to me to deal with my hearing loss, to let people know about things like background noise or telephones difficulties when the problem arises, I don’t expect people I meet to know how to deal with my lack of being able to hear them, I have to diffuse that situation and tell them how to make it work – which is definitely not always an easy or comfortable thing to do.
Recently I visited Geoff, we were in McDonald’s for lunch and I was going to pay, the cashier told me the price but I didn’t have a clue what she said and responded with, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said”, she looked all embarrassed and confused and said nothing, I wasn’t sure how to proceed but Geoff chipped in and let me know she was telling me the price, so that problem was over. Was the cashier being unreasonable? I don’t think so, I’m guessing she probably doesn’t know anyone with a hearing loss or maybe she was just embarrassed about a “scene” as some of the other customers at the counter were looking over – that cashier has her own doubts, issues and problems to deal with, I can’t expect her to deal with mine too.
I’m all for raising awareness of hearing loss and I think “National Hearing Month” and similar efforts are great, if they help people to come to terms with the hearing problem and seek help then that is fantastic, but I don’t think we, as individuals, can expect these awareness drives to result in everyone else understanding our problems. We’ve been saddled with a hearing problem, so we have to pucker-up and deal with it – harsh, but true.
That’s not to say that other people don’t care about our hearing problems, I’m sure most people are sympathetic and would help out by speaking more clearly or whatever when they know what to do, but don’t expect them to intuitively jump to your aid, take control of your situation yourself.