We understand that it is not easy telling others about your hearing loss. Often, many people go out of their way to do just the opposite, feeling the information is too personal or embarrassing. However, studies are finding that disclosing your hearing loss can be beneficial to making conversations and communication easier.
Three Disclosure Methods
A recent Duke University study focused on the disclosure methods of 337 people with hearing loss. The gathered data showed that there are three main strategies people use when navigating their hearing loss and author Jessica S. West, M.P.H codified them as follows:
Nondisclosure: phrases that do not disclose hearing loss. “Can you please repeat that?”
Basic disclosure: phrases that disclose hearing loss through the term, a label, or details about the condition. “I have partial deafness. Can you speak more loudly, please?”
Multipurpose disclosure: phrases that disclose hearing loss and provide information to facilitate communication. “I wear hearing aids to help with my hearing loss, but it also helps me to read your lips when we talk.”
These findings help healthcare providers better equip their patients with information for addressing hearing loss accommodation. It also prevents social isolation felt by those with disabling hearing loss or deafness and other communication disabilities.
Benefits of Disclosure
All of these methods offer benefits for effective communication, but multipurpose disclosure may be most advantageous in many situations. Though it discloses more personal information about your hearing loss, it simultaneously sets up a system of support and accommodation for effective communication going forward. It is the fastest and most direct approach of the three methods.
Communicating effectively is the common denominator for all of these methods. Perhaps not every situation requires multipurpose disclosure, but a basic disclosure of hearing impairment brings attention to any conversation. These methods also bring visibility to the hearing impaired and deaf community, which is a population of approximately 48 million in the US alone.
Women in the Study
The study at Duke University found women to be more open and skillful at disclosing their hearing loss to those with which they are communicating. Statistics tell us that women are twice as likely to employ a multipurpose disclosure to improve communication than their male counterparts. The women participating in the study also reported positive reactions to multipurpose disclosure saying it helped them feel supported and it helped improve communication.
Hearing loss can be a very personal disability, not easily discussed in casual company. It can be quite daunting and uncomfortable to disclose your hearing loss to new people. However, when you take on the burden of listening harder or missing out on information, you put yourself at risk for other hearing loss-related factors like hearing fatigue and social isolation.
One recommendation of the Duke University study was for hearing health professionals to better educate their patients about various disclosure methods and be open to suggest accommodations for effective communication. The hearing loss population is often ‘invisible,’ which is to say that not everyone with disabling hearing loss wears a hearing aid or other device that might offer a visual cue to an observer. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately 16 percent of adults aged 20-69 who could benefit from hearing aids have never used them. Even when a hearing aid is present, it may be so discreet or hidden that a method of disclosure is still the best course.
In more complex settings like school or work, disclosing hearing loss can simplify the experience. It can make conversing easier on a large scale with many people accommodating your needs, adjusting and adapting the ways in which they communicate. Disclosing can even shift your social habits. Friends or family may suggest lunch in a park or quiet cafe rather than a busy restaurant. They may also be amenable to chatting during a nice drive rather than blasting loud music.
Audiology Associates of Redding
These are just some examples of multipurpose disclosure and their potential long-lasting benefits. No matter which method is best for you, it is important to make sure that you are on top of your hearing health and seeking treatment for hearing loss. At Audiology Associates of Redding, we provide comprehensive hearing health services and are here to help. Schedule an appointment or consultation with our team today!