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Communication with Family Connections Emotions, Psychological Stress Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Sensory Loss Vulnerability

Grief: Hearing Loss & Healing

Join our LIVE! Workshop on Grief: Hearing Loss & Healing with Gloria Pelletier on February 7th, 6:00 – 7:30 PM Mountain time online via Zoom. (Adjust for your time zone.) 

Registration is required, here is the link. This is a Let’s Talk Tuesday Workshop.

This post is written by Gloria Pelletier (M.S.W., L.C.S.W., L.I.S.A.C.) unless otherwise noted. This is the foundation for the workshop, which explores other aspects of grief.  

The ability to hear connects us to our world in many ways.  From treasured contact with friends and family to maximum performance in the workplace to physical safety.  Hearing provides deep and important connections that no other sense can replace.”  (Hearing.org)

Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people,is a moving quote often attributed to the famed 20th-century activist and educator Helen Keller, who achieved a remarkable career championing the deaf and blind. Those with serious hearing loss often cite this quote. (AARP)

Hearing loss as a stressor in many people’s lives?

Let’s explore where hearing loss occurs in the ratings of stress in society. Below is an older chart of stress which is still the foundation of many other charts for loss.  As you can see, hearing loss rates with number 6 as a “Personal Injury or Illness” with 53 points. We could also add in number 11, with change in health of family members, which is another 44 points.  (You can add other stressors together.)   

For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale

That is a huge amount of stress that is unchangeable. One cannot go back to hearing normal again and most likely will lose more hearing as we age.

That level of loss often creates grief. Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s stages of grief are well known (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Now a person has gone from multiple stressors in their lives to grief.  How did they get there?

Grief isn’t always about death.

It can be the loss of communication as we know it. The inability to communicate, the very foundation of relationships, changes our lives profoundly without warning. Meaning without our permission, sometimes without an illness, without our knowledge – our ability to communicate is permanently altered. There is a sense of loss, uncertainty, isolation, not feeling safe and other overwhelming emotions.  

One of the key functions of hearing is a response to speech, the primary way we connect and communicate, emotionally and intellectually with each other.

A discontinuation of communication: 
  • Can’t understand speech with background noise
  • Need more volume to understand
  • Requests for repeat
  • Requests to speak slowly
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of social situations, isolation
  • Uncertainty of our understanding of speech
  • Disruption of speech continuity
  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Relationship changes

Hearing Loss is more profound and far reaching than our society has recognized.  Communication is our means to our relationships and family.  Once interrupted, how do we heal?  

Healing:

“…. acceptance takes many forms for different people, but it usually indicates some integration of the loss into one’s life. In this circumstance, acceptance may mean having all the negative feelings about one’s hearing loss while not letting those feelings interfere with relationships and daily life. When going through the stages of mourning, functioning may be affected over the short term, but the person usually will move toward some degree of acceptance. If they do not, they may need emotional support from either a therapist or a support group.”  Kaland, Mary and Salvatore, Kate  The Psychology of Hearing Loss | The ASHA Leader

Some tips that Hearing Loss LIVE! (HLL) has already expressed for healing:

Find your tribe.  Meaning find people with hearing loss that understand your situation and can relate to your experiences.

Information:  

Discover information that helps you understand your hearing loss.

  1. Take “Living Well with Hearing Loss”, an upcoming class with Dr. Ingrid McBride AuD and Gloria Pelletier, LCSW.  
  2. Lip Reading Concepts & Lip Shapes LIVE! classes with Hearing Loss LIVE! (more info)
  3. Upcoming Seminars/Workshops geared to the mental health field for hearing loss. (Chelle Wyatt,  HLL and Gloria Pelletier, LCSW)      
  4. Hearing Loss Live Series of collaboration of topics by Gloria Pelletier, LCSW
  5. Support groups: Hearing Loss Association of America, SayWhatClub and Association of Late Deafened Adults.
  6. Know how hearing loss affects your communication, relationships and ways to mediate them. 
Role Models: 

 Find an organization or person who role models for you how to live with hearing loss and have integrated their hearing loss with their lives.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):  

Know your rights under IDEA, Section 504 and Section 505. Become informed about your disability and how to request accommodations.  Request loops in church, city hall, theaters.  Make sure you have your audiologist turn on your telecoil in hearing aids and cochlear implants. 

Vocational Rehabilitation Agency  

If you qualify, insist on equipment for communication, classes in rehabilitation for hearing loss, knowledgeable Rehabilitation Counselors.

