Thursday, March 26, 2009

What does it look like?

So, I'm in a gemstone shop, drooling over a display of carnelian quartz and Ms Sales Woman asks me if I need any help, then turns her head towards some commotion in the back of the shop and says something else. I say, "Sorry, I didn't hear that last bit. Can you repeat it?"

She apologises for being distracted and that she knows that the shop is quite echoey and that she should know better as people not being able to hear happens every so often.

Feeling bad that she might be feeling bad, I say, "It's not all the shop, nor you. I'm hard of hearing."

Suddenly, she winces and puts her hands to her ears. I'm thinking, wft? migraine? aneurysm? I look at her, "Are you ok?" She looks back at me, puzzled.

After a moment, she relaxes and looks at me. "Did you not hear that?"


"The security alarm."


"You really are hard of hearing!"

"Yes, I am."

"You don't look it."

Hmmm... thinking... should I?... Yes, I shall...

"What does hard of hearing look like?"

"Ah! You caught me out! I guess I assumed that you're too young to be hard of hearing."

(ego swells)

I think people generally associate being hard of hearing with elderly folk. It's a reasonable association given that hearing loss is often accumulative over a person's lifespan and bites them in the ass later in life. I would guess that practically everyone has an elderly relative who is hard of hearing. I completely understand why Ms Sales Woman would make the assumption that she did.

(BTW, the commotion was an alarm repair man testing the system. And I now realise that I can not hear burglary alarms. Another career option down the drain, sigh...)

It's an interesting thing though; the invisibility of hearing loss. My being hard of hearing is quite invisible to others. Most of the people I interact with have no clue that I am hard of hearing unless they already know or until a situation occurs where I need to make it known.

Added to that is my 'youth.' I'm 41 and to many people, I'm too young to have a problem that they associate with senior citizens.

This invisibility results in having to inform and to remind people of my hearing loss and to speak a bit clearer, to speak up and etc and having it not taken very seriously. It can all be quite draining. Sometimes I wish, my hard of hearingness was more obvious like having to get around in a wheelchair or using a guide dog. What I want is a visual cue to inform and to remind others that my ears don't work so well. Something subtle, yet effective. How about this?:



  1. OMG that photo is priceless!
    I've had the same experience where people think I'm too young to be hard of hearing. Sometimes that irks me but other times I try to use the opportunity to put a new face to hard of hearing - i.e. it could happen at any time of life.

  2. People no longer think I am too young to be deaf....I think they are less sympathetic too and thet rank it along side aching bones and fallen arches. Old people put up with a lot of crap in life.

    I've often wondered about a visible sign of deafness. Maybe like lepers having to ring a bell and shout "unclean, unclean" warning the public to keep away from us lest we contaminate.

    I used to wear a badge/pin at work that said 'Deaf, not daft'. I think I will dig it out again.

  3. lol, that picture is a riot. I gotta get me a pair of those!!

    I'm 41, am I too young to be deaf? Maybe I'm too girlie to be a lesbian? Reminds me of a post I just did...sort of like appearances and that 'you can't judge a book by its cover' thingy.

    Sometimes when I say I am deaf to someone they say 'oh, I'm so sorry' lol, I'm like 'what are you sorry for, you didn't cause it...geez'.

    As Mog says 'Deaf, not daft'. Hearing, not bright? I don't