When I was first informed that I would require hearing aids in 2017, I was surprised as I hadn’t realised my hearing had deteriorated so much. I had just assumed that people spoke quietly and that I wasn’t paying enough attention. Hearing aids changed the way I viewed the world as before I felt out of place when I couldn’t hear people whereas now it is much easier to ask someone to repeat themselves as they are more likely to understand why I didn’t hear them the first time and there is less judgement.
My hearing loss was difficult to deal with at first as I felt that I was getting on people’s nerves when I didn’t respond to them. Now however, I have come to understand that people may not realise that I have a hearing impairment and so it is best to be patient if they appear to be getting frustrated with me as 9 times out of 10, they will be more than understanding when I inform them. Hearing loss affects how I approach things as I can feel anxious going into an event with a large group of people where background noise can be hard to cope with. I get anxious when I meet new people as I do not know if I will be able to understand the conversation.
Advice to non-hearing impaired people
Non hearing-impaired people should aim to be patient as a hearing impaired person may feel self-conscious asking you to repeat yourself. Make sure that a hearing-impaired person is facing you when you speak and if there is a lot of background noise try and find a quieter place to hold the conversation. Reassure them that it is no bother to find somewhere else to talk.
Learning to sign
What some people might not realise is that not all people with a hearing impairment can lip read. I am one of those people, I am currently trying to learn but I still struggle with it. The same goes for sign language. I know some basic words and phrases in British Sign Language but not enough to hold a conversation; classes on campus for not just for myself but for my friends would be useful.
Student services have been a big help at university. It took a while for the process to start but once arrangements were in place my classes went much more smoothly. I was provided with lots of equipment and with a personal learning assistant who takes notes for me in my classes ensuring I don’t miss anything. My advice to other hearing-impaired students would be to seek out support offered. The help provided can ensure that you are able to access high quality learning experiences.
The Accessibility and Inclusion Service offers a range of support for deaf and hearing-impaired students, including BSL interpretation, help for taking notes in lectures, assistive technology and more. If you are deaf or hearing-impaired and would like support, please contact the Student Hub.
Are you a hearing person, unsure how to talk to deaf or hearing-impaired students on your course? Check out these short videos made by young deaf people: Look, smile, chat – Films ⋆ The Buzz