Psychological Assistance

Insist your therapist or counselor has minimal requirements of knowledge for hearing loss and its effects on your communication and relationships.  There is no shame in asking for help in rehabilitation of your communication with family and society.  It is your right!!!

Art

Express your feelings and emotions through any form of art. Self expression through painting, crochet/knitting, mosaics and so much more. Creation eases some of the pain of grief a.

Hearing Loss LIVE! comments…

Chelle: Since my hearing loss didn’t come from an injury or illness (that I know of), I forget it falls into the personal injury and illness category.  Living most of my life with hearing loss, I know how it affects family dynamics. After my hearing test last month, I am experiencing some grief. (I’ll have another blog for that soon.)

Julia: Hearing loss grief affects the entire family. Open the communication channel from the get go. Tell each other what your grief looks like. Healing takes time for both of you, and that’s okay. (This too is an upcoming topic.)

Other posts you may like…

If you liked this post, learn more about Hearing Loss & Collateral Damage to see how it affects family and friends. In April last year, we posted The Emotional Side of Hearing Loss which ties into grief.

Share our blog! Help us spread awareness.

Did you like our post? Check out our Buy Me a Coffee website. Find out how you can further support us and and efforts to spread awareness.

Categories
Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Lip Shapes LIVE! Lipreading Concepts Personal advocacy Speechreading/Lipreading

HoH Tour – The Restaurant

Good afternoon and welcome to a session of Hearing Loss LIVE!’s Tour Guide to the Hearing World. Join us as we travel through the land of the hearing, where English sounds like a foreign  language and people don’t look at you while talking. It’s a lang of mumbling people who don’t move their mouth and others who move it much too fast. We will journey through masks (yes they are still around), dodge communication disasters and create more awareness together. Pick your best seat (never feel guilty about picking your best seat) and enjoy our tour through the land of the Hearies, who don’t speak our language.

Today you have two of us as tour guides, Chelle and Julia! Two for the price of one! Today’s exploration is the restaurant…with hearing aids. Does it sound scary to you?  Restaurants are so awful that some hearing aid manufacturers have a dedicated setting called “restaurant”. We’re going to tuck you under our wing so you can observe the process with us. Julia will give us some hearing insight along the way. 

  • Ready?
  • Set?
  • Go!
We’ll meet you at the local eatery, Stella Grill.

Chelle: Julia and I pulled into the parking lot at just about the same time. I’m a little ahead of her so I wait in the parking lot for her. If the weather isn’t severe, why not wait outside for those last moments of peace? 

Hello, join us!

This is my second trip here, Julia’s first. I’m a reader and that means I’m always looking around for signs and written information. The first time I came in, I did not see a “wait to be seated” sign so my husband and I sat ourselves. Oops! The waiter let us know we were naughty. This time, I know to wait. 

Confession

Before we sit down, let me confess that I do not use my hearing aids in restaurants. I put my lipreading skills to use instead. I can’t tolerate the extra noise in restaurants. Now and then I try using my hearing aids, turning down the volume in an already personally tweaked hearing program for noisy settings. Again and again, I find myself clenching my teeth and so distracted by noise that I can’t focus on conversation. Glasses clinking. Silverware clattering. Plates crashing. Music. Lots of people talking over the music. Argh! I take my hearing aids out and I’m fine. This is a personal choice.

There are many people within my personal HoH circle of friends that would never go without their hearing aids in social settings. They also have newer hearing aids than I do so they can tweak the programs in their smartphone apps more than my 8 year old hearing aids. To each his/her own! Use what works best for you.  

Julia is giving me a little wave. Let’s see what she has to say.

Julia: Hearing partners can help by letting their HoH make the decision about wearing hearing devices or not during outings. Why? Better communication outcomes. If going out to eat is one of your favorite things to do, what communication adaptations can you implement to continue enjoying such events? Work together for solutions. If noise is an issue, why not try going during off hours?

Chelle: Thank you Julia for your support, understanding and the tip. Bravo! 

Choose Your Best Table

A little foresight while we’re waiting to be seated. The last time I was here I sat on this side of the restaurant: 

Great lighting!

It was well lit but so noisy with reverberation my husband had issues hearing. I did fine with lipreading. As we walked out of the restaurant, both my husband and I noticed a huge difference between the rooms. The sound was dampened on this side. I’ll request sitting on this side this time.

Better for the ear.

