Going deaf doesn’t mean your life has to change. You just need to find ways of coping with your loss so you can maintain the quality of your life.
Going to the Theatre and Cinema. You can still enjoy many things. Find venues such as theatres and cinemas which have a hearing loop and use your hearing aid’s tswitch function to improve what you hear. If you still can’t understand, many theatres and cinemas have subtitled sessions so you can read what is being said as well as hear it. Check local newspapers, on-line and at your cinema or theatre.
Watching tv. Watch tv with headphones, a personal FM system or subtiles. Use headphones where you can control the volume or wireless personal FM system which plugs to the tv and communicates with your hearing aid/implant processor. Increased volume for yourself can mean less volume into the room, therefore it’s less disturbing for other members of the family. Most TVs and many programs now include subtitles so find out how to operate them on your set, or upgrade to digital so that you can get subtitles.
Using a phone. There are so many options including video phone calls which make it far easier to communicate by telephone than ever before even with a hearing loss.Get a phone with a volume control, a TTY, or use a phone relay service. Learn how to SMS and get connected to a phone network on your computer (ie Skype or similar) so you can use video calls.
Can I drive? There are generally no restrictions on a deaf person driving (unless you live in India where they use the horn to indicate they want to pass you). Statistics seem to show that deaf people are safer drivers – possibly because they use their vision and are more alert to visual clues making up for their loss of hearing.
How can I continue working? Working as a deaf or hearing impaired person can become very hard. You may need to change your position where your hearing loss can be accommodated more easily. Most companies expect you to use a telephone so get your employer to support you with appropriate phone equipment. Ask for a hearing loop to be installed in meeting rooms or in the reception area. Who knows your customers may benefit from these facilities as well.
Should you learn sign language? Sign language is not simply signed English. It is a full language with its own characteristics and structure and it will take you some time to learn. By all means learn sign language…but remember the important people in your life are unlikely to know sign language so unless they learn too or you join the Deaf Community you probably won’t use it much.
Should you join the Deaf Community? Again, like sign language, the Deaf Community is a community with a different culture – one you have not experienced. You may be accepted but in many cases you could be treated with suspicion, just in the way you would be if you moved to, say, China. If you join the Deaf Community you’d need to learn their language. The Deaf Community has different ways of integrating with the hearing world than you do and, personally, I didn’t find being part of this community helped me to cope with my own hearing loss because I was a hearing person – even though I could not hear.
Unfortunately, deafness does not go away. You will be angry and upset about your hearing loss. But in the end only you can work out ways to maintain your lifestyle.