Life is challenging. It can be especially grueling for those with hearing problems. It can profoundly affect not just the individual with the hearing loss, but family, friends, and co-workers as well. Untreated hearing loss can lead to fatigue, depression, stress, and anxiety. Alertness decreases, the risk of personal safety increases, job performance suffers, and social life deteriorates.
Most of us wake up each morning to the buzzing of an alarm clock. Hearing impaired individuals must use an alternative device such as a vibrating mechanism for the bed or clock. Preparing a cup of coffee and using a toaster requires appliances that feature visual indicators. While we take listening to the weather report on the news as we get ready in the morning for granted, those with a hearing loss must see the screen or go online and look up the daily weather.
When hearing loss and driving a car are combined, the result can be a risky environment. So when our hearing-impaired worker sets off on the daily commute, extra vigilance is required. The increasingly complex functions available in cars today adds to the numerous distractions already facing a driver. Older persons with a hearing loss have greater problems with driving distractions than those older adults who do not have a hearing problem.
At the Office
Many co-workers of those with a hearing loss do not know how to use sign language to communicate, so to contact colleagues, hearing impaired individuals rely upon email and chat software. When communicating with clients, a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) is used to make the telephone call. The TDD device has a keyboard with a screen so the hearing impaired individual can see the conversation. The client uses a regular phone, with the communication being facilitated by a human relay operator. Hearing impaired individuals must stay focused and watch co-workers carefully to understand projects and to avoid asking them to repeat information. Multi-tasking and meeting deadlines are physically and mentally exhausting.
End of the Day
At the end of the day, our subject relaxes and communicates with their phones using technology that translates voice messages into text messages for callers who are unaware of a person’s hearing loss. If our hearing-impaired person is hungry, the food industry has also taken steps to make life easier. For food takeout, many restaurants allow online ordering of food to bypass trying to communicate via a telephone. Television watching is possible using closed captioning. All pre-recorded and live television programming is closed captioned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Closed captioning is also available in public places such as restaurants, airports, and waiting rooms.
A typical day is full of challenges. Hearing problems add additional obstacles to the daily grind as we have seen in this example of a typical day. If you have an untreated hearing loss, take the time today to seek treatment. If you have normal hearing, be patient with co-workers and friends who’s hearing loss is a tremendous challenge.