*Note: Did you know we lose our sense of direction with hearing loss? These kinds of environments are particularly hard. Let’s plan on talking one at a time. If we raise a hand, we’re able to locate the speaker. 

Did you know you can request where to sit? No? This is a part of being proactive with your hearing loss. Take charge! Pick a corner away from the big table of loud people. Corners are always wonderful. Stay away from the kitchen area if possible. Be sure to look for good lighting and that  your hearing partner’s face is not backlit. If you’re in a large group, see if you can’t sit in a circle instead of a long rectangle table. 

The hostess is ready to lead us to the table. I ask her if we can sit on this side of the restaurant. She stops and points to the table right about where we want to be. Perfect. I’ve never had anyone tell me no. 

Look for the specials!

Oh look, there’s the board with the day’s specials written right behind us. I always look for that too because serving staff tends to recite those specials at 100 mph.  

Julia and I sit down. I take what I think is my best seat. Can you feel it in your face when hearing is hard? I can. My eyebrows are pulled down and my eyes are feeling squinty. Oh my, her face in the shadows. I ask her to trade me places and she does. Much better!

Julia is a wonderful hearie.
Pay attention to the menu…

Do you all have your menu? Ah good. I want you to read the fine print for your lunch choice. Does it come with sides? How many? Where are the sides listed?  Look at the choices and make your decision before they get there. Why? Because the less questions our serving person asks, the easier it will be on all of us. 

*Tip: Be extra proactive and view the menu online before going to the restaurant.

**And a side note: They rarely list the dressings for salads. If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and ask. If not, there’s always ranch dressing.

The last time I was here with my husband, the waiter began reciting the sides even though I knew what I wanted, crispy fries. When he got to the house pasta salad, his eyebrows shot up and wiggled around. Ohh, that must be a personal favorite of his. I like trying new things so I decided to go with that in lieu of the crispy fries. That’s a bonus when you’re a “lipreader”. We notice the small nuances. I did not regret my decision to go with his choice side. It came with homemade noodles, yum!

That nice waiter wanders the path but he is not our server this time. We have a young guy and I inform him I use lipreading. He faces me and I place my order. Be proactive! Let people know what you need to communicate.They appreciate knowing what works best.

How many of you think you read lips? I knew it, not many. Guess what, you are lipreading whether you know it or not. If you feel unsure about using the word lipreading, let them know they have to face you so you can hear them. Do they talk too fast? Ask them to slow down a bit, they will if they want that tip.

*Special announcement

This month’s special from Hearing Loss LIVE! If you want to learn more about lipreading, join one of our lipreading classes that will be starting in January. We have a two for one special because our hearing partners benefit a great deal from understanding the lipreading process. 

While we wait, Julia gets up to take pictures. She too notices a huge difference in the acoustics between the different rooms. We can’t really pick out why except maybe less windows. It’s odd! Have you paid attention to acoustics? Restaurants are often built for the eye and to be easy to clean. Rarely are they made to please the ear. It’s unfortunate. Some restaurants are smart enough to put up acoustic panels and that can help a great deal.

It looks like Julia has another valuable tip for us….

Julia: Have you heard of SoundPrint? It’s a smartphone app that rates noise in different settings. Share your latest restaurant experience on Soundprint and let’s get others in the KNOW. It’s better working together!

Chelle: Let’s help each other be in the know! We can work together noting the noisy restaurants, but remember to bring awareness too. Give them a solution or two.

The food is here! They have such great food here. Before he leaves, the waiter asks if there’s anything else he can get for us. (This is a common question at this point so it’s easy to anticipate, easy to “hear”.) Nope, all is good and we are practically drooling looking at our Reubens. Let’s chow down!

Notes from a HoH:

Don’t be a total hearie who chews their food and talks at the same time. We can’t just listen, we are read lips too. It makes it very hard to focus on what you’re saying when we are watching food jump around in your mouth. Instead of “listening”, we are now wondering if food is going to fall out of your mouth or come flying out at us. If you have just taken a big bite of your Reuben, take a moment to chew it up, swallow then take a sip of water to wash it all down. We can wait.  

Tip Him/Her!

Lunch was a success! We had some thoughtful conversation our waiter was patient and accommodating.  Let’s give him a nice tip. I like it here so I will be back. Hopefully both waiters will remember me and be just as accommodating.

Thank you for joining us. We hope we gave you a few good tips to you and you will venture out.

Happy Holidays to all!

If you like this blog, take a look at our blog on being Proactive.

