7 Misconceptions about People with Hearing Loss


by Janice S. Lintz

Janice Lintz, CEO of Hearing Access & Innovations, is passionate about advocating for those with hearing loss. Many misconceptions exist about hearing loss- here are her Top 7: (adapted from 17 Misconceptions About People with Hearing Loss, previously published by Hearing Health, Winter 2010.)

  1. Everyone with a hearing loss uses sign language.

Hearing loss is a spectrum, and people with hearing loss don’t all communicate the same way. How a person communicates depends on a variety of factors, such as the person’s degree of hearing loss, whether a hearing aid or cochlear implant is used, the age the person lost his/her hearing, the level of auditory training received, and the nature of the listening situation. The majority of people with hearing loss do not use sign language, but it is still important to those whose communication depends on it.

  1. Increasing the sound volume will enable a person with hearing loss to understand what is said.

There is a point where increasing the volume begins to distort the quality of the sound. To obtain sufficient clarity, people with residual hearing may require sound to be transmitted from the microphone directly to their ear via an assistive listening system such as an induction loop. Sitting close to the speaker can assist the listener but is not a substitute for an assistive listening system. Yelling and over-articulating distorts the natural rhythm of speech and makes lip reading more difficult.

  1. Hearing aids and cochlear implants restore hearing to normal.

A person does not obtain “normal” hearing by wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant. It is not the same as wearing glasses. Hearing aids increase the volume but do not significantly improve clarity or bring the sound closer to the person. Hearing ability in cochlear implant recipients varies from almost normal to only perceiving environmental sounds and depends on such factors as the individual’s hearing history, age of onset and length of deafness, and age of implantation.

  1. People with hearing loss are have intellectual limitations and are unsuccessful.

People with hearing loss have the same range of intelligence as the general population. People with untreated, or inadequately treated, hearing loss may respond inappropriately since they may have not heard what was said. Speaking to the companion of the person with hearing loss, instead of directly to the person, reinforces this attitudinal discrimination.

  1. People with hearing loss are older adults.

Of the 48 million people with hearing loss, only 30% are 65 or older.

  1. When people with hearing loss miss something, it’s OK to tell them “It’s not important” or “I’ll tell you later.”

It is frustrating to people with a hearing loss not to have something repeated when they miss part of the conversation. Saying, “It wasn’t important” compounds the frustration. No one should tell a person with hearing loss what is important.

  1. People with hearing loss are rude and pushy.

People with hearing loss may interrupt a conversation because they didn’t hear the speaker and not because they are rude. They may also position themselves toward the front of a group or in a room so that they are closer to the speaker, making it easier for them to hear and lip read. This is sometimes perceived as being pushy.

 janice lintz

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Janice S. Lintz is the CEO of Hearing Access & Innovations, which is the only company dedicated to helping the world’s businesses, cultural institutions and government agencies improve their accessibility for people with hearing loss. Visit http://www.hearingaccess.com for more information and follow her on Twitter @JaniceSLintz.

Information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical consultation or serve as a substitute for medical advice provided by a physician or qualified medical professional.

7 thoughts on “7 Misconceptions about People with Hearing Loss

  1. I have hearing loss and have been with a Government agency for over 30 years, exposed to many noisey situations that couldn’t be avoided in order to do the job. (Manufacturing environments). I have hearing aids that I have purchsed for a great deal of money but they have inherent reliability issues after about 1 year they start to have trouble and I have to keep getting them fixed.I have had a new supervisor named Marge Hager who has been very harsh, judgemental and difficult to work with and it is causing more stress and difficulties in the work environment and with my mental state. How do we educate the managers and supervisors about the issues with hearing loss? Also I do not expect special treatment but do need fair and honest treatment I work very very very hard and long hours to do the best I can but that is Never enough for our new systems and rules and hard or impossible to achieve goals.


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