People in 2018 are very aware of labels, names, categories, etc. It is not politically correct to call people "disabled",but some people prefer to be called 'disabled.' Others prefer to be called "differently abled." I have learned long ago, that it is not my place to decide what to "label" or "call " people. I do my best and hope people will politely share with me how they would like to be addressed.
When it comes to hearing loss, there are many ways people want to be addressed. Some people say, "Deaf". Some people say, "deaf". Some people say, " hearing impaired," while others feel offended by that term. Some people say, " hard of hearing " even if they have no hearing and use a cochlear implant.
When I work with my students, I try to explain the medical terms vs the cultural terms. It is not my place to decide for them how they refer to themselves,but I do try to educate.
If a person is 'deaf', that literally means that on an audiogram, when their hearing is tested, they have a significant hearing loss. That means they can not hear without amplification. For some, it means that even with hearing aids, there is no understandable hearing. This person may use a cochlear implant and be able to understand spoken language after much therapy. For someone to be labeled "hard of hearing", it usually means a person has hearing loss,but in the mid ranges. This person does get benefit from a hearing aid and is able to understand spoken language.
When a person identifies himself as " Deaf", it is related to culture. It means he feels he belongs to the Deaf culture-knows/uses American Sign Language, does not feel like he has "lost" anything because he can 't hear some or all spoken language. He may have a significant hearing loss or a mild one,but it is how he culturally feels. A person who calls herself "hearing impaired " usually is someone who fits in more with the hearing world and sees the hearing loss as a deficit medically, not a culture.
There is no right or wrong way a person should label herself. People 's perspectives and understanding of their hearing losses may change over their lives, due to changing hearing loss or due to the people they meet. It saddens me when one group tells the other group that they are wrong. My hope is that people in both the 'deaf' and the "Deaf" community can come together and be open for all people to flow in and out of each group.
My last blog was about the big decision of whether or not you should buy or not buy a hearing aid. Now, you have made the decision that it is time for you to buy one. Now what? Where do you go?What do you buy?
There are many types of hearing aids made from many different hearing aid companies. You can buy a Behind The Ear (BTE) hearing aid, In The Ear (ITE) hearing aid, Cross hearing aid, In the Canal hearing aid....the list seems endless.
First and most importantly, you need to find an audiologist that you are most comfortable with. It is important that you find a pediatric audiologist if you have children or a good audiologist for adults if you are an adult. Next, you need to understand your type of hearing loss. You might have a sensorineural hearing loss ,which is in the inner ear, or a conductive hearing loss, which is a middle ear hearing loss. Different type of hearing loss require different hearing aids.
Please respect the professional and follow her suggestion. It may be hard for you to accept your hearing loss and you might not be quite ready for hearing aids,but you are making an investment. it is important that you choose wisely. Why buy something that won't last or won't be helpful?
My personal and professional opinion is that In the Ear hearing aids might be ne invisible,but they are not very successful for many kinds of hearing aids. Think wisely before you purchase those. Today, you can have so much fun accessorizing your hearing aids! Hailey's Cherished Charms are great charms purchased for your hearing aids to jazz them up.
I would love you to share your pictures of your hearing aids and how you decided on the type,color and size.
There are so many confusing questions around buying hearing aids. Let's start, however, at the beginning. How do you know if your hearing loss even warrants a hearing aid? You go to the expert,right?
Sure, adults and kids alike go to to the audiologist who tests their hearing. They depend on this audiologist to explain the hearing test results , called an audiogram, and explain whether or not they have a hearing loss. General public also relies on the audiologist to recommend if they need a hearing aid or not.
Here is where the trouble begins. I have had students with moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears be told by their audiologist that they do NOT need hearing aids. I have seen adults who have a mild high frequency loss be told that they do need hearing aids... How do you know what is right?
In general, I would suggest you listen to the audiologist. You can even consider getting a second opinion. Ask why the audiologist thinks you do or do not need them. This is the important part. For children, language learning and concept mapping takes place during the early years of life. If you are wanting your children to become listeners and speakers, then it is important to get them aided early. In quiet, in a booth, children might be able to understand sounds and even words. It is more important to have your child tested in noise. This is when hearing and understanding breaks down. Many audiologist are not educational audiologist or pediatric audiologists. I encourage you to take your children to someone who has a good understanding of not just hearing loss, but also how hearing loss affects learning in a noisy classroom.
As for adults, again, if you can hear well in a quiet booth, have your audiologist test you in noise. Can you understand? Think about your job, your hobbies, your life..what do you do? If you are often lecturing in a quiet setting or working alone or even 1:1, you might not need hearing aids. However, if you enjoy dining out, attend conferences with many people, are a part of a large corporation where numerous staff sits at a table and "takes turns"(ie, interrupts each other) talking, you might need hearing aids.
Hearing aids are a big decision. Take time to think it over, ask for second opinions, and read up. Let me know what you decided.
Allison Schley is a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children. She took her passion for kids with hearing loss and became an author. She wants all children with hearing loss to know they are amazing and that hearing loss will not keep them from following their dreams.