Do you know ‘Mythbusters’, a programme from 2003 where a group of scientists were trying to uncloak truths behind popular myths? This time we need be Mythbusters and investigate what are some of the most common/weirdest/funniest myths about being HoH. Now it’s a moment to reveal all these myths that are following us - and confront them!
HoH Mythbusters presents:
MYTHS ABOUT BEING HARD OF HEARING
1. "Do you fold your hearing aid inside your ear while going swimming?"
Er… no, unfortunately there is no foldable hearing aid working like those in science fiction movies. Not yet anyway!
2. It’s possible to not know sign language when you have hearing loss? Supspicious… How can you not hear and shockingly not use sign language?
Having a hearing loss doesn’t mean that you start signing automatically. A lot of people were born into hearing families or lost their hearing abilities later on. In most of these cases, there is a huge emphasis on developing speech skills (e.g. going to a speech therapist) in order to function in a hearing society. Also, as hard of hearing person, you’re someone in between - not fully belonging to the hearing world, but not Deaf either. It’s not a bad thing: this way you can choose where you want to hangout at the moment, because you still have features that helps you in making communication in both of these worlds and still be yourself: hard of hearing!
To sum it up it’s a personal preference if a hard of hearing person knows or doesn’t know sign language, depending on their choice.
3. There are chips in cochlear implants and hearing aids. Governments and other authorities can control us and know everything about us! Also, some people say that hearing aids are more safe, so they will never get a cochlear implant.
CI’s, same as HA’s have tracking of listening activities. Audiologists can tell how long you wear your device during the day. New models of HA can be hacked through Bluetooth, but that doesn’t mean we’re an army of robots steered by authorities. You can hack a hearing aid and put some annoying music into it or tell how long you are using your device, that’s all. It doesn’t sound so dangerous now, huh?
4. „What model of mp3 (music player) is that?” / ”Do you have a radio inside there?”
Oh, do you mean my hearing aid? Hmm, well, you can use it to listen to music or radio, but only after connecting with radio or music player on the phone, using some devices (like Roger Pen, Bluetooth etc.). The hearing aid itself isn’t a music player and doesn’t contain radio.
5. FM microphone can record the voice of a teacher!
The main objective of an FM system is just to amplify the voice of the teacher and make it more clear for us, not to record anything. Does average microphones at University record lectures? Besides, in many cases (not all of them of course) it would be quite difficult for a hard of hearing person to listen to the recorded content after a lecture without seeing the visual cues from a teacher.
6. Can you hear this or that? (people testing with various voices in the background)
Yeah, we can hear this or that, especially with our devices. Changing a way of speaking doesn’t really make it disappear from our scale. The problem is more to do with understanding what we heard, not if we heard.
7. Can an FM system be explosive?
No! But don’t try to set it on fire!!!
8. Does FM system interact with heart bypass?
Omg, it would be horrible to cause someone’s heart failure with FM! But there is no proven impact of FM systems on bypass.
9. Hearing aids are cheating gadgets.
It could be possible… if you were really desperate… but why just not learn the material and keep using your hearing aids for just hearing? 😀
10. HoH people sleep and take a shower with their hearing aids on.
Unfortunately, hearing aids are not so water-resistant. Of course they will survive a little rain, but most of the models are not that waterproof to swim with them. And why go through the trouble of waking up in the middle of the night due to loud noises if we can sleep like babies, not hearing anything?
11. Hearing aid solve all hearing problems, or even better, makes you superheroes in hearing!
Nope, any hearing device is a great support in daily functioning; it compensates our hearing loss till a certain level, but it doesn’t make us better hearing than people who don’t have any issues with it, neither helps in understanding what we heard. But, actually we can be superheroes of lipreading or deciphering body language!
12. All HoH’s have the same accent.
In a group of HoH people, each have an accent from a different place of the world. Just as there are different sign languages, regionalisms and idioms. There can be a similarity in way of speaking, kind of ‘deaf accent,’ but even this can be varied among people with different bacgrounds of hearing.
13. There is ONE sign language and all sign language users can understand each other.
Oh, wait, so this whole thing with tower of Babel doesn’t apply to sign language users?! What a pity… no! There are over 300 sign languages, so it’s not easy to apply International Sign System (that is based on a combination of many sign languages from various countries). It would be nice to have a single sign language for everyone, but an idea of esperanto language was also nice and didn’t work out well.
14. It’s completely stupid to have more than one sign language!
Well then we should also only have one spoken language 😀
15. You hear what you want to hear!
Some of us wish to not hear the sentence above… 😀
16. You’re asking for the same things all the time on purpose.
Which purpose would that be? Perhaps to be sure we understood?
