Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters
Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

After many failed attempts to hear your daughter when she comes over to visit, you have finally decided to admit that you have trouble hearing. Each time she comes over, you try to make the listening environment better: turning off the television, facing her while she speaks, trying to subtly read her lips, and even moving closer to make her voice louder. Yet, she seems to speak in a range that is difficult to understand no matter what you do. Since your many attempts to hear her have failed, you have made up your mind to talk about it directly. How should you explain to her? Where to begin?

Talking About Hearing Loss

If this scenario is familiar to you, the following information can help you understand how best to talk about your hearing loss. Though it might come naturally to talk about your condition with your daughter, it can be much more difficult to explain to strangers. So many Americans live with hearing loss that have discovered these disclosure styles among those who have trouble hearing and need to talk about the condition with others. A regrettable number of these also go with untreated hearing loss, not using hearing aids to assist the situation. The following disclosure styles may seem familiar to you or someone you love. Understanding the different types can put you on your way to the most effective conversation style about your hearing loss.

Three Main Disclosure Methods for Discussing Hearing Loss

The first way people talk about hearing loss is considered “non-disclosure.” When it becomes clear that they are not able to hear something, they describe their experience like anyone might, including those with perfect hearing ability who simply missed something. For example, if a person with a “non-disclosure” style describes the inability to hear something, they will simply say, “I didn’t catch that. Can you speak up?” Rather than letting the person know that they have an ongoing problem with hearing, they make it out to be a single incident. As you might assume, the trouble with this style is that it doesn’t make communication any easier in the future. The person you tell will be just as likely to miscommunicate in the future.

The second disclosure style is called “basic disclosure.” Those who use this communication style do admit that they have an ongoing problem with hearing loss. Yet, they stop short of suggesting a solution to the problem. By simply saying something like, “I’m hard of hearing,” the person with whom you are speaking might not know exactly what to do. They might start speaking very loudly or slowly in a failed attempt to help remedy the situation.

The third disclosure style is preferable to the other two. Those who employ “multipurpose disclosure” don’t simply admit to having an ongoing condition of hearing loss. They also suggest what might be done to make the communication process easier. For example, a person with a “multipurpose disclosure” approach might say something like, “I’m losing some of my hearing. If you just look in my direction while you speak, I’ll be able to hear you better.”

By disclosing an ongoing hearing issue and a solution, the future looks much better for the communication process between the two of you. The next time you have a tricky situation, the person might remember to look in your direction to make the experience easier.

Researchers Recommend Multipurpose Disclosure for Discussing Hearing Loss

The next time you are faced with the need to disclose your hearing loss, keep in mind the double-barreled approach of “multipurpose disclosure.” If your daughter comes over for a visit, it might be the time to explain your hearing needs.

Yet, another solution exists, as well. Why not take the opportunity to seek out hearing assistance? If you had hearing aids in place, these problems might solve themselves. Although it will still be necessary to disclose hearing loss in some instances, even with hearing aids, those instances will be much rarer.

Visit Us at Professional Hearing Services

Take the opportunity to get in touch with our team at Professional Hearing Services to make an appointment for a hearing test and consultation. With hearing assistance, these issues of miscommunication and the necessity for disclosure will become much easier, and you will be thrilled with the newfound hearing ability you can enjoy.

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