Reading the TV

I first noticed my hearing problem when I was a rookie reporter way back when. While attending city commission meetings, I often asked my fellow reporters what had been said.

Eventually I went to an audiologist and learned I have a fifty percent hearing loss. I can hear high and low sounds, but not so well in the middle. It’s likely I was born with a congenital hearing problem.

Since then, I’ve struggled through board meetings and situations with poor acoustics or sound systems. Also, my family members have very soft voices, so I find myself reading their lips, and watching gestures and facial expressions.

In addition, more than once while driving I’ve failed to hear a nearby ambulance or fire truck. Neither can I hear sirens warning of bad weather.

This all came to a head one day while hiking with my grandsons. One of them made a comment. When I didn’t respond, the other one leaned in and said to him, “She can’t hear you.”

Oh, that I heard. It was time to visit the audiologist again.

Hearing aids help, but I still struggle with my soft-spoken family and hearing in public places. Noisy restaurants are a hearing disaster. In some, the background music is ridiculously loud. It’s stressful enough to hear over the clatter of dishes and voices without music drowning out what little conversation can be had. We look for restaurants that offer quiet ambiance.

We use closed captioning when watching television. That is partly because many shows have background noise that drowns out dialog. Plus, many actors speak clearly until they get to the punch line, and then drop their voices. Without closed captioning, I only understand about one in ten words. It must bother others, too, because a recent article in the AARP magazine stated that a lot of younger people “read the TV.”

There are varying statistics on the number of people in the U.S. with hearing losses. However, the older we get, the more likely we are to have a problem. Here are some tips for communicating with people who have trouble hearing:

  • Be aware that it is exhausting for the hearing impaired to discern mumbled words.
  • Face people when speaking. It’s surprising how many people turn aside as they speak or try to carry on a conversation from another room.
  • Don’t cover your mouth with your hands when you speak.
  • Don’t prop your head up with your hand, for this subtly changes your delivery.
  • Wait to have serious conversations in a quiet place.
  • If something isn’t understood, try rephrasing it.
  • Project your voice, or as I tell my family, “Use your outdoor voice.”
  • Don’t shout, just shape your words clearly and change the pitch of your voice.

There is no shame in having a hearing loss. Many people can chalk it up to the result of working in a high-decibel environment or listening to loud music. Here are some tips for people who are hard of hearing:

  • Get your hearing tested already. Maybe you have earwax. Or maybe it’s time to invest in hearing aids.
  • Let people know you can’t hear. I belong to a large book club that meets at the local library. The acoustics in the room aren’t that great. When I finally confessed my problem, the library began microphones.
  • Yes, silence can be golden. It is in those quiet moments that we organize our thoughts and dreams. However, we need to hear one another to have a quality life, so don’t delay in getting help.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” Proverbs 19:20


Writing Update: Oh, I have so many writing projects that need help to settle down and work on just one! Meanwhile, I’m taking a thought-provoking online class on Memoir Writing.

Each week I’m blessed with more good comments on Grace Like Snow. When you open your heart and your history, and put it on paper for the world to see, it’s gratifying to know others enjoy and relate to your work. Thank you for every comment. They are treasured.


Happy Valentine’s Day!