21 January 2021


You know what I find so irritating about you? That sometimes you pretend to understand something when you don't. And there's something else that annoys me: sometimes you pretend that you didn't hear something when it's clear to us that you did.

As a hearing impaired person, you can only sigh deeply when you get such comments. Sometimes you really think that someone made a remark about the weather while you were asked to throw your empty coffee cup not in the paper bin but in the residual waste bin. At other times you have to admit that you do indeed sometimes pretend to have understood because you don't want to ask for a third time what someone just said. After all, that could evoke incomprehension, disbelief or annoyance and you want to avoid that. Of course, such a pretend-reaction of the hearing impaired person also causes irritation: nobody likes to tell a whole story only to find out that it was literally left on deaf ears.

And sometimes it happens that you do not react to a sound that, according to him or her, you must have heard... Then you would be "East Indian deaf", while you are not aware of any evil.

Various studies show that people with hearing loss are 3 to 5 times more likely to be fatigued than people with good hearing

It's all very tiring and frustrating. Not being able to hear well means hard work 24 hours a day. You are constantly focused on perceiving any sounds and the necessary reactions you may or may not have to take in response. Various studies show that people with hearing loss are 3 to 5 times more likely to be fatigued than people with good hearing. Would executives and teachers take this into account enough in addition to all the other difficulties faced by the students and employees in question?

It is sometimes thought that wearing hearing aids solves all hearing problems. Well, forget it. Even with a relatively mild hearing loss, attending receptions, meetings or (work) lectures is a mega task. Listening to a forwarded YouTube video is probably more fun for the sender than for the hearing aid wearer who receives it. Another example: a train from which suddenly all passengers, instructed by an unintelligible sound-producing loudspeaker, run off to another platform while you, turning the volume control, have no idea what's going on...

In today's Corona conditions, people with hearing loss experience additional difficulties. Lip-reading is impossible when the speaker is wearing a mouth mask. Well... what do you do then, politely ask if the mouth mask can be taken off? Unheard of. Online meetings via Zoom or Teams are also no sinecure. Not every participant has a good set of headphones with a microphone, so the sound for the hearing impaired sounds like the speaker is taking a bath - which may be the case if he or she has created a virtual background. Virtual backgrounds create noise anyway because the image will be less stable. This also makes it more difficult to follow the speaker. As I previously said: if you weren’t already tired of the hearing loss you will get tired of the situations described above.

But to end on a positive note: you can turn off your devices if it all gets too much for you!

Marlies de Vries

Marlies de Vries

Works Council-member and chair 'netwerk Diversiteit, Inclusiviteit en Toegankelijkheid'


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