Hi! Today, I’d like to post about an article I decided to write for the “Opinion” page of a community newspaper (basically a “letter to the editor” type of section). I’ve noticed that hearing loss is a topic which is very seldom discussed– hence the “hearing loss posts” which may be found among my other blog posts. So, I decided to write an article about hearing loss and publish it in the Beacon.
I was incredibly nervous about the whole thing. I had never actually done such a thing before, though it wasn’t the first time I’d considered it. Indeed, at first I thought it might just be added to the list of other things I’ve thought about publishing in an “Opinion” section before but didn’t. However, the more I looked up stuff about hearing loss, the more I discovered that a person has to be actively looking for information about it in order to find it. And really, it just downright doesn’t come up very often in conversation. So, I decided I was actually going to do it. I was actually going to write the article.
I started by making an outline of what I wanted to talk about, and then narrowed it down to only things that were truly relevant and important to the topic at hand. When I first wrote the article, it was somewhere between 1200 and 1500 words long– much too long to appear in a small community paper. I worked with my parents to make it shorter and more understandable, and we got it down to around 900 words. It took several revisions more before the article finally both communicated what I wanted to say and was short enough to publish– then Mom and I took it in to the Beacon office.
I don’t know if any other newspapers would have accepted it– it didn’t have anything to do with current news, it wasn’t hearing loss awareness week or month, and it was written by an 18 year old– but the lady at the Beacon liked the article and recognized that the topic is an important one. My article appeared in the Beacon two weeks later.
My point in telling you all of this is: you aren’t going to accomplish any of those ideas that are important to you if you don’t first make up your mind to do them, and actually try to start on the project, and continue it through to the end. At any point during the process I went through, I could have given up and decided, “Oh, they won’t accept this, it’s not good enough, it’s a stupid idea anyway, who’s gonna read an article about hearing problems?” and just stopped the whole thing. Even after I had written the whole thing, I could have just stuck the article in a drawer and forgotten about it. But I didn’t.
I’m not trying to sing my own praises– I have so many other unfinished projects it’s not even funny– but I’m hoping that I can use this experience to help me do other things I feel that I need to do, and I’m hoping it encourages you too.
Now without further ado, I’d also like to include the article I wrote within this post– if you’re interested, go ahead and read it. I have centered it so that you may tell where it begins and ends:
Have you ever attempted a conversation while wearing earplugs? How hard would this be with machines or music in the background? Hearing loss affects millions of people worldwide, and ranges from mild to profound. This topic is personally important because I myself have a hearing loss, and I know others who are also hard of hearing.
Around 38 million Americans have a hearing loss, including 1 in 5 teens and 1 of every 1000 children. Hearing loss is no respecter of age. I was diagnosed when I was 7– I have moderate low-frequency loss in both ears, and some high-frequency loss in the left ear. My particular hearing loss is such that I can hear and understand most speech. However, I still encounter some difficulties. The following are examples of listening situations where I must focus harder than most people to understand what’s being said.
- Loudspeakers, whether at the airport, in a store, or at a rodeo. This is even harder in echo-prone rooms, such as gyms.
- Conversation in noisy restaurants. I do better in booths, when I can see the people I’m talking with.
- Soft voices. I do well with most conversations, but people with soft voices are harder to understand. I’m more likely to miss whole sentences, and need things repeated more often.
If you’re conversing with a hard of hearing person, here are some tips:
- When possible, avoid background noise. Otherwise, move closer to the person and direct your voice toward their ears to help them distinguish your speech from other sounds.
- Face the person and don’t cover your mouth. This lets them see your mouth, which is helpful even if they don’t lipread.
- Speak up and enunciate, but don’t shout or exaggerate. Often, the problem is lack of clarity rather than volume. Shouting or exaggerating distorts speech, making it harder to understand. Speak as though talking for a group of people.
- Slow down a little, especially if you talk quickly or tend to run your words together. On occasion, someone will talk so fast that I only catch half of the sentence. Such speech is hard for people with good hearing to follow, and it’s even harder with hearing loss.
- Avoid saying “never mind” or “it’s not important.” The hard of hearing person is probably working hard to understand you. Saying “never mind” tells them their effort was worth nothing. Be willing to write if necessary, especially if requested.
There you go! I hope you have an awesome day. 🙂 God bless!