Did you know that blind people only see what they want to see? Can a person in a wheelchair walk if they just really try hard enough? Are most people with heart attacks just faking it? Isn't it annoying that handicapped people get the prime parking spaces? Is hearing loss funny? Of course not.
Yet how often have you heard it said that people with a hearing loss only hear what they want to hear? Maybe you have even said it yourself, or laughed when somebody else said it. Think twice. It is not funny. It is crude.
If you have a hearing loss, chances are you have been told many times that you have "selective hearing". It is usually said as a joke, or out of frustration from somebody that has to keep repeating themselves. They insinuate that you are faking a hearing loss.
It is understandable that people have a low tolerance for having to constantly repeat themselves, or feeling that they are being ignored. Being with somebody who is hard of hearing can be difficult too, but hearing loss cannot be pretended away, wished away, or cured with ridiculed. Hearing loss has to be dealt with for better or worse.
Often the hearing impaired try and act like a good sport and laugh it off. But chances are they are not laughing inside. For the hearing impaired, and those that are "just hard of hearing", it is a life altering condition. It affects their ability to earn a living, to enjoy entertainment and to interact with family and friends. It can even be life threatening from not hearing emergency alerts.
Suffering from hearing impairment is made even worse and more painful by society's intolerance. Full stop. If you think that I am making a mountain out of a mole hill, or you are saying to yourself, "oh no, not another special interest group asking for privileges and pity", then you need to reboot, especially if you have a loved one who is hearing impaired, and if you care.
Hearing loss is extremely misunderstood. For starters it is not just a loss of volume. There are different types of hearing loss . It might be due to problems with the ear canal, the ear drum or because of nerve damage. Nerve damage might be caused by environmental exposure to loud noise, brain damage, diseases, age, medications or genetics. Turning up the volume, with hearing aids for example, may help some, but it is not a cure.
One reason hearing impairment is so misunderstood is that people cannot see it the same way that they can see that a person is blind or is unable to walk. That is why children with hearing impairment often go undiagnosed. Some people, especially children, may not even know that they have a hearing impairment. They may think they hear normally and people may treat them as if they are just slow witted, dull or even retarded.
People with a hearing impairment look as if they have two normal ears like everybody else. What others see is often what they think is an annoying person who keeps saying "huh?", or they think they see someone who is too "dumb" to follow simple instructions. Or they see someone who seems unresponsive, withdrawn, antisocial, and unfriendly; and someone who may say things that are inappropriately. What they may really be seeing, and do not recognize it, is a person who has a hearing impairment.
People with a hearing impairment often try to hide the condition. They may fake that they hear what is said when they don't. They may be ashamed and frustrated from not being able to hear normally. As a result they may try to guess at what is being said.
Filling in the blank spots incorrectly causes someone who is hearing impaired to blurt out things that seem inappropriate or completely irrelevant. Or one may agree or disagree to opinions, suggestions and questions contrary to what they actual believe, feel or desire. A hearing impaired person may unknowingly agree to promises that they have no intention of keeping, because they did not understand what they were promising to do.
Hearing loss is made even more difficult because it is not widely accepted by the public as a legitimate disability. The public has a low tolerance for the hearing disabled. They either make jokes about them, or they get angry at someone who has difficulty hearing. It is not unusual for the hearing impaired to be ignored as if they were not even in the room.
The stereotype of a person who is hard of hearing is to make him the butt of jokes and even accuse him of just pretending not to hear. People do not realize that reacting with humor or scorn towards the hearing impaired is just as cruel as laughing at a blind person who walks into traffic.
Here are a few typical jokes:
Do you know why women* have three times the vocabulary as men? It is because they have to repeat everything three times!