How to help someone realise and accept that he/she is deaf

The question was put to me as:

"How can I make old people realise that they are deaf?"

and probably the issues is more likely to arise with older people than with younger ones. However it is an important question wherever someone has hearing loss, whatever their age. So it could better have been put as how to help someone, anyone, realise that they are deaf.

Why it can be difficult for someone to realise when they have hearing loss

The onset of deafness can be so gradual that the person concerned can genuinely believe that people around are mumbling. After all, they believe, hey could hear in the past, so if they can't hear now, it must be someone else's fault.

So the task of making or helping someone to understand and accept that they are deaf can be fraught with difficulties and tempers can get frayed.

How NOT to encourage someone to realise that they are deaf

Because it can be so frustrating to try to interact with someone who is deaf, tempers fray, and what tends to happen is that a deaf person is either avoided or shouted at.

In fact, what you must never do is to keep on telling the person that they are deaf. They will only think that they are being got at and will get angry themselves.

A better way to make a someone realise that they are deaf

When faced with the question of how to make a deaf person realise and accept that they are deaf, I asked myself how I became aware that I was deaf. In fact it was patently obvious and still is. With a group of people scattered around, as in a restaurant or lecture theatre, I am perpetually reminded when one person speaks to another from opposite sides of a room. I always think, "They'll never hear each other from that distance", and - lo and behold - they answer as if there was no problem at all.

So the strategy I would suggest is to enable the person concerned to come to their own realisations that they are deaf.

To do this, set up situations which show that other people are hearing and they are not. For this you need the help of other hearing people. Invite them with the deaf person, arrange for the seating to be not too close together, seat the deaf person in the middle and let things take their natural course - having asked or ensured that people will talk to one another from opposite sides of the group.

It is only fair and important to conduct this undertaking with people who speak clearly themselves. Otherwise the deaf person will simply blame them rather than realise that the problem lies with themselves.

If the deaf person joins in with the wider group, perhaps they aren't as deaf as you thought. If they don't join in, they won't need very many such experiences before the realisation dawns and they accept their deafness and that something must be done about it.

After acceptance of deafness

Once someone has accepted that they are deaf, they can or should do something about it. This website is dedicated to strategies for coping with hearing loss and a summary is on the page about my strategies which in turn links to pages giving more details.

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is for a lay audience and I cannot be responsible for errors or omissions. The views, strategies, advice and suggestions etc are based on my personal experience and are not necessarily appropriate for anyone else. They should, hopefully, stimulate individuals to develop their own strategies.