Pardon? Living A Full Life With Hearing Loss

Which is the most irritating aspect of living with hearing loss or deafness? The isolation?  The impact on those around us? The blaring television or having to be in the same room so that there is a chance of being heard or at least seen when speaking? The problems that develop in relationships when communication becomes difficult or frustrating? Being told that you are the one not speaking clearly when everyone else can understand you?

The reality is that hearing loss affects both the person and also all around them.

Silence is often the answer to the irritation. Having to repeat everything that one says often leads to simply not bothering. Having to ask for someone to say the same thing again and again also leads to silence.

In personal or family situations this can be an ongoing situation that causes a breakdown in the sense of connection, a loss of intimacy, or a suppressed anger on both sides.

Neither can really understand what it is like for the other.

In group situations, there can be confusion, withdrawal or frustration because the discussion is either not understood or is conducted too fast or too randomly to follow.

This can be particularly problematic at work where meetings can contain important data that is needed, but is past and gone before it can be noted.

In the case of hearing loss, trying to convince someone to try hearing aids can be a long and difficult process, as often ideas of identity and self-worth can be tied into a perception of weakness.

There are also issues of cost as today’s aids are often expensive. Once the new ears are finally obtained, however, the results can be remarkable.

I have seen people who were regarded as “shy” blossom into cheerful companions once they can manage social situations.

This happened for my partner who had resisted the technology for years, but has come to relish the opportunities that have been made available to chat to others, knowing that he can understand what they say.

It made me wonder what other technology was available for those who are deaf or have hearing loss.

We already use the captions or subtitles on the television (but these are not always available).

Through family members we became aware of the National Relay Service which provides internet and telephone relaying of messages for the deaf, but this doesn’t address the issues of close proximity communication, even though the service it offers is invaluable for the community.

There are voice to text readers, programs like Dragon, for example, which enable people to dictate into a device and which translates their verbal sounds into written words.

Most of these need to be tuned to a single voice, and are often fairly pricey.

There is a new technology called AVA that can be used in gatherings or with just a couple of people, which sounds promising. Ava shows you what people say, in less than a second.

Apparently, it is a freemium model, so the cost is not high, and often free for occasional users, but the cost increases with the usage.

It can be used on a smartphone or a tablet to follow a group conversation within seconds of the sounds being made.

Because so many people have smartphones these days, communicating can become easy again, with a little practice – some words are hard to distinguish so the spelling may not always be accurate.

Pardon? Living A Full Life With Hearing Loss

More information can be found here: www.ava.me, if you find this intriguing, as I did.

Who knows? The technological advances of the 21st century may even find ways that we can understand each other as well as being able to see what you are saying – something unthinkable years ago.

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