Talking about Hearing Loss- Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

Talking about Hearing Loss – Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

Hearing loss is often described as an invisible disability because it isn’t always visually recognizable. Sure, you may wear hearing aids, but many of these are so tiny and discrete, you’d have to look very hard to see them. Even so, millions of people go years without treating their hearing loss, making it difficult to communicate and connect at work, at home and out and about. Many people aren’t even aware they have an issue, as it can creep up over years subtly, until it’s difficult to hear even in the most ideal of situations. However, once you know you have an issue with hearing is one of the first steps to getting help. 

The thing is that how you tell people plays a big role in how you receive help. This has been called your disclosure method for hearing loss and when you’re ready to confide in someone, one study found that how you disclose your hearing loss can have a big impact on your overall health and wellbeing. 

Taking About Hearing Loss Matters

Unfortunately, there is a big stigma around hearing loss. Many people make the mistake of associating with seeming old, or weak. The truth is that asking for help is one of the strongest things that anyone can do. When you aren’t open about your hearing loss, it’s common for people to mistake your disability as you being disinterested or not paying attention to what they are saying. You may miss important information, make mistakes, and have no excuse at work. This can affect your chances for advancement and raises in your field of work and truly takes a toll on your personal relationships with friends and family.

Studying Disclosure Methods

A 2016 study titled “Revealing Hearing Loss: A Survey of How People Verbally Disclose Their Hearing Loss” interviewed 337 people about their disclosure methods around hearing loss. They were able to identify three distinct styles of disclosure that they used to tell people about their hearing loss. 

Non-Disclosure Method

The first style was barely a disclosure method at all. Non-disclosure method is simply pretending you can hear. We know that when you pretend you don’t have an issue with hearing loss it can backfire in many ways, leaving people confused as to why your communication is so strained. There are many protections for people in the workplace with hearing loss, but you can’t take advantage of any of them if you are not open about your disability.

Basic Disclosure Method

The first step is letting people know they have a hearing loss. This often came in the form of a statement such as “I’m having trouble hearing” or “I can’t hear very well in my left ear.” The issue is that they didn’t offer any way to give tips to the people in their life to make it easier for them to hear.

Multipurpose Disclosure Method

The third style of disclosure is also the one that we would recommend. Multipurpose disclosure occurs when the person lets others know they have an issue with hearing and offers suggestions as to how the people in their life could make it easier for them to hear. For instance a multipurpose disclosure method will allow you to  say things like “Can you turn off the TV while we talk?” or “Can you rephrase what you just said?”

The study found that those who normalized using multipurpose disclosure around hearing loss for their family and friends had the best health outcomes, including better socialization, better success in their profession, higher self-esteem, and a higher quality of life. They were also more likely to be using hearing aids, which makes it exponentially easier to hear all the sounds and people in your life. 

Talk About it With Us

We are here to listen to all your concerns around hearing loss and help you find the best solution for all your hearing needs. Just think about the sounds you’re missing. Disclosing your hearing loss is just the first step to getting the help you need so you can truly take advantage of your one wild and precious life. Don’t let hearing loss slow you down. Open up about hearing loss and find out what the world has to offer. Take a leap and schedule a hearing exam with us today!