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Written by: Mary Ann Winters
Date: January 24, 2015

“Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.” — Helen Keller

Frustration clouds my focus when a presenter/speaker fails to use a microphone.  I’ve experienced total hearing loss in one ear since age 28 and I can’t tell you how often I’ve been required to “fill in the blanks” when I couldn’t hear all the words.  Unfortunately, speaking louder does not provide the clarity heard from a microphone used with a softer voice.

The Hearing Loss Association website tells us that once we reach age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss and 60% of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings. The most common causes for this invisible condition are noise and aging.  In older people, a hearing loss is often confused with, or complicates, such conditions as dementia.  Unfortunately, hearing aids may not be helpful for many.

Have you experienced your cell phone second guessing your text, and making changes that totally destroy your meaning?  Well, that’s how conversation often goes for a hearing impaired person.

So, doesn’t it make sense to clarify our conversations?  If your co-worker, friend or Mom gives a bizarre response to your inquiry, they may not be kidding around; maybe they simply heard a different question.  Since many with hearing loss are unaware we’re reading lips to confirm conversation, try re-phrasing your question while looking directly at the person.

In personal relationships, the situation becomes more critical.  If the hearing impaired person is standing at the sink with the water running, and you’re raising your voice to converse from the other room, misunderstandings are inevitable.  Even if you’re nearby but not face to face, a disagreement can arise from a misunderstood word.

If you’re not being understood, maybe you’re not being heard.