Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

July 28, 2020

Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters
Dr. Darcy Benson
Latest posts by Dr. Darcy Benson (see all)

Are you grappling with untreated hearing loss? You might find it difficult to follow conversations, or get lost in group conversations. 

If this sounds like you, you might be anxious about revealing your hearing loss, and wondering if others have already noticed. If you’re wondering if you should reveal your hearing loss, the answer is undoubted, yes, but let’s look at what is holding you back from doing so. 


The stigma of hearing loss

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of shame surrounding hearing loss in our culture today. Those who find it hardest to admit their hearing loss to others may be doing so because the failure of our hearing represents a break – suddenly the individual fears they are becoming more dependent on others, after having lived a life of independence. Due to these complex and unnerving thoughts, many people choose to ignore the problem and conceal that they have trouble hearing.

Similarly, culture also correlates hearing loss with getting older. Thus, many may feel that using hearing aids to enhance their hearing makes them appear “old.” Similarly, people often believe treating their hearing loss with hearing aids makes them look less attractive.

So, how can we banish the hearing loss stigma once and for all? It won’t be easy, but we can start by promoting an atmosphere of empathy and inclusiveness for those with hearing loss by encouraging the general public to be more accepting. 

Another thing we can do is to encourage those who have untreated hearing loss to be more open. This has a more significant effect on hearing loss outcomes than you would think – that’s according to a 2015 study conducted by Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers, most people use one of three disclosure methods to communicate about their hearing loss. 

Here are the three methods, and the effects they have on the individual dealing with hearing loss. 


Method #1: Non-disclosure

Non-disclosure refers to the method of not disclosing a hearing loss. Often, the condition is disguised by placing the responsibility for communication on the other person.

For example: “I can’t hear what you’re saying. Please speak up. “This approach keeps the condition hidden from others while helping the individual postpone treatment of their hearing loss further.


Method #2: Basic Disclosure

Basic disclosure is a method used by those reports that they have hearing loss and may offer explanations about their condition. For example, a person may say, “I served in Afghanistan and came back with hearing loss.”

While this method is better than a non-disclosure, it doesn’t offer a solution for facilitating better communication. 


Method #3: Multipurpose disclosure

Multipurpose disclosure is used to identify those who reveal their hearing loss and explain the best way to improve communication flow. 

For example, a person may say: “it’s tough to hear anything here with this noise. Can we talk outside?”.


For a better experience with hearing loss, use the multipurpose approach.

The researchers were under no illusions about which method yielded the best results for the person with hearing loss. 

“We think patients should be encouraged to realize that these approaches, particularly the multipurpose disclosure approach, are accessible to them,” According to the lead author Dr. Stankovic. “Hearing loss is an invisible disability; however, it may improve communication by asking people to slow down or face someone with hearing loss while speaking.”

The researchers suggest educating people with hearing loss about using the multipurpose disclosure with those they interact with regularly.


Don’t forget your employer

About 60 percent of working Americans have some hearing loss. It’s crucial to disclose your hearing loss to your employer because it may help you get accommodations on the job, which will keep you performing. This is because employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with hearing loss.

Maintaining your performance with hearing loss at work may require some subtle adjustments, such as a new phone headset, maybe a change in your schedule or shift in duties to work in a quieter environment, or subtly shifting your desk to relieve a noise problem. 

There are also technological advancements that will allow you to keep being a valuable team member. Don’t forget you can also ask for vital information to be sent in an email!


Treating Hearing Loss

Once you have used the multipurpose disclosure method to those you interact with regularly, it’s time to get a hearing aid if you haven’t already done so. This will help improve your ability to hear in all situations. 

To make an appointment for a hearing test and consultation, please take the opportunity to contact our team today.