10+ ways to cope with deafness and hearing problems

Do bear in mind that strategies for coping with deafness and hearing problems need to be thought about in advance. Don't just assume that you'll think of something when you need it, as you probably won't. Instead you can very easily feel isolated and inadequate. So read through the following sections and see if the linked pages help you to formulate suitable strategies for handling situations in which you find yourself.

Get a hearing test

If you haven't had a hearing test for some time, get one. There is no shortage of companies and even high street shops that offer hearing tests free of charge. Their hope of course is that you will go on to buy hearing aids from them, but I would not advise this until you have first gone down a medical route, like the British NHS - unless of course your hearing loss is very mild, you care a great deal about appearances and you have money to spare. See the page on hearing tests.

Find a qualified hearing consultant

Medical advances are ongoing and you may be surprised at how much a qualified medical consultant or audiologist may be able to help. This goes much further than supplying hearing aids: there are other types of aid for those with hearing loss and even, in some cases, surgery.

If you are in the UK and your hearing loss is causing you significant inconvenience, I suggest taking your hearing test documents to your GP and asking for a referral to a hospital.

Get the right hearing aids for you

Your choice of hearing aids may include what looks right for you as well as what makes you hear better - see the pages on hearing aids in the Coping menu for more relevant pages.

For me and others like me, though, no hearing aids, however expensive, are entirely satisfactory. For a discussion on why see the pages on sensitivity and pain; unbalanced hearing and distortion.

Prepare coping strategies for social activities

There is inevitably background noise and chatter in most social situations and there may also be music - all things that anyone with hearing loss finds particularly troublesome, particularly as you want to hear what people are saying. There are ways to help you cope, but it may be that some invitations will have to be declined - see social gatherings. Preparing in advance is essential.

Work effectively in committees and working groups

Deaf people's needs can be somewhat irritating to groups which are trying to get work done in a limited time. So you need to develop your own guidelines on whether or not to join in committees and working groups. What guidelines would you develop for yourself? See the page on committee work for a discussion.

Maintain your self esteem and the respect of others

Even with the best hearing aids and other aids for the deaf, deafness can be isolating and demoralising. So keep reminding yourself that you are as valuable an individual as the next person - because you are!

It is important, though, to educate the people around you about their attitudes to deafness. (See the pages on attitudes; how others can help deaf people to interact more effectively and common reactions to deafness.)

It is also important to play your part by accepting your limitations and not depressing others by being disgruntled and upset all the time.

Find a phone that works for your type of hearing loss

Are you using the best possible phone for you as someone with hearing loss? Or are you just trying to use the one that someone else bought sometime, somewhere? It is crucial to have a phone that first and foremost works for you because that can dramatically enhance your social life. One that doesn't work for you can seriously curtail social interaction and be depressing and isolating. For a discussion on choosing a house phone and a mobile phone (cell phone), see the page phoning which links to more useful pages on using a phone.

Cope with engine noise when flying

You need to experiment beforehand with ear protection to find what works for you. For more information, see desirable characteristics of ear protection, review of earplugs and ear defenders, and flying.

Prevent ear pain when flying

There is advice on this in the page on flying.

Get a suitable timer alarm timer

Everyone needs a timer alarm for some activities in their lives and there is no shortage of them for people with good hearing. However, if, as someone with hearing loss, you want want to set an alert for more than a few minutes in the future, it is all too easy to go about your business and leave the 'regular' alert in another room and then miss it. The page on timer alerts suggests types of timer alerts which are best and explains how to modify them for a deaf person. The timer function on smart phones can be particularly useful.

Use the internet for support

If you look up your particular hearing concern on the internet, you will find that you are not alone with it. There may be useful suggestions and there may be people who just want to share their problems. Either way, it will probably be helpful.

Get the most out of listening to the radio

Radio is difficult for anyone with hearing loss because there are no helpful visual signals. So speech really does need to be very clear indeed, and you have to know your radio programmes. For suggestions, see TV and radio.

Get the most out of watching television

Television has the advantage over radio that deaf people can tell quite a lot about what is going on from the visual signals. Yet they do seem to find that the sound effects of drama are too loud and the speech is too quiet or slurred. For more see radio and TV.

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.