To be without one of the 5 physical senses would be terrifying. My heart goes out to those who have to experience this.
If you possess all 5, like myself, try imagining a would where you can’t either feel, smell, see, speak, or hear.
It’s hard, isn’t it?
I work in radio, so out of all the senses, my hearing seems the most important. What’s sad is BECAUSE I work in radio, I’ll likely lose my hearing faster than I typically should because I wear headphones for a large portion of my day.
I had Bill Adkins in the studio with me. He’s the President of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association’s Yellowknife Branch. He’s hard of hearing. What a twist.
The thing with Bill is that he’s lost about 85% of his hearing. He told me a story where the fire alarm in his building was going off, for testing, and he decided to take out his hearing aids to see if he could hear it. “They run that alarm for about 5 to 10 minutes. I thought, ‘well this would be interesting.’ So, I took my hearing aids out. When I did that, I couldn’t even hear the alarms anymore.” Wow.
He wears those hearing aids at all times. “The only time that I take them out is at night,” he said. I asked how his wife felt about them: “Well, if I don’t want to listen to her, I can just take them out!” (He’s kidding)
“The fact is: she understands. She tries to speak clearly, speak in front of me as opposed to the side. I like to share these things with people, the ways in which you speak to someone who is hard of hearing.”
Some things that YOU can do better to communicate with ME, a person suffering from hearing loss
- Please face me when you are talking to me.
- Make sure the light falls on your face, not behind you.
- Don’t cover or distort your facial movements when talking with me.
- Reduce or eliminate background noise when you talk with me (if you can).
- Treat me as an intelligent human being.
That last one is the most interesting. Bill told me before, during and after our talk that a person who cannot hear is often associated with ones who cannot speak. The term for not being able to speak? Dumb. Nowadays, and everyone knows this, dumb is used as a colloquial term for stupid. Bill says that that is just a misunderstanding.
“A person will be with a group of people. Say they’re suffering from hearing loss. The conversation is picking up around the group and the person can’t hear what is being said, at least not fully,” he presses. “Say the people laugh. What does the person do? They laugh! They don’t want to feel left out. Now, what if they’ve picked up on the topic and they want to contribute. They then say something and it turns out it’s already been said. I bet you’d be embarrassed.”
I would be.
Bill uses this scenario to describe how a person would become less social when they suffer from hard of hearing. They can’t hear, so they eventually can’t speak. They become dumb, only they’re not dumb, nor stupid.
I ask him, what if a person refuses to believe that they’re losing their hearing; that they’re getting old.
“If you’re talking to me, say you check off all of those things that I listed. You then realize that you aren’t picking up what I’m saying and then putting it into sentence form. You need to go to a doctor, either an ear doctor or an audiologist. We have one here in town, by McDonald’s.”
Unintentional shout out to McDonald’s.
“You can do a test. It’s very accurate; they can figure out whether it’s the high tones or low tones or whatever. They’ll even get it down to the amount of hearing that you’ve lost. Once that’s figured out, they can set you up with a set of hearing aids that will give you back reasonable hearing again.”
The title audiologist just sounds expensive, how much does this cost?
“Most of them are digital these days. Mine were $2500 a piece, so $5000 total. If you’re a senior citizen, then they become cheaper. One of the nice things about the Northwest Territories is that, for seniors, they give a great amount of help. Otherwise you’d need an employee benefit plan and even then, those usually only cover about $500 in hearing coverage.”
Sounds like you have to play the waiting game, then.
To learn more about how to better improve your hearing loss, you can get into contact with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Yellowknife Branch. Bill would be very glad to speak with you.
There will be a meeting at the Baker Community Centre on June 22nd from 6-8 pm. They’ll have a guest speaker, demonstrations, and a group of children in to colour in relation to hard of hearing situations.
To hear the full conversation, click PLAY on the bar below.