Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hearing/Understanding-What's the difference?

Good Afternoon All!

I really should be focused on trying to figure out how to set up my online class at SIU-C but I find this more intriguing! J

A topic I wanted to talk about, I assume is one of a common thing but leads me to GREAT frustration among the Hearing World. This is basically the actual difference between calling myself deaf/hearing-impaired yet still able to hear just about everything.

Basically, if I wear hearing aids I am deaf, and I cannot hear anything right? WRONG. Yet most hearing people cannot fathom that type of explanation. They seem to think it is an all or nothing situation. When I meet people all the time, I explain in simple lay man terms I am Deaf, though to be nit picky I consider myself hearing-impaired. I simply say Deaf because some people really just don’t want to hear the specifics. Example if a guy comes up saw my hearing aids he would probably ask “Are you deaf?” I’d respond “Yes”, leave it at that and move on. If the conversation goes further I’d be willing to explain more specifically my hearing or lack of it really.

Basically though, I have a 75% hearing loss in my left ear and 80% loss in my right ear, yet essentially wearing hearing aids virtually brings almost 100% of it back! So this allows me to be able to hear just about any type of noise. However and unfortunately my nerves inside my ear were damaged. So that means that I cannot UNDERSTAND conversations on the phone, in person, etc WITHOUT the aid of text or lip reading or anything. However a lot of hearing people just do NOT seem to understand that concept.

I will go out in public, and be on my cell phone talking to someone. I am stopped by a public person and go “Aren’t you deaf?” I would respond “yes” or “hearing-impaired yes, why?” They’d go “but, but your wearing hearing aids...and you’re deaf. You’re not supposed to be able to hear!” In my head I am thinking “...and precisely dear...WHERE does it say I cannot hear? Are you stereotyping as I figured?” I then explain, in the simplest terms, Yes I lost a lot of hearing, but I wear hearing aids which helps aid me to hear so I am able to hear most of the noise and sounds in the environment. They treat it as if it’s the MOST amazing news they ever heard. My gosh, a machine, that like, actually allows us to hear again?! My lord what will they think of next, something that allows people to see better?! Oh wait… ;-)

I don’t know if it is simple ignorance or something, but people seem to link, deaf=not hearing. We all know in the deaf community there are many, many levels of hearing loss. Yet for hearing people there is only one. I remember another situation where I was with new co workers, and we were discussing music. I offered my music advice and suggestions, which I enjoyed listening to in my car and favorite songs. The silence was unbearable, and one goes “ya right you cannot hear music your deaf right!” DOH! *goes off to bang head against the wall*.

I once again explained how my hearing worked and with the hearing aids, and how I can hear words, and music, but I cannot understand what people say unless I have the song memorized, or I am reading along lyrics, subtitles, text, etc, list goes on! The questions are absolutely hysterical too. Can you drive? So like how do you dance to music then? Ok then, if your deaf, then you can read Braille right? (Hahaha, yes I was actually asked that by a co worker...). Oh here is the kicker…Can deaf people have sex? *screeches to a halt—WHAT DID THEY ASK?! Yes you heard me, oh sorry perhaps ill re type it or sign it again... CAN...DEAF...PEOPLE...HAVE...SEX? Hmmmh, I sit and think to figure out a response to that. Then I thought, if they want to ask me a stupid question, I’ll respond with a stupid response. I’ll say to them “That’s a good question! I don’t know, lets go home and find out, have sex all night and THEN you can tell me if deaf people can have sex, agreed?!” J

I DO understand some people just don’t think, and what’s normal for them, maybe hard to figure out for different people. But as far as I am concerned there is nothing to hear to make sure you doing good. Ok maybe being deaf has an advantage for the guys; you don’t have to hear the dreaded question from the girls in bed asking the guys “is it in yet?” *smirks*

That’s basically it. This was more so a rant then anything and to share my own experience and questions. Hope you found this funny and a good read as always!



Steve said...

Deaf and hearing-impaired are the same meaning! From what I see out the world that they say I am deaf which are truly deaf person, if they say I am hearing-impaired which mean they are hearing to make it looks normal like hearing people! Too embarrassed to say I am deaf and the hearing people will think that deaf is not normal and pity! That is what I saw out there.

Mike McConnell said...

First off, do not use percent to describe the amount of hearing loss you have. It doesn't make any sense because loudness or decibel as it go up go up in logarithmic scale...not percentages.

"I have a 70 dB loss. This is not equal to a 70 percent loss by any means. In actual fact it means that the softest sound I can hear needs to be 10,000,000 times louder than the softest sound a person with normal hearing can hear. One out of ten million is definitely not a 70 per cent loss but would be a loss of 99.9999999%! Quite a difference, isn't it? Now you can see why we must never use percentages when talking about our hearing losses. They just do not equate. They are absolutely meaningless!"

Secondly, the word "deaf" connotes, as to most people, "cannot hear a dadgum thing." Just as the word, "blind" means "I cannot see at all."

Just as tere are blind people who can drive cars and are legal drivers. But legal blindness does not necessarily mean you cannot see. You can have 20/20 vision but have a restricted peripheral vision or night blindness, for example.

For me, I'd just say that I have a hearing loss if you want to avoid the whole label mess. I hear ok with the help of a hearing aid.

kw said...

Mike-- I think the problem comes in for most of us who don't hear OK with a hearing aid. I have 110 db loss in speech ranges, but only a mild to moderate loss on low tones. It's a ski slope. Some sounds I hear very well with no hearing aids in. Some sounds I never hear even with hearing aids. Like Alex, I tire of explaining my complicated hearing loss. I find the best solution is to simply tell people my hearing is BAD. Without the label of "deafness or hard-of-hearing" they have to draw their own conclusions. Sometimes I say "partially deaf" or "nearly deaf" This helps them to understand how I seem to hear some things but not others, and also why I talk so well. Agree with you about using percentages. They make no sense, and it all depends on where your hearing loss is too.

Barb DiGi said...

In my opinion, I just avoid using the term hearing-impaired because the definition of impaired said: broken, weaken, disabled or functionally poorly, inadequate or defective..and the list goes on..the whole point is that all of these definition terms relating to impaired are negative so why should we be associated to that? Even the term hearing loss signals that something is missing. I am not too crazy about this term because again it is suggesting that something that is lost. I know that we are talking about our hearing that is not complete but our life is not all about that since we gain so much with our human experiences, rather than a disability. .

I just thought you would find it interesting how the meaning deaf is defined at:

since it said partially or wholly lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing; unable to hear

just simple as that but you know the term deaf also applies those who have partial hearing not necessarily not hearing at all.

Unfortunately, not many people realize that.

Aaron said...

If you think about it, almost everyone understands the concept of "hearing but not understanding", they just understand it in different terms.

Take a pill bottle with tiny little text font on it. Hold it 8 feet away from any person with normal eyesight. Clearly they can see the bottle, but yet why cant they read the text? Now take that same person and put a letter-size paper with 72-point font, Arial Black, that says only the word "HELLO". they can easily read that from 8 feet.

Just like text gets blurry as eyesight goes bad, words can get very "blurry" as hearing goes bad.

Anonymous said...

Alex ... i love the way you put it out and yes i have been there done that too. One thing they ask me can you hear someone moan when having sex?? i said yeah if i have my hearing aids on or feel the vibration if they are having it full on non stop banging !! They cracked up laughing. I just know how to make them laugh with my wisecracks so use it to make them laugh. If someone ask me if im deaf i always say yep hearing loss cause it from someone spank me as a baby !!! You should see the shock on their face !!!