Did you like the tour? Check our Grocery Store Tour.

We keep as much of content free as we can. We want everyone to access to communication. If you liked what we wrote, Buy Us a Coffee.

Categories
Communication Practices Communication with Family Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss

Communication with Family, Friends & Coworkers

All too often the person with hearing loss takes on the sole responsibility of communication. It is a heavy burden… and it’s not realistic. Everyone has miscommunication issues at times. It takes two to make communication happen, even if it’s two hearing people, one person with hearing loss and a hearing person or two hard of hearing people. All people have to do their part; at home, at work and out in public.

“Go get hearing aids and everything will be fine.” Ummm…yes they will help but no, they don’t solve the whole problem with hearing loss. Hearing aids & cochlear implants help but they do not give us natural hearing abilities. Even with our hearing devices, changes are needed on both sides for proper communication to happen. If our hearing family, friends and coworkers don’t do their part, we cannot do our part

3 Golden Rules

  1. Get the person’s attention with hearing loss before talking. 
  2. Face them the whole time while talking.
  3. Be within 6 feet for line of sight and a direct line of hearing.

Why? Even if we don’t know it, we all lipread to some degree. It gives us a second to shift gears and focus. Our hearing devices have limits, they aren’t called ‘hearing miracles’ for a reason. Using these 3 rules as a healthy communication boundary will create new communication habits and they will reduce everyone’s frustration. 

Communication rules for rough patches.

Julia: My husband has a mild hearing loss. In recent months it’s become a little more obvious. Just the other day it became apparent that my youngest may have to go to the audiologist soon. He is 22 and odds are his insurance will not cover hearing aids so I am unsure what this will even look like. Luckily, we have practiced the three golden rules for many, many years. Though neither have hearing aids, yet, our communication rules have helped us through rough patches.

Julia and family.

Here is what I want to make folks understand, why I get all up in everybody’s jammy, to get in the know. 

Hearing loss or dementia???

My husband is 20 years older than me. One day seven or so years ago, he started showing what I thought were signs of early onset dementia. He was asking me the same questions over and over, questions that had nothing to do with what we were talking about. He had trouble understanding others while on his cell phone but instead of saying I didn’t hear you, he went silent or made excuses on why he didn’t respond. Anger was quick when he didn’t understand or if he answered wrong. This left me questioning what he could and couldn’t comprehend. There were a lot of blank stares when I asked him questions.

By coincidence, around the same time I captioned an event at our local HLAA Chapter that was about knowing the difference between hearing loss and dementia. WOW. The light bulb went off!!! I went from stressing over where I would place him if I could no longer take care of him, to researching Bluetooth options at home to help him hear. 

Here’s the deal…

Odds are, he isn’t going to get hearing aids any time soon (as I said at least seven years plus folks) and I’m not going to make him without him being ready first. His hearing loss is still mild. With Medicare now helping pay for hearing aids, and over the counter, I know we have options. And because I have worked closely with my HoH relations in Utah I know most of the Audiologists and who we will go to when he’s ready.

Here’s what I think I’m getting at. Hearing aids or no hearing aids, hearing loss is about communication changes. Hearing partners have got to do their part. If they don’t, misunderstandings set in. Anger drives the misunderstanding and up goes the collateral damage for both parties. Practice the 3 golden rules everywhere. I am here to tell you to practice it with:

  • Your kids, young and old
  • Your grandkids
  • Your coworkers 
  • Your parents
  • Your significant other

It will become a habit. 

Practice, practice, practice!

Chelle: I brought my husband to work to talk about communication in our relationship. Julia, Ken and I talk about what it means to have someone with hearing loss in the family on our podcast. He explains the grief he feels losing casual conversation. You can watch, or listen to, our podcast to find how we deal with miscommunication. No one is perfect, including us.  

Focus on progess, not perfection.

Over the years, I’ve helped many people become aware of hard of hearing communication needs.  My mom listened. She learned and she recognizes the signs of hearing loss. She now helps others understand hearing loss. 

Earlier this week, she told me about going to a lab for blood work. The staff all wear masks. There was an older lady who couldn’t understand what the staff was telling her. My mom told her friend, “She can’t understand because they have masks on.” Her friend wanted to know what difference that made. My mom replied, “She lipreads and can’t see what they are saying, like Chelle.” Later in the elevator, that lady confessed to my mom’s friend that she indeed uses lipreading. (Mask also taught many of us how much we rely on lipreading.) 

