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Help for the hearing impaired

Hearing aids

Many people with hearing loss can benefit from a hearing aid. These devices sit behind or in your ear and amplify incoming sounds so you can hear them. But more than 80% of people who need hearing aids don't get them. Contact your doctor or audiologist to find out how to get access to a hearing aid that's right for you and fitted properly. A wide variety of hearing aids exists. If you're not happy with your current hearing aid, speak up. Another model may be the one for you.

Cochlear implants

People who can't benefit from a hearing aid, such as those with inner ear damage, may find a cochlear implant helpful. A cochlear implant is surgically inserted into your ear, with another part implanted underneath the skin behind your ear. Unlike a hearing aid, which simply amplifies incoming sounds, a cochlear implant helps a person understand the sounds around them. It picks up sounds, processes them, and converts them into electrical signals that are then sent to the brain. While they don't bring back normal hearing, they can help a person understand the sounds around them and make it easier to communicate.

Other devices

  • Smartwatches: If you have a hard time hearing the phone or doorbell ring, consider getting a smartwatch, which can vibrate to alert you to incoming calls. Simply putting your phone on vibrate mode may also help.
  • Personal amplifiers: These units consist of a small box that amplifies sound and reduces background noise for the listener. They are also used for people with normal hearing for specific occasions like hunting or bird-watching. The enhanced sound is picked up by headphones or earbuds.
  • Assistive listening devices: Loop, FM, and infrared systems can transmit sound to some types of receivers (e.g. earphones) and certain hearing aids. They can help you hear better when you’re watching TV, movies, or  have meetings in public places.

Other communication tips

If you're hard of hearing, you're probably used to feeling left out of a conversation. But it doesn't have to be this way! Here are a few tips to make it easier:

  • Choose a good location for your conversation: avoid noisy, crowded areas and find a well-lit area.
  • Watch the person's facial expression and body language – these can give you clues about what they're saying. Learn lip-reading to enhance your ability to understand people's speech.
  • If you don't understand, ask them to repeat themselves.
  • Communication is a two-way street: tell the person you're talking to about your hearing loss, and what they can do to help you understand (see below).
  • Sign language can also help you communicate with others who know how to use the language.

If you're talking to someone who's hard of hearing, there are a few things you can do to help them understand:

  • Before you speak, make sure you have the person's attention.
  • When you speak, be sure you're facing the person and your facial features can be clearly seen.
  • Speak clearly and not too fast.
  • Don't shout – this just distorts the sound.
  • Give cues about what you're saying with your body language and facial expression.
  • Don't get frustrated if the person asks you to repeat what you've said.
  • Don't cover your lips when you speak.

These tips can help you get more out of a conversation. But they shouldn't be a substitute for seeing your doctor to determine the cause of your hearing loss. Be sure to have your hearing tested and find out if you're a candidate for a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

Other sources of support

For further support, contact:

  • The Canadian Hearing Society
  • The Hearing Foundation of Canada
  • The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association
  • Canadian Association of the Deaf

These organizations can provide you with employment services, classes, support, and more information about your condition.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Healthy-Hearing

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