Sep 5, 2013

More On Hearing Loss

     A friend of mine, Gilbert Laden, a Social Security attorney who practices in the Mobile-Pensacola area, sent me these comments on my post about Social Security's advance notice that it is reviewing its hearing listings:
As a faithful reader of your blog and as one with a lifelong hearing loss, I read with interest your item about the advance notice on SSA's [Social Security Administration's] proposed changes to the hearing loss listings and, more particularly, your comments.

I like to offer my perspective on those comments. I have a severe-to-profound loss. I wear two hearing aids. If I didn't, I could not hear normal speech. You would probably be yelling at me, but more on that later. While they are not substitutes for normal hearing, they have been and are instrumental in my ability to function in the hearing world. I disagree with your assertion that they just increase the volume of unintelligible sound.

I did not get my first hearing aid until age 6, a body aid I had to wear in my front pocket (there were no behind-the-ear, or BTE, models), and struggled in the first grade to the point that my teacher told my mother she didn't think I was going to make it. Fortunately, I found my stride. I did have to undergo 6 years of speech therapy as my speech was very poor.

My mother told me that when I first got my aid, I heard a sound which I had not heard before and asked her what it was. She told me it was the sound of birds chirping. She said she never forgot the look on my face. I have had my shares of ups-and-downs with my hearing loss, but have managed to do okay. 

By using the telecoil switch on my hearing aid, I can hear on the telephone (with my right, or "good" ear, the one with "only" a severe loss). With that same t-switch, I can use an assistive listening system and hear during oral argument in federal court.

I lipread. I depend on nonverbal communication. I guess. I still have problems, due to, as I said earlier, hearing aids not being substitutes for normal hearing. Although I wish they were better, I am grateful for them.

Now about communicating with your clients: don't shout at your hearing impaired clients. That distorts the sound and your lip movements for lip-readers. Some amplification of your voice is important, but enunciation, sitting a bit closer, and good lighting on your face (not behind you from a window, for example) and, yes, proper fitting of hearing aids (if they can afford them) will usually carry the day. The vast majority of individuals with hearing loss have some residual hearing that aids will help.

Since you are about the same age as me, let me offer this tidbit: One in three will have a hearing loss by age 65. The percentages go up as we get older.

Thank you for "hearing" me out

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