Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Imagine paying attention to an entire song with the mix panned all the way to left or right at half gain. Hearing loss is different for everyone, but for the hard of hearing with deafness in one ear this is life. Vibrations as well as the presence of certain frequencies can be sensed when noise comes from one side. Sound may be muffled, muddled, unclear, or missed altogether on the other side.
Wearing hearing aids when faced with unilateral hearing loss is like listening to life as a song with proper sound design, balance, and volume. It is as if a mental fog is lifted. Between a void of silence and clarity in communication through sound comes more shallow interactions with people who do not understand, as well as more intimate connections with those that do.
Bridging the gap between compassion and misunderstanding in conversation is difficult to tiptoe around. When emotions and body language are the primary means for knowing what is happening, feelings become relied on to share information. Awareness in tone, facial expressions, and double meanings are how some people listen.
Deaf people are adept to using education and technology to talk in the hearing world better. Often times hearing loss cannot be changed. But when do people stop to think of how their physical presence signs words? While ASL has only been recognized as a language since 1960, its system has been developing since the 1800s.
Expressing oneself through the body is innate. While there are many versions of sign languages and customs, physical communication is instinctual among people. Connection between people is more than what is spoken. While deaf people may have no choice but to try to talk in the hearing world, they are not always being included when the conversation is one sided.
Learning to sign expands people’s ability to get to know others through appreciating what gestures represent. Similar to a hearing aid itself, using language as a resource brings people together through the intention of grasping where someone else is coming from. Sound communication may not always be audible, but verbal or not cues are usually effectual.