For those who might think that anyone deaf or hard of hearing would better understand someone else with the same or similar problem: think again. We also have our limits. Some Deaf from birth are really only signers and don’t read lips or do much with oral communications at all. And more of the HoH today are late deafened adults who are less likely to have adaptive skills or be familiar with adaptive technology.
I recently encountered a person with what appears to have a worse hearing loss than mine who has no supporting technology. He is one of the older, retired Americans with severe hearing loss and no perceived access to hearing technology. No cell phone, let alone a smart phone with texting ability, an ancient of days home computer, no hearing aid, no understanding of any modern technology. He does not think to carry a pad of paper and a pen because he’s a late deafened adult.
Like so many individuals with hearing loss it became clear he has specific range losses (pitch aka hertz – hz) and my voice is probably near or outside the range of his hearing. So in addition to needing more sound he needs more sound in a different tone. Unfortunately, I can’t project a bass voice; that’s beyond my vocal limits.
People who may know they are HoH might know they need more volume, but if they have not been working with an audiologist or Ear Nose and Throat doctor, they don’t understand that they’re missing entire parts of the range of human hearing. So they’ve got a double whammy – db and hz. Explaining that may make no sense at all, even if you can make it understood. I usually know I’m not understood when the non sequiturs start flying.
People with moderate to severe loss (like me) are not helped by simply making sounds louder. That makes it into loud noise that sounds like Charlie Brown’s mom in the TV Cartoons – Waah, waah, waah, waah.
When I am with another person who is HoH, without technology to assist them – or when there is no technology that can assist in terms of their ability to hear – I may understand the challenges, but I’m in no better position to fix it than a hearing person. We are back to: signing (not likely in most deaf today) or paper and pencil OR using texting technology. I always have my smartphone where I can type in words into a text I never send and then hand them to the other person to read. This works well for late deafened adults who cannot sign. It also worked well in Mexico when I would type English into Google Translate and it would spit out a communication in Spanish and the other person could reverse the process.
So many people have smart phones these days – or are carrying small tablets – that we don’t have to carry a pad of paper and a pencil around for just in case. And most hearies would never do that anyway unless they thought the’d run into a person who needed it.
I know I have the “speech banana” on the site elsewhere, but not sure where, so here is it again. I’m making it large so that it can be easily visualized.
Trying to make life more understandable for the HoH one day at a time. 🙂