Please spend some time here and
explore the world of profound deafness I inhabit while also struggling to navigate as a sometimes hearing person in a hearing world.
This deafness is random (it comes and goes) and is the direct effect of my having PUHL (Profound Unilateral Hearing Loss). I find that most people are generally less interested in the medical term of PUHL (Profound Unilateral Hearing Loss), or its nickname of SSD (Single Sided Deafness) — they really just need to know that I can sometimes hear them ok, but sometimes I can’t hear them at all! My hearing is random – it comes and it goes. What makes it worse is that there is no way of knowing when that non-hearing state occurs, or for how long it might last until I can once again be able to hear what is being said to me.
… CONVERSATION: This uncertainty lasts over the whole course of anyone trying to have a conversation with me. From the point of view of the hearing person, they simply must accept that there is an inherent uncertainty regarding whether they are being heard by me or not. Accepting this is a “must” for even basic communication to take place. Once that is taken on board we can avoid all the old problems. Although it takes the heat out of the situation as the conversatin unfolds, I will have, with near certainty, lost some (if not all) of the overall context of any conversation as I flipped between “hearing what was said” and “not hearing what was said”. Such incomplete grasps of context are disastrous even for small-talk making a rapport across-a-group almost impossible and extremely awkward even for a one-to-one conversation. Dear reader, please — don’t over-talk and let people like me speak with the minimum of interruptions from yourself so that I can set an overall context. Look directly at me as you speak, Don’t tail-off your words. Eliminate background noise as much as possible. Even where I am not verbally interrupted general background noise is a problem because I will raise the loudness of my voice to match the ambient sound levels (which can be situationally inappopriate). Background noise is such a huge issue because of my limitations concerning the localisation of sound and it is always inherently dangerous, tiring and stressful because my limited capacity to listen is greatly impaired as I cannot differentiate your voice from the melee of background noise in the way a hearing person routinely does. Dealing with the effects of PUHL is overall very tiring and can be highly stressful for both the deaf person and the hearing person as, no matter how careful you are during any conversation with me because external random events (chairs squeaking, coughing) will always intrude on the conversation and add to the number of deaf episodes and overall complexity to be managed. The loss of the power of hearing impacts on the whole of a lifeime including personal safety and the safe conduct of everyday affairs like going shopping or doing DIY or participating in sport, education or leisure or engaging with society and human relations in general, not just during conversations which I have focused on by way of example. Deafness and other non-visible impairments are alien to the experience of others therefore we must take account of their wellbeing not just ours: we must take account of certain assumptions they might make; unfortunately this is proving very difficult to explain to hearing people (or even get them to accept) however I will keep trying. My blog and facebook page were not up to the task of explaining it so I have removed them prior to a re-think. In short, rules are there for everyone’s benefit so when you get impatient and start to bully and over-talk a deaf person in conversational situations you are actually hurting yourself just as much, if not more than your victim.