For those of you who know me you will probably know that I’m deaf. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m deaf.
Last week I went for another hearing test and I’ve not seen the dreaded graph for a while. I figured I fancied blogging about my hearing and state briefly what it’s like being deaf.
For the record I failed a hearing test when I was a young boy (13) and I’ve now worn hearing aids for around 10 years.
The numbers on the left are the levels of hearing so a normal person would be between 1-20. The numbers along the top are the frequencies,or range of sounds, from low to high.
A bass drum, a “rumble,” thunder, or a deep man’s voice are all examples of low frequency sounds. A shrill whistle, squeak, squeal, or a child’s voices are all examples of high frequency sounds. The red line is the right ear and blue is the left.
As you can see my best hearing level starts at 55 and continues to shoot off the scale at 120. Here’s some example degrees of hearing loss.
– Normal hearing – 0 to 20dB
– Mild – 21 to 40 dB
– Moderate – 41 to 55dB
– Moderately-severe – 56 to 70dB
– Severe – 71 to 90dB
– Profound – 91+ dB
Anything above 90 is basically non existent so I can safely conclude my left ear is appalling. I will never hear natural sounds with those frequencies again. My right is very poor but still manageable.
When I take my aids out I can’t hear anything at all. It’s pretty scary and it’s impressive what these bits of technology do for me. In addition to the aids I am also very good at lipreading. I’ve never been taught it’s just something that I’ve picked up along the way. If I meet someone new, especially people who are foreign, mumble or don’t open their mouth much then chances are I won’t know what they’re saying. Any environment where people are speaking randomly, such as a meeting, is very difficult for me to follow. I excel in one to one scenarios.
There has been talk of cochlear implants but I’m not sure that’s a route I would like to take, perhaps I would rather embrace being deaf, but it’s easy for me to say when I can currently hear and live relatively normally. I suspect it’s a decision I will encounter later in life. I’m planning on going back to college in September to become fluent in sign language.
Having bad hearing has been particularly tough at times and I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved under the circumstances. University was a nightmare and I was very self conscious and refused to “open up” about my hearing. I barely heard anything in lectures and if I didn’t study hard I most certainly would have failed. As I’ve got a bit older I’m keen to ensure people know about my hearing and most people are supportive and understanding.
Being deaf has made me very observant. Generally when someone speaks to me I can usually judge what kind of a reply they want purely based on their facial expressions. I’ve previously had conversations with people when I don’t actually know a word they’ve said. I often spot things that other people don’t notice and I also think that being deaf has trained my brain to work faster.
I’ve often been labelled ignorant or daft purely because I’ve not heard what people have said to me before replying, or alternately I’ve simply unintentionally ignored them! These days I’m eager to tell people about my hearing the first time I meet them, it makes life much easier but it’s also fairly embarrassing and disheartening.
One of the reasons I chose to pursue Web Design as a profession was because I knew I would struggle in other jobs that were more dependant on hearing. I do have a fair amount of meetings at work and I manage ok. Thankfully we also make use of Skype and email and people at work are considerate and helpful towards me.
If anyone’s reading this who has a disability one thing I would say is don’t let it hold you back. You’re at a disadvantage to everyone else but if you prove your worth you will find that you’re helped and supported along the way.
If anyone’s reading this without a disability maybe make a promise to help anyone you encounter who has some kind of disability. One day you, a family member or close friend might need some help and the experience from that promise might come in handy.
Thanks for reading