Not too long ago, deafness was seen as a terrible disadvantage, deaf people were to be pitied and many people despaired of ever finding a way to successfully integrate deaf people into the hearing world. However, fast-forward a few decades—with growing awareness and considerable advances in technology, the opportunity for deaf individuals to have tremendously rewarding and fulfilling lives is practically a given. There’s no longer an assumption that deafness in Salinas is somehow a barrier to a good life.
This is not to say that being deaf no longer poses challenges, but with more hearing people advocating on behalf of deaf people—and with more deaf people engaged in activism of their own—the systems in place to help people deal with those challenges have become effective and widespread. But for individuals who have just started to lose their hearing, or whose hearing has rapidly deteriorated, much of everyday life can seem suddenly stressful and difficult. Because living with hearing loss requires some major adjustments, here are some tips for maintaining a happy and fulfilling approach to life with hearing loss:
- Use the available technology: Perhaps the most obvious first step is investigating your options as far as hearing aids and other hearing devices are concerned. For those who remember their grandparents having giant, awkward hearing aids, it may be a shock to learn that cutting-edge hearing aids are much less cumbersome, more easily customized and far less noticeable. Visit an audiologist to learn more about the options available and determine what type of hearing aid will work best for you.
- Advocate for yourself: One of the most difficult situations for people with hearing loss is being around people with healthy hearing and being expected to keep up with conversation, particularly when the other parties are unaware of your hearing loss. This is why it’s important for hearing-impaired and deaf people to take control of the situation by acknowledging their hearing loss and being straightforward and specific about what they need while communicating. If you know you’ll be able to understand what someone is saying if they speak more slowly, leave their mouth uncovered, turn toward you or anything else, let the people you’re talking to know. Don’t be left out because you didn’t speak up.
- Adapt to your environment: Environmental distractions can pose a huge challenge to the deaf and hearing-impaired. When you can, take action to make it easier for you to hear by going to quiet and well-lit places, making it easier to hear and see the faces of the people you’re with. Requesting a printed agenda or recording a presentation for reviewing later can be useful in work meetings and other professional situations. The key is to be creative.
In all of these cases, your best approach is to take action and make the most of your situation, rather than simply allowing hearing loss to dictate your life. At Valley Hearing Center, we are committed to providing quality services to those living with hearing loss and deafness in Salinas, and that commitment extends to our work in the community. If you have concerns about how to navigate the world with severe hearing loss or deafness, let us help you.
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