In my hearing impaired career, I have often heard the sentence: “I am not taken into consideration”. Well, dear readers, I can finally tell you: that will never happen! I will explain why I think this is the case.
First, humans are forgetful beings, especially when it concerns something we do not suffer from and which is also almost invisible. This is usually not unwillingness, but unfamiliarity. And aren’t we all human?
Secondly, are such high demands on others fair? Are our expectations of others not too high and can we make such demands?
My answer is: no, it is my impairment and it is up to me to deal with it. I can’t expect others to be considerate. It is my job to prepare myself sufficiently to find out what I need and to share it openly with others.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy if someone is considerate, of course, but I can’t expect it. I am glad too when my husband notices, for example, that I have not understood something and therefore supports me. But my impairment is my own responsibility and since I want to be as independent as possible, I must not demand any consideration from my husband or others.
Now I was at a convention the other day. I was a member of the working group that organised this meeting and was therefore also present there. But the target audience was people with normal hearing, so I was only a small minority. The day was very long, there was a lot of talking and there were 2 workshops. Knowing that, I had thought beforehand how to approach this. I took my Rogerpen and used it. Also, instead of participating in 2 workshops, I attended only one workshop and used the time of the other workshop to relax a little and clear my head. I was reasonably fit for the final plenary session.
Of course, this insight did not come to me all at once. This has been and still is a longer process. But as a child and teenager, I have always felt that “I can decide for myself very well”. My mother surely can confirm this…
And if we have expectations of others that they cannot meet because they simply have no hearing impairment and do not know what it means, then this can almost only bring us disappointment. And this disappointment can eventually end in social withdrawal.
For example, if I always have to remind my work colleague to speak more slowly or to speak without a hand in front of his mouth, then I could say: “Why don’t you have consideration with me, I’ve told you so many times?” I am disappointed, he is annoyed and if this happens often, it might end with me finally withdrawing.
Wouldn’t it be much better if I said to myself: “well, I know that this colleague always talks to me too quickly or with his hand in front of his mouth. I’ve explained to him many times why this doesn’t work for me, but that doesn’t help. What else can I do to improve our communication?” Maybe it helps to exchange more through mail instead of orally. Or to show this colleague, or perhaps all colleagues, times with an example how much you hear with their hearing impairment. Why not just try?
By which I would just like to say: it is better to think in solutions and to stay with oneself, instead of being disappointed because of too high expectations the well hearing cannot keep, even if they want to.