We all know that having a disability can come with certain annoyances. Having a hearing impairment is no different. Here, our writer Raya rounds up 10 experiences unique to people living with a hearing impairment.
Within the disabled community, there are few sub-communities, some of which we know very little about. We often read about the experiences of wheelchair users, people who are visually impaired, autistic or have Down’s syndrome. But rarely do we come across articles or blogs about people with hearing impairments.
To gain a better insight into the world of people with hearing impairment, I spoke with Reem Khorshid, a newly graduated architect who was born with hearing impairment.
1. Getting verbal abuse for not hearing something
You are more likely to be sworn at, honked at and generally verbally abused in the street simply because you didn’t hear something in the surrounding environment.
2. People being confused because you’re not responding to your name
When you are called in a doctor’s clinic or at the dentist and you don’t respond, people tend to look at you as if you’re dum. “Don’t you know your name?” “Why aren’t you answering?” I can tell they’re thinking it, even if they’re not saying it.
3. People sending voice messages, despite knowing you can’t hear
It never ceases to amaze me how people continue to insist on sending me voice messages when they know I have a hearing impairment.
Because they don’t want to or can’t be bothered to type, they disregard my request for text-only messages. It’s as if they think that because the sound is coming from my phone I’ll be able to magically hear it.
4. Being on high-alert when waiting at the airport
Waiting at an airport for your flight can be tense enough. But knowing that you won’t hear crucial announcements makes it all the more stressful.
Is my flight being delayed? Has the gate been changed? Is it taking off without me? A missed announcement could mean a missed flight.
The same applies to trains and underground stations. Every possible development makes my heart skips a beat.
5. Not being able to go to the cinema
If you have a hearing impairment, there are just certain movies that you can’t watch at the cinema, ever. Obviously, you can only go to screenings that have subtitles, but these are few and far between.
Sometimes, on a rare occasion, I do chance it and go to see a movie without subtitles. But I only end up envying people able to laugh at the jokes.
6. People not understanding that you can’t answer your phone
The fact that I have a phone makes people (even the ones who know that I have a hearing impairment) think I can receive calls and speak via the handset.
They simply ignore the reality of my condition and need to communicate in a different manner to the majority of people. When will they learn?!
7. The frustrations of not having a hearing loop in a restaurant
When having a meal at a restaurant that doesn’t have the right provisions for people with hearing impairments, such as a hearing loop, you are forced to ask the waiter to speak loudly.
Inevitably, this means that everyone in the restaurant ends up hearing what you want to order. Strange looks soon follow as people are puzzled by the loud waiter and what seems to be my desire to share my dinner plans.
8. Not getting a job because you can’t do a phone interview
It’s gutting knowing that you might be rejected for a job simply because you won’t be able to do a phone interview.
I will have already mentioned it in the application and stressed that I WON’T be able to answer if called for a phone interview. But they will just do it anyway, and take me not answering as a sign that I am not interested in the job and am unreliable.
9. Being laughed at for not hearing someone
You will get used to being laughed at for not hearing someone who is calling you, and this will become the norm.
You learn to either explain – which usually leads to all manner of questions – or simply politely say; “sorry I was not concentrating.”
10. Loud music when trying to socialise
Socialising can sometimes pose a massive problem. If the music is loud – which in many places it is – I’m unlikely to hear a thing my friend is saying. If it’s a big group, with many of us talking at once, it’s doubly hard.
It also doesn’t help when friends sing along to the music being played, with me just sitting there clueless as to what they are humming along to.
By Reem Khorshid and Raya Aljadir
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