In my world when I meet someone new at a gathering – whether it is a business meeting or a party – it seems my mantra goes like this: “Hi, my name is ________ and I’m hard of hearing.” The reality is, if I have an interest in being able to communicate with others for business or pleasure and I’m in any kind of compromising environment, I’ve got to be very on point about putting them on notice. I tell my clients that when we go to court I will more than likely have a CART there and what that means (unless it is a small hearing where an FM can cover the situation).
Imagine if tomorrow morning you found yourself having to say, “Hi, I’m _______ and I’m fully hearing. I’d like you to know that chances are that you can say my name when I’m not looking at you and I’ll know you’re talking to me. In fact, I can probably hear you from the next room, assuming you speak loud enough.”
Hearing people never have to explain that they can hear you. It is a given. You are probably going to be able to determine a person is blind based on the cane and/or the guide dog, but being Hard of Hearing (HoH) is an invisible disability so unless I reach out and tell someone I have impaired hearing they are not going to know. I’ve been assumed to be stuck up or shy or inattentive. My hearing aid is not not the size of a tuba and you won’t know I’m wearing it if I don’t tell you. And my hearing aid can only do so much – and is only on my one “good” side. If you are on my “bad” side you may not exist in my world.
Imagine – if you had to give someone your hearing status every time you met them. Imagine if you always had to be alert to the fact someone might be talking to you. Sometimes I feel as if I’m a Navy Seal on a reconnaissance mission. Yeah, if only I were in such good shape – but the point still stands. It is exhausting to always be scanning the horizon for new information. Imagine if that was your life.