17. When you put battery a in your hearing device, it lasts forever!
"My batteries ran off" while I was driving. Never telling this again while driving with my parents' friends. They thought that I was very tired or the car did run out of energy. Oh, the melodious symphony that preceded it...”
And it would be great to have such a neverending battery, we could avoid so many embarrassing situations related to batteries running off shortly before important moments of our life (e.g. a public speech)!
18. Oh noo, I am sorry for youuu…
When I meet new people, there are some situations (noisy environment etc.) that I have to tell them about my hearing issue. And I say that I have difficulty at understanding them due to noisy environment, therefore I might ask them to repeat what they said.
They say: „Oh noo, I am sorry for youuu”
Come oooon… 😀 I was never sorry for my hearing so why are they suddenly sorry for my hearing? 😀
Don’t be too sorry, just try to help us by being inclusive!
19. Being HoH means being Deaf.
I've had the situation when hearing person told in front of Deaf people that I am certainly a part of Deaf community due to my hearing loss. Those Deaf ones felt offended, because they consider me not as a part of them but a part of hearing world, what is also not true. Neverending story! 😀
Let’s check the definitions:
Deaf: persons who identify themselves as members of a community composed of deaf persons and others who share in their culture/wholly unable to hear. Most of them are using sign language.
Hard of Hearing: not able to hear well/ having a defective but functional sense of hearing.
20. Hearing loss means not being able to enjoy music/be able to play music or even dance.
It’s like having a hearing loss means you don't hear absolutely anything and you're not sensitive for sounds at all. Nope! We can still listen to music, enjoy concerts, and feel vibrations. There are even special music festivals for HoH/Deaf like SenCity in The Netherlands! Speaking of dancing: being HoH often makes us more aware of body language, we can gesture more (and look angry while gesturing), and move more! Some of us are even playing instruments. Hearing loss doesn’t have to limit us.
21. If you get tired of some loud noises (e.g. if my neighbor is having a party), you can just switch off the hearing aids.
Not really. In some cases the noise is worse - it gets kind of distorted and just doesn't sound right after taking off our hearing aids. Also it’s quite disorienting.
22. Loud noise cannot bother someone who already has a hearing loss.
It’s quite the opposite - loud noise can trigger our whole attention.
23. Are you from abroad?
No, I just didn’t understand what you said. Could you repeat? Also, my speech can be different, because it demands much more effort to develop proper way of speaking when you don’t hear well.
24. You have hearing aids, so you can talk on the phone, right?
No, it depends on the level of hearing loss. For some of us it’s possible and for some of us - not. Again, the biggest struggle is not just to hear, but to understand what is said on the phone, especially that we cannot see their face (person on the other end) and sounds are different than in reality. Mechanical sounds from phone + mechanical devices that provides sounds to our brains = not best combination.
25. You’re so beautiful, why are you deaf?
Is that a brand new way of flirting? And here’s a small secret for you: not hearing doesn’t make us uglier. 😀
26. Hearing loss is a sickness and can be contagious.
Nope! Hearing loss is often a result of sickness, but not sickness itself. Otherwise, we would have to worry about creating an army of Walking Deaf… and this we wouldn’t want, right?
27. Everyone with hearing loss can lipread.
Lipreading is very useful skill (and not only HoH can do this!), however everyone uses it on different levels. It’s like reading a book, some people read fast, some slowly and some don’t read at all.
28. What’s wrong with your writing skills? Why do you make so many mistakes?
How does a hearing person associate grammar stuff in language? By listening and speaking, of course; it’s like ‘language bath,’ where you can dip yourself into stylistics, word order, phonics. A lot of hard of hearing people don’t do that; they have to put much more effort in order to get better in language. It’s not that we’re stupid, it’s just we don’t hear everything and it’s harder to learn rules in language.
29. How can you drive a car if you have a hearing loss?
We can still see, right? And usually our vision angle is wider, so we’re very aware of what is going on on the road. Apart from that, there are still lights and road signs that help us in driving a car. Even ambulances and police cars not only have wailing sirens but also lights, ensuring that you notice them. So, driving is not really problematic for us.
30. How come you told me that you don’t hear, but this time you heard me?
It largely depends on the environment. If it’s quiet and not too distracting, then it’s easier for me to hear you. But, in most cases it’s not about not hearing you, it’s more about understanding you. So, the more clearly (not loudly, clearly!) you speak to me, the better chance I have in understanding you.
It’s important to remember that all the myths listed above (about 90%) are not said with bad intentions. Please don’t be quick to judge someone who is telling you any of these myths. Our goal is to be just as patient with someone who doesn’t understand compared to someone who is hearing towards us when we don’t understand them.
If it’s any of the remaining 10%, just switch off the hearing aids and walk away! 😉
Credits go to Maria Skoczyńska and the IFHOHYP community for our ideas