Donít hide your hearing loss, nor indeed hide behind your hearing loss. Itís very easy to be defined and define yourself as the one who is deaf Ė as if this is something important and perhaps an excuse for not being involved in things.
I have always found it better to be up front about my hearing loss and have found that the majority of people are understanding and will do what they can to make sure Iím included. But there are some who wont, who see it as some kind of intelligence loss and will not consider any kind of compromise.
So what are the solutions if you find yourself in a difficult situation where there is intolerance about your hearing loss? Co-operation, management, mateship, understanding, nurturing, insight and adaptability (Better Hearing Ė July 2013). Itís a two way street and these are the ways to help yourself manage your own situation or someone with a hearing loss.
Co-operate; Co-operation between people helps them understand how they can help you. Discussing what the issues are and how they can be solved means a mutual solution.
Manage your hearing loss; Work out the best place to be when someone speaks to you or the best place to sit in a meeting. Use any kind of assistive listening device or strategy which helps you.
Mateship; I have heard it said you donít employ or work with people because you like them. But the best jobs I have ever had are where I became Ďmatesí with the people I worked with. If we are friends there is better understanding and they are more willing to help.
Understanding; Deafness is outside the experience of most people. They have no idea how it feels to be left out, isolated and unable to access some of the technologies they can. Discuss this with them so they know how you feel. Ask them for their understanding. Explain deafness doesnít make you stupid or less able.
Nurturing; This is both those around you and yourself. Be kind to yourself. Itís not your fault. Nurture what you do well but especially nurture those who are trying to help you get the best results.
Insight; Offer suggestions about how people can better communicate with you.
Adaptability; Be adaptable. Use different technologies and different solutions. Keep trying until something is found which works for everyone.
Most recently some of my worst experiences have been at a place I work. For some reason, these usually very understanding and professional people, somehow make me feel as if I am somehow lacking because of my hearing loss. I canít use their phone system because it isnít compatible with my Cochlear implant processors. My solution was to provide my own phone and divert their phone when I am working. But this seems to be something they really donít like and while not saying anything much, by their demeanour and attitude they let me know they donít like it. Itís like this makes me inadequate and impacts on my intelligence and ability to do the job.
Yet at another place I work where I hold a considerably more senior position, there is no mention of my hearing loss and my colleagues, when asked always say they never even think about it, that it certainly doesnít impact on my ability. They donít find it hard to work with me and rarely have to repeat themselves.
I guess my point is that no matter how hard you try, sometimes you wonít win. It is perhaps better to cut your losses and move on where your self-esteem is not constantly undermined.