Renee Iseli - Smits en Social Issues In Today's Society, Social Work, Healthcare editor • UnitEars.nl 1/7/2016 · 1 min de lectura · +900

To be or not to be

To be or not to be

Source picture: http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-to-be-not-to-be-question-hamlet-shakespeare-skull-image34121769


Are you familiar with this? When one is tired and everyone all around you is talking, and you hear a cacophony of voices and are unable to concentrate on one voice and then find yourself unable to understand anything? If you are hearing impaired, then you will most likely be answering yes to this question.

The fact is, tiredness is often a part of being hearing impaired because we spend the entire day “listening” with all of our senses. This means that we use not only our ears, but also our eyes, and the rest of our body to compensate for the lack of our hearing. And that works. If one notices our hearing impairment because of a miscommunication, then that means that we, in the other times our hearing loss was not noticed, successfully hid it. That sounds good, doesn’t it?

In the last year I have taken a couple of courses in Communications. All participants and the instructor were hearing impaired. It rapidly became clear to me that most of the miscommunications that occur in conversation are not solely our fault. Yes, read this sentence one more time. Many misunderstandings in communications occur even in those who hear normally. People often talk at each other or assume that the other party understood “what I meant”. Please do not believe that “the hearing impaired are imagining this because they do not want to focus on themselves”.

Without going into depth on what the course was about, I can tell you with a clear conscience that we, the hearing impaired, are forced to pay attention more to our communications than those who hear normally. This is why we are probably the better experts at communications.

There are many different types of hearing loss and consequently many different interpretations. In this way, you could be hard of hearing, deaf, Deaf, or be a CI user (CI = Cochlear Implant) and so on. For me personally, such a label or interpretation means nothing. I do not hear well, period.

For other hearing impaired people, this is of course different and has more to do with a sense of belonging. Its all right by me, everyone has the right to find their own way through life. However, I do not view myself as “hearing disabled”. Yes, I am limited in my hearing, but the use of the word “disability” makes me feel helpless, which I am not.

I know that this topic is a sensitive one and therefore I will approach the question “to be or not to be” diplomatically. Lets just say: “To be or not to be, that is the question”. A question in my honest opinion that everyone should answer for themselves.



Renee Iseli - Smits 16/9/2016 · #4

#3 Deb Helfrich, I only saw your comment recently, so that's why my response is a bit late. I understand what your point is. People who are hearing impaired really depend on lipreading and the mimicing of their vis-a-vis. This often is a cause for miscommunication in interactions. Please, don't underestimate this.
Often, deaf people for example, have some trouble interpreting spoken language because their first language is sign language. For me, born normal hearing and acquiring a good speech development, trying to learn sign language at a later age is very hard.
I agree with you, that a huge part of miscommunication is due to the fact how our brains process information and what is your social background. All too often, and this is true for hearing impaired as normal hearing, we "assume" what our vis-a-vis means, instead of checking the true meaning of the words.

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Deb 🐝 Helfrich 30/8/2016 · #3

This is a very interesting question, @Renee Iseli - Smits. I would tend to agree that the range of interpretations might be meaningful to some people who can't hear well; but to my mind, the reason for having a common 'label' is so that strangers can easily be given a cheat sheet on how to adapt in their interactions with someone who doesn't hear so well.

On the issue of miscommunications, very little of that problem has anything to do with the volume of the words and a great deal to do with the fact of how our brains chunk information and sort through probably tens of thousands of incoming signals. Then there is the social aspect of prior interactions. If I said to you, I am an unfluencer, your brain would likely just replace the prefix with the 'right' one as you know it, whereas @Pamela L. Williams would know exactly what I meant and it would convey paragraphs worth of information. The complexity of communication is staggering.

BTW, Pam - you are a fountain of knowledge. I could explain that I heard the words but didn't understand them, but I never bothered to actually see if it was a thing. I find that numerous times I have to say 'what did you say?' and just as I finish asking, the meaning of the previous set of words becomes manifest. This adds in some physiologic underpinning to the sensitive introvert tendencies....

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Renee Iseli - Smits 4/7/2016 · #2

#1 I can understand your problem, yes. If the body language doesn't "tone" with the spoken words (someone can make a joke with a poker face ...), this creates confusion and misunderstanding too, just as with sarcasm.

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Pamela 🐝 Williams 1/7/2016 · #1

"you hear a cacophony of voices and are unable to concentrate on one voice and then find yourself unable to understand anything" I don't have to be tired to experience this, but it's worse when I am. I have Audio Processing Disorder when means I hear just fine but the communication between my auditory system and my brain has a delay. If I'm in a loud room my brain can't differentiate the sounds. Because of this I depend I have come to depend heavily on other means of communicating. The part that bothers me the most is I have problems differentiating sarcasm from truth. Think about it; if you being sarcastic you project all the features of anger with an ever so slight change in tone. If a person is not picking up the tone then all signals interpret it as anger. It's why I don't like sarcasm in verbal communication. They're just asking for a misunderstanding..

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