It may all be about perception


Life has been presenting me with learning opportunities as of late. That is a gentle way of commenting about being slapped upside the head with various realizations.

A somewhat giddy, slightly snockered acquaintance told me that after years if knowing me she had no idea I was Hard of Hearing (HoH). This follows fairly closely on the heels of being asked to handle a telephone deposition for another lawyer and her response when I reminded her I am HoH and I want to be across the table so I can have the back-up of lip reading.  “I forgot,” she said, “I don’t think of you has having any limitations.”  I do talk on the phone using adaptive equipment, but not during critical times such as depositions.

This past week I attended an event with a speaker who was a short, stout woman in her mid 70’s, her hair done up in what I’d call a “washer woman’s knot” liberally streaked with silver.  She spoke in the gravelly voice associated with aging. She was a dynamic speaker, moved the audience, and I was able to follow her through sound and lip reading. On break she stumped her way out to smoke before resuming her place at the front of the room. At the end of the event I went up to thank the speaker sharing her time and experience. Having grown up the way I did, I always accord a slightly deferential manner to individuals I consider my elders. I was stunned to find out this woman with the heavily lined face and clear difficulty in getting around was several years younger than I! Yikes!

This brings me full circle to perceptions. I’ve had people just about drop their teeth when they find out my age. It is because I have lost weight, work out, walk with a spring in my step, and make an effort to look presentable. I’m also fortunate not to have had major medical problems and my knees and hips work fine.

There is a perception in the world that we all hear or see.  It is only a white cane with a red tip or seeing two persons signing that tips others off there may be a difference.

I was mainstreamed in school. I learned how to “voice” and even learned to sing. I watched everything like a hawk to figure out what was going on. I suppose it is only to be anticipated that without wearing a sign that says I can’t hear you no one is going to understand that I may not hear them.

Recently, I’ve been using the remote for my hearing aid (my aid has few external controls and I require more flexibility) and when I hold it up to adjust the hearing aid THAT has gotten more attention and discussion than anything else.

I must admit that I do wish family and friends would take a bit more notice that I really do have a hearing problem, but that is the way of the world. It is all about perceptions.

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2 comments

  1. Once again, we see that hearing loss truly is an invisible problem. And not just that people cannot always see our hearing devices. Instead, it is due due to the fact that people cannot “see” if we did not understand what has been said. They cannot hear how garbled our signals can be. This is different than someone with a physical disability cannot navigate a staircase or revolving door. It is obvious to all. But not with hearing loss.

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment. I believe it is because I can voice that I was physically assaulted by someone in a 12 step group for using interpreters and “distracting” them.

      At a recent autumnal gathering there were a few times I echoed a statement that proved to be off the mark, hence my confusion. Reading lips and putting it with sound still results in me sometimes putting together a string of words that are garbled. Fortunately, everyone there is empathetic to the problem

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