by Neil Bauman, Ph.D. with Bob Eldridge
Bob Eldridge has been a teacher for many years. He is also hard of hearing. Here is how he warns his students about protecting their ears from hearing loss.
As a hearing impaired teacher I make it my business, when I introduce myself to new students, to talk about hearing loss.
I ask them if they like to listen to their I-pods with the volume turned up loud. I share with my students that as a kid I liked to listen to music loud. As a teen I got one of the first transistor radios with headphones. I outfitted my cars with pumped up sound systems. When I played with a live band, I did not protect my ears from microphone feedback and loud noises.
Then I tell them that about 5 years ago, I started not being able to understand what my students were saying. I tell them about going to the doctor and being sent to a practitioner who fitted me for hearing aids. I take out my hearing aids and show them. I tell them that hearing aids help but are not replacements for natural hearing.
Usually there is a ventilator fan running in the classroom and I ask them to notice the fan noise. They do and are amazed that their brains tend to block out that noise. I tell them with hearing aids, my brain can no longer block out the fan noise. (I do have a setting to reduce it.) Then I ask them, “Do you think I told you all of this so that I could show off my hearing aids?”
“No, Mr. E”, comes the reply ‘You don’t want us to make the same mistakes you did.’ And they are absolutely right.