One of the biggest challenges faced by people with a hearing loss comes from their friends, family or peers with normal hearing. Quite simply, when you have good hearing it’s very easy to guess or assume what it might be like to have hearing loss but very often those assumptions are wrong and can come across as inconsiderate or offensive.
If you’re someone with ‘normal’ hearing and would like an insight into what it’s like to be deaf or hard of hearing, try to complete the following 5 challenges (created by YouTube blogger Jessica Flores).
1: The Repeating Challenge
The next time you talk to someone ask them to repeat the same thing 5 times or more.
- What kind of reactions did you get?
- Did the person have as much patience as you thought they would have?
- Did you find other forms of communication to make it work?
2: The No Talking Challenge
You will not be talking for a full 24 hours but still socialising with people. So if you’re out shopping, meeting with friends or going to work you are not allowed to use your voice. You will need to find a different form of communication.
- Use your phone to type things out
- Bring a notepad and pen
- Just point things out
3: The Lip Reading Challenge
Watch the news tonight on television without the audio or captions. Try to understand what is being said, just by reading lips.
- How much did you understand?
- Did you find certain people (the newsreader) easier to lipread than others (people being interviewed)?
- How much difference does it make when you can see the person’s lips clearly?
4: The Movie Challenge
Watch a movie without the audio or the captions, but you cannot watch a movie you have already seen and you cannot watch a Silent Movie.
- How much of the movie were you able to understand?
- Talk about the movie with someone who has seen it normally (with sound). How much of the plot and emotion of the movie did you miss just by not being able to hear what was being said?
5: The Ear Plug Challenge
Wear ear plugs for a day and go about your usual daily routine.
This is going to give you a perspective of the challenges faced by deaf or hard of hearing people and how much we rely upon the things that we hear.
- Did you miss that someone has called to you?
- Could you hear everyday sounds like the ringing of your phone, the doorbell, the beep of a microwave, the barking of a dog or the chirping of birds?
- How much more difficult was it at work, school or just socialising when you cannot hear as well as everyone else around you?
Let me know how you went, in the comments below!
Daniel Pistritto is an audiometrist and clinic coordinator at Blamey Saunders hears. He also runs his own YouTube channel ‘Beautiful Oblivion‘ where he shares his personal experience with hearing loss and cochlear implants.