If you’ve been wearing hearing aids for a while, you’re
Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters
When you have hearing loss it can make it difficult to communicate with friends, family and co-workers. It is a serious disability affecting 48 million people in the U.S. alone, but remains mostly invisible. When people know that you have hearing loss then you can make requests in order for you to better succeed in conversation.
Some of these accommodations include asking them to speak slower so you have more time to keep up, maintaining eye contact and moving to more quiet locations to make it easier to hear. However if the people in your life don’t understand that you have a hearing loss they cannot help you to understand. When hearing loss becomes a secret or a source of shame it can progress to strained relationships, depression and self-isolation.
Learning how to disclose your needs can help you learn how to access what others can do to support you.
A study from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, explored different ways in which people choose to disclose their hearing loss and monitored which disclosure methods were the most effective in helping hearing impaired access the best accommodations in conversation.
The study examined about 350 individuals about their hearing loss and how they chose to disclose their disability. A survey was given with questions geared to identify the precise language and phrasing used in order to identify which disclosure methods created instances for continuing healthy work and relationships after disclosing their hearing loss.
The study was able to categorize the disclosure method into 3 categories: basic disclosure, nondisclosure and multipurpose disclosure. The study identified that describing your hearing loss to others in a comprehensive way created a sense of empowerment, which helped others to accommodate your needs.
Basic disclosure was defined as instances in which you explain your hearing loss only to the people most close to you. The phrasing identified were phrases such as “ I have hearing loss due to all the concerts I used to attend “ or “ I had an ear infection years ago my hearing never recovered from.” This lets people close to you know you have hearing loss that may need to be accommodated for however it does not instruct people on specific ways of communication which may help you the most.
Non-disclosure is non-communication around your hearing issues. You may ask people to repeat what they said or to speak up. These behaviors may clue people to the fact that you have a hearing loss, but it does not identify any specific actions they can take or address the issue at all. This can press issues connected to hearing loss, such as depression or anxiety, making them worse as the patient becomes less able to succeed in social situations due to non-disclosure. It is all too common for others to attribute your hearing loss to being disinterested in conversation, mistaking your hearing loss for you not paying attention instead of a chronic disability.
Multipurpose disclosure was identified as the most effective way to succeed in conversations and relationships for those who dealt with hearing loss. This method lets people know directly that you have a hearing loss and includes concrete suggestions that the other person can use in order to help you understand them better. This might sound like: “ My right ear is bad, would you mind speaking into my left side?” or “ I have trouble hearing. Could you please turn down the music?” This method lets people know you have a problem and gives examples of ways in which it is easier for you to understand. The research found that when individuals used the multipurpose method of disclosure, their friends, family and co-workers were able to be more accommodating. This led to healthy relationships which combated depression and social isolation often associated with hearing loss.
Dealing With Your Hearing Loss
Being open about your hearing loss not only makes it easier for the people in your life to communicate better; eliminating tension and strain in relationships but also allows patients to seek treatment for their hearing loss. The most common and effective treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids, which amplify lost sounds making them clear again. If you are dealing with a hearing loss do not delay in being direct about your situation so you can get the help you need and deserve. Call today for a hearing test!