by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
Being hard of hearing is not easy-especially when hearing people fail to accommodate our unique hearing needs. Unfortunately, our very own families are often the worst offenders in this regard.
Corinne’s family exhibits this all too typical cavalier attitude towards their own hard of hearing family members. She explains, “My husband’s family makes fun of me and my hearing loss. They make fun of my hard of hearing father-in-law too. They keep the TV blasting whether anyone is watching it or not. They speak from different rooms. I get so angry because they don’t do a danged thing to make it easier for us to hear.”
This destructive anger needs to be channeled into constructive avenues so that instead of being part of the problem, we become a part of the solution. Linda, a hard of hearing social worker explains, “Somehow we need to work on transferring the anger we feel over how we’re unfairly treated, into strong, confident assertiveness.
This is not easy, but it is necessary for our own mental health. Linda continues, “We need to think of possible solutions as to how we can handle our families without showing anger or ‘giving in’ and then hating ourselves for it.”
After thinking about this, Karen, another hard of hearing lady, lamented, “I wish a form letter was available for download which a person could give to those family members who need to be educated.” Such a letter needs to set the tone of mutual co-operation, emphasizing that communication is a two-way street, so that effective communication will take place.
Karen’s wish has now come true. I have created a letter that contains seven basic tips that can make communication between hard of hearing and hearing people ever so much easier.
To obtain your own copy of this attractive two-page letter in pdf format to send to your own family, friends or coworkers, simply click on Dear Family Letter. Print this letter out, put the person’s name in the salutation line, sign your name at the end and personally give it to those family, friends or coworkers with whom you have trouble communicating. At the same time, express your desire that they will read it and put these basic principles into practice so you can have free and easy conversation with them.
Although it contains copyrighted material, I hereby give you permission to copy it in its entirety (including my copyright notice) and distribute it to whomever you wish.
I hope it will facilitate a better understanding of our communication needs, and ultimately, a closer bond between us and our families, friends and coworkers.