Chelle and family

Luckily my whole family is accommodating. As I learned more about hearing loss, like how I heard…what made it difficult…hearing aids had limits and more; those closest to me understood more. I shared my  journey with them through blogging, breaking down my HoH moments. My parents, my boyfriend (now husband) and more read them. I talked and talked. I’m still talking! Make your family a part of the solution when having problems. If there was a communication breakdown, ask them to help you find a solution. 

Share your journey. Help people become aware. Educate yourself. Introduce hearing loss in a conversation. One in five people have a hearing loss so chances are they have someone in their family with hearing loss. Or they know someone at work with hearing loss. Our conversations make a difference.

Share the 3 Golden Rules

Use the golden rules. Let’s get the word out so more people understand our communication needs. We aren’t just helping ourselves, we are helping all others who come after us.

Feel free to use this meme.

Did you like this blog?

You might like Hearing Loss: Family and Communication.  You  might also want to check out Finding Your Tribe. Good ideas come from those who have already walked the walk. 

If you like our information, Buy us a Cup of Coffee. Phase one of our business is completed. Most of our content is free to help those in need; podcasts, blogs, workshops, presentations and more. We will keep these things free because we are passionate about people becoming more successful with their hearing loss.

Phase two begins. We are currently crowdfunding through Buy Me a Cup of Coffee. This will get our feet beneath us. Starting in January 2023 we will continue our Lipreading Concepts class for which there is a small fee. We are adding a Lip Shapes class. We are excited to add sensitivity training to our services as there is a huge need for the public at large to understand HoH communication needs. Employees and clients with hearing loss are misunderstood. We led a training last year with the Women’s Business Center which successfully cleared up misconceptions.

Categories
Communication Practices Emotions, Psychological Stress Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Mental Health & Hearing Loss Personal advocacy

Hearing Loss and Collateral Damage

With Gloria Pelletier, LCSW, LISAC

Hearing Loss LIVE! teams up with Gloria Pelletier to take another look at the mental health side of hearing loss.

Collateral Damage Definition: Injury inflicted on something other than an intended target.

How does collateral damage apply to hearing loss? 

Hearing loss hurts us in unknown ways. It also unintentionally affects the hearing people in our lives. This is especially so when we are not upfront about our hearing loss. 

A smiling white lady with long silvery hair.
Gloria Pelletier

Gloria: “Collateral Damage” is a term I first heard in The Veterans Administration when I worked there as a social worker.  Our Veterans are trained NOT to have collateral damage. Not to kill those other than the intended target. 

How does it apply to hearing loss?

Chelle and I were talking about how often those around us do NOT modify their behavior to help us hear.  I got a real eye opener when I spoke to Chelle with my back turned to her, then later she spoke to me with her back to me.  We were laughing because here are two educated individuals on hearing loss doing EXACTLY what we tell our family NOT to do. Since neither one of us lives with another person with hearing loss we are used to speaking to hearing people, making the same mistakes they make.  

Loss of Casual Conversation

It seems so simple to ask for our family and friends to accommodate our hearing loss. It didn’t make sense to me why they did not or refused to. After my afternoon with Chelle making the same mistakes it became apparent to me that modifying one’s behavior takes thought, focus and perseverance. Too many times we think communication is easy and we don’t need help in learning to communicate. We have been speaking since infancy!  

Speaking and communicating are two vastly different concepts. In order for me to communicate with you, for us to have a two way conversation; I am going to need some modifications.  When I am not honest about those needs I essentially make sure you cannot effectively communicate with me. This is collateral damage.  

Bluffing does no one any good.

Our hearing partners have no concept of our needs so they continue on speaking to us as if they are having a casual conversation.  When I nod my head as though I understand. I have denied my communication partner true access to me. (This is collateral damage.)  I have made an unilateral decision NOT to communicate in a clear and understandable way.  

I did not ask the other person if they were OK with that, I decided my personal issue was more important than their ability to communicate with me. By being very clear and upfront with our conversation needs, we are truly communicating with someone and being respectful of their right to communicate with me. I have given them the tools to be successful. The environment may need to be modified but we BOTH agree on how that is done.

Another example of collateral damage: I watched a man dominate a group of people with his hearing loss. He complained he couldn’t hear, that he needed a one to one conversation.  He insisted the whole group accommodate his hearing loss. That in of itself is not a problem. 

What was the problem? 

