The Best Way To Talk About Your Hearing Loss
Disclosing your hearing loss and suggesting an option to accommodate your needs may be the best way to first introduce your hearing loss to others, according to a new study.
Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear surveyed 337 patients with hearing loss to better understand the language they use with communication partners to disclose their disability. The study found that people with hearing loss often talk about it in three ways: basic disclosure, nondisclosure and multipurpose disclosure.
Basic Disclosure – to describe those who disclose that they have hearing loss and perhaps also share details about their condition. Example: I’m partially deaf due to an infection I had years ago.
Nondisclosure – to describe those who do not disclose their hearing loss and/or use phrases that normal hearing people may use. Example: I can’t hear you. Please speak up.
Multipurpose Disclosure – to describe those who disclose hearing loss and also suggest an accommodation strategy. Example: I don’t hear as well out of my right ear. Please walk on my left side.
While individuals had different ways of talking about their hearing loss, researchers suggest the multipurpose disclosure method is the best way to avoid isolation in social situations.
“We think it can be empowering for patients to know that these strategies, and especially the multipurpose disclosure strategy, are available to them,” said senior author Konstantina M. Stankovic, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, an otologic surgeon and researcher at Mass. Eye and Ear and an associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. “Hearing loss is an invisible disability; however, asking people to slow down or face someone with hearing loss while speaking may improve communication.”
The researchers are using the findings to develop a resource guide to help health care providers better prepare their patients for social situations.