Hearing Loss… It’s not just old people.

Some introspection related to a comment I read in an article about web accessibility testing for with people with disabilities. Hearing loss, or impairment as they called it, is described here. I personally don’t have a preference regarding terminology used.

“Hearing impairments: This includes varying degrees and onset of the impairment, such as complete deafness from birth or lower hearing capabilities developed as we age.”

While hearing loss is more common in the older population, it is by no means exclusive to that group.

Hearing loss isn’t just old people. Hearing loss affects all ages. It’s kind of funny because many of us with slow progressive loss live with it without saying anything for a long time. Too long usually :-{ By the time someone with a progressive loss finally comes to terms with their hearing loss, or is badgered into acknowledging it by a spouse or family member, they are in fact older. So the perception that it is primarily an age-related issue is reinforced.

Those of us who advocate for more awareness about hearing loss and its impact are trying to change that perception. Part of the motivation touches on another bugaboo “ageism”. Unfortunately, when we categorize a problem as related to the older population, there seems to be a tendency to view it as less important. That, I think is a whole other discussion, which is also very worthy of attention.

I was diagnosed with hearing loss in 4th grade. I’ve had slowly progressive loss from age 9 to age 50. Now, thanks to a cochlear implant, my hearing loss has lessened, when I’m wearing my CI processor. A lot. But it’s still there in a mild to moderate level, depending on the listening situation. While I had earnestly hoped to leave that group I’m learning to accept my imperfect hearing and I’m learning how best to minimize any inconvenience it causes in my life.

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