He did not give the group information on how to communicate with him so he could successfully integrate into the group.  His own frustration with communication and lack of knowledge about his own needs created a strained group dynamic. (This is collateral damage.)  I watched the whole thing unfold, an unwilling participant to this dynamic.  He was angry, frustrated and demanding that others communicate with him without consideration for their ignorance on how to do that.  (More collateral damage.)   

When HOH folks are more proactive, a clear statement of accommodations alivates all the stress in the group. We then can have good communication and relationships with others on terms we can function in.  It is OUR responsibility to be proactive with our needs and to give others the information they need so communication becomes accessible. 

Hearing Loss has unintended bombs

Chelle:  When Gloria introduced this topic, she had to explain it to me. Collateral damage??? Once I understood, I could see the silent ‘bombs’ that go off beind us. Boom…Boom!!

With my first pair of hearing aids fitted and adjusted, they told me I would hear a lot better. That wasn’t the case. I don’t think they realized how noisy hair salons were. Some of the collateral damage I remember coworkers was:

  • Are your ears in?
  • Turn up your hearing aids!

I couldn’t combat these hurtful remarks. I felt ashamed because I wasn’t living up to the standard. I retreated further in my shell.

Hiding hearing loss has consequences.

Back then, I was not honest about my hearing loss, I hid it because of that shame. People would try to talk to me when I wasn’t looking and I’d walk by without acknowledging them. They didn’t know about my hearing loss so I was considered rude & a snob for several years. (Boom!)

There were also ‘friends’ who liked to have fun with my hearing loss. While out gambling in a casino (loud music, slot machine background noise) some guy was showing interest in me and I was unaware playing video poker. My hearing friends told him to ask me for something ‘unsavory’ for a little fun. I heard him talking, looked up, he asked and bluffed, nodding my head. (Boom!)  That taught me to ask for repeats no matter what.

What else changed?

After 18 years and a big hearing drop, I educated myself. Thanks to the SayWhatClub and our local HLAA chapter I learned healthier communication strategies from my fellow peers. I learned how to reply to those comments above too. My answers are:

  • Are your ears in? Yes they are. They don’t work well in noisy environments. You need to get my attention before talking for less repeats. 
  • Turn up your hearing aids! With my hearing loss, it’s not volume so much as it is clarity. Hearing aids aren’t called hearing miracles for a reason. They help but they don’t replace true hearing. Please face me while talking, that helps a lot. 
A white lady on a snow mountain side in black ski clothes. She has a pink ski hat on with goggles raised up on her head.
While skiing, collateral damage would be other people assuming I can hear them saying “To your right” or “To your left” as they ski past. That’s a fear of mine. – Chelle

Hearing Partners Experience the Loss Too

Julia: “Emotional side of hearing loss” is a catch-all phrase, and there’s a lot that goes under that umbrella. Collateral damage fits in there with grief, and other feelings.

Hearing partners experience collateral damage too. It was the day we were hurt because we knew the person bluffed. It was the day we realized we could no longer whisper sweet nothings in our partner’s ear. It was the day casual conversations in the car disappeared. It was the day we struggled communicating our message during a phone call.

During our podcast, it dawned on me that the largest piece of collateral damage that happens with hearing loss is watching our elders mishandle it. 

Anger and Impatience

Our behaviors, good and bad, are contagious…

  • As a hearing person and I am modeling anger and impatience with hearing loss, I encourage others to do the same. 
  • If I am refusing to work towards productive change, I’m encouraging the same behavior. 
  • If I show impatience waiting for you to hear/understand, because it takes you a minute to hear… 

If I do this, I show others that hearing loss is a hassle. Here is more collateral damage.

Two white ladies, one younger and the other older. The younger lady with light brown hair pulled back is smiling and focusing on the camer. The older white haired lady is smiling and more relaxed. Palm trees int he background.
Thanks to being involved with the HoH community, Julia knew how to help her gma with communication needs.

As hearing partners, we can change this pattern. Let’s start working together with communication needs to have better relationship outcomes. Let’s find healthier ways to learn from the past. Collateral damage will happen. You can’t stop it. But we can minimize the damage. We can acknowledge the harm and work together for better experiences.

Above all else, let’s continue to look under the umbrella that I call the emotional side of hearing loss. Together we can create a community. With a community, we can bring about change. With change, we can create better understanding around hearing loss.

For those with hearing loss, help us help you. Disclose your communication needs. Let your friends and family know. Let your coworkers know because a lot of collateral damage happens there too. Trust this next step in life with hearing loss so we can all do our part. 

