What life’s like living with hearing loss right now...?!

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by
06/09/2020

For years before I got help with my hearing, I spent time guessing what someone was saying to me.   I am feeling that again and blatantly aware of how others who struggle with their hearing might be feeling too during this pandemic.   

 

Social distancing, face masks, self-isolation have all become household words in the last few months and we have all been coping as well as we can.

 

For those who are deaf or have a hearing loss this pandemic has brought new difficulties.  I am aware of how vulnerable to isolation and loneliness hearing loss can make you. 

 

For viewers of EastEnders, you will have followed the hearing loss journey of the character, Ben Mitchell and seen the trauma he’s faced.   The latest ‘Silent’ episode (1st June 2020) dramatised effectively the everyday life difficulties; the frustrations; broken conversations and misunderstandings for those living with hearing loss and their loved ones. 

 

This storyline has highlighted the plight of many living with hearing loss and how confusing life can be when you miss out on key sounds and nuances of conversations.   I wanted to write this to raise awareness of how I and many others are feeling even more in this current situation.

 

If you live with hearing loss, and before COVID-19, you will naturally lean in to hear what was being said, you will look closely at someone’s lips and then carefully piece together the words.

 

Speaking to someone from two metres away, with a face covering (which not only disrupts lip-reading but also muffles the voice) makes day-to-day interactions even more stressful.

 

It is not just physical face-to-face interactions where there are difficulties but the new normal, we are finding ourselves in. 

 

Socialising and working from home often involve video calls but the accessibility of these can be well behind the rest of video technology and can result in some dubious captioning or you can only access subtitles if you pay an additional premium.

 

My hearing aids are Bluetooth enabled and so I am fortunate to benefit from this technology where it links directly to my mobile phone and laptop, helping me to me pick up direct speech. 

 

Trying to follow conversations as soon as there is more than one person on a video call can be difficult for those with normal hearing, for those with a hearing loss it’s easy to just withdraw and not contribute.

 

Action On Hearing Loss estimates that 11 people in the UK have a hearing loss and around 70% of those are aged over 70 - an already isolated group.   Please let us not forget about this group and try to help and understand how they might be feeling right now.    This could be your partner, parent, grandparent, friend or neighbour.

 

Here are my top 10 tips to help with communication, if you have a hearing loss or you know someone who does!

 

Top 10 tips to help communicate when someone has a hearing loss

 

  1. Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and speak clearly
  2. Avoid shouting, speaking too fast or unnecessarily slow
  3. If someone does not understand you, repeat what you said or phrase or differently, use plain language
  4. If you are in a noisy place, if you can, move to a quieter area if possible
  5. Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention
  6. Write things down – Use pen and paper, text on a device
  7. Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention
  8. When hosting a video meeting, consider providing information before it starts to help listeners follow what is being said.
  9. When hosting (or participating) in a quiz, issue or ask for the questions before hand so questions can be followed on the call
  10. When speaking on a video call - consider your lighting. Make sure your face is well-lit, your face is clear and close to the camera and try to reduce any background noise.By the host using the mute button for others on the call, it can help everyone focus on what the speaker is saying.

If you have concerns about your hearing or that of a love one, why not take an online hearing test or call 0800 0372 080.

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Hidden Hearing’s branches will start to reopen on the high street from the 4th June 2020, providing essential hearing care services and support, following the Government’s strict guidelines. 

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