Can you hear me now?

I was at two different events recently where staff members from the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing were in the audience and really asked some brilliant questions. Their questions related to how specific services or products accomodated for those with hearing loss.

It really got me thinking that hearing loss is truly a “hidden disability”.  Unless someone tells me that they are hard of hearing, I probably wouldn’t know. It’s also easy to pretend that you are listening to someone when you can’t really hear them. It’s estimated that there are 28 million Americans with hearing loss and only 1 in 5 of those who could benefit from a hearing aid are using one.

This week I met with Bonnie O’Leary of the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing to learn a little more about hearing loss and how I might create a simulation that gives me a better perspective. Bonnie shared the many resources available through her center including a robust display of products and devices. One of the things she shared with me that had tremendous impact was a sample recording that simulated different levels of hearing loss. Here is one I found online. It was amazing at what could be defined “minor hearing loss”.

I am curious about simulating hearing loss to gain more awareness and perspective on how I might better communicate with others and the emotions and frustration they might feel. I find that simulating anything on a temporary basis seems to evoke debate, as you can read on this forum. However, in my opinion the alternative of simply trying to understand what someone else is experiencing is not as effective.


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