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If you are coming to terms with your hearing loss, the process can be long and gradual, particularly when it comes to how you talk about it with others. Although hearing loss is incredibly common and treatment solutions exist for many people, some still feel reticent to disclose their hearing loss to others. Some say that it makes them feel old, and others say that they don’t want others to treat them any differently. Still others have not been able to admit to themselves that they have hearing loss at all, even though the signs are undeniable.
If you find yourself using one of these or another excuse to avoid talking about hearing loss, you are not alone. Yet, talking about hearing loss is one of the best ways to move toward solutions. Some of these solutions include accommodations that others can make that will make it possible to hear more clearly. The best solutions have to do with treatment by a hearing health professional, and disclosing hearing loss is an essential step in that direction.
Although it is crucial to begin talking about your hearing loss, not all strategies are the same. Let’s take a look at the three major disclosure methods as well as your approach to solutions.
Three Disclosure Methods
Those who have hearing loss can talk about it in a variety of ways, and they are not equal in their effectiveness.
The first major disclosure style is no disclosure whatsoever. “Non-disclosure” is a strategy employed to prompt another person to accommodate your hearing needs without admitting that you have hearing loss. For instance, a person who cannot hear another person in a conversation might simply say, “What was that?” or even “Can you speak up?” Although it might seem implied that the person has hearing loss, that is not actually clear. The person in the conversation might simply think they were speaking unclearly or quietly. The problem with this non-disclosure method is that others will not be able to continue accommodation moving forward. Without knowing that hearing loss is the problem, others might continue to speak just as they always did, and they will not take part in seeking hearing aids or other treatment.
The second disclosure method is “basic disclosure.” This strategy is used to tell others directly that they have hearing loss, and yet no other information is provided. By simply saying, “I’m hard of hearing,” a person in the conversation might not know what they can do about it. Some people make mistakes when trying to accommodate hearing loss, such as talking very slowly, overly enunciating their speech, or continuing to make communication mistakes such as speaking from another room. Basic disclosure does take a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t complete the task of full disclosure.
The third – and most effective – disclosure style, called “multipurpose disclosure,” takes the next step to not only admit to hearing loss but also to suggest an accommodation strategy. A good example of this approach might sound like, “I don’t hear as well as I used to. Would you mind coming closer when you talk?” By combining a disclosure of hearing loss as well as a way to accommodate the condition, multipurpose disclosers tend to have the best success. Studies show that women have been better at using this type of disclosure, so it is important to encourage the men in your life to use multipurpose disclosure whenever possible.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Although accommodations can be very helpful for those with hearing loss, the best solution is to pursue treatment. By meeting with a hearing health professional for a hearing test, consultation, and diagnosis, you can take a step toward durable solutions to your hearing needs.
Rather than simply asking someone to raise their voice when they speak, hearing aids can do incredible work to fill the gaps in conversation. Hearing aid features are developing at a rapid rate, and many hearing aids come equipped with apps to manage volume and other settings, as well as Bluetooth capability. If you think you have lost some of your hearing ability but have not yet had a hearing test, don’t delay to make the appointment. Contact us today!