Own Your Hearing Loss

Michele: I hate to say it, but the Hard of Hearing often create a lot of problems for themselves by not owning their hearing loss or continuing in denial.

The back of a silver haired lady sitting at a desk with two computers. It's an online meeting on one of the computers.
Michele giving a presentation on being proactive while traveling with hearing loss.

While doing research into how to get audiologists on board with empowering patients, I connected with an audiologist practicing patient-centered care who found it a hard question to answer. They went on to explain their frustrations in dealing with patients every day who are fighting the stigma of hearing loss and are hesitant to move forward with even the most discreet hearing aids. I was surprised to learn that it is pretty rare to have patients who are accepting of their hearing loss, good self advocates, and emboldened to share their struggle with their friends and family. Collateral damage cuts many ways.


When we are not proactive in dealing with our hearing loss, we set the stage for collateral damage. The best thing we can do for ourselves, our family members, friends and all others we encounter in life is to learn how to tell them exactly what they need to know about our hearing loss and our communication needs. Not everyone we tell will do their part, but when we do our part we plant the seed for all of us to do better. 

Podcasts

Watch our companion podcast on our YouTube channel with captions. You can also find us on several podcast platforms (BuzzSprout with a transcript, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more) by searching Hearing Loss Live.

Other posts/podcasts you might enjoy…

If you liked this blog post, check out our other collaboration with Gloria,  Mental Health Myths in Treating Hard of Hearing Clients. Another good one might be our Vulnerability post. Disclosing our hearing loss and communication needs can be scary but it’s how we grow.  

Join Our Twice a Month Newsletter

We have a twice a month newsletter. We add tips on being proactive with hearing loss with experiments for you to try in daily life. You can sign up for our newsletter on our events page, scroll down a bit.

Help US Grow

If you enjoy our content and find it helpful, share it on social media. Or, consider donating so that we can keep going until our services are better established. Here’s our QR code.

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Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Personal advocacy

Tour of the Coffee Shop

Via the Hard of Hearing Person’s Perspective

By Chelle Wyatt

Good afternoon and welcome to a session of Hearing Loss LIVE!’s Tour Guide to the Hearing World. Join us as we travel through the land of the hearing, where English sounds like a foriegn language and people don’t look at you while talking. Also, there are also those curious people who mumble and others who talk 100 mph. Together, we will journey through the land of masks, dodge communication disasters and create more awareness. Pull up a seat and enjoy our tour through the land of the Hearies, who don’t always speak our language. 

My name is Chelle and I’ll be your tour guide. This tour is not only intended for our Hard of Hearing community, but our hearing friends too. Everyone can join us!

Chelle, short spikey brown hair with long bangs, pastel colored dress and denim vest with an empty coffee cup in hand. Her other arm is raised, holding a wand that is pointing down to the cup.
Got coffee?

Today’s guided tour is the coffee shop.

Once again, we are visiting another tricky environment for those with hearing loss. (It’s not always easy for hearing people during busy times either.)  Coffee shops are built for the eye and fast, easy cleaning. They are not built for the ears. The harsh surfaces create a lot of reverberation – tiny echoes of sound that bounce around. Hearing devices beware! Before going in, change your device’s program to noisy settings. It will help. Now here we go…..

The noise greets us as fast as the smell of coffee. There’s music and my HoH ears want to name that tune as the Road To Nowhere by Talking Heads. What do you think? You’re right, that’s too old timey. It’s probably something more up to date. However, in my head I’m already singing the lyrics to Road to Nowhere and I’m sticking with it.

The next noise to say hello to my hearing aids are chairs sliding – more like grinding – across the floor. Ugh! It’s a horrible sound, don’t you agree? You do agree!  Oh look! There’s our hearing friend Julia in agreement too. 

Julia excited to be with us today.

Other noise includes blenders, ice clunking in metal containers. The oven. Drive-thru speaker. There is a few others near the front talking above the noise level which adds to the noise. Right now it isn’t busy and that’s what most of us with hearing loss do; go at off peak hours to avoid the extra noise.

Have you decided what kind of coffee you want? Yes?

Let’s get caffeinated!

“How can I help you,” the cashier asks.

“First, you need to know I use lipreading so I need to see you to hear you.” I tend to use the sign for lipreading when I say that. It helps reinforce my need for the visual. Occasionally, this backfires if they know enough sign language to outdo me. (I know enough to get by but that’s about it.) I run into more baristas who know sign language than anywhere else I go.

