I have been hearing-impaired almost all my life. I lost my hearing as a child when my ear infection went untreated. Since then, I’ve had to work hard to overcome the challenges of hearing loss. But I’ve never let this stop me from doing anything in life. People will often tell me I can’t do this or that because of my disability, but I’m still thriving today by the grace of God. Today, I’m a full-time pastor at an AME church and living proof that hearing loss doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving your dreams.
Understanding Hearing Loss and Deafness
Hearing people think about hearing loss might picture an older person who can’t hear very well. They might also think about hearing aids and captioning. However, hearing loss is more nuanced and complex than that. There are different types and degrees of hearing loss, and not all hearing loss is visible to the naked eye; this can make it difficult for hearing people to understand the experience of those with hearing loss and vice versa. It can also challenge the gap between hearing loss and a hearing world. Not to mention the deaf community who have to find a place or people with the skill of sign language. Communication is critical in any relationship, including the relationship between hearing people and those with hearing loss. By learning more about hearing loss and how to communicate effectively with those who have it, we can help to break down barriers and build a more inclusive world for everyone.
Living in a Masked World:
Many hard of hearing and deaf individuals have lip-reading skills, and even when they are not, it is still beneficial for them to read your life. I know I need to do lip-reading to survive. Communication has become a rigid barrier in a world where we have to wear a mask to protect ourselves from a deadly virus. However, technology has helped improve the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in several ways. One of the most important is better access to information and communication. In the past, deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals were often isolated from the hearing world, and it was difficult for them to get access to news, entertainment, and other forms of information. However, we better connect to the world with the internet and social media.
Several assistive technologies can help us communicate more efficiently with hearing people. For example, text-to-speech and speech-to-text applications can enable conversations between hearing and non-hearing people. These technologies have helped reduce the isolation that many deaf and hard-of-hearing people feel and have made it easier to interact with hearing people.
Ways to help support deaf people and promote awareness of their needs
Better Hearing and Speech Month is an annual event in May to help support people who are deaf or have hearing loss and promote awareness of their needs. There are many ways to get involved and help support this vital cause. Here are just a few ideas:
-Educate yourself and others about deafness and hearing loss. Education can help break down barriers and make it easier for deaf people to communicate and understand.
-Learn some sign language. Learning sign language can be a fun and valuable way of communicating with someone who is deaf, and it can also help build bridges between the hearing and deaf communities.
-Make your home or work environment more deaf-friendly. Some changes could involve installing visual fire alarms, providing clear signage, and ensuring a good level of lighting.
-Support local organizations that work with the deaf community. These organizations often provide valuable services and support, relying on donations to continue their work.
Better Hearing and Speech Month is the perfect time to make a difference. By taking just a few small steps, you can help make a big difference in the lives of people who are deaf or have hearing loss. You can visit their website here.