Posted by: sueread67 | May 7, 2010

Hearing Frustration

Just wanted to put into words the frustrations of being hard of hearing.

The majority of people have no idea what it is like to lose your hearing even if it is only partial.

When I tell people that I am hard of hearing a common misconception is that I simply need the volume turned up or that they need to shout.   This is totally wrong and the worst possible remedy to aid my hearing.  I have moderate high frequency loss in my left ear and severe high frequency loss in my right ear.  This means that I do not hear speech clearly.  Therefore, if  it becomes louder, then all I hear is a loud ‘mumble’.  It is VERY frustrating to explain this to someone who then does not remember and makes a comment at a later date about turning volume up or speaking louder.  Due to the nature of my hearing loss some loud sounds are very uncomfortable in my ears – feels a bit like when you exit a nightclub!

With the aid of induction loops I have now realised that I have been hearing music ‘wrong’ for most of my life.  Some tones I have either not heard or have heard them wrong – this explains why I could never tune up my trumpet.  Again, turning up the volume only exasperates the problem.  In fact loud music is very uncomfortable for me without an induction loop and exposure for as little as 10 minutes can result in a headache due to the way in which my ears hear the sound.

Something else frustrating – when I say pardon, the last part of a sentence is repeated and I have missed the first part.  People do not seem to want to repeat a whole sentence.  I also find it very hard to hear with background noise of any kind.  Some people’s voices are hard for me to understand on the phone, therefore I lack confidence using the phone and do my best to have avoid phone conversations.

Another frustration – jokes about hearing loss – I won’t even get started on that one.

I do NOT like being called deaf – I am not deaf and I am not stupid just because I don’t hear everything!  Beware though, you might be surprised what I do hear if you try talking behind my back.

Often I find I hear the opposite to what is being said and this has often caused arguments, especially with my husband.  Also I find that people have told me something which I haven’t heard – I then, at a later date, ask them why they didn’t tell me.

I feel that many people think I am making a fuss because I have become good (I think) at either guessing what people say, filling in the gaps or pretending that I heard something. Some people believe that I hear ‘well’ because I have 2 hearing aids but they are aids not cures.

I hate the sarcastic looks I get off some people (so called friends) when they see my lipreader badge.  No I do not lipread everyone, and I am not a ‘fluent lipreader’ yet. I wear the badge because I partially lipread some people that I can’t hear (especially in shops), and also because if people think I am lipreading then they face me when they talk.  The majority of people with hearing loss simply canNOT hear people who do not face them, whether lipreading or not. Something worth remembering is lipreaders do not like to see food or chewing gum when they are lipreading.  Also lipreaders have a tendency to look at people’s mouths even when they are not speaking!

Also, I have found when speaking to people that they do not understand what induction loops do and why I rely on them a lot.  Induction loops do NOT turn up the volume.  Induction loops make everything very much clearer, although I can turn up the volume on my hearing aids and also on my personal induction loop which I use at home.  Without an induction loop I could not hear everthing at Church – now we have a new building and induction loop so I can hear 99% of everything (probably as much as normal hearing people).  Simply turning up my hearing aids does not have the same effect.  I now rely on induction loops for any public speaking, music and any amplified sounds.  I am fortunate enough to have an induction loop for my TV – when this is not available I rely on subtitles.

Another problem is my family.  They get very frustrated (understandably) with me when I repeatedly cannot hear what they are saying.  This can often end up in arguments because they are fed up with repeating themselves and I am fed up with not being able to hear.

A tiny minority of people think they understand because they have ‘had an ear infection’, ‘had a blocked up ear for a week’, or for other reasons – this is so annoying.  When I come across these people I think  ‘how would you like to stick ear plugs in your ears for a month, then you might understand!’.

I will finish with some tips to aid communication either with myself or other hard of hearing people.

1.  Face the person you are speaking to (good manners as well).

2.  Speak clearly but do not shout.

3.  If you cannot make yourself heard then try re-phrasing.

4.  Do not cover your mouth so as to prevent lipreading.

5.  Try and learn some finger spelling (very easy).

6.  Try not to have any background noise.

7.  Try writing.

8.  If you are speaking in public, make sure you face your audience.

9.  Last of all – if you cannot make yourself understood – LAUGH! (with me, not at me).

Oh – and one more – talk to me on Facebook and save your phone bill.



  1. Thanks Sue, you really helped me understand just a little how frustrating this must be. And good to know that induction loops are actually worth doing!!

    Hope you keep blogging

  2. Hi Sue, I couldn’t agree with you more! Wow it blows me away that I am not alone in this world with my frustrations. I have a 90% loss in my R ear due to a congenital condition. I have been lucky enough to secure a governnment funded Digital Aid through Access to work programme. .The only problem I now face is I am hearing sounds for the first time in my life and I find it very distracting to conversations I am engaged in. Most of the time I dont wear it as I should, because of the distractions .. figuring that I have coped with deafness for 49 years, and although miss alot of conversation and that is frustrating, it balances the quality of life enhanced with a aid and for me it’s just as frustrating as not hearing .. it is odd though that I can pitch notes when I sing and perform 😉 Again thank you xxx

  3. Thanks for this. As Andrew indicated is really useful

  4. Thanks Sue
    Great summary. Captions is the answer for everyone. regardless of the severity of hearing loss.
    These loops also add some distortion…. the Human ear is a miracle… and as such, so far to substitute. CAPTIONS is the answer, GO equal access to media.

    • Thank you for your comments Martha.
      I do find that captioning/subtitles is the best way for me to hear.

  5. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not the only one. I hate when people who aren’t facing me when they talk think I’m “dumb”. I’m fine in social settings because people look at me when they talk but I struggle with the day to day living with people. I’d never looked for a blog about being hard of hearing or in my case full half deaf. So thank you!

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