Gestures!

She nodded. Oh good! No extra words, she gets it. Gestures mean so much to us. Don’t you love it when people point to things instead of talking in these settings? This is not always the case. There are the talkers. If that happens, ask them to keep it simple and/or add gestures. 

“Large caramel frappuccino please.” (Always give your full order so there’s less questions.) 

“Anything else,” she asks. I anticipate that question, it’s easy to decipher even though I basically hear “Any el” because of my profound, high frequency hearing loss.

I shake my head. (This keeps up the language of gestures.)

Then miracle upon miracle! She truly gets it. She didn’t ask for my name. Almost always they ask for my name and I have to explain at least twice that I can’t hear my name. I’m deaf in noise. It takes a little bit for that to sink with most hearies but this girl’s got it! Aren’t we lucky today? Step right up and place your order. 

Orders all done? Okay, let’s huddle up while we wait for our coffee. 

When you get the difficult hearing people here’s what you do. Tell them two or three times you won’t hear your name. For some reason, it takes a little bit for that to kick in. Let them know they need to get your attention visually instead. A little wave will work or raise the cup and nod in our direction. The cashier sometimes forgets to pass this information to the barista so it’s not always dependable, unfortunately. 

Picking Up the Coffee

Speaking of which, I think this may be my order. The barista yelled out something while turning away. We know it’s not my name but I bet he yelled out my order. Let me go check. 

Stopping the tall barista, I let him know I’m basically deaf. He turns back around to look at me.  “Is this a caramel frappuccino,” I ask. He nods and I use the sign for thank you.

Did you see that  spark of understanding in his eyes?  Knowing a few signs can go a long way. Now I’ll add a little extra instruction.

“The next 5 people are also hard of hearing. It helps if you look straight at us when calling out the order.”  He nods. Pass that information along! Let’s help each other out as much as possible. 

When you get your coffee, let’s regroup at that large table near the back corner where we can sit in a circular fashion. That’s important in groups, it helps us all to lipread.

What’s that? Yes, we all lipread to some degree, trust me.  When everyone has their coffee, join me there and I’ll give you a few more workarounds in the coffee shop. 

(Side note: If the weather is nice and they have a patio area, sit outside. It should be easier to hear. Today is a little warm.)

Communication Repsonsibility

Now that everyone is here, let me give you a couple of rules. Since this is a noisy environment, it’s up to you to stop me, or anyone else, if you can’t hear what was said. I’m giving you the responsibility to ask for a repeat. When you’re with me, it’s always a safe place to ask for repeats. Second, one person talks at a time. This gives everyone a fair chance to hear and be understood.

Let me share a few more tips on leaving a name…

  • A lot of us have nicknames. In noisy environments, Chelle can sound the same as Sherry, Terry, Carrie and Mary. When I can’t depend on lipreading, I give my name as Michelle. I have a better chance at hearing that than I do Chelle.
  • Ask them to put “deaf” in place of the name. However, sometimes they still call out “Deaf!” Go ahead, roll your eyes. It happens.
  • Have some fun! Pick a fun name of your choice; Darth Vader, Superman, Wonder Woman, Scarlett O’Hara. When they call out the name, you’ll see people laughing and that’s your cue! Waltz up to get your coffee! 

When it’s so busy I can’t hear, here’s something else I do. I stand at the coffee pickup area and read all the labels on the coffee when it’s close to my turn. I get funny looks from people coming up to claim their coffee but oh well. If I’m too passive my coffee gets cold. I tell them I can’t hear and I’m looking for my name.

If I went to the coffee shop more often, I’d use that mobile order app. Looking at names on those cups isn’t taboo.  

Any questions for your tour guide? Be sure to share your coffee stories and tips with me in the comments below. We all learn from each other!

Remember this, it is a hard environment for hearing people too. They wouldn’t get names so wrong otherwise! In this article, baristas talk about how hard it is to hear there. They also note that hearing customers do not talk clearly and get impatience when too when they have to repeat.

LIVE! Coffee Tour

Hearing Loss LIVE! will be doing live coffee tours. You can catch us in Cheyenne, Omaha and Kansas City as we travel to the SayWhatClub Convention in Nashville. On the way back, we’ll stop at Little Rock, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. If you are in, or near, one of these cities let us know and we’ll stop for coffee. We love meeting others from our tribe. Contact us through our website.

You can share your hearing loss coffee stories with us in person.