When you have a hearing impairment and wear hearing aids, women especially, your disability is not always apparent to strangers. Like me, women tend to wear their hair longer to cover the blessed things up.
Hearing aids these days can be tiny; mine aren’t minuscule, just standard behind the ear NHS issue. But gone are the days of carting your hearing aid battery around on the back of a small horse and ear trumpets have been consigned to the museums. (Although they look like so much fun!)
So my deafness is not obvious to strangers; this I understand. However, my friends and family KNOW I’m deaf – so why can’t they remember? I don’t want to make it ‘all about me’, but sometimes I could scream!
My best friend is amazing. She NEVER forgets about me or my deafness; mainly because I’ve irritated the hell out of her over the 30 years we’ve been friends, and she ALWAYS makes sure I’m included in whatever is going on. Here’s how she does it:
- When our gang are out for a meal, she always puts me to sit in the middle of one of the long sides of the table. Being stuck on an end is a rubbish place to put your token deaf especially if the conversation focus is up at the other end of the table. Being in the middle, you are in the best place to catch conversation at both ends. Alternatively book a round table!
- When she introduces me to someone or a group of people, she will tell them I’m deaf- it’s not taboo – and I’m grateful for her openness. It saves me having to explain.
- She can read my ‘haven’t got a clue what’s going on’ face and will bring me up to speed at a suitable juncture!
- At the cinema, she puts me to sit in the middle of our group and I hear any pre-film chats. I’m also in prime position to eat everyone’s snacks.
- She speaks directly into the mouthpiece of her phone. It’s a simple one but so effective when speaking to your deaf pal!
- The best thing she does though is ask “Can you hear this/that/me/them/it?”
In our 30 year friendship my bestie has learned to do these things, mainly out of her own irritation! She is the only one who remembers – even my husband forgets as I have said before. I must be so good at disguising my deafness in front of other people!
Are you are deaf? How do your friends and family cope with it?