Here are some things I wish you knew in my academic years.
Every person is different, but from my experience with having hearing loss, I wish that the teachers I had knew certain things about my hearing loss. I have a friend who is a teacher, and she asked me to explain to her some things I wish my teachers and professors knew. So, I decided to compile my list into a blog post since I haven’t done anything on hearing loss recently. So here goes.
1. It takes me a few minutes to process something. Talking at a slower speed or going back to repeat is helpful. I used to come up with a code for my teachers to have them repeat without disrupting the class. My classmates would get really annoyed if I interrupted or didn’t hear what the teacher was saying. So, there would be times when I would discreetly flash a signal that my teachers and I came up with. That way, my teachers would know to repeat what was said.
2. Always make sure to find things with closed captioning!! I can’t begin to express how difficult it is to listen or watch something that doesn’t have visual cues. Thankfully, the internet is beginning to realize the impact that having closed captions has, so most Youtube videos are required to have them. It’s not that hard to find things with captioning! You know, it’s funny. We were very close with this family and whenever we would go over their house I would put the closed captions on to watch the movie. But, I would always forget to turn it off, so he would freak out and say, “Who keeps putting the captioning on?” It was comical.
3. We get very tired during the day. It takes much more energy to hear than the normal person. I lipread as a way to comprehend language, and my eyes are the main component in that realm 😉 I get tired very easily! My brain is constantly “on” and it makes me very very tired…
4. Group projects can be overwhelming! To follow sound is like watching a verbal tennis match. I don’t mind working in groups, as long we are in a quiet environment!
5. Student led discussions are difficult, especially if we need to follow along and participate. If we miss a key point of the discussion, our answer might not even be related to the question…
6. Sometimes we nod our heads to understand but internally die because we didn’t hear them the 5th time they repeat something.. the other thing is – we mispronounce things we don’t hear correctly. Provide lots of visual cues!!!
7. Anything that makes noise can be distracting. We often follow the noise to see where it comes from, and then lose our train of thought or focus. We always had super noisy hallways in grade school. I would try to hear the squeaking of the sneakers on the floor, but then I would lose my focus of what I was doing in the moment.
8. Preferential seating is important. That way we can situate ourselves to hear the professor and classmates. The most ideal classroom is either a circle or a U-shape. Because then, we can all see each other. It doesn’t just benefit the person with hearing loss, but everyone!
9. When people answer behind us, we usually can’t hear. Always repeat their answers and questions! Once I miss one thing, I usually have to play catch up, and I fall behind the rest of the class. Please consider this 😉
10. Be compassionate. We have to adjust to living in a hearing world. Accessibility is so important! If I am talking to my neighbor, 9/10 times I am asking them to repeat something.
These are things that make my hearing loss more important than me.
- When you make a big deal about my hearing loss or say, “You don’t look deaf” (How does deaf look?)
- When you yell across the room asking if the closed captions are okay. ** Cue putting the paper bag over your head.
- Assuming I can’t hear (while yes, this is very true… there are some situations that are more ideal than the rest and I have an easier time hearing!)
- Assuming that because I’m deaf, music can’t be one of the most important thing in the world to me. I love and played music and I was a dancer! Music is a very big part of my life.
- Telling me that I can’t sing because my hearing or equipments causes “delays”. Yes, a teacher once told me that my hearing aids caused a delay. I know I am always behind.
- Telling me I can’t participate in something because it’s a “hearing game”. Again, true story…
- Treating me as less then because something was taken away from me for which I had no control over.
- Saying “you don’t need help or accommodations, you’re just doing fine without them anyway.” Yes, just fine…
- Denying me accommodations because it requires YOU to work a little harder. Imagine living each day having to work harder.
- Telling me that you “forgot I have hearing loss” after years of meetings with my parents and me.
- Assuming that I don’t have anxiety when it comes to social situations. Those become overwhelming easily.
Hearing loss is an silent disability. Please respect us as the humans God created us to be.