Quiet-List 1997

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Re: Sound, hearing, and strange reactions

Message text written by INTERNET:quiet-list@igc.org
- When faced with a hearing-impaired individual, people are often
irritated.  They/We feel at some level that the individual is just being
difficult, that he could hear if he really tried.<

Kathleen made some good point here but I believe that  many times what is
taken as irritation is really simply being defensive.  The person speaking
to a hearing impaired person can feel, at some level, that he or she is at
fault  if not understood.  It is up to the hearing impaired individual to
put that person at ease by being very up front and simply saying something
to the effect that "my hearing is not good,  would you please speak a
little louder (or a little more slowly) so that I can hear you?"  This
takes any burden of guilt or embarrassment  off of the speaker.  One of the
advantages of hearing aids is that they call attention to the impairment
and forewarn the speaker.  For  someone with a hearing problem it still 
doesn't hurt to try to put the other person at ease.  Most other
disabilities have visual signs that pre-warn others of their existence. 
Except where hearing aids are visible, a hearing disability usually catches
the other person off guard.

In her article "Can't Hear? Try Being Assertive", Dr. Susan Resin says,
"The first step in enlisting the help of others is to let them know that
you are taking responsibility for the problem, but you need their help. The
difference between asking for help and demanding help here is critical." 
The difference between the irritated response or the helpful response is 
most often determined by the actions of the person with poor hearing.

In response to Kathleen's comments, Ray H. said,"One sees that blind and
other disabled people find it much easier to adapt.  Why?  Because they can
still communicate."  Communication is the key here.  It is a very personal
thing and critical in relating to others.  This is the reason for my
interest in how background noise, and particularly unnecessary background
music, takes the ability to communicate away from both the hearing impaired
and those with good hearing, possibly causing conflict and hostility that
are completely avoidable.

Of course, then there are those individuals who are just hostile to anyone
who makes them feel uncomfortable and they are going to be irritated by the
hearing impaired person regardless of the situation.  They are probably the
same ones who have boom boxes in their cars, run their power lawn mowers at
6 AM or put loudspeakers on the outside of their places of business etc. 
At least good noise laws, properly enforced, can control their rude
treatment of others in these areas.  For those not familiar with them,  the
Noise Technical Assistance Center at Rutgers  University in New Jersey
(http://aesop.rutgers.edu/~envscitc/noise.html) has lots of info on noise
law enforcement.  They provide training for police and others in this
regard and  their booklet "Local Noise Enforcement Options and Model Noise
Ordinance" is interesting reading.

Writing at 5:45:13 PM on 10/10/97

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