1. I don’t like talking on the phone. I repeat, I don’t like talking on the phone. It has nothing to do with social anxiety, being an introvert, or trying to appear mysterious and technologically impaired to my peers. I literally cannot understand a large percentage of what people say on the phone. The only person I’ll answer for is my mother. A thirty-second conversation can easily turn into an excruciating seven minutes of “I’m sorry, what?” So stop calling me and stop asking me to call someone else. I use the phone only when I’m desperate.
2. If it’s not captioned, I don’t want to watch it. Too many times people have some funny video on their phone they want me to watch and each and every time I laugh and pretend to understand what’s going on. Newsflash - I don’t. I may pick up a word here and there and even get the gist of it, but the details are utterly wasted upon me. So don’t bother unless it’s captioned or you’re going to sit there and tell me everything that’s being said.
3. Turn that *bleep*ing music/tv down. If we’re going to engage in an actual conversation that demands extreme listening on my behalf, turn off all the loud noises in the environment. I’m not riding around the car with you with Lady Gaga or Kanye West blasting through the stereo. It’s hard enough trying to tune out background noises like circulating air, loud car engines, heavy footsteps overhead, the microwave going off, Seinfeld, and all the clicks and squeaks in the room. Have some consideration.
4. Don’t whisper in my ear. Just don’t.
5. Look at me when you talk to me. I swear to God, I burn the most calories walking up to someone to ask what s/he said. Stop walking around the place and running your mouth. It’s not just disrespectful to Hard of Hearing people, but all people in general. Who do you think you are, roaming about expecting the world to just tune in to you? You want me to listen? Acknowledge me. Turn around and face me when you talk. That makes me feel like you actually give a damn.
6. What I can’t hear is not your entertainment. Don’t tease me, don’t test me, and don’t harass me about the things I can’t hear. It’s not my fault that my brain and my ears don’t register certain sounds that are so easily heard by others. It’s hard enough having to manage knowing I miss a large percentage of what goes on around me, but I don’t need you making me feel guilty or embarrassed. Also, whistling behind me or making little noises to see if I’ll pick up on them? That’s just a dick move. Don’t be an asshole.
7. It’s not an accent and I’m not from a country you’ve never heard of. I don’t even have the patience or comfort level to go into detail right now.
8. I’m not “Hearing Impaired” or “Deaf,” I am “Hard of Hearing.” I have the right to identify myself however I want. I’m not impaired because that implies a sense of brokenness. I’m not broken. I don’t need to be fixed. And I’m not D/deaf. Look into the difference but I’m not going to go into detail. Some people embrace that title, others don’t for their own reasons. Again, it’s their business, not yours. I am Hard of Hearing. I was born with sensorineural hearing loss. I cannot hear certain sounds. I have hearing loss. Get it right or keep your mouth shut.
9. Maybe that person just didn’t hear you. I’m living proof that people like me exist – people who do not experience the “normal” range of hearing that most people experience. If I exist, then certainly others like me exist. Stop treating me like the I’m the only one of my kind and start wrapping your head around the fact that if someone else seems to be ignoring you, it could just be that s/he didn’t hear you. Don’t let your ignorance define your actions.
10. Getting hearing aids is a personal choice.It’s none of your business whether or not I wear hearing aids. It’s not up to you to make that decision for me nor should you even express your opinion on me getting them unless you’re a loved one. I don’t care about the latest technological advancements you’ve heard about and I don’t care if you think they’ll improve my life. I will make the decision. I will decide if I want them or not. Hearing aids are not a cure all. For some people they work and that’s great. For others they do nothing but amplify sounds they can already hear to irritating frequencies. And sometimes hearing aids just don’t do anything for some people. They affect everyone differently. We’re not all the same nor do we have the same range of loss. What I choose to do with my ears are none of your business.
Arthur C. McWilliams IV