Dear Hearing World…

Dear hearing world,

Please be patient with me.

Be patient when I ask you to repeat yourself.

Be patient when I lose track of the conversation because I can’t hear all of it.

Be patient when everyone’s laughing at a joke and I look confused because I didn’t hear what was said.

Be patient when I give a response that doesn’t fit what you said because I misheard you.

Be patient when you’re waiting for me to answer and I’m not aware that you said anything.

I want to hear you. I really do. I want to be a part of the conversation, of the jokes. I want to not feel foolish when I ask you to repeat yourself and it turns out that you were just yawning or making a noise (I can never be sure). I want to interact with you.

But I have a hearing loss, and sometimes things are loud. Sometimes crowds are noisy. Sometimes you’re too far away. Sometimes I misread your lips or wrongly piece together the parts I heard.

I know this is a foreign concept for you, because you hear things much better than I ever will. You may mishear or not hear at all every once in a while, but it’s not a daily occurrence. I know you don’t understand, but I ask you to try.

I’m not making it up; I’m not messing with you; I’m not making a joke. I’m not being rude, or ignorant, or dumb. I’m simply someone who goes through life with a hearing loss that can make interacting with others challenging. There are others who have hearing losses much more severe than mine or cannot hear at all. Whatever problems I have communicating with others, I’m sure theirs are tenfold.

So I ask you, be patient with us.

Don’t explain away our challenges. Don’t try to tell us that we just need to pay more attention. We’re being truthful when we say we didn’t hear you – saying, “oh, you heard me” won’t change anything.

When we want to find ways to accommodate our hearing loss, we’re not being whiny. We’re looking for ways to ensure that we can do the best we can at our jobs and in our relationships with other people. We want to make sure that we will have the same opportunities that fully-hearing people have. When you repeat yourself five times and can’t understand how we haven’t heard you yet, we’re not trying to be frustrating. In fact, we’re frustrated at ourselves as we attempt to make out what you said.

We just want to be people. People that can live life to the fullest as we experience new things and forge new relationships. We want to overcome the obstacles being hard-of-hearing and deaf create.

We want to hear you.

And if you’re patient, we will.

Sincerely,

A Member Of The Hard-Of-Hearing Community

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