Most of the time, the hardest part for me about being hearing impaired are the struggles to understand dialogue. Here are some challenges I have while talking with people:
1. SPEECH SOUNDS tend to sound DISTORTED to the hearing impaired person.
(Working with preschool children is a little like being hearing impaired….see What CAN you hear, Barb?)
Okay, for example, see if you can read this aloud:
Swat swuld swappen swu swu swif swy swarved swawking swike swis?
Did you figure it out? Can you?
(This exercise works best when I say the words and you try to hear them yourself.)
2. Sometimes we just miss one word, or a few, in a sentence and we need to find out what we missed. (On the other hand, sometimes we miss the suffixes or prefixes and that definitely changes the meaning of a sentence, right?)
Consider this I heard on the news last night:
Tomorrow (10/16/11) will be the last day for campus to report their plans to raise money.
Thank God for those closed captions!!!!
See: Frustrated too? Huh? How do I know? (Note to self, here)
And, sometimes, we miss whole sections of sentences:
My co-teacher: (Carrying her lunch out of the classroom.) “I’m gonna send this to your sister.”
I said, “You’re gonna send it to my sister?” She said, “I’m gonna put this in the toaster.” (bagel)
3. Each person has their own distinct voice.
Every time I meet a new person or I’m in a new environment, it’s a whole new “sound check.”
Have you ever arrived early to an event? (Such as or a conference, concert, or a graduation) and the techs are running around checking the sound system. Boy, I wish I could hear people talking for a while before I need to listen to them. Wouldn’t that be nice? “Hi, it’s nice to meet you. Would you mind if I do a little sound check while you are speaking?”
Everyone has their own cadence, volume level, syllabication, speed of speaking, ethnic backgrounds, and so on. So can you see that everyone’s speech is different?
4. Some hearing impaired folks really rely on lip reading.
I love being able to take advantage of my public library. As a teacher, I often borrow heaps of books for the children in my class. Once in a while, I’ll need to ask a librarian where to find something. In their eagerness to help, they turn away and begin walking toward a new area in the library saying something to me. I need to stop them and say, “Oh, I’m sorry I don’t hear people as they walk away.”
This has been happening in the grocery store, too, in the past few years. What do I say?
“I need your help but please don’t turn around and walk away?”
Yeah, I